Guide for Accompanying Mass

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FrGareth
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by FrGareth »

quaeritor wrote:Fr Gareth, are you happy for your guide to be circulated freely? - and would that be with or without attribution?

Please feel free to circulate with attribution - on the last page there is now a "copyleft" notice to that effect and a note of thanks to contributors on this forum!
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Gwyn
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by Gwyn »

An excellent thread and a very useful document.
Diolch Tad.
Gwyn.

Hare
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by Hare »

FrGareth wrote:Those defending the use of organ voluntaries in Advent seem to be correct. I have been led astray by old information - for the debate around this topic, see McNamara!


Thanks Father Gareth - there has been confusion on this one on more than one occasion on various forums!

Southern Comfort
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by Southern Comfort »

FrGareth wrote:Those defending the use of organ voluntaries in Advent seem to be correct. I have been led astray by old information - for the debate around this topic, see McNamara!


McNamara is notoriously unreliable! In the thread you have linked to, he cannot even get the date of one of the documents correct, :(

dmu3tem
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by dmu3tem »

First, could I say that the concept of a useful summary like this is a really good idea.

Next, could I suggest we prepare something similar dealing with the actual performance and arrangement of the music itself. At the very least it would be good to have a thread running on the forum along these lines.

The point is that the summary given here deals only with the selection and placing of music within a service. In other words it is dominated by liturgical considerations. These, though, are of little account if the music is poorly composed, arranged or performed. No matter how appropriate the choices may be liturgically, if the music is found wanting in these respects then the result will be pretty ghastly; and it is past failures in this respect that have so often given music in Catholic churches such a bad name.

Here I do not mean style (which is a matter of taste allied to appropriate liturgical judgement) but technique i.e. the methods one uses to achieve a certain result. Here are some possible avenues then to explore:

[1] Methods of accompanying a congregation using (a) a Pipe Organ - there was a useful introductory article on this by Alan Smith in Music and Liturgy a few years ago (b) Other Keyboards (c) Other musical instruments (d) combinations of (a), (b) and (c).

Note that these can include such aspects as - transposing the music up or down to suit instruments and voices, or rejigging the harmony and counterpoint, or subtely shifting the rhythm to match that of the text more (or less) exactly. These are all approaches that I use as a matter of course with each new set of hymn choices I get given every week.

[2] Methods of arranging music for specialist voices (a) working with the congregation (b) in alternation with the congregation (c) entirely separately from the congregation (d) in conjunction with other instruments (Pipe Organ, Keyboards etc as in [1]).

[3] Techniques of Organ registration - this you could say is a branch of [1](a); but it extends beyond combining the organ with voices to its use as a solo instrument and (more problematically) with other instruments.

[4] Techniques for encouraging the congregation to sing - and to learn new repertoire.

[5] Positioning of instrumentalists and specialist singers in a given building.

[6] Techniques of using microphones, speakers and other electronic audio media.

[7] Integration of the musical sounds with visual images - the nonconformist denominations are very alert to such possibilities.

These might do for a start; but I am sure there are many other avenues.

Throughout it would be very helpful to concentrate on musical techniques as opposed to rulings laid down by liturgists - useful though they may be. In discussion, even when the subject is supposed to be about the music itself, I have frequently observed that many people will do anything but discuss musical technique; and shifting the discussion to the meaning or appropriateness of a given text, or looking at liturgical rulings pertaining to it (important though these may be) is one strategy for such evasion. In fact, it is a confession that people feel they are not very knowledgeable about musical technique.
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alan29
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by alan29 »

I think each of those points are worthy of a thread.
They would need to be broad enough to cater for all levels of ability.
They would make an excellent series of study days for "reluctant organists."

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FrGareth
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by FrGareth »

dmu3tem wrote:First, could I say that the concept of a useful summary like this is a really good idea.

You could indeed, and I thank you for doing so.

dmu3tem wrote:At the very least it would be good to have a thread running on the forum along these lines.

I'm not a musician myself, so I leave it to those with the appropriate experience to edit and produce such a text. By all means use my notes to add those pesky liturgical requirements!
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Peter
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by Peter »

I’m responding a little late in the day on what I agree is a very useful document.

First, an editorial nit-pick. The title “Musicians’ Guide for Mass” is presumably the tile of the whole document, but as the next title “The Mass Part by Part” is in the same size, font and style it suggests that the earlier title applies only to the front page. A heading like “Introduction” or “General Principles” in the same style should follow the document title, which in turn should be in a larger font, or al capitals, or something to make it clear it is a heading that sits above all the others. Simply omitting the heading “The Mass Part by Part” would also solve the problem.

Page 1, 5th Para.: For all that this forum has seen the odd adverse comment about singing “one hymn to the tune of another”, what Fr Gareth is suggesting here is a trick I use a lot, as it enables unfamiliar words that are very pertinent to the feast or readings of the day to be sung with ease. It might be worth adding that many hymnbooks include an index of tunes grouped by metre, to make it easier to find a suitable tune for a given set of words.

