Chant based Eucharistic settings

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Chant based Eucharistic settings

Post by organist » Thu Jan 26, 2006 5:28 am

Can anyone suggest good settings in Englsih of the Eucharistic acclamations and the Gloria which have a basis in plainchant or a "chant" feel? The late beloved Alan Rees's Modal masses and Paschal Mass come to mind. Dom Philip Gaisford perhaps. Please supply details of publisher and where they can be obtained.

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Plainsong-style Mass Settings

Post by John Ainslie » Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:13 am

I have just started using an English plainsong-style setting in my parish. Two Sundays old, but the congregation (or as many of them as sing) has got the hang of it. Based on Gloria XV, but enriched with a phrase from Gloria XII and a low Te-Deum-style middle section. I'll happily share it: email me on [url][/url]

We use a version of Sanctus XVIII at all weekday Masses and sometimes on Sunday as well. When there is no organist or instrumentalist there's nothing quite like the simplicity of the plainsong idiom. And when I forgot to bring the accompaniment book for the organist last Sunday :oops: it was remarkable how well the congregation responded to unaccompanied singing :o .

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Post by mcb » Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:56 am

Missa Ubi Caritas by Bob Hurd (OCP). The Eucharistic Acclamations are based on the plainchant melody for Ubi Caritas, and other parts are in similar vein. There are vocal harmonies in the style of simplified Duruflé, and a mixture of English and Latin (the Sanctus has both an English and a Latin version).

There are penitential rites (1 and 3) adapted for different seasons. The Gloria is a bit more adventurous - a refrain with dance rhythms alternating 6/8 and 4/4, and chanted verses. The collection also includes some hymns - a setting of Ubi Caritas (to an original melody) with English verses, a hymn for Lent called Led by the Spirit, an arrangement of Gaudete (of Steeleye Span fame) in two versions - easy and dead hard!

Overall it's a wonderful collection. I don't know of anything else we've got where we sing almost everything in the book. We've been doing it for a number of years now, and have gradually built up to having pretty much the whole collection in our repertoire, and the congregation sing it well. (The Agnus Dei, in particular, is a favourite). I recommend it.


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Post by ssgcgs » Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:10 pm

If the Gloria John Ainslie refers to is the one we shared at Composers' Group last October, wouldn't it be useful for that to be made available as a download on this Forum?

Reflecting on Eucharistic Acclamations to include congregation when many of them choose to exclude themselves, it may well be that the simplest, least adorned of settings is the thing to go for. It's on the weeks when the choir is depleted that you can put their effectiveness to the test. When you do echo settings (cantor/all) on these occasions, it can be very embarrassing if the cantor(s) sound louder than the response; so it was with us last Sunday!

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Chant based Eucharistic settings

Post by Anonymous » Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:47 pm

What about the 1974 missal tones for the Eucharistic Acclamations? They're simple and chant like. From what I can gather, they don't seem to be widely known and, in my opinion, should form part of the core repertoire to be used at any mass.

Furthermore, if you're ever considering the occasional use of Latin, you'll find that the melody for 'When we eat this bread...' is very similar to 'Mortem tuam...', making the transition easier.

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Re: Chant based Eucharistic settings

Post by Merseysider » Mon Feb 20, 2006 8:24 pm

cantator wrote:...the 1974 missal tones for the Eucharistic Acclamations...they're simple and chant like

..and incredibly boring, difficult to learn and uninspiring. And there's so much wonderful stuff around....

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Full Broadside Salvo - Wallop!

Post by sidvicius » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:04 pm

KA-BLAMMO! Great Shot, Merseysider. That'll make sure He never dares post here again!
Welcome to the Forum, Cant....oh, he's gone.

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Post by musicus » Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:54 pm

Welcome indeed, cantator; thanks for your practical and helpful post. I hope you make many more of them.
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Re: Full Broadside Salvo - Wallop!

Post by Merseysider » Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:42 pm

sidvicius wrote: That'll make sure He never dares post here again!

Apologies to Cantator (and Sid, of course). No offence intended.

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Post by polycarp » Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:38 am

Check out

It's Martin Baker's personal home-page but carries information about innovations with Gregorian chant at Westminster Cathedral. They're holding a chant workshop and the music for this is available for download on Martin's site. There is some interesting adaptation of chant for the English liturgy... worth a look.

