Tuesday, November 22, 2016

13 Reasons Even a Member of a Mega-Church Could Never Buy Into P & W

And most of his reasons for eschewing so-called 'contemporary' worship give evidence of its equal unsuitability to our Catholic worship, the superficiality, the manipulation, commercialism, over-emphasis on the performer...
Jonathan Aigner, a Methodist musicians, writes at "Ponder Anew" on the Evangelical "channel" at Patheos, (a site I mostly avoid because something about it provokes intense dyspepsia in my computer, so be warned)
The common Catholic variation on his number three objection seems even more egregious, ISTM:
I never joined because it comes from the wrong sources. The best of the church’s hymnody was written by pastors and theologians. It was crafted by poets and scholars. The result are texts of high quality. But the industry in its quest to be marketable only has room for marketable people who write marketable songs. It entrusts sacred storytelling to many with dubious credentials as artists, poets, or theologians.
Some of the most widely published, shilled and used "Catholic" songs, (they are often not really hymns,) are the work of, not dubiously credentialed theologians, but OTHER-credentialed theologians, people who cannot possible create texts which reflect our Catholic beliefs because they do not share our Catholic beliefs.
Some of these at least have the integrity not to claim to be Catholic, but nominally Catholic or not, some seem to me to seek to change Catholic teaching by inserting their own "sung theology" into our liturgies.

Anyway, interesting piece.
(The combox has an insight into the whys and wherefores of judging an appropriate volume for the, uh.... band.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Christmas Album from Dominican Fathers and Brothers

Just in time for Christmas, the friars of the St. Joseph (Eastern) Province of the United States have recorded a new album.

The friars, who sing together liturgically several times a day, have a stunningly unified sound.

The province continues to attract large vocation classes and the proceeds of the album contribute to the educational, living, and other formation expenses of the friars-in-training.

The renaissance of World Youth Day music this year was due in large part to the Dominican fathers and brothers who staffed the WYD Mercy Centre. I've personally benefited greatly from the ministries of the Dominicans and am pleased to hear of this new album. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"The Sacred Liturgy Exists to Glorify God, Not Man"

Monsignor Charles Pope looks at funerals, and the misguided approach that has so damaged the Faith, (actually I could say it has, "Damaged the Liturgy, Damaged the World,") and with which I'm sure, many of us in sacred music have had to contend.

There are many problems, both sociological, and liturgical, that combine to create an environment that not only obscures Catholic teaching on death, but often outright contradicts it.
He identifies four major issues.
Confusion about the purpose of a funeral can, lead to such situations as
  people arriv[ing] at the parish to plan a funeral, presuming that the funeral should be all about “Uncle Joe,” [and since] Uncle Joe’s favorite song was My Way... we want a soloist to sing it at the funeral.
I'll admit I have played and sung music at funerals and memorials of which I am not proud.... you?

New President for the USCCB

The bishops of the United States are currently meeting in Baltimore, and atop a slate of new officers in various roles, including Bishop Robert Barron as Chair of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has been elected as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal DiNardo is a friend of Catholic music and offered an impressive lecture at the last NPM Convention, which he hosted in his diocese. I'm not sure what it is about Texas that attracts theologian-bishops, but it is a wonderful thing.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Lux aeterna

In remembrance.

H/t, Gary Penkala of CanticaNOVA.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Winter Sacred Music 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama

What better way to start off the New Year than with great music, terrific directors, and good company?  January 2-6, 2017 is the time, Birmingham is the place.

You can find all of these if you attend the Winter Sacred Music 2017 conference in Birmingham, Alabama.  Scott Turkington and Nick Botkins will be leading classes in chant and polyphony (two each). The culmination of you and your companions' efforts will be an Ordinary Form Mass for the Memorial of St. John Neumann on January 5th and an Extraordinary Mass for the Epiphany on January 6th, both at the splendid Gothic Revival Cathedral of St. Paul. In addition, Dr. William Mahrt will offer breakout lectures that will deepen your understanding of the history and role of our great patrimony.

Learn more and register now without delay at www.musicasacra.com/winter-2017/

Your skills will grow; your happiness will increase.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why Chant is Good for Children

From the perspective of a father, Tim O'Malley of Notre Dame writes about the importance of chant in the liturgical life of children.
My son, despite his natural religious imagination, gets bored. Very bored. He wants to leave half-way through Mass, because there is no movement. There is no music. Only the naked human voice reading and reading and reading.
Last Sunday, we went to the Melkite Liturgy on campus. The entire liturgy, as anyone knows who has attended Eastern liturgies, is sung. Despite our son’s lack of familiarity with the words on the page, he hummed along the entire time (sometimes even during the Eucharistic Prayer). With his slight speech delay, with his limited grasp of understanding of English, the chant allowed him to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice in a way that he rarely experiences.
Not once did he ask to leave.
Not once was he bored (though he did perform frequent prostrations and crossing of himself).
More here.

