Pre-Vatican II Music Collection, Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows Archives, Chicago Servite Provincial Archives, Chicago

Our #HiddenCatholicCollection this week features the 417 piece pre-Vatican II music collection, dating from 1864 to 1964. It presents a view of the musical repertoire of the Radio Choir and Servite Choristers at Our Lady of Sorrows church (now basilica) chiefly in the first half of the 20th century. Download the finding aid here (PDF).

The collection is held in the Servite Provincial Archives of the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago. It presents the repertoire of the Radio Choir and Servite Choristers at Our Lady of Sorrows church (now basilica) chiefly in the first half of the 20 century. The Radio Choir with the Servite Choristers sang at the Solemn High Mass each Sunday over the radio station WGES in Chicago. During most of this period, from 1917 to his death in1954 Mr. Joseph Moos was organist, chior director and composer. 

The Collection is divided into eight sections: 

Section 1: Masses. The 62 Masses in this section include Masses by classical composers: Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré, Gounod, Haydn, Mozart, Von Weber, and Palestrina, as well as more modern composers such the Dutch Flor Peeters, Belgian Henri Potiron, and the Italian Pietro Yon who was organist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. 80 percent of these Masses date from before 1930. 

Section 2: Anthems, motets, and similar compositions. Among these 184 shorter works are 17 Ave Marias and as evidence that the choir also sang for the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament there are 17 musical settings for the O Salutaris Hostia and 19 for the Tantum Ergo. Compositions by classical composers include works by Gounod, Wagner, Saint-Saëns, Donizetti, Palestrina, Verdi, Massenet, Elgar, Franck, Mozart, Stravinsky, Rossini, Mendelsohn, Handel, and Grieg. Most of these compositions, however, are by lesser known composers. Similar to the dating suggested in Section 1 about 85 percent of the music was printed before 1930. 

Section 3: Solos, duets, trios, and quartets. Of the 27 compositions in this section about three-quarters date from before 1930 and one-quarter after 1930 (five are not dated). Of the 15 Ave Marias in this section only five are by a classical composer and these are simply different versions of Schubert’s Ave Maria. Only one other classical composer’s work is represented in this section: César Franck’s Panis Angelicus. There are two editions of Fr. Daniel A. Lord, S.J.’s popular Mother Beloved. 

Section 4: Christmas Songs. The 27 Christmas songs are divided equally between those dated before 1930 and those after 1930. Only two were by classical composers: Handel’s Messiah, and Gounod‘s O Dies Praeclara. There are few of the popular Christmas carols, probably because they are included in two collections of carols, one of 15, the other of five Christmas carols.

Section 5: Vespers. The 13 selections in this section all date from 1928 or earlier, five from before 1900. Two volumes are for Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some editions are in Latin, others in English. 

Section 6: Oratorios and similar compositions. Four of the six compositions are by well known classical composers: Gounod’s Gallia, Haydn’s Creation (Parts II and III), Mendelsohn’s Hear My Prayer and Rossini’s Stabat Mater. But the other two are also well known: Dubois’s The Seven Last Words and Curto’s Stabat Mater. 

Section 7: Hymnals. In addition to the three editions of the St. Basil Hymnal and other hymnals, there is a selection of Gregorian chants. Although there is a Kyriale and Selected Gregorian Chants from before 1930, there is also a Parish Kyriale from 1951 and a Kyriale from 1956. In general the dates of compositions in this section are more recent than in other sections. 

Section 8: Secular Music. The 58 compositions in this section of Secular Music range from secular music by classical composers whose religious works are found in the preceding sections. Here we find arias and choruses by Verdi, Bizet, Gounod, and Donizetti, as well as composers of lighter music such as Rudolf Friml and Victor Herbert, and finally Short’nin’ Bread. 75 percent of the composition date from before 1930. 

This repertoire, in comparison with the repertoires from other church choirs, might indicate what were the more popular musical selections used during this period and also provide information about the numerous lesser known composers of church music. 

Contact

Fr. Paul Gins, O.S.M.
Archivist
pbenzi@aol.com

Servite Provincial Archives 
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica
3121 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60612-2729 

(314) 494-3951 


Photos

Mr. Joseph Moos, organist, composer, music director at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Chicago.
Organ at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Chicago.
Organ at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, Chicago.
Oldest music in the Collection, 1864.
Oldest music in the Collection, 1864.
Most recent music in the Collection, 1964.
Most recent music in the Collection, 1964.
ietro Yon, most popular composer in the Collection, composed the Christmas carol, Gesu Bambino
ietro Yon, most popular composer in the Collection, composed the Christmas carol, Gesu Bambino.
Opening page of “Sympathy” from Rudolf Friml’s “The Firefly.”
Opening page of “Sympathy” from Rudolf Friml’s “The Firefly.”