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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 lives with his wife and two children.
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“Chants closely related to the readings should, of course, be appropriately transferred for use with these readings. For pastoral reasons also there is an option regarding the chants for the Proper of Seasons: namely, as circumstances suggest, to replace the text proper to a day with another text belonging to the same season.”
— Ordo Cantus Missae (1971)
Mass Propers In English
published 11 August 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

970 Catholic Missalettes Readings HEN PERMISSION was first granted in 1969 to replace 1 the assigned texts for Entrance, Offertory, and Communion, music directors were excited. However, 40+ years later, this “freedom” has morphed into a type of “burden,” leading many musicians to return again to the Church’s official prayers.

Before going further, please examine the Entrance Chant  for the 1st Sunday of Lent:

      * *  ENTRANCE CHANT: 1st Sunday of Lent

Below, I’ve provided ONLY THIS CHANT for ease of comparison. You might want to first listen to the Latin version, so you can see how closely each composer imitated it. You can also read an article with suggestions on setting the Graduale in English.

2014 • PROPER OF THE MASS FOR SUNDAYS AND SOLEMNITIES (1,200 pages)

Fr. Samuel Weber’s masterpiece will be released by Ignatius Press before the end of 2014. Practice recordings, organ accompaniments, and a cantor book will follow. Multiple versions for each chant are provided.   (more info)
      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Weber — 1st Version     •     (mp3)

      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Weber — 2nd Version     •     (mp3)

      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Weber — 3rd Version     •     (mp3)


2013 • LALEMANT PROPERS (391 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

The Gradual is here set to a very simple tone. The (approved) translation is identical to the Simple English Propers, Jogues Missal, and Gregorian Missal of Solesmes.
      * *  PDF Sample: Lalemant Propers     •     (mp3)


2013 • ENTRANCE, OFFERTORY, & COMMUNION ANTIPHONS (410 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

Peter R. Johnson uses modern notation and includes fully-notated Psalm verses.
      * *  PDF Sample: Peter R. Johnson     •     (mp3)


2012 • GRADUALE PARVUM (179 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

This book was created by the Birmingham Oratory under the direction of Fr. Guy Nicholls.
      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Guy Nicholls     •     (mp3)


2012 • ENTRANCE & COMMUNION ANTIPHONS (496 pages) — DOWNLOAD:   ENTR   •   COMM

Fr. Columba Kelly’s antiphons will be published in modern notation by OCP before 2014 ends.
      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Columba Kelly     •     (mp3)


2011 • CONGREGATIONAL ENTRANCE ANTIPHONS (211 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

Richard Rice’s Entrance antiphons were included in the St. Michael Hymnal.
      * *  PDF Sample: Richard Rice     •     (mp3)


2011 • SIMPLE ENGLISH PROPERS (439 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

This publication by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) has melodies by Adam Bartlett with typesetting by Steven Van Roode. Complete practice videos can be found here.
      * *  PDF Sample: Simple English Propers (SEP)     •     (mp3)

      * *  Ryan Dingess (SEP organ accompaniments)     •     (sample)


2008 • THE AMERICAN GRADUAL (415 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

Bruce E. Ford has adapted the official Latin melodies into English using modern notation.
      * *  PDF Sample: Bruce E. Ford     •     (mp3)


2006 • ANGLICAN USE GRADUAL (502 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

C. David Burt created this edition for Roman Catholics who (lawfully) use Anglican rites.
      * *  PDF Sample: Anglican Use Gradual     •     (mp3)


1965 • PLAINCHANT GRADUAL (543 pages) — DOWNLOAD:   VOL. 1-2   •   VOL. 3-4

Palmer & Burgess have adapted the entire Graduale Romanum into English (square notation).
      * *  PDF Sample: Palmer & Burgess (1965)     •     (mp3)


1964 • COMPLETE ENGLISH PROPERS FOR THE HIGH MASS (176 pages) — (DOWNLOAD COLLECTION)

Paul Arbogast and his team adapted the Graduale into English using simple melodies.
      * *  PDF Sample: Fr. Paul Arbogast (1964)     •     (mp3)


Remember! These recordings were made by a soloist,
but the pieces should be sung by a Schola of singers.


ORE COLLECTIONS COULD easily be added to this list. 2 Some might ask, “What’s the point of all these Propers in English: why not Latin?” The reality is, most Masses in the United States are offered completely in the vernacular—something Vatican II never envisioned. In such cases, Latin Propers can sound aesthetically weird.

You probably noticed the different approaches 3 chosen by the composers above. For this reason, I recommend the following as your starting point:

      * *  Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, & Gradual — Pew Resource (2014)

It’s fully complete, includes the Latin & English versions, and has been approved by the USCCB. Because the Jogues uses the “sung” versions of the antiphons, there’s no difficulty if parishes occasionally “mix in” the authentic Latin pieces, like the Communion antiphons from the Graduale Romanum.

HE CHANTS FOUND in the Roman Gradual are incredibly ancient, going back more than 1,500 years. The following image is from 1390AD, but the same piece could easily be shown from 1100AD or 850AD. Can you find the chant we’ve been talking about throughout this article? Remember, it’s called Invocabit Me, and here’s a hint: the initial letter “I” is humongous!

971 Missalette


Roosevelt was President while paralyzed. Churchill gave speeches but couldn’t pronounce “S” correctly. Surely, then, we can begin to implement Mass Propers with these 11 collections!



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   Permission to substitute “another liturgical chant” (alius cantus congruus) went far beyond §32 of Musicam Sacram (1967) and surprised many liturgists. This may explain why Bugnini concealed the GIRM from all other curial offices until it had already been approved.

The Latin word cantus should be translated as “chant.” While cantus can sometimes denote other musical genres (e.g. songs), Latin has more specific words for such items: hymnus, carmen, cantilena, and so on. Because Latin is 3,000 years old, it’s necessary to understand context. The context here clearly points to “chant.” Moreover, the GIRM uses specific terms like hymnus in other places. However, hymns and songs have replaced the assigned texts by means of the “alius cantus” option since the 1970s, and priests ought to be sensitive to this fact.

2   Andrew Motyka set English translations for all the Graduale Communion antiphons here. Richard Rice set the Propers using simple harmonies in his Simple Choral Gradual. His version of the above chant is here. A similar collection of choral Propers was created by Healey Willan in 1957. His collection is worth purchasing, and his Alleluia settings are noteworthy. Willan’s version of the above chant is here. In 2005, Christoph Tietze created a collection of metrical Entrance chants to allow congregations to join in. Tietze’s version of the above chant is here. However, as we’ve discussed, attempting to “fit” the Propers into metrical hymn tunes usually yields inadequate results. The Propers have been set in Latin thousands of times, and a surprising number of these collections are available online. I plan to create a webpage enumerating them at a future date.

3   Some collections abbreviate the antiphons. Some omit the psalm verses, while others take them from Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum (Solesmes), and still others follow the recommendations in the Graduale Romanum. Some take the “spoken” chants in the Missal as their model, while others use the “sung” propers from the postconciliar Gradual. Various translations are used, since there is no official translation of the Gradual. Sometimes, the editors claim their translations come from the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, but this is misleading, since the Missal antiphons don’t match the sung versions, and entire sections were omitted from the Roman Missal (e.g. the Offertory antiphons).