Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gregorian Chant institute

Sharing the love....

Click here to learn Gregorian Chant!

(Sorry for the delay, Jeff!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Voice of God" texts

There is no doubt that Thomas Day stirred up a lot of controversy with his book "Why Catholics Can't Sing", one particular issue being the dreaded "Voice of God" hymns.

I see the point that he makes, though I find myself unable to work myself into a tizzy over the issue as most of my fellow conservative liturgical musicians do. I continue to use some VOG hymns in my parish and not one congregant has approached me afterwards to proclaim their newfound divinity, thanks to the offertory hymn, "Here I Am, Lord".

Anyway, I guess I sit right on the fence on this one. On one hand, I want to be faithful to the wishes of Mother Church; on the other hand, I have a hard time rationalizing the disposal of a quarter of my congregation's repertoire due to a dilemma they don't even know exists.

Now my intent is not to get this debate stirred up again and continue to beat the dead horse. The issue I want to bring to the table (as a result of an exchange between Cantor and I) is this: how do we get around the fact that many of the Proper texts use the "Voice of God"?

I quickly shuffled through my "Sunday's Word" (GIA) last night and came up with these texts (only up through Easter Sunday):

Year B

5OT Communion Antiphon: "Happy are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied."

8OT CA: "I, the Lord, am with you always, until the end of the world."

2 Lent CA: "This is my Son, my beloved, in whom is all my delight: listen to him."

5 Lent CA: "I tell you solemnly: Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest."

Palm Sunday CA: "Father, if this cup may not pass, but I must drink it, then your will be done."

Now before anyone raises the objection that some of these are different than what is in the Graduale Romanum, (BTW, why are there discrepancies? I really do not know.), my Gregorian Missal lists the exact same Communion Antiphons for 2 Lent, 5 Lent and Palm Sunday, not to mention the Improperia.

So what gives? How do the anti-VOG advocates explain these texts?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

No organ for Triduum

Does anyone know where I can read anything about the practice of shutting the organ off from the Holy Thursday Gloria until the Easter Vigil Gloria? The only place I've come across anything pertaining to it was some things over at I guess I'm looking for the origin of the practice and some documents mentioning it.

On schismatics and cheap music

Food for thought: “Shine, Jesus, Shine” is, for many people, the face of the same Church that would have thoughtful, inquisitive people accept the very counter-cultural teaching that women are inherently unable to be priests, among other culturally wacky teachings.

Am I the only one who sees this connection as clearly as daylight? Young, inquisitive people look for something to take seriously. Music that eschews any pretense of being serious fails to meet that criteria. No one walks out of Mass humming the homily.

The need for serious music in the Church is more pressing than ever.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Back in the saddle again . . .

After a week of much-needed rest spent with family, I've finally returned to my laptop, refreshed and reinvigorated. I hope all of you had a wonderful Holy Week and a wonderful beginning to the glorious season of Easter. It is a shame in this field of work that after an exhausting Triduum, one doesn't really feel like rejoicing, but tend more towards sleeping:)

I have many thoughts for future posts but I do need to get through my Sunday masses first. I'll try to post a bit Monday.

Friday, April 21, 2006

the hard question to answer.....

How do folks out there answer the following situation:

1) You change something in the Mass (say, insisting on resp. Psalm texts from the Lectionary) from how it’s been done before.

2) Someone complains and says they don’t like it. (They miss Haugen Psalms.)

3) You explain your reasoning.

4) They say, “well, we’ve been doing it this way for all these years .... are you saying we’ve been doing it wrong all this time?” (And if, like me, you’re still fairly new to the parish, they follow up with, “who are you to come in and tell us we’ve been doing it wrong?”) do you dress up what essentially boils down to “yes”?

It’s really interesting to see the incredulity of folks in their 50s when you tell them, then even show them, the documents that outline how things are supposed to be. It’s understandable ... the more into the music at Mass they are, the more likely they are to take objection when change comes along. Kind of as if they spent their lives developing a technology that, in the span of a couple years, becomes obsolete when something new and snazzy comes out.

Who should sing what?

I have come to think that one of the major problems facing church music is the question of who sings what.

