Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
and, well I know there has been a rather heated discussion about this on the MS forum, I did get a chance to witness a very small choir with a couple of talented people and a couple of less-so singing a VERY HARD polyphonic Renaissance Mass setting!
I'm not quite sure how to describe it... I mean, it was very nice that they attempted it, and I quite admire them for it, but there was quite a few places where someone was out of tune, or I was trying to tell if they were just going along trying to get back in place...
I mean, I'm singing in an "Early Music" choir this semester, and here you have a roomful of music school students who can barely get through these pieces with 5-parts that are completely independent. It is HARD!
Of course, I don't know the choir at this church at all, or how much they worked on this Mass setting or anything else, but it does make me wonder if it would have been better to have found a simpler setting. (a 3-part Mass? or even one that was more chordal/homophonic?)
Perhaps part of the problem is that there are SO MANY Renaissance Masses written in the former style, and relatively few in a more simple style.
Anyhow, it was a lovely experience. However, I find that whenever I attend a TLM Mass, I am SO focused on "figuring out what's going on," that I can barely pay attention. In my case, I'm trying to know what's going on precisely because I have to understand it enough to be able to play organ for it! So, yesterday was a perfect experience to refresh my memory on all the things that I will need to prep for next weekend. (oh yes, let's figure out a 9-fold Kyrie. maybe a slightly fancier Agnus Dei then we do regularly? and I'll have to teach that priest AND choir the Ite Missa!)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
Pretty much zero.
The reason? All the books I have are written by and for Protestants! argh! :-D
I'll use the Langlais Ave Maria, Ave Maris Stella as a prelude, but I'm still looking for a good Mary-based postlude. hm. Maybe I'll have to give up on that one.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Monday, August 02, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
In my opinion, these are very well-written, singable Psalms, complete for Year A with lectionary texts (with years B and C coming) for those who want more variety than psalm-tone verses. (can be adapted for use with the organ.)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
This year was the 20th annual conference, and I am told that even just four years ago there were only about 40 people that would attend. I had been to the same conference 3 years ago, and while it was a great experience both times, the difference was surprising. Three years ago, it was held in Washington D.C., and for the first time ever the conference was filled to capacity, which was just over 100 people. This year, the capacity was 250 people, and even that was filled and had a waiting list by mid-April! This is truly a testament to the growing interest in our country to the restoration of sacred music. I was also extremely surprised by the increase in overall musical skill at the conference; it seems to me that most people in attendance were professional church musicians, unlike the same conference three years ago, and a similarly surprising percentage were young adults!
EDIT: Actually, this won't be in the bulletin til next week.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
For those who regularly attend the 10:30 am Mass, can you believe that it has been nearly two years since we started chanting the Introit? Doing that, combined with some of the other changes that have been made, such as "ad orientem" worship, have resulted in a beautiful, sacred, and solemn liturgy. Father Gerald and I have received many positive comments, including from people who admit that these elements are the main reason that they are parishioners at Old St. Patrick!
Several people have also requested that these changes be incorporated into the 8:00 am Mass, since they would prefer to attend that Mass. This seems to make a lot of sense, since many can attest that the 10:30 am Mass is regularly packed to overflowing! To begin this process, over the next couple of weeks we will be teaching the Introit at the 8:00 am Mass, to help familiarize the congregation.
However, many of you are probably wondering: What is the Introit, and why is it better than a hymn?
The "Introit," sometimes called the "Entrance Antiphon," is a text that is proper to each Sunday that has been given by the Church as the first (and therefore, preferred,) option for the "processional" at the beginning of Mass. It is found as Gregorian Chant in the Gradual Romanum (which is the book of Latin chants for the Mass,) but we will be singing a translation of it as a congregation in English to a psalm-tone, so even though the words change every week, the music will stay the same and involves many words on the same note.
People often ask me if I get to "choose the music" for Mass, and while I do, it can be a difficult task because I try to match the text of whatever hymn is chosen for the entrance, offertory and communion, to the text that is found in the Gradual Romanum. This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter or "Divine Mercy Sunday" is a perfect example of this. It is also occasionally called "Quasimodo Sunday," since (along with "Gaudete Sunday" and "Laetare Sunday") that is the first word of the Introit for that Mass.
The text of the Introit is always very rich, and even teaches and affirms theology. Compared to this, most hymns have a simple theme of "Praise the Lord," or even more shallow and having almost nothing to do with God and worship, a theme like "All are Welcome." In direct contrast to these relatively ambiguous hymns, an example of an Introit text from today (which begins in Latin with "Quasimodo,") is "As newborn babes, alleluia, desire pure spiritual milk. Alleluia. Rejoice in honor of God our helper, shout for joy to the God of Jacob." While it is short, one could literally spend hours studying and meditating on the theological references and implications of those sentences! In fact, it is taken straight out of the Bible, from 1 Peter 2:2. And I am certain that there are no hymns in our hymnal that have any reference to this text!
