Sunday, September 30, 2007

“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need....”

This hymn was in my head a week or so back, and it always makes me laugh because the next word of the hymn has forever been ruined in my mind by this clip from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.

On a more serious note, I am very grateful that the trendy use of that name for God (and its other form that begins with Y) seems to have been contained in the 1970s and The Jerusalem Bible.

Will I still be able to do this one?

So, with the talk about regulating liturgical texts....

Generally, I think this will be a good thing, ensuring that all texts proclaimed in the Mass have gone through some approval process for theological conformity with the faith.

I have to wonder, though, will I still be able to do Farrant “Lord, For Thy Tender Mercies’ Sake”?

What about Telemann “Laudate Jehovam”, whose Latin text appears not to stem from any liturgical source?

Friday => penitence

Someone wrote here in a comment recently:

We're now riddled with self-credentialed liturgists and DREs who quote each other as if they were magisterial, and who are genuinely clueless when you point out the facts, quoting chapter and verse from CVII dos or the GIRM.

I can’t speak to the overall veracity of this description, but I will share that my parish’s new DRE did not know until I told her recently that Friday is (still) a day of penitence, on which we are still obliged to make some act of penitence.

(A pretty good proof-positive, btw, of the penitential character of Friday is that Lauds begins with Psalm 51 on every Friday of the 4-week psalter.)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Allegri Miserere

Hey, I might as well ponder Ash Wednesday almost 6 months prior, right? ;-)

Anyway, for those of you who have actually done this piece, how hard is it? ISTM that, if you split it into tutti/soli parts, it should be fairly easy, since the “tutti” parts are basically two pages of music, one of which repeats over and over.

I suppose, in my case, the problem might be getting my singers to digest that much Latin...

EDIT: The edition I think to use is this one on CPDL.

2ND EDIT: The verdict seems to be that it’s a very doable piece as long as you can accommodate the high C section - or, I would point out, use the handy fourth-down transposed version of same in the CPDL edition. ;-)

Nicholas Maria Publishers?

Anyone heard of them?

They seem definitely in the CanticaNova/Adoremus camp, but I am wondering about the quality of the music itself.

Friday, September 28, 2007

speaking of young adult groups

I first went to one of these before I moved to my current post. At first I thought it was a bit silly, like a “social catch-net” for people who couldn’t make friends otherwise. But, being recently out of school and in an area where I didn’t have any family or old friends, I did find myself feeling a bit short on social time.

It turned out to be a group I really enjoyed being with. They did exposition for an hour or so then had structured social time - you got to know people, but the idea was to discuss a particular faith-related topic. Folks from the group also played sports together.

My new area has a group that seems a bit more like a disguised dating service. It’s still a faith-centered group, but most of what they do is Mass and then dinner. It somehow doesn’t seem as “spiritual”. Maybe it’s because the social time is spent at a restaurant instead of in a church, and the topics for discussion aren’t necessarily faith-centered?

A new development

So, like many single Catholics, I attend a Catholic young adult group. This group has Mass on Tuesdays, music for which is currently provided by a couple of guys with guitars. (I don’t mean to paint a derogatory picture by that description - it is what it is.)

I had the idea (since I’d probably be fired for it in my own parish where I work) of starting a chant group for this Mass. There is a not-insubstantial element of tradition-friendly Catholicism among the young adult crowd in my area, so I figured I would snag enough folks to start something. Perhaps ironically, two of the guys I got are the guitar players!

Right now I am trying to find a time when we can meet. Beyond that, though, I am wondering about repertoire.

Obviously, the Graduale Romanum is one ideal, if not *the* ideal. The Graduale Simplex is another option. I think By Flowing Waters might be our first step, though. And/or, the Anglican Use Gradual.

I don’t think this will be a full-blooded “choir” - though who knows.

Why it is hard to respect our elders....

Or at least, an example thereof:
The liturgical reform of Vatican II suppressed the distinction between the low Mass and the sung Mass in order to open to [sic] the door to “the full, conscious and [sic] active participation” of the assembly (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 14).
(Joseph Gélineau Liturgical Assembly, Liturgical Song)

....and if we check the CSL §14, we find this hard-hitting denouncement of the distinction between sung and spoken Masses:
14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. Wherefore the sacred Council has decided to enact as follows:


Am I missing something? Where does that paragraph do away with sung/spoken Masses?

