Thursday, June 30, 2011

Willan's Introits are always great

This entrance from Willan's book of introits applies to the 14th Sunday in ordinary time. It is, as always, fantastic. His use of rhythm to elucidate the text is right on the mark every time. I would love to see this book put in sequence for the current Church calender.

A New Translation: Long Overdue

Msgr. Wadsworth is quoted at length at the National Catholic Register.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Myths about the Mass

This article addresses these myths:

1. Mass facing the people.
2. Communion in the hand and under both kinds.
3. The vernacular.
4. Lay ministry.
5. The pre- vs. post-Constantinian Church.

Fr. John Muir Explains the Changing Translation

Word for Word [Parents] from Life Teen on Vimeo.

Youtube your museum visit

Introit for Peter and Paul, Mass of the Day

Now I know that the Lord really has sent his Angel, and has delivered me out of the hands of Herod, and from all that the Jewish people were expecting. if. 0 Lord, you have searched me and known me; you know when I sit down and when I rise up.

Colloquium XXI Retrospective

Whoo Hoo, it's finally listed as "in stock"

The Simple English Propers is a click and a day away. Now at last, we can see the point to all this Amazon rigamarole. You get every benefit that the company offers, including prime shipping and the works. The Simple English Propers really and truly does exist as a living, breathing, liturgical being in the universe at last. Now everyone can sing the Mass and finally get started on the path toward sacred music. Sorry about the forty years in which this did not exist, but let's let bygones be bygones and think about the future.

Here's living proof:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In praise of "servant music"

Adam Woods makes some outstanding points in his post about "servant music" for liturgy. He writes in the context of praising the new lineup of Mass settings from WLP.

WLP is responding to that clear pastoral need with care and love: a number of these settings are simple and could be sung easily unaccompanied or with the simplest of keyboard or guitar accompaniment. While I love the Mass of St. Ann and the Mass of Awakening, it’s these simple settings: Simplex (Proulx, O’Connor), Grace (Stafford), and Charity & Love (Warner), along with settings like the Psallite and the ICEL Sacramentary Chants (and a few I’m writing!) that I think the Church really needs right now. It’s not quite as exciting for a publisher or composer to do this kind of work, and WLP’s commitment to it speaks volumes about their company.

Be sure to read his outstanding review of WLP's newest settings; I certainly agree with Adam that WLP has the best settings available of all the mainline publishers. Jerry Galipeau has really provided leadership here, an example that others should follow. Jerry's blog is always worth reading.

John Robinson and the Boston Choir School

Anywhere in the Catholic world you go today, you can high hear praise for the wonderful things happening at the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School. Their new director since 2010, and only the fourth in the history of the institution, is John Robinson, a young organist and choirmaster from John’s College Cambridge and Canterbury Cathedral.

He seems to be exactly the right person for the position at this stage in the history of the the BACS. He is shepherding the school from being not only an outstanding local institution but one to provide national leadership in Catholic liturgy and musical excellence. The new public profile of the school seems to be making the point that needs to be made right now.

The BACS was founded in 1963 by Theodore Marier, an American composer and musician - a leader in the Gregorian chant revival - who saw the need for the English choir-school model to finally make the treck to the colonies. An expert on sacred music for Catholic liturgy, Marier was in so many ways a visionary who took on the impossible task what might have seemed like the worst time.

Theodore Marier
Sacrosanctum Concilium had just been promulgated, and there emerge a tension between its mandate to preserve the Latin treasury of sacred music and its permission for the vernacular. What neither he nor anyone fully expected was that Catholic music was on the verge of entering a long period of upheaval. Marier never relented in his hope that this new institution would be devoted to bringing Gregorian chant to the postconciliar age.

Through sheer tenacity and creative composition and director, Marier built the school and saw it through this period until his retirement in 1986. John Dunn took over as director and headmaster in the years after, maintaining the tradition and continuing to build in the context of daily sung Masses and the performance of outstanding liturgical music at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square. Jennifer Lester served in an interim role.

One can imagine how difficult it must have been to find a successor after this history. The choice of Robinson was wise indeed. He turns out to have all the right skills to both build on the past and go forward to a bright future . An outstanding musician with a clear sense of mission (he was raised in the very type of system of choral education that he now heads), he is also a brilliantly diplomatic person whose quiet erudition and attention to musical excellence has inspired students, donors, and parents.

He has led the way with a clear focus on the best of the Catholic choral repertoire, the fruits of which have been on display in public concerts and liturgical services. The goal is not just to create outstanding musicians but also to provide an exemplary experience of liturgical music - with attention to both musical and liturgical precision. The BACS is headed toward an ever larger presence on the national Catholic scene, and very well could emerge as a example to many other dioceses around the country.

