Monday, March 26, 2007

Notable Triduum music at my parish

NB: This is the notable stuff. There is plenty of other music we are singing!

Holy Thursday
Entrance: Tietze introit hymn

a cappella from Holy Thursday Gloria until Easter Vigil Gloria

Foot washing: Gregorian chants I, II, IV, and VI, surrounding two Taizé songs and a congregational song that paraphrases the chant antiphons

Offertory: chant and Duruflé “Ubi caritas” settings (reception of oils in the middle)

Transfer: Pange lingua ... corporis, then Taizé “Stay With Me”

Good Friday
Passion chanted (GIA/Batastini edition)
Veneration: a new Reproaches setting, Pange lingua ... prœlium sung to PICARDY, “Crucem tuam” chant
Communion: Taizé “There can be no greater love”, Peloquin “In Memory of You”

Easter Vigil
all 7 readings/psalms (Guimont and Gelineau psalms)
Blessing of water & sprinkling: a new “Springs of water” that adapts “Vidi aquam”, Palestrina “Sitivit anima mea”
Communion: Hillert “Festival Canticle: Worthy is Christ”, Taizé “Surrexit Christus”

Easter Sunday
Sequence: chant, in Latin
Offertory: Inwood “Easter Anthem”

Sunday, March 18, 2007

An interesting communion

“Cantabo Domino” (used for 8OT-bc) is given in the Graduale Romanum as being from Psalm 12:6. The text of the antiphon reads:
Cantabo Domino, qui bona tribuit mihi, et psallam nomini Domini altissimi.
. So, we go over to the Nova Vulgata editio of the Bible and, for Psalm 12:6 (corrected for the Hebrew versification used in the NV) get:
Ego autem in misericordia tua speravi.
Exsultabit cor meum in salutari tuo;
cantabo Domino, qui bona tribuit mihi.

To get an idea of what is going on, if your Latin parsing is not there, compare this with the Grail translation of this psalm:
.6 As for me, I trust in your merciful love.
Let my heart rejoice in your saving help:
.7 Let me sing to the Lord for his goodness to me,
singing psalms to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

So, Grail has an entire extra verse!

Now, to check the traditional Vulgate:
ego autem in misericordia tua speravi exultabit cor meum in salutari tuo cantabo Domino qui bona tribuit mihi et psallam nomini Domini altissimi

Odd - the GR, whose communion verses reference the NV, makes a Biblical reference that requires us to consult a source besides the NV in order for it to mean anything.

UPDATE: Well, ok. So it’s just one extra line, not the entire antiphon as, at first look, I had thought. Still. Interesting.

thoughts on CCM/P&W in liturgy

We don’t talk much about Spirit & Song, Holy is the Lord, and the like on this blog, but I thought I would share an experience I recently had and two thoughts that I gleaned from it.

I recently went to an area young-adult activity that had exposition/adoration, Mass, then a concert. The music for Mass and exposition was done by your typical “contemporary” group, and well executed. The amplification for the Mass went through a PA that had been set up ahead of time for the concert later on, and the music was quite loud. People sang fairly well - about as well as I remember from regular college Masses. But of course, the amplification was so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself. It really gave the impression that, rather than “singing the Mass”, my vocal participation constituted “singing along” rather than “singing”. My singing was auxiliary.

The music for Mass was kind of standard fare stuff, but redone, in some cases, for drums/bass/guitar/keyboard/screech-singing. The responsorial psalm was sort of typical of the genre - the response was all syncopated and funkified, which made it very difficult for me to sing it after a first hearing. (But, judging from what I know of the music selection for such Masses, the people choosing the music wouldn’t likely have thought very deeply about how learnable the music is on first hearing.)

Speaking of how easy congregational music is to sing, I began to think how frustrating it has been, the times I have had to do S&S-type stuff, when the music has a form like this:

Verse 1
Verse 2
Verse 3
Verse 4
Bridge 2
Final Refrain

...and, of course, each verse is different enough musically that you can’t deduce one from having learned another.

Then, the concert, with two (long) opening acts. Again, well-done stuff - not music I find very interesting to listen to, though I enjoy playing stuff like that. Toward the end of my time there, it occurred to me how dialectic the pronunciation was, and how awkward it would sound were these singers to have used the tall, clear vowels and crisp consonants I try to get my singers to use.

The next thought was, how well do good diction and formality go hand-in-hand, while dialectic/sloppy diction goes with informality?

I am wondering if I have stumbled on a “proof” of the idea that people who like hearing pop music at church just don’t want to feel like they’re really in church: they don’t like music that sounds right with good diction, which inclines them to shun formality by association. (And Gregorian chant does tend to sound formal, doesn’t it?) The problem is, of course, that the Mass is inherently formal: even the vestments and decorations aside, the structure of the ritual is very formal.

Whaddy’all think? Should I publish? :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I must say I was quite surprised when Cantor received no comments in response to this post. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts in response to yet another insightful post from my colleague. Any takers?

Lent 3 -- Year C

Lent 3 (3/11/07)--Cycle A Readings (RCIA)

Processional: Dum sanctificatus

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: Sicut Cervus (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)

Communion: Qui biberit

Post-Communion: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say W 130

Gotta love "Sicut." After an e-mail last week urging people to renew their commitment to the choir, I had the best attendance at rehearsal and mass that I've had in a while. And so the Palestrina sounded wonderful. This really is a gem. The vocal lines seem to sing themselves . . .

I've also spent a little more time in rehearsals dealing with good vocal technique. I think the "honeymoon" phase with my choir is over and I'm starting to realize that there are some vocal issues that I was either not hearing, ignoring, or avoiding before. It's good for me to remember that these are volunteers, not professionals.

Lent 2--Year C

Lent 2 (3/4/07)

Processional: Tibi dixit

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: Meditabor (Witt)

Communion: Visionem

Post-Communion: ‘Tis Good Lord, To Be Here W 281

Recessional: Silence

We did the Witt back in Ordinary Time in October or so. Nice piece, but the attendance that morning was less than stellar so we doubled the parts with the organ.

I'm still feeling a little weird about the Post-Communion hymns during Lent, but there are some nice Lenten hymns that I can't fit anywhere else. Plus, it's nice to throw the congregation a bone, since there is very little for them to sing otherwise.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lenten anthems at my parish

Hi all,

I don’t have the liberty that PT has insofar as ability to use choir-only chants for entrance etc., but I did want to post the list of anthems (sung at offertory) that my parish’s church choir is working on this Lent:

Ash Wednesday: Atwood “Turn Thy face from my sins”
1st Lent: Lotti “Miserere” (PT stole my idea!)
2nd Lent: Farrant “Hide not Thou Thy face from us”
3rd Lent: Farrant (attr.) “Lord, for Thy tender mercies’ sake”
4th Lent: J. Varley Roberts “Seek ye the Lord”
5th Lent: Byrd “I have longed for Thy saving health”
6th Lent: Rossini choral setting of the proper offertory (“Improperium”)

A notable feature here is that all of these except Atwood (which I didn’t really plan; I was brand new in the job at that time) and Roberts are a cappella. This is somewhat by design, as 4th Lent is Lætare Sunday, and a time when a bit more instrumentation is appropriate.

Triduum choral music will be forthcoming.