Excelsam Pauli gloriam

Let all the Church acclaim St. Paul,
And sing the glories of his call.
The Lord made an apostle be
From one who was his enemy.

The name of Christ set Paul afire,
Enkindling him with great desire;
And higher these same blazes reached
When of the love of Christ he preached.

His merits are forever praised,
For to the heavens he was raised,
And there, the all-mysterious word,
That none dare speak, by Paul was heard.

The Word, like seed sown in a field,
Producing an abundant yield,
Fills heav’nly barns whose stores of grain
Are tilled and grown on earthly plains.

The shining of the lamplight gleams,
And drenches earth with heaven’s beams.
The dark of error’s night is past;
The reign of truth has come at last.

To Christ all glory, and all praise
To Father and the Spirit raise,
Who for the nations’ saving call
Gave us the splendor of Saint Paul.

Translation © 2008 Kathleen Pluth. Listen to Latin original here.

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Roger Scruton, RIP

The world lost one of its greatest champions of the beautiful this week.

The philosopher Roger Scruton worked to restore a sense of beauty that was lost in the 20th century’s love of the brutal and the shocking, the flat and the banal.

The real-world results of abandoning beauty are utterly dehumanizing. In his classic BBC documentary “Why Beauty Matters,” Scruton spoke about architecture’s responsibility for urban decay: “This building is boarded up because no one has a use for it. Nobody has a use for it because nobody wants to be in it. Nobody wants to be in it because the thing is so…ugly.” Ironically, the result of a utilitarian ideal in architecture is block after block of abandoned buildings.

Church art must take heed to this prophetic call for a restoration of the sense of the beautiful. We live in a time when 1 out of 6 young converts to Christianity come to believe in a visit to a church.    We can’t afford to “update” our sanctuaries with eurotrash posters and ill-suited furnishings, with exposed sound equipment and felt banners.

Beauty is not naive. Devotion is not childish. Idealism is not an abandonment of the real. We are spiritual, and renewed, creatures of Beauty Himself, and our churches and the worship they are built for must foster a sense of hope in Him.

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Ordinary Form Ordo 2020

The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship has helpfully published the 2020 Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America (PDF, free download) on their web site.
The Calendar contains Scripture readings for each observance, details about regional variations in holy days of obligation, and an appendix listing patronal days for Latin American countries and the corresponding celebrations that may be observed when they fall on ferial days.
Also mentioned is the new memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, which falls on Pentecost Monday; this year that will be June 1, temporarily displacing St. Justin Martyr.

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The water organ

W.H. Auden’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia, memorably set to voices by Benjamin Britten, sketches the patroness of music thus:

In a garden shady this holy lady
With reverent cadence and subtle psalm,
Like a black swan as death came on,
Poured out her song in perfect calm:
And by ocean’s margin this innocent virgin
Constructed an organ to enlarge her prayer,
And notes tremendous from her great engine
Thundered out on the Roman air.

Why would St. Cecilia construct an organ by the shore? We don’t think of that as a hospitable place for delicate instruments. But the earliest known pipe organ, the hydraulis, invented in the third century BC, ingeniously used water to maintain the pressure in its wind chest. This animation illustrates the mechanism:

and this reproduction instrument at Bath illustrates some of its potential for sound:

No wonder the Byzantine emperors used it in their court ceremonies. This German reconstruction sounds more refined:

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Liturgical consistency and memory

In the old days, the first task of a young monk was mastering the Psalms. This meant memorization of all 150 Psalms.

If that sounds like a daunting task, it is nothing compared to what it would be like in our day. Which of the liturgical translations would be memorized?

Even worse would be any attempt to memorize hymns, the best of which have been altered by so many hands of varying capabilities that sometimes there is very little of the original left.

The memory is one of the greatest helps to the understanding. When faced with a theological question,  it helps so much to bring various previously considered data to bear on the current issue. But the shifting sands of wordings and translations actively stifle memorization.

Theological helps like Scripture, hymnody, and antiphons are rarely store-able in the memory because they are inconsistently presented.

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Deep waters

With Thanksgiving upon us, it is a good time to see what resources might be available to help us enter more deeply into the Catholic faith during the coming long winter evenings.

Some initiatives promoting Carmelite and Dominican spiritualities have appeared over the last few years. These two great traditions, the mystical and the systematic, are being retold for a new era, using social media.

Carmelites
The Discalced Carmelites at Oxford have several wonderful series of videos on their Carmelite Media Education youtube channel.

The Washington Province Discalced Carmelites, through their printing house ICS Publications, have an ongoing discussion of the works of the Carmelite doctors, called Carmelcast, featuring young Carmelite friars.

Dominicans

In addition to topnotch commentary and news of events, Dominican Liturgy maintains hundreds of useful links on its sidebars.

As the Thomistic Institute continues its astonishing spread across university campuses, its online presence includes extensive video and podcast libraries.

Our readers will also be interested in learning of St. Dominic’s nine “ways,” or postures, of prayer.

 

 

 

Cantate Domino in Ottawa!

Join St. Clement Parish in Ottawa for a Weekend of Sacred Music, November 22 – 23, 2019.

Featuring organist and chant director, David J. Hughes, the workshop begins at 7:30 pm on Friday, November 22 with Vespers, followed by an organ recital.

On Saturday, November 23, the parish will celebrate the Feast of St. Clement with a High Mass at 10:00 am, followed by a Chant Workshop beginning at 11:30 am. The workshop will culminate with 5:00 pm Vespers. Lunch is provided.

Pre-registration is required. Please call 613-281-3766 or email ottawachant@gmail.com to register. The registration cost of only $20/person includes lunch.

St. Clement Parish is located at 528 Old St. Patrick St., Ottawa.

A February conference with Peter Latona

Musicians looking for an educational event next February may like to consider a conference NPM is putting on February 10-12 in Washington, with Dr. Peter Latona, the director of music at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The program includes four talks by Dr. Latona, two of them at the Basilica, and features the opportunity to observe a choir rehearsal on site. More information on the program, costs, and accommodations are in the event brochure.