English Gradual Belmont Abbey

Over the past few months we have had a few selections from An English Gradual by Belmont Abbey. I can’t say I was terribly impressed by them. Imagine my shock when, lo and behold, we now have the books for use every Sunday! I am in near total despair. How can a Benedictine Abbey foist this 1970s trite, banal music on the Church today? Really, how can they do it?

Little ditties is what they are. I am not fond of Taize chants but even they are better than these so-called chants. Really, they are not chants. They are like modern responsorial responses. There isn’t a hint of Gregorian chant (except the Attende Domini they threw in) about the whole enterprise. For Ordinary Time we have twelve Introits to choose from and they are basically all the same.

I honestly thought we were moving in the right direction as a Church. Bringing back the correct Propers for each Sunday. Proper Introit and Communion antiphons and psalms plus Offertory Chants that at least fit. Music that if not from the Graduale Romanum then at least patterned on Gregorian Chant so that it actually sounds like chant. But what do we get with these Belmont so-called chants? “Zing”. That’s how our choir director described one of the Mass Ordinaries – “it has quite a bit of zing”. Have we fallen off the wagon again? Are we now resurrecting trash from the 1970s with “zing” in a vain attempt to liven up the church? Bring the people back?

And when are our Bishops going to get off their backsides and give us the new Grail translation of the psalms? Other English speaking countries approved their use years ago. What are they waiting for? And when are they going to make an attempt – even a little one – to improve the dreadful state of liturgical music in this country? Why can’t they come out and say that hymns at Mass are not on? When are they going to encourage the use of Gregorian Chant? And if they don’t want Latin at least they can encourage the use of good English Chant like Lumen Christi Simple Gradual or even Simple English Propers to get parishes started back on the road to singing something like Gregorian Chant.

I despair. I totally despair over the state of the Church in this country!

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