One point that might be worth making is that just because a hymn is in the hymnbook it doesn’t mean it is OK to use! The new edition of Laudate omits some hymns that were included in the old one but have been deemed unsound and other older hymnbooks include hymns that are no longer in favour. A few years ago I was at Mass in a parish not a million miles from Fr Gareth’s (though not his, I hasten to add!) where a hymn since renamed “O Lord, I know you are near” was sung with its original text because that was in the book and when I pointed out that it was no longer acceptable was told something on the lines “Yes, we know and we stopped using it but other parishes in the area are still using it so we thought we may as well start using it again.”

Penitential Act, last comment: does the comment on the unsuitability of “Look around you” also apply to Gerald Markland’s “Lord, Have Mercy” (HON 323)? In the latter, the verses, based on Ezekiel, reflect the forgiveness of God (no person specified) rather than Jesus specifically, so does that make it unacceptable? The refrain is “Lord, have mercy” throughout but could easily be sung as “Christ, have mercy” the second time round.

Prayer of the Faithful: Is it worth adding here the four recommended categories of intention? Is it worth suggesting that provision be made for individuals to add their intentions, either by means of an intentions book or by allowing space for intentions to be called out? And, possibly most controversial, is it worth adding anything about the common practice of including the “Hail, Mary” or other Marian prayer?

Preparation of the Gifts: Is the implication here that if there is a hymn or other music the priest’s prayers should be silent with no response “Blessed be God for ever” from the congregation? At my church, we have a hymn but if it is finished before the priest says these prayers he does say them out loud and the congregation does make the response. Regarding the point about Aniceto Nazareth’s piece, I know one priest who used to sing his part, quite fast, and then slow down for the congregation to join in the response – but that was before the new translation came in.

The Eucharistic Prayer with its Dialogue and Preface: this heading might be usefully replaced with “Preface and the Preceding Dialogue” as the next few sections also cover the Eucharistic Prayer. Alternatively, the next two headings could be given a lower “weight” to imply that they are part of this section. Does the text of this section mean that the priest chanting the Preface may not have an organ accompaniment to support him?

The Sign of Peace: Does this need to discourage more emphatically the practice of people going round the church shaking hands with as many people as they can?

The Agnus Dei: Surely the priest himself can also chant the initial “Lamb of God”?

Music following Communion: this and the previous heading could also be given lower “weight” to make them part of the previous section. I welcome the point about Marian hymns: at one Confirmation Mass I played at a few years ago I was horrified to see “As I kneel before you” as one of the Communion hymns and was not impressed with the answer “The children chose it”!

Having finished making comments as I read through the document, I’ve just noticed the designation “Finalised edition” at the end. I hope the comments are not too late to be of use!

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FrGareth
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by FrGareth »

Thanks to Peter for a thorough set of observations...

Gerald Markland’s “Lord, Have Mercy” (HON 323) doesn't fall into the Kyrie Eleison format of a triple acclamation of what God has done, so fails to qualify for the same reasons as “Look around you” - though perhaps the refrain alone might find approval with "have mercy on your people" as the kind of small expansion which might be allowed. (Schutte's Mass of Christ the Savior got through with a final "Have mercy on us".)

This document was designed as a quick guide for accompanists, so it deliberately doesn't include comments on preparing the Prayer of the Faithful or managing the Sign of Peace. I already have a resource which deals with broader liturgy planning - though not yet updated with tweaks for the 2011 Missal.

Peter wrote:Preparation of the Gifts: Is the implication here that if there is a hymn or other music the priest’s prayers should be silent with no response “Blessed be God for ever” from the congregation?

Yes, precisely. The new Missal includes the rubric "If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim: Blessed be God for ever."

Peter wrote:The Eucharistic Prayer with its Dialogue and Preface: ... Does the text of this section mean that the priest chanting the Preface may not have an organ accompaniment to support him?

The new GIRM does indeed seem to say that the Priest should not be accompanied:
GIRM 32 wrote:The nature of the “presidential” parts requires that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen to them attentively. Therefore, while the Priest is pronouncing them, there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent.

Peter wrote:The Agnus Dei: Surely the priest himself can also chant the initial “Lamb of God”?

The priest has other prayers he is supposed to be praying quietly at this point. I only ever pronounce the Lamb of God myself if no-one else in the congregation has taken the initiative, or if the occassion (presence of many outsiders) requires an echo-and-response and there is no-one but myself available to cantor it.

Once again, thanks for a thorough review Peter, and if I should need to revise the document for more formal publication I will take the typographical observations on board.
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Southern Comfort
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by Southern Comfort »

FrGareth wrote:
Peter wrote:The Eucharistic Prayer with its Dialogue and Preface: ... Does the text of this section mean that the priest chanting the Preface may not have an organ accompaniment to support him?

The new GIRM does indeed seem to say that the Priest should not be accompanied:
GIRM 32 wrote:The nature of the “presidential” parts requires that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen to them attentively. Therefore, while the Priest is pronouncing them, there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent.


GIRM has had this stricture since 1969. It has been extensively analysed in other places, and in fact it does not mean that at all. The instruction is deprecating those who improvise (or "noodle", as the Americans would say) during the EP, which used to go on a lot in preconciliar days (and actually happened rather successfully at an SSG Summer School in 1972 — the organist listened very carefully to the text as it was being prayed and underpinned it skilfully, somewhat like silent movies but more discreetly).

