Skip to content
Yes, you can buy lasix medications online no prescription buy maxalt online pharmacy canada online pharmacy india coupon code buy prozac

A Short Musical Setting for the Creed

A PRIEST who is also a church musician quickly finds he has to balance pastoral considerations and musical aspirations without doing harm to either.

As a trained church musician who loves and wishes to preserve the great patrimony of the Catholic sacred music, he naturally wants to have his choir and organist perform as much splendid music as they can. As a priest, however, he learns that this must be tempered by the practicalities of running a well-ordered parish.

In the latter category, inevitably, falls the question of the length of church services, especially that of the Sunday High Mass. Before Vatican II, most harmonized settings of the Ordinary included a musical setting for the Credo. This was invariably the longest of the six movements; it took many rehearsals for a choir to learn, and it consumed a lot of time at the average Sunday parish High Mass.

As a teenager and aspiring church musician during the horrible period in the 1960s when the Vatican II changes were gradually being introduced and old-style sacred music was being dumped en masse, I haunted church music dealers in my home city, plowed through Mass settings that were being sold off for pennies, and bought what I considered to be the best. So here, more than fifty years later, I still have this collection with me, numbering well over two hundred scores.

When I purchased these Masses in the 1960s and again when I organized them about ten years ago, I noticed that in most cases, the Credo settings tended to be far less musically interesting than the other movements. Obviously, I’m not referring to the works of the great masters such as Palestrina, Victoria and Mozart, but those of the B, C and D list Catholic church music composers. I suspect that most of the inspirations the composers got came for the five shorter movements, and that the Credo setting was left till last.

Therefore, when I took over the church music program at St. Gertrude the Great in 2009, it occurred to me that if most musical settings of the Credo not only took a long time for a choir to learn and were usually musically inferior, but also consumed a lot of time for the parish High Mass, why not look for better alternatives?

I resolved that at St. Gertrude’s we would follow one of four options for the Creed:

  1. Four chant Credos: I, III, IV and the Ambrosian
  2. Chant Credos with harmonized Et Incarnatus and Amens.
  3. One or two high quality harmonized musical settings for use on major feasts. (We currently use the one from J.E. Stehle’s excellent Salve Regina Preis-Messe. We’re look for another one for the fall season.)
  4. Faux bourdon settings, which are solemn-sounding enough to be used on major feasts.

In the latter category, I was able to find only one, alas — John Selner’s Recited Creed #2. Alas, try though I might, I was never able to track down #1.

So, I decided to dust off my dormant composition skills and write one of my own.

I based it on 7th and 2nd-tone faux bourdon settings for the Psalms and the Magnificat by the French cathedral composers Besnier and Perruchot.

A faux bourdon is a technical term in church music for a type of harmonized psalm tone. (The most famous example is the Allegri Miserere, which you now hear everywhere around Holy Week. Here’s our choir doing a portion of it as an Offertory motet on Passion Sunday.) The advantage of a faux bourdon is that it gives you a “wall of sound” effect, a sort of ecclesiastical Phil Spector sound (to use a Boomer analogy).

To add some variety to the piece and give it a little more musical splendor for solemn feasts, I added a simple three-part polyphonic setting for the Et incarnatus and the Amen. The resulting setting is simple and should be easy for almost any choir to learn in one or two rehearsals.

If you like the sound, pass a link to this post on to your local choir director. The score is available for free download at on my CPDL page.