Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Potentialites for English Chant and Polyphony

We have been discussing here over the past few days the potentialities of the English Missal for the Ordinariate and also what potentialities might exist for the usus antiquior if similarly hieratic English propers and chant were to made available as options for something like the proper of the EF Mass -- and if that might not prove fortuitous to the EF and its broader influence within the Church.

One of the reasons I showed photos of the English Missal was because it gives a sense of what it is on the one hand, and it also gives those who love the traditional Roman rite and its liturgical books a bit of a sense of how something might similarly "look and feel" within that context -- since it is so similarly constructed; what I am suggesting is that the visuals can help to turn an otherwise abstract idea into something suddenly more real and tangible.

That said, what pictures cannot show are how something like what we have been discussing might sound, in particular how an English chant might sound within this context. Accordingly, I wanted to share the following clip of an Introit which comes from a past CMAA colloquium. While this comes within the context of the OF and the text used is not within a hieratic English form, I think you still give you a sense of the potentials that exist.

(Needless to say, all of what has been said here about hieratic English, chant and polyphony also should be understood as also applying to the Ordinary Form as well.)

Here is another example, this time coming within the context of the weekly celebration of Sunday Vespers at the Toronto Oratory:

Of course, closely related to the matter of English chant is the question of English polyphony. Those of you familiar with the likes of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd or Healey Willan will likely already be very familiar with the potentialities that exist here. But for the sake of completing our musical considerations, here is a sample nonetheless. The following is from Willan's Missa Brevis no. 5 in F sharp minor. If you go to the 2:09 mark, you will hear his version of the Gloria in hieratic liturgical English.

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