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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"Amid all these old liturgical books, I find that I am happy and at ease; I feel at home."
— Dom André Mocquereau (1884)

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The Day Music Theory Failed Me
published 25 July 2019 by Jeff Ostrowski

ELOW IS THE THIRD TEXT from the Brébeuf Hymnal set to the tune of “O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf.” We have been discussing how crucial it is to have “common melodies”—and these are what make the Brébeuf hymnal so indispensable for the parish choirmaster. I am sure all the readers know my primary degree is Music Theory; and you already know how deeply I believe in the value of Music Theory.

According to Music Theory, if you eliminate the bass line, this should sound terrible:

    * *  Mp3 Download • Bass Voice Eliminated (Experiment)

…but I actually like the result!   (oops!)

Here it is with all four voices:

You can hear the individual tracks if you visit the Brébeuf website and scroll to #659.

Getting back to the idea of “common melodies,” the best way I can demonstrate would be to have you visit two more articles. Both utilize that same melody:

    * *  (article) Brébeuf #188

    * *  (article) Brébeuf #517

The idea of “common melodies” in Catholic hymnals—giving choirmasters great flexibility—is hardly a Brébeuf innovation, as you can see:

O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Pope Pius XII Hymnal (1959)
O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1957)
O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1936)
O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1910)
O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1885)
O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf • Catholic Hymnal (1989)

P.S.

For the record, the harmonies in that video come from the Brébeuf accompaniment, and notice the beautiful stepwise motion (descending) bass lines. That is best kind of bass line to have, especially when it moves in contrary motion to the Soprano.