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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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Using the shoddiest, sleaziest material we have for the purpose of glorifying God is not very sound theology or even very good common sense. […] (In general, when you see a diminished seventh chord in a hymn, run.) And these chords are usually used in bad hymns in precisely the same order in which they occur in “Sweet Adeline.”
— Paul Hume (1956)

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Short And Simple Organ Postludes & Preludes
published 9 January 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

468 Saint Clotilde I RECENTLY REQUESTED suggestions for short & easy organ pieces that make nice Processionals & Postludes. Many of you emailed me, asking that I please share the results, which I have done below.

It seems that many recommend “The Liturgical Organist,” edited by Carlo Rossini. If possible, I’m going to try post some of these—once I obtain several of the volumes—since a good number are in the public domain. Here’s a YouTube Example of one.

Many also recommend the Pachelbel “Magnificat Fugues.” And many recommend a IMSLP (Petrucci Music Library of free organ scores).

*       *       *

Short postludes (and preludes) are always a topic of interest for me. I’m organist at a very small Anglican Church in America parish. It is quite often the case that playing a time or two through a beautiful hymn that is probably not familiar to most of our folks (i.e., not in the Hymnal 1940) is more than enough, time-wise, for a postlude. Next Sunday, for example, the postlude will be Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam from the J. S. Bach 371 Chorales. Last Sunday, Christum wir sollen loben schon from the Orgelbuchlein proved to be considerably too long, even though it is just one page. The priest loved it, though! It’s such a glorious piece, I couldn’t stand not to play it. On top of that, since being the organist is not my day job, finding time to prepare anything of length is problematic.

You probably already know about the Johann Pachelbel Magnificat Fugues. I’ve used some of these, and they proved to be quite effective, although relatively short.

[or use this alternate link.]

Another source of relatively short pieces is the Frescobaldi Fiori Musicali. You probably already have the amazing edition by Calvert Johnson.

Another collection of shorter works I have enjoyed exploring, mostly for preludes, is the Cesar Franck L’Organiste.

Then there’s the 80 Chorale Preludes, edited by Hermann Keller, which has proved very useful as a source of relatively short works.

Colin Mawby’s book of “Gregorian Processionals” has some very useful and attractive items, as does his “Gregorian Calendar” volume.

Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers:   001

CLICK HERE then click on “collections”

Clerambault: Plein Jeu

Dandrieu Magnificats:   001   •   002   •   003

Gordon Young published a collection of 11 organ pieces (Harold Flammer, IIRC). Not difficult, but solid stuff, requires pedal. At least one good processional and recessional plus short quiet stuff.

First section of Bach Prelude & Fugue in E, BWV 556

Vierne Carillon de Westminster is grand too!

I never cared for the Dupre Chorale Preludes, but they’re short

Flor Peeters – 60 Short Pieces

Langlais – Harmonium books – Vol. 1 is the most useful

Tournemire – Postludes Libres for harmonium

Guilmant – L’Organist Liturgique (and many others)

Tallis to Wesley series – Oxford University Press

George Thalben Ball – 113 variations on hymn tunes for organ

ANYTHING by George Oldroyd (Oxford)

Christus Vincit by Archille Bragers

Arresti: Ricercare

Buxtehude: Fuga in C BWV 174   •   Fuga in G BWV 175

Corrette:Noel Suisse

Pachelbel: Magnificat Fugues (almost all or great for short postludes)

Wayne Leupold Editions: Organist companion (subscription series—good for building an accessible organ repertoire)

There are MANY free preludes and postludes on the Petrucci library by Mathias Joseph Schafer, Johann Plag, J. B. Litzau, Hermann Luster, and Charles Tournemire. They vary in length and most are grouped by key.

In other words, search the Petrucci library for sets of nice preludes (vorspiele) under these names: Schafer, Plag, Luster, Litzau, and Tournemire.

I have a very old (1960) book of “Organ Postludes on all the Deo Gratias’s by just as many composers”—long title. Published by World Library of Sacred Music, Cinn, Ohio. My favorite is Mass V by John Larkin who taught at the college I attended, and played this piece for my wedding recessional in 1962, after singing a Gregorian chant Mass (I think-it may have been one of the Masses he composed) with a few vocalists. Other composers include Eugene Hemmer, Louis Huybrechts, Mrainus de Jone, Jean langlais, Jan Kern , Jan Nieland and others. I am not sure the music book is still in print.

Another thin book is “Six Quiet Meditations” by Robert E. Kreutz, published in 1980 by Today’s Missal, possibly Oregon Catholic Press today? Numbers 4, 5, and 6 I have used for postludes. Last time I needed a piece of music, I had to download it from the web! No such thing as a “real” music store any more, unless you want “popular” or guitar music.

I find the Volutaries by John Stanley work very well (especially as a pianist-turned-organist). Pedals are optional, and often not needed.

Op. 5, 6, 7

Of these, I use Op. 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 6.7, 6.9, 6.10 off the top of my head. (there are some neat ones in Op. 7, too.)   Prelude and Fugue Style and Prelude and Solo-stop feature are the two most common forms for these voluntaries. One can use individual movememts or play the whole thing. Hope this helps!

In response to your request for good (but short) organ processionals and postlude ideas, one of my favorites is Festive Trumpet Tune for organ solo, or organ and Bb Trumpet by David German. The 1992 edition sheet music (BG0920) is available from Fred Bock Music Company. [wesbite]

A wonderful organist from the DC area introduced this to us. People love this piece—and for the organist, although sounding magnificent, is quite simple to play. Youtube has many performances available.

