Good Friday at St Mary Magdalen’s

It was frenetic in Brighton train station this morning. I went to meet my friends off the train. They had kindly offered to come and sing with us this afternoon – they normally sing in the chant choir at St James, Spanish Place in London.  We had to battle our way through the day-tripping crowds to make it back to the house. It would have seemed everyone was heading to the beach. Well not everyone.

Good Friday photos on Flickr

I have never sung on Good Friday before and found myself shaking whilst singing the Tract. I nearly dropped the Triplex on a couple of occasions as we sung our way through those incredibly beautiful elongated  melismatic phrases. I was particularly struck by the limited range of the Tract.

Holy Week Journal Part two

I’m never sure as Catholics whether it is appropriate to ‘enjoy’ Holy Week but I have to admit that I rather do. Undeniably it is fun to be part of a small parish at this time of year;  everybody coming together to celebrate something rather brilliant.

Last night, our choir got together to rehearse the music for tonight. I thought they sounded rather impressive particularly the basses with their sonorous bottom Gs in the Elgar Ave Verum Corpus.

This year for Holy Thursday we are singing most of the propers in English.  Unfortunately it has to be Mass VIII rather than IV or V as that is what everyone knows.

The music is:

Opening Hymn – When I survey the Wondrous Cross with a loud organ.

Introit – Adam Bartlett Simple english propers

Gloria fanfare by Patrick Leighton

Gloria VIII

Gradual – Occuli omnium  – Chant from  Graduale Romanum

Tract – Ab ortu solis English Psalm Tone setting by Aristotle Esguerra.

Feet washing – Mandatum Novum Antiphon alternated with Psalm 118 as found in the Graduale Simplex

Offertory – Ubi Caritas et amor (Plainchant – Parish Book of Chant)

Sanctus and Agnus Dei VIII

Communion – Ave Verum Corpus :  Elgar. It works well without the organ accompaniment.

Communion Proper – Adam Bartlett Simple Propers

Pange Lingua  – Plainsong.

Simple English Propers can be found here.

Good luck to musicians and singers everywhere. I hope your Triduum goes well.

Oremus pro invicem.

Hymns for Holy Thursday

Before the list of Hymns for Holy Thursday l must just say something…

Firstly, I would like to apologise to all those who have typed into Google  ‘We have a king who rides a Donkey’ and have ended up on this site – and there have been many…I think you may have been misdirected. Secondly, to all of you who are still searching for ‘Hymns for Palm Sunday.’  Give up. It’s too late. It’s come and gone. No more Kings, no more donkeys, no more Hosannah in filio. It’s all over for another year so start typing in Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday, the Triduum, Loud Organ fanfares, Antiphons for feet-washing etc…  You need to move on.

And as for the person that typed in ‘cold shower penance’ and found this site, well…  l really don’t know what to say.


It is very important to remember that the organ is silent after the Gloria. You really should try and sing everything unaccompanied from then on.  The Organ must be silent until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil

Opening Hymn – Glorifying the cross

Lift High the Cross – We sang this a couple of years ago and our congregation didn’t really know it.

When I survey the wondrous Cross

The glory of the cross we sing

The Royal Banners forward go

The heavenly word proceeding forth

Sing my tongue the glorious battle (Can be sung to ‘Westminster Abbey’)

Feet Washing

Ubi Caritas  – in the Extraordinary Form

Mandatum Novum da vobis  from the Graduale (We are singing the option from the Graduale Simplex which alternates the Mandatum antiphon with verses from Psalm 118)

A new commandment

Abide With Me

Attende Domine

Adoro Te


A New Commandment – Richard Shepherd

O Vos Omnes – Casals


Ubi Caritas  – in the Ordinary Form

Where is love and loving kindness

Blest are the pure in heart

God Be in My Head

Eat this bread (Taize)

Gifts of bread and wine  (There are some older version of this)

Offertory Motets:

Ubi Caritas – Durufle

Dextera Domini – Palestrina


Oh thou who at thy Eucharist didst pray

Adoro Te  or Godhead here in hiding

This is my body, broken for you

O Bread of Heaven

Soul of my Saviour

Psalm 22

Communion Motets:

Ave Verum Corpus   – Choose a setting that can be easily sung unaccompanied. We are going to sing the Elgar which can be sung without the organ.

O Sacrum Convivium

Panis Angelicus

At the procession to the place of Repose:

Pange Lingua  –  Remember that you only sing up the end of verse four. The celebrant intones the the fifth verse ‘Tantum ergo sacramentum’ when he reaches the place of repose.

