Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Novus Quodlibet: The New Whatever Liturgy"

A most interesting piece by the great Anthony Esolen, in Crisis Magazine .
This kind of discussion of music and the Catholic liturgy from someone whose main area of expertise is NOT music thrills me, the way the more "inside baseball" of the CMAA sometimes fails to, (the literal "preaching to the choir.")
It reminds me of when a nother noted Catholic writer, blogger Amy Welborn "discovered" the existence of the Propers.
Heck, it remind me of when I "discovered" the propers, the GIRM, the actual Church legislation on music, what VCII actually said about liturgy; as an adult, I'd always, to my shame, thought it was simply a matter of Taste/No Taste, Good Music/Bad Music, that was all that needed to be imparted to TPTB.
And of course that's not it at all.
And this is crazy important. That other voices, not just those who are also raised in liturgical song, be added to the movement, that we find allies who realize the crisis in the Church is a crisis in the Liturgy, and the crisis in the Liturgy is a crisis most clearly demonstrated in the way most Catholics think about music in the Liturgy.
Then comes the hymn.
Here I am three and four times cursed.
I have read and taught poetry all my adult life. This is one curse. I know English grammar. That is a second curse. My family and I are versed in the long tradition of Christian hymnody; we collect hymnals from all traditions, and we have sung one or two thousand of them, sometimes in languages other than English. This is a third and most terrible curse. And we know our Scripture. Cursed a fourth time, cursed and damned to writhe in eternal pain. Well, not eternal. The pain is transient but real—pain mingled with frustration and disappointment, that well-meaning people should give their talents and energies to stuff that is so worthless, and sometimes worse than worthless. For sometimes it is flat-out heresy.
Well, I won’t sing heresy, and I won’t sing chloroform for the brain, and this means that I hardly ever sing at such Masses...What strikes me, though, is the general liturgical lassitude. I don’t mean that there is not often a lot of energy, with drums, verses projected on the wall, and sometimes applause. I mean that there’s no plan to it, no aim. You are as likely to sing the peculiarly awful “Gather Us In”—well, that’s an onion, sorry—during Advent as in the middle of the summer, and if the choristers, or the lady at the piano, or the tenor at the organ likes it, you may be singing it twenty times a year. The hymns are chosen by the musicians for the same reason as the cartoon-like banners on the wall. Somebody who has wangled his way into the works likes them.
If you go to Mass every Sunday and every holy day during the year, and if four hymns are sung at each Mass, this gives you the opportunity to sing over two hundred different hymns. Need I say that, outside of the Christmas carols and three or four old Easter hymns, the typical Novus Quodlibet church boasts a repertoire of eight or nine? The same, the same, the same, like the drip, drip, drip of cold rain, without meaning, without artistic coherence, and without any feint toward the whole of the liturgical year and the history of salvation.
Many of them are narcissistic, rather like “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. “Let us build the City of God,” really? I cannot build the City of God. I can be made, by God, into a stone for the building of that spiritual city, but the action is his, not mine. “We have been sung throughout all of history”? I haven’t been sung even once in my whole life
Somebody, get him to Philly for the Colloquium next year.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Deadline Extended: Musica Sacra Florida 2018

There’s still time! The registration deadline for Musica Sacra Florida 2018 has now been extended to Tuesday, July 24th. To register online, please visit musicasacraflorida.com. Please invite all your friends and anyone you know who has an interest in chant and sacred music. All are welcome; we hope to see you at the conference!

10th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference
Friday, July 27 & Saturday, July 28, 2018

Royal Palm Academy and Saint Agnes Chapel, Naples, FL

Keynote Lecture
Dr. Edward Schaefer (University of Florida)
"The Place of Gregorian Chant in Western History and Its Importance Today” 

Gregorian Chant Conference Faculty
Larry Kent, D.M.A., Director of Florida Pro Musica, Tampa
Edward Schaefer, D.M.A., University of Florida College of Fine Arts
Susan Treacy, Ph.D., Ave Maria University

“What Came before the Square Notes” 
Edward Schaefer, D.M.A.
Learn the fascinating history of pre-square-note notation.

