| The repertoire of Songs for the Eucharist, Ancient and New consists entirely of pieces sung at the Eucharistic liturgy when it is celebrated in the traditional Latin, this being the primary function of a schola cantorum. A schola is also a kind of school, that provides the time and place where repertoire, styles, attitudes, and skills can be acquired and practiced. The repertoire of this album illustrates this pedagogical function of the schola cantorum, for it spans the centuries from the ancient Church to the near-present, giving appropriate emphasis to Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony, but embracing other styles and repertoire when appropriate.|
The album begins with two Gregorian Introits, that chant of the Mass Proper which accompanies the entrance of the celebrants, and whose text and music express particular themes of that day's Liturgy. These two introits are for the 1st and 3rd Sundays of Lent. The four Gregorian Office antiphons, which follow, while not part of the Mass Propers, are optional pieces that can be sung, for example, to accompany the Offertory or Communion rites of the Mass. They are especially efficacious when their texts are closely related to the day's liturgy, as in Pater manifestavi, composed for the feast of the Ascension, and Cum venerit, composed for Pentecost Sunday.
Three Renaissance duets follow, the first two being motets, and the third, the Benedictus part of a polyphonic setting of the Sanctus. As with the Office Antiphons, motets with suitable texts are useful and desirable during the traditional Mass, especially when the Church's long and rich musical history can be incorporated in a community's liturgical prayer. Moreover, each is an example of the Renaissance pedagogical tradition of bicinia, didactic two-part compositions, used to prepare young singers for larger ensemble singing.
Mendelssohn's Hear Ye, Israel, was not composed for a liturgical setting, but rather for his Oratorio 'Elijah'. However, its Biblical text, and its clearly religious sentiment make it appropriate as a prelude. The Messe Basse of Gabriel Fauré is a setting of the Mass Ordinary (minus the Gloria and Credo), famous for its modesty and craft.
The four motets with organ, each composed in the 20th century, were all intended for liturgical use, and each appropriate for the Eucharist. Pablo Casals, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, composed the words and music of Eucaristica for the Escolania de Montserrat in Spain. Georges-Émile Tanguay was a Canadian composer and organist for many years active at the Église de l'Immaculée-Conception, Montréal. Jehan Alain was a French composer and organist, whose notably prolific career was cut short by a tragic death in World War II. Monsignor Valentino Miserachs Grau since 1977 is director of the Cappella Musical Liberiana in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome and from 1995-2012 was Preside of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome.
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