For those of you who don’t yet know about it, this book is a must-have for all Catholic musicians serious about following the spirit of the liturgy. And as evidenced by the multiple sell-outs of this book on Amazon, more and more musicians are realizing this.
But the most exciting part about this book is that it’s completely “open source.” It’s licenced into the creative commons, which means anyone can make their own adaptation of it (such as modern-notation transcriptions, harmonized versions, or using the melodic formulas to other proper texts, such as those for daily Masses, or FREE practice videos, or an Android App). The entire book is online both in parts (having a single Sunday in one pdf), and also as one single file for the whole book. And the best part about this is that you don’t have to worry about licencing fees, illegal copying for large choirs, copyright restrictions. All those are things of the past. You can buy the book and make legal copies. You can print off the entire book yourself from home, or just parts of it. It’s like Reagan’s quote: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Or in this case, the money. It was created by Adam Bartlett, but used in the beta phase and tuned the community at the MusicaSacra forum and the Chant Café.
And the book itself sells for just under $20, with the author making next to almost no profit compared to other publishers. He didn’t do it for the money. He did it as a gift to the church.
Another thing that makes it so amazing is it’s versatility. You could use this alone with the antiphon and psalm verses, or you could simply sing the antiphon alone after the last verse of the hymn, or you could have an organist improvise on the antiphon then sing it, you could sing it with a drone or organum. It can be sung by a single cantor early in the morning, or by the full choir at the 11:00am choir Mass.
You could even venture out and try harmonized psalm verses with a unison antiphon. In fact, the creator of the book has tried this on multiple occasions, with much success:
And here is an example of a typical usage (from one of the practice videos that have also been created) of one of these propers.
But most importantly, this book allows musicians to bring back the propers of the Mass in an accessible way, without having to dive into the full gregorian propers right away, especially those difficult offertories. Finally, more and more musicians are realizing the importance of singing the appointed scriptural texts of the Mass, not random texts that they think are nice. This book has opened up new possibilities in the Catholic music world. If you’re a liturgical musician, you should get on the bandwagon and join us!
Or as many say it, don’t sing at Mass, sing the Mass.