The BACS is only one of two Catholic choir schools in the whole of the United States. The other (equally impressive) one is in Salt Lake at the Cathedral of the Madeleine accepts both both and girls.The BACS accepts boys from the fifth to the eight grade and trains them in all subjects with a specialization in musical skills. Every student learns piano, music theory, recorder, and perfects the skill of sight singing.

It is not widely understood that over the centuries there have been dramatic changes in the age when the boy’s voice shifts from soprano to tenor or bass. Johan Sebastian Bach sang as a boy soprano at the age of 16, and, in the late middle ages, it was not uncommon for the boy soprano voice to survive until the late teen years. That all began to shift in the 19th century with a change in diet and overall health. Today, the boy soprano voice is gone by the age of 14.

I can recall reading a manual on training boys to sing that was written in the early 1930s, and being struck by what a gigantic task it is to train boys to sing in any historical period. It requires vast experience, a good ear, a great sense of diplomacy, and a huge bag of tricks. Today the challenge is intensified because they must be trained earlier and the trained voice doesn’t last very long at all. Then the voice goes through a time when it seems nearly unusable only to emerge later as something completely different.

John Robinson

This reality is part of daily life at the Boston Choir School, and Robinson and the rest of the faculty must deal with not only the musical difficulties of the boys but the psychological ones as well. I can only imagine what it must be like to develop a wonderful skill at the age of 11 only to have nature take it away two years later. So part of the job of the director is to carefully migrate the acquired skills from childhood into early adulthood and to do this one child at at time.

Robinson himself went through this period and it was during this time that he developed his skills as a pianist and an organist, furthering his educational as an overall musician. So he has an intrinsic sympathy with the plight of all of his students. And even as this constant circulation of vocal timbres is taking place, the choir sings every daily at St. Paul’s for Mass, with an incredibly demanding repertoire ranging from Latin chant to Tallis to modern choral works.

It is a deeply tragic aspect of modern Catholic life that most parishes and even many cathedrals have no program at all for children choirs, or only paltry ones that sing on Christmas. Catholic Children these days learn to sing by listening to pop music on the radio or on their iPods, and this is a serious problem for the state of Catholic music generally. Directors of music in parishes find themselves without any singers among the adults. People don’t know how to read music much less perform it in a way that is suitable for liturgical services. Nor do they know the repertoire.

The best and most fundamental way to bring about long-term change is through the children’s choir. In the year’s ahead, it is clear that the new generation that will lead to a rebuilding is going to emerge from within comprehensive systems of education such as we find at the Boston Choir School.

In this way, every day that Robinson and the faculty there teach, an investment is being made in the state of Catholic music that will bear fruit for decades to come. In the future, you might find that a graduate of the BACS will be leading music at your parish and bringing the glorious treasury of sacred music to Masses and the sung office experienced by you, your children, and your children’s children. This is the gift that Robinson has brought to our shores. For this reason, the administrators, board, parents, students, and director are fully deserving of all the support that Catholics can give them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Adam Bartlett Presents SEP to Cardinal George

The Solemn Salve Regina

What are the chances that the solemn Salve Regina could be popularized again as it was in the middle ages?

Ember Saturday Homily, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth

In response to many requests, Msgr. Wadsworth has made available his homily for the Ember Day Mass.

A Homily for the Ember Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost

Preached by Msgr Andrew Wadsworth at a Solemn High in the Church of the Epiphany, Pittsburgh at the Colloquium XXI of The Church Music Association of America
June 18 2011

From the text of the Introit, and indeed the Epistle of this Holy Mass: Caritas Dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris (The love of God is poured forth in our hearts.)
Pentecost, as we know, is the culmination of the Easter festival, which, my breviary informs me, ends today after the office of None. The feast of Pentecost and its octave explains to us how the power of the mystery of Jesus, the mystery of Christ's suffering, dying and rising is communicated and received; communicated by God, and received by us. God's plan of salvation is, shall we say, expressed in summary form in the breath-taking readings of today's Mass.

If a person were to walk in from the street, and one knowing nothing of the Faith that we hold, if that person were enlightened by the Holy Spirit to understand what they were witnessing at this Mass, just about the whole truth of the Catholic faith is laid before them. Today's great feature is the distinctive sequence of prophecies, alleluias and collects of this Ember Day Mass. Our faith is made so much clearer to us; for we hear of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2,28-32); we hear of the harvest which God expects (Lev 23, 9-11;15-17;21); we hear of the possession of the land (Deut 26,1-11) and the fruitfulness of that land (Lev 26,3-12); and we hear, finally, of the purification by fire, which is the suffering and the trial through which we must all pass (Dan 3, 47-51).

