Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Stabat Mater

A few years ago I realized that after Lenten decades of singing the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the sequence for Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept. 15), its meaning was not clear to me. I thought I would try to translate it and for me, at least, the result was enlightening. According to the text of the sequence, Mary's steadfast presence, and her contemplative spirit, form a quiet, integral part of the terrible crucifixion. We who sing about her presence there plead with her to help us join with her in bearing the cross of Christ, as it brings us to salvation.

After all, we are there. The Mass re-presents the selfsame sacrifice, daily, on the altar. And she is with us, always in prayer with the apostles, always interceding for us, always ready to bring us into closer communion with Him.

On the Cross her Son was dying.
Mary stood beneath Him crying,
Sharing in His saving cross.
As He hangs, her soul is grieving,
and a sword her heart is cleaving
and she weeps the bitter loss.

O, the sad, afflicted Mother
of the Son beyond all others:
only Son of God most high.
Full of grief, her heart is aching;
watching Him, her body, quaking,
trembles as her offspring dies.

Who would see Christ’s mother crying
at the bitter crucifying
without tears of sympathy?
Who could see her depth of feeling—
thoughts of many hearts revealing—
and not share her agony?

Pardon for our sins entreating,
She saw Him endure the beating.
All our guilt on Him was cast.
She stood by in contemplation
When her Son, in desolation
Breathed His spirit forth at last.

Font of love, O Blessed Mother,
lend me tears to mourn my Brother.
Never let my ardor dim.
Let my heart be burning freely,
Christ my God be pleased to see me
all on fire with love for Him.

This I ask, O Holy Mary,
that His wounds I too may carry:
fix them deeply in my heart.
Mine the burden He was bearing;
let me in His pain be sharing;
of His suffering take a part.

Let me join in your lamenting,
through my life weep unrelenting
tears for Jesus Crucified.
Let me stand and share your weeping,
all the day death's vigil keeping,
glad to stand close by your side.

Queen of all the virgin choir,
judge me not when I aspire
your pure tears to emulate.
Let me share in Christ's affliction—
death by bitter crucifixion—
and His wounds commemorate.

Let me taste the pains He offered,
drunk with love for Him who suffered.
May His wounds become my own.
On the day of Christ's returning
may my heart be lit and burning.
Virgin, aid me at His throne.

May His Cross be interceding
and His death my vict'ry pleading.
May He hold me in His grace.
When my flesh by death is taken,
may my soul to glory waken
and in heaven take a place. Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Breakthroughs and Small Moves

On the grand scale, the five Oscar's awarded to the neo-Silent Movie "The Artist" last night attests to the beauty of invention, or the letting in of the spirit to creative innovation, a sort of break-through, Eureka!-evolution.
But yesterday provided my parishes and others with another unique moment. We have a brand new bishop, installed just two weeks ago. As both the "mother church" of our parish cluster and our deanery, we hosted the Rite of Election yesterday. So, we would be hosting both a good shepherd visiting in the "getting to know you" mode and a true assembly (as the congregation comes from many parishes) of people comprised of neophytes to the Faith, and their sponsors. As a sidebar, as we were leaving the morning Masses we spied our new bishop arriving alone (no entourage!) carrying only his vestments, a small case and a big smile.
Here's the small move-breakthrough aspect- we chose to use the Introit for the day, Invocabit me, actually sung by our "true" schola of a few men as Bishop et al made their entrance. The Introit bells signaled the moment (no announcement) and the schola chanted beautifully. At the moment Bishop reached the intersection of the nave and sanctuary, the choir AND congregation took up the singing of Adam Bartlett's Simple English Proper "When He calls to me..." with the men and women chanting the versicle psalm tone in alternatim.
This marked the first occasion in twenty years of being in our parish that the entrance was accompanied only by the processional proper, without the grafting or stuffing of a companion hymn or such. I cannot describe the feeling of rest, of "coming home" that many of us felt as we chanted.
Prior to the service, I did "rehearse" the congregation with the SEP, each phrase sequentially modeled and repeated with ease, and then thanked the people for "singing like Catholics." And I took a bit of liberty to let them know that the chanting of the original Latin that would precede their taking up the Introit would provide them with the opportunity to visually "take in" Bishop's entrance, and that doing so was also a means of participation to be encouraged. (My wife commented that she appreciated that I mentioned that.)
I pray that no one think I'm crowing out here. To the contrary, I am humbled by the opportunity we've been provided by God leading us to CMAA, and then more occasions to spread the seeds of "sacred, beautiful and universal" in our parishes and now the deanery. There are so many "pockets" that are so far ahead of us on the curve of shifting the paradigm. But along with celebrating those examples of leadership, I am still gladdened for this small moment of grace that filled our hearts with joy.
Soli Deo gloria

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Psalm 90(91) in the Proper Texts of the First Sunday of Lent

All of the proper chants this Sunday are taken from the same Psalm, 90 (91). “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shade of the Almighty, says to the Lord, “My refuge, my stronghold, my God in Whom I trust.'” Psalm 90 is traditionally sung at Compline, the last canonical hour of the Divine Office’s day, before the sleep of night. It is full of sentiments of trust on the part of human beings, and trustworthiness on the part of God.

It is unusual for a single Psalm to sweep cleanly through the Mass, and what makes this Psalm even more remarkable in this context is its place in today’s Gospel. Today is Temptation Sunday, when we hear in the Gospel of Mark how the Lord answered Satan who tried to tempt Him. This is a key moment in the ministry of Jesus, when he binds the strong man who rules this world and makes him powerless before plundering his house. Jesus answers Satan with Scripture.

As we read in the parallel passages in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Satan tries, once, to tempt Jesus with Scripture. He tells Jesus to throw himself from the Temple using, or rather misusing, Psalm 90 (91), which reads in part, “For you has he commanded his angels, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you upon their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answers by quoting the Law, “It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

The Church’s musical response to this unique dialogue is to re-interpret the Psalm that was quoted for evil purposes, In the context of the Mass, the Psalm teaches us the true meaning of trust as we begin our fasting. It is not a time of daring feats but of adherence to God. More deeply, the Psalm is Christological. Paradigmatically, it is Jesus Himself Who clings to God. Alone in the desert, Jesus calls to God, as we sing in the Introit, and God answers Him. He rescues Him and gives Him length of life, both against Satan and then most triumphantly in the Resurrection and Ascension. As we sing in the Offertory, it is in the desert, and in the garden, and in the court of Pilate, and on the Cross, and in the grave, that God’s faithfulness is Jesus’ shield.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Report on the Gregorian Chant Network

Wonderful report on this event (everyone I know wanted to be there) in the UK, written by Joseph Shaw.
Yesterday I chaired the second biennial meeting of the Gregorian Chant Network, which was founded at the first meeting two years ago. Yesterday's meeting was addressed by Dr James MacMillan, the composer, Fr Guy Nichols, the founder of the Newman Institute of Music in Birmingham, and myself; it took place in the London Oratory, and concluded with Vespers in the Little Oratory celebrated by Fr Andrew Southwell, LMS Chaplain.

