Monday, May 15, 2006

Gather Comprehensive

An applicant for the job I am vacating asked the following:

I've been acquainting myself with Gather Comprehensive which I only vaguely knew heretofore. There's a great deal in it, most of it well-chosen I think, but I'd be curious to know what the parish's repertoire from it might be. Also, do you use GIA Precentor software to do any planning? Please advise.


My response:

Concerning Gather Comprehensive (GC), I actually went through the entire book a few months back and listed the songs that the congregation/choir knows as well as selections that I thought were worthy of learning down the road. Unfortunately, the list remains hand-written so I cannot sent it to you. Nevertheless, let me share a few things with you.

1) I am quite pleased with GC overall. Pretty good mix of traditional and contemporary hymns and very usable psalm settings. The mass settings are some of the best of what's out there as well. Plenty of exceptions to each of the two preceding sentences, but generally, quality stuff. Of course, there are things I would change such as:

a) Plenty of selections that I would be embrarassed to program. Examples include:

467 Spirit-Friend
503 Come to the Feast (the first word of the text is "Ho")
643 The Lord Is My Shepherd
454 Go

to name a few.

b) Knowing the demographics of St. (X), there is a paucity of songs in the "gospel" style. Only a few of the standards are included ("Soon and Very Soon", "Lead Me, Guide Me", "This Little Light of Mine").

c) Missing a few psalm settings for the liturgical year. Much more complete than the original "Gather" though.

2) The congregation's repertoire is fairly large. Since I've been here, I've introduced maybe 10-15 hymns that I thought they should know (627 Wondrous Love, 437 Christ the Lord is Risen Today) and eliminated some things that I found difficult to sing or just downright cheesy (390 Jerusalem, My Destiny comes to mind).

3) I've been pretty adamant about doing the psalm setting that is called for in the Lectionary for each week and each feast, and the congregation does a nice job when a new one comes up. Only in certain cases will I change the psalm,such as in the case of a ridiculously long setting (59 In God Alone or 24 You Will Show Me the Path of Life-Refrain 1), very difficult to sing (59 again) or a setting that is subpar musically (I find the psalm for Ascension (GC 53) very unworthy of the feast day). I haven't been a stickler about unapproved psalm translations since it would eliminate most of GC's psalter:)

4) I do not use the Precentor software because I am a computer moron.

5) As far as actual repertoire, I like to think the congregation knows the standards though there are exceptions which I never got around to introducing (SALZBURG, IN BABILONE). Let me do the Advent section as a starting point. Here's what they know:

317
318
321
323
325 (probably, I haven't done this tune since I've been here . . . high cheese factor)
328 (refrain only)
331
332
334
336 (choir)
340 (choir)

Definitely a few in there I would have liked to have taught, but Advent comes and goes so fast . . . you know what I mean.

All in all, I was pleased when it was in the pews when I arrived. I despise disposal missalettes so it was nice to have a good hymnal on hand. Please feel free to ask anything else you would like to know, especially if I did not address the issues you requested.


2 Comments:

At Wednesday, May 17, 2006 7:56:00 AM, Anonymous moconnor said...

Maybe someone will come up with a hymnbook geared towards congregations with larger numbers of African Americans, but I really don't want any more gospel style hymns than are already in most hymnals. I've often wondered how most black Catholics feel about Gospel style. I just know that I am quite embarrassed to sing the stuff with all-white choirs. Spirituals are another matter, but gospel seems really out of place in the mass IMO.

moconnor

 
At Friday, May 19, 2006 5:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks nice! Awesome content. Good job guys.
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