And I could go on by bringing in Musicam sacram and (IIRC) elements of the GIRM that recall the distinction. But I won’t. I am tired of this stuff. I bought a book by Gélineau so I wasn’t just reading Schuler and disciples, but it’s so chock full of propaganda and twisted thinking that I can’t get through it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

25 OT--Year C

25 OT--C

Processional: Tietze Introit hymn

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: Si ambulavero (cantor)

Communion: Tu mandasti (chant) w/fauxbourdon (Viadana)
Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)

Recessional: From all that dwell below the skies (DUKE STREET)

I panicked on Wednesday and cut the Isaac setting of the Communion, Tu Mandasti. We hadn't had hardly any rehearsal time with it and a great number of the choir members were going to be absent on Wednesday. The piece is just too tricky to throw together.

BTW, Prof. Mahrt showed us one setting of an Isaac Communio. Basically, Isaac took most of the Communio's and set them to polyphony, often (always?) using the chant melody as a cantus firmus. I love the idea of singing these settings in between repetitions of the chant itself. There are stumbling blocks, though; this style of polyphony is not very amateur-friendly, and the fact that I can't find any editions anywhere (I went to his complete works in our music library and punched "Tu Mandasti" into Lilypond.) was a deterrent. Anyway, these are definitely worth looking into . . . I wish someone would take it upon themselves to get all those put into a program and post them at CPDL.

So as a back-up, we whipped up the Mozart, which most of my choir can sing in their sleep. A couple run-throughs and it was ready to go. They sang it very well.

I was most pleased with the Communion chant. As I may have mentioned, I'm trying something a bit different this year with the Communios. Last year, I rotated men and women from week-to-week. I'd let one gender leave rehearsal early and then the other would stay behind to learn the Communio. This year, I've had everyone stay and learn the chant and sing it on Sunday. Mixing in the fauxbourdons, this is how we do them on Sunday:

Antiphon (all)
Verse (cantor)
Antiphon (men)
Verse (cantor)
Antiphon (women)
Verse (cantor)
Antiphon (men)
Gloria Patri (all w/fauxbourdon)
Antiphon (all)

It's worked out well so far, and it seems that the choir is singing the chant with confidence as they are now able to learn it with a bigger, mixed group, and they're getting twice as much exposure to it (though no one gets to leave early, much to some people's chagrin, I'm sure : )

I've also made it a point to take a more pedagogical approach to the chant this year. We've spent more time exploring the make-up of the various modes and the differences between them. Last year, I basically taught them by call-and-response: I'd sing a phrase, they'd sing it back to me. Now, I usually make them sight-read it (after preparing them somewhat by introducing the mode, range, etc.) and we'll clean things up as we go along. Seems to be working . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Choral Praise Comp 2: Grr!!!

Ok, there are things to like here. It is an improvement over CPC1 in many ways, but two GLARING problems present themselves:

1) Non-alphabetical order of hymns, so now people REALLY have to look at the index to find the number (which, of course, corresponds to NO other published resource).

2) Hillert “Festival Canticle” is not there, apparently a victim of its not being popular enough for CPC2, albeit still popular enough for Breaking Bread.

Seriously, if “Abba, Father!” and “Only a Shadow” are still popular enough, but this big, bad, and beautiful piece isn’t, that is something to lament.

EDIT: Apparently “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” and “Jerusalem, My Happy Home” were also casualties; at least these, though, are public domain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

24 OT-- Year C

24 OT--C

Processional: Tietze Introit

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: I Will Arise (Creighton)

Communion: Dico Vobis w/Viadana fauxbourdon

Recessional: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

I spent a lot of time putting the assigned Tietze text into WINCHESTER NEW (On Jordan's Bank) since I wasn't thrilled with the melody in the book (don't have the melody name in front of me). Unfortunately, I gaffed and put last week's melody in the worship aid so all the work was for naught. Is a Proper text still preferred when it's a week late? : )

The Creighton is nice, though not earth-shattering. It's the only piece I've come across by this composer; he lived in the midst of the Baroque period, but this setting has a "stile antico" feel about it. Very appropriate for the Sunday as the text is lifted right out of the Gospel. Choir did a nice job with it.

