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A User-Friendly Collection of Chanted Antiphons

Updated: May 17

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 struggle with it, especially newbies. These settings use modern notaion that includes some Gregorian markings and mini-notes. These help to show contour and inflection in the melody, 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 one copy.

8. Benjamin O'Brien has recorded them all on youtube with a graphic to read along. So Has Nicholas Liese here These are a tremendous help for choirs and cantors.

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

10. The longer antiphons have a double line at where they can be abridged. This way the assembly can sing something shorter. (see the image below of Pentecost) I only have 2 minor complaints: There are some obvious parallel 5ths/octaves in the organ part. Sometimes when the Roman Missal includes 2 options for an antiphon, 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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