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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

Antiphons for the Dog Days of Ordinary Time
published 14 August 2013 by Andrew R. Motyka

WO WEEKS AGO, I attended the NPM National Convention in Washington, D.C. Despite some of the odd liturgical theatrics that have been hogging all the headlines since then, I found it to be an optimistic experience.

What makes me most hopeful for the future of American liturgical music was the renewed interest in the antiphons, from the basic “What are these antiphons in the new Missal?” questions being answered, to the closer looks at musical settings. There is a long way to go in our renewal, but even ten years ago ignorance of the very existence of these things we call antiphons would have been the norm.

What makes the renewed interest even more hopeful is that the publishers are getting on board with this movement, publishing several new settings of antiphons that I was able to browse while I was there. Normally, this kind of commercialization annoys me, but in this case I think it is a good thing. It shows that the publishers, too, are coming along for the ride.

Maybe it’s because the interest is so new, or maybe because it’s the logical place to begin, but I noticed that I have 30 or more vernacular settings of the propers for Advent, but I can count on one hand how many settings of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time I have seen. Many composers start with Advent, since it is the beginning of the year, or with one of the seasons, but few ever even get to the ordinal Sundays of the Year.

Several years ago, as I was tiring of using the rotation of Eucharistic hymns in the hymnal my parish owned, I started composing vernacular settings of the Communios in the Graduale Romanum. Couple these with the psalms listed in the Gradual, and you have yourself a serviceable amount of processional music. Inspired by the phenomenal work being done on the Chabanel Psalms by my colleague here, Jeff Ostrowski, I started posting them online at the site:


(That’s the ridiculously memorable domain “communionantiphons.org,” by the way.)

They’re free, and they include all Sundays of the three-year liturgical cycle, with accompaniments and practice recordings. They are compatible with the Gregorian Communios of the Gradual, and can be used in conjunction with them or singularly as Communion processionals. Have a look, and use some new music, with texts assigned by the Church, during these Dog Days of Ordinary Time.