Friday, March 16, 2018

Fake news alert (UPDATE: now resolved)

Some of our readers may have been shocked to read on a conservative hit site that the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) is theological[ly] liberal (!!!)

It is utterly appalling that an organization that promotes itself as a guardian of truth would go to press with as many errors of fact as this one small paragraph contained regarding our organization. Simply outrageous.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sunday Confession Schedules

As I've argued on these pages many times, parishes seeking to improve the spiritual lives of their people should make time for Confessions on Sundays, at the convenience of the sheep.

The National Catholic Register makes the argument here.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Music and Fine Arts Professorship Announcement

Some of our readers may be interested in this excellent opportunity.
Wyoming Catholic College seeks to hire a person who is capable both of teaching the music courses (see the Fine Arts page of our website for a description) together with at least one other subject in the pre-set curriculum, particularly Art History and Humanities, and of leading the College’s sacred music program. The combined position is full time.
The applicant must have already completed at least a Masters degree in music, preferably a doctorate. Especially desired is a candidate who has benefited from a traditional liberal arts education that will enable him or her to teach music with a sympathetic awareness of the principles, methods, and Great Books of other disciplines. A well-developed sensitivity to the spiritual and religious dimensions of great art will make the applicant more suitable to the overall educational mission of Wyoming Catholic College.
The applicant should have the ability to lead the sacred music program, in keeping with the language of the Philosophical Vision Statement: “Wyoming Catholic College will establish and cultivate a proper campus culture through the liturgy, sacraments, and music of the Roman Catholic Church integrated into the life of the College.” The mixed choir, a popular extracurricular activity that has been running for ten years, sings a wide repertoire of choral music by great composers such as Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, Bach, Mozart, and Bruckner. The Choir rehearses once a week and sings twice a week at Mass. For its part, the Schola Cantorum prepares and performs Gregorian chant for the collegiate liturgies.
The applicant should understand and agree with the vision and mission of Wyoming Catholic College as articulated in the Philosophical Vision Statement and the Academic Catalog.  This understanding and agreement are to be manifested in the letter of intent.
The professor is required to teach a course load of 8–12 hours per week and to run the sacred music program (approximately 4 hours of rehearsal time per week, plus preparations and liturgies). Any overtime is compensated. Faculty at WCC are committed to teaching and serving students as their first and foremost responsibility. At the beginning of each academic year, all Catholic faculty make a Profession of Faith and take the Oath of Fidelity, and non-Catholic faculty make a pledge to respect the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Rank and salary commensurate with degrees earned and teaching experience; salary and benefits competitive.
A letter of intent with curriculum vitae should be sent to the Academic Dean, Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski, Wyoming Catholic College, 306 Main Street, Lander, WY 82520, or by email submission to
Application deadline: We are reviewing applications beginning February 12, 2018 until the position is filled.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sacred Music at Dunwoodie

If this has already been posted I apologize,  but the summer sacred music courses at Dunwoodie sound too good to miss.
The principles of Sacred Music program would be of benefit to virtually anyone in parochial music, including, (shh... don't tell anyone I said this,) Praise & Worship or  liturgical "folk" musicians
Almost  indubitably anyone reading this already knows of Jenny Donelson, oops, sorry, Dr. Jennifer Donelson, but if you don't I can't recommend her highly enough as a teacher, (a break-out session she gave at a CMAA Colloquium about liturgical Sequences is one of my highlights of over a decade of Colloquia.)
An interesting facet of one offering is the online/on campus components, and omigosh you underpaid Church musicians! Just LOOK at the inexpensive room and board, (I don't suppose they have enough room for the colloquium ever?)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Duruflé Requiem at 70

Maurice Duruflé
(image from Wikimedia)
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Duruflé Requiem, and an article in the Boston Globe tells a bit of the work's  and the composer's history.

For those in the area, there will be an opportunity to hear the work Friday, March 9, when the Choir of St. Paul's sings the Requiem at St. Paul Church in Cambridge:

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Gregorian Festival in Watou, Belgium

Watou Festival photograph
If you are finding the month of May lacking in entertainment, why not consider this festival of Gregorian chant scholas and choirs.

International Gregorian Festival of Watou

You might find the site a bit tricky to navigate since much of it is Dutch (Flemish). However, even if travel isn't in your plans, it's nice to know what others are up to in the sacred music world.

