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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 resides with his wife and children.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modem: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

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Important Resources for Liturgical Reform (4 of 7)
published 11 August 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

965 Gregorian HOULD CHURCH MUSIC be fun? I think so, but only recently realized this. A few months ago, I was alone in a room with a keyboard, waiting for my ride to arrive. The only book there was my collection of Chabanel Psalms. In case you don’t know, I usually detest my compositions after they’re published. (My friends who compose admit the same thing, so hopefully I’m not crazy.)

I began to play through some of my pieces. “Wow,” I thought, “this one isn’t horrible after all.” A while later, I was saying, “Hey, I actually kind of like this one.” As time went on, I realized that many of my psalm settings were really nice, and I was having fun singing through them. Then, I got worried.

“This is Church music. Is it supposed to be fun?”

YES, SINGING CHURCH MUSIC should be fun, although “fun” isn’t the best word. Singing the Psalms should be A DELIGHT. From what I can tell, the Church has always placed a great value on “keeping things interesting” at Mass. After all, we’re only human. So, the delightful melodies, the stained glass windows, the incense, and the entire liturgy ought to help us pray. As I mentioned in this article, variety helps prevent our minds from wandering. In the early centuries of the Church, the variety of antiphons and psalm tones helped the monks memorize the different Psalms—and there were tons of them! Nevertheless, the Church documents 1 have always stressed that everything done at the liturgy must be dignified.

You might like some of my psalm settings. You can download the entire collection here:

      * *  Saint Noël Chabanel Responsorial Psalms — 607 pages

You can also purchase bound books at that link (for a very reasonable price), but why purchase hard copies when you have the PDF file? I recommend doing so for the following reasons:

(a) it’s cheaper than printing on your own;

(b) bound books with beautiful covers are nice;

(c) you should obtain these while you can, because the future is unpredictable—even in the best of times!

NOW, LET ME TELL YOU about a truly marvelous collection you need to obtain. This collection of organ interludes for manuals only was composed by Dom Gregory Murray, and you can read the Preface by clicking here.

These pieces are TREMENDOUS.   Here’s a sample score:

      * *  100 Easy, Beautiful Organ Interludes for Manuals Only — Dom Gregory Murray

Here’s where you can purchase the complete collection:

      * *  Purchase this collection — from SheetMusicPlus

You won’t regret purchasing these!

Once upon a time, Watershed was going to look into publishing these, since many were written in the 1930s. However, this seems unlikely at this point. For one thing, I’ve been extremely ill since April, and this has made life quite difficult. That’s why I said above: “The future is unpredictable.”


7-part series:   “Important Resources for Liturgical Reform”

FIRST PART • Richard Clark

SECOND PART • Veronica Brandt

THIRD PART • Fr. David Friel

FOURTH PART • Jeff Ostrowski

FIFTH PART • Jon Naples

SIXTH PART • Andrew Motyka

SEVENTH PART • Peter Kwasniewski



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   Several significant quotes are given during this exuberant video.