Monday, September 18, 2017

Sanctificavit Moyses

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Showing Love for God, in the Liturgy

Some may object that I am paying too much attention to the small details, to the minutiae, of the Sacred Liturgy. But as every husband and wife knows, in any loving relationship the smallest details are highly important, for it is in and through them that love is expressed and lived day after day. The ‘little things’ in a marriage express and protect the greater realities. So too in the liturgy: when its small rituals become routine and are no longer acts of worship which give expression to the realities of my heart and soul, when I no longer care to attend to its details, when I could do more to prepare and to celebrate the liturgy more worthily, more beautifully, but no longer want to, there is a grave danger that my love of Almighty God is growing cold. We must beware of this. Our small acts of love for God in carefully attending to the liturgy’s demands are very important. If we discount them, if we dismiss them as mere fussy details, we may well find, as sometimes very tragically happens in a marriage, that we have ‘grown apart’ from Christ—almost without noticing.
--Robert Cardinal Sarah, today. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small Voice of calm.



We'll have to take this hymn, originally written as a protest against liturgical ceremony, out of context. I'm a big believer in liturgical ceremony's ability to influence the human mind and heart towards just the recollection this text rightly celebrates, with a fluency and beauty unparalleled in the hymnals.

Some may wish to pray this hymn for those suffering from natural disasters these days.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise; in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee; rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love; interpreted by love.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace; the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm; O still, small voice of calm!



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

For an End to Storms

From the Roman Missal

O God, to whose commands all the elements give obedience,
we humbly entreat you,
that the stilling of fearsome storms may turn a powerful menace
into an occasion for us to praise you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Games for Geeks

Stop wasting your time with Solitaire or Death of the Galaxy (I just made that one up)!

Sharpen your ear and/or your smarts with Theta Music Trainer. I like to think I'm a pretty smart cookie. Well, I'm tuning up my rusty interval recognition - and feeling like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

There are a zillion games and a wonderful way to take a break from whatever you're really supposed to be doing and still be able to justify it.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Perfect Catholics

Early this century I worked as the Saturday evening cantor at a little parish, with some fun extra duties besides, like giving days of recollection to liturgy volunteers.

An elderly priest, retired then and long since passed away, used routinely to take the Saturday evening Confessions. He would stop in my office where I was usually working on some flyer or another, and as he unrolled his purple stole he would complain about how perfect all the parishioners are, since they never go to Confession. Always at Communion--never in the confessional.

This is not what one sees in parishes with the Extraordinary form, or even with a more solemn and careful celebration of the Ordinary form. In those parishes, people know they are sinners. You can tell they know because the lines for Confession are long every week, and in very devout parishes, every day.

In contrast, those attending more casual celebrations of the Mass might go for years on end without even hearing anything whatsoever about the sacrament of Confession, apart from the announcement twice a year that Advent and Lenten penance services will be held next Tuesday at 7:30.

I once worked at a parish that had 21 scheduled times every week for Confession, and people came. The priests would leave as soon as the line ended, so it was important for people to show up on time. There were 4 times each Friday. One popular time was before one of the Sunday Masses. And the lines were very long on Saturday evenings, and every priest was scheduled.

Once upon a time, when cars had bumpers, there was a bumper sticker that said, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." Wouldn't it be wonderful to see a revitalized use of the sacrament of mercy throughout the Church!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hymn for the Transfiguration

Jesus, Walking to His City 

Jesus, walking to His city,
To the cross and death and grave,
Shows His chosen three apostles
God the Father’s pow’r to save:
Glorious upon the mountain,
Christ appears in light arrayed.

God once showed Himself to Moses,
Passing by the rocky height.
To Elijah, too, in whisper,
Not in storm or quake or might.
Now on Tabor, Law and Prophets
See their God in splendor bright.

Sign of all the prophets promised,
Christ in radiance glorified;
Sign of God the Father’s wisdom,
Which the Law long testified;
Sign of God the Holy Spirit:
Lord and Light and living Guide.

To the dazzling heights of wonder,
Call us, too, O Christ, today.
Let us see the hope of glory
Shining on our pilgrim way.
Lead us through Your Crucifixion
To Your bright and lasting day.

Copyright © 2005 CanticaNOVA Publications. Duplication restricted.
Meter: 8.7.8.7.8.7 Suggested tune: Regent Square, or others:
Dulce carmen Oriel Saint Thomas (Wase)
Komm, O komm Pange lingua Westminster Abbey
Lauda anima Picardy
http://www.canticanova.com/catalog/products/g_hymns_lit_year.htm

Monday, July 31, 2017

Turn Your Warm-Up Upside Down! No Yoga Experience Required.

