HAVE SPOKEN about how I communicate with dead composers. Today, I felt like the recipient of a “pat on the back” from Dr. Theodore Marier—one of America’s leading church musicians—who passed away on 24 February 2001. That’s because I was looking through one of his books (which I’d never seen before). It’s called CANTUS POPULI, which means “Songs for the people” in Latin. The word cantus can mean “chant” or “item which is sung” or “song.” This book has been out of print for more than a century. I was so pleased, because many of the items included by Dr. Marier were hymns I fought for while serving on the committee which produced the Brébeuf Hymnal. Here are some examples: (1) “Lift High The Cross”; (2) “Now Thank We All Our God”; (3) Numerous hymn translations by Monsignor Ronald Knox, whose works were honored and featured by the Brébeuf Hymnal; (4) Hymns by John Henry Cardinal Newman; (5) Translations by Alan McDougall; (6) An Irish melody, on page 31, which is enshrined in the Brébeuf Hymnal; (7) a setting of Sáncti Veníte, an ancient text honored greatly by the Brébeuf editors; (8) numerous Marian hymns which were also included in the Brébeuf Hymnal; (9) an English translation of Veni Redemptor Gentium, a text highly honored by the Brébeuf editors; (10) a text with VOM HIMMEL HOCH, a melody greatly exalted by the Brébeuf committee; (11) the way Dr. Marier writes out each verse of the hymn on page 107 reminds me of how the Brébeuf Hymnal notates each and every verse, making life easy for singers and organists; and so forth.
All hymn arrangements are for three (3) voices! That’s something many choir directors have been begging for!
* PDF • “CANTUS POPULI” for SSA Voices (182 pages)
—182.4MB • Cantus Populi: A Collection of Psalms, Hymns & Chants for SSA Voices (1963).
Brief But Beneficial • Indeed, this book by Dr. Marier seems almost like an “abridged” version of the Brébeuf Hymnal, except for SSA voices. (Of course, Dr. Marier’s book is only 182 pages, whereas the Brébeuf has close to 1,000 hymns.) This collection by Dr. Marier contains tons of English plainchant settings, which I suspect were used again two decades later, in Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Canticles (reviewed by Daniel Craig here). Something which surprised and delighted me was when I saw Dr. Marier’s plainsong setting of an Advent hymn you’ll recognize!
Major Differences • There are, however, a number of differences between this book and the Brébeuf Hymnal: (A) Dr. Marier’s book only includes a small number of verses—usually two or three—whereas the Brébeuf Hymnal includes all the verses for each hymn; (B) Dr. Marier’s book, published in the early 1960s, uses lyrics that are a bit more “old-fashioned” than the Brébeuf Hymnal; (C) Dr. Marier’s book includes about sixty hymns, whereas the Brébeuf Hymnal contains about 900; (D) Dr. Marier’s book is for three voices—SSA or TTB—whereas the Brébeuf Hymnal is for four voices [SATB]. Nevertheless, when I direct choirs consisting of all women or all men, I will definitely investigate some of these fine settings by Dr. Theodore Marier!
Early 1960s Musical Scene • As far as I can tell, this book was published in the early 1960s. What was taking place on the musical scene at that time? In short, a whole lot! Regarding the use of vernacular, the Second Vatican Council had declared: “the limits of its employment may be extended.” Nonetheless, the Council solemnly declared that “it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used.” Indeed, the specific language ratified by Vatican II says Latin must be retained; this is not a suggestion.
The Boring Stuff • Perhaps nobody will care about this next part, but I will include it anyway. By the early 1960s, the “pure” Editio Vaticana rhythm had begun to fall away. It had been replaced by the rhythm of Dom André Mocquereau, who—broadly speaking—matched the official rhythm in the KYRIALE, but radically contradicted it in the GRADUALE and ANTIPHONALE. The NOH, produced in the 1940s by the Lemmensinstituut, adhered to the official rhythm. One of the NOH composers was Marinus de Jong. When Omer Westendorf (d. 1997) commissioned an organ accompaniment from him in 1964, Marinus de Jong departed from the official rhythm and adopted the rhythm of Dom Mocquereau. You can compare the 1940s NOH accompaniment (which follows the Editio Vaticana) with the 1960s accompaniment by Marinus de Jong, which matches the rhythmic modifications by Dom Mocquereau.
Notice how the “pure” Editio Vaticana changes chords on the tonic accent:
Notice how Dom Mocquereau’s method places the chords on the final syllable of the word (which corresponds to the French language):
I recently spoke at length about the way organ accompaniments are written to match the Dom Mocquereau rhythm. This method was particularly worrisome to Mocquereau’s confrère at Solesmes Abbey, Dom Delpech.