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The soul is distracted from that which is sung by a chant that is employed for the purpose of giving pleasure. But if the singer chant for the sake of devotion, he pays more attention to what he says, both because he lingers more thereon, and because, as Augustine remarks (Confess. x, 33), “each affection of our spirit, according to its variety, has its own appropriate measure in the voice, and singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith it is stirred.” The same applies to the hearers, for even if some of them understand not what is sung, yet they understand why it is sung, namely, for God's glory: and this is enough to arouse their devotion.
— St. Thomas Aquinas

New Compositions Worthy Of Your Attention
published 19 May 2017 by Guest Author


Mass in honor of St. John of the Cross

    * *  PDF Mass in honor of St. John of the Cross

    * *  PDF Worship Aid for the Congregation

My goal in writing this setting of the Mass Ordinary was to create something singable by the congregation I currently serve, while maintaining a musical style fitting for the great musical deposit of the faith. The melody is not difficult, but the accompaniment is tricky. I urge accompanists to be totally faithful to all the harmonies presented in the organ part (whether played on organ or piano), especially the exact inversion of each chord, so as to maintain the general oblique or contrary motion I have written between the soprano and bass. This attentiveness to the accompaniment is necessary because the music relies heavily on the accompaniment for its musical meaning. This style of writing relieves the congregation of the burden of singing complicated harmonies while still accomplishing a musical style that is suitable for the Mass via its mystical and transcendental nature.

Mr. Duryea provides rehearsal files on his website.


“Requiem Aeternam” and “Angelus Domini”

    * *  PDF Requiem Aeternam

    * *  Mp3 file • Requiem Aeternam

    * *  PDF Angelus Domini

It is with a tangible sigh of relief that we perceive the decreasing “trendiness” of attacking the supposed backwardness of the Middle Ages.  And this is not only among  Catholics, who should always have a healthy veneration for the era of some of the Church’s greatest glories; but even among those in the academic and scientific communities we find renewed appreciation for the accomplishments of the medieval mind, which in their proper perspective represent a synthesis of past advances and a foundation for future progress no less remarkable than what we have seen in our own time—taking into consideration the frenetic pace of modern progress driven more by material greed than the glory of God and the true good of man.

And I think we could say this not only about technology, but also about music. Just as the medieval architects started with something so simple and fundamental as gravity and so arranged the stones to build a breathtaking cathedral, so did the medieval composers start with something so simple and fundamental as natural harmonics and so arranged the tones to build such exquisite polyphony that was never heard before, nor anywhere else. And as the basic ecclesiastical structure of the humble parish church was elaborated into an architectural marvel, so the basic ecclesiastical song of humble chant was elaborated into an aural glory that was little less than celestial.

One of the more readily adaptable manifestations of this development was the fauxbourdon—admittedly, a later-medieval production.  I think this particular style can find a place again in our time of rebuilding, where increasing numbers of choirs are ready to embrace something more than chant, but are perhaps not quite ready for Josquin.  And it also provides a good starting-point for new composers to begin with existing material (chant) and embellishing it while experiencing the fundamentals of harmony and counterpoint; for more experienced musicians it provides a tool at-the-ready to quickly add solemnity and beauty to any liturgy.