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Website offers scores of Renaissance church music

Blessed Sacrament Church
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Heath Morber has adopted Mass music for use in English liturgies.

This post is for choir directors and church singers, but really, it’s also for anyone who appreciates beautiful music.

Heath Morber, music director at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign, Illinois, has created a website that serves as a repository for some of the most beautiful Renaissance polyphony ever written. Over the years, Morber has adapted Renaissance Mass Ordinaries (e.g. a Benedictus from a Mass composed by Orlando di Lassus), re-set them with English Eucharistic texts, and used them as post-Communion meditations. Since he worked with just a cantor at the Newman Center, he had to adapt music that was written for four voices to music for two voices.

“Years later, I have dozens of these settings for nearly every liturgical occasion and context,” he wrote. He’s made them available at englishmotets.com.

“The project is directed mostly at Catholic musicians who want to expose their congregations to the beauty of Renaissance polyphony but also believe that the use of the vernacular may be a safe way to introduce this music to people in the pews who may balk at pieces in Latin,” Morber said. “In addition, choir directors will find many pieces for small choirs, some of it easy and accessible for polyphonic neophytes, and others that will prove satisfying for advanced singers.”

The site has instructional videos, showing the score of the music as singers demonstrate how it sounds. Morber hopes that in addition to Catholic church choirs, non-Catholic churches and even high school choir programs will take advantage of the work he’s done. Over 200 files have been uploaded, in various keys, voicings, liturgical seasons and parts of the Mass. He promises to add new scores each month.

Morber assured Aleteia that everything on his site is in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright restrictions.

Access to the site is available for a one-time, lifetime fee of $30.

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