LOVE DICTIONARIES. Online dictionaries are the best invention ever, because they save me tons of time. It wasn’t the act of breaking open a paper dictionary, itself, that used to take up so much time; rather, it was the stopping at every page on which I spotted an unfamiliar word that drew out the process. With online dictionaries, though, I simply type in a single word and move on without being distracted by the latent treasures of our plenitudinous English language.
Another good place to get lost in time is clicking through the scores available on the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL). This site is a magnificent reserve of some of the greatest sacred music ever written, and it is all FREE for the download. Some pieces even have multiple versions from which you might choose, featuring different keys, arrangements, file-types, etc. If you have never wasted time perusing CPDL, you should try it. You’ll meet composers of whom you never heard and pieces that you’ve never sung. Fair warning: afterwards, you may question the need ever to buy another octavo.
HERE ARE, of course, plenty of published resources that deserve a choir director’s investigation. Allow me to mention two publishing houses outside “the big three” that offer serious, quality, sacred music.
First, there is “The Cathedral Series” of sacred works available through MorningStar Music. You can see a full list of products in this series HERE. While I have not reviewed every piece offered therein, those that I have are all well suited to the liturgy. Some of the pieces are ritual music, while others are motets, Mass parts, organ works, etc.
Music directors of small, country parishes should not be scared off by the word “Cathedral” in the title. Many of these pieces would be within the capabilities of the average volunteer choir.
HE SECOND RESOURCE for published music, I admit, is a bit of a repeat. Even though Richard Clark already highlighted CanticaNOVA Publications in his introduction to this series, I must echo his praise. The planning resources available through CanticaNOVA are well researched, well organized, and well worth a look. Furthermore, among the published music available through their catalog, you will find the names of a few composers familiar to you as contributors on Views from the Choir Loft:
INALLY, if you are looking for a new English Mass setting to introduce to your congregation, the best place to browse is right HERE on Corpus Christi Watershed. All of these Masses are faithful to the Missal texts, composed in sacred style, and FREE for the download.
Among them, you will find the works of numerous Views contributors available freely through the Creative Commons. Several of the Masses are composed with chant-like melodies and have free rhythm, which is better suited to the sacred liturgy that the strict confines of metricality. One Mass posted there is the Mass of St. John Neumann, which I composed as a dignified metrical setting for parishes in which a free-rhythm ordinary is still too much of a leap. In such places, while free rhythm should remain the goal, a metrical setting marked by holiness, beauty, and universality is still a significant step forward.
If you are looking for resources to help in leading grassroots liturgical reform at your parish, these are a few ideas to assist you as you get started. Stay tuned to this series for more ideas.
7-part series: “Important Resources for Liturgical Reform”