Musicam sacram tells us:
Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be gradually led to a fuller -- indeed, to a complete -- participation in those parts of the singing which pertain to them.

Two things about this: one, the people are what gets brought, not the music being brought to their level, as we have now. The people are to be instructed and taught.

The other is that phrase “those parts of the singing which pertain to them”. One could take this as meaning the priest’s parts verses the people’s parts.....or, maybe the choir has its own special parts as well?

I propose that the people really don’t need, maybe even ought not, to sing the Proper. We already have this in some respects: the resp. Psalm verses and Alleluia verse today are reserved to a cantor. We are *just* now coming to a greater attention to using the unaltered (un-neutered etc.) Psalm texts from the Lectionary (esp. with the Guimont psalter) for the resp. Psalm, and maybe there is a similar movement for the Alleluia/tract/verse. Maybe it’s just a matter of raising everyone’s awareness of the Propers for the Mass?

On the idea of an “Introit Hymn”, as WLP has begun to advertise. This is a laudable step, but I still think, more and more, what is ultimately needed is a flexible means to make the music entirely subservient to the words, which must not require manipulation to be sung. There are places for hymns in the liturgy: the sequence, and the post-communion hymn. It does at least raise an awareness to the variability of the Proper texts, though.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

free issue of “Sacred Music”

Enjoy - great article on the intrinsic properties of each type of chant (Introit, Offertory, Gradual, etc.).

Monday, April 17, 2006

lights at Easter Vigil?

Anyone have lights up before the Exsultet at their Easter Vigil?

The Sacramentary says that’s how it’s supposed to be, but I’ve never heard of this being done...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

a warning to “reformers of the reform”

One of the reasons why the liturgical reforms of 40 years back have not entirely “stuck” is that a younger generation of Catholics, for whom those reforms are a history lesson, cannot see them as a continuation of tradition so much as a radical departure therefrom. In other words, the liturgical reforms of the 60s and 70s are the cultural propriety of their advocates; now, we younger folk look back and say, “how on *earth* could they have thought getting rid of Latin was a good idea?”

We stand now at the threshold of a new reform, one that aims to bring that “reform” more in line with liturgical tradition. Many of us are eager to see the Pope give pronouncements on liturgy - folks over at TNLM are eager to see the Classical Latin rite officially liberated, while those of us who worship, by obligation or by choice, in the 1969 rite are eager to see reforms that put more emphasis on what the Vatican II folks probably had in mind - a mix of Latin and vernacular, liberal use of plainchant, etc.

And yet, we cannot deny the reality of something like “Here I Am, Lord” and the priest facing the people. If the coming reform is too sharp a return to liturgical tradition, we risk its effects being lost 40 or so years hence, in addition to alienating all the people who can’t stand not hearing Fr. Pleasant tell a joke before the end of Mass and who have an attachment to all the ways *he* says Mass. Otherwise, come 2046, someone will start saying, “hey, when my grandparents were kids the priest used to tell jokes - that would be so cool!”

“Here I Am, Lord” will go the way of the slide rule - it eventually will be discarded in favor of a better tool for worship. In the meantime, we must focus on creating those better tools.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Responsorial singing part 2

Here's an e-mail I sent to my choir last fall when one of my members had expressed her consternation at my use of responsorial psalms during communion at the partial exclusion of the old standbys. Here was my response followed by her response to my response:)



Just wanted to say that I was very pleased with the
group yesterday and I'm excited to be working with you
all again after our summer break.

(Female choir member) brought up a good question last week at
rehearsal which went something like this: "Why do we
use responsorial psalms at communion?" I tried my
best to answer off-the-cuff but if you'll indulge me,
I'll try to answer more thoroughly in this e-mail.
This will give me a chance to elucidate some of my
reasonings and also to impart some of my meager
liturgical knowlege to all of you. (Warning: This
e-mail will be lengthy:)

First, let's look at what the GIRM says. The General
Instruction of the Roman Missal comes down to us from
the highest authority: The Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, so what
is contained in the GIRM has primacy over all other
liturgical documents. That being said, here's the
pertinent sections:

86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the
Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express
the communicants' union in spirit by means of the
unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to
highlight more clearly the "communitarian" nature of
the procession to receive Communion. The singing is
continued for as long as the Sacrament is being
administered to the faithful. (...)

