Detail of an historiated initial ‘C’(antate Domino), at the beginning of Psalm 97. Breviary, Use of Sarum with Norwich variants (‘The Stowe Breviary’). British Library.
The ideal music setting for the Mass is gregorian chant, followed by polyphony. In a sung Latin Mass, or high Mass, what is sung are the propers and ordinaries. Historically, hymns were discouraged in the Mass. Your Latin Mass wedding music will depend mostly on the musical resources available to your church.
Sancta Missa provides a 4-page Q&A booklet on Nuptial Mass music:
Haynes, S.J.C., Reverend Scott A. “Guidelines for Liturgical Services According to the 1962 Missale Romanum: Music for Nuptial High Mass.” Biretta Books, 2007. https://sanctamissa.org/en/music/musical-guidelines-for-the-traditional-roman-rite/liturgical-services-music-for-the-nuptial-high-mass.pdf.
Here is how our wedding Mass music looked:
Veni Creator Spiritus, Rabanus Maurus (gregorian chant)
Alma Redemptoris, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (polyphony)
Te Deum, Marc-Antoine Charpentier (organ)
all gregorian chant
Mass setting VIII, Missa de Angelis (gregorian chant)
Psalm 117 (gregorian chant)
Sicut Cervus, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (polyphony)
Te Deum, Nicetas of Remesiana (gregorian chant)
Presentation of flowers to Mary:
Ave Verum Corpus, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (polyphony)
O God Beyond All Praising, Michael Perry (hymn)
Organ Symphony No. 5, Toccata, Charles-Marie Widor (organ)
The propers are the Introit, Gradual, Tract, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion.
Gregorian chant settings
“Gregorian Propers.” Corpus Christi Watershed. Accessed July 29, 2019. http://www.ccwatershed.org/goupil/ [Scroll down to “Nuptial Mass”]
“Sacred Music.” Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Accessed July 31, 2019. http://www.institute-christ-king.org/resources/sacred-music#votive [Scroll down to “Votive Masses”]
Windsor Tridentine Mass Community. “Chant Sheets for the Orations and Readings.” Accessed November 27, 2019. http://www.windsorlatinmass.org/latin/chant.htm [Scroll down to “Nuptial Mass”]
Polyphonic settings of the nuptial propers are one of the most difficult types of wedding music to find. The only concrete information on such settings I have found is in the Musica Sacra forums.
“Needed: SATB Polyphony for Wedding, One Voice per Part.” MusicaSacra Church Music Forum (blog). Accessed August 6, 2019. https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/comment/44797#Comment_44797.
“Polyphonic Nuptial Propers.” MusicaSacra Church Music Forum (blog). Accessed August 6, 2019. https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/12421/polyphonic-nuptial-propers/p1.
The ordinaries are the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (the Gloria and Credo are not included in the wedding Mass).
Gregorian chant settings
“St. Antoine Daniel Kyriale.” Corpus Christi Watershed. Accessed July 29, 2019. http://www.ccwatershed.org/kyriale/.
Unlike the paucity of polyphonic propers, there is an abundance of options for settings for the ordinaries. Below are some of the more famous settings, renowned for beauty and/or simplicity.
Rusca, Francesco Spagnoli. “Missa Brevis.” IMSLP Petrucci Music Library. Accessed August 6, 2019. https://imslp.org/wiki/Missa_Brevis_(Rusca%2C_Francesco_Spagnoli). 11 pages. G major. Baroque.
Haller, Michael. “Messe Secunda, Op. 5, No. 2.” IMSLP Petrucci Music Library. Accessed August 6, 2019. https://imslp.org/wiki/Mass_No.2%2C_Op.5_(Haller%2C_Michael). 17 pages. A Major. Romantic.
Victoria, Tomas Luis de. “Missa Dominicalis.” ChoralWiki. Accessed August 6, 2019. http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Missa_Dominicalis_(Tom%C3%A1s_Luis_de_Victoria).
