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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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A lot of the favoured new settings are musically illiterate, almost is if they were written by semi-trained teenagers, getting to grips with musical rudiments. The style is stodgy and sentimental, tonally and rhythmically stilted, melodically inane and adored by Catholic clergy “of a certain age.” Some Catholic dioceses run courses for wannabe composers to perpetuate this style. It is a scandal. People with hardly any training and experience of even the basic building blocks of music have been convinced that there is a place for their puerile stumblings and fumblings in the modern Catholic Church because real musicians are elitist and off-putting.
— James MacMillan (20 November 2013)

Square Note App
published 9 April 2017 by Fr. David Friel

ELL PHONES and other mobile devices these days serve manifold purposes. For some, they double and triple as cameras and internet browsers. For others, they also function as gaming devices, tip calculators, searchable Rolodexes, stereo systems, navigation systems, and portable televisions. But, have you ever used your mobile device as a Graduale Romanum?

Now you can, if you would like.

Recently, I stumbled upon an app called Square Note, which markets itself to church musicians and those who wish to learn more about chant. The app allows users to see a wide array of chants, with their texts and square notation. The chants are grouped in four major sections.

First, the Mass propers for the Ordinary Form encompass the whole temporal cycle and part of the sanctoral. Secondly, Mass propers are also available for the temporal cycle of the Extraordinary Form. Also included is a Kyriale section complete with all eighteen chant Masses and six chant creeds. Finally, the app offers a collection of “Other Chants,” which includes multiple versions of the Marian antiphons, certain Eucharistic chants, and several tones for the Te Deum.

One of the most useful features of the app is its capability of searching the texts of all the chants. Searches can be limited to the titles, or incipits, of the chants, or searches may be opened to include the full text of all the chants. For students of the liturgy, this tool is especially valuable.

Another feature that can be useful is the playback mode offered for each piece. Although this would unsettle purists, I can imagine the playback being useful for beginners. The tone quality of the playback is, of course, choppy and mechanistic, so its overuse ought to be avoided. I’ve known many schola directors who will not use a piano to find pitches or sound out passages, and there is real wisdom in their approach. For some, though, the playback mode offered in Square Note could be the help they need to get off the ground. Square Note even allows the user to adjust the pitch and tempo of the playback tool.

This app is the handiwork of Fr. Matthew Spencer, O.S.J. and Bro. Stephen Spencer, O.S.J., both members of the Holy Spouses Province of the Oblates of St. Joseph in the United States of America. It is a developing product, too, as more chants continue to be added to the collections.

The app is available for $2.99 in the Apple App Store or on Google Play. Click here to explore more fully the riches of this “Rituale in your pocket.”