The meeting was attended by directors of Catholic chant choirs from all over the country, chant experts, and representatives of the organisations which support the Chant Network: as well as the Latin Mass Society, Una Voce Scotland, the Association for Latin Liturgy, the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, and the St Catherine's Trust. I can now announce that we have two more institutional supporters: the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the Bl John Henry Newman Institute of Music.

The meeting also included two chant directors from France, Mr Phillipe Nikolov and Mr Henri de Villiers (also of the New Liturgical Movement), who represented Una Voce France; and Mr Thomas Murphy, of St Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association, the Irish affiliate of the Una Voce International Federation.

Dr Macmillan addressed the audience of just over 50 on the significance of Chant in the musical patrimony of the Church. You can listen to his talk here.

After lunch I gave a report on the progress of the GCN over the last two years, and introduced Fr Guy Nichols, who spoke about the work of the Newman Institute. We then rehearsed for Vespers, and celebrated Vespers together after tea. The whole day was a great opportunity to meet other people working for the cause of Chant in the Catholic Church, for mutual inspiration and support. It was very kindly hosted by the London Oratory, in the St Wilfrid Hall and the St Joseph Hall.

IMG_8826 IMG_8875

Sneak Peek at Colloquium Breakout Sessions

In addition to daily liturgies, lectures, and chant and polyphony rehearsals, this year's Sacred Music Colloquium, scheduled for June 25-July 1, 2012, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, will feature a wide variety of breakout sessions. There is truly something for everyone. Here's a first peek at the list of sessions:

Conducting chant
Conducting polyphony
Organ masterclasses
Training for clergy
Vocal pedagogy
New music composition seminar
Psalm pointing in Latin and English
English chant resources
Chant engraving
Legislation on Church music
Building a degree program in sacred music
Aspects of translation
Gregorian chant and world music: tensions and solutions
History of Sacred Music
A look at the Graduale Simplex
Evaluating Hymns

Stay tuned. Can't wait? Register here.

Chant Workshop in Oklahoma

On Saturday, March 10, 2012 the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is sponsoring a workshop for Choir Directors and Choir Members entitled: “Practical Chant for Parish Musicians.” The workshop will take place at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Oklahoma City, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m. The $10 workshop fee includes lunch.

This workshop will explore the renewed emphasis on the place of chant in the liturgy. Why do we sing chant? What is the “spirituality” of Gregorian Chant? How is suitable to the Roman Liturgy? The workshop will include the basics of chant techniques using sung examples from the Missal chant settings. In addition to settings for the ordinary of the Mass, we will look at other examples, such as the Easter Sequence, In Paradisum, and Ubi Caritas. Some pointers will also be given on how to conduct chant.

Mass with the New Cardinals

As you can see here, liturgy at St. Peter's has undergone an incredible upgrade over the last year or so. This is a different world from what existed 10 years ago, to say nothing of 30 years ago.

Sacred Music in Mexico


GUADALAJARA, Mexico, FEB. 23, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Every year the music department of the Mexican bishops' liturgy commission organizes a national conference on liturgical music, attracting priests, seminarians, religious, and laypeople from Mexico and surrounding countries for five days of conferences, open forums, workshops, concerts and sung liturgies.

The department (abbreviated DEMUSLI, from the full Spanish title) just last week hosted this year's conference, in the city of Guadalajara. The event coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Higher School of Sacred Music of the Guadalajara Archdiocese.

Among those present was Melicia Antonio, a lay consecrated member of the Regnum Christi Movement and organist for the formation center for consecrated women in Monterrey, Mexico. ZENIT asked her to share her experience of the conference.

ZENIT: What was your general impression of the conference?

Antonio: This was my first time attending this congress and I was deeply impressed. Sacred music is something of a rarity here in northern Mexico; in fact, in the four years I have lived here, I have not yet heard a choir sing polyphony or Gregorian chant in a church. Most Masses are accompanied by bands and choirs playing pop-style music, or by congregations singing the same, tired songs. What I encountered in the DEMUSLI congress was a vibrant, creative, and highly educated musical community, dedicated to restoring genuine sacred music to the cathedrals, parishes, seminaries and religious houses of Mexico. The liturgies we celebrated those days were among the most beautiful I have ever experienced; we were introduced to a great variety of polyphonies, Gregorian chants, and modern works composed and executed according to the liturgical tradition of the Church.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

This is what you have been searching for: the Exultet!

More versions here

Hymn tune introits for Lent

These are so fantastic and obviously better than most any hymn in the book. They are proper texts in metrical settings plus Anglican psalms.

Some Saw and Warned

After a great calamity such as the loss of the sacred music tradition -- ironically, this followed a Church Council that made bond statements in support of this tradition -- it is sometimes supposed that no one could have anticipated what happened. This is far from true. The musicians at the time knew what could happen and, in fact, what was happening. The liturgy of the Roman Rite was on the verge of being reformed without due regard to the implications of the musical component.

If you know something of the way the organizational structures interact with musicians, you can intuit what went on here. Liturgists and theologians, untrained in the musical tradition, supposed that music was a specialization of a few, a kind of special interest, and those who care intensely about the issue form a kind of pressure group not unlike many others. This group might have some valid points but they certainly shouldn’t be permitted to carry the day. Whatever the results of the liturgical reform, it was widely supposed, the musicians will adapt somehow. These were changing times and musicians have to get with it like everyone else.

But what if there is no way to conceptually separate the liturgy from its musical component? What if they are so bound up with each other -- in history, in text, in liturgical theology -- that disturbing the structure and text without due regard for music would threaten to blow up and destroy the artistic work of more than a thousand years? What if unleashing one generation of enthusiastic and agenda-driven liturgists on the Mass structure and language might be a bit like sending a child with matches to repair a gas leak in a home?

The longer the time that passes since the 1960s, the clearer the picture becomes. The intentions were noble in their broad outlines. But on the details, there was confusing and mixed agendas. Many were working at cross purposes. The wholesale unleashing of the vernacular without proper preparation led to crazy confusions and a loss of direction and identity. This loss mixed together with a cultural upheaval in the world and led to forty years of wandering around in the aesthetic desert. We are still working to find our way back.

This document from 1963, one of the last official statements of the Society of St. Cecilia before it merged with the St. Gregory Society to formed the Church Music Association of America, illustrates that some people knew the dangers and warned about them:

The American Society of St. Caecilia respectfully submits to the consideration of their Eminences and their Excellencies, the Most Reverend Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, the following petitions.

1. Regarding the place of music in the liturgy:

In view of the fact that the church has always regarded the function of the cantor and the trained choir, as well as that of the singing congregation, as an integral and necessary element of public worship, this Society is sincerely hopeful that the Fathers of the Council, before making any changes which might affect the structure of the services, will give earnest consideration to the importance of these traditional elements. While this tradition is not founded upon recent documents, we should desire the retention of the principles so clearly outlined in Pope St. Pius X's Motu Proprio and in the Musicae Sacrae Disciplina of Pope Pius XII.

2. Regarding the Propers of the Sung Mass:

If any changes are to be made in the structure of the Proper of the Mass, this Society respectfully urges that the Fathers of the Council give careful thought to the fundamental structure of the service, and therefore to the meaning and value of each part, clearly preserving the roles of the cantor and trained choir. This Society also begs that art and beauty, which are inherent and not foreign to the casting of the Proper parts, not be sacrificed to the single issue of simplicity and brevity.

