Holy Week and Easter – Singing the Roman Missal 3rd edition

Just when you thought you were getting the hang of the new translations of the Roman Missal then Holy Week comes along to throw you off track. There are some significant textual changes in the new missal for Holy Week and the Easter Vigil which will effect both Celebrant and choir.

Palm Sunday   –    All music settings from ICEL

The opening Antiphon Hosannah filio David. “The king of Israel” is shifted later in the Antiphon to replicate the Latin.
ICEL has both Latin and English versions on the sheet. Graduale Simplex gives notation for Psalm 117 (in Latin) to accompany this Antiphon.

There is also an ICEL accompaniment – although l am assuming that most will be singing this Antiphon outside.

Pueri Hebraeroum, sung when the procession moves forward, is now unsurprisingly translated as The Children of the Hebrews rather than the The Children of Jerusalem.  They now no longer ‘loudly praise the Lord‘ but are ‘crying out saying’ (clamantes et dicentes)
This antiphon is alternated with verses from Psalm 23.

There is no ICEL notation for this. I haven’t found an English chant setting of this Antiphon yet.

 Aristotle Esguerra has written an English setting of this Antiphon using verses from Psalm 46 rather than Psalm 23.  This can be sung in unison or SATB.

Hymn: Gloria, Laus et honour tibi sit

The hymn to Christ the King sung during the procession is no longer listed in the Missal as ‘All glory, laud and honour‘ but ‘Glory and honour and praise be to you‘ a more acccurate translation of Gloria, laus et honour tibi sit. Music for English setting HERE

Ingrediente Domino

The Responsory Ingrediente Domino or As the Lord entered the holy city, sung as the procession enters the church was not even in my old Missal. This or another similar chant which speaks of the Lord’s entrance should be sung.

Suggestions for source for English setting

Further Resources for Palms Sunday:-

Latin texts with addditional accompaniment at Jogues Chant

Simple English Propers – Adam Barlett

Thursday of the Lord’s Supper

Introit: Nos Autem.

Last line ‘liberati sumus’ now translated as ‘delivered’ rather than ‘made free.’

The Simple English Propers do not have use the new ICEL translation.

At the Washing of the Feet all seven Antiphons found in the Graduale Romanum are now listed in the Missal. In the old Missal, the second antiphon, Dominus Jesus, postquam cenavit, was missing. The most noticeable addition to the Antiphons is the full text of the final antiphon from Corinthians including the verse. Caritas is now translated as charity and not love.

Aristotle Esguerra has written adapted the chant settings from the Graduale Romanum into English.  HERE

Offertory – Ubi Caritas

At the Offertory the new translation of the Ubi Caritas is much more poetic than the previous. Deus Ibi est, which was brutally translated as ‘there is God‘ is now ‘God is present there.’ The Latin text ‘Ubi Caritas est vera’ which l am less familiar with than ‘Ubi Caritas et unum’ is given as the option in the CTS Latin/English Missal


Transfer of the Holy Eucharist – Pange Lingua, no new English translation added.

Good Friday

For the celebrant, the Solemm Intercessions have changed. The congregation or dilectissimi nobis are thankfully no longer ‘friends’ but ‘dearly beloved.’ They are all notated on the ICEL site

Ecce lignum Crucis
The Showing of the Holy Cross –  Salus is now more accurately translated as salvation rather than Saviour. The congregation response is now Come, let us adore, (venite adoremus) rather than the horrible ‘Come, let us worship.’

Music in English and Latin and simplified versions HERE

The translation of the antiphon Crucem tuam with Psalm 66.2 has altered.

The newly translated Reproaches are in the new Missal in full. The Greek Hagios o Theos etc remains in Greek in the new translation.

The Chant Cafe promoted these new English settings by Bruce Ford of the American Gradual.

The hymn Crux Fidelis sung after the Reproaches has a new translation in the Missal

ICEL notation in English

The Easter Vigil

Procession. –   Lumen Christi is now translated as ‘The Light of Christ.’ rather than ’Christ our Light.’

Lots of resources for the Exsultet online. Corpus Christi Watershed  has a whole page of practice videos at high and low pitch.

ICEL longer form HERE

Sadly the Antiphons from the Graduale Romanum sung between the readings are still not listed in the new Missal translation only the Responsorial Psalms. There is an instruction now stating that the number of readings from the Old Testament may only be reduced in ‘serious pastoral circumstances.’

Gospel Acclamation Alleluia, this can now be intoned by a psalmist instead of the priest if required.

Baptismal Liturgy HERE
Litany of the Saints –  There are a couple of changes. Per incarnationem tuam not accurately translated as By your incarnation rather than ‘By your coming as Man’.  Resurrectionem now resurrection and not rising to new life. per efffusionem Spiritus Sancti now ‘out-pouring of the Holy Spiritum.

