Friday, December 03, 2010

New Liturgical Music Databases: Introducing Two Sacred Music Initiatives for EF and OF

Guest Article by Jeffrey Ostrowski

Some NLM readers will be familiar with Corpus Christi Watershed's video work with the Church Music Association of America, or perhaps the Birmingham Oratory. However, in just three years, Corpus Christi Watershed has also gotten a very good start on numerous Liturgical Initiatives. We currently provide (for free and instant download) about 4,500 Sacred music scores, 1,500 Mp3 recordings, 1,000 practice videos, and close to 600 rare Gregorian chant treatises. We have been encouraged by the response, as we currently average close to a million web hits per month. Space being limited, I'd like to highlight just two of our more recent Liturgical initiatives in this post.

The first is (Extraordinary Form).

This new website provides all that could be needed for the singing of Gregorian chant. Incidentally, this is due in large part to the extreme generosity of Notre Dame de Triors Monastery, which gave
permission for Watershed to post the Community's chant recordings on our sites. Please consider supporting these monks, if you can. Their magnificent Gregorian chant CD's can be purchased in France (click here) or in the United States (click here). provides hundreds of the following items, all available for free and instant download:

1. Free PDF scores, formatted to always fit on one page. (click here for instant preview)

2. Audio recordings. (click here for Mp3 audio)

3. Organ accompaniments, for those who desire them. (click here for instant preview)

4. Simplified versions of the Gradual & Alleluia Verse from the Chants Abrégés. Example ScoreAudio

5. Complete Latin texts (with accents) followed by English translation, formatted to fit on one page. (click here for instant preview)

6. Carefully written out Psalm Tones for each chant (for choirs not yet ready to tackle the full propers). (click here for instant preview)

7. Practice videos, which scroll the music as the singers chant. (click here to see how they appear on the site)

Clicking on the "VIEW ALL" button on displays the entire Liturgical year (exactly the same as, which is for the Ordinary Form). As you can see, we already have a good start (although, of course, as with any project, there are still improvements that need to be made). Our prayer is that Almighty God sends us the funds we need to finish the project.

The second is the St. Charles Garnier Gospel Acclamations Website (Ordinary Form).

As you can see by the website, each Sunday is clearly presented, since so many of our Catholic cantors and organists are volunteers (and usually severely overworked). We use beautiful, dignified settings of the Alleluia (mostly taken from the Graduale Simplex), yet the Alleluias are very simple, to encourage congregational participation.

More than twenty settings of these simple Gospel Acclamations can be acquired here (available in print, as well as by free download), in both modern and Gregorian notation.

Those familiar with the Chabanel Psalms will not be surprised to find that, in my own contributions, I'm not content with only one harmonization of the Alleluia. I always give at least four "tailor-made" harmonizations: (A) when the organist introduces (harmonically "loaded"); (B) when the cantor sings alone (sparse); (C) when the congregation repeats (full); and (D) at the final repetition (usually with walking bassline). This example in honor of Fr. Simon Le Moyne is one of the hundreds of organist scores we provide (click here for instant preview). Each of the verses is always carefully written out and harmonized, as this example shows:

Aristotle Esguerra's gorgeous settings are a cappella, and follow Gregorian psalmody in a relatively strict fashion (click here for Mp3 audio file). Our training videos teach cantors the tone by means of a modal formula (which has raised a few eyebrows), but here we're actually employing the same method as the ancient chant manuscripts. Current contributors to the site include Fr. Samuel Weber (Year C), Aristotle Esguerra, and Kevin Allen. We hope that, as the site develops, more and more Catholic composers will contribute, as
happened with our Chabanel guest composers.

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