Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Simple English Propers

Welcome back to Stuart's Study. Today's review of Simple English Propers composed and edited by Adam Bartlett is geared toward all the music lovers out there, but it might also strike the fancy of those not so musically inclined, like myself. Have you ever been sitting in Mass when you are told to turn your hymnal to a hymn without having any idea why this title was chosen for a particular Feast Day? Or are you sick of hearing the same hymns sung every single week of Ordinary Time? Do you just like the sound of Gregorian Chant? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

Simple English Propers contains the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion Antiphon for every Sunday in the Church Calendar as well as Major Feasts including Christmas, the Annunciation, the Assumption, and many others. It is very thorough and includes options with some of the days for Year A, B, or C if there is a difference from year to year. Perhaps the most helpful part of this book is the detailed introduction that explains how to sing these antiphons properly. I wish an audio CD had been included with this book, but there is a website on the back cover of the book that has some helpful audio.

How do you go about getting more chant in Mass though? You could buy the book for your priest and/or music minister and ask if they would consider using the music at one Mass per Sunday (if you go to a big church) or one Mass per month (if you go to a small church). This book could also be used simply for a deepening of your faith and understanding of the Liturgical Seasons.  It would be helpful to read before Mass each Sunday/Feast Day to use as background for the Liturgy of the Word. Overall, I would give this book 4 out 5 stars, because it is hard to appreciate music by just reading it off a page. You need to be able to hear it as well. Some people can read notes, and hear the music in their head. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

I wrote this review of Simple English Propers for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.