It was a relief to have Dico Vobis assigned for this Sunday (text also from the Gospel). The first three Communios we've done with the choir have been long and tricky. Dico was a good one to break in our new members, all unfamiliar with chant notation. We gave it a run alternating between the genders and I was pleased overall. I'm digging the fauxbourdon at the end as well; gives it a little "spice", if you will. : )

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Haugen “Shepherd Me, O God”

I don’t quite get the emotional attachment that many people have to this one’s being sung as a responsorial psalm at Mass.

I thought my parish’s liturgy director and I had settled this question in favor of using approved texts for responsorial psalms. But, today here she went again with “we’ve used it so much; one more time won’t hurt us.” UUGH!

I actually don’t terribly mind it musically. I hear it sung pretty ungracefully with frequency, but a cantor who knows how to sing with a good legato can make this one sound quite nice.

Maybe I should buy her a Gregorian Missal for a Christmas present. :) She doesn’t seem comfortable with the degree to which she knows VERY little about the chant propers versus how I am, well, getting there. I would know them better if I were able actually to use them with any frequency, but I do consult the Graduale Romanum pretty frequently, so I am getting a pretty good handle on at least the texts of the chants.

For instance, a couple surprises:
1) It really is not infrequent to have fragments of the same psalm, sometimes even the same fragment, used at the same Mass. (cf. 1st Sunday of Lent)

2) Psalm 23 is not prominent in the funeral liturgy. (I suspect it’s an element of Protestant worship that we have subsumed?)

Since I can’t have a well-done Ordinary Form, can I have the Extraordinary?

Scelata over at Scelata makes an excellent point in a recent post:

But now, praise Benedict and the motu proprio, I am at least entitled to ask for that, whereas I am not entitled to ask for the Ordinary Form with the Ordinary sung in Latin.
Or the Ordinary Form with the priest facing ad orientem. Or the Ordinary Form with no jokes. Or the Ordinary Form without being asked to squawk Lord of the Dance. Or the Ordinary Form without a glad-handing rotary convention inserted where the Pax Christi is offered. Or the Ordinary Form where no adolescent in a football jersey will address me from the sanctuary. Or the Ordinary Form with no mention of Jambalaya or sports enthusiasms.

So I am asking for the Extraordinary Form.
And my aspirations are rightful.

I am blessed not to have seen much along the line of Jambalaya or sports at Sunday Mass, but I sure do wish I could request use of ad orientem. Latin would be nice, but honestly, it is less of a priority for me.

We all know (or at least SHOULD know) about Pope Benedict’s writings on ad orientem. Given that Summorum Pontificum is, in many respects, a fulfillment of a vision set out by the late Msgr. Klaus Gamber, and given the Pope’s agreement with Gamber (and, AFAICT, every serious liturgist who really examines the question objectively) on the ad orientem issue, might we see something written by His Holiness in the not-too-distant future?

Friday, September 14, 2007

23 OT--Year C

23 OT

Processional: Tietze Introit (OLD 100TH)

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: Jesu Dulcis Memoria (Victoria)

Communion: Vovete w/fauxbourdon

Recessional: O God, Our Help in Ages Past

We made our last recruiting push this weekend so I threw a bit more at the choir so as to . . . well, show-off a bit (in a humble way, of course : ). In addition to the usual choir-only stuff (acappella doxology in the Introit, Offertory motet, chanted Communio), we also did the following:

1. Incorporated the harmonies in the middle section of the "Community Mass" Gloria.

2. Fauxbourdon for the Gospel Acclamation verse.

3. Descants for the "Comm. Mass" Eucharistic acclamations.

4. SATB fauxbourdon for the Doxology at the end of the Communion chant.

It was a lot more than normal, and we nearly ran out of rehearsal time before mass (which rarely happens); but it was worth it. The choir rose to the challenge and sang wonderfully! I had five new faces at rehearsal on Wednesday (though it appears only about 2 will actually work out).