87. In the dioceses of the United States of America
there are four options for the Communion chant:

(1) The antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm
from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in
another musical setting;

(2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple

(3) a song from another collection of psalms and
antiphons, approved by the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops or the diocesan Bishop, including
psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical form;

(4) a suitable liturgical song chosen in accordance
with no. 86. This is sung either by the choir alone
or by the choir or cantor with the people. (...)

Brief commentary on these two sections:

86. This section shows the purpose of the communion
chant (song). The implication is that congregational
singing here is the ideal since the chant is to
"express the communicants' union in spirit by means of
the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and
to highlight more clearly the "communitarian" nature
of the procession to receive Communion."

87. This section speaks of what is appropriate for
the communion chant. In liturgical documents, when
there is a list within a section, they are listed in
descending order of primacy. Therefore, (1) is
considered more ideal than (2) and so forth. You'll
notice that options 1 and 2 deal with official Church
texts found in the Roman Missal, and two official
"Graduals" (basically hymnals). Now I do use one of
the antiphons in number 1 every week, but only to sing
a solo chant at the beginning of communion.
Occasionally, I'll also use option 2 but rarely. Now
3 and 4 are what concern us the most. No. 3 is what I
usually plan for communion; "a song from another
collection of psalms . . . arranged in responsorial
form." (Though I don't think the US Bishops have
officially approved our Gather Comprehensive hymnal:) Now no. 4 is
where other hymns fit in such as "I Am the Bread of
Life" and "One Bread, One Body." Notice that it says
that option no. 4 has to be chosen in accordance with
GIRM 86 (above) so obviously not everything goes in
this instance.

So to summarize all that, option no. 3 is preferred
over no. 4 although no. 4 is plausible.

Now those are the liturgical factors involved. The
pastoral factors are important as well though and I
think these are the areas of concern. Let me once
again state my pastoral reasonings for choosing
responsorial psalms:

1) Brief and simple refrains--I try to choose texts
that contain melodic and memorable refrains that can
be easily assimilated and memorized, in the hopes that
they can be sung without hymnals in hand. In between
these refrains, a heavenly soloist:) sings a verse
straight out of God's hymnal (the Psalter) with a text
that can be meditated upon by the congregation.

Practically, it also gives the choir a chance to sing
some solos, duets, etc. which there aren't a lot of
opportunities for throughout the rest of the liturgy.

2) The "standard" communion hymns are often very
difficult--Let's take a brief look at the 3
"mainstays" in my opinion:

a) I Am the Bread of Life--not a psalm text but a
very appropriate one for communion and a very
beautiful one also. But, I defy ANYONE to tell me
that this is an easy melody to sing. The range is an
octave and a fifth (low Ab to high Eb) which is either
too low for many (me) or too high for many (me). Add
to that the huge leaps in the refrain (and I will
RAISE) of a minor seventh and then a whole octave (!)
to the high Eb, and you've got a difficult tune.
Don't get me wrong, I love this melody and this piece,
but I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy to sing for
a recital.

b) One Bread, One Body--The range in this one
really isn't a problem. It's a ninth (low b to high
C) which is very manageable for the average singer.
The problem with this one are the absurdly long notes
in verses as well as some long ones in the refrain.
Here's verse one:

Gentile or JEW (4 beats)
servant or FREE (4 beats)
woman or MAN (7 beats!!!)
no MORE (7 beats!!!)

plus the fact that ideally, you would do those last
two lines in one breath, you're looking at a total of
17 beats at a slow tempo!!! I'm surprised we don't
have parishioners passing out during this one.

3) Taste and See--Though this one has longer
notes as well, the range is a fairly comfortable
octave (low C to higher C). My beef with this one is
the difficult tessitura. The tessitura of a piece is
where most of the pitches lie in a particular range.
For example a piece can have manageable range (such as
this one, c-C) but a difficult tessitura if most of
the notes were sitting on the top of that range
(around high Bb's and high C's) which is what this
piece does. Think about this part of the refrain:

the (f) good-(high C for 3 beats) ness of (high C for
4 more beats) the (f) Lord (high C for 6 beats!).