I play a lot of Dandrieu, Guilain and Clerambeault as postludes. They are short, grand and not too difficult. Most people are out the door anyway.

Here are some Dialogues by Guilain:   001   •   002   •   003   •   004

For poslude (if your pastor/congregation doesn’t mind it’s really loud) go for Grand-jeu, in French baroque tradition, which are very often written in the style of a orchestral suite prelude (short, slow introduction, fugue, possible a slow ending). Some Offertoires might be an option, but these are often quite long (Couperin’s are up to 10min). Here’s an EXAMPLE by Guilain. And the best thing about this is that there are tons of French baroque organ sheet music available for free on IMSLP.

We used the Prelude from Jean Langlais’s Suite Medievale as a processional for our nuptial Mass last week. Here’s a YouTube Recording.

The classical French organ pieces work excellently (providing you familiarize yourself with the registration conventions of 17th-18th cent. France and can approximate it on your instrument). Plein-jeu’s work very well as Processionals (they are usually within 2min) e.g. the Couperin one (here’s a YouTube Example).

Anything that is in common meter, moderate to slow tempo, strongly accented we work. Check out out the collections for harmonium or organ from the French Romantic composers like Boëllmann, Guilmant, etc. There are a lot of these on International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP). They are usually listed under “Sortie.”

Little Fugue in G Minor, JS Bach

Fugato, Van dehn

Agincourt Hymn, John Dunstable

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet”, Carl Simone

Tuba Tune, C. Lang

The Heavens Declare, Marcello

The Heavens are Telling, Haydn

Festal Flourish, Gordon Jacob

Now Thank We, Karg-Elert

Rigaudon, Andre Campra

Sortie Fughetta, Th. Dubois

Prelude in F Major from the “8 little”, JS Bach

A List of Useful Organ Collections of Preludes, Processionals, Offertories, Interludes, and Postludes

OCP Organ Book, 2 Vols.: Kreutz, Alstott, Fonder, Lindusky

The Liturgical Organist: Carlo Rossini (7 vols. J. Fischer)

The Parish Organist: 12 Vols (Concordia)

16 chorales: Le Tombeau de Titelouze—Marcel Dupre (I am not a fan of the 79 chorales but I like these)

Organ music/Chorale Preludes of J.G. Walther (4 vols)

Concordia Hymn Prelude Series (around 24 vols)

36 Short hymn preludes and postludes (3 vols) Healey Willan

30 Hymn Preludes (in 3 vols) Healey Willan

A Gregorian Liturgical Year (2 vols so far): Gerald Near (Aureole)

Chantworks (3 vols) Gerald Near (Aureole)

Choraleworks (3 vols) Gerald Near (Aureole)

St Augustine Organbook: Gerald Near (Aureole)

Mass for the Convents: F. Couperin

[Mass for the Parishes: F. Couperin—less useful]

Magnificat Fugues— Pachelbel (Dover)

Sixty Short Pieces—F. Peeters (Warner Bros)

35 Miniatures—F. Peeters (Warner Bros)

Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year—F. Peeters (24 vols, pub by Peters)

L’Organiste: 60 short pieces—C. Franck (Warner Bros)

Organ Music—Gordon Young (Sacred Music Press)

Augsburg Organ Library (about 12 vols) (Augsburg Fortress)

36 Miniatures for Organ— Noel Rawsthorne (Kevin Mayhew)

Blue Cloud Abbey Organ Book—Christopher Uehlein

A Collection of Hymns—A. Fedak (Warner Bros)

Music for Manuals—Peter Hurford, Ed, 4 vols (Oxford)

80 Chorale Preludes (Pub by Peters) mostly simpler than Bach’s Orgelbuchlein

60 Devotional Pieces (Elevations)—Dom Paul Benoit

Hymn Improvisations (about 12 vols)—Paul Manz

12 Choral Preludes on Gregorian Chants for Organ—Jeanne Demessieux (Warner Bros)

Rejoice in God’s Saints—D. Cherwien (Augsburg)

Neumeister Chorale Collection—J.S. Bach (Yale/Barenreiter). Newly discovered in The 1980’s at Yale.

Short and Easy Organ Collection: 100 pieces (Mayhew)

Contemplation: Gentle Music for Organ (Mayhew) Mayhew has several other large collections of accessible, modern, good quality organ music written primarily by English Cathedral organists.

The Grand Masters—2 vols, compiled by Charly Martin (editions Foetisch)

Orgelmusik im Gottesdienst—2 vols (Peters) some very different items here from the classical repertoire.

The Practical Organist—Guilmant (Dover)

10 Voluntaries—William Boyce (Oxford)

39 Voluntaries—John Stanley (Oxford)

Voluntaries—Peter Prelleur (Oxford)

Organ Music—S.S, Wesley (Oxford)

Organ Music—William Croft (Oxford)

Organ Works—Pachelbel (Dover) includes chorale preludes

Hymn Preludes for the Church Year, 2 vols (Mayhew)

Organ Works—Boehm (Warner Bros)

The Organist’s Luturgical Year (Mayhew)

Noels by Daquin, Balbastre, and Dandrieu (Warner Bros—a total of four vols)

First Organ Book—Clerambault (Warner Bros)

Deck Thyself, My Soul, With Gladness—David N. Johnson

The Organ Works—Russell Schulz-Widmar (Warner Bros)

The Oxford Book of Christmas Music

Cantantibus Organis (19 vols, I believe) (Otto Heinrich Noetzel Verlag—avail online as PDFs—massive collection)