The system is so simple, that you don't need a deep musical training - if you can sing it, you can teach others to sing it. This means that in just a few minutes, you could have a completely fresh group able to learn a tone and sing a whole Office together.
Chant that Competes With Praise and Worship Music! I have been contacted by a seminarian based in Boston called Pat Fiorillo who directs the choir of a young adults group in Boston.
He told me that through his influence of introducing this sort of music at groups he has worked with, he has seen a young people's group chant for the first time ever rather than singing only praise and worship music with the usual guitars and drums.
He sent me this recording of his group of singing the Magnificat to the Way of Beauty psalm tones composed by myself and with the harmonization by Paul Jernberg. They are singing it as a communion meditation for Mass on the Feast of the Assumption recently. The antiphon is composed by Paul Ford (whose work I otherwise know nothing of), but I must say that it sounds good. Pat is clearly working well with them, and I find their chant of the antiphon beautiful. They actually did all of the propers - introit and offertory also from Ford's collection - as well as Kyrie VIII, and Proulx's Missa Simplex.
From what he describes everyone is enthusiastic about singing sacred music and he is pleased to have something that works in English which opens the way for congregations who might be resistant if he insisted on Latin. What is particularly encouraging is that this is a seminarian doing this! I hope this gives us an indication of what are priests will be doing in the future.
Anyone can learn to sing the psalms Following a recent article about us singing Vespers at a local hospital, a number of people have been asking me about the music for the psalm tones that we use when we sing Vespers and Compline for the US Veterans at the VA hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. In response to this I have put all the tones we have on a newly published page on this blog 'Psalm Tones' (see above). Before I describe what you will find there, I would just like to describe the last time we went to the veteran's hospitial in Manchester, NH. We arrived as usual and were greeted by Fr Boucher in the chapel. Nobody else was there. Fr Boucher thanked us warmly for coming and told us that several veterans had wanted to come but were too ill to go from ward to chapel, and two had died earlier that day. Fr Boucher wanted us to know how important therefore, our prayer was. So we sang Vespers and Compline just as intended and as beautifully as we could for those who could not hear us.
Coming back to the tones: these are so easy to pick up that even I can do it. Just to give you an idea, I am at the level of being able to pick out a tune on the piano with one finger reading notes from a treble clef (bass clef is beyond me).
There is an instructional video and sheet music for all the tones we have developed so far plus about a dozen examples of recorded psalms, most with scrolling score so you can see how the tone is applied to the text.
Because they are adaptable to any text, you don't need to buy any books or expensive CDs. You can apply them to your psalter - the video tells you how to mark the text so that you can do it. This means also that if you know even just one tone, then you could sing the whole psalter. As you learn more tones you can apply those too to the same text without any changes, you use exactly the same marks for each tone.
If you want sheet music for the harmonised psalm tones that you hear, then contact me direct. If we find that lots of people want them, then we'll put them up on the blog page too.
If you want further information, sheet music or instructional CDs for the music of Paul Jernberg, including his Mass of St Philip Neri, contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just to give you a feel for one, here is the English version of the Nunc Dimittis.
And here is a plane tone without harmonisation - Mode 5