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 lives with his wife and two children.
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“In all this mediaeval religious poetry there is much that we could not use now. Many of the hymns are quite bad, many are frigid compositions containing futile tricks, puns, misinterpreted quotations of Scripture, twisted concepts, whose only point is there twist. But there is an amazing amount of beautiful poetry that we could still use.”
— Rev. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

“The Organist At Sung Mass” —Fr. Adrian Fortescue
published 17 October 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

765 Fr. Adrian Fortescue IMAGE HE CHOIRMASTER does so many things only another choirmaster could appreciate. So much “hidden” work is required for the music on Sunday to be worthy—or, at least, as worthy as we can make it. When I am setting up fifty chairs, carrying heavy items up and down stairs, or spending hours sorting choir binders, I remember the words of Richard J. Clark: “Every technical detail and every rehearsal is a prayer.”

Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923) was a priest who truly appreciated the details of what we do, as you can see:


Learn about this book’s provenance by clicking here and scrolling to the summary by Fr. Aidan Nichols. 1

In the 1990s, Fr. Valentine Young always encouraged the organist to play the recessional melody softly during the LAST GOSPEL—and we always do that here in Los Angeles. I once received a nasty email from someone claiming to be an “expert” in Sacred music (whatever that means!) declaring it was utterly forbidden to play during the Last Gospel and “there is absolutely no precedent for this.” He failed to realize that much of what we do as choirmasters is not written down; it’s a living tradition.

For the record, notice that Fr. Fortescue agrees with Fr. Valentine:

766 Fortescue The Organist At Sung Mass

What Fr. Fortescue says about the Offertory is 100% accurate, but nowadays the Communion time is even more nerve-racking than the Offertory. That’s because depending upon the number of priests, it could last five minutes or twenty minutes. This was only beginning in the time of Fr. Fortescue, though. Until the reign of Pope St. Pius X, the priest alone usually received Holy Communion.


1   These pages are courtesy of Maestro Charles Cole, as the linked article explains.