Sung Portions of our Mass

The sections that follow describe the music used in our Masses, providing background information and sometimes recordings to help you prepare to worship with both heart and voice.
Saint Augustine of Hippo is often said to have written “he who sings prays twice;” that might better be thought of as the sense of what he actually did write (in Enarratio in Psalmum 72:1): Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat; qui cantat laudem, non solum cantat, sed et amat eum quem cantat. “For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyously; he who sings praise, is not only singing, but also loving Him to whom he is singing.”

Missa De Sancta Maria Magdalena

The mass setting used most Sundays of the year is Healey Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena — one of the true treasures of the Anglican Patrimony. A reverent, beautiful, concise and memorable setting of the Mass, it was conceived for congregational singing and dates from one of the greatest periods of English music. Although (James) Healey Willan (1880–1968) was born, educated, and began his career as an organist and composer in England he left that country in 1913 and is remembered — and proudly claimed — as a Canadian. His family background and disposition was Anglo-catholic. Although his first job in Toronto was at a prosperous but low-church parish (St. Paul’s, Bloor Street) he became more and more involved with a much smaller Anglo-catholic parish in the City, Saint Mary Magdalen. In 1921 he  became its Director of Music, remaining in that post until his death. He wrote the Mass setting which bears his parish’s name in 1928; it was included in the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal, appearing as the Second Communion Service. His musical executors are Chicago’s Roman Catholic Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. In describing their charism, the Canons Regular state they wish to  “Restore the Sacred” in the Church; and “…in the context of parish ministry…help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art, sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechetics, and Catholic culture.…we are aware of the treasures that we have in both liturgical forms of the Roman Rite—the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. We are conscious also of the musical, ceremonial, and artistic traditions which have enhanced these liturgies. We seek to preserve this Patrimony as a way of aiding the spread of the Gospel.” We of the Ordinariate sense a profound unity of purpose between the charism Pope Benedict outlined for us in our founding document; how strange — and how fitting — that Healey Willan’s work should, in a sense, join us! (Nota Bene: if any Roman Rite Catholics should care to bring Healey Willan’s beautiful Mass setting to their Novus Ordo worship, The Canons Regular have adapted it to the words of the Roman Missal — you will find it here).  HealeyWillanCAPTIONED

Missa Marialis

An American Episcopal priest, poet, and musicologist, Canon Charles Winfred Douglas (1867–1944) was almost single-handedly responsible for the successful introduction of Gregorian chant — the traditional music of the Roman Catholic Church — into the worship of his denomination. Many of his labors were inspired by a long association with an order of Episcopalian nuns in Peekskill New York, the Community of Saint Mary. Among these — as the name he gave it reveals — was the Missa Marialis. Douglas selected 9th- through 15th- century chants, fitted them with English translations, and published the work in 1915. In the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal (for which Douglas served as Music Editor) it appears as the Fourth Communion Service. ChasWDouglas+CAPTIONED These are not easy chants! — but they are very beautiful. This was the first setting of the ordinary of the Mass used by our community, as we had no organist in our earliest days. We still sing elements of it, some every week. Making use of these recordings to hear and sing them more often than once a week will not only make it easier to be comfortable singing them at Mass but, more importantly, make it easier to enjoy their great beauty and virtue as hallowed tools of worship, thereby freeing the soul to truly “pray twice.” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Kyrie — Missa Marialis

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Sanctus — Missa Marialis

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Pater Noster — (as sung at all our Masses)

