Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2 OT--Year A

2 OT--Year A

Processional: Tietze Introit Hymn

Offertory: Jubilate Deo (Palestrina--quintet)

Communion: Laetabimur (chant)
O Taste and See (Vaughan Williams)
Recessional: Lord of All Hopefulness

With only one rehearsal under our belt before this first Sunday (the students just returned to campus), I picked the Vaughan Williams, an old stand-by. It's not a hard piece by any means, but we struggled through it more than I would have liked. I'll remember that next time . . .

The "Jubilate" turned out great. I rounded up some good musicians and we whipped it up in a short period of time. It's not easy; five parts, florid counterpoint, and Phrygian. The small group did a great job with it, though.

I love "Laetabimur." The choir sang it well from the word 'go' (though it helps when we already did it a couple months ago), and the chant "style" seems to be coming a bit more naturally to them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

liturgical music in a rural NH parish

I attended two Sunday morning Masses. The music looked like this:

Entrance (called "Gathering"):
8:30: Dufford "All the Ends of the Earth"
10:00: Lift High the Cross (accompanied on the piano)

Opening prayer: sung

Resp. psalm: Cooney "Here I Am, Lord" (that's Cooney, not Schutte)

Alleluia: Celtic Alleluia

Offertory (called "Preparation"): Haas "You Are Mine"

Sn/MA/GA/Ag: Mass of Creation
"Jesus, Bread of Life" was the incipit for the 2nd of 3 iterations of the LoG

Communion: Behold the Lamb

Recessional: Sing of the Lord's Goodness

I think this is a "poster-child" for stereotypical American Catholic liturgical music. (Everything but the sung opening prayer.) The organ was a really crappy Allen digital thing, so I shed no tears over not hearing it very much. (The accompanist couldn't play it well enough to do the hymn, apparently.)

The congregation sang ok - most folks did not sing, but that's typical everywhere, so hey.

I avoid "You Are Mine". Enough people in a choir know it that they want to sing it, which necessitates rehearsing each verse because they're all slightly different. Then someone says, "can we run this whole song just once". Before you know it, 15 minutes of rehearsal time are gone that could have been spent developing the choir musically rather than teaching them congregational music.

I use "Behold the Lamb". It's simple and straightforward enough to be taught to folks who don't know it in about 5 minutes. And it's well-known enough that I usually have to spend little, if any, time on it.

Cooney "Here I Am" is not too bad. I'd use it outside the Liturgy of the Word, but I'd still probably use it. It's a good text for themes of mission. The accompaniment is very piano-ish, but it could reduce fine for the organ.

The Dufford is a little kitschy, I think.

"Sing of the Lord's Goodness" is fun, I think, but not consistent with an environment that Western culture connotes as sacred and awesome.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Christmas Concert 2007

Well, I'd like to get this post done while we're still technically in the midst of the Christmas season, though this concert took place nearly a month ago. : )

All in all, it was wonderful. I was very proud of my directors and their respective ensembles for the time that they put in during that busy time of year and the outstanding result that I heard at the concert. The line-up:

Preludes (brass):

I Saw Three Ships (arr. Richard Price)
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (arr. Richard Price)


O Come, O Come Emmanuel (chant w/organ)


Ecce Virgo (Communio for Advent 4)
"O" Antiphons (O Oriens and O Emmanuel)

I direct this group; we had 4 men and 2 women for the concert. They did a fine job, though I wish I hadn't used the Dorian mode for both pieces.

Choir 1 (Traditional/Contemporary):

I Wonder as I Wander (arr. Rutter)
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming (Praetorius)

The Rutter's a little more difficult than it looks, but they did a nice job with it. The Praetorius is always a winner.

Choir 2 (Contemporary)

Child of the Poor/What Child is This? (S. Soper)
Rejoice, Rejoice (M. Haugen)

This choir's a bit short on men, but the women did well and the director (a male) supplied the tenor part for the latter piece. Piano, guitar and flute were involved.

Choir 3 (Praise and Worship ensemble)

Welcome to Our World (C. Rice)
God Rest You/We Three Kings (BNL w/S. McLachlan)

Well, I definitely cringed a little when my director told me that she wanted to do a Barenaked Ladies arrangement, but I let it in and it was well-received.

Choir 4 (Traditional)

Jerusalem Surge (G.B. Martini and chant--Communio for Advent 2)
In Dulci Jubilo (Traditional, Gesius, and Bach harmonizations)

This is the other group I direct. I had learned a good lesson from the year before (when I foolishly chose Mouton's "Noe, Noe, psallite" (very difficult) and Bach's "Et Incarnatus Est" (not easy either)) and chose selections that weren't quite as challenging. It was fun to do "In Dulci Jubilo" since most of our regular repertoire seems to be more "meditative".