In today’s great Epistle (Rom 5,1-5) we hear that we have, through God’s great mercy, access through faith in Christ, to grace. And then, the Gospel we've just heard (Luke 4,38-44) tells us how that grace is put to work, by God, in our hearts, to heal us. In this, Simon's mother in law is a picture of the Church. This morning at Matins, St Ambrose in his wonderful homily commenting on the Gospel, makes it clear that the fever of Simon's mother-in-law is an expression of the weakness and the vulnerability that we know so well.

He says, Febris enim nostra, avaritia est : febris nostra, libido est : febris nostra, luxuria est : febris nostra, ambitio est : febris nostra, iracundia est (Homily by St Ambrose, Book. iv. on Luke 4). Our fever, the weakness which so easily and obviously besets us, is that avarice or lack of generosity, lust, selfishness or greed, ambition and anger. These are the things in the human heart which keep us from God and one another. They are impediments to the action of the Holy Spirit and they are very real impediments to God's plan.

What is that plan? The Fathers of the Church called it nothing less than divinization, the process of expanding the human heart so much that eventually it can receive God Himself. Scripture says: “when we see Him, we shall be like Him” (1John 3, 2-3). I'm sure I don't only speak for myself when I say that we are all very much a work in process - the process whereby a heart becomes sufficiently generous to receive God Himself.

God has given us this great promise which we hear at the heart of this Mass, the song which is on the lips of the Church as this Mass begins: the Love of God is being poured forth in our hearts. It points us toward heaven, just as the liturgy does. It points us towards the goal, as it were, to which this procession must move.

Today, in our tradition, is a great day for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the gift of ordination, the ordinations to the minor orders, and even to the major orders, culminating in the ordination to the priesthood just before the Gospel. We can see how, in God's providence, and in His plan, this priestly people which makes up the Catholic Church, should, through the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, expand its heart to receive God Himself.

We know, do we not, that it is in the liturgy, at its best, that maybe just for a brief moment, the veil is lifted? And we perceive, even in this life, something which is the life of heaven, which breaks through, into our hearts. It is principally in the liturgy that we learn the language of heaven, and the song of heaven.

We are told that the Fathers of the Church learnt the chant from the angels, and that our singing altera ad alterum, antiphonally from side to side, is an imitation of the choirs of angels that sing responding to one another. When we sing, we should be like them, because we shall have become what we sing: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus. Holy, holy, holy...

Finally a Latin-English Hand Missal in the UK

I just received news that the Catholic Truth Society has received permission to print a Latin-English hand missal this year. The samples I've seen look very beautiful.

SEP Update

Amazon placed yet another large order for the Simple English Propers last night. This again suggests that the backorder list is huge. All good!

Get ready to sing

The USCCB made a stunning announcement last week that said that the music for the new Missal can be used immediately if the local bishop approves. This has sent parishes across the country scrambling for Mass cards to put in the pews so that the people can start chanting. I had been looking and begging myself until someone pointed out just how easy such a thing would be to make.

Sure enough, this one small sheet (8.5.x11) includes Kyrie, Gloria, Credo text, Sanctus, Acclamations, and Agnus. It's a start. You can download it here.

I'm not sure that I see the need for music on the Credo. People would probably learn it better without worrying about notes. They only need to listen several times to a strong cantor.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Colloquium XXI recordings, nearly complete

Here it is

Some Images of the Cathedral of the Madeleine

Next year's Colloquium is at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, June 25- July 1. Here are some images from this Fickr page:

Studies in Semiology - from Sacred Music

There was a great deal of interest in Edward Schaefer's class on semiology at the Sacred Music Colloquium - something that had long been requested by participants but we had not been able to fit into the schedule. It was very interesting class, a chance to tap into the work of hundreds of great chant masters over a hundred years in order to understand why we have the music we have. The class left me with a profound respect for that early generation of Solesmes monks who took on the task of correcting the chant in light of paleographic research - a task later picked up by Dom E. Cardine.

In the 1980s, the primary publishing spot in the English-speaking world for semiological research was Sacred Music magazine as published by the Church Music Association of America and under the editorship of Msgr. Richard Schuler. The topic was the most frequently visited theme throughout the 1980s, with contributions by Dom Cardine, Fr. Columba Kelly, Robert M. Fowells, and Dom Laurence Bevenot.

