Friday, July 17, 2009

The Offertory Proper, Latin and English (updated)

Bruce Ford has updated his ongoing project of offering a second edition of his American Gradual, which can be downloaded free online.

This book is a complete Graduale for Sundays in the ordinary form: entrance, gradual and Alleluia, offertory, and communion chants. What he has done is take the original Gregorian melody and render it in English and put it on a five-line staff -- thereby bypassing the two most common reasons (or excuses) for not singing the propers at Mass.

In any case, using his editions allow any choir to put the language and neume issues on the shelf for a time, while still permitting the Gregorian melody to be sung. It thereby preserves the style of the Roman Rite, in a manner accessible to most singers immediately.

I have to admit that it took me a while to get use to the way these work. You have to play with the melody just a bit to adapt it to singing, permitting it to breath and stretch in intuitive ways, and the only way to do this is to experiment with it a bit until it sounds inevitable and correct. Each time I've used this in workshops the effect has been spectacular, generating a result appreciated by singers, celebrants, and people. All the propers can be sung with minimal rehearsal time, once you get the hang of it.

Here, for example, is the Offertory proper for the 16th Sunday Per Annum (this coming Sunday) in the Latin original and then with the Ford adaption following:


Here is a rendering by Aristotle Esguerra. wonderful!

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