3. Regarding the Ordinary of the Sung Mass:

Since the necessity of a clearer insight into what worship really is presses for a greater sharing by the people in the song of the Church, this Society earnestly recommends that the congregation be encouraged to share in the singing at Mass, not necessarily according to the medieval and mistaken norm of the Ordinary as a unit, but with due regard for the place the various chants have in the fundamental structure of the service. It therefore also pleads that the great treasures of medieval chant and classical polyphony, as well as the riches of modern and contemporary music, not be discarded on the untraditional plea that there is no place for participation by listening.

4. Regarding the music at Low Mass:

This Society respectfully urges that consideration be given to maintaining the sung mass as the norm for congregational service, and where necessity demands, that provision be made for a simplified form of sung Mass that requires only the service of a trained cantor to supplement the singing of the congregation. The singing of hymns at low Mass, a solution suggested by the 1958 decree, is not completely satisfactory, because it remains extraneous to the action at the

5. Regarding the use of the vernacular in the sung liturgy:

The Society of St. Caecilia recognizes that the vernacular problem is a pastoral problem, but even more basically a problem involving the proper attitude toward worship. Because music is an integral part of worship, the problem is necessarily also a musical one. This Society therefore urges care and caution, since the musical problems involved are certainly very great, whether in creating a new music for a vernacular text or in adapting a vernacular text to the rich store of chant and polyphony and other music from the past. The Society especially suggests vernacular adaptations to the offices of the church which have fallen into disuse, notably parish Vespers.

6. Regarding the practical realization of a sung liturgy:

The Society of St. Caecilia urges the Fathers of the Council to implement the repeated wishes of the Holy. See by encouraging the musical training of both clergy and laity, and especially of choirmasters and organists, according to the norms laid down in the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of September 3, 1958, so that the ideals of a reverential and artistic musical worship may be realized.

The above articles have been approved by the Most Reverend Gerald T. Bergan, Archbishop of Omaha, the. Liturgy and Music Commissions of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and by the Boys Town Liturgical Music Institute's eleventh national session.

For the Society of St. Caecilia:
September 12, 1963
Msgr. Francis P. Schmitt, President
Rev. Francis A. Brunner, C.Ss.R., Secretary
James P. Keenan, Treasurer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique as Guide

From MusicaSacra Florida comes this wonderful report:

CMAA Conference Report – Gregorian Chant and Modern Composition for the Catholic Liturgy: Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique as Guide

February 22, 2012

Gregorian Chant and Modern Composition for the Catholic Liturgy: Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique as Guide
Conference Summary
From February 1-3, 2012, performers and scholars from across the U.S. and five foreign countries gathered for a symposium on Charles Tournemire, sponsored by the Church Music Association of America, Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Church of the Epiphany in Miami, Florida, and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

A new initiative of the CMAA, organized by Dr. Jennifer Donelson of Nova Southeastern University, the aim of the conference was to explore the aesthetic, liturgical, and compositional principles of L’Orgue Mystique, the implications of the work for modern compositions inspired by Gregorian chant, and the role of modern compositions and the organ in the Catholic liturgy.

The opening recital of the conference was given at the Church of the Epiphany in South Miami by Mr. Jonathan Ryan, First Prize Winner of the Jordan International Organ Competition and Visiting Artist at St. James Cathedral (Episcopal) in Chicago.  In the model of recitals given by Tournemire himself, Ryan presented a delightful snapshot of the modal and chorale-based tradition to which Tournemire claimed not only compositional lineage, but also artistic allegiance.  Versets by de Grigny and excerpts from Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali opened the program in a colorful display of the variety offered by the liturgical organ repertoire of the 17th century.  The Paraphrase-Carillon from Tournemire’s office from L’Orgue Mystique for the Assumption marked the center place in the program, and the melodic wealth of Tournemire’s use of Marian chants was highlighted by Ryan’s supple sense of rhythm and phrasing.  Three tune-based compositions by Buxtehude (Chorale Prelude on Komm Heiliger Geist), Sweelinck (Variations on Puer nobis nascitur) and Böhm (Chorale Prelude on Vater Unser im Himmelreich) followed, itself an ingenious Trinitarian prelude to the masterpiece of Trinitarian symbolism, the “St. Anne” Prelude and Fugue by Bach.  Ryan’s exhilarating playing highlighted the immense diversity of sound in the organ repertoire to which Tournemire was drawn, and the fantastic possibilities opened up when playing the repertoire on an organ of symphonic scope.

The second day of the conference was marked by a series of recitals at the Church of the Epiphany in South Miami, organized with the generous assistance and support of Mr. Thomas Schuster, Director of Music and Organist at Epiphany.  The first recital of the day was given by Dr. Crista Miller of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston who framed her program with two works by Naji Hakim (Embrace of Fire and the Te Deum).  The ferocity and rhythmic vigor of Miller’s playing of the Hakim was contrasted with the sweet repose offered by the interior of the program – the sublime Soleil du Soir from Langlais’ 1983 Cinq Soleils and Tournemire’s anguished and introspective office from L’Orgue Mystique for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. 

A recital of three of Tournemire’s pièces terminales from L’Orgue Mystique followed, given by Mr. Richard Spotts of Doylestown, PA.  The recital, just one of a multiple-year series given by Spotts which will culminate in the playing of the complete L’Orgue Mystique, featured the offices of Pentecost, the Third Sunday after Epiphany, and the feast of St. Joseph.  Spotts’ sensitive and thoughtful playing reflected the depth of his understanding of the repertoire offered by his extensive work with the cycle.

The third program in the morning series of recitals was a premiere of two works by Christendom College (Front Royal, VA) faculty member, Dr. Kurt Poterack played by Mr. Matthew Steynor of Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal) in Miami.  Both of the works featured the prominent use of Gregorian chants, the Eucharistic Suite employing Ave verum, Jesu dulcis memoria, and Ecce panis angelorum, and his Meditation on the Glorious Mysteries employing mostly the introits of the Masses connected to each mystery.  Of special note were the variations on Ecce panis angelorum in the final movement of the Eucharistic Suite – a delightfully varied salute to both the tune and the French 20th-century tradition of chant-based compositions.