Dalitz, Christoph. “Missa Tribus Vocibus.” ChoralWiki. Accessed August 6, 2019. http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Missa_tribus_vocibus_(Christoph_Dalitz). 12 pages.
Other Sacred Music
Alma chorus domini in the The Winchester Troper, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 473: 129r
Below are a few popular choices for hymns, motets, and chants for the wedding Mass. Many of these texts have more than one setting. If you need inspiration, consider the background of you and your future spouse (French, Italian, Irish, etc.), or the feasts on/near your wedding day. If your wedding day is near, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas’ feast day, you could choose one of the many songs he composed, or a song centered on the Eucharist, a common theme in St. Thomas’ works.
A sequence is a hymn sung before the Gospel. Before the Council of Trent, there were hundreds of sequences for various Masses and feasts. The Tridentine reforms winnowed the sequences in the Roman Missal to 4 (now 5), the most famous of which is likely the Dies Irae. The Sarum Use of the Roman Rite used the sequence Alma Chorus Domini for its nuptial Masses (which was typically the Mass of the Trinity). Below are links to a PDF of the Latin and the English sheet music.
- Latin sheet music for the Sarum nuptial sequence Alma Chorus Domini (PDF) (Reposted with permission from the Gregorian Institute of Canada)
- Chantblog’s post on Alma Chorus Domini, which includes some history, and sheet music for an English translation
- Alma Redemptoris Mater (Marian atiphon for: Advent through February 1)
- Ave, Regina Caelorum (Marian atiphon for: February 2 through Good Friday)
- Regina Caeli (Marian atiphon for: during the season of Easter)
- Salve Regina (Marian atiphon for: after Pentecost)
- Ave maris stella
The following composers have written many sacred music pieces: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Franz Schubert, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Orlando de Lassus, Josquin, Tommaso de Celano, Thomas Tallis, Hildegard of Bingen, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Anton Bruckner, Edward Elgar, Charles Gounod, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Below are a few favorites from that list:
- Ave verum Corpus, Mozart
- Ave verum, William Byrd
- Ave maria, Schubert
- Sicut cervus, Palestrina
- If ye love me, Thomas Tallis
Sources about Sacred Music
Pope Pius X. “Tra Le Sollecitudini (Instruction on Sacred Music),” 1903. https://adoremus.org/1903/11/22/tra-le-sollecitudini/
Regina Caeli Parish. Low Mass, Sung Mass, High Mass, Solemn Mass. June 12, 2013. https://d2wldr9tsuuj1b.cloudfront.net/2708/documents/Different%20Masses.pdf
Henry, Hugh. “Music of the Mass.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10001a.htm
Gastoue, A. “The ‘Missa de Angelis.’” Translated by Albert Gingras. The Caecilia, December 1933, 375–78. [https://media.musicasacra.com/publications/caecilia/caecilia_v60n12_1933_12.pdf
Mills, B. Andrew. Psallite Sapienter: A Musician’s Practical Guide to the 1962 Missal. Association of America, 2008.
Sullivan, Roseanne T. “Propers of the Mass vs. the Four Hymn Sandwich.” Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 2016. https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/music/propers-of-the-mass-vs-the-four-hymn-sandwich.html
“Twenty-Four Questions on Sacred Music.” Church Music Association of America. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://musicasacra.com/about-cmaa/faq
“What Is Gregorian Chant?” GIA Publications. Accessed June 3, 2019. https://www.giamusic.com/sacred_music/chant_what_is.cfm
Gattozzi, Bibiana. “Catholic Artistic Piety in a Motet.” The Angelus Online (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019. http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=2667
David Friel, “A Mini History of the Sequences,” Corpus Christi Watershed, May 24, 2015, https://www.ccwatershed.org/2015/05/24/mini-history-sequences/.
Bls, “The Hymns at the Lesser Hours: Compline III,” Chantblog (blog), November 6, 2013, http://chantblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-hymns-at-lesser-hours-compline-iii.html.