Together these 40 pages of material constitute a guide to this topic, including the repeated clarification that semiology is not a method for singing but a research project that picks up the original principles that guided Dom Pothier and Dom Mocquereau. Indeed, the collection opens with Cardine's own tribute to Mocquereau.

I hope everyone can benefit by having these articles all in one file: The Semiology Collection from Sacred Music.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lauda Sion Salvatorum

Such a fantastic song! I hope you hear it or sing it at Corpus Christi.

Or in procession outside Church

Friday, June 24, 2011

For St. John Baptist

Mass Propers and Palestrina: Nice Combination

See what the Holy Father has planned for St. Peter and Paul.

Yet Another Great Paper on the Propers of the Mass

Propriety of the Propers

CPDL on the Sacred Music Colloquium

The CPDL offers a nice roundup of the scores we used for the Colloquium.

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth's New York Talks

They are both online and very interesting for musicians.

The Sound of the Simple Choral Gradual

This offertory is from the Sacred Music Colloquium:


The book provides choral propers for the entire year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Music Is Here, Forty Years Late

Sixteen years ago, I found myself vaguely in charge of providing music at one Mass (vigil on Saturday) at my local parish. I had very little notion of what precisely was wrong with the existing music - that something was wrong was very obvious - much less how I could go about fixing it. I only knew the broad outlines and had broad principles of how to get there. Chant was best, I knew because Vatican II said so, but not really viable.

I had a Liber Usualis but no real clue about how to sing from it much less apply it to the ordinary form of Mass. Like most musicians in those days, I worked with what the parish had and tried to improve it on the margin: four decent hymns and a Psalm that I had to write and voice each week because the existing resource struck me as essentially silly.

Where was the source material? What about a decent setting of the Mass ordinary? Is there nothing else besides hymns to sing at these various spots? Why must there be these periodic bursts of music during and after the consecration? What are the controlling documents for dealing with all these problems? Did anyone really know what was going on?

The year was 1995, and the world wide web was just getting off the ground. No one had a copy of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. There were no music downloads. Even getting a copy of the music books pertaining to the Roman Rite was exceedingly difficult in a town without a Catholic book store. As for mailing lists, I guess I wasn’t on the right ones.

My plight was the plight of most Catholic musicians in those days, and so it had been from the mid 1970s, when the last of the well-trained Catholic musicians had been run off from the parishes. Confusion reigned. We did the best we could but we had virtually no tools, musical or intellectual. I got together with some singers and we sang Ubi Caritas after communion and Adoro Te when possible. But apart from these little bits and pieces, there could be no real improvement at the core.

We knew nothing of Mass propers, nothing of the Gregorian Missal, nothing of alternative Psalm settings, nothing of any English or Latin chant dealing with the ordinary of the Mass. I had heard of a tiny movement that was singing chant here and there around the country, but I had no access to training or method or sheet music.

Just thinking about these days - they lasted for some 40 years! - it is mind boggling how far we’ve come. Today, there is no reason for barely competent composers to attempt to write their own Psalms. They are all free for the download. So too with the music. Even the chant books themselves are everything. The GIRM is online. Most importantly, there are vast tutorials, communities, and educational resources available to anyone who looks them up. There are national conferences that attract hundreds. Every few weeks, it seems, there is another training session in Gregorian chant taking place somewhere. You can download all the propers of the Mass in English or Latin, in myriad settings.

It’s been one long upward climb, day by day, week by week. Finding the truth about Catholic music been like discovery a great lost city. We’ve learned where it is we need to be and discovered ways to get from here to there. The forty years in the desert are coming to an end. The evidence might not have hit your local parish but there is not question that it will at some point. Hundreds are undergoing training. The resources are finally there. There is light at the end of this long tunnel.

Just in the last week, three major developments portend a beautiful future. First, the USCCB announced that it is at the discretion of local Bishops as to whether they would like to use the new texts for the Mass starting this fall rather than waiting for Advent. The wonderful thing: the music that is most accessible to parishes is from the forthcoming Missal itself. This music is chant. It is sung by people using the real texts of the Mass. It is unaccompanied. Every parish can use this music as the basis of a solemn and participatory liturgical structure.

The music is free for the download, thanks to the surprising foresight of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Many Bishops and pastors have already said that they will use the Missal chants as part of a national push for a standardized Mass setting that all the people can sing. One year ago, this seems like an implausible hope. Today it seems eminently possible.

At the very same time, the first book of chant Mass propers in English for the ordinary form of the Mass has come into print. The author/composer is Adam Bartlett. They are designed to take the place of what is usually the processional, offertory, and communion hymns. They are not some random text and song but rather the real text of the Mass together with appropriate songs. They are chanted in the same mode as the traditional Gregorian. They are accessible for every single parish in this country.