For the next few weeks, since we are in the particularly joyful season of Easter, many of the Introits do revolve around themes of "Praise the Lord," (like next Sunday, April 18,) but the Introits for Ordinary Time, which encompasses the majority of the year, are usually focused on themes of "Have mercy on me, O God, protect me..." And certainly all of Lent the Introits are based on this, for example as recently as the 5th Sunday of Lent, (March 21 this year,) the text was "Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly nation; from wicked and deceitful men deliver me, for you are my God and my strength." None of the hymns that we are familiar with even come close to expounding upon this particular image.
I hope that as we sing the Introits, you are able to meditate on the text as we prepare for Mass, and appreciate the richness and wisdom of our Church in giving us these beautiful, sacred, scriptural texts. For those who attend the 8:00 am Mass, it will take some time to get used to the tune that we are using for the Introit, but my hope is that as time goes on, you will become more comfortable with it and will be able to participate more fully in the worshipful tone that it sets for the liturgy.
As always, I greatly appreciate those of you who give me feedback on the music at Mass. It warms my heart when I know that the music is a blessing to others, and I am also thankful to those of you who may disagree with aspects of the music at Old St. Patrick but are willing to engage in dialogue with me, or those who just want to learn more and understand why we do certain things! I am privileged to work at such a beautiful parish with so many wonderful parishioners!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This morning I (well, the church,) got offered a "like-new" Hammond B-3 organ. And this afternoon three of my piano students quit.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
As part of his lessons, I have been having him learn a different chant every week (written in modern notation) on the piano keys.
His mom told me that his dad got him a copy of this book on chant, which he has been devouring. It seems pretty legit, but I only got to look through it for a moment (and I hope it isn't too "new-agey-spiritually" if you know what I mean.)
But...then what? He is homeschooled, and with very supportive Catholic parents, but keep in mind I'm only his piano teacher, so I don't really have time to do much more outside of things directly related to piano. I'm thinking I will next have him start learning chants on the piano that are written in square-note notation. He has a very good ear, and will sing along quite well with what he is playing on the piano, so of course the obvious benefit is that by learning how to read chant notation better on the piano, he will be able to sing it better. But of course that will only get him so far, and at some point he is going to have to learn the practical application within a choir, and how to make it actually beautiful, (by following whatever method of singing chant that is being used.) He is also VERY creative, definitely a budding composer (but he is only at level 2 in the piano books, so his composing skills on paper are kind of limited to that.)
So...any other book resource ideas? (keep in mind that it has to keep the attention of a creative nine-year old!) Or other general teaching ideas?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"The good Lord is giving me time, time to be open, time to be open to being a priest in the full sense of the term. Before I retired, I was a priest for many years, 53 years actually, and I had a false notion about retirement. I had the idea that once I was retired I could really get down to the business of my spiritual life and then, in a definitive and positive way, devote all of my time to becoming a saint. But I quickly realized that journey should have been going on for 53 years."
...food for thought.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
A New Song for the Lord
"The Image of the World and of Human Beings in the Liturgy and Its Expression in Church Music"
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
She gave some sort of example like how we shouldn't have the choir sing "Sheep May Safely Graze" just because we want to learn it, but instead should just sing Easter pieces at Easter, etc. (I can't remember what the exact examples that she used were.)
I've been thinking about that assertion quite a bit since then, because, honestly, that's something that I do all the TIME! I find a bunch of pieces that the choir could learn and that look good, and then I kind of have an idea of what order they'll go in, occasionally I'll find one that fits a particular Sunday particularly well, and then they'll sing it when it sounds good (which I usually have a pretty good idea about when that will be.)
Anyhow, a particularly limiting factor for me is simply due to the skill level and numbers of my choir. It is VERY difficult to sing anything in 4 parts, it takes quite a few weeks so I can't just pull out any old 4-part anthem and be like, "oh, we'll sing this on this week!" So I sift through the internet looking for quality 2 or 3-part pieces, or easier 4-part, and since those are all somewhat hard to come by, and I try to do one choir piece every week, well, if it works then we'll do it!
Then, there is the whole other topic of how to "pick" pieces for Mass. Going on the assumption which I have written about before that the Propers are the primary choice of text, and *not* that of the "theme" of the Mass for the day (which may or may not exist,) that brings a whole new level to the debate. What can be sung *after* the Proper is sung? Can't anything? At St. P, the congregation sings a simple arrangement of the Introit in English, a very simplified arrangement of the Offertory after a hymn has been sung, and a small schola of women sings the latin Communion chant. Once that has been sung, then can't *any*thing be sung? Therein lies the dispute. Some people firmly hold to the belief that every Mass has a "theme," however, I subscribe to the belief that (especially since V-II rearranged all the readings,) most Masses are just a hodge-podge of scripture readings, and certainly don't relate to the "theme."
Finally...what is the "theme" of every single Mass?
Repentence, Praise, Adoration.
In that order.
I'm pretty sure that any piece that I have the choir sing will fall into one of those categories...
