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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Pope Gelasius in his 9th Letter to the Bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the Bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution “Etsi Pastoralis” (§6, #21)
— Pope Benedict XIV • Encyclical “Allatae Sunt” (26 July 1755)

“Sanctus” Recorded By Young Ladies From Las Vegas • Fabulous!
published 1 November 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

E’RE CURRENTLY IN THE MIDST of planning next year’s Sacred Music Symposium. During last year’s event, I had the pleasure of meeting members from a wonderful Schola Cantorum in Las Vegas. These young ladies were bright, energetic, and had the most pure voices! They really took to heart what Dr. Calabrese and Dr. Buchholz taught them.

Several members agreed to help record a Palestrina SANCTUS (PDF), and I think you’ll agree the results are magnificent:

REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice have been created: locate #6962.

You owe it to yourself run through the Tenor rehearsal video. Could anything be more fun, especially in the Hosanna?

THIS SANCTUS IS FROM the same Mass as this Kyrie, so I won’t repeat what I wrote about the hymn tune. I would mention, however, that Palestrina adds a free countersubject to the Sanctus (marked in green). In the Benedictus—which we’ll upload soon—he adds two more! I eliminated the trio Palestrina wrote for “pleni sunt coeli” because that would have made the piece too long for our FSSP.la Masses—causing a delay for the priest. 1

When composers like Palestrina based Masses on a tune, it’s remarkable to see how they change their treatment in each movement. It could be as simple as adding a new countersubject. Or, it might be something “structural” like never beginning more than one movement with the same voice. In the KYRIE, the Soprano entered last, whereas in the SANCTUS it enters second.

I feel there’s something amazing about polyphony—something which grabs the ear of “homo modernus” instantly. Plainsong is powerful in a different way; perhaps a deeper way. For example, no one who sang the full version of the Offertory on 1 November, as we did, could fail to be moved. Consider the significance of the word “autem,” and the marvelous attention the unknown Gregorian composer draws to this crucial word.


1   Did celebrants pray slower in Palestrina’s day? Or did they sing faster? This is not easy to answer with certainty.