About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“One would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.”
— Ven. Pope Pius XII (20 November 1947)
Absolute Simplest Mass Setting Ever Written
published 8 March 2012 by Jeff Ostrowski

I have composed four (4) Masses that were included in the Vatican II Hymnal. The organ accompaniments for all four can be freely downloaded at the Mass Settings Website.

The Mass in honor of St. Ralph Sherwin (†1581) is a very simple Gregorian setting. I am so grateful this setting has been well received: it has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. The Mass in honor of St. Edmund Arrowsmith (†1628) is a slightly more difficult Gregorian setting. The Gloria from that Mass is my favorite. The Mass in honor of St. Edmund Jennings (†1591) is a metrical setting.

Now we come to the Mass in honor of St. Anne Line (†1601). Having already composed a relatively simple Gregorian, a more difficult Gregorian, and a metrical setting, I wanted the St. Anne Line to be the easiest and most simple Mass setting ever written. I imagined that this setting would be ideal for small parishes. It could also be sung a cappella on weekdays when no choir or organist is available. I thought it would remain without accompaniment.

However, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski expressed a desire to create an organ accompaniment for it. He made his own, and it is lovely. When I saw what Dr. Kwasniewski did, I was eager to create my own version, but I was worried. You see, the hardest organ accompaniments to write are those which accompany repetitious music. A few years ago, I was asked to create accompaniments for the St. Michael Hymnal (Fourth Edition). This was one of the hardest things I ever did, because most of the music they wanted was strophic (repetitious): the same verses (melodies) over and over again.

When one has, let’s say, twelve verses of a Gregorian chant that are the same thing over and over, it is not very artistic to use the same accompaniment for all twelve verses. The great organists and collections (like the NOH) never do that. So, when I was doing those St. Michael Hymnal harmonizations, I tried to vary the harmonies for each verse. As I mentioned, many of the pieces had numerous verses (e.g. CRUX FIDELIS, ANIMA CHRISTI, CONCORDI LAETITIA, SALVE FESTA DIES, BENEDICTUS, MAGNIFICAT, ADOREMUS IN AETERNUM, SALVE MATER, etc.). Click here if you would like to see how those accompaniments turned out.

So, I was nervous about the St. Anne Line Gloria, which is very repetitious. However, I was finally able to compose the harmonies, and I am very pleased with how the Mass came out. You can download this Mass and close to 300 pages of chant accompaniments by visiting:

Free Mass Settings using the New Translation of the Roman Missal • Website

I am so excited about this page: we’ve added a bunch of items. Here are just a few examples:

• Mass by Kevin Allen added
• Five (5) versions of the Pater Noster (Latin & English) added
• Gloria by Richard K. Fitzgerald added
• Complete accompaniments to St. Anne Line Mass added
• Additions to ICEL chants added (Van Nuffel, Peeters, and others)
• Improvements and corrections sent by Fr. Weber for his Mass (including Sanctus III)

This page is full of treasures. For instance, you can download three (3) special versions of the “Holy Holy Holy” (Latin) done by the NOH editors. How wonderful to have so many options!

Return to the Vatican II Hymnal

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