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“In all this mediaeval religious poetry there is much that we could not use now. Many of the hymns are quite bad, many are frigid compositions containing futile tricks, puns, misinterpreted quotations of Scripture, and twisted concepts, whose only point is their twist. But there is an amazing amount of beautiful poetry that we could still use. If we are to have vernacular hymns at all, why do we not have translations of the old ones?”
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

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Thousands of Gospel Acclamations for Organ & Voice
published 8 July 2013 by Guest Author
What follows is a guest article by Mæstro Jon Naples.

BACKGROUND:

Y PARISH had just adopted the Vatican II hymnal as of Advent 2011. By the following Advent I was sending organ scores to Corpus Christi Watershed for the Garnier Alleluia site. Having the new hymnal provided our church with a unique asset as it is now the only book in our pews instead of the need for supplemental books and worship aids, etc. For the organist, cantor, and choir, the musical scores to the propers chants, responsorial psalms, mass parts, and hymns are just a few clicks away for easy download.

However, at that time I could not find published organ accompaniments for many of the Alleluia tunes found in the front of the book, including the Alleluia in honor of Father Chastellain which we use on Sunday. To that I had no choice but to start composing the organ parts to play on Sunday. Of course, a new verse tune had to be newly made for the cantor each week too.

Later, during the Colloquium of 2012 in Salt Lake City, I was surprised to discover that many of the downloadable scores, and even the varied versions of the new hymnal itself, were very recently composed and edited by so few people, mainly Mr. Jeff Ostrowski, the chief editor, and several other talented people who are working like mad to keep up the supply for a never-ending demand for new scores. Eventually I was offered the opportunity to help with a number of the Garnier tunes. Contributing scores gifted me with an opportunity to help out while it provided an outlet for my favorite hobby: music composition and arranging.


FOREGROUND:

N THE ARRANGEMENTS THEMSELVES, chant-like without time signatures, I try to provide a concise three or four-part accompaniment that works on the organ and keyboard through conventional part writing. The independent lines of music forming the harmony potentially makes them adaptable for an SAT, or SATB choir should such an option ever be desired. Although I do compose the verse tones, I am not the composer of most of the Alleluia tunes themselves. As I mentioned, they were in the front of the hymnal before I got to them.

For the verse tones, I first select and retain a few stock reciting tone formulas, and then add to, or “bend” them forming melodies to accommodate the differing texts each week towards what I would assert to be music’s vital function here: illuminate the gospel text through melody with enough musical friction to fire up the final Alleluia refrain. I am loathe to give a non-directive or tepid sounding musical setting of gospel text. For me, the art in music has always been that it can incise the listener’s understanding unawares, and drive home the message to move the heart as well as the mind. (As simple and brief as these settings are).

A sample may be found here:

      * *  Gospel Acclamation for 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time


THE REQUEST:

LTHOUGH I HAVE CONTRIBUTED NOW 500+ scores (many 1000’s of downloads), it is only now becoming clear that what lies ahead is to complete the three-year cycle. Therefore, if at all possible, please post feedback (specifics if possible) about my settings on the Garnier Alleluia downloads site so that I can try and retain what is working and discard or revise or at least not repeat what does not work. Such as, why the Alleluia in Honor of Father Martin Lawrence Jenco has not been used, to my knowledge at all, while other Alleluias I arrange seem to be in constant use. They include the Alleluias in honor of Frs. Bressani, Le Caron, Dablon, Chastellain, Vimont, Lalemant, Chaumonot, and Jenco.