English Hymn alternative – Of the glorious body telling

During the stripping of the altars silence is ideal but you could sing the Taizes, Stay with Me or Jesus Remember me

And if you enjoyed singing ‘We have a King who Rides a Donkey’ on Sunday you might like to try these:

Taste and See

Bind us Together

I am the bread of life

The Holy Week Journal Part 1

Tonight a small group of women and one cat (also female) got together around a Kitchen table in central London armed with Triplex’s, Gregorian Missals and one ipad. Their aim to learn all the Good Friday chant and to sing through Mass I  – Yes folks, the end is in sight and soon there will be more A-words than you can shake a crozier at.  One member of our group was bearing up pretty well considering she did ‘THE’ Marathon yesterday. 26.2 miles and that was just the procession at Blackfen.

Once we had sorted our Hagios’s from our Sanctus’s, the talk moved to the forthcoming visit of Dom Ives Marie, the Choir Director of Solemes to our humble capital city. It seems the great and the good of the Chant World are all descending on London town for his visit. From the chairman of an organisation with the initials LMS to the conductor of a quite well known Cathedral Choir not a million miles from Victoria Station to… Well, I might not have the academic credentials but I do regularly eat pizza with the course organiser.

And so back to the Triplex and that Good Friday Tract. I learnt this evening that the ‘c’ in the St Gall manuscript means to speed up which is what we will need to do on Friday if we are ever going to get to the end of it.

The ipad2 for Catholics (especially for those always using the photocopier))

I have an ipad 2.

Primarily l bought it as a viable alternative to using my laptop. The other reason was to see if l can use it for Mass.

Does this mean the end of toxic poisoning from  hours stood in front of the decrepit parish photocopier? Will l never need to cart large bags of books down to the church ever again?

We shall see….

Here’s a guide to the Apps that possibly might make a Catholic musician’s life just a little less troublesome, as test-driven at last week’s Sunday Mass.

1. LIBER PRO £8.99

I just cannot believe how brilliant this is. It is expensive for an App but this is the entire 1961 Liber Usualis and considering a brand new copy will set you back eighty quid or so…

The most fantastic feature of the Liber Pro App is the calendar. The homepage defaults to today’s date. There  you will find all the music for today’s mass and the entire Liturgy of the Hours. Anyone who has to sing the Traddy hours regularly will appreciate what a headache it is to find the correct music when using the actual book.
The layout of the pages are clear;  you can change the colour of the background if you find white is too bright. You can easily bookmark any individual pages and the contents page is much more detailed than the book version.The other benefit of using this App is it is lighter to hold than the actual book. Handy for those Lauda Sion moments.

I still love singing from my Liber that l inherited  from my grandfather but this App really is the business. I would buy an ipad just for this.

2. iBreviary  – free

Useful for Mass readings although l struggled to find the same text that was being read out during last Sunday’s Gospel. More handy for traveling Priests.   You get the Missal plus Rubrics and the texts for lots of the Rites.
Perfect for saying Lauds, Vespers and Compline in English and you get the daily office of readings.
Good layout. Simple to navigate around.
You can access the downloaded pages in a wi-fi free zone.  Isn’t it about time churches had wi-fi?

3. Organ +

Choirs inevitably need to sing next to the organ often just to get the pitching notes. If like me you are hopeless with a tuning fork this App is the answer. A two manual organ on your iPad. It is not very loud but that is a positive when you are trying to give starting notes or playing the first couple of bars of a piece. It has lots of stops, lots of knobs to twiddle if you want to EQ the sound.  Some of the reverb settings might be deemed inappropriate for Mass but quite handy if you suddenly find you are required to play at a Doors revival gig.

4. Dropbox   Free

Drop all your PDFs into the Dropbox folder on your home computer and ‘hey voila!’ there they are on your ipad. We sing a lot of stuff downloaded from Choral Wiki so that is one less photocopy to be done. I have a ‘Palm Sunday’ folder on dropbox that l have ‘dropped’ all of the sheet music into required for Sunday. I have even scanned in ‘All Glory, Laud & Honour’ so l won’t need to take the hymn book outside.

5. iBooks   Free

I currently have  PDFs of the Parish Book of Chant and the Gregorian Missal on this. Reads the PDFs faster than a Kindle. Lots of PDFs on the Musica Sacra site that you could save to iBooks eg. This Lent, we are working our way through Chant Abreges 1955 from the site.
6 imass HD   £1.29

Watch a video of the current day’s EF Latin Mass and follow the text in English and Latin on the lower half of the screen. This App seems to be linked to the FSSP website. The mass is always filmed in the same church with the camera in the same fixed position. Could be more interesting with a few close-ups thrown in.  I wonder if only women wearing Mantillas are allowed to sit in the front rows. This could be terribly useful if you are learning either to say or serve the Latin Mass. I’m afraid l just can’t see myself watching a Mass on the train home of an evening.

7. Piano Free

Out of necessity I found myself doing an entire choir practice the other night using this App and it kept crashing. Useful for notes but if you are also singing from the ipad I am not sure how quickly you can skip between Apps. Will use it for notes outside the church on Palm Sunday- let’s hope it is not raining.