Once I visited the cathedral in Lisieux, St. Therese's home parish, with a particular view to understanding how her young imagination was filled with thoughts of heaven. Images, in particular, abounded. Everywhere you looked there was a saint: on the walls, on the altars, carved into the flooring. A smiling Blessed Mother gazed down from the Marian altar.

Appealing to a child's mind, so receptive to truth, is easy. We have an app for that. It's called authentic liturgy. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Flashback Friday

Sometimes it seems like the 70s are here again, retro-style. So here's a blast from the past.

That's the sort of thing that grownups used to think brought the kids in to the Church.

Except, as we know, those kids left. In droves.

Still, the Lord's Prayer is what we are given to pray, in authentic, multicultural expressions. So, let us pray.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Inquiry Regarding a Capital Idea

I noticed in the lovely Introit hymn Kathy Pluth provided for the new memorial of Pope St. John Paul, one line would be completely indecipherable...
And made His gifts in him increase
... and the whole rather confusing, were it not for her utilization of the venerable custom of capitalizing personal pronouns referring to the Godhead, members of the Trinity, the Church as Bride of Christ, etc.

Quick poll, do you use this method to render a bit of extra reverence to the Lord?
If so, in conversational writing, (bloggage, memos to your pastor,)  and/or more formal matters, (essays for publication, poetry, hymns.)
I had a third grade child once tell me how happy he was that I had gone through all copies of a psalm we were singing from The Dread Gather and "corrected" the psalm verses, because "it makes God important."

I'm curious, does anyone know when and why this stopped being the general custom of the Church, at least in English?
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the Vatican website observes the tradition. Paul VI, or the Vatican on his behalf, does in Humanae Vitae, but not in at least one motu proprio, St John Paul not at all, I think, (please correct me if that's wrong.)

I was going to check a few hymnals, and then I remembered that GIA tried to excise all male pronouns anyway....

Monday, October 24, 2016

Teaching singing to little children

I've written here a number of times about the advantages of teaching excellent singing, particularly in the chant, to little ones. I thought I'd outline a few specific tips about how to do that. Most of these are taken in one way or another from the Ward Method.

  1. Insist on excellent singing from the very beginning, even with kindergarteners. This can be a little challenging if students are used to singing in a loud, shouting way. One remedy is simply to have students repeat back notes, sung on "oo," and listening for beautiful singing. Another is to ask students to repeat the call of the mourning dove, singing on the syllable "oo." Listen carefully for vocal production. Gently correct the students who are making more playful sounds and challenge them to "sing beautifully."
  2. Another way to correct shouting is to ask students to sing--not shout--a note as loudly as they can. Correct shouting until it is loud singing. Then ask them to sing the same note as quietly as they can, not whispering, but quiet singing. Lastly, ask them to sing the same note as "mediumly" as they can.
  3. Teach the students to sing the Do Re Mi scale with hand motions that walk the notes up the body. This is an outstanding video explanation. The entire series is wonderful.
  4. To explain the half steps in the scale, I tell a story about being on vacation in an old house on vacation, and tell the students that since their family is in the beautiful basement of this wonderful house, and the kitchen is on the first floor, that it is very important to know how to walk up the stairs at night to get some delicious hot chocolate. The problem with this old house is that some of the steps are only half as tall, and you have to be careful in order to walk up in the dark. I draw a platform horizontally low on the board, and that is Do. Then a stair, up to Re, then a stair up to Mi, and then a half-tall stair up to Fa. This continues up to Do, with a half-tall stair between Mi and Do.
    Little children are very interested in the height and size of things, and will have fairly recently conquered the processes involved in walking up stairs, so this image is very memorable to them.
These are just a few introductory steps. The main thing is to consistently ask the children to sing excellent music. That is why I always supplement these music theory explanations with selections from the Parish Book of Chant.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hymn tune introit for St. John Paul

Some of our readers who are celebrating the Memorial of Pope St. John Paul with special solemnity may like to sing this Hymn Tune Introit during the entrance procession.

The Lord chose him to be high priest.
And made His gifts in him increase.
He opened up His treasure store,
And made him rich forevermore.
The Hymn Tune Introits are a way of introducing the proper texts in a parish or other worshipping community in an agreeable and easy way. This text may be sung to the tune of any familiar Long Meter tune.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Support a great school, and win $$$

I teach Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony at a wonderful independent Catholic K-12 school near San Diego, with a classical curriculum and prolife values. I thought our readers might be interested to know about our biggest fundraiser of the year, which is a raffle with a $10,000 grand prize.

 Only 1,000 tickets will be sold, so the odds are good, and the school is certainly worthy of support.

 California is something of a mission field, and our students are being taught how to keep and stand up for their faith.

For my part, I teach Religion, Latin, and how to sing beautifully at our Masses and to read music, in both chant and modern notation systems.  

Please consider helping us to form the next generation of faithful (and musically literate!) Catholics. The details of the raffle may be found here. 

Thank you!