The Simple English Propers are available for free download sharing. Even so, the book is also in print, a 460-page hardback for $17.50. They were available at the Sacred Music Colloquium this year and completely sold out. They were put on sale at Amazon and the sales ranking shot up in 4,000 overnight - demonstrating high demand. There will surely be other Mass propers collections, but this is the first, and already the interest around the English-speaking world is extremely high. Many parishes already use them. At last, there is a book that covers the main parts of Mass and that can be sung by anyone!

A third resource has appeared at the same time. Choral settings of the Mass propers by Richard Rice have been published by the Church Music Association of America. They were on sale at the colloquium and they sold out within one hour. They too are available on Amazon. They are simple, dignified, and beautiful. They can be sung by any choir with four voices. Once again, when they are used, the choir is not only singing at Mass but singing the text of the Mass itself.

So there we have it all, forty years after the promulgation of the ordinary form of the Mass. We are getting a new Missal with chants to sing. We have the propers of the Mass in vernacular chant and in choral settings. And we have Psalms we can download and sing. The hope is that by October, we will also have simple chanted Responsorial Psalms also in print and ready for global distribution.

It makes me sad to think of all the years that have been wasted, but also makes me wild with excitement to know of what faces us in the future. There will be no more wallowing ignorance and musical poverty. We know know what to do, and we have the resources to do it. I’m deeply grateful for all the colleagues and friends I’ve been blessed to have during this long journey from darkness to light.

In the years ahead, I feel sure that people will look back in amazement at all the years in which we wandered in the desert, trying to find a way out. But for now, let’s just look ahead and praise God for what this generation has been given. It is now left to us to go out and make the difference.

Corpus Christi in Vienna

A procession is a holy movement of those truly united. It is a gentle stream of peaceful majesty, not a procession of fists clenched in bitterness, but of hands folded in gentleness. It is a procession which threatens no one, excludes no one, and whose blessing even falls on those who stand astonished at its edge and who look on, comprehending nothing. It is a movement which the holy One, the eternal One supports with his presence; he gives peace to the movement and he gives unity to those taking part in it. The Lord of history and of this holy exodus from exile towards the eternal homeland himself accompanies the exodus.
Karl Rahner, SJ (NB that I never quote Rahner, but this is a good quote!)

News reports tell us that Austrians are leaving the Catholic Church in droves. That may be the case, but they sure do still believe in not working on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. On this Corpus Christi THURSDAY (ahem) I was annoyed not to find a bus or taxi from my little apartment in the wine tasting village of Grinzing to get to the UBahn for the 8.30am Pontifical Mass at the Stefansdom. I did finally get there, and could not find anywhere to have my obligatory Kleiner Brauner to pump some caffeine in my system for what promised to be one of those Endurance Liturgies that no suburban American Catholic could ever cope with. Thank God for American economic imperialism, as I thanked God the only time in my life for McDonalds and hot coffee!

I entered the Sacristy of the Cathedral ahead of time and it was already abuzz with activity for the Mass and Procession. I checked with the Ceremoniarius, the Cathedral’s Master of Ceremonies, if I could concelebrate the Mass and process, and I was graciously attended to by one of the sacristans, who vested me, and about 25 other priests, in some of the most beautiful 17th century French giardinaje style vestments I have ever seen.

The Nuncio to Vienna entered and warmly greeted everyone in the sacristy with a handshake, just as every other person who entered the sacristy did. Not long thereafter, Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, in his choir dress and biretta, entered and made the rounds of everyone in the sacristy. I was delighted to have a brief conversation with him, and to receive his encouragement for my doctoral studies, which he repeated again after the Mass. His quiet but warm demeanor somehow all of its own corralled the mass of people in the sacristy, and the bell rang for Mass to begin.

The Pontifical Mass was sung very well by the Cardinal, the prayers all being in German. But the Ordinary of the Mass was Mozart’s Spaurmesse, and the famous Cathedral Choir and Orchestra did justice to Vienna’s favourite musician. For those who are unfamiliar with how a Viennese orchestral Mass works with a sung Ordinary Form Mass, I will describe the local custom.
The Kyrie is sung as the Penitential Rite itself, with everyone sitting down after the first bar. After the Kyrie, all rise and the Celebrant sings the Misereatur and then intones the Gloria. After the first bar of the Gloria, everyone sits and listens to the Gloria, and then all rise for the Collect. For the Creed, all stand after the Homily as the Celebrant intones it, and then sit after the first bar. Everyone bows in their seats at the et incarnatus est. After the Preface, the Sanctus begins, and all continue to stand. After the Sanctus, the congregation stands, kneels or sits (!) as they wish. The Eucharistic Prayer begins as normal, and the Memorial Acclamation is sung. Then, the Choir begins the Benedictus. After the conclusion of the Benedictus, the Celebrant continues the Eucharistic Prayer as normal. After the Sign of Peace, at a Pontifical Mass, the Choir sings the Agnus Dei in its usual place; but at other Masses, the Celebrant skips the Agnus Dei, which is sung at the beginning of the distribution of Holy Communion.

