If TEC is beginning to gear up to start to plan to prepare to form committees to appoint study groups to undertake the work of thinking about a new hymnal, then it makes sense for us’ns to start thinking about hymnal contents as well.
There are, of course, two major contents to Episcopal hymnals: service music and hymns.
As far as hymns go, I’ll let them off with but a single comment—we need good and suitable Office hymns…
But today, I’d like to think a little around the issue of service music. Two things are sparking this:
- first, the discovery of this wonderful resource, The Plainsong of the Mass Adapted from the Sarum Gradual (bls, have you found this one before? most of the resources I think I’ve found you’ve already located…)
- second, the unfortunate concurrence this weekend of the Star Trek prayer with the Darth Vader Sanctus. No. Just—no. It’s so hard to keep a straight face on that combo.
I’m not suggesting anything specific here but rather lifting up two items from the front-matter of the Plainsong of the Mass book:
- I had always kind of assumed that mass sets were just that—sets. Clearly they are in later periods. According to this text, however, that’s not necessarily the case for the early chant settings: “The different melodies may be sung at discretion, as there is no modal connection between parts of the Mass…” (pg. vii)
- The work then goes on to reproduce a chart of suggested ordinary chants based on the liturgical height of the day (pgs. viii-x). There’s nothing unusual about this. Indeed, if you look at the recent Gregorian Hymnal you’ll similarly find suggestions. So too does our own Fr. John-Julian’s mass-sets. My question, then, is why we don’t have sets with suggestions as to when they should be done, and with which Eucharistics prayers they work best (or least!)?