Friday, January 19, 2007

Another Chant Resource

From the New Liturgical Movement website:
Here is a completely unrealistic but impossibly enticing idea. Let's all stop everything for one year and study chant using this book: Music Fourth Year: Gregorian Chant According to Principles of Dom Andre Mocquereau. The introduction is by Dom Mocquereau himself. It is sponsored and hosted by the Church Music Association of America.

I can't really find the words to describe what a treasure this is: the perfect merging of art, science, and pedagogy in service of beauty and the faith. I feel overwhelmed and humbled by it. There is something to learn on every page.

How can we not be in awe of that generation of musicians who actually studied this material in detail? So much has been lost, and yet thanks to the medium of the web and the work of so many, there is reason for hope that someday material like this will again be taught in schools and seminaries, and that there will be workshops all year that explore this chapter by chapter.

In any case, the scan is high resolution and very beautiful, a higher quality than any edition you might find in a library because the pages are pure white. The download takes a while so please put it on your hard drive.

Since we can't all take off a year, perhaps someone somewhere will establish a special online forum for Ward Studies. Someday. Maybe soon. I will be the first student.

Warning! This is a 311-page PDF file! It takes a while to download.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


At St. Mary the Virgin's Mass for the Eve of Epiphany last night, the Deacon sang this "Proclamation of the Date of Easter," using the same music as that used for the Easter Exsultet:
Dear brothers and sisters, the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of his return. Through the rhythms of times and seasons let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year's culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial, and his rising celebrated between the evening of the evening of the fifth of April and the evening of the eighth of April.

Each Easter - as on each Sunday - the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death. From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the twenty-first of February. The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the seventeenth of May. Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter, will be celebrated on the twenty-seventh of May. And this year the First Sunday of Advent will be on the second of December.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ in the feasts of the holy Mother of God, in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, for ever and ever. Amen.

It is explained in the leaflet that "This proclamation dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year."

It also ties things together in a way I'd never heard before, via the music. A very good thing, I'd say.

I wish I could describe the loveliness of the Christmas decorations. Gorgeous red flowers everywhere - carnations, roses, spiky tropical flowers I don't know the names of, and beautiful greenery: wreaths of dark green fir; white pine sprays hung on columns decorated with red bows and juniper berrries; lengths of pine branches in huge planters along with bare winterberry branches covered with bright red berries. (Here are some good pics of the church's interior, although not at Christmas.)

The music was splendid! A choral recital before the mass by "the choir of the Dean Close School, Cheltenham, England," who sang Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium," a beautiful contemporary piece, and Bassi's "Quem Pastores Laudavere." Another gorgeous contemporary composition was "And every stone shall cry," by one Bob Chilcott. Everything, in fact, was contemporary - the arrangements, at least - and really very beautiful. There seem to be a lot of excellent religious pieces still being written - very encouraging, I think, in many ways. I've heard a lot of new stuff in the past three years, and ISTM the style is often quite similar to that early polyphony in many ways. Less ornament, and more complex interplay of (more) voices.

I think the most wonderful thing was the Chant Offertory, though: Reges Tharsis, taken from Psalm 72 and wonderfully, mysteriously Eastern:
Reges Tharsis
et insulae munera offerent:
reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent:
et adorabunt eum omnes reges terrae,
omnes gentest servient ei.

The kings of Tarshish
and the islands shall pay tribute;
the kings of Arabia and of Saba offer gifts;
all the kings of the earth shall bow down before him,
all nations shall do him service.

The Epiphany chants are all here.


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