A Note from Our Music Director

A Note from Our Music Director

Music During Reopening

During the quarantine, we were able to continue offering music at Mass via our webcast.  With the resumption of public worship in the Archdiocese, it is a joy to once again provide live sacred music.  In accordance with archdiocesan guidelines, here are several notes on liturgical music in the parish as we move through these phases of reopening.

Usually during the time between Corpus Chrisi and Holy Cross Day (September 14), the Schola Cantorum goes on its summer holiday, and the 12 noon Mass is with a cantor only.  Because a third of its season was lost to the quarantine, a small ensemble from the Schola will be offering polyphony at the 12 noon Mass this summer.  Even if you do not attend this Mass in person, please do tune-in to the webcast to hear the our Schola.

The leaflet provided for Mass must be limited to one sheet of paper.  Please take it with you after Mass.  Those left in the pews or returned to the baskets after Mass cannot be reused. It is also available online here.

Congregational singing is to be limited.  (Beyond the muffling difficulty and discomfort of singing with a mask on, the restricted leaflet size impacts this as well.)  Therefore, we are omitting the Post-Communion Hymn.  

Although music for it is not included in the leaflet, the congregation is still welcome to sing the Roman Missal Mass, the setting of the Mass Ordinary (KyrieGloria, etc.) used during Ordinary Time, the Pater noster, and other dialogical responses.

The Responsorial Psalm is the almost-universally used option for that which comes between the readings.  However, the Responsorium (also known as the Gradual) is the more ancient choice, which is sung by the cantor or Schola alone.  While it often uses a different text than the one appointed for the Responsorial Psalm (for those consulting a hand missal or copy of Magnificat), it still compliments the rest of the lectionary, accommodates the restrictions on congregational singing, and exposes the faithful to an exceptionally beautiful yet all-to-rarely heard genre of chant.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s collection Offertoria totius anni secundum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae consuetudinem, published in 1593, contains sixty-eight five-voice settings of the Offertory Antiphons for all Sundays and major feasts of the liturgical year.  In this set, Palestrina uses melodies of his own creation instead of taking the chant as his musical starting point.  Even in comparison to other works of Palestrina’s, these motets are conservative in their construction, especially in the treatment of dissonances.  Just as the collection is thematically ordered according to the liturgical year, it is musically ordered according to the ascending church modes.  This system of modality, originally applied to chant and similar to our modern notion of major and minor scales, was applied to polyphonic music by 16th century theorists Heinrich Glarean and Gioseffo Zarlino.  This summer, the Schola will survey this collection of polyphonic Offertory Antiphons, singing the appointed one each Sunday.