That is how the Ordinary is handled at the Cathedral. For some of the other music, they do something which many would balk at. The Entrance Procession and Incensation is accompanied by organ. Then, when the Celebrant reaches the Chair, a vernacular hymn is sung. A hymn is sung at the usual place of the Offertory. And after the Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle in a side altar and the Celebrant reaches his chair, a vernacular Communion hymn is sung. And the usual Recessional Hymn is sung as per usual. I have heard on occasion parts of the Latin Gregorian Propers sung, but never all of them, and never very often. While some liturgists may balk that music must accompany a liturgical action and never stand alone by itself (at least for the Introit and Communion), this practice does mean that everyone calmly sings together the hymns without having to worry about watching or doing something else. And guess what, they sing ALL THE VERSES!

There are a couple of interesting architectural things to notice. The Lucite chair for the Cardinal and the small, almost square, marble freestanding altar on their respective footpaces are placed within the Choir Aisle. The High Altar, upon which the Sacrament is not reserved, has become a very nice stand for (real) candles (that are lit all day long everyday) and flowers. The placement of the cathedra and freestanding altar makes for some very awkward motions during a liturgy which otherwise is very well executed. I would be interested to see where the Throne was placed before, and how the Stefansdom Reform of the Reform liturgy would look and sound like if the Cathedra were elsewhere and the High Altar used for the celebration of Mass.

The Procession began after the Closing Prayer after a rather long explanation of the order of procession and the wait for the various groups to take their places in the nave. The usual men and women religious, confraternities and papal knights and dames were in attendance. But there was another addition that was typically Austrian which I found quite delightful.
In the United States, when we think of fraternities, we usually think of Animal House, hazing and binge drinking. College fraternities in Austria may do all that too, but they were all out in force for Corpus Christi. Each fraternity has a specific uniform with a military style formal Mess jacket (gold buillion embroidery, epaulets, and brass buttons), trousers tucked into high boots, and what can best be described as a pillbox hat worn on the side of the head with a chin strap. They all carry swords and other fine pieces of weaponry. And they all have their place in the Procession. Also in the Procession were representatives from the secular University of Vienna, with their gowns and oversized velvet hats.

The Cardinal took up the small monstrance, which was decorated with a crown of baby’s breath, and the Procession began as the impressive bells of the Cathedral rang full peal and the organ began the hymn we all know as “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty.”

The Procession made its way through the streets of Vienna, as it has every year for centuries. I thought of how many Corpus Christi Processions this city has seen. Celebrating the feast in the glories of the late Middle Ages, as Protestants threatened to tear the city apart, as Turks besieged the gates, as Maria Theresa reigned in Enlightened splendor, as the Nazis made the town their own, and now, as secularism threatens to break a final murderous wave over a once Christian Europe. How many more Processions will there be in the future?

But suffice it to say, this Procession was very much like every other Procession in the past. It certainly was not like last year’s Procession in the Austrian town of Klagenfurt when a Pita Bread (Host?) on a pike was processed through the streets in a Burlesque version of a Corpus Christi Procession. There might have been more German in 2011 then there would have been in 1911, with the Emperor Blessed Karl von Habsburg was in attendance, or in 1511, before the Reformation threatened to destroy the German speaking world’s Eucharistic devotion. But it was a Procession like any other. Three altars, each magnificently decorated, with a sung Gospel at each; band music, the Rosary, Litanies and hymns between each station. There were only two additions which Vienna’s forebears might not have seen before, but which certainly could be seen in a hermeneutic of continuity with the true spirit of Vatican II: sung Intercessions, and a homily given by the Cardinal at each Station.

