HROUGHOUT my childhood, even up to the age of 18, I was determined to never drink coffee. And then I went to college. By my third day, I woke up so exhausted that I found myself waiting in a very long line at the campus café for a very overpriced cup with a drizzle of actual coffee and layers of cream, sugar and flavored syrup on top. For my unrefined palate, it was easy to drink. Eventually I graduated to real coffee, but piled with flavored creamer, and three spoonsful of sugar on top. If that last sentence made you cringe, you are in good company. I eventually kicked the sugar and can now even enjoy coffee with a small splash of unflavored cream. I hope one day I can enjoy black coffee of various origins and roasts. In this unprecedented time, many of us are seeing a unique opportunity to use the beauty and simplicity of chanting the Mass propers in lieu of whatever semi (or fully) undesirable model we may have been using. In my parish, the inability to use handouts or hymnals for sanitary reasons is driving our need for something simple which can be sung responsorially by the congregation. However, there are many challenges to just jumping in, headfirst, to chanting the propers as they were intended to be chanted. If you are in a similar situation at your parish, then you too see the need to gradually remove the overly saccharine a little at a time. (Does the coffee metaphor make sense now?)
There are many wonderful resources out there which bridge the gap between the “four hymn sandwich” and the Roman Gradual. However, not all may be appropriate for your situation. Especially right now, many would require handouts or additional books, which is just not feasible with the restrictions of the pandemic. So, I humbly offer one more resource for your consideration. 1
A sample for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (with Year A Responsorial Psalm) can be found at the following link:
* Saint Eulalia Gradual • Sample Files
—A project by Joshua D. Carey.
I am calling this project the St. Eulalia Gradual, in honor of the patron of my parish. For each Sunday in Ordinary Time I have set the Entrance and Communion Antiphons from the Missal (it was always a practice at my parish to recite these at daily Mass, and my pastor brought this into Sunday Mass during the pandemic before music was reintroduced). I have also set the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel Acclamation with its verse. Here is my methodology:
(a) I have written a setting of the Alleluia to be used for the entire season, together with 3 chant-tone verses to be used on a rotation (e.g. the first, fourth, seventh, etc. Sundays would use Tone I, and so on). The Entrance, Psalm and Communion antiphons are also set this tone, and then rhythms are added, based on the natural speaking rhythm of each antiphon, giving a metrical setting of the antiphon. The verses are chanted to the same tone.
(b) For the Entrance and Communion, I have tried to use the Missal antiphon unaltered. If an antiphon is lengthy, however, I have tried to break it into two sections so that the first is used as the antiphon and the second is used as the first verse. On rare occasion I have left out words that are less essential to the meaning of the passage or put the words in a different order that convey the same meaning. I try to avoid this at all costs.
(c) The Entrance and Communion each have two verses. Verse one is either from the psalm indicated in the Missal, or from the antiphon itself as described above. Verse two is the Gloria Patri.
This has been extremely successful in my parish, and I plan to continue until I’ve set the entire church year. My goal is then to move on to something more authentic, especially when choral singing can resume to its fullest extent. If you are interested in this project and/or would like to use these settings at your parish, please contact me through my website at the above link.
We hope you enjoyed this guest article by Joshua D. Carey.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Disclaimer: My degrees are in mathematics, although I have studied organ seriously up through the collegiate level. At the end of the day, I am a trained musician, but not a trained composer. Also, as mentioned above, this solution is by no means a permanent one; this is meant to deliver us to the destination of beautiful, traditional liturgy.