Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Open Metrical Psalm project and Beginners Guide to GitHub

It has been a little too long since I launched CMAA's GitHub presence, and since then there has not been as much activity as I would have hoped. We're all busy people, and I know it isn't exactly apparent to everyone why or how GitHub (specifically) or an Open Source approach to the creation music and liturgy resources (generally) could be used.

To remedy that, I have created a new project I hope at least some of you will contribute to: The Open Metrical Psalm project.

(Please, please, please, spare us all the negative comments about metrical psalms as a genre.)

Of the infinite number of good ideas available, this has been chosen because it is easy to think about, finite in scope, and doesn't require understanding or dealing with some of the more complex technologies for Open Source music creation (like Lilypond or Gregorio).

This is a TEXT BASED PROJECT, which I hope will provide a platform for the following:

  • Giving non-tech people a way to learn about and interact with GitHub
  • Demonstrating the techniques and philosophy of Open Source content creation
  • Providing an example of "Open Source as Infrastructure"
  • Encouraging ecumenical and inter-association community work
Additionally, if we create something really useful, and have the opportunity to practice our hymn-writing skills, that would be even better.

Monday, November 17, 2014

“Simply Catholicism in All Its Fullness”


The answer is simply Catholicism, in all its fullness and depth, a faith able to distinguish itself from any cultures and yet able to engage and transform them all, a faith joyful in all the gifts Christ wants to give us and open to the whole world he died to save. The Catholic faith shapes a church with a lot of room for differences in pastoral approach, for discussion and debate, for initiatives as various as the peoples whom God loves. But, more profoundly, the faith shapes a church which knows her Lord and knows her own identity, a church able to distinguish between what fits into the tradition that unites her to Christ and what is a false start or a distorting thesis, a church united here and now because she is always one with the church throughout the ages and with the saints in heaven. 
Francis Cardinal George

Friday, November 14, 2014

Organists: The Next Generation

An article about the Church's young organists.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Event Announcement: Monteverdi 1610 Vespers in DC

Next Saturday, November 15, Third Practice will perform Claudio Monteverdi’s exquisite 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine in the context of the sacred liturgy in Washington, D.C.. The work will be performed alongside a new setting of the Litany of the Saints by Baltimore-based composer, Joshua Bornfield. This rare liturgical celebration of Monteverdi’s epic work has been made possible by a recent Kickstarter campaign.

Solemn Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be celebrated at 7.00 p.m. at Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian, 1357 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. Free parking is available at Public Charter School, 1503 East Capitol Street SE. A retiring collection will be taken.

More information is available at the Facebook event here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Magnificat Monday: Gibbons

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Workshop and Retreat - Ramona, CA

On Saturday, November 29, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Ramona, CA will offer a day-long workshop and retreat called Adventus Dona - Gifts of the Advent.

The workshop will be divided into two parts - adult, taught by Dr. John Naples, and youth - taught by Mary Ann Carr Wilson. The workshop will focus on rehearsing the chants for the Advent season in both Latin and English. The day will culminate in a sung Mass in the Ordinary form for the 1st Sunday of Advent, followed by Vespers in the Extraordinary form including Adoration and Benediction.

As a special treat for the participants, there will be a presentation by the Society of St. John Chrysostom on the vestments and vessels of the Eastern and Western Church. Additionally, John Polhamus of the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego will present an introduction to Vespers in the Extraordinary form.

A Continental breakfast, Fiesta Lunch and afternoon snack will all be provided along with a complete music booklet. Registration for the course is $40. For more information, contact the organizers by email at: music@ihmramona.org or call the parish office at (760) 789-0583. Deadline for registration is November 24th.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The New Evangelization in 3 Ways at Catholic University

Earlier this week I attended a wonderful lecture by Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was a rhetorically beautiful lecture in an Augustinian style, repeating important points at intervals, in slightly varied ways, and with a certain development of thought.

My takeaway, based on these repeated points, was as follows:
  • Evangelization should have these four characteristics: it should focus on what is necessary, beautiful, grand, and persuasive. This framework is taken directly from the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 35: "When we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary."
  • The work of the Magisterium should not be seen as extrinsic and above the communion of the faithful, but as one aspect of that communion and within it.
His Eminence also spoke about the centrality of Scripture in the New Evangelization.

As I've mentioned before, there is another, ongoing series of lectures that might interest our readers, and that is the School of Philosophy's annual fall series, which this particular year is devoted to philosophy and music. On a personal level, this series is important to me, not only because it combines two of my dearest interests, but because my undergraduate alma mater is considerably involved. The videos below show the first two lectures. The first is by a fellow alum of St. John's College, who is now on the faculty of CUA's School of Philosophy, and the second is by a faculty member of St. John's.

By the end of both lectures, I was pretty well convinced that the very fact of polyphony has not yet been honestly faced as an ecclesial problem. It seems to me that as soon as our voices divide, there is an aspect of our song to God that is referred not only directly to Him, but also in reference to the others.

