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A New Simple English Chant Mass


I'm pleased to share my newly composed "Peregrine Mass", a simple English Chant setting of the Mass Ordinary.  It is based upon the "Tonus Peregrinus" or “Wandering Tone,” which is a beautiful ancient Catholic melody used to chant psalms that dates back to at least the 9th century. This Gregorian Psalm tone is so named because it does not fit the 8 musical Church modes, but wanders among them. It was therefore considered the 9th Church mode. For whatever reason, this melody popped into my head as a Gloria recently, so I developed it, adding some original material as well. The result is a Mass that is:

Easy & intuitive to sing

Authentically Catholic Sounding

Free to use/share

Works acapella, and also has cool choir & organ harmonies

Ideal as a beginner chant Mass, but interesting enough for chant experts

Works together with the priest's chants in the Roman Missal

Here's what I mean by that last part: About 13 years ago I introduced the Roman Missal Chant Mass to my assembly. It is now part of their bones, I think (I hope). One of my favorite moments in all liturgy is when the priest chants the preface and the people respond, a capella, with the Roman Missal Holy Holy Holy, using the same pitches as the priest, without any musical introduction. There is a transcendent sense of completeness, beauty, and holiness to this kind of organic connection. The preface tones and the following Roman Missal Sanctus are meant to go together. The same goes for the memorial acclamation and 3 note Amen. In a similar way, this new Peregrine Mass fits with the Roman Missal Priest parts. The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamations, and Amen, can be sung immediately after the priest concludes his parts, using the same pitches. The Holy, Memorial Acclamation, and Amen would all begin a whole step above the final note of the priest's preceding chant. If you do this a capella, it will be seamless. 

There are many wonderful English chant settings of the Mass by better composers than me. Yet it seems to me that this Mass may have the qualities to become a staple chant Mass to complement the Roman Missal chant for the Catholic parish seeking to recover our cherished chant tradition. It is splendid a capella, but If you want it accompanied, there is a carefully crafted SATB/Organ part, with interesting harmonies, descants, and a splash of intentional parallel 5ths for that mysterious medieval quality that we all love.  It is completely free to use and share. I hope to add recordings soon!





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