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.
Connect on Facebook:
Connect on Twitter:
“At the hour for the Divine Office, | as soon as the signal is heard, | let them abandon whatever they may have in hand | and hasten with the greatest speed, | yet with seriousness, so that there is no excuse for levity. | Let nothing be preferred to the sacred liturgy.”
— Rule of St. Benedict (Chapter 43)

Can Plainsong Be Harmonized? • (Rehearsal Video)
published 28 May 2018 by Jeff Ostrowski

HE GOALS of the Sacred Music Symposium are not secret: we aim to expose participants to a wide variety of pieces, all of which come from the authentic tradition of sacred music. The participants go home energized, filled with inspiration, and excited to revamp their own programs. (I completely revised my approach to directing a choir based on last year’s Symposium, with sensational results.) We’ve registered 75 for this year’s conference, but a few spots still remain.

Naturally, we sing most of the Propers from the Church’s official edition. However, the Communion antiphon at the final Mass will be rather special this year, taken from the Editio Medicæa with a modern harmonization: 1

REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice and PDF score await you at #88841.

Some readers won’t click that link, thereby missing out on the individual rehearsal videos. Furthermore, avoiding that link (88841) will cause them to miss downloading the PDF score, which has some fascinating source material on the final two pages.

Those who click that link will enjoy exploring the historical editions upon which Mr. Allen’s version is based. I also included several nasty harmonizations of the Editio Medicæa from the 19th century, to illustrate the progress we’ve made in understanding modality over the last century. Incidentally, Monsignor Jules Van Nuffel was a seminal figure in this effort—as was Lemmens, his predecessor—as demonstrated by his harmonizations as well as modal choral pieces like his Pater Noster.


1   For about 140 years, it was not allowed to say anything nice about the Editio Medicaea because it had “lost the fight” to Pothier’s edition—which was undoubtedly more authentic and beautiful. However, Haberl’s Medicæa was not 100% rotten, and was basically the Church’s official edition for fifty years (until 1908). According to Msgr. Francis Schmitt, his close friend, Dom Ermin Vitry once admitted that he liked the Medicæa, adding that it did not deserve the utter contempt poured down upon it throughout later years. Indeed, Vitry grew up singing from it.