REAT ORGANISTS are few and far between. Many people are pressed into service as organists with little by way of training. Most advice centers around accompanying hymns, which is very valuable, but there are times when the organ needs to fill time without causing the more conscientious of the congregation to reach for their hymnals. The Nova Organi Harmonia volumes are a great resource. When playing for a Sunday Extraordinary Form Mass I often play through the Asperges antiphon as an entrance. Many of the pieces can be played as organ interludes, but they are rather designed to accompany chant. Here’s a tip: instead of searching for “music for organ without pedals,” try searching for “music for Harmonium.” That’s how I came across the collection Orgelschatz, edited by J. A. Troppmann, which was sort of what I was looking for, and yet, not quite right—until I tried the seventh piece! This was credited to G. B. Fasolo from AD 1645.
Searching further yielded this work:
…They are shared thanks to a “Creative Commons” license, as you can see here. Yes, that’s right: 229 pages of renaissance liturgical organ for manuals! And here are just the hymns:
SCOURING THE PAGES, I find the piece that sparked my interest is the first verse of Proles de caelo prodiit—a hymn from the feast of St Francis of Assisi on page 55 of Pierre Gouin’s edition. The composer is a Franciscan priest, so it makes sense that this piece would be especially beautiful. LISTEN HERE.
Another piece is the second verse of Jesu Corona Virginum on page 52. LISTEN HERE.
One more sample from page 67. The book has verses from the Gloria for Missa Orbis Factor. I found the part entitled Cum sancto was quite smooth and easier—though I can still hear where I need more polish! LISTEN HERE.
Lastly, here’s a video of my set up for practising these pieces, this time with the Agnus Dei from Missa Cunctipotens Deus on page 91:
Making recordings of yourself is a great way to get feedback as well as generating the nervous energy to simulate playing in public. I still have a long way to go, but I’m very happy to have found this book. I’m all ears for any further tips!
UPDATE: a printed version is available here with the permission of the publisher, Pierre Gouin of Les Éditions Outremontaises, Montreal. He has typed up an amazing amount of beautiful music and continues to update the scores.