“A Plain and Easy Guide to Square Notation” 
Susan Treacy, Ph.D.
 Are you mystified or intimidated by those little square notes?  Fear not!  In this workshop you will receive basic instruction on how to read Gregorian chant notation.  Likewise, if you need a refresher course, come join us.  

“Gregorian Chant as the Basis for Choral Excellence” 
Larry Kent, D.M.A.
This workshop will examine various ways that correct chant technique is an essential element in mixed choral ensembles, especially with regard to sacred music of the sixteenth century.  Participants will work with excerpts of works by Byrd, Victoria, Tallis, and Palestrina.

Chant Choirs (Scholæ)
Beginning/intermediate (men & women)
Advanced men
Advanced women

Opening Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Friday evening
Closing Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Saturday evening  with Gregorian chants sung by conference participants

Registration Fees
Adults: $60.00 (including materials & instruction)
Students (full-time with ID) and Clergy/Religious: $15.00

For more information please contact Susan Treacy, Ph.D., at cantatedomino@icloud.com

Register online at:  musicasacraflorida.com

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Video of Church Music Association of America (CMAA) Annual Requiem Mass

Last week the Church Music Association's annual Colloquium, held in Chicago on the banks of Lake Michigan, featured the annual Requiem Mass for deceased CMAA members. Francisco Elias Duran of the Dominican Republic graciously recorded the week's liturgies and is making them available as they are produced and edited. This is the first of several that will be seen on these pages.

The musicians for the Mass are those who attend the Colloquium, conducted by Faculty members. Indeed, the greater part of the week's events are rehearsals for the beautiful liturgies, with many added-value lectures, workshops, and tutorials. The Colloquium has a great feeling of community and is a refreshing week for musicians working to promote sacred liturgy in their local situations.

Details about membership in the Church Music Association may be found here.

An enormous library of absolutely free sacred music resources, including music for printing and fine books on the Liturgy, may be found here, here, and here.

And the archives of the Association's beautiful journal, Sacred Music, may be found here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Listening to Young People

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29, 1951

"Gorgeous sacred music in Chicago"

Musician J-P. Mauro, writing at Aleteia, has some observations from the Sacred Music Colloquium:
"CMAA’s Sacred Music Colloquium is making gorgeous sacred music in Chicago"

In his piece, he mentions a video posted on Facebook, from our Compline Wednesday evening at the "Madonna della Strada" chapel.  The link he provides may not work for some folks, so here is a direct link.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Really New Evangelization: Learning How to Lead a Chant Camp

Whenever I teach children Gregorian chant, I make a point of mentioning that back when I was their age, there was no one to teach me how to sing Gregorian chant. Their eyes widen: to these privileged few, having chant teachers is something to take for granted.

In an ideal world, every Catholic child could say the same.

Gregorian chant is native territory for children. It's simple rather than harmonic--nothing but one melodic line. It's beautiful. Every once in a while I will hear an absence of singing, and look over to catch one of my students looking off into the distance, absorbed in contemplation. And, it is united to the sacred text, with a power to speak to the Christian soul the song of salvation.

I suggest to the children that maybe when they grow up, they can teach chant too.

For those who would like to pass on this art to children, there is an opportunity to learn from an expert. Under the patronage of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, Mary Ann Carr Wilson will be presenting a four-day workshop that trains music teachers and choir directors to conduct chant camps.

A chant camp is a multi-day learning experience, something like a choir rehearsal, and something like a musical Vacation Bible School. This intensive learning experience, which includes plenty of recreational time as well, is a way to instantly form a children's choir for a parish or school.

Putting on a Chant Camp, or any week-long event, is a daunting prospect, which is why this workshop is such a brilliant idea. Mary Ann, who has masterminded chant camps in several cities for nearly a decade, will teach people how to hold these revolutionary events in their own settings.