The morning concluded with an insightful lecture by Dr. Ann Labounsky (Duquesne University) replete with pertinent quotes from Tournemire’s own writings on improvisation, especially from his Précis d’éxécution de registration et d’improvisation à l’orgue.  Labounsky’s lecture focused on Tournemire’s work as a teacher of improvisation, and her recital of works by Franck, Tournemire, and Langlais following the lecture illustrated Tournemire’s work specifically within the Ste. Clotilde tradition as well as her own astute and well-deserved place in this lineage of players and pedagogues.
The first recital of the afternoon was an ambitious and imaginative project – a chronology of improvisations in the French style by Dr. Bogusław Raba (Musicology University of Wrocław, Poland.)  Working his way from Titelouze and a Baroque organ Mass through the styles of Franck, Widor, Guilmant, and Vierne to those of Duruflé, Dupré, Langlais, and Messiaen, Raba displayed an impressive command of disparate styles.  The afternoon concluded with a pair of recitals featuring new music, the first given by Timothy Tikker (University of Michigan) which included one of his compositions based on the Te Deum, along with three pieces from Tournemire’s offices for Epiphany, the Third Sunday of Advent, and the Most Holy Trinity.  Tikker’s perceptive handling of the diversity of texture and structural flow of Tournemire’s works, especially of the Toccata from Advent III, was particularly noteworthy.  The second recital in the pair feature the Hildegard Organ Cycle by Frank Ferko and was performed by Dr. Chad Winterfeldt (Gustavus Adolphus College), assisted by Mrs. Lisa Knutson  (Cathedral of St. Joseph, Sioux Falls) who sang the chants upon which the selected movements were based.  The effect of the barrage of tone clusters in the fifth movement (Places of Purification) when released into the reverberant acoustic at Epiphany at the conclusion of the movement was profoundly striking, as was Winterfeldt’s luminous registration of the fourth movement (Articulation of the Body.)

The final recital of the evening was given by Dr. Ronald Prowse (Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit).  His selections (Dupré’s variation on Ave maris stella from his Op. 18, Peeters Toccata, Fugue and Hymn on the same, and the pièce terminale of Tournemire’s office for the Immaculate Conception) proved to be an outstanding preparation for the Mass of the Marian feast day which immediately followed, aided especially by Prowse’s technically brilliant delivery of the Dupré as well as a profoundly meditative performance of the Tournemire.

Thursday, February 2 concluded with a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Missale Romanum of 1962) celebrated by His Excellency, Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, the first such Mass celebrated in nearly 50 years in the Archdiocese of Miami.  Organized through the generous efforts of Fr. Brian Austin (FSSP) and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter working in conjunction with the Archdiocese, the Mass drew a crowd of approximately 1300 worshippers.  The musical highlights of the Mass included Tournemire’s office from L’Orgue Mystique for the day (Purificatio B. Mariæ Virginis), played by Mr. Thomas Shuster (Epiphany Church, Miami) a Missa Brevis by Zachary Wadsworth, and a commissioned motet on the Nunc dimittis by Dr. Paul Weber, both performed by the Florida Schola Cantorum under the direction of Dr. Edward Schaefer.  The Gregorian chant propers of the Mass were sung by a women’s schola cantorum, consisting largely of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary who form the schola cantorum at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Miami, under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Donelson.  The assistant clerics were Very Rev. Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth (Westminster, England), Rev. Fr. Guy Nicholls (Birmingham Oratory), Rev. Fr. Richard Vigoa, Very Rev. Fr. Christopher Marino, Rev. Fr. Joseph Fishwick and Very Rev. Msgr. Jude O’Doherty (Archdiocese of Miami), Rev. Fr. Christian Saenz (Society of Jesus), Rev. Fr. James Fryar, Rev. Fr. Justin Nolan and Rev. Fr. Brian Austin (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter).  Servers and other ministers were drawn from St. John Vianney College Seminary, the Church of the Epiphany, and the Mission of Sts. Francis and Clare in Miami.

A complete video of the Mass, courtesy of the Fr. James Fryar (FSSP) at www.livemass.net can be viewed by clicking here.  Also, a story produced by the Archdiocesan newspaper, complete with more photos of the event is available by clicking here.

The events of Friday, February 3 took place in the Performing and Visual Arts Division at the main campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie, FL.  The first panel of papers began with a presentation by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth (Executive Director, ICEL) who drew upon magisterial documents, liturgical praxis, and first-hand experience to craft a snapshot of the role of the organ in liturgy:

“There is something about the sound of the organ – its ability to produce every dynamic level from inaudible to deafening, and every frequency from too low to hear to too high to hear, which gives it a cosmic character, and it is only really improvisation that can explore to the full, the dimensions available in a particular space and for a particular liturgical moment. Such music is being created for that space, that organ and that liturgy in real time. An improvisation at the end of Mass in particular, can be seen as offering a response to the the liturgy on behalf of the people – a huge wordless but musical Deo gratias. Such moments, in the hands of a good player, give the organ an oratorical power – in a very real sense, it can preach to the people.”

The presentation which followed, given by Dr. Edward Schaefer, drew together an enormous body of liturgical documents and organ repertoire from 16th and 17th century Italy, and 17th and 18th century France to examine the place of Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique within the organ Mass tradition.  Of particular note were Schaefer’s speculations about the potential use of Tournemire’s work at either low or high Mass, based on French liturgical practices immediately preceding the appearance of L’Orgue Mystique, as well as the observations of Tournemire students about his playing at the low Mass at Ste. Clotilde.

Dr. Susan Treacy’s presentation on the role of Joseph Bonnet in the Gregorian revival in Paris was particularly useful in situating Tournemire’s work in the broader context of sacred music revival in early 20th-century France (and Paris in particular.)  Also of great interest was her exploration of Bonnet’s fascinating and far-reaching work as a whole, a little-explored topic, particularly in English-language scholarship.  She drew together quotes from various writings of Bonnet, linking him in a vital way not only to the revival of chant at Solesmes, but also to the sacred music renewal happening in the U.S. through the hands of people like Mrs. Justine Ward.

The early morning session concluded with a rousing account of Dr. Robert Sutherland Lord’s lifetime of experience with Tournemire’s manuscripts, personal affects, and friendship with Mme. Tournemire.  Scholars of Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique are well-acquainted with Dr. Lord’s work on the cycle, particularly his 1984 Organ Yearbook article on the work.  Lord’s as-of-yet uncompleted work which was the focus of his presentation, however, is the compilation of a catalogue for the 1300 page rough draft of L’Orgue Mystique left to the Bibliothèque Nationale by Tournemire’s student, Daniel-Lesur, a manuscript not included in Joel-Marie Fauquet’s catalogue of Tournemire’s works.  His discussion of the manuscript explored its role as an important bridge between Tournemire’s “plan” for LOM and the final form of the work.

The second session of the morning began with a paper by Elisabeth Kappel (University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria) which documented Tournemire’s methods for chant paraphrase in the first four movements of the offices of L’Orgue Mystique for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Epiphany, and the Purification of the B.V.M., drawing together some general trends in Tournemire’s methods.

The second paper of the session by Dr. Bogusław Raba (Musicology University, Wrocław, Poland) explored the harmonic language of L’Orgue Mystique as a whole, setting up a dialectic between pandiatonicism and chromaticism wherein pandiatonicism functions as a static and mystical element, and chromaticism serves as a dynamic and transformative language.  Raba pointed to the synthesis arising from this dialectic as particularly suited towards a truly sacred music which is, by definition, both transcendental and immanent, eternal and temporal.

The presentation given by Timothy Tikker (University of Michigan) which followed was an exploration of performance practice issues connected with L’Orgue Mystique.  Tikker’s presentation focused on rhythmic elements, including the use of rubato and suppleness of phrasing in melodic lines.  He presented a number of recording excerpts illustrative of Tournemire’s own sense of rubato, as well as Tournemire’s comments on the performance of Franck, etc.