Similar thing happens in the verse where a high C is
sung on different words for almost two full measures.
If I made the altos sing the melody on this song (as
well as I Am the Bread of Life), they'd quit:) By the
way, in general, I really like this song as well.

Now of course, these are the "mainstays" for a reason;
people really enjoy them and they want to hear them.
And I won't disparage that point, but part of it is
just the familiarity and the sentimental value of the
tunes. For instance "Taste and See" was written in
1983--we've been singing it for 22 years. One Bread,
One Body--1978--we've been singing it for 27 years ( I
wasn't even born yet). I am the Bread of
Life--1966!--almost 40 years!!! To contrast, some of
these psalms that I'm trying to get into the people's
heads, we've only been doing for 2 years, if that.
Give 'em time.

For those of you who mentioned that a few parishioners
had approached you about our current communion
practice, thanks for sharing their comments. In the
future, please ask them to approach me as well so I
can personally hear their feedback and be able to ask
them some questions as well. I definitely value
comments from choir members but as musicians, our
perceptions are usually much different from those of
the folks in the pews. Please encourage them to speak
with me after masses and tell them that I would love
to hear their feedback.

If you're still reading this, congratulations. I
didn't think you'd make it. There's more I'd like to
say (there always is) but I think this is enough for a
Monday morning. If you have any comments on this that
you'd like to share either to me personally or to the
whole group (if they don't mind), please do; I like to
see situations from many different perspectives.

HOLY COW! I'm sorry I asked! Talk about TMI! Just kidding (kind of).
Seriously, thanks for the very well thought-out answer to my question.
I did
read the entire thing, largely owing to the fact that I was impressed
your use of the work elucidate early on in the e-mail. I see your point
liturgically the psalms are most appropriate, but would argue that
responsorial types of songs seem to contradict the "unity of spirit"
since the congregation is only invited to sing during the
Also, difficult tessituras and high notes aside, I think people are
likely to sing familiar songs than easy-to-sing songs. (They feel easy
because they're familiar - look at the national anthem; EVERYBODY sings
and it's certainly not easy to sing!)I agree that if you kind of stick
a few relatively simple, "catchy" responses, they, too, will soon
familiar. But, I don't think we should abandon the old familiar
hymns, including others than the three "mainstays" you mentioned.
Those are my thoughts for what they're worth.

Well, I would definitely question her assertion that EVERYBODY sings the National Anthem. Not at ballgames that I attend at least.

Responsorial singing

For the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I programmed "Remember Your Love" by the Dameans (shudder) for offertory. I noticed that initially, people were singing out on the refrain, but by the last couple of verses, participation had fallen off.

For those of you who know the piece, the verses are much more conducive to a soloist. I asked the congregation to join in on the refrain, while the cantor would sing the verses.

This has happened before as well; everytime I program a cantor/congregation piece for offertory like this one, the initial enthusiasm of the people dwindles towards the end. I've realized that the congregation is so used to singing the entire offertory song, that they feel a bit "cheated" when I rob them of that.

They'll tolerate cantor/congregation singing during the responsorial psalm since they've always done it that way, but offertory--not happening. About two years ago, I tried to implement responsorial singing for communion, at least for the majority of the time. You know the drill; communal refrain, usually from a psalm, and psalm verses sung by the cantor. Unfortunately I can't say it's caught on quite as much as I would have liked it to. I haven't given up, but no refrain I've introduced is sung quite like Moore's "Taste and See".

My wife (not a liturgist, but insightful nonetheless) expressed her opinion and said that she would rather sing everything during communion, or nothing at all. She doesn't like the "sing for 7 seconds, meditate on a verse for 25 seconds, sing for seven seconds, etc."

"All or nothing", that seems to echo the sentiments of my congregation. Any thoughts?

