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GIA and Oregon Catholic Press - Treasurehouses of Catholic Musical Heritage

by Ian on April 28, 2006

As most people are aware, there are two main sources of music for Catholic liturgical services these days. The first is Oregon Catholic Press. The second is GIA.

Oregon Catholic Press has created a hymnal industry that has been analyzed in the past by Crisis magazine.

Several months ago they sent our store a wonderful CD called O Lux Beatissima which contains many basic chants that would be perfect for a parish to learn. The accompanying letter said that they sent us the CD as a sample of their selection because it seemed like we had a focus on chant (we do) and wanted to do business with us. After listening to the CD I called OCP and asked what other items they had that we would be interested in:

"Well, we have a chant supplement to our Breaking Bread(tm) missalette."

"And?"

"That's it."

"But you just sent me a letter saying that the CD was a sample of your selection that would interest us."

"Well, we have this great chant supplement for parish use."

"Right, you told me about it. What kind of a discount do we get as a store if we carry this supplement?"

"Well, we don't actually give discounts to stores on it."

"....."

GIA also has a commitment to preserving our Catholic musical heritage. Their catalog is 168 pages long and is chock full of old standards such as Haagen and Daas. No wait, that's ice cream. Anyway, not to be out done by OCP, GIA has EIGHT PAGES dedicated to chant and polyphony resources. While we are certainly grateful that they import the Solesmes chant books, it would seem that the 1,960+ years of pre-Vatican II musical heritage deserve a little more space than eight pages between the two largest "Catholic" music publishers in the country.

The saddest part about this is that many years ago, GIA used to have another name - The Gregorian Institute of America and OCP used to be the Oregon Catholic Truth Society. Catholic music sure has come a long way when a Catholic publisher thinks that GIA is a more appropriate name for their company. And no, GIA isn't an acronym. From their website:

"Of course, we haven’t abandoned our roots…GIA (originally the Gregorian Institute of America) still offers more Gregorian chant resources than anyone, including the highly respected Solesmes editions!"

When your roots are so tenuously attached, it is a very difficult thing to stay rooted.

Some Further Resources on the liturgical music situation:

Buried Treasure (from Adoremus)

The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music (Crisis)

If you want to know what the current Pope and the Church has to say about liturgical music:

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

A New Song for the Lord

Spirit of the Liturgy

Sacrosanctum Concilium (Vatican II) (Not in print anymore)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Marie Knapp May 2, 2006 at 3:34 pm

You may be interested in checking out the third Catholic publisher, World Library Publications, and especially the Psallite Project. The Psallite Project is setting the proper introits, psalms, and communion verses for every Sunday and solemnity in acappela, mostly chant, highly singable settings. As of last summer, they were about 1/3 of the way through the estimated 600 pieces.

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Mark Radeke June 28, 2007 at 11:42 pm

I just read both the article from Crisis Magazine as well as the article above in “musings…”. I always feel badly when i read these kinds of articles in which the authors seem to consistently use mockery and ridicule when making observations about others. Judging by Our Lord’s perception of and dealing with the Pharisees, I don’t think he would exhort disciples who mock and ridicule others along the path. Intelligent, focused discussion and observations, as well as prayer, are what is needed in our Church today. I am glad I don’t read your materials regularly, nor shall I again. The greatest commandment is the law of Love, if we don’t keep that, we are not followers of our Lord. Building walls instead of kindly building bridges should never be our recourse.
Mark Radeke, Mus. Lit. Director, St. Kenneth Parish, Plymouth MI
PS – Karen is right; Psallite is an excellent resource.

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Ian June 29, 2007 at 7:16 am

Jesus referred to the pharisees as a “brood of vipers” and those selling things in the temple as a “den of thieves.” Not exactly focused discussion and observation. Apart from a small joke about ice cream, everything in this post was accurate, right down to the conversation I had on the phone.

I’m sorry that you are so easily offended by those who point out problems within the Church.

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