Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Parish Book of Chant

For some years, people involved in sacred music have been frustrated by the lack of a viable parish resource for music that includes the sung order of Mass plus chants for people in traditional notation. We began dreaming about what the ideal would be. After Summorum, it must include Ordinary and Extraordinary Form. It must have the main chant hymns for the people. It should have English translations. It should have tutorial. It should be very affordable for all choirs, priests, families, and congregations.

Well, we never thought it would be possible, but work started last fall toward putting such a book together, with the invaluable help of Richard Rice. The result is The Parish Book of Chant, and, much to my own astonishment, it is about the go to print in a hardcover volume, ready for distribution in June 2008. The CMAA is now accepting pre-orders in quantities over 100.

The Parish Book of Chant is for those who seek to sing and understand the universal musical tradition of Catholic people. It is a hardbound volume, 182 pages, with a very beautiful cover and outstanding print quality, eventually available at a retail price of $14 per copy. It has been developed with the hope of bringing to life what the Second Vatican Council called a "treasure of inestimable value," which is our Gregorian tradition of song.

It is compiled and expertly typeset by Richard Rice (Communio) with the assistance of the CMAA and many people involved in sacred music in the United States.

Among its features:

  • It contains a complete order of Mass for both the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite and the Extraordinary form, in side-by-side Latin and English. The Ordos include the sung responses of the people and celebrant. In this respect, it serves as an ideal resource for parishes that use both forms or simply hope to emphasize the relationship between them.
  • It contains a large Kyriale, which is a collection of chants that make up the "ordinary" of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. These are the main sung parts of the Mass that are used throughout the year and the parts that all people are invited to learn and sing. This includes the four full Credos in addition to many Mass settings that have been beloved for the dominant part of Catholic history all over the world.
  • It collects 71 Latin chants, with English translations, that are for occasional use in Mass in various seasons of the year, such as hymns for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, as well as Marian hymns and chants for funerals and other occasions. These are hymns that constitute the most serviceable of the repertory, have inspired composers for ten centuries, and have been in the minds and hearts of Catholics for generation after generation.
  • All music is set on four-line staffs with newly typeset neumes that make the music crystal-clear for singing. The music also includes the traditional Solesmes markings to assist in rhythmic understanding
  • It includes a tutorial on singing chant that is invaluable for the beginner and can also teach the more advanced singer. It teaches understanding of signs, melodies, style, rhythms, and modes, all in a very brief section at the back of the book.

These features were chosen with the parish experience in mind. There is no existing resource that combines them into a single volume: the Mass, the people's music, tutorial, and translations. Again, this is not a reprint but a newly created book that offers the core of the people's Gregorian music. This book could be the most valuable resource yet produced to help Gregorian chant assume its "pride of place" in Catholic liturgy.

The CMAA will accepting advanced orders until April 15, 2008. You can go here to fill out the form.

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