Hymnal Review: Proper of the Mass

Fr. Samuel Webber's "Proper of the Mass" (cover)

Last year, while I was in London, I made a stop over at the Catholic Truth Society just because I’ve always wanted to see what the bookshop would be like especially since they print our Sunday Missals in this part of the world.

In that quaint shop, I wasn’t expecting to find anything that today I would regard as a dear resource in singing the Mass in the Ordinary Form. It was a treasure to behold, my most prized purchase, and an invaluable possession!

Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B. has been tirelessly adapting chant settings in the vernacular and has generously posted online his work available through his website. The Proper of the Mass for Sundays and Solemnities allows the chorister to sing the Propers in the vernacular in 4 levels of variety: (i) through-composed melismatic; (ii) through-composed simple; (iii) Gregorian psalm tone; and (iv) English psalm tone. Optional psalm verses are provided in the Gregorian psalm tone.

It seems to me that there is no further excuse not to sing the Propers of the Mass, where previously, choristers struggling with the chants in the Graduale Romanum (PDF download) would often give up too soon. And those who would venture to learn English Propers for the Mass through other works, would oftimes need to re-word the text to fit the versions used in Singapore. Fr. Samuel Webber has followed the Revised Grail psalms and this saves us from re-wording the text for our local use.

Samuel Webber Propers inside

First, let us make a comparison with the Graduale Romanum. I’ve opted to use the Gregorian Missal (PDF download) as it reflects the English translations of the chants. Here’s the Ash Wednesday introits from both works side-by-side:

Notice that Fr. Samuel Weber does try extensively to adapt to the chant from the Graduale Romanum for his Option (i).

Here are options (ii), (iii), and (iv) of the same introit.

And finally the optional verses for this particular introit:

Samuel Webber Propers - Ash Wednesday Introit verses

Proper of the Mass – Ash Wednesday Entrance Antiphon optional verses

If one is comfortable with the movable-clef in chant notation, the options (iii) and (iv) are very accessible and easy to learn for choristers new to chant.

Currently, organ accompaniments are still being written and they are made ready whenever Fr. Samuel completes a batch of them. Best thing is that they are available for download on his website. And if chant notation is challenging for you to read, you could reference from the organ accompaniments.

Proper of the Mass - General Index

In addition, there are Propers for the major Solemnities as well as Ordination and Nuptial Masses. The Asperges me and Vidi aquam are also included. The Gloria Patri is given in 8 Gregorian tones in their simple & solemn.

This resource is a MUST HAVE for any choir that is seriously working to restore the traditions of the Ordinary Form. We can finally sing the Mass, and not be muddling through the do’s and don’ts of hymn selection. It also grows with the choir. Choristers nervous about the endeavour of chanting the Propers may use the simplest “Option (iv)” tones for the first year, and by the 3rd year, they might even be attempting the tones from
“Option (i)”.

If you would like to view a copy, feel free to visit us at our usual Mass schedule (Saturdays, 5:30pm at the Church of Sts. Peter & Paul).

In short…

Plus:

  • 4 options of settings for most antiphons to suit the competency of the choir
  • free organ accompaniment
  • all the Propers in English for the entire liturgical year
  • Funeral Masses, Nuptial Masses, Ordination Masses
  • Sprinkling Rite
  • Gloria Patri in 8 Gregorian tones (solemn & simple)

Cons:

  • no pew edition
  • slightly bigger in size as compared to the Gregorian Missal
  • no bookmark ribbons to mark your pages
  • organ accompaniment for the entire Gradual is still a work in progress
  • no Responsorial Psalm resource
  • no Mass Ordinaries included

Read what others have to say about Fr. Samuel F. Weber’s magnificent work:

  1. Reviews from CC Watershed – 7 (!!!) Reviews
  2. Review posted on New Liturgical Movement

Ken-Wedding
Kenneth Wee has been with the SPP Choir since 1999 and is currently serving as the Music Director of the Choir. He conducts the choir most of the time and plays the organ some of the time, while taking care of his two young children all of the time.

About podatus

Kenneth Wee often feels that he is a "jack of couple of trades", but he would gladly trade all of that for being a World Master of one: the Pipe Organ. Or the Jazz piano. Or a Choral Conductor. Or a Photographer. Or an Ultra Trail Marathoner. Or a Chef. Or a Patissier. Or a...

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