Interestingly, this festival always has a South Korean presence. And if you visit the site of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, you will find a considerable number of Korean students. What is the relationship there? Is chant more popular than guitar music in Korean Catholic circles? And why are the singers predominantly women? Why does life present so many questions?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

To the Mother of God

Last week I pointed out to some children that the chant we were learning was written a thousand years ago.

That was about the time the great saint Peter Damian was writing, among other works, beautiful hymns.

Here is my translation of one of them.

O Theotokos, Mary blest,
Our human nature’s shining crest,
Through you we have our liberty,
Free children of the light to be.

O Virgin, Queen of heav’n and earth,
Though of King David’s stock by birth,
Your royal dignity has come
Not from your fathers, but your Son.

Release us from the ancient root.
Graft us in Him, the newborn shoot.
Through you may we become by grace,
A royal, priestly, human race.

O offer holy prayers to win
Release from all our bonds of sin.
We praise your merits to the skies:
May we in heaven share your prize.

Exemplar of virginity,
Give glory to the Trinity,
Whose endless treasure-stores of gifts
Through you our human nature lifts.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The morning call of the rooster

One of the wonderful things about translating Latin hymns is seeing their daring use of biblical imagery.

I doubt many writers would characterize the prophetic voice as a rooster, but Jesus did, and so St. Ambrose does too.

Of course the rooster simply tells of the morning, whose Sun is the true Source of light, a light that darkness can never overcome, and Whose word is worthy of trust.

Aeterne rerum Conditor

Eternal maker of all things
Of day and night the sov'reign King,
Refreshing mortals, You arrange
The rhythm of the seasons' change

The rooster sounds his morning cry
--Throughout the night he watched the sky--
For travelers, a guiding light
To tell the watches of the night.

The morning star that hears the cry
Dispels the darkness from the sky.
The demons, hearing the alarm
Abandon all their paths of harm.

The sailor hears and he is brave;
The sea becomes a gentle wave.
The rooster's call reached Peter's ears:
He washed away his sins in tears.

Our wav'ring hearts, Lord Jesus, see.
O look upon us, make us free,
For in Your gaze no fault can stay,
And sins by tears are washed away.

O Light, upon our senses shine.
Dispel our sleepiness of mind,
That we may sing Your morning praise,
Then, vows fulfilling, live our days.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Get Ready for the 2018 Summer Colloquium!

Make your plans now to join dedicated singers, directors, and conductors at Loyola University in Chicago for this year's Colloquium, June 25th to 30th.

  • There will be a distinguished faculty. 
  • There will be beautiful Masses in the splendid Madonna della Strada chapel! 
  • Couses in chant for beginners to advanced. 
  • A choice of polyphony choirs. 
  • Plenary speakers of note.
  • Breakout sessions on topics pertinent to the musician and lover of sacred music.
  • A chance to share strategies, successes, and ideas with colleagues at meals.
  • Reasonable rates for dormitory housing (with a hotel option for those who prefer it) 
  • Theory and practice meet here in six wonderful days.
  • An opportunity to step into a wholehearted immersion in the best music of the Latin Rite.

Better than my words, watch this video:

Why am I talking about this in February?

Early registration for the Colloquium ends on March 1st.

Why register now? You'll save money, of course!
Pay in full now for early registration and you save $50.
If you're a member, you'll also get your $50 member discount.
Do the math.

And of course, if you're not a member, you should be!

Visit the Colloquium pages for all the information on courses and choirs, meal plans and lodging, registration, and more.

We look forward to seeing you in the Windy City in June 2018!


Monday, February 19, 2018

The Liturgical Generation Gap and "Authenticity"

The following article is reprinted from 2014.

Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to the fact that more formal worship styles appeal to a surprising demographic: the young. 

While many youth liturgical outreaches continue to focus on the casual and the near-secular in order to attract young people, this type of pastoral programming seems to be doing less well in many cases than those using more traditional forms. 

Not long ago I visited a parish that within a couple of years had built up a large group of young servers and a sizable youth schola for the traditional Mass--celebrated on a weekday evening. And this is hardly a unique case, just in the parishes I've personally visited.

