Sunday, May 8, 2011

Success with the SEP

This is one report among so many I've seen at how well the SEP works. And note the direction of change here: from guitar songs to sung English propers with the goal of a Gregorian embrace. The SEP is what makes this change possible.

I just wanted to say that I have now been the Director of Music for two Sundays at a small parish in Southern Oregon. Last week I stuck pretty much with the format that the choir was used to, which was mostly OCP guitar music, however I added in a gregorian chant during communion, and I used a chanted version of the Gloria in English, that I found searching the forum. The chants went over well, and the choir who had no background in chant outside of Sanctus and Angus Dei, XVIII during Lent and Advent, learned them very quickly.

This weekend at the Saturday vigil and the Sunday Morning Mass, I decided to use the SEP. At the Saturday vigil where I was the lone cantor, I sang the introit, Offertory and Communion from the SEP and this morning, because the RE kids crowned Mary, I was asked sing a Marian song for the Processional, which I did, however I was still able to keep the Offertory and the Communion. I was quite amazed at how quickly the choir was able to learn them, and how well the came off. Ever more so I was surprised by the amount of people who thanked me for bringing back the propers and for using chant. So I just wanted to say thank you to Adam Bartlett and the CMAA for providing these.

As a Byzantine Catholic, I've often been very put off by what I've seen in Roman liturgies, and really wasn't sure what could be done to make them better. Then I was able to attend the last colloquium in Chicago a couple years ago, and saw how beautiful the Roman rite could actually be (I had sung at the William Byrd Festival in Portland, OR, so I wasn't totally without exposure to a good Roman liturgy, but that was all I'd really experienced). Me ending up in this parish was quite out of the blue. I really was worried that it would be an up hill battle all the way, however things are off to a good start with the majority of the people being happy with the vision I've put forward.

The priest who is an ex monk and I are planning to bring about fully sung masses starting in Advent with the new translation, and hopefully I'll be able to use this summer to present some workshops to the laity, on chant, ect. I've already been able to recruit some people in the congregation who want to learn all the chant ordinaries, so they can disperse themselves throughout the congregation so that people hear other people singing and not just the choir.

Things are off to a start and I hope they can continue in a positive direction. I'm hoping to be able to do away with Respond and Acclaim in a month or so, but we'll see. But above all it was wonderful to be able to reintroduce the propers to the mass. Without them it just feels like people aren't really even getting the mass, since part of it is missing. Thanks again to Adam, the CMAA and everyone who has donated to the cause.