I think I may try to do the fauxbourdons every week now; I can just re-use them, so when we have all 8 modes under our belt, they'll be a breeze. The GA verses are just too much for me to work up every week; I'l probably get some ready for Advent, Lent, and Easter and the occasional college "Feast Day" (Homecoming, Dad's Day, etc.).

By the way, are there any resources out there with harmonized GA verses? (I know about "Respond and Acclaim")

Monday, September 10, 2007

A great (but obscure) Howells piece

“Like as the Hart” is probably Herbert Howells’s most famous piece of choral music. It was published in a collection of 4 anthems that also included the well-known “O pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

Two, though, of these four anthems are not available anymore from Oxford. A reseller might tell you that they are out of print, since Oxford no longer sells them. They are “We have heard with our ears” and “Let God arise”.

The title of the latter caught my eye, since after finding the connection that the Gregorian chant texts evince between Psalm 68 and Ascension and Pentecost, I have been kinda keeping my eye out for settings based on this psalm.

So, an inquiry to Oxford got me transferred and transferred around until I was finally referred to Banks Music Publications. Lo and behold, these people do sell new copies of this anthem - and it’s expensive as sin, probably because of low demand for it.

Anyway, I asked them to fax me a sample copy of it so I could look at it before ordering it. Verdict: it is AWESOME. It’s a crime that this one isn’t better known, IMO. The opening has this über-gutsy statement of “Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; let them also that hate Him flee before Him” - and from there it just gets better.

The only caveat, besides the price, is that it’s long - probably 7-8 minutes or so. I’ll try the Stanford mentioned in my last post on All Saints before I try this one. (There is also the fact that I lose so many choir members during Easter season to travel plans....alas.)

Incidentally, “Let God Arise” is £2.65 each, which currently is about $5.38. Ouch! BMP does also have “We have heard with our ears” (£1.85), but I don’t know anything about that piece.

Fall choral highlights at my parish

Here are some of the nicer pieces we are working on this fall:

Stanford Ps. 150 (CPDL)
Funny, I went through 2 years of grad school for conducting, and we never spent even a minute on directing Anglican choral chant.

Barnard “If God is Building When We Build”
(St. James Music Press, Sunday by Sunday II)
Well-suited, actually, to this past Sunday. Easy if your folks know LAND OF REST.

Bell “Let All Mortal Flesh” (GIA)
Very easy arrangement, but a wicked-cool last verse where the organ has all these funky chords against the unison melody. Also good for teaching the melodic minor scale.

Weaver “Ave verum” (St. James Music Press, Sunday by Sunday II)
Very pretty setting that is also easy. This piece alone is worth the $55 for the Sunday by Sunday II collection from St. James. (Hat tip to Gavin for making me aware of this publisher!) Head over to and give it a listen.

Englert “The Lord is My Light” (GIA)
A more challenging piece, but nice.

Stanford “And I Saw Another Angel” (CPDL)
This one’s a big long, but not hard, and a fun sing. Very dignified.

Howells “My Eyes for Beauty Pine” (Oxford)
This should be a very easy teach, since it’s unison and basically just the same melody three times, but it also reinforces the singers’ ability to count.

Hogan “Hear My Prayer” (Hal Leonard)
I am usually not big on Afro-American spirituals in the liturgy. Part of it is a “gut sense”, I guess, that while many enjoy singing and hearing this music, it isn’t culturally how we express the awesome and the truly sacred. This piece is an exception, though, I think - it’s clear in its eschatological reference, and it’s more subdued.

Josquin (attr.) “Tu pauperum” (my own edition)
I would love to know something of the origin of this text, but alas, I haven’t had time to research it. A wonderful piece - albeit one that, IIRC, we now think was not written by Josquin. It’s the secunda pars of a motet called “Magnus es tu, Domine”, btw, but the first part is really boring. I mean, like, don’t even bother.

Smith “Choral Fanfare for Christ the King” (GIA)
Short, extroverted, and simple. Love it.

