A native of Missouri and holder of BMus, MMus/Liturgy, and DMA degrees, Dr. Lynn Trapp, has served as Director of Worship and Music, Organist/Pianist at St. Olaf parish in downtown Minneapolis, MN, since 1996, overseeing the installation of the new 67 rank Lively-Fulcher pipe organ there in 2001. One may frequently see him supporting the sung prayer of St. Olaf’s community (and hear the organ brilliantly played) in their televised Masses.
I call attention here to Dr. Trapp’s equally distinguished career as a church composer. While he has written a significant amount of music specifically for organ (sometimes with instrumental ensemble) published by Oxford University Press, Concordia, Morning Star, and World Library Publications, I am especially impressed with his liturgical music, bearing as it does the characteristics of one clearly trained in musical theory and composition but also aware of the capabilities of congregations in singing the texts of the reformed Roman Rite liturgy. Let me highlight three sets of compositions that I have found truly enhancing of our common prayer.
The first set is a series of Introit Hymns for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Ordination/Dedication of a Church/20th Sunday in Ordinary Time published by GIA Publications of Chicago, IL. Commissioned by Corpus Christi Cathedral in Texas, these processional pieces brilliantly combine the Entrance antiphons proposed by the Roman Missal in a metrical setting to be sung by cantor, choir, and assembly, with more complex psalm verses to be sung by choir. For example, the Introit Hymn for Lent applies the ST. FLAVIAN hymn tune (frequently sung to “These Forty Days of Lent, O Lord”) to the congregational text “To you my eyes are turned, O God, to free me from the snare. / In mercy turn your face toward me, abandoned, weak and poor.” The choral verses based on Psalm 25 incorporate the ancient Lenten chant Attende Domine. Like the good steward lauded in Matthew’s gospel, these compositions bring out from the storehouse of the Church’s music things both new and old for the praise of God in our ritual prayer. (Audio samples of these Introit Hymns can be found here or by going to the GIA website and entering “Lynn Trapp” in the search apparatus.)
The second set is a series of compositions for the sung parts of Roman Rite Mass entitled the “Morning Star Mass,” presumably because of the publisher, MorningStar Music Publishers of St. Louis, MO. Written for SATB choir and/or cantor, congregation and organ, the “Morning Star Mass” includes the standard elements of the 2010 English translation of the Mass: the Lord, have mercy with various tropes appropriate to seasons and feasts; the Glory to God; the Gospel acclamation with various verses; a musical pattern for chanting the Universal Prayer; the acclamations of the Eucharistic Prayer (comprising the Holy, Holy, Holy, the three memorial acclamations, and the Doxology and Amen); and the Lamb of God. The writing is consistently lyric and prayerful, often beautifully evoking the effect of chant and its polyphonic elaboration in English (e.g., Lord, have mercy, Gospel acclamation, General Intercessions, Lamb of God), at other times reaching a real sense of majesty (e.g, the unified Eucharistic interventions: Holy, Holy, Holy, memorial acclamations, Amen). I find the Glory to God to be especially powerful, alternating rich choral writing with singable (anthemic or pleading) refrains for the congregation. (An audio file of “Morning Star Mass” can be found here.)
The third set is another series of compositions for the sung parts of the Roman Rite Mass entitled “Centennial Mass,” also published by MorningStar Music Publishers. Treating the same elements as the “Morning Star Mass,” the “Centennial Mass” has a completely different ethos: the “Morning Star Mass” with its organ and brass accompaniment bespeaks a classical heritage, where the “Centennial Mass,” although using the same vocal resources, uses (piano) keyboard, guitar, trumpet, 2 C instruments, and Timpani to present a “folk ensemble” feel. Some of the tropes of the “Lord, have mercy,” for example, sound as though they were inspired by a spiritual, while the “Glory to God” with its triple pulse fairly dances with joy. There is a wonderful thematic unity among the Gospel acclamation, the Holy, Holy, Holy, the memorial acclamations, and the Doxology and Amen. (An audio file of the “Centennial Mass” can be found here).
In my experience it is quite rare to find a composer who can write idiomatically in both “classical” and “folk” styles, let alone one who has such a sense of what is appropriate for ritual, conducive to prayer, and within the capabilities of most parish musicians. I hope that Dr. Trapp will continue to bless us with his liturgical compositions for many years to come.