OLIEST PRIEST you ever met? That’s a tough question, but one of the holiest was certainly Father Valentine Young (d. 2020). I remember Father Valentine once said: “Jeff, I’ve reached a point in my life where I almost enjoy hearing accompanied plainsong more than unaccompanied.” That statement was two decades ago. At that point in my life, such a statement constituted formal heresy. You see, I used to believe the only ‘valid’ way to sing Gregorian Chant was a cappella (“without accompaniment”). But after almost three decades of singing plainsong, I have come to realize that a well-written accompaniment can add great beauty.1 The following is a recording from last Sunday. You will notice I accompanied our volunteer choir using the NOH harmonies:
Rare Belgian Book • Corpus Christi Watershed has obtained an extremely rare book of organ accompaniments for Belgium. Readers probably know that each country has special feasts, often celebrating local saints. Interesting items abound in this book. For instance, they wrote an accompaniment for the enormously lengthy SEQUENCE for Saint Lambert of Maastricht (Bishop and Martyr). They wrote an accompaniment for the famous “Gaudeámus” Introit—for the feast of Saint Rumbold of Mechlin—which organists will which to compare with the other “Gaudeámus” harmonizations the LEMMENSINSTITUUT provided in the other volumes.
* PDF Download • VOLUME VI (“Propers for Belgium”)
—Vol. 6 contains “special propers for the dioceses of Belgium” • 129 pages.
Upcoming Presentation • During this year’s Sacred Music Symposium—which will take place in June of 2023—I will be giving a presentation which will demonstrate (using multiple examples) that excellent Gregorian accompaniments employ the self-same techniques used by the great composers. Monsignor Jules Van Nuffel once wrote:
“A flawless harmonization of Gregorian chant cannot be created by improvisation, no matter the competence and ability of the organist or harmonist.”
Please Help Us • We desire to provide professional and pristine scans for other volumes of the NOH, especially VOLUME V, which contains the Ordinary of the Mass. But professional scans cost a lot of money. We’re a tiny 501(c)3 public charity. We exist solely by the generosity of small donors. We have no endowment; we have no major donors; we run no advertisements; we have no savings. We beg you to consider donating $5.00 per month, or even $3.00 per month.
1 So much depends upon the choir, the acoustic, and each situation. For instance, if I am singing the Requiem Mass with superb singers, I would be annoyed if somebody tried to add an accompaniment to our singing.