Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Important Catholic Music Books

At The Chant Café, Jeffrey Tucker has an informative article on “The Big Five Catholic Music Books”. Be sure to read the full article; here are some excerpts (my emphases):

The Big Five Catholic Music Books

… I’ve picked the number five here for no apparent reason. It could be shrunk to two or expanded to ten. These five are the ones you are most likely to encounter today.

1. The Graduale Romanum. This is the book of music for the Catholic Mass… It is the one
 book that provides all you need for Masses throughout the year. It is entirely in Latin, even the front matter. If you are in Catholic music and plan to stay there awhile, you have to have this book.

2. The Gregorian Missal. This is the book to have. It is all the chants from the Graduale Romanum for Sundays and Feasts, plus English translations. The instructions are in English. The calendar is in English. It is the book that I credit with my first enlightenment to the reality that Catholic music is not something we select liturgy to liturgy but is rather part of the Mass itself…

3. The Graduale Simplex. This was a book that came out in 1967 to fulfill the suggestion of the Council that a simpler book be produced for parishes... It contains proper chants that can be used for entire seasons. It can still serve a purpose even though it is hardly ever used. Another version of the Simplex is Paul Ford’s By Flowing Waters, which puts the chants in English…

4. The Parish Book of Chant. This is a project of the Church Music Association of America, 
compiled and typeset by Richard Rice. I would say that this book can be credited with saving chant in our time. Nearly all the books of basic Latin chant had gone out of print, leaving only the most difficult. The traditional “chant hymn” repertoire was buried in books from the 1950s and earlier. This book brought it all back to life, and, as a post-Summorum work, it actually put on display the relationship between the old and new form. It is more a pew book but is most often used by beginning choirs so they can get going with all the tunes and words that previous generations took for granted. It contains chants for the ordinary and lots of seasonal pieces, but not propers as such.

5. The Simple English Propers. This book…gets parishes going on chant. It has reduced
 English versions of the Gregorian propers for Mass for entrance, offertory, and communion. The Gregorian mode is preserved, and every chant has Psalms. It is designed for parish use above all else. It is hassle free. The chants follow easy-to-learn formulas. I believe that history will record that this book, more than any other, made the biggest strides and bringing back the proper chants to the Mass. The book was put together by Adam Bartlett. It is a stepping stone, one that should have existed back in the 1960s but did not. It is selling so much that we are struggling to keep it in print.

Read the rest here.

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