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 union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."
— Pope Pius XI (6 January 1928)

Counter-Melodies • “Accompaniment of Psalm Tones”
published 17 December 2018 by Jeff Ostrowski

NE OF THE ABSOLUTE “best kept secrets” of Catholic music was revealed to me by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM. It is Albert Bloomfield’s astounding 465-page book, which allows any parish to sing Sunday Vespers. 1 Each Sunday, we have been using this magnificent book at Saint Vitus—our whole parish sings Vespers, and it is fantastic! I have started to accompany Vespers on the organ, with great success, using the NOH. We alternate between men and women. Once the congregation becomes familiar enough, I want to start adding counter-melodies to the psalmody.

Do you know what counter-melodies are?

Answer: Go to the 1:07 marker and you will hear something worth dying for:

The organist used to belong to a monastery in England—a Catholic monastery, not Anglican. I think he does a magnificent job, although the pause between each verse needs to be shortened; it is just a tiny bit too long. There should be a definite pause, but it should not be too lengthy. If you go back and read the “visitations” from the 15th and 16th centuries, 2 you will notice this is something monks and nuns complained about: when the pause in the middle of each psalm verse was prolonged too much. They also complained about too many dogs in church…I guess bringing dogs into church was common in those days.


1   I hope Mr. Bloomfield creates another edition which includes starting pitches.

2   Each year, the visitation was when a bishop would visit the monastery or convent and speak privately with each member. That was an opportunity for the member to complain about whatever was bothersome—and some of these make for fascinating reading!