Handel “Worthy is the Lamb / Amen” (my arrangement)
I came up with this in college - an arrangement that, after the initial “Worthy is the Lamb” movement, cuts out the “Blessing and honor”, then skips from after the soprano entrance in the Amen to the last major bass/trumpet entrance. It works well, actually - yes, I know how cool the “Blessing and honor” is, but I just don’t have the time I would need to put it all together.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gamber vs. B16

It is well-known that Pope Benedict XVI has written approvingly of the work of liturgical scholar Msgr. Klaus Gamber. He even wrote the preface to the French edition of Msgr. Gamber’s “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background”.

I am reading through this work of Gamber’s, and a very salient contrast between the thoughts of the two men has just hit me:

GAMBER: Given that the liturgical reforms of Pope Paul VI created a de facto new rite, one could assert that those among the faithful who were baptized according to the traditional Roman Rite have the right to continue following that rite; just as priests who were ordained according to the traditional Ordo have the right to exercise the very rite that there were ordained to celebrate.
(Gamber, p39, footnote)

POPE BENEDICT XVI: The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.
(motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, §1)

Am I splitting hairs here, or does the Pope here express a view that contrasts sharply with Gamber? The Pope asserts that these are two forms of one rite, while Gamber maintains that they are separate rites, not to be commingled?

Another, albeit weak, example: elsewhere in Gamber’s book (p91), though he does envision readings in the vernacular, the author specifically dismisses the idea of using the post-V2 Order of Readings (i.e. the Lectionary) in the pre-V2 Mass....a practice which many, even bishops, believe that Summorum Pontificum explicitly condones. (I disagree with that reading, btw - I think B16 had in mind that new vernacular translations of the Scripture passages of the traditional Missal would be prepared. Trying to mix the 1981 Order of Readings with the 1962 Missal, with their different calendars and different numbers of readings per Mass, is surely a mess.)

Actually, there is an implicit dismissal in Gamber of the idea of bringing propers from the post-V2 Mass into the pre-V2 form; surely the author would have considered the concept, and his insistence that the “two rites” be maintained separately implies a disapproval of the very commingling that the Pope has recently recommended in the motu proprio.

Friday, September 07, 2007

22 OT--C

22 OT--Year C

Processional: Joyful, Joyful

Psalm: Gelineau

Offertory: My Eyes for Beauty Pine (Howells)

Communion: Memorabor (Chant)

Recessional: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (ST. PETER)

Labor Day weekend is always tough because so many students go home. I had about half my regular choir numbers, including 1 soprano and 1 alto! Fortunately, I planned ahead and selected the Howells, which is mostly unison with one short 4-part section. It went very well as did the Memorabor (though the compilers of the Gregorian Propers apparently didn't have a college semester schedule in mind when planning the communions; De Fructu and Memorabor are not easy!).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

revised “O Come, O Come”

As many of us are probably thinking ahead to Advent around this time, I thought I’d point out the work of an unnamed person here who has rewritten “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” to be more in keeping with how he reads V2’s Nostra ætate:

I dunno. I’m not a theologian, but I have a hard time buying this one. The words are kinda trite besides. But, interesting that someone did this.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Good organ-based vernacular congregational communion music?

Hi folks,

For those who read this blog, I would appreciate your input on what could be said to constitute good organ-based music that is suitable for communion and has a congregational refrain with vernacular lyrics.

Some that pop into my mind are:

Gift of Finest Wheat (Kreutz)
I Received the Living God (Proulx)
Bread of Life (Farrell)*
Taste and See (Dean)
Festival Canticle: Worthy is Christ (Hillert)

*Yes, I know, Bernadette Farrell. She’s written a lot of garbage, but I do like this one, at least for its melody. The lyrics, admittedly, are a bit sunshine-y.

The background for this pondering is the discussion about communion music in the comments to PT’s last blog post. I came to realize that, when I was around PT’s current church, one reason the “organ Mass” did not have the congregation sing during communion is that the hymnal they used, Worship II, had almost no responsorial music. It seems the bulk of our responsorial music we use in the liturgy is, unlike most “hymns”, of fairly recent vintage - generally, after Vatican II. It also seems to be largely Catholic in its origin - the Hillert notwithstanding - whereas most of the “hymns” we sing from hymnals such as Worship are of Protestant origin.

EDIT: Add Hurd “Ubi caritas” to this list - thanks, Copernicus!