Monday, May 15, 2006

Making Progress In Chant I
I had lunch with a colleague in a nearby parish today. It got me thinking about the implementation of chant--both in her parish and in my own. In no particular order, I'm going to address some challenges and make some suggestions in a series of posts on chant over the next several days. Anyway, my friend was asking me about the music in By Flowing Waters, the collection of chants from the Graduale Simplex and Jubilate Deo with English texts. How is it used? What can we expect from it? What's a good plan for implementing it? Good questions, all. One of the aspects we discussed is the near universal prevalance of hymnody and contemporary song at the places in which the Church expects the antiphon+psalm combo. My suggestion is that what we do today is a leftover from the four-hymn sandwich consumed at pre-conciliar low Masses that has strained through the needle eye to the post-conciliar liturgy. What, for example, would you do this coming weekend? Turn to page 106 to see that BFW gives you a section of Easter music with two settings for the Entrance-Psalm-Alleluia-Preparation-Communion set. The understanding is that the whole assembly will sing the antiphons with a choir or cantor taking the verses. Note that this is the model of singing promoted by the St Louis Jesuits from the earliest part of their career all the way to the present: an antiphon somewhat longer than a psalm refrain with verse text set to Scripture (often the Psalms) and reserved for solo voice, schola, or choir. My colleague has begun to introduce a chant or two as a call to worship. It's a good way to develop an affinity for the music by the assembly. Chant the antiphon with or without accompaniment. (My early preference might be with, mainly to keep a good tempo and provide reinforcement if the people sing.) Use a few verses by the psalmist. Keep it simple. Next time, I'll talk a bit about psalmody and its use for Entrance and Communion. Stay tuned.

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