But there were also two other additions which somehow I think that Sissy, Freud, Hitler, and a lot of other people who passed through the Imperial Capital might not have ever thought to see. The first was that many of the servers, adults and children, were female (although interestingly enough, the Readings at Mass were proclaimed by seminarians). The other was the inclusion within the Procession of something I am at a loss to describe. A dapperly dressed young man held a large flag with the word, “Frauen”, Women, written on it. Next to him was a similarly well-habille young woman with a sign, with a cartoon of an androgynous figure in a cassock kicking off one of his/her/its bedslippers and pointing to a bed with the word “Frei”, Free, written on it. At first, I thought it was a silent protest saying the Church needs to keep its nose out of women’s bedrooms. But they joined the Procession with everyone else. It was one of those “huh?” moments, and if any of our readers can enlighten me as to what that was all about, I would like to know.

A more positive and less disturbing image was one of evangelization. A group of sisters dressed in long denim jumpers with a white veil, sandals, and wooden crosses hung from their necks on a string, (they had to be French, only the French come up with that kind of combo), were carrying baskets of rose petals. Every so often, they would go up to a little girl on the side of the street and ask them if they would like to throw flowers as Jesus passed by. I am not sure if any of those little girls had any idea what was going on, but I am also sure by the smiles of the girls and their families that this quiet little initiative of the good sisters was appreciated by lots of people on the margins of Christian practice, and Jesus as well!

This was a procession which was well-organized, took its time, and was prayerful. Today I prayed. And my faith was strengthened because the Body of Christ, the Church, had gathered to worship the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. And to do so among the splendor of an ancient tradition, the music of Mozart, and the quiet humble example of the Cardinal was a wonderful way to spend Corpus Christi.

Should You Be Using Oversized Chant Posters?

Peter A. Kwasniewski, Professor of Theology and Philosophy and Instructor in Music History and Theory at Wyoming Catholic College, uses oversized editions of the chant for his schola. Doing this keeps the singers' heads out of the book, corrects the posture, and yields a better sound. No more hiding inside pages! In a wonderful way, this also recreates the medieval practice of singing from the one edition owned by the parish or monastery.

He made these posters by sending a file to a local printer. It was as simple as that. Now he keeps them in a giant binder and pulls them out as necessary.

Responsorial Psalm for Corpus Christi

Here's what we'll be singing this Sunday:

You can download a printable version here.

Our parish is an OF parish, and that is unlikely to change. There is little hope of doing the Gradual at our Masses, but I do not lament it. I take it is a challenge. Even if your sights are on the ideal, one of the things we have to realize is that the OF is a valid form of the Mass, and the music we sing must serve it well. It can be beautiful and well balanced. It shouldn't be top heavy, or overly burdened with long chants and polyphonic Masses just because they are the "ideal." As always, things work best and are most naturally beautiful when form follows function.

That said, there is no reason not to sing a polyphonic motet after Offertory chant or after singing the Communion proper. These are times at which the OF, in its strictly linear format, offers a little expansiveness and time for reflection.


The Simple English Propers has a remarkably high rating on Amazon, even before it is listed as in stock. If this keeps up, we might find ourselves reprinting in August! Also, reviews can be helpful, hint hint.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Can Sound like

See the Simple English Propers page.

Your Church in the Round Can Be Beautiful

Congratulations to Holy Spirit Church, Annandale, Virginia. You might recognize it as the Church featured on the first issue of Pastoral Music - cited back in the day as the most progressive in the region. Now we see a different kind of progress.

Simple English Propers orders

Just as an update, this morning we received an order for a total of several hundred copies of the Simple English Propers from Amazon - which means that their algorithm suggests very high demand exists right now. Soon, there will be no more "out of stock" note on the site, but you can still order now.

Chant Research at Harvard

Thomas Forrest Kelly is inspiring a new look at medieval chant.

More from that Amazing Ember Day Mass

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mocquereau the Semiologist

One of the more talk-about classes at the Sacred Music Colloquium was taught by Edward Schaefer, a student of Dom Cardine, who provided an introduction to semiology over four days. Essentially he taught everyone how to read the old manuscripts from the Triplex along with their subtle shadings that can't possibly be captured in "modern" four-line square notes.

In the course of the week, he refrained from presenting a normal "table of neumes" like we find in Cardine's book and rather taught the only signs chant by chant so that we could more quickly absorb the lessons. At the end of the sessions, several people were circulating Cardine's table, which I recall seeing twice: once in Cardine and once - in a slightly more foundational form - in Mocquereau's own book. Vast amounts of Mocquereau's book is spent explaining and examining the old manuscripts.

The point is underscored by David Hiley's new book: there is no real break in the Solesmes tradition; it is rather one continuous stream of research, perhaps with lost knowledge along the way or perhaps with some cumulative knowledge, but mostly with just different emphasis. In any case, it seems perfectly obvious in retrospect that there is no need to divide these schools and traditions into warring tribes. We can all learn from all of them.

This table is from Mocquereau's Gregorian Musical Rhythm, page 177.

Meanwhile at the Liturgical Institute

The Liturgical Institute Celebrates the Simple English Propers

The books arrive
The author is toasted all around

More Random Images from Colloquium XXI

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth and others cheer the conference organizer Arlene Oost-Zinner
Horst Buchholz on organ

Edward Schaefer Conducting Byrd 4
Schaefer conducting

This appears to be Arlene Oost-Zinner conducting

A chant group (which?)
William Mahrt speaking about processions

Hymns for Feasts and Seasons: Conference at Minster Abbey

Canterbury Gregorian Music Society has organised "Hymns in Summer and Winter", an afternoon of chant at the historic Minster Abbey in Kent, England. The Abbey is situated a few miles from Ebbsfleet, where St. Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, landed in 597 to begin his mission to the Anglo-Saxon people. A religious house was founded at Minster in 610 by St. Domneva, a princess from the royal house of Kent. Her daughter Mildred became the second Abbess and one of the best loved Anglo-Saxon Saints. The present foundation dates to 1936, when Minster Abbey was resettled as a monastic house by the Benedictine nuns of St Walburga's Abbey, Eichstatt, Bavaria.

The event will take place on Saturday 23rd July, between 1:30 and 6:30 pm. The focus will be on Gregorian Chant hymns; hymns for feasts and seasons and melodic variation in summer and winter, the Easter season and for different grades of feast. The afternoon will include a talk on the broader background by Mother Nikola, the current Prioress. Following afternoon tea attendees will split into two groups to rehearse for vespers with the Community at 6 p.m. One group will look at some of the more ambitious hymns and the other will prepare some simpler psalms and responsories.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Images

Too tired to type anything coherent - except perhaps to say that Ember Day Saturday in the Extraordinary Form with full Gregorian propers is like nothing else on this earth - but here are some images:

In the loft practicing a communio

This looks like a communion motet, but I'm not sure

Ember Day Procession

Ember Day organ recessional

The Angel with the Bow Tie

This is who we are. The other night during dinner, Jeffrey presented, with his usual quietous, measured and mild-mannered glee, a number of new publications under the CMAA banner.
(I so wish Adam B. was here, as well as many others!)
After concluding, JT came up to me and mentioned that in his kit bag he had a particular remedy for the sinus infection that has had me on the ropes now for three days. He'd apparently noticed that from my last post and wanted simply to let me know.
I did curtail some of my schedule yesterday so that my energy could be up for Mass and the "debut" of the Josquin Ave maris stella Missa. But after a great pasta dinner and brief rehearsal I crashed in our room- couldn't even have little Dom and his mum up for apertifs.
I wheezed to Wendy, "I think we oughtta call Jeffrey."
He was at the door in less than two minutes.
It was another difficult night, but I know his help will provide me easier days and nights to come.
Is it me, or does he really fly like St Joseph Cupertino, bow tie a-twirling? Or does he bi-locate with scores, economic treatises and meds like S Pio?
Dunno, but he is JT, and another friend who welcomed this stranger with his amazing smile and equally magnificent heart.

A few more random images

 These are from Charles Cole's camera

 Horst Buchholz's Choir

 Cecilia Nam's Beginning Polyphonic Choir

Cole was very happy to get this good picture of a chipmunk

Images from Semiology Class

At the Sacred Music Colloquium, Edward Schaeffer taught four classes on semiology in which we went through the Graduale Triplex and other manuscripts to discover subtle shadings that can't be expressed in staff notation or were otherwise lost on the path from oral transmission of the chant tradition to printed manuscripts.

It was a fascinating class that beautifully demonstrated how having these first millennium manuscripts available to everyone, not just specialists, can enhance both understanding and performance of the chant, as a natural outgrowth of the work began by the Solesmes monastery.

It was particularly gratifying to see this level of exploration because it represents a continuation of a tradition of publishing within the CMAA. Under the editorship of Msgr. Schuler, Sacred Music published fully six large studies in the 1980s on the topic of semiology (including by Fr. Kelly and Dom Cardine). Until very recently, these were the only in-print resources in English on this topic. 

Dr. Schaeffer also visited other chant groups to help them see some of the shadings behind the chants they would sing at Mass that day.

Here is Kathy Rheinheimer and Ronald Prowse in semiology class.

Charles Cole attended as did Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth of ICEL

Another student was Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, director of the office of worship for the Boston Archdiocese.

And here is Professor Edward Schaefer

Susan Treacy of Ave Maria and Jennifer Donnelson

And one more: Jeffrey Ostrowski of Corpus Watershed