Note: Just to nip it in the bud, yes, I know that Moore's "Taste and See" has been around for 20+ years so people will sing it more readily. Yet, the refrains I've been placing in front of my congregations are simple and singable, and I've used some of them many times.

I feel that my implementation could have been planned better with more long-term goals to learn a set number of settings; alas, you can't unring a bell.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

on absolute pitch

PT has asked me to comment on what it is like to have the distinction of perfect/absolute pitch. Here goes.

I can’t really say when I developed it, but I must have had it very early on. My grandma used to notice me singing in the car, perfectly in tune, on the way home from day care. (There’s a cute picture of me reaching up for piano keys when I was a toddler.) When I started playing guitar, my teacher and I both just *tuned*, without using the piano - she never told me I had an ability most musicians don’t have, and I didn’t think anything of it because I really didn’t make music with other kids until junior high choir. It was only the summer before 7th grade (IIRC) that someone told me I had “perfect pitch” - whatever that meant!

I do remember, too, being a kid and, noticing that music in church had been transposed from how it was written, obstinately singing the songs in the “right key”. I can only imagine now what that must have sounded like!

When you’re starting out as a musician, it’s really, really useful because all the grunt-and-sweat stuff your classmates have to do with ear training is like slicing butter with a hot knife for you. I would say I still have yet to meet a relative-pitch-only choral singer who’s quite as adept as myself or other perfect-pitch people at sight-singing. In music ministry it’s a very useful tool, of course, since I can do a lot more work without depending on the keyboard.

The big liability I’ve found with it is teaching - I approach music reading from a completely different angle than most people. So even relating to other trained professionals can be a bear - I either expect too little of them or expect too much in terms of aural skills. Nowadays I’ve got a better idea of what to expect from most trained musicians, but that has been a growing pain.

The other liability is, of course, transposing. The choir director says, “hey guys, by the way, we’re going to sing this Britten piece down a step tonight”. Everyone else shrugs because it’s all the same to them, but the perfect-pitch people go NUTS! (I picked Britten because he’s often just tonally adventuresome enough that I rely on absolute pitch to find notes etc.; Palestrina wouldn’t be such a big deal.)

And that transposer thingie on my electronic organ? NOO! If I play a C chord and hear Bb, my world has turned upside-down. Obviously this is a substantial liability in church music, since then we have to transpose “the old-fashioned way”.

Interestingly, when I get up in the morning or am tired, my “internal pitches” are flat; what I think is A is, in fact, Ab. (I can realize, though, what’s going on - I just have to think twice about pitches in the morning.)

Different instruments are easier/harder to identify keys. The piano is a cinch for me; brass is often harder. Sometimes it’s hard to tell one key from another; I get E and F confused a lot, and B, Bb, and A.

Giving pitches vocally, I have found, is a less than great idea. If you’re conducting, it compounds your nervousness (in concert, anyway). And it’s rarely *exactly* right anyway, which creates problems, since we learn music partly by muscle memory as well as aural memory. I’ve been in pretty musically high-brow situations where I gave pitches, and my timbre was judged to be hard to match. Probably true, but also I was nervous giving the pitches, too. (I’m a baritone with an iffy top end.)

Perfect pitch is really not “perfect”; I suppose if someone always and only listened to A440 tuning they could more accurately give pitches than I can, but as most of us deal with a wide variety of small variations in tuning (and listen to European orchestras, which tend to tune a bit higher than American orchestras), it’s hard to be “exact” - whatever that means anyway. It can even be harmful: if you’ve learned your intonation absolutely from a piano, then it’s all the harder to learn to hear pythagorian intervals.

And of course, away from vocal music, absolute pitch is very seldom helpful; an orchestral conducting teacher I once had told me flat-out that it’s useless in front of an orchestra. Makes sense.

I do wonder if it could be taught effectively. For example, just about everyone can distinguish one *octave* from another. So, if we can distinguish an octave, how about one half of the octave from the other? And so on, until we get to the details of pitch.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

norms and Church

It occurred to me today that changing the rites of the Church from those prescribed in the norms is a form of lessening the “publicness” of the rites; those norms are the only chance we have for a universality of practice. So, the more closely the liturgy conforms to norms, the more “public” it is, while the more it deviates, the more “provincial” or even “private” it becomes.

