Whatcha think? Music Lineup

I’ve recently been put in charge of the music for a Mass on the 5th Sunday of Easter. What do you think of this lineup? Does anyone have any ideas to make it better? (Note, I’m not asking you if you think this is “too traditional”, or whether you like chant or not. I’m asking those of you who would know: Can I make this better in any way?)

Introit: Cantate Domino, sung in english by the cantor (SEP)
Kyrie: De Angelis or Jubilate Deo (depending on cantor’s ability), sung by the cantor
Gloria: Gloria XV, sung by the cantor
Alleluia: Alleluia in honor of holy William Couture
Gospel Acc: English, By Aristotle Esguerra
Credo: Spoken
Intercessions: Spoken, by a reader
Offertory Chant: Jubilate Deo universa terra, sung in english by the cantor (SEP)
Preface Dialog and Preface: Sung by the celebrant
Sanctus: Jubilate Deo
Memorial Acclamation: Jubilate Deo (Mortem Tuam)
Per Ipsum: Sung, by the priest
Amen: Simple Chant
Pater Noster: Chanted by all, english. Introduction chanted by the priest if possible.
Agnus Dei: * Jubilate Deo*
Communion Chant:* Tanto tempore*, sung in english by the cantor (SEP)
Communion Piece: Ave Maria, Chant
Recessional: Regina Coeli, simple Chant

My thoughts would be as follow:

I guess you would know what your congregation is used to, but unless you intend this as a “show Mass” then I think for most American congregations it would be very strange that the first opportunity to participate doesn’t come until . . . well, the Responsorial Psalm, I assume, even though you have omitted it here; or otherwise the Gospel Acclamation.

If your congregation has enough experience in singing Latin that you can reasonably expect them to pick up something like the Memorial Acclamation, then you should let them join in the Kyrie, and you should follow the practice of singing the Gloria antiphonally with the cantor and the congregation – see pp. 78-80 of this service booklet (pdf) for how it was done at the Beatification Mass the other morning. You’d have to use Gloria VIII, of course, unless your congregation already knows Gloria XV. Personally, I can’t stand Gloria XV and can’t imagine how other people seem to, so in my mind at least it’s really a step up to do anything else.

More importantly, for me, I’d find the practice of withholding something like the Gloria from the congregation altogether to be worth it only if you could actually do something nice and worthy, not just have a lone cantor croon the whole thing (and, ugh, Gloria XV at that) all by himself. If you had a competent schola or choir that could sing something which would actually merit listening to, that would be one thing, but that doesn’t seem to be what you have here. Besides, if you’re worried about your “cantor’s ability” to handle even Kyrie VIII, I’m not sure how he’ll be able to cope with the entirety of Gloria XV on his own.

Aristotle’s Gospel acclamations are nice and all, but it is impractical to expect a congregation to learn a new one every week, especially if, as I’m guessing here, your music program already represents something of a departure from the norm. I would use the simple Mode VI Alleluia which every Catholic instinctively knows in her bones (p. 348 of the Gregorian Missal), and set the verse to psalm tone VI, which is basically what it is already, but dropping from the reciting tone to fa on “ex-”, la-sol on “-cept”, la on “through”, and ending back at fa, where the repeat of the alleluia will start again, on “me.”

Don’t make people learn a whole different alleluia (or sit and listen) just for this occasion.

Finally, do you have any reason to think you are going to get good congregational participation on both the communion hymn and the recessional – for instance, that your congregation already comfortably sings these Latin chants? If not, then scrap one (preferably the recessional) and use a suitable hymn like Immaculate Mary. It would sound extremely lame if the “participation” on both of these pieces amounted to four or five old-timers singing nervously, plus your cantor of dubious ability.

I am a musician; I play piano very well and do a lot of accompanying work in my city. I am fairly in demand to play for OF Masses. I have participated in the Traditional Latin parish choir as a singer.

A couple of things for you to think about.

First, I appreciate that you are asking for suggestions. Good for you!

I assume since you are planning this program that you are the conductor and that you have a solid music education and experience?

If not, is there a conductor or choir director who is educated and knowledgeable about the traditional music styles, and who is with you all the way on this plan?

If not, you are going to face a real struggle. This is some heavy music.

Also, as others have kind of asked–is this kind of program the norm for your parish? If this is the kind of music that the congregation is used to hearing, then your Mass music will be ethereally lovely and the congregation will enjoy it and benefit from it. Congratulations and best wishes for a beautiful Mass.

If this is something new, then you had better make absolutely sure that it is of high professional quality or you will have a mess, not a Mass.

