About this blogger:
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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"Nothing should be allowed that is unworthy of divine worship, nothing that is obviously profane or unfit to express the inner, sacred power of prayer. Nothing odd or unusual is allowable, since such things, far from fostering devotion in the praying community, rather shock and upset it—and impede the proper and rightful cultivation of a devotion faithful to tradition."
— Pope Paul VI • 10/13/1966

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“Vidimus Stellam Ejus In Oriente”
published 20 June 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

OMETIMES WE ENCOUNTER people who put too much of their imagination into interpreting music. On the other hand, certain things seem to me undeniable. For example, Fr. Cristóbal de Morales often has a strange Tritone relationship before the word “crucifixus,” to symbolize the “dissonance” of hanging God on a cross. Then, too, Morales frequently makes his point of imitation in the very shape of a cross at the “crucifixus” section. Francisco Guerrero, a student of Morales, was outstanding in his text painting.

I’m often skeptical of “text painting” claims. People will say, “Oh, the melody descends, so that means such-and-such.” But many melodies descend, and it means nothing! On the other hand, who would deny the text painting on the word REVÓLVIT?

431 rolled stone text painting Gregorian


If you examine the Communion for Epiphany (“Vidimus stellam ejus”), there seems to be an attempt at text painting on the word ORIÉNTE:

432 Vidimus


The composer (or later editor) might be trying to give an “oriental” flavor to those words, and the best way he could think to do so is a Tritone. For the record, “ad Oriéntem” occurs in the Communion for Ascension Thursday, and a similar figuration was used.