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Agnus Dei — Missa Marialis

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Credo — Missa Marialis


Used during Trinitytide, this very simple but reverent and worthy setting of the Ordinary of the Mass was composed by an American. LEO SOWERBY (1895–1968), often named the “Dean of American church music” in the second third of the 20th century and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946 was born in Michigan. In 1909, however, the teenaged Sowerby moved to the city which would be home for much of his life: Chicago. Sowerby was definitely a prodigy: while teaching himself music theory from a book he began piano lessons at seven. At age fifteen he received some rather sketchy instruction on the organ; after that he would be self-taught. In 1913 the Chicago Symphony gave him his debut as a composer; his first published composition, a woodwind quintet, appeared in 1916; the following year brought his first public performance, on the piano, at a festival in Connecticut. After serving in World War One Sowerby remained in Europe to study at Rome where, in 1921, he was awarded the first American Prix de Rome for music. Returning to the United States in 1924 he reentered this country’s musical life seamlessly, writing jazz-influenced pieces for Paul Whiteman’s famous orchestra among many other activities. He joined the faculty of Chicago’s American Conservatory in 1925, remaining there until 1962; notable pupils include choral director Norman Luboff and composer Ned Rorem. He was also organist and choirmaster at Saint James’ Episcopal Cathedral in the same city from 1927 to 1962. In that year he moved to Washington, D.C. to found and become first Director of the College of Church Musicians; he maintained an association with the National Cathedral (Episcopal) until his death. Sowerby was one of the twenty-seven members of the commission appointed by the Episcopal Church to produce The Hymnal 1940 — universally acclaimed for its excellence — as well as the 1961 revision containing his setting of the Mass. A short but well-considered appreciation of Sowerby’s work originally published in the New England Organist (unsurprisingly accenting his organ and religious works) can be found here.



When using Sowerby’s Fifth Communion Service, we chant the Gloria to a Scots psalm tune first published in 1763 as “Old Scottish Chant.” Those coming from a non-Anglican background — especially Catholics — may wonder why Sowerby did not write a Gloria for his Communion Service (as did Healey Willan, 30 years earlier, or Canon Douglas had, even earlier)? The answer is “churchmanship,” a term used to describe where in the broad spectrum of Anglicanism — from “high” (close to Catholicism) to “low” (close to continental reformed denominations) — an individual or parish identified. Archbishop Cranmer’s first Book of Common Prayer was, in large measure, the Catholic Mass in English; the second, produced in 1552, after Henry VIII’s death, was  a decidedly Protestant effort; the historical form of the Mass was deliberately changed. One such change was moving the Gloria — now to be considered a Canticle — from its historical location: it was placed immediately before the Blessing and Dismissal. Many Calvinistic aspects of the second Prayer Book would be reconsidered (or observed in the breach) over the centuries; but the Gloria was not returned to the Ordinary of the Mass until 1979. Leo Sowerby, therefore, was entirely observant in omitting it in his setting; Canon Douglas and Healey Willan show themselves adherents of the high church, anglocatholic party by including it in theirs.

The melodies to Sowerby’s Communion Service and the Scottish Chant Gloria (as well as the Lord’s Prayer — sung at all of our Masses — and the Creed (which is rarely sung) from Canon Douglas’ Missa Marialis can be found in this booklet (the same one you will be presented with at Mass); it is viewable online or can be downloaded and printed:

Download (PDF, 156KB)

Here is the Scottish Chant Gloria, sung by the choir and congregation of Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Detroit Michigan:

Advent at Saint Gregory the Great

Under our first Pastor it was our custom to alter the liturgy — including the music of the Mass — during the season of Advent.  The Decalogue replaced the Kyrie during this period: the Priest recited the Commandments; the People singing a response (an adaptation of the Kyrie from Healey Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena) after each, the final response a slight variant. As the Gloria is not sung during Advent the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are the only other sections of the ordinary sung: we used Gregorian melodies from the Roman Missal which are now, happily, sung in many parishes and will be familiar to many Catholics. During this season we omitted the Last Gospel, replacing it with a uniquely Anglocatholic devotion: singing the Angelus to a traditional melody similar to Anglican chant. The first half of each element was sung by the Priest, the second half by the People.  In the recording the Priest’s parts are presented at a lower, the People’s at a higher volume level to make distinguishing them easier. We will see if this element of our community’s tradition is restored under our new Pastor, God willing! [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Decalogue Responses – Adapted from Healey Willan, Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena

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Sanctus – Service Music Five, Roman Missal

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Agnus Dei – Service Music Twelve, Roman Missal

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Anglocatholic Sung Angelus – Traditional; based on Anglican Chant

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