In addition to The Chambered Nautilus, which I wrote for their anniversary events, Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul has used other liturgical pieces of mine throughout the year as part of my residency. I recently wrote some Simplified Anglican Chant settings for them, and those are beginning to be put into rotation as well.
This music consists of series of 4-part chords with which a choir and/or congregation may chant the appointed Psalm for the day. It’s a fine way to generate congregational singing of non-metered text such as Psalms. There’s a good, brief explanation of it here.
They are “simple” in that the chords are few. Text is often printed en bloc below the music, so new chants may take a few passes before one is comfortable with the harmonic progression. The text is marked so that one knows where to change chords.
As with all liturgical music, the musical challenge I relish is the stretching of easy harmonies up to and past the point where a congregation may be familiar, but never to cross the line into discomfort. Since the goal in a worship service is worship, and not entertainment or even expression, music must aid worship however it can.
Sometimes it may be through a harmonic push, but I never try to shove!
Thanks to Music Director Ed Broms for these opportunities. Anyone who wants to see a sample, let me know and I’ll get one to you.