The morning sessions concluded with a presentation by Dr. Ronald Prowse (Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit) which compared Tournemire’s improvisations with his compositions.  By way of illustration, Prowse focused on the Postlude from Tournemire’s office for the Immaculate Conception and Tournemire’s 1931 improvisation on Ave maris stella.  Tournemire’s approach was then contrasted with the improvisational approach of Dupré, allowing a portrait of an inspired Tournemire to emerge.

The keynote address, given by Dr. Stephen Schloesser (Loyola University, Chicago), focused on the vital connection between text and music in L’Orgue Mystique, situating the work in the symbolist movement in general, and Tournemire’s symbolist tendencies throughout his oeuvre.  Schloesser discussed the importance of the texts not only of the chant, but also of Guéranger’s meditations on them in his multi-volume Liturgical Year, demonstrating that Tournemire intended a sort of textual exegesis in his compositions.  Comparing the presentation (in published form) of Tournemire’s work with that of a highly-texted (and more successful) Messiaen, Schloesser argued not only that Tournemire might have been more successful in achieving recognition and appreciation of L’Orgue Mystique had he included relevant quotations from the chants with each movement, but also that Tournemire himself perhaps saw his mistake in not doing so as evidenced by subsequent publications which prominently displayed textual references, as well as concert program(s) of LOM which did likewise.

The final session of papers focused on teacher and student relationships to Tournemire, beginning with two papers on Messiaen and Tournemire.  Elizabeth McLain (University of Michigan) focused her discussion of the relationship between the two on an analysis of Tournemire’s influence on Messiaen’s L’Ascension.  McLain compared Tournemire and Messiaen’s use of chant, noting their similar penchant for paraphrase technique, but distinguishing the practice thereof most particularly through Messiaen’s reworking and abstraction of chant melodies into his own musical language.  Through various musical examples drawn from the orchestral version of Messaien’s work, McLain demonstrated the effective combination of new techniques with those adopted and adapted from Tournemire in an effective portrayal of the subject matter.

The second paper on Messiaen, given by Dr. Jennifer Donelson (Nova Southeastern University), compared Tournemire and Messiaen’s notions of sacred music, focusing on the composers’ common inspiration in Ernest Hello.  Situating the study of art in the realm of man working with matter and apart from aesthetics, Hello’s writings focused on the embodiment of artistic inspiration, through individual style, in the well-executed work of art, noting the impossibility of complete attainment of the ideal in the work of art itself.  The striving for the ideal and the lack of complete fulfillment in art provided a poetically philosophical encapsulation of the eschatological element in sacred music for both composers.  Through his understanding of Aquinas, Messiaen pushed this shared insight further, noting the bedazzling effect of God’s truth on the intellect and striving for an analogical bedazzlement in his own works.  The relationship of the oeuvres Messiaen and Tournemire to the liturgy and concert hall was also explored.

The relationship of Tournemire to his cher Maître, César Franck, was probed in a paper by R.J. Stove (Organ Australia, Melbourne) on Tournemire’s biography of Franck.  Stove’s discussion of the biography demonstrated the success in the volume at stating more about Tournemire than about Franck, given its often high tone and scope.  Stove noted that a person reading the biographies of Franck written by both d’Indy and Tournemire would never have suspected that Tournemire studied with Franck for a much shorter period than d’Indy, since Tournemire’s biography desperately attempts to point to the very mind and soul of Franck’s compositions and teaching in a manner that eclipses d’Indy’s efforts.   Stove pointed out however, that the biography does serve as an effective means of understanding the enormous impact of Franck on Tournemire.
The final paper of the conference was given by Dr. Crista Miller (Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston) on the work of Naji Hakim as a successor to the Ste-Clotilde tradition of chant-based compositions.  After first discussing the general characteristics of Hakim’s compositions (the use of Maronite chant, maqam and Arab scales, eastern instrumental effects, etc.), Miller drew fascinating comparisons between Hakim and Tournemire’s settings of chants for the feast of the Sacred Heart in Embrace of Fire and the office for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus respectively.  Of particular note was Miller’s discussion of the history of the evolution of the propers for the feast of the Sacred Heart near the point of composition/publication of L’Orgue Mystique and Tournemire’s use of the superseded propers, thus making his office for the feast day “outdated” from the moment of its publishing.

The conference concluded with a recital by Dr. Rudy de Vos, Organist and Director of Music at the Cathedral of Christ the Light (Oakland, CA.)  Bookending the first section of the recital were works by Tournemire – first, the transcription of Tournemire’s improvisation on Victimae paschali laudes, and then, fittingly, the last office of the liturgical year and the last composed of L’Orgue Mystique, the office for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, issuing an emphatic Deo gratias in its prominent use of the Te Deum.  Placed between the works by Tournemire were Vierne’s lyrical Méditation (from Trois Improvisations), the relentlessly creative Fugue and Caprice No. 9 of Roberday and the wide-ranging Grand Dialogue of Marchand, at times majestically exuberant and at others delicately lyrical.  The crown jewel of de Vos’s playing on Friday evening, however, was his masterful treatment of Franck’s 2nd Chorale.  The recital concluded with a delightful Toccata by Marcel Lanquetuit.

Plans are forthcoming for the publication of a volume including the conference papers, as well as the creation of a repository for some of the recordings of recitals from the conference.  For updates on the progress of these endeavors, visit www.musicasacra.com/tournemire.
A pdf of the conference summary, complete with embedded photos, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Chant in Prattville, Alabama

English Chant Workshop at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Prattville, Alabama. Saturday, March 3, 2012. 10:00am - 4:00pm. Chant is sung prayer—if you can speak it, you can sing it! Whether you’ve never sung before, or are singing in a choir, this workshop is for you. We will learn techniques of singing and reading chant, and explore the Propers and Ordinary chants as well as Psalms. Our instructors are Jeffrey Tucker and Arlene Oost-Zinner, nationally recognized instructors of chant. This workshop is offered at not cost to participants. Lunch will be provided. To register, call Robin at 334.365.8680

Had you ever thought to sing Ave Regina Caelorum this way?

Should Lenten Music for Sunday Be...Dreary?

Here is a surprising fact about the Gregorian propers for Sunday during Lent: they mostly explore major keys.

Listen to the Introit for the first Sunday of Lent:

Lent - First Sunday: Introit from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

That's mode 8, which might be regarded as the lightest and most elevated, the most song-like, of all the modes. That chant is anything but dreary.

It's not a fluke. Look at the Offertory chant for same day. It's mode 8 too:

Lent - First Sunday: Offertory from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Now, if you are using hymns instead of Gregorian propers, there's a good chance that you will be choosing music that might be seen as rather more depressing, such as "Forty Days and Forty Nights."

What's all this about? Perhaps the Gregorian tradition is reminding here that while Lent is a penitential season, Sunday does in fact remain a feast day - a real break in the fast. It is a mistake to try to cram the whole of the Lenten spirit into the Sunday Mass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A very impressive Liber Brevior

Do you know the company Preserving Christian Publications? It's been around a few years, but I've only now seen one of this company's books. It is might impressive: price, quality, dignity, everything. The book I'm holding is the Liber Brevior, a book for the EF Mass for Sundays and feasts. It is far more handy than the Liber Usualis. It's just perfect for a parish that needs to buy several dozen. The printing is clear. The materials are excellent. The paper thickness is just right. It is a highly professional product, as good and actually better than anything I've seen. This is the real deal. It is a remarkable value at $34.