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
oh yes... it is very tempting once in a while...
Saturday, January 23, 2010
""Go your way, eat fatty meat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
I first saw it in the Communion Antiphon (which we only do this particular one once every 3 years, so I had neve seen it before,) and laughed out loud.
however the translation for the first reading is LAME-O! It doesn't even mention wine...it says something like "drink sweet stuff." yeah, whatever. Go read the RSV. We all know the NAB is horrible...now it's trying to hide the fact that we're *supposed* to drink wine to celebrate the day of the Lord!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I just sometimes feel like I have nothing to write.
However, TODAY, I do!
so, to start at the beginning of the story, I may have mentioned this in an entry before, but now it's official. I will be doing an internship at the seminary with the music director there this semester, AND getting credit for this! (no one at either institution seems to know what to do with me, since apparently this arrangement has not been done before, but today went well. I filed a ton of music, and there is lots more to organize-which I love doing, warmed up the seminarian schola, then observed their rehearsal. I am also planning on doing more there like talking to the director and getting ideas and observations.) Of course, it doesn't hurt to make friends with nice young men who will possibly be your future employer some day! :-P
SO...today was my first day. Everyone was talking about this special vespers service that would be done tonight for bishop so-and-so who is leaving, and I thought it might be interesting to stay for that, but I knew that would involve me getting no dinner before my own choir rehearsal (which I am eating now.) Plus, I wasn't sure if it would be like me and 100 priests and seminarians, or if this was a more general open-to-the-public thing.
So there are priests everywhere, and as I'm walking out the front door to go home (and eat dinner) about 15 minutes before it starts, two priests are approaching me coming inside, and one of them has a suitcase-with-wheels type thing, so I figured I should probably hold the door for him, but then it was a little weird because right behind me there was a man and a woman leaving, so I figured I should hold the door for *them* too, but they, as people naturally do, took the door from me and held it for the priests. THEN they greeted the priests and addressed the one as archbishop! (duh! I should have guessed it! I knew he looked familiar!) So once the priest and archbishop were safely inside, the man and woman and I continued walking to our cars; one teased the other, "oh I should have let *you* hold the door for the archbishop!" And so I couldn't resist turning around and teasing them both, "Oh but you know really *I* should have been the one to hold the door for him!" and we all laughed.
So that made me smile the whole way home through rush-hour-highway-city traffic. (yay.)
It is funny; driving in, I even had a conscious thought, "now what if I see the archbishop?! I'm not even sure I would recognize him!" haha, what are the chances?
Monday, January 18, 2010
It's like... I have no new thoughts on liturgy or music.
I feel as though I'm just coming out of a really incredible journey (in a sense) from this stage of my life. I would say it started probably in... 2006 sometime? What I mean by a journey is, that I've been through all of these phases and wondering all sorts of questions and talking to lots of people and reading tons and trying to figure everything out about (wait for it...) the perfect liturgy and how music relates to it.
But I feel like I've kind of explored every nook and cranny of this big old room, and I've finally just decided to sit down and curl up by the fire.
In my own mind, I've straightened up some things; realized some are more important than I used to think, others are less important, and that there certainly are negotiable areas. However, I'm certainly not done with my intellectual wanderings, and no doubt I will still continue to change my mind about more things, and discover other things.
But...the whole purpose of this blog (for me) has been to share my questions and my thoughts and observations and rants, and now I feel like these are becoming less and less common, as my own opinions become more steady.
so, yeah. that's all for now.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Also, a note to those who aren't regular readers: I am fully aware that everything I say on here is completely available to anyone in the world with an internet connection. I have published nothing on here that I would not want ANYone to read. If even the bishop himself were to stumble across my blog, and read things I've written about him, I would not regret anything I have written! So, my apologies to anyone who has been offended by anything I have written. I would hope that if that were to ever occur, people would take the opportunity to engage in intelligent dialogue with me, to determine if there really is any reason for offense.
now, on to business.
my latest thought:
I wonder if I'm beginning to grasp the heart of the difficulty of music in the Catholic Church.
People *want* to sing. The Council of Vatican II instructed to have "active participation" among the faithful, and while there can be a great deal of debate about what that actually means, I am certain that they meant at least *some* level of physically-engaged participation. However, as music goes, they gave us the Graduale Romanum, and put the chants in there as the most highly valued option over hymns! There's no way the congregation is singing that! So they gave us the Graduale Simplex, with simpler, more seasonal responses. (sort of what I do at Offertory, but in Latin, and with different melodies.) Could they truly have intended -as the first choice- to not have the people sing at all at entrance, offertory, and communion? What about what I do as the introit (setting the whole text in English to a solemn psalm tone that stays the same every week.)?
THIS is what I mean by wishing I knew what the "perfect liturgy" would look like...
sometimes I think it would be cool to just hear a schola singing everything, but...people *want* to sing! even if they can't read music! so what to let them, or encourage them, to sing?