ICEL music setting HERE

Vidi Aquam –  ICEL  HERE

Extra reading:

Information sheet produced by ICEL


If you know of any other new English settings for any of these Masses then leave a comment.

Choir Resources for 5th Sunday in Lent

Vexilla Regis (translated literally as Regal Banner) – The office hymn of Passiontide and the hymn in honour of the Holy Cross is considered as one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) –  PDF from the Parish Book of Chant.

Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.
The banners of the king issue forth,
the mystery of the cross does gleam,
where the creator of flesh, in the flesh,
by the cross-bar [of the crucifying cross] is hung.

It is important to remember the context in which this hymn was written to give some idea of the rhythm and tempo.

Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

This is a joyful hymn, a celebration of the wood a ligno, the beautiful and resplendent tree Arbor decora et fulgida that adorned with the purpled majesty of Christ,  purpura symbolising the Most Precious Blood, that chose to bear on thy worthy trunk, limbs so holy, electa digno stipite Tam sancta membra tangere. Tangere – to touch, to come into contact with.

I like this recording recorded at Mass in Edinburgh with quite a defiant organ accompaniment. Many of the recordings on You tube have tortuously extended dotted punctums at the end of each line, this doesn’t.

Introit  – from the Simple English Propers

Offertory – Judge my Cause O Lord – Aristotle Esguerra

Score and Midi files HERE

Crux Fidelis – John of Portugal 

This polyphonic setting will alternate with the full choir singing the chant verses of the Crux Fidelis. PDF of chant score HERE.

Hide not Thou Face – Farrant 

Recessional Hymn – O Sacred Head Sore Wounded : Bach from St Matthew’s Passion

Horrible MIDI file HERE

There are lots of good recordings on You tube but this was my favourite, the virtual organ accompaniment. It gives me an idea…

Laetare it’s Parry

The Gradual for Laetare Sunday is ‘Laetatus Sum’ which is translated in the Gregorian Missal as ‘I rejoiced.’  In the British Isles I think most of us (Catholics included) are more familiar with the translation from the Book of Common Prayer ‘I was glad’ , especially if you watched the wedding of Wills and Kate. That great dramatic organ intro. This is Sir Parry at his finest. A ‘Great British’ anthem and far better than Jerusalem.

If you are not familiar with much of Parry’s music, there is a lot of really good choral stuff out there and his orchestral works have been having a revivial recently. Tonight, I am singing his Songs of Farewell at a concert in Brighton.  Another fabulous piece of music, six motets sets to poetic texts from Vaughan, Campion, Lockhart, John Donne, Shakespeare and Psalm XXXIX. It’s really challenging to sing but quite exciting rhythms.

Here is the first, My Soul, There is A Country set to the words of Henry Vaughan.

“My soul there is a country far beyond the stars, where stands a winged sentry.”

Singing the Propers in English for Laetare

During Lent our choir have been singing most of the Sunday propers in English. One of the reasons for shifting from the Latin Gregorian Propers of the Graduale Romanum is so that the entire choir can sing these texts. The Graduale Romanum propers  need a lot of rehearsal time to do them justice which we just don’t have at the moment. Singing the GR texts in Latin to a psalm tone is generally unsatisfactory melodically, particularly with the Gradual. So we have shifted to the Simple English Propers by Adam Bartlett which appears to be  so popular, even James Macmillan is doing these in his parish in Glasgow.

The SEP Introit for Laetare  is in the choir’s current favourite Mode, Mode V. We found the best starting note was D, anything lower and it becomes hard to sing Rejoice  and sound like you actually mean it. We do not observe the quarter bar line pause after consolation which is on the recording.  The flattened neumes on in and sorrow work well to emphasise the mood shift to sadness as we pass from the exaltation of the opening phrases reflecting on the beatific vision of heavenly Jerusalem that awaits us. 

My only moan about the SEPs is that the Glory Be is not laid out in full on the sheet. We are so used to sing it in Latin that we all struggle to sing it in English and you have to work out which syllables to move on.

For the Offertory we have been singing Aristotle Esguerra’s Graduale Simplex English Choral Propers and absolutely love them. They are brilliant because they are long enough to fill the entire Offertory (or Introit, or Communion), they have beautifully constructed melodies which are easy enough for the congregation to pick up – I have been putting the Antiphon on the Mass sheets, and they give the choir the opportunity to have a go at singing in parts (particularly with the verses.)

This Sunday’s Offertory. The antiphon is available as a MIDI file.

The other fantastic resource is Tom Hagger from St Thomas More, Seaford, English Psalm Tone propers. This are particularly ideal if you have limited rehearsal time. Lent 4 Year B Proper. The layout is particularly good.

The James Macmillan Talk – Video and Pictures

In the first of a series of lectures to commemorate St Mary Magdalen’s 150th Anniversary, we were honoured to host the legendary composer and conductor James Macmillan last night. See his fascinating talk on The Future of Music, Modernity and the Sacred unedited below.

More photos can be found HERE