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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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When you consider that the greatest hymns ever written—the plainchant hymns—are pushing the age of eight hundred and that the noble chorale hymn tunes of Bach date from the early eighteenth century, then what is the significance of the word “old” applied to “Mother at Thy Feet Is Kneeling”? Most of the old St. Basil hymns date from the Victorian era, particularly the 1870s and 1880s.
— Paul Hume (1956)

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Important Resources for Liturgical Reform (6 of 7)
published 13 August 2014 by Andrew R. Motyka

ET’S SEE: CanticaNOVA, CPDL, the nearly-infinite number of resources offered here on CCW. All these have already been presented by my esteemed colleagues. I liked this “series” idea better when I could go first and take all the good ideas.

In seriousness, though, here are some good resources for the primary tools we each have at our disposal: cantor, choir, and organ.

An often overlooked resource for the parish choir is the Graduale Simplex. This book, which originally was published in 1967, has much simpler settings of chant propers than the Graduale Romanum. One challenge is that, since the first edition was released before we even had a revised order of Mass, it can be difficult to line up and use liturgically. Thankfully, we have several derivative works that make it more accessible in the average parish. First is Paul Ford’s By Flowing Waters. It is a relatively straightforward English adaptation of the chants found in the Simplex, with some accommodations to the tunes to more easily accept the English text. A second, more unknown resource is Aristotle Esguerra’s Choral Simplex, another English language setting, but in SATB harmony. Esguerra’s treatment of the melodies and adaptations for choir shows an elegance and a clear mind for choral singing. I strongly recommend it.

Since most parishes only have one “choir Mass” per weekend, resources for cantors can be helpful, too. I would be far too selfless if I didn’t mention these Communion Antiphons, and selflessness is something I can only aspire to. They are antiphons settings that are free, simple, free, congregational, accompanied, modal, complete, and free.

Lastly, I would like to call to attention a not-specifically-Catholic resource, but one I think needs to be known nonetheless. Just like CPDL (the Choral Public Domain Library) offers thousands of free choral scores online, IMSLP (the International Music Score Literacy Project) offers free choral AND instrumental scores. This is a great resource if you are an organ hack like me who needs to broaden your organ-literature horizons greatly. There are thousands of free scores, searchable by many criteria, including instrumentation, genre, solo type, etc. Care needs to be taken about whether or not each score is actually in the public domain in your country, however. Since IMSLP is based in Canada, where everything falls into the public domain in 50 years, there are some scores that are free on that website that are illegal to download in the US. Watch your dates and you’ll be fine. This is a pretty minor drawback considering the volume of usable scores on the site.

We directors are always on the lookout for free resources for our choirs and music programs in general. Hopefully you can find some use for these, as well as the others in this series.


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