And with Holy Week coming up, you can also get the book of Holy Week chants for the EF, in an edition that is much better than one I put up for print-on-demand a few years back. Don't buy mine. Get this one instead.

This is certainly a company worth supporting in every way. If I hadn't lost my favorite hat the last time I was at the theater, I would certainly tip it to Preserving Christian Publications. If these two books are representative, I think you can pretty well trust anything you buy from these nice people.

Mary Berry, preconconcilar photos (Mother Thomas More)

Thank you to Jeff Morse!

Chant in the "Domestic Church"

The NLM has posted a very nice by Jacob Tawney: "Introducing Chant Into the Domestic Church"

Monday, February 20, 2012

A video to help you decide to attend the Colloquium

Experience the Stunning Beauty of Catholic Liturgical Music

Sacred Music Colloquium XXII will be the most exciting and largest in history. It will be held at the remarkable Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah
Dates: June 25-July 1, 2012.

This year we are expanding in new directions. You do not need to regard yourself as a singer or even a musician to attend. There are plenty of Gregorian choirs for first-time singers, and sessions are available for those who opt not to sing in a polyphonic choirs. There will be opportunities for both professional musicians and non-musicians who are just interested in the well-being of music at liturgy.
The venue of the Cathedral in Salt Lake is beautiful beyond description. Historically significant as well as aesthetically magnificent, the Cathedral of the Madeleine ranks among the finest locations ever made available for the Sacred Music Colloquium, which has grown in size in scope every year for six years.
The year 2012 promises to be the grandest ever with new opportunities for learning, singing, listening, and interacting with the best minds and musicians in the Catholic world today. The Cathedral Choir School has been wonderfully accommodating and opened up the full use of its facilities for the Colloquium.

You will have the opportunity to see how the Choir School functions, experience the amazing acoustic of the Cathedral, study under the best conductors and intellectuals in the entire Catholic music world, and form new friendships that you will value for years to come.

The primary focus of the Colloquium is instruction and experience in chant and the Catholic sacred music tradition, participation in chant choirs, daily and nightly lectures and performances and daily celebrations of liturgies in both English and Latin. You are there not merely as an attendee but as an integral part of the greatest music you will ever experience. It will will touch your heart and thrill your artistic imagination.

Attendance is open to anyone interested in improving the quality of music in Catholic worship. Professional musicians will appreciate the rigor, while enthusiastic volunteer singers and beginners new to the chant tradition will enjoy the opportunity to study under an expert faculty. Those who choose not to sing at all but merely want to learn will find a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to absorb the full ethos of a world of the best liturgical music.

Do you want to make this trip your family vacation? There are so many things so see and do in the Salt Lake City area.

Once registered, there is no required sign up for individual choirs, scholas, or breakout sessions. Attend as suits your needs.

  • Extensive training in Gregorian chant under a diverse and world-class faculty, with choices of a chant class for beginners, and intermediate and and advanced chant classes;
  • Morning and afternoon sessions all week with lectures and workshops with the best of the best thinkers and doers in the world of Catholic music;
  • Optional choral experience with one of four large choirs singing sacred music of the masters such as Palestrina, Vierne, Bruckner, Victoria, Byrd, Tallis, Josquin, and many others;
  • Daily liturgies with careful attention to officially prescribed musical settings;
  • Experience in singing or just listening to Mass settings, motets, chants, and responses;
  • Residency in a full service hotel;
  • Two gala dinners with top lecturers and events;
  • Training in English chant from newly published works;
  • Training in vocal production and technique;
  • Conducting practicum;
  • Training for Priests in the sung Mass;
  • Pedagogy demonstrations;
  • Composers’ Forum;
  • Seminars on parish music management, integrating sung parts of the liturgy, polyphonic repertoire for beginning and more established choirs;
  • All music, including prepared packets of chant and polyphony, as part of registration.

Salt Lake City is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with some of the finest dining, mountainous views, and nicest people anywhere. Under the leadership of the Right Reverend Lawrence Scanlan (1843 – 1915), the first bishop of Salt Lake, the construction of The Cathedral of the Madeleine was begun in the year 1900 and completed in 1909. On August 15 of that year, the cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore. The architects were Carl M. Newhausen and Bernard O. Mecklenburg.The exterior of the cathedral remains substantially the same today as it was in 1909. The interior of the cathedral was largely created under the leadership of The Right Reverend Joseph S. Glass, who became Bishop of Salt Lake in 1915. A man of refined taste and strong artistic sensibility, Bishop Glass enlisted the aid of John Theodore Comes, one of the leading architects in America at the time, to undertake beautification of the original plain interior. The Comes interior, begun in 1917, was inspired in great part by the Spanish Gothic of the late Middle Ages. the colorful murals were added at that time, as was the dramatic polychrome evident throughout the building. The ornate reredos shrine of St. Mary Magdalen and the various shrines were notable features of the Comes renovation. Under the leadership of The Most Reverend William K. Weigand, who was appointed bishop of Salt Lake City in 1980, a much needed restoration of the interior, which had suffered the effects of dirt and pollution in the intervening decades, was planned and executed. The results are on full display today in breathtaking beauty.

  • Mary Jane Ballou, Cantorae St. Augustine
  • Wilko Brouwers, Monterverdi Choir, the Netherlands
  • Dr. Horst Buchholz, St. Louis Cathedral
  • Charles Cole, Westminster Cathedral; Brompton Oratory
  • Charles Culbreth, Chant Cafe
  • Rudy de Vos, Oakland Cathedral
  • Aristotle Esguerra, Cantemusdomino.net
  • Dr. Paul Ford, St. John Seminary; Camarillo, CA
  • Gregory Glenn, Cathedral of the Madeleine
  • David J. Hughes, St. Mary, Norwalk, CT
  • Dr. Ann Labounsky, Duquesne University
  • Dr. Mee Ae Nam, Eastern Michigan University
  • Kathleen Pluth, St. Louis Church, Alexandria, VA
  • Dr. William Mahrt, CMAA President, Stanford University
  • Dr.Jason McFarland, Assistant Editor, ICEL
  • Jeffrey Morse, St Stephen, the First Martyr Church, Sacramento, California
  • Arlene Oost-Zinner, CMAA Programs Director; St. Cecilia Schola
  • Jeffrey Ostrowski, Corpus Christi Watershed
  • Sister Marie Agatha Ozah, Ph.D., Duquesne University
  • Rev. Robert Pasley, CMAA Chaplain; Pastor, MaterEccelsiae, Berlin, NJ
  • Dr. Kurt Poterack, Christendom College
  • Jonathan Ryan, Organist; Jordan Prize Winner
  • Dr. Edward Schaefer, University of Florida
  • Dr. Susan Treacy, Ave Maria University
  • Jeffrey Tucker, Chant Cafe, CMAA Director of Publications
  • Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, Executive Director, ICEL
  • Dr. Paul Weber, Franciscan University of Steubenville

The Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University will be extending the option of two hours of undergraduate or graduate credit to interested Colloquium participants. Dr. Ann Labounsky, chair of Sacred Music at Duquesne University and internationally known organist, will be your faculty adviser. Registration and payment information for undergraduate or graduate credit is provided by Duquesne Universtiy and payable to Duquesne University. Summer Course Registration Sheet 2012. If you are interested in obtaining two undergraduate credits, you must first file a formal application with Duquesne University. For more details about the application process, please contact Director of Music Admissions, Troy Centofanto, at musicadmissions@duq.edu Note that registering for credit at Duquesne is supplemental to registering for the program with the CMAA through the registration process outlined below. Any questions concerning Duquesne’s policies should be directed to Mr. Steve Groves at 1.412.396.6083 or groves108@duq.edu


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hollywood to Regina Laudis

Wonderful story in the Telegraph
As a young starlet in 1960s Hollywood, Dolores Hart had it all. Billed as "the next Grace Kelly" for her beauty and acting talent, she had a seven-figure studio contract, roles opposite some of the industry's biggest names and was the envy of girls everywhere for giving Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss.

She acted alongside legends of the silver screen including Anthony Quinn, Robert Wagner and Montgomery Clift and was the top-billed star of MGM's highest grossing film of 1962, Where the Boys Are.

She had partied at the Oscars, won the adulation of millions, fallen in love and had her wedding dress - made by a top designer - at the ready.

Then during a break from promoting her latest film in 1963, aged 24, she told her bosses at MGM Studios that she was heading to see friends in the country. They sent a limousine to drop her off at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. It turned out to be a one-way journey.

Next Sunday, nearly half a century after she gave up a life of fame, glamour and wealth to become a cloistered Benedictine nun, Mother Dolores Hart - now aged 73 and the abbey's prioress - will return to Hollywood to soak up the thrill of celebrity one more time.

More Here

Update: Maureen Dowd covers the same topic (snarkiness warning)

Another contribution from Continuum

This remarkable ensemble does Quem Vidistis, Pastores?

Exultet in Neumes

Richard Rice has done it: Exultet in a four-line staff. I find this much easier to sing than the version printed in the Missal.

Lumen Christi Missal - Now Taking Pre-Orders!

I mentioned this toward the end of another post the other day, but want to repeat more explicitly here that Illuminare Publications has now begun taking individual pre-orders by credit card, PayPal or check for the Lumen Christi Missal at a discounted pre-order price.

You can pre-order your copy here

Be sure to also take a look at the new Illuminare Publications website which is soon to become a thorough catechetical resource for parishes, and digital library of sacred music scores for free download, all of which will be built upon the Lumen Christi Missal, and will integrate and harmonize with it seamlessly.

The new site now contains generous and expanded sample contents, including a very compelling draft of all of the liturgies of Holy Week.

The Lumen Christi Missal is expected to ship in the Spring to Summer of 2012. You can help assist in its timely delivery by pre-ordering a copy for yourself today. I am grateful to those who have already pre-ordered one or more individual copies, and especially thank the seven "Charter Parishes" who have already pre-orderd the LCM in bulk for their parishes. Thank you for your support, and please keep this new and groundbreaking endeavor in your prayers.

Treasures in the Simple Choral Gradual

Recently, our schola at the parish sang a Requiem Mass in the ordinary form, and the music question was wide open. We chose Gregorian settings of the entrance and communion. For offertory, we relied on a resource that has become essential for our weekly work: The Simple Choral Gradual. It contains four-part settings for all the propers of the Mass for the entire year.

No matter how much I write about this book, I can't get over the sense that it is underappreciated. Especially for these special Masses, the composer (Richard Rice) provides outstanding music that is not difficult and yet expresses a unmistakable liturgical solemnity. The offertory for the Requiem Mass was a great example of this.

A disadvantage that this book has is that there are no score-displaying youtubes of this book, unlike the Simple English Propers. If we had more recordings, I feel sure it would be more well known than it is. The fact is that this resource is something that no ordinary form schola can do without, provided the schola is interested in singing the liturgy as versus just singing something at Mass.

The USCCB's Divine Worship on Hymns and Proper Chants

I find it extremely encouraging that the Office of Divine Worship is answering questions about music and the propers of the Mass. The questioner in this case is not correct in assuming that the practice of singing both a hymn and the proper chant is wrong. And the answer clearly states this. In any case, the very fact that this exchange is taking place at all is a very good sign. To ask the right questions on the right subjects is more than half the battle.

As relayed by the musicasacra.com/forum:

Dubium: A Major Catholic Basilica in America has the following practice: as the priest processes to the altar, they sing an opening hymn. Then, as the Bishop incenses the altar, they sing the Proper Introit in Gregorian chant. Is this practice licit?

Responsum (Feb 14, 2012 at 7:29 AM): Thank you for your question. Why would you think it illicit to sing both a hymn and the antiphon during the entrance, especially at a more solemn liturgy involving the bishop when the procession and the incensation of the altar might require more music to accompany the action? This is, in fact, the practice in many cathedrals, especially at stational masses of the bishop which include the whole presbyterate of a diocese (such as the Chrism Mass or ordinations).

Executive Director, Secretariat of Divine Worship, USCCB, 3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017

Dubium: What is the proper response to people who point out that the current GIRM does not allow this practice?

Responsum (Feb 14, 2012 at 9:58 AM): To say “the GIRM does not allow for this practice” is a bit of a stretch, because it simply gives several options for what could be sung at the entrance. It does not speak in one way or another about whether one could do both, because it speaks only to the normative practice of an entrance procession that includes priest, deacon, and other assisting ministers, and not a more elaborate entrance procession at a stational mass with the bishop and the presbyterate. The GIRM never speaks to every possible scenario that could take place.

Executive Director, Secretariat of Divine Worship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017

Friday, February 17, 2012

Simple English Propers, 7th Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fr. Weber's Good Friday

I don't announce the weekly uploads in musicasacra.com/weber just because I'm hoping readers will check this page often (silly, I know). But I must, must draw your attention to Fr. Weber's wonderful Good Friday contribution. It is just extraordinary.

A New Exultet and Its Mighty Significance

This year we will experience a new Exultet Easter Proclamation. The words are much better, much clearer, less abbreviated, closer to the Latin. As part of this, I want to draw your attention to a new book published by the Liturgical Press. It is called The Easter Proclamation.

It is a pretty book, very elegant, with all original artwork that nicely draws from tradition to present something new and contemporary. It doesn't look like the official music books of the preconcilar times but it does not depart from them too far either. The production values are absolutely wonderful. In fact, this book is so nice that i wonder why it has received so little attention.

You can actually look at samples here.

The notation is on a 5-line staff, with the same methods used in the Missal. It is a very singable setting. And I really like the way the pages turn and the pictures jump off the page. It is just ideal for any parish.

But let's not miss the significance here. This is an official book for Catholic liturgy, approved by ICEL and the U.S. Bishops, that contains only music. This is huge. I'm not aware of another official book for liturgy in the modern Roman Rite that contains only music. Again, this is not a "study edition" but an official liturgical book. Is it the first one to appear since the promulgation of the ordinary form of Mass? I'm not entirely sure about that but it is surely rare, regardless.