Since the Romans can only conceive of the (rather boring) unaccompanied EP tone in the Missal, they have no concept of an EP or Preface tone with accompaniment. The expert commentators say that this paragraph is not in fact saying that the presider or concelebrants may not be accompanied if he/they need(s) to be; it is saying that other music which has no relationship to the EP should not be used simultaneously, nor other prayers (devotional), nor singing (harking back to the days when the Sanctus was sung over the first half of the Canon and the Benedictus over the second half, which some still perpetuate).

In other words, it needs to be read in the same frame of mind as those paragraphs which state that the organ and other instruments may always be used, even during the Triduum, for the purposes of accompanying the singing [but may not be played solo].

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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by justMary »

FrGareth wrote:Please feel free to circulate with attribution - on the last page there is now a "copyleft" notice to that effect and a note of thanks to contributors on this forum!


FrGareth, do you plan on adding a copyleft notice to your equally-helpful "Celebrant’s Guides: Mass Planning a Mass: an A to Z for the Perplexed" found at http://www.drgareth.info/MassPlan.pdf?

I'm dealing with a music co-ordinator stepping down from the role, and a PP who had said that our solution is that
- the liturgy committee will pick four hymns for each Mass at each monthly meeting (sure there's only 4 weeks, it will only take us 20 minutes!),
- we give the selections to the parish secretary who tells the rostered musician what the hymns are in enough time for them to learn any they don't know.

The proposal is so ludicrous that all I could say was "ok, that's an approach, let's tryt it for February". :shock: Especially once you know that our most faithful and helpful musicians plays by ear only, and generally cannot manage minor keys! And probably only two on the liturgy committee know what a key (major, minor or any other flavour) is.

I've been gathering resources for our next discussion, and your document is going to be very helpful.

Attention-spans aren't going to run to 20 pages, though, so I'm planning to print off just page 18 by itself, and tell people where to find the rest if they're interested.

Of course I could just grab your text and put a link on the bottom myself, but I'd rather use whatever attribution you might add, if such a thing is in your mind/workplan.

dmu3tem
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by dmu3tem »

justMary wrote:I'm dealing with a music co-ordinator stepping down from the role, and a PP who had said that our solution is that
- the liturgy committee will pick four hymns for each Mass at each monthly meeting (sure there's only 4 weeks, it will only take us 20 minutes!),
- we give the selections to the parish secretary who tells the rostered musician what the hymns are in enough time for them to learn any they don't know.

The proposal is so ludicrous that all I could say was "ok, that's an approach, let's tryt it for February". Especially once you know that our most faithful and helpful musicians plays by ear only, and generally cannot manage minor keys! And probably only two on the liturgy committee know what a key (major, minor or any other flavour) is.


I fail to see your difficulty, perhaps because I do not know your exact circumstances. On paper this proposal looks quite sensible - as an Organist I used to operate under just such a system. I got a list of the hymns for each sunday a month in advance and took everything from there. The key, surely, is for musicians to have enough notice, whether they perform by ear or not. If there is enough time, then any piece that is in an awkward key can be transposed up or down as appropriate (and other modifications made too). Does your problem lie in the fact that although the music is selected on a monthly basis, in practice you have considerably less notice? (e.g. the hymns for the forthcoming month are only fixed in the final week of the previous period). If it is, then certainly you have my sympathy. I currently suffer under a regime where the officiating minister only begins to think of what to do at the end of the previous Sunday service and sometimes I do not get a list of what I want till the evening of the following Friday.
T.E.Muir

JW
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by JW »

I'm not sure that choosing hymns by committee is a brilliant idea, given the entrenched differing views that there are. I'd love to be a musician given a list of hymns to play, with suitable notice, but I wouldn't want to be a member of a 4-person committee who chooses them. Nevertheless, I'd probably want to stick me oar in somewhere along the line!! Maybe JustMary's liturgy committee don't have that problem. The issue with the musician who plays by ear is easily resolved if that musician can provide a list of hymns to the committee that they can accompany.

I notice that JustMary doesn't mention Mass settings, psalms and Gospel Acclamations. Are these not sung - or are they sung unnaccompanied e.g. Missal Chants?
JW

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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by quaeritor »

JW wrote:The issue with the musician who plays by ear is easily resolved if that musician can provide a list of hymns to the committee that they can accompany.
- ? - as in "if you lot want any of these you can jolly well play them yourselves!" :twisted:

Ah the holes we dig with the politically delicate use of the third person plural to avoid implicitly hinting at gender! :lol:

Q

JW
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Re: Guide for Accompanying Mass

Post by JW »

quaeritor wrote:
JW wrote:The issue with the musician who plays by ear is easily resolved if that musician can provide a list of hymns to the committee that they can accompany.
- ? - as in "if you lot want any of these you can jolly well play them yourselves!" :twisted:

Ah the holes we dig with the politically delicate use of the third person plural to avoid implicitly hinting at gender! :lol:

Q


Well, we don't know if it's a he or a she :!: :wink: :lol:
JW

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