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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The Vatican Gradual cheered our hearts by restoring the authentic form of the hymns therein. But there are very few hymns in the Gradual. We looked forward to the continuation of the same work, where it was so much more needed, in the Vesperal, and then in the new Breviary. Alas, the movement, for the present, has stopped. The new Vesperal and then the Breviary contain Urban VIII’s versions. So at present we have the odd situation that in the Gradual the old form of the hymns is restored; but when the same hymn (for instance “Vexilia regis”) comes again in the Vesperal, we must sing the seventeenth-century mangling.
— Adrian Fortescue (25 March 1916)

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Rehearsal videos • “Come, Holy Ghost” (SATB)
published 11 May 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

UITE A SPECIAL EVENT is approaching: Sacred Music Symposium 2016. The culmination—to which you are cordially invited—will take place on 31 May. There will be Solemn Mass (4:30pm), followed by a ceremony with Archbishop Gomez. It was necessary to choose a harmonization for COME, HOLY GHOST, a hymn Catholics love to sing! The English translation is by Fr. Edward Caswall (d. 1878), and the melody was composed by Fr. Louis Lambillotte (d. 1855). I chose the following harmonization, by Giuseppe Moretti (d. 1927):

    * *  PDF Download • COME, HOLY GHOST (SATB w/ Organ)

EQUAL VOICES : YouTube   •   Mp3 Audio

SOPRANO : YouTube   •   Audio

ALTO : YouTube   •   Audio

TENOR : YouTube   •   Audio

BASS : YouTube   •   Audio

Moretti borrows a Renaissance technique where voices don’t always move in sync. I can’t decide whether I love it or hate it. I hope you will come to the events on 31 May—especially the Solemn Mass at 4:30pm—and you can decide whether this arrangement “works.” (The rehearsal videos don’t count, since it’s just my voice singing all the parts.)

We’d love to see you there!   …and you can meet the FSSP District Superior!

MANY READERS WILL KNOW the name of Fr. Louis Lambillotte (1796-1855), a Jesuit priest. Here’s a 1955 article about Fr. Lambillotte by another Jesuit, Fr. Paul Callens, who taught Gregorian chant in Corpus Christi, Texas, for many years. He also translated this letter by Dom Gajard, condemning plainsong adaptations in the vernacular & the Pius XII Psalter.

By the way, choir members often ask permission to “sing parts” for hymns. It is incumbent on the choirmaster—before permission is granted—to make sure the harmonies match. Hymns usually have several harmonizations. When the organist plays “A” while singers use “B,” the result is cacophony.

Finally, COME, HOLY GHOST is one of those hymns we’re not supposed to like. We’re supposed to say that homo modernus cannot appreciate such outdated, saccharine, quaint hymns. But I love this hymn—and many Catholics agree with me. When I call to mind my brother’s Confirmation, tears spring to my eyes (even after all these years) and I’m moved to pray for him and thank God for his Confirmation. There can’t be too much wrong with a hymn that can evoke such feelings of love & devotion, right? (Just don’t tell homo modernus, please!)


A discussion about this post is underway.