Whether you are drawn to the style of this work or not, its existence alone is a great cause for hope. It means that the Bishops are more and more seeing the need to approve the publication of books that are only music books. This dramatically elevates the place of music in the current liturgical priorities of the Catholic faith. It is a beginning and a very strong one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Share the Love of Chant this Lent

The lovers of chant have to be creative these days. This much we’ve discovered. The challenge is to find ways to share the love even in an environment where there are so many obstacles, so much misunderstanding of liturgy, an usual degree of musical illiteracy, and an entrenched musical culture in parishes that embed a strong bias toward the status quo of pop hymns instead of true liturgical art.

In every parish situation I know of, the moment of change comes when the chant advocates stop thinking of themselves as demanding something and starting thinking of themselves as servants of the others in the parish community and the faith generally. That’s when the ice begins to melt, the hearts open, people start listening, and progress begins to happen.

Service is the watchword here. It assures the pastoral staff and other parishioners of good faith. Having that frame of mind is good for the singer too. It has something to do with the willingness to make a sacrifice in order to achieve the goal. We need first to bury our own egos in order to see the the triumph of a music that is the ultimate non-egoistic art, the art that is not only directed outside ourselves but even outside the passage of time on this earth.

Lent is upon us -- rather suddenly it seems -- and I’ve been trying to think of ways to integrate Lent and interest in chant. In my household, we’ve usually sung night prayer with a great consistency than throughout the rest of the year. This practice has been made possible because of a wonderful book simply called Compline, as put together by Fr. Samuel Weber. It has the office of compline for the full liturgical year with English and Latin on facing pages.

I highly recommend this practice as a lovely Lenten discipline. It will help you discover the Psalms as never before. Somehow chanting them in this way opens up the treasures to our hearts and minds - and more poignantly than merely listening on Sunday. The antiphons become part of your life in a beautiful way. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes but it offers great benefits.

I’ve been thinking of ways to expand on this model. The answer finally occurred to me this week. I was in a discussion with a mother of three very young children, one of which truly loves music. She would like to see a way to foster this interest. But like many people today, she doesn’t think she is a musician at all. She doesn’t think she can sing and it would never occur to her that she could lead any kind of sung prayer in her house.

I was listening to this scenario when it suddenly struck me. This is something that I can actually help with. This is something I can do. It wouldn’t take much time at all. I could swing by quickly on my way home from work or in the early evening, pass out the books, and just sing Compline with the family. They wouldn’t have to go anywhere. They could build it into the course of their evening routines. I would arrive and be gone again in a short 20 minutes, and repeat this as often as possible throughout the season.

At first the chants would be completely out of reach for them. They would be lost in the book. They would find the notation odd. They wouldn’t know how to repeat on their own anything that happened. That situation would be true for the first fire times, even the first week or longer. But after two weeks? Three weeks? The method would start to stick. The repeated parts would start to become familiar and memorized.

Think of it. By they end of Lent, what will the family take away from this experience? They will have forever in their hearts the sound of the Church at prayer. It will affect parents and children. It will give them a strong taste for the beauty of prayer. This will create in all present a special place in their hearts for this ancient tradition. They will have new ways to pray wherever they are. The Psalms will be implanted in their minds. For the children, they will carry this throughout their lives.

And all of this happens by giving up 20 minutes a day. That’s remarkable if you think of it. It really is like the loaves and fishes in the story. The singer is the apostle who has the food. The blessing is multiplied by Jesus himself and miraculously shared with others even as it does nothing to diminish the original contents of the basket.

I’m sharing this idea because I’m wondering if other musicians might consider doing the same thing as a Lenten discipline. If we all did this, many lives would be changed. If a choir dispatched singers throughout the parish into homes, many more people in the parish could come to love the chant and be supportive of it in the Mass on Sunday.

So I’m imagining a dream scenario here. Imagine that the pastor of the parish decides to make this a parish program. He first goes to the choir and asks everyone in the choir to learn to sing Compline in its most simple form. Then he asks each member of the choir to help this Lent by volunteering to go into homes of parishioners.

Once he has them committed to this idea, he announces to the whole parish that there is a sing up sheet in the back of the parish for any parishioner who would welcome a choir member to come to sing Compline in their home during the season. I suspect that there would be many people thrilled to sign up for such a service brought right into their homes.

Think of people at home with all sorts of issues and difficulties for whom a nightly sung prayer would be such a blessing. Maybe there is a problem with the kids. Maybe someone at home is caring for an aging parent. Maybe there are family issues that are putting strains on everyone. For everyone to come together for just a few minutes a day to sing the Psalms might bring a kind of heavenly peace to a household.

But most people believe that they cannot do this on their own. They need help. Members of the choir can help perform this service. It is also a way to give choir members practice in leading others in chant prayer. That can only improve their singing talent on Sunday.

This might seem like a small thing but it can have huge effects. If a dozen or so families in the parish accept this offer, they will enter the Easter season with a new talent and a new love for the beautiful art of sung prayer.

What’s more, this is a gift that musicians can give to their parish. Yes, it takes time. Yes, there are other things that one could be doing during cocktail hour. But the last years have taught chanting musicians something extremely important. The most important step toward achieving progress toward the goal of beautiful liturgical music is to show to others and yourself that the driving motivation is the same one that led tot he composition and perpetuation of chant: humility in the service of God.

Ash Wednesday, Simple English Propers

Ash Wednesday, Graduale Romanum

Pre-Lent - Ash Wednesday: Introit from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

11th Sunday after Pentecost: Offertory from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Pre-Lent - Ash Wednesday: Communio from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Bishop Olmsted: Singing the Mass, Part III

His Excellency, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of Phoenix, has released his third installment in his four-part series on sacred music, entitled "Singing the Mass: Sacred music's role in evangelization".

Here is part one, and here is part two.

Bishop Olmsted is the newly appointed vice-chairman of the Vox Clara committee, and has begun to take a leadership role in the renewal of the liturgy in the United States. His series on sacred music appears to be among the first from the American episcopacy to teach so directly on the authentic renewal of sacred music.

Here are a few passages from his recent teaching, with added emphasis:
The distinction between religious music and liturgical music (cf. part one of this series) embodies this double movement: religious music is, we might say, the earthly expression of a given culture's faith in Christ; liturgical music is the sacramental expression of Christ and the true nature of the Church. The former tends to be particular, individual, temporal and profane; the latter tends to be universal, communal, eternal and sacred. Religious music comes from human hearts yearning for God; liturgical music comes from Christ's heart, the heart of the Church, longing for us.


Some might ask: should not the mention of the word assimilation give us pause, or even make us somewhat nervous? If we submit ourselves to this assimilation — with all our musical preferences, tastes, and cultural differences — to the concrete musical sources of the Church's liturgy (i.e., the Roman Missal itself, Graduale Romanum, Graduale Simplex, vernacular translations and adaptations thereof, etc.), will we not entirely lose ourselves, our individuality and creativity? Is there not a danger of the Church becoming irrelevant and therefore powerless in her liturgical expressions, a mere museum of "