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Post by Merseysider » Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:08 am

Spent quite some time last night persuading our small choir that a plainsong Kyrie (Cum Jubilo) might sound rather nice as part of the penitential rite. Half of them are in their late 70s and remember it from school and therefore want nothing to do with it. The younger ones who didn't know it liked the music but argued about the text. All-in-all, I can't see chant being accepted in our parish but will continue to offer occasional items.

Therefore, I'm sure the course which Martin Baker is offering is to be welcomed – until you follow the link to his website.

He says: "Catholics don’t sing because they are given the musical equivalent of fast food!" Could be true – except he gives no examples of "fast food" music and one is left with the impression it is everything which is not chant and polyphony. He's obviously not referring to Farrell and Haugen as, everywhere you go, their pieces are sung with gusto – well, except at one cathedral I can think of.

"What’s more," he says, "they have to pay to get this poor music!". Again, no examples given but I'd be interested to know how Martin gets his music for free.

His aim is not just to promote chant – he calls on readers to "join the campaign to rid the Church of music which is unworthy". Again, no examples given. Are we to presume he means Terry and Tozer? Or could it be Haugen and Haas? Perhaps it's Walker and Walsh.

I've asked this before on another thread, but how do some of our cathedrals get away with being anything but beacons of good liturgical practice?

Last time I was at Westminster, the cantor arrived in choristers robes and proceded to conduct us (literally) in an item which I, as a fluent sight-reader, found impossible. Then, the choir took over for the Sanctus – gave me a moment to gaze at the rather lovely mosaics.

What on earth is going on – and why?

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Post by polycarp » Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:44 am

I wonder why Martin Baker didn't feel the need to give examples of musical 'fast food' - it seems Merseysider was readily able to supply several names.

Of course, that something is 'sung with gusto' is no indicator of either worthiness or musical quality. Go to a football match if you want nothing but gusto.

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Post by Gwyn » Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:17 am

Musical fast-food for me would be those songs where only one word changes from verse to verse: "Let there be love shared . . . Let there be peace shared . . . Let there be blah-de-blah shared . . . Rather like a McD's Happy Meal, the food doesn't ever change but the little plastic teddy that you get is a different colour each time.

The Israeli Mass and its kin would (for me) fall well within this category.

I like to think that none of them were ever intended to endure for ever since they soon became lack-lustre and tired.

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With a moderator's hat on…

Post by PaulW » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:38 am

Careful folks! Let's not descend into a vitriolic exchange…
[takes off moderator's hat!]
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Post by PaulW » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:55 am

To my mind, not everything that Bach wrote is wonderful; not everything that is chant is by definition 'worthy'; not every piece of 'modern worship music' is automatically to be condemned. If you'd prefer to stick to the food allegory, eating rich fruit cake all the time gives you the *beep*. (Thought that'd not get through - just use your imagination!)

Perhaps here are some questions to consider:
  • The real test of worthiness is… what, exactly?
  • Is chant the only answer, or should it be better to consider a 'balanced diet' with plenty of taste, texture, colour - all things which would appeal to Jamie Oliver (with reference to Martin Baker's site)?
  • How does exclusive use of one form satisfy GIRM n38 where we are told that consideration should be given to the idiom of different languages and culture of different peoples - is the congregation at the cathedral only (monastic) white european, or are there in fact many cultures which could be drawn upon?
  • Is it good enough to deform the original chant, which usually is matched well to the stress of the Latin text, to English words whre the stresses fall in quite different places?
As an aside, the chant that Martin Baker uses for the Introit psalm: where does it come from? I had thought that it was one of Dom Gregory Murray's and therefore copyright would lie with the Trustees of Downside Abbey (though I note from McCrimmon's book 'Music for Holy Week and Easter' that the publisder claims the copyright as their own). If it is copyright, then surely it cannot be given away for free, without acknowledgement… As I could well be mistaken about the composer of the chant (Dom AGM may only have composed the response in the setting of the Responsorial Psalm ffor Maundy Thursday which I am thinking of , after all) can anyone throw light on the origin of this chant, please?
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