Children remember everything. The other day I saw a child whom I'd last taught a year ago, and he began singing this Alleluia for me--and then we sang it together. Just like the Church should be.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Extraordinary Form Captures the Imagination

From Commonweal (!!)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Listening to Young People

Archbishop Chaput turns over his weekly column to a college-age Catholic, to hear about his experience of living a life of faith.
It’s in listening to God with the ears of our hearts that we’re given the opportunity to say yes to God’s call. It’s by our personal yes that we embark on our own “decisive missions” — our vocations — and it’s our mission that makes life with Christ such a wonderful pursuit to be shared with others. This is how authentic, nurturing Catholic community is built, and this is how, with renewed focus and zeal on the part of the Church, young people can claim their faith and set off on faith’s great adventure.

More here.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Prayer for Korea

After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like once again to bring to the beloved Korean people a particular thought in friendship and prayer. The talks that will take place in the coming days in Singapore can contribute to the development of a positive path, which will ensure a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula and for the whole world. This is why we pray to the Lord. Together, let us pray to Our Lady, Queen of Korea, to accompany these talks.
["Ave Maria…"]
--Pope Francis, today.


The Korean peninsula expresses its unity in a simple but hauntingly beautiful song of longing, the Arirang.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guest Post: The devotion of a bygone time

Musician Randolph Nichols offers reflections on a work of art that depicts the Kingship of Christ among the lowly:

A year ago this Corpus Christi Sunday I listened to Fr. Michael Kerper, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Nashua, NH, develop his homily around a painting of the Irish artist Aloysius O’Kelly (1853-1936). Until that moment I was unaware that Ireland had produced any prominent painters. I suppose one can be forgiven that lapse given that O’Kelly’s work in question, “Mass in a Connemara Cabin” (1883) - the only painting of an Irish subject ever to be exhibited at a prestigious Paris salon - vanished at the end of the nineteenth century and remained missing for a century before turning up in a rectory in Edinburgh. That painting now resides in the National Gallery of Ireland.

"Mass in a Connemara Cabin" by Aloysius O'Kelly (1883)

As a painter, O’Kelly doesn’t demonstrate any of the breakthrough developments of his more famous contemporaries like Monet, Manet, or Degas and the religious subject of the aforementioned painting was by then out of fashion. There is something about “Mass in a Connemara Cabin,” however, that compels. It successfully captures the mood and atmosphere of a particular time, place and people and the viewer senses the religious, political and economic repression without having to know the details of 19th-century Irish life.

Looking closely at the painting, many factors come into play: the claustrophobic feel of enclosure, the women’s well-worn yet evocative shawls and scarves, the kneeling bodies directed toward the focal point - the young white-clad priest (even the cupboard dishware leans toward him); and of course, there is that dramatic gesture of the woman in the lower right corner.

As its title suggests, the painting reflects the deep piety of parishioners crowded into someone’s home as a young priest says Mass. Others see more, particularly since the priest seems to be giving the final blessing and that Aloysius O’Kelly and his family were steeped in revolutionary politics. His three brothers were Fenians and his sister married into the family of James Stephens, founder of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. After the failed Rising of 1867 two of the artist’s brothers were exiled to New York and during this period Aloysius moved to Paris to begin studying at the École des Beaux-Arts.

After O’Kelly returned to Ireland in the early 1880s, he began to visually capture the bleak existence of working class people on the west coast during very turbulent times. Against the backdrop of the struggle between tenants and landlords, the celebration of Mass was often a precursor to social and political gatherings. The significance of O’Kelly’s Mass may not be the Mass itself but what comes after, the unseen but anticipated.

However you read this painting, I find painful irony contrasting recent events in Ireland with this scene of devotion from the early 1880s.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Lux Aeterna for Memorial Day 2018

Come on over to my blog at Sacred miscellany and enjoy this thoughtful arrangement by Eriks Esenvalds.

Subscribe to my blog or try to come by regularly if you like. Always a cappella and always sacred!

Wishing you all the best! Mary Jane