Props to Christus Vincit, TNLM, and Closed Cafeteria for this article of Arinze’s commentary; maybe thinking about this article is what made the public/private thing occur to me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

no more electric guitars at Mass?

If this thing goes through, ....

I can’t say I’d be disappointed in the disappearance of electric guitars, but I would be very saddened to see the advent of a day when such explicit decision-making from the Vatican is seen as necessary. In other words, we should just *know* that that stuff, in our culture anyway, does not fit our conception of “sacred”; we shouldn’t need Rome to tell us that stuff.

(Please note: this is not me saying that Rome’s opinion does not hold sway; if they forbid electric guitars at Mass, then no more electric guitars. I’m saying, why the hork did someone decide it was a good idea to have them in the first place?)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The job of a music director

Poll question, for all who read this blog:

Is it the job of a music director, in instances of congregational singing, to have the people singing, or is it their job simply to make it easy for the people to sing? The latter I can do with little problem; the former requires that people consent to singing.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Liturgy of the City Street

An interesting article about how the design of cities relates to liturgy:

This kind of thing gets me thinking: what is it about liturgy that either does or doesn’t speak to us?

I wish GodSpy were better-known; very few people I’ve run into seem to know about it, but they have some of the most interesting articles I ever see around, in print or online.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin' . . .

I'm straying somewhat from the topic of liturgical music, but I wanted to share an experience with our readers (both of you:)

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I protested at an abortion clinic. A Planned Parenthood opened within the last six months a couple of towns over and the pro-life ministries in our area have worked very hard to let them know that they are not welcome here. A worthy cause, no doubt.

Anyway, not long ago, my wife and I had a discussion about moral convictions in general, and abortion in particular. Though both of us are vigorously pro-life, we realized that we had done many little things to help the cause (dialoguing with pro-choice friends, writing letter to representatives, donating to pro-life causes, etc.) but only once had we ever really done a big
thing to further the pro-life movement. And when I say a big thing, I mean doing something where you really had to ante-up and be a public witness--like protesting at a clinic.

Once before, we both had participated in a "life-chain" along a busy street, holding up signs and praying; you know the drill. And I must admit, I realized how big a wuss I am when it comes to something like that. Though I knew I was doing God's work, it was very uncomfortable for me the entire time. I got through it but I wasn't exactly running down to the nearest abortion clinic every Saturday morning after that.

So I received an e-mail recently about a planned demonstration, and, not having any good excuses on-hand, I decided to grow a pair and let my voice be heard.

I arrived just a bit late so the event was in full swing by the time I got there. I walked up to the organizer, introduced myself, and was immediately handed a gruesome sign of an aborted baby head with the jaw ripped off. The slogan said, "Choice is . . . abortion."

I hesitated for just a moment, but grabbed it anyways. I must say that about a year ago, I would have been totally against this recent trend of showing these terrible signs to drivers and their children as they head to McDonald's for a Saturday morning treat. But I've since been convinced that this is a very effective tactic in exposing the horrors of the abortion holocaust. So, with my newfound resolve to put my money where my mouth is, I headed off to my spot, sign in hand.

The next 2 hours were difficult to say the least, but also encouraging. There were about 70 protesters approximately, as well as a handful of pro-choicers mixed within our ranks to break up the monopoly on the street that we otherwise would have had. Now I don't mind a little healthy competition and I can appreciate the determination the other side has to stand up for what they believe in (misguided as it may be); but I don't have much respect or tolerance for what one pro-choicer did.

Intentionally planting himself in the middle of our group, he held up a sign that read, "Keep Murder Legal." After my initial confusion, I became somewhat angered at this gentleman's tactic. Wanting to paint our side as the extremists that some peg us to be, his intention was to deliberately give drivers the impression that not only did we want to remove a woman's "right" to her body, but that we wanted to "keep murder legal." Apparently the gentleman didn't realize that the only legalized murder in our great country is that of abortion (with a bit of euthanasia thrown in). Again, I don't mind people around wanting to present the other side of the issue . . . but for pete's sake, have some integrity.

The most difficult thing for me was actually having to look at the signs we were holding up on both sides of the street. Seeing pictures of children the same size as my own still in utero that were burned, missing limbs, etc. definitely had the desired effect on me. I was almost brought to tears thinking about the number of lives lost every day so that women won't be "inconvenienced." Absolutely heartbreaking.

Many positives though. First off, I noticed that a few of the pro-choicers were speaking with a women from our side for the better part of an hour. Maybe some of their flaws in logic were exposed by the woman's witness and maybe they'll return home with a few more things to think about. Also, I was encouraged by the number of people that honked and waved to show their support for what we were doing, versus only 2-3 middle fingers over the course of the 2 hours. Already a better percentage than what I experienced only 6 months ago in October during the life chain.

And that brings me finally to the title of this post; you could absolutely feel something in the (cold) air that morning: the winds of change making their way across the country, after so many years of disappointment. So many of the people that were there in our group were young folks, lots of elementary school and teenage girls with a few high school boys to boot. Many of the folks giving us the thumbs-up and honking their horns were people from my generation (mid-20's). I believe that this country is realizing that we've slaughtered a third of the past couple of generations and we have seen the dire effects on our families, our women, and our society.

Keep praying for an end to this intolerable offense against God. Lead the way, South Dakota!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

one pope discards another’s encyclical?

Pius XII:
114. They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive holy communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is question not of a sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration.

John Paul II’s Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood.

So, are P12 and JP2 up there duking it out? Is their purgatory to have to argue with each other what the Mass is? :)

No, “Dies iræ” is not licit at a NOM requiem Mass

Adoremus,, and others have tried to argue that “Dies iræ” (DI) is licit in Novus Ordo Masses, even though it’s not listed as a sequence in the liturgical books. Now, to my disappointment, the otherwise fine blog The New Liturgical Movement is reinforcing this claim. The reasoning goes like this:

a) DI is in the old rite, albeit having been rendered optional in 1967
b) the new rite is a reform of the old rite
c) nothing ever explicitly banned DI from the Mass

Adoremus talks a lot about how it is still in the current liturgical books as a hymn for the Office in the last week of the Church year - it’s an interesting observation, but it’s irrelevant. Lots of texts are hymns for the Office, but only 4 are given as sequences in the modern Roman Rite.

The trouble is that the norms - GIRM and Intro to the Lectionary mostly - spend very little time discussing sequences. Nothing talks about using texts that aren’t in the Lectionary as sequences; it is simply stated that the sequence is required on Easter and Pentecost, and optional otherwise. The norms take no time to say “only texts given as sequences are to be used as sequences”.

Through this loophole, well-meaning folks have sung “Dies iræ” at NOM funerals, with the justification that it is a traditional text etc.

The issue is that the same loophole fails to restrict the texts to be used as sequences. There’s nothing that says “only texts traditionally used in the Mass as sequences may be sung as sequences”. Therefore, I could, quite licitly, sing “Michael row the boat ashore” as a sequence. In fact, there’s nothing that says what the sequence is; therefore, I could quite reasonably get up and give an “extemporaneous sequence” that would, in effect, be a “pre-homily”.

It is the job of the norms to prevent bad ideas, be they held in good conscience or bad, from being implemented. If the intent of those who wrote the norms (ostensibly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) was for DI to be allowed, they would have written in something about it. Otherwise, I only pray certain dioceses don’t discover the same loophole! A “pastoral necessity” to have unrhymed, conversational “sequences” (lectures) given by lay people?

For the record, other than that it is not normatively permissible, I think “Dies iræ” should be sung at requiem Masses. A comparison of this text with Protestant funerals (i.e. Bach’s cantata BWV106, “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit”) makes the doctrinal differences between Catholics and (most) Protestants concerning death and judgement strikingly apparent.

Also for the record, point b), about the new rite as a reform of the old rite. JP2’s letter that gave permission for bishops to give permission for the old rite explicitly forbade mingling of the old with the new rite. Fr. Joseph Gélineau went on record saying that the Roman Rite as it had been known was destroyed.