Bible in a Year

It’s wonderful to see the internet, for all its faults, being apostolically employed for the new evangelization.

The Chosen, a rather hip life of Christ complete with an on-the-spectrum tax collector is filming its second season and crowdfunding its third.

Meanwhile, Fr. Mike Schmitz  is setting podcast box office records with his Bible in a Year series from Ascension Press. Every day a new podcast is dropped, each containing passages from Scripture, prayer, and commentary.

The effects of the podcasts are Catholic, unifying: they bring together people, writings, events–and us.

In a time when so much seems locked down, it’s great to notice once again that the Word of God is not chained.

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Seas and Rivers, Bless the Lord

O seas and rivers, bless the Lord,
The maker of all things.
Today creation is restored:
O bless him, all you springs.

Behold: the Son of God baptized
In waters He makes new.
The Father’s voice above the skies–
Bless Him, you rain and dew.

All natures, let His grace increase–
O Jordan, fill the earth!
In Him the Father is well pleased.
In Him, the world’s rebirth.

Copyright © 2005 CanticaNOVA Publications. Duplication restricted.
Meter: CM (8.6.8.6) Suggested tune: Winchester Old, or others:
Azmon Richmond Saint Flavian
Dundee Saint Agnes Saint Magnus
Graefenburg Saint Anne Saint Peter
Land of Rest Saint Columba Saint Stephen
Newman

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SMIA Spring Courses

The Sacred Music Institute of America (SMIA) will offer three 10-week online courses during the Spring 2021 semester, which begins on 18 January.

Each course includes ten video lectures, plus weekly opportunities to ask questions and gain additional experience through live Zoom sessions. For more information on the courses, as well as the Institute’s certification tracks for church musicians and chant training program for clergy, visit www.sacredmusicinstitute.org.

Chant II (taught by Dr. William Mahrt): A ten-week intermediate course in Gregorian chant for singers, directors, and lovers of the liturgy and its music. It will presume a rudimentary knowledge of reading Gregorian notation, and will proceed from the reading and singing of chants in Latin from the antiphons of the Divine Office to the chanted propers of the Mass.

Review of notation and Latin pronunciation will be the foundation for the discussion of textual and musical the chants: mode, tessitura, contour, density, text expression, and co-ordination with liturgical action. Beginning with the simpler chants, psalm antiphons, musical, liturgical, and spiritual aspects of each genre will be studied in turn: introits, communions, offertories, graduals, alleluias, and tracts, with emphasis on the processional propers.

Some chants of the Ordinary of the Mass will be included as well. Aspects of the liturgical year will be addressed, with an emphasis upon the upcoming Holy Week.

History of Sacred Music (Taught by Emily Lapisardi): A ten-week course which will be taught by Emily Lapisardi, director of music at the Catholic Chapel at the United States Military Academy (West Point, NY).

This ten week course provides a survey of the historical role of music in worship from its roots in the Old Testament to the present day, exploring landmark repertoire within the framework of turning-points in ecclesiastical history. While the class will focus primarily on Christian music in the western world, cross-cultural influences will also be explored.

Music Theory II (Taught by Emily Lapisardi): This course builds upon the fundamental skills and concepts explored in Theory I; therefore, some prior knowledge of the subject matter is required.

Topics include: harmonic analysis, seventh chords, harmonization of melodies, transposition, modulation to closely related keys, non-harmonic tones, modes and neumes, basics of counterpoint, and musical forms.

Tuition for each course is $850. Register now by visiting the SMIA website.

 

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Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine addresses hymn texts

The USCCB Committee on Doctrine has offered some help in evaluating hymn lyrics for use in Catholic worship. The paper, “Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church” (PDF), lists several kinds of deficiencies that are apparent in the texts of some songs, and gives examples from a few hymns selected out of the 1000 that the committee’s members read.

The bishops’ work takes its model from a 1997 project in which an ad hoc committee led by Abp. Daniel Buechlein examined catechetical materials and described ways in which they were presenting the Catholic faith in a vague, imbalanced, or misleading way. Following the example of that report, the Committee on Doctrine listed these weaknesses in hymns:

  1. Deficiencies in the presentation of eucharistic doctrine
  2. Deficiencies in the presentation of trinitarian doctrine
  3. Deficiencies in the doctrine of God and His relation to humans
  4. A view of the Church that sees her as essentially a human construction
  5. Doctrinally incorrect views of the Jewish people
  6. Incorrect Christian anthropology

Here are some ways that texts fall short in these areas:

  • In eucharistic doctrine, texts that speak of receiving “bread and wine” without expressing that they are changed into the body and blood of Christ
  • In trinitarian doctrine, texts that avoid speaking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but instead speak of “God”, “Christ”, and “the Spirit”, as though Christ or the Holy Spirit were not also God; as the committee report frankly puts it, this is Arianism
  • In the doctrine of God, expressions that obscure the transcendence of God and seem to make him come into being as a result of human actions
  • In ecclesiology, texts that speak of human beings creating the Church, rather than the Church as God’s creation
  • In relation to the Jewish people, songs that imply falsely that the entire Jewish people rejected Christ, something which the Church does not believe or teach.

The report quotes from thirteen hymns as examples of these defects, including works by Owen Alstott, Mary Louise Bringle, Sydney B. Carter, Ruth Duck, Delores Dufner, Bernadette Farrell, Fred Pratt Green, Marty Haugen (1, 2, 3), Bob Hurd, and Carmen Scialla.

In regard to eucharistic doctrine, the area which the report says had the most common and most serious deficiencies, the report also listed examples of hymns that avoided such errors. While some of them have their own weaknesses of text or music, I’m pleased to see that the committee was in effect confirming among them that the Church’s heritage of Latin hymns is suitable for mainstream parish use:

  • Ave Verum Corpus (Pope Innocent VI, c. 1362)
  • Taste and See (Moore, 1983)
  • Gift of Finest Wheat (Westendorf, 1976)
  • Seed Scattered and Sown (Feiten, 1987)
  • I Am The Bread Of Life (Toolan, 1966)
  • One Bread One Body (Foley, 1978)
  • Eat This Bread (Taize/Batastini, 1984)
  • Look Beyond (Ducote, 1979)
  • At That First Eucharist (Turton, 1881)
  • O Sacrament Most Holy (Udulutsch, based on the Raccolta, 1958)
  • O Salutaris Hostia (Thomas Aquinas, c. 1274)
  • Adoro Te (Thomas Aquinas, c. 1274)
  • At the Lamb’s High Feast (Campbell, based on Ad regias Agni dapes, 1849)

Thanks to the Committee on Doctrine and its chairman, Bp. Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne – South Bend) for this helpful contribution to the Church’s liturgical work.

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Discovering Langlais

Professor Ann Labounsky, a great interpreter of Langlais and Tournemire, is celebrating her 50th anniversary at Duquesne University by offering her recordings of Jean Langlais as a gift, a collection of performances spanning over 20 years and seven great organs. The blind composer, with whom Dr. Labounsky studied in the 1960s, drew inspirations from Breton airs, French noels, and of course Gregorian chant.

This performance of the Te Deum from his “Trois paraphrases grégoriennes” (as early as Opus 9!) is from 2009, at the closing Mass of that year’s Sacred Music Colloquium, in the Madonna della Strada chapel at Loyola Chicago University:

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New from CMAA: Método completo de canto gregoriano

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The newest book from CMAA is a companion to one that we have carried for years. Alongside the English edition of Dom Gregorio Suñol’s chant instruction book Gregorian Chant according to the Solesmes Method, we now have the same book in the original language, Spanish, as Método completo de canto gregoriano.

Dom Suñol, a monk of the abbey at Montserrat and the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sacred Music in Rome, wrote his chant teaching book in 1905, and for years it was expanded in numerous editions and translated into several languages. This new offering is a reprint of the eighth Spanish edition, from 1943.

The book is a thorough and methodical presentation based on the Solesmes method, which he praised in these words:

My teaching, I can say, is not mine. The school of Solesmes has served the Church so magnificently, restoring her chant to her, authentic, beautiful, serious, and suited to her holiness; it burst forth one day by inspiration of the Holy Spirit from the hearts of her most enlightened sons.

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