There was a time, a naive time, when it seemed there was a desire among the young for an authenticity that had as its heart a certain casualness and spontaneity. In the 60s and 70s, it was the fashion to speak one's mind, follow one's heart, and go with the flow. 

I believe that it is likely that today's young people are likewise interested in authenticity--but in authenticity that has a much different character. Spontaneity is wonderful, in its place. Casualness, chattiness, hanging out--these are activities as popular among young people as they have ever been. But there seems to be a growing sensibility that not every place is the same. Mass is not the place for relaxed, casual activities. The true liturgical joys can be found by going deeper, by being more quiet, and by experiencing more and richer beauty.

When I was young there was no leadership in the Church of my experience for this kind of liturgical experience, which leads to a second and more practical reason that young people are enjoying good liturgy: it is available. If a teenager would like to attend a polyphonic Mass on a given Sunday, and if s/he is willing to travel a bit, it is available. If a family has been singing chant at home and would like to join a schola to improve their skills, it is possible--not always at the local parish, but somewhere.

I sometimes wonder why there was this enormous temporal gap in leadership of the sacred liturgy. I suppose some of the reason was political, some was a misunderstanding about the aims of the Second Vatican Council, and some was a skill vacuum of a kind that we are thankfully not likely to see again soon, if all the young people now involved in liturgy continue to persevere and serve.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Two Spanish Chant Conferences - Washington DC area

In April, the United States Bishops will publish the Third Edition of the Roman Missal in Spanish. To encourage seminarians, clergy, congregations and choir directors to learn the music, the Zipoli Institute will be offering a two-day conference in Spanish Sacred Music:

Fri, Apr 27 - Seminarians and Clergy
Sat, Apr 28 - Congregations and Choirs

Immediately following these conferences, and a mere 10 minute drive, Archbishop Alexander Sample will be celebrating a Solemn Pontifical High Mass on April 28 in the upper church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  The Paulus Institute is sponsoring this event as the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Free Spirit Heresy

Studying Church history is like reading medical textbooks--one sees symptoms everywhere.

There aren't really any new heresies. Heresy is the original recycling movement. You run into Arianism in every age, for example.

Well this really bizarre heresy came out in the late 12th century, because of the delusions of a poor fellow named Amalric, who was so wrong that even though he had taken back his heresy during his lifetime, his body was exhumed and burned after his death. This is because his whacky ideas became influential, and became even stranger in the different versions believed by his followers.

Part of the problem with his teaching was the garden-variety pantheism that some people involved in the New Age buy into. People believe that they are divine, and all creation is divine.

It's thankfully hard to fool anyone with even a minimum of catechesis that this is true. As the 4th Lateran Council taught in its 2nd Canon, "We also reject and condemn that most perverse doctrine of the impious Amalric, whose mind the father of lies blinded to such an extent that his teaching is to be regarded as mad more than as heretical."

As with a lot of heresies, however, the Free Spirit heresy was more pernicious when it was more "spiritual." When put into terms that are religious--in this case, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit--all sorts of mayhem can follow.

You can see how this happens. Instead of blatantly claiming "I'm divine, so I know all," which everyone will realize is a psychosis, what if instead I said "The Holy Spirit is inspiring me to say or do such-and-such." In that case, I might still be appropriating infallibility to my thoughts, words, and actions, and because of the "spiritual" language, I might get away with it.

This has been a frightfully divisive issue in the Church since St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to it. As in Corinth, the late medieval variations of the Free Spirit heresy often resulted in the countenancing of licentious behavior, because, after all, each individual is a law unto him or herself. Other effects are a reaction against priests and sacraments--presumably because I can commune with God all by myself.

You can see how this plays out in daily parish life too. Musicians can be subject to this fallacy. I might think that the Holy Spirit is inspiring me to sing a certain motet at offertory, and anyone who opposes the motet is opposing the Holy Spirit. This sounds crazy but people act like this, in a lot of different ways.

It's tricky, isn't it, because in fact we are given the Holy Spirit with the sanctifying grace of baptism. But how do we cooperate with that gift?

I suppose this is one of the reasons that humility, obedience, and sacred Tradition are emphasized in the Catholic faith, because my own "power" and "wisdom"--to use St. Paul's words--should be both subjected and in service to the community.

As St. Paul says in another place, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect."