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A User-Friendly Collection of Chanted Antiphons

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

At I have a blog where I review and promote different settings of the Proper Antiphons of the Mass. I have been using John Ainslie's English Proper Chants and I love them. Here are 10 reasons why I think they are a great fit and super user-friendly, especially for parishes just dipping their toes into chant and antiphons:

1. Beautiful, reverent, and well-crafted melodies. Not too hard, not too simple. They seem to stick with me throughout the week after a few repetitions. Tunes fit the Roman Missal texts so well.

2. Modern Notation - I like chant notation better, but many choirs/cantors don't. These settings use some Gregorian markings and mini-notes to help show contour which is much better than just straight modern notation.

3. The organ edition is coil-bound for ease of use. (The melody edition is small and soft-bound)

4. The psalm tones in between antiphons are ridiculously easy - always step-wise so that any cantor could figure them out in seconds.

5. They are authentic - many of the tunes match the mode and contour of the original chants.

6. Price - I LOVE that litpress offers a $30 a year reprint license. So if you don't have a ONELICENSE, you can buy a copy of the book and a reprint license all for under $100. But if you do have onelicense, they are in the database and can be reported.

7. Litpress offers a sweet database of pdfs and tiffs of the antiphons for worship aids. You get a code to log in when you buy them.

8. Benjamin O'Brien has recorded them all on youtube with a graphic to read along. I tend to interpret chant a little faster than he does, without any slow-downs. These are a tremendous help for choirs and cantors.

9. The Melody and Organ editions are available as a PDFs.

10. Organ accompaniments are nice. (Except for some obvious parallel 5ths/octaves). Sometimes when the Missal includes 2 antiphons, Ainslie sets only one. So, in that sense, the collection could be more complete. Overall, I highly recommend these chants. If any music director or cantor is hesitant about introducing chanted propers, and wants to minimize the learning curve with volunteers, John Ainslie's English Proper Chants are gold.

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