MISSA CANTATA: A Chant Mass for the Assembly, Accompaniments by Geoffrey Cox

MISSA CANTATA: A Chant Mass for the Assembly, Accompaniments by Geoffrey Cox

Christopher Trikilis

MISSA CANTATA: A Chant Mass for the Assembly
Accompaniments by Geoffrey Cox
(London: Catholic Truth Society, 2011, RRP $13.95, ISBN: 978-1-86082-755-6)

There is no doubt that 2011 was a big year for the Catholic Church in Australia, with parishes systematically implementing the changes to the spoken and sung parts of the Mass.

The 2010 English translation of the Roman Missal by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) allows the faithful throughout the English-speaking world the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the liturgy and sacred Scripture through a more authentic interpretation of the Latin texts.

In addition to the six newly-composed Australian Mass settings recommended by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, the reintroduction of a plainsong Mass setting in both English and Latin allows a 'core repertoire' Mass setting to be known by all the faithful, a laudable aim and one that will prove beneficial for years to come. This book, published by the Catholic Truth Society in the UK, contains accompaniments to the chants revised and approved by ICEL and publicly released in 2010.

Missa Cantata comprises Mass parts sung by the entire assembly: the 'ordinary' (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei) in both English and Latin, and two settings of the Creed in English (Credo I and Credo III, the latter also in Latin).

We are also presented with the three Memorial Acclamations (We proclaim your Death, O Lord; When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup; and Save us, Saviour of the World), The Lord's Prayer, the Embolism and Doxology, and four options for sung Prayer of the Faithful.

Sensibly, the order of the accompaniments correlates with the Order of Mass - unlike the situation with other books, one needs only to keep turning 'forward' to work through the Mass.

In relation to the Lord's Prayer, the versions found in Missa Cantata are those formulated by ICEL, and which appear in the revised Roman Missal. This was necessary because this is an international publication, not simply an Australian one.

Leading church musician

It should be noted that an accompaniment by Geoffrey Cox to the Australian version of the Lord's Prayer used since the mid-'60s can be downloaded free from the Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation (Melbourne) revised Roman Missal website (under Revised Ministerial and Congregational Chants), see www.cam.org.au/evangelisation/resources/music.html.

Geoffrey Cox, Organist and Director of Music at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne and Associate Professor of Music at Australian Catholic University, is one of Australia's most respected church musicians. As music consultant to the National Liturgical Council of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, and a music consultant to ICEL for provision of ministerial chants in the revised English translation of the Missale Romanum, he is an authoritative figure on music in the liturgy.

Many church musicians may know Dr Cox through the publication of his psalm settings in various hymnals. It is always pleasing to see an Australian name involved with large global projects such as this, reminding us that we too play an important role in worldwide events.

In keeping with the authenticity and flexibility of the chants, there are no prescribed time signatures or rigid bar lines in any of the scores. Music instead is presented in an easy-to-read 'open note' format on a modern five-line stave, and bar lines are used to distinguish between Cantor/Choir and All.

The accompaniments by Dr Cox are cleverly crafted to retain their modal flavour. They are light in texture, with often only two or three notes underneath the melody which is always presented as the top line, and will sit comfortably under the fingers of both amateur and professional musicians.

As congregations become more confident with the new chants, it is also possible to accompany them without the melody on top, thus providing a different texture and character. It is assumed the accompaniments will be played on an organ (and it is recommended by Dr Cox that the parts marked for Cantor or Choir be played on manuals only), but the accompaniments will work just as well on a piano or other keyboard resources available in different churches.

Most important to a musician is the layout and presentation of the score. Pleasingly, the book is light in weight, clearly printed and extremely user-friendly. Much thought has been put into page turns so that they occur at natural pauses in the text resulting in minimal interruption to the flow of the music (e.g., in settings of the Credo). Invitatory chants by the priest are also printed, allowing those playing the accompaniments to give an 'intoning' note to the celebrant where needed.

This is a book that should be in the hands of every liturgical musician, and on the music desk of every church throughout Australia. It is highly recommended.

Copies of Missa Cantata can be obtained from St Paul's Publications (www.stpauls.com.au) or the Central Catholic Bookshop Melbourne (www. catholicbookshop.com.au)

Christopher Trikilis is the Director of Music at St Patrick's Church, Mentone, in the Melbourne Archdiocese.

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