September lies in wait after August. It's time to think about the singing that lies ahead, whether you're in front of the choir or in front of the director.  

And what's a rehearsal without a warm-up?


The ascending five-note warm-up is the old grey mare in the singer/director/s stable!

Remember your first voice placement screening? Indeed, most of us start on a comfortable low note and go up by half-steps until the some alto puts her foot down or our own voice gives out.

Well, as many of us get ready for the fall choir season, why not try something new! Instead of going up and then down.


GO DOWN AND THEN UP!

And if that isn't heretical enough, instead of working your way up by half-steps, 

GO DOWN BY HALF-STEPS!


This is much easier on the voice. Singers inevitably associate rising pitches with stress and start tightening and squeezing every available muscle Just keep it light and easy, musical and pleasing. 

 After you've gone down for a while, go back to the starting point and go up. The pattern is still five DOWN and back up. Your basses and altos will love you, even if the sopranos and tenors have to hold off on their soaring. You and your singers will be more relaxed, especially if no one has been doing much singing over a summer break.

Remember, warm-ups should be easy and relaxed whether performed in the shower (where I sound magnificent!), in the car (where I focus on the relaxation aspect), or in a rehearsal. 

So, stand your warm-up on its head! I promise you'll love it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Hymnarium O.P.

Just a brief note that the excellent volume Hymnarium O.P. is back in print!

For more information or to purchase, here is the link.

The House of Usher

Sometimes we liturgical commentators spend a little too much time on the ideal plane of the choir loft without getting the full congregational view of things.

In those times I attend Sunday Mass in the pews, I find it astonishing how much of the average worship experience is dominated by a role unmentioned in the GIRM: the ubiquitous usher.

The distractions available to ushers are legion. Before Mass, they can stand in the back of church chatting, or in the sanctuary doublechecking the sacristan's work, or in the nave guiding people to seats they could easily find themselves.

During the collection they can say "thank you" to each person who puts something in the basket. Or they can swoop the basket under people who give through their bank, as a helpful reminder.

All of these things I have winessed, and I have also seen usher's heroics as well. Ushers tend to be amazing with persons who need help, from pointing out the restroom to sitting folks in the wheelchair section to asking that Communion be brought to a person with mobility problems. There is no place medically better to collapse, except in a hospital, than at Sunday Mass, due to the instant and decisive activity of ushers.

On the other hand, ushers, in my opinion, belong nowhere near the Communion line. People know how to go to Communion, and ushers have several unfortunate effects on the experience. They are distracting, and sometimes casually so, engaging people at a very solemn moment. Communion becomes something everyone in the row does, in orderly lines, rather than those who are properly disposed.

Suppose this is the first Mass I've attended for 20 years, just dropping in, and I haven't been to confession in 30 years. This would be an odd moment to go to Communion. And yet, there is a man with a badge, insisting that it is my turn. I'd better go.

Or suppose I ate a McBreakfast on the way to a 25 minute early morning quiet Mass. The fast is a rule, I'll be more prudent next time--if I'm brave enough to disobey the usher.

Or just suppose I am praying deeply, and would like a minimum of input right at the moment. An usher once gave me a quite unnecessary verbal direction about venerating the cross on Good Friday, as I was trying to focus on the Lord in worship at this rare and holy moment. Why did we need an usher directing the veneration line?

Without in any way discounting the generous service of these fine people, in general I feel it's a good idea to think about the way things have been done, even--or perhaps especially--if they have been done that way for many years.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monetizing Scandal

Speaking of fake news, certain websites seem to be generating huge traffic numbers by reporting on Church matters in a scandalous and divisive way without taking the trouble to verify even the reality of their claims.

Without questioning the motives of any particular individuals, it should be noted that such actions are highly profitable financially because of the ad revenue they generate.

The temptation to surrender the high ground, for money, is always present. But what does it profit a man?

What is at stake in public scandal is precisely souls, who may become discouraged and fall. It's bad enough when true scandal is made known. But inventing scandal or passing along lies, for a numbers boost, is itself scandalous.

Better a millstone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Communion Hosts and Gluten

Folks waking up to fake new headlines about gluten-free Communion might want to get some background from this story.

Gluten makes bread hold its shape, and without gluten, fillers must be used. This is not allowed for Communion.



A Benedictine community of nuns in Missouri found a way to make very low-gluten hosts. And that is the real news: a recent permission given for those who need to avoid gluten to use the new low-gluten hosts.

Those who cannot digest any gluten whatsoever can simply drink from the chalice.

This is a non-problem--now a PR problem--and the international press has behaved irresponsibly.