I don't think that this is an insurmountable problem, but it does divide the directionality of liturgical, musical prayer. The question for me is whether that division must always be a distraction. Are we--or were we at Trent--sufficiently mature as a Church to sing with a voice that is divided but one? Are we, in fact, ready for communio?

I hope you enjoy the lectures. More to come.



Monday, November 3, 2014

Register for Chant Intensive or Sing the Mass by Nov. 15!

Register now for the upcoming Winter CMAA courses...

… and receive Early Bird tuition rates. If you have been considering participation in the Winter Chant Intensive or Sing the Mass courses in Phoenix this year, don't forget to register by November 15th.
CMAA members also receive discounted tuition rates for our 2015 programs.

In January, you’ll be happy to spend time in the beautiful SS Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, enjoying a respite from the winter weather in other parts of the country. Take part in the first ever Sing the Mass course, to be taught by Matthew J. Meloche, or this year’s Winter Chant Intensive, with Jeffrey Morse instructing.

Sing the Mass, a course for priests, deacons and seminarians (or those who work to assist them), will give clergy and seminarians the skills they need to sing their parts with confidence and beauty in the course of the liturgies. This class presupposes no musical knowledge and will be taught in a language friendly to non-musicians.

Winter Chant Intensive, a course for beginners and intermediate chanters offers full immersion into the world of Gregorian chant from the start. You will learn or review how to read and fully navigate all aspects of traditional Gregorian notation (square notes). The course will also address correct Latin pronunciation, the sound and mystery of the eight Church modes, Psalm tones and their applications, questions concerning the rhythm of plainsong, and more.

The CMAA’s winter courses will be held January 5-8, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ. Celebrate Epiphany with the Church Music Association of America!

For more information about the upcoming courses and details about registration, visit the webpage here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Liturgical Year Latin Motets - St. Joseph Cappella

I recently received a copy of the St. Joseph Capella's CD that they released this year, and I've been enjoying it. It's entitled "Liturgical Year Latin Motets." I appreciate the nice variety from Easter titles like Sicut Cervus and Regina Coeli, or O Magnum Mysterium from Christmastide, and even the pentecost specific Factus Est Repente. Finally, it also includes an ordinary by the Italian composer Baldassare Galuppi. I'd encourage you to check it out, both through the samples found at the links below, and if you like what you hear, to support them!

The choir can be found here on Facebook, and you can buy the album on iTunes or as a physical CD.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hymn Tune Introit--All Saints Day

For those looking for an easy way to introduce the proper texts, try singing this versification of the Gaudeamus to any Long Meter tune as the bell signals the beginning of your opening procession.

If followed by the oft-sung For All the Saints, there's rather a nice textual segue.

Today let our joy be increased

In celebration of the feast.

For all the saints, the angels raise

To God the Son glad songs of praise.

Update: As a reminder, the 2015 Advent Calendar of Hymn Tune Introits may be found here.

What Earlier Generations Held as Sacred, Remains Sacred and Great For Us Too


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Masses with a "theme"

Well, school has started up again, which means that in one area of many parishes the music director has little say in the quality of the liturgy.

The School Mass.

In many places, Masses are assigned to a class or grade, which means that the teacher of the class, who may or may not be a practicing Catholic, who almost certainly does not have any liturgical training, is responsible for training lectors, writing petitions, and "choosing the hymns."

Often the teacher runs forward gamely with this responsibility under the illusion that Masses can have a "theme," which specifies the appropriate songs for the Mass. Hopefully there are not too many Halloween hymns around, but in many programs undoubtedly the hip, modern, forty-seven year old Make Me a Channel of Your Peace will make a brand new splash this October.

I feel the school Mass is a huge issue in any parish beginning to reform its liturgy. In addition to the children and their teachers, all of whom are having bad liturgical instincts reinforced and your positive Sunday instincts undone, often these Masses are also attended by the most devout parishioners, often parish leaders. So the retired parish leaders and daily Communicants, the salt of the earth, but accustomed to grooving at Mass to the greatest hits of the 70s and 80s, will have all your good Sunday work undermined.

The best kind of theme--still mistaken--is the homiletic theme. This kind of thematic Mass, enshrined in some hymnals that abound in "hymns of the day," takes its cue from the readings of the day.

One of the many huge benefits of the use of the Proper texts at Mass is how they carry us out of the idea that we can master the Mass, making it small enough that anyone can fill in the blanks of a liturgy planning sheet as though it were a religious game of Mad Libs.

There is no theme. Or rather there is one theme. We cannot tame it; it should master us. We cannot confine it on our property, like a pond. But if we're willing, we can swim in the depths of its ocean, subject to its tides.

As with almost all of our liturgical tragedies, this one can be solved by focusing on the young. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it. Let's teach the children to sing the song of the Church, and soon enough, all will be well.