Choir 5 (Traditional/Contemporary)

Love is Born This Night (L. Dengler)
Carol of the Bells (arr. Wilhousky)

In the midst of so many unfamiliar selections, I think the audience was glad to hear the Wilhousky. The director was very pleased with how it went, as she informed me that it was bombing during the dress rehearsal earlier that evening.

Festival Choir

Ave Maria (chant--women)
Away in a Manger (arr. Praying Twice--men)
Missa "O Magnum Mysterium"--Gloria (Victoria--all)
Silent Night (arr. Kirk Franklin--all w/contemporary ensemble)

I used the same formula that seemed to work well last year: 1) chant w/ men or women, 2) folk song for other sex, 3) piece of renaissance polyphony, 4) show-stopping gospel number. They really nailed everything. The Victoria was a stretch for some of the musicians initially, but they did a spectacular job for the concert. The Kirk Franklin piece is great, though his recording is uber-cheesy. We did it tastefully while still retaining the flavor of the original.

Congregational hymns (w/brass)

O Come, All Ye Faithful (arr. Willcocks)
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (arr. Willcocks)
Silent Night (traditional--acappella)

Man, those Willcocks arrangements are great. The sopranos absolutely love singing those descants.

Recessional (brass):

We Three Kings (arr. Richard Price)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An accessible choral Ascension offertory

Not fabulous, but definitely worth a look or three:


The off-the-top-of-my-head list of anthems for Easter season at my parish is starting to coalesce into some combination of:
Billings “Easter Anthem”
Inwood “Easter Anthem”
Thompson “Hosanna to the Living Lord”
Lewandowski Psalm 23 (translated by myself)
Tallis “If Ye Love Me” (I think this is the year the Lectionary quotes that passage?)
Schaller “Ascendit Deus” (Ascension)
Aichinger “Confirma hoc, Deus” (Pentecost)

I would do a Gregorian communion or two, but they look quite a bit harder in Eastertide than in Lent. Gotta pick my battles.

A New Year

Mr. Penkala calls for a cease-fire . . .

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lenten choral music of note at my parish

Ash Wednesday: Godfrey “Lord, who hast formed me”

1st Sunday: a choral arrangement of (control yoourselves!) “On Eagle’s Wings”, my English congregational adaptation of the communion proper

2nd Sunday: J. Varley Roberts “Seek Ye the Lord”, Gregorian communion antiphon

3rd Sunday: Farrant “Lord, For Thy Tender Mercies’ Sake”, Gregorian communion antiphon

4th Sunday: Mark Hayes “Grace”, Gregorian communion antiphon

5th Sunday: Bach cantata 131 mvt. 1, “Aus der Tiefe” (up to the allegro), Gregorian communion antiphon

6th Sunday: David Ashley White “O Love Divine”, my English congregational adaptation of the communion proper

A few comments:
Godfrey is another great find from the St. James Music Press “Sunday By Sunday Collection II”.

Yes, I know. OEW. I know. I’m doing it partly because the parish already owns the copies (and I was strongly encouraged to use already-purchased music this season). And partly because it’s an easy arrangement that I know some of the singers will enjoy. Mostly, though, I want to associate Psalm 91 with Lent, particularly the 1st Sunday of Lent - since all the chant propers do the same.

Roberts and Farrant (score, recording) are standards that we did last year.

The Hayes is a great piece - a wedding of the popular idiom with good choral writing. The accompaniment is very idiomatic for the piano, so I suppose were my parish a “liturgical clean room” I might not want to do it, but given the prevalence of the piano otherwise in the music program, it’s not at all inconsistent. Anyway, it’s the “Amazing Grace” text sung to variations on the O Waly Waly tune. Very good choral writing with some nice harmonies. Here is a link to a (very beautiful) recording.

“Aus der Tiefe” is our second foray into Bach this year. This definitely is much easier than most Bach - a bit pithier than “Jesu, joy”, but very accessible for the average SATB church choir. You can find a score here.

The White is a piece the parish had before I arrived. I’d not heard of it. It’s not a bad piece, but honestly, I’d rather be doing either the Lassus or the Cannicciari “Improperium exspectavit” (the Palm Sunday offertory text). Maybe next year, when I’ll be that much more able to “sell” the polyphony to the singers.

On 1st Sunday and Palm Sunday we’re doing my original English-language adaptations of the Gregorian propers for communion. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays will have a single singing of the Gregorian communion propers themselves. Men will do 2nd and 4th Sundays, while women will do 3rd and 5th. This arrangement should avoid overloading anyone with “too much Latin/chant” while accommodating our women’s apparently superior ability to sing it.

A nice “Christus factus est”


It’s of about the same level of difficulty as the Anerio. Alas, since I am retreating a bit from polyphony and chant for the rest of the choir season at my parish, I won’t be using it this year.

The composer is Pompeo Cannicciari, who also has a nice “Improperium exspectavit” (the Palm Sunday offertory) on CPDL.