8. Latin Word of the Day Free

and today’s is…  ‘gladius, i – sword’


9. Magnificat  Free

Still formatted only for iphone and you need wi-fi to use it.  Lots of prayers for the day, Mass readings, Meditations and even ‘Blessings for the Table.’   I think it might be a bit rude to bring an ipad to the dinner table though, even in Catholic households.

10. The New Mass £1.79

This is only in iphone format at the moment but it is great.  It takes you line-by-line through the new translation comparing it to the old Missal and explaining why it has changed.

Other Apps I am yet to download:

iMissal Catholic £2.99

Universalis £14.99

Virtual Rosary £1.79

Confession: A Roman Catholic App.   £1.19  (Has apparently been approved by the Vatican and don’t worry it’s not Virtual Confession it’s just an aid to preparation.)  AMENDMENT :   THIS APP HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED BY THE VATICAN.  WHY DO I EVER BELIEVE ANYTHING I HEAR ON THE BBC?…

So, after using the ipad  at Mass last week, one plus was I did find my bag was lighter. It was handy because I was able to refer to notes I had typed up earlier in the week for the Introit and (most importantly) I did manage to sing pretty much everything from my trusty new toy  – that at least gave me a modicum of street-cred from two teenage boys in the congregation. A word of warning though – you do need to change the settings to prevent the ipad from going to sleep after a minute or so. Also make sure you have the screen locked in the vertical position otherwise it has a tendency to flip round mid-singing especially if you are arm-waving at the same time. Could be very useful in dingy conditions – pre-Gloria Easter Vigil, Candlemas, Tenebrae etc. Not sure how resilient the screen is to candle wax though. Watch this space/screen…

Solesmes Course and Mass I

Dom Yves-Marie Lelievre, the choirmaster of Solesmes is coming to London to hold several workshops from Thursday 5th to Saturday 7th May.

I am hoping as many of my choir as possible will be able to attend on the Saturday.

Leutgeb of Bara Brith fame has put all the details up :


You will need to learn Mass I (Lux et Origo) the Eastertide ordinary.  So here are the scores and MP3s courtesy of the indispensable website  Saint Antoine Daniel

Kyrie MP3

Kyrie Score

Gloria MP3

Gloria Score

Sanctus MP3

Sanctus Score

Agnus Dei MP3

Agnus Dei Score

Hymns for Palm Sunday

(Trachycarpus Fortunei – A Palm which grows happily in Brighton)

Hymns for Palm Sunday :-

I am not going to put any hymns on the list in place of ‘Hosannah in Excelsis’ the opening Antiphon for Palm Sunday. It is really very simple to sing . Square note  in English and in latin here.  Modern notation in Latin here. (It’s page 69)

Hymns for the Procession – Remember that generally congregations find walking and singing very difficult. Processions are every choir directors worst nightmare, especially when you get back into the church and discover that the back of the procession are three verses behind the front.  Don’t attempt to sing something that EVERYONE isn’t familiar with.  I would also recommend a processional rehearsal or recce if you are walking round the block a few times. You need to time how long it takes to sing the hymns to ensure you are all still singing when you reach the church again.

All Glory, Laud and Honour    –  The original hymn written by St Theodulph ‘Gloria, Laus, Tibi’  had 39 verses – Imagine how long their processions used to be!

Ride on, ride on in majesty

Christus Vincit  (This was sung at the Vatican Processional last year)

The Royal Banners Forward Go.

Sing my tongue the glorious battle (our congregation wouldn’t be able to sing this at a processional)


Hymns for the Rest of Mass   the congregation will know- Ideally, these should be sung unaccompanied to reinforce the tone of Passiontide.

My Song is Love Unknown  (popular at wedddings)

When I survey the wondrous cross

Vexilla Regis

O Sacred Head Sore Wounded

O Christe Domine Jesu (Taize)

Stabat Mater (At the cross her station keeping)



Hymns for the rest of Mass our congregation wouldn’t know-

Ah Holy Jesus how hast thou offended

To Christ the Prince of Peace

Jesus Christ is Lord

Sion’s Daughter, weep no more

O Sinner, lift the eye of faith.

In the Lord’s atoning grief

Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains

All ye who seek for sure relief

O come and mourn with me awhile


We are all supposed to carry a cross particularly at this time of the year but we still won’t be singing these hymns:

The Servant King – Graham Kendrick

Unless a grain  – Bernadette Farrell

Meekness and Majesty

At the name of Jesus

There are some interesting hymn suggestions on the BBC website

“Songs may include Make WayHosanna, and (for children) We have a King who Rides a Donkey.”

I’m afraid l am not familiar with ‘We have a King who Rides a Donkey.’  so unfortunately will have to leave that one out this year.

Motets for Palm Sunday

Christus Factus Est – Various composers

God So Loved the World – We are singing the Stainer this week

O Crux Spes Unica – Victoria

Stabat Mater – Various composers

Drop drop slow tears – Orlando Gibbons