People don’t mind being nudged out of their comfort zones, but no one likes to be blasted out of their comfort zones and dumped in a totally foreign place.

If this music style and repertoire is new to the congregation, my main suggestion would be to make sure that you have hired the best cantor, choir, and organist or chamber orchestra in the city so that the congregation will have a good impression of this kind of music and go from the Mass wanting more.

If your cantor/choir and organist are not top-notch, or at least have practiced to the point where they can really give a good performance of these pieces, the congregation will hear limping, puny, foppish music in a foreign language instead of the magnificent pieces in the Church’s official language that you are envisioning in your mind. There will be complaints in the parish office about the music, and the priest will never allow you near the Mass music again.

So do this right.

I am a bit concerned that you are planning this music only a few weeks away from the Mass, unless this is the kind of music that your cantor, choir, and organist is used to. IF they’re used to this music, then you’re probably fine. BUT listen to me here–if this is all new to the musicians, then you would be better to plan this kind Mass music for three or four months from now and let the musicians spend a lot more time practicing it, unless, of course, you have several evenings a week every week set aside for rehearsal from now until 5th Sunday of Easter. This is tough stuff. The repertoire is much too difficult to do in just a few weeks. Most choirs who are new to this kind of music, unless they are very very good musicians, could not learn this in only a few practices. Same for the organist–if they are really good and experienced, this music would be fine. But if your organist is used to playing folk hymns and traditional praise hymns (Holy God We Praise Thy Name, etc.), then they will be confused, and if your rehearsal keyboardist is confused, the singers will be even more confused, and that will be disaster.

I’ve seen really good choirs struggle with pieces that should be fairly straightfoward. If they are new to this, you have to train them in all aspects of the music, including the intonation techniques, or you will end up with a “country-western” style of chant, very unpleasant to hear.

So please do this Mass right, OK? :slight_smile: Make it good!

If this kind of music is new to your congregation, do not make ANY assumptions about their ability to sing chant easily, or to easily read Latin, no matter what you have read on this board or on any traditional website or blog.

Assume that at least half or more of the people in the congregation have NEVER sung chant or Latin (born post Vatican II, and also all the converts), and that the other half is old enough that their voices are crackly and that they don’t remember this kind of music clearly and they hated it back when they did sing it. That’s reality.

Don’t let your imagination run away with you and envision a gorgeous Mass with all kinds of finely-dressed people singing enthusiastically with tears of joy streaming down their faces that finally the music is reverent again. Force yourself to think realistically–most people will be wearing jeans, most people will stand there and not sing, and most people are not interested in traditional music. (They COULD become interested IF you and your musicians do a great job and “sell it” to the congregation.)

Do not assume that “everyone loves traditional music.” (I personally don’t like it, and I would not attend a parish that regularly did this kind of music.) Be brutally realistic and reduce your expectations about what your congregation can do and will do and will like. Plan for the lowest common denominator (someone like me :() and PLAN to sweep us off our feet with the beauty and grandeur of the music and change our minds and make us want more! (Perhaps one reason why I dislike this kind of music is that it is generally so very badly done.)

Best wishes to you, and I’m sure everything will work out fine.

Your choices are great, but a couple concerns/suggestions:

  1. Is the congregation used to singing a lot of chant and Latin? If so, then I don’t see a problem with this. If not, then you will have a lot of people not singing and the cantor will end up singing it as a solo over the mic with maybe the priest, you and a couple others singing at best. It’s always best to gradually introduce new chants and any new music for that matter, so that it gives them time to learn it. Then you can put it all together.

  2. Make sure you have a good cantor that can chant well. Nothing’s worst than hearing chant done in a pendantic fashion or just plain badly. If you want to introduce chant to a parish, having someone with little experience chanting is not a good idea.

  3. For the Recessional, you might want to put a hymn here. I’ve been to a few EFs where this is done (I know that the mass you are planning is an OF mass), even when the rest of the mass had chants, choral motets, etc. There isn’t anything wrong with a good hymn.

  4. Will the Kyrie and Gloria be sung with the congregation as well? A few hymnals have the Gloria from the Jubilate Deo. (Actually we did it for Easter and I used my hymnal.)

I will also second Cat’s suggestion about the musicianship. You really do need good to great musicianship to pull all of this off if this is something you want the congregation to be inspired by and want to use more often. Otherwise, it will just be badly done and don’t we want to give God more than badly done? Depending on the musicians’ ability at that parish, you will need more than a few weeks to prepare it. You might need a few months.

P.S. I say this as a professional, classically trained musician who loves traditional music and chant. So I’m not trying to be a downer, but being realistic based on what I’ve experienced at many parishes.

Wow!! There’s so much there. I can’t possibly respond to every point, but here’s some more details:

*]The cantor is a woman who will know many (most?) of these pieces already
*]I’m sure she will do a good job. She’s a very good singer, and in multiple choirs.
*]I don’t believe we will be hiring an organist
*]The congregation will not be very big (~50 people, many or most of them kids)
*]This Mass is for a special event, not a parish Mass
*]With almost everything (besides the propers) I say: “The cantor”, but I will also be printing it out for everyone, so if they want to participate, they can also join.


The Gloria: I was already debating on weather to use Gloria XV. I think I will probably end up using Gloria VIII (Gloria De Angelis). About singing it antiphonally, I would love to do that, but I really don’t think we could pull it off. The congregation would not sing enough. I’ll print it, so anyone who wants to sing along can.

Alleluia, Gospel Acc: I was also debating this. I think I will probably just use alleluia VI. I’m also familiar with the matching psalm tone, and I will probably use it too.


I’m pretty confident that the cantor I’ve hired will do an excellent job. You make a very good point: If people’s first experience with chant is a bad one, well… things won’t be pretty.

“The repertoire is much too difficult to do in just a few weeks” The cantor will know much of it already, so she will only really need to learn the propers and the last two things. I might also skip the “ave maria” if it doesn’t come together. Better done not at all then done badly.

I’ll make it good!

I actually like Gloria XV, but then again, I’m kind of an oddball already. :smiley:

Most of your congregation will be kids? I hope they’re music students.

  • Ok, since it is a for a special event, I can see how this could work. Are the people attending this special event/mass used to this kind of music or will it be totally new to them?

  • That’s good if the cantor knows many/most of the pieces. Have you rehearsed with her to be sure that she is doing what you want her to do with the chants? It’s always good to do at least one rehearsal.

  • If you have the budget, see if you can hire a good organist. Although chant is meant to be sung a capella (and is better a capella - if the choir or cantor is good), the use of an organ to support the congregation can be very helpful… especially to people who may not be as confident or as well-versed in chant.

  • If you can, print out the music to the chants as well, but I would suggest to not use the numes, but a modern notation of the music for those who have some music training but not enough to be able to decipher the numes. Some places do print the numes in the programs and I know just speaking to my family, some of whom had music training when they were younger, the numes are like Greek to them.

Good! :slight_smile: Again, just make sure you have a rehearsal with the cantor to be sure she is doing everything to your liking. Agree with you in regard to the “Ave Maria” as well.

I’m sure you will. :smiley:

Being an oddball is a good thing… at least in my opinion. I’m one myself. :stuck_out_tongue:

You go for it MC. None of these other questions will be answered except by doing it. Its about time some parishes got off their “Kumbaya” duffs. Now if the kids can do it, then the adults had better pipe down.
I strongly encourage you to try it.
God Bless.

That is totally true. I taught my choir kids the simple chants and they were the ones at my wedding in the congregation singing them loud and clear over the adult guests. (I put them in our program so that everyone could sing.)

That all said, MC has to be sure he does it right and well… which I have every confidence that he will. Based on his posts, I believe he will know what to leave in and take out after he rehearses with the cantor. The worst thing is to not do it well.

I’m so glad you’re printing it out! That will be immensely helpful, unless the children present don’t read. I personally appreciate any printed help when there is something happening that I’m unfamiliar with.

I’m not getting this impression from the OP. But there are a few others chiming in…well, here’s what I’m trying to say nicely.

You should select the music because the Holy Spirit is leading you to select it. You should NOT select music because you want to prove something, or start a revolution, or make a point.

This is not “Top That Tune.” This is the Mass.

I think it’s admirable to introduce a congregation to more ancient forms of music, and if it’s done well, it might even convince skeptics like me to not hate it.

But if it’s being done out of arrogance or a desire to jettison the “folk songs” in favor of “better” music, that will come across. The congregation will sense that this music isn’t about Jesus, its’ about proving something. Some will cheer, but others will be upset.

Again, I don’t think the OP has this attitude. I’m just getting the feeling that a few others do, and I would caution them to examine their motives.

Truly, the most important thing as a musician (sacred and secular), at least to me, is to treat each piece of music as a prayer and to humbly ask God to inspire you in order to spiritually inspire others.

I personally don’t think any of the musicians who have posted so far has presented that particular attitude, but it is a nice caution none-the-less.

Exactly. I also believe that the holy spirit inspired the church to state clearly that chant has the “pride of place”. Not that it needs to be used exclusively, but I do believe that the church wishes that it be used much more than it currently is being used.

Also, with my processional, offertory and communion chants, my choices are directly inspired by the holy spirit, if I dare say, because they are the chants (ok, translations of chants) that the graduale (the official music book of the roman rite) gives for the 5th Sunday of Easter. It is sure easy making decisions like this!

You sum up my point very well. I’m not trying to shove this down anyone’s throats, and I’m not trying to take a stance, make a point, prove something, or show how super-traditionally-wonderfull we are…

It certainly is a valid option, that’s clear as day. If you’ve read the documents, you’d be crazy to say it wasn’t. But the main reason I’m doing it because I believe it is the right thing to do, and that it will add much beauty to the liturgy (if we do well).

God bless everyone! I can’t answer everyone, but I am reading your suggestions! Keep em’ coming.

It a whole range of people. Some of the kids go to a high Mass every week, some probably rarely hear chant, but in general, it’s a pretty conservative group, so I think most, if not all will be open to it.

I would love to hire an organist, especially since we only have one cantor singing everything, but unfortunately it’s not really a possibility. I would also have to find accompinients for everything if I did! :eek:

I would love to do that, but I’ll need to find time to transcribe everything. I’d love to do this, but we’ll see.

That is a good idea. I’ll probably have her arrive early too to run through everything again.

I guess that makes 2 of us!:smiley:

Here’s my latest lineup, with the changed items highlighted. Comments?

*]Introit: Cantate Domino, sung by the cantor (SEP)
*]Kyrie: Jubilate Deo, sung by the cantor and the people alternating (two-fold kyrie)
*]Gloria: Gloria VIII
*]Responsorial Psalm: To a psalm tone (see below)
*]Alleluia: Mode VI
*]Gospel Acc: English, to a psalm tone (see below)
*]Credo: Spoken
*]Intercessions: Spoken, by a reader (or cantor)
*]Offertory Chant: Jubilate Deo universa terra, sung by the cantor (SEP)
*]Preface Dialog and Preface: Sung by the celebrant
*]Sanctus: Jubilate Deo
*]Memorial Acclamation: Jubilate Deo (Mortem Tuam)
*]Per Ipsum: Sung, by the priest
*]Amen: Simple Chant
*]Pater Noster: Chanted by all, english. Introduction chanted by the priest if possible.
*]Agnus Dei: Jubilate Deo
*]Communion Chant: Tanto tempore, sung by the cantor (SEP)
*]Communion Piece: Sub Tuum, Ave Maria, maybe Adoremus in Aeternum
*]Recessional: Regina Coeli (simple tone)

Here’s what changed:

I changed the gloria to de angelis, removed missa de angelis from the kyrie (to encourage the congregation to sing), simplified the psalm, alleluia and it’s verse, and added the sub tuum, a lesser known, but awesome chant piece. It’s one of the oldest prayers to Mary we have (possibly as early as 250ad) Here’s a good recording of it, along with the text.
Sub Tuum being chanted (starting at 0:09). Really. Check it out.

Ok. :smiley: Not that kind of chant. Here’s a recording of the gregorian chant Sub Tuum.

It looks great. :slight_smile: I see that the Intercessions may be the cantor. If you can see if she can, have it chanted. I always loved it when the cantor does this.

hahaha! I clicked on the first link and I was like, wow! Those are some really on fire kids “chanting” or yelling away. And I actually found the same video that you posted at the end. It is hauntingly beautiful, which I like.

Hahaha! I was really surprised to find it. I tried to find an unaccompanied recording of the Sub Tuum, but there isn’t any on youtube! Figure that! It’s so beautiful too!

The one thing which stands out for me is that you have a Marian chant for Holy Communion. Perhaps others would disagree with me, but I tend to avoid Marian hymns at Communion, given that we are going forward to receive the Body of Christ. My suggestion would be that a Marian chant at the Offertory (or the recessional, which you have) would be more appropriate - it is certainly more traditional to have Ave Maria (or some such) sung at that point rather than at Holy Communion. A chant such as Ave Verum Corpus, O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo Sacramentum or Adoro Te Devote would be perfectly apt for Holy Communion - if I remember correctly, the last three are all in Jubilate Deo.

You’re right. I could switch them to the offeretory. The only thing is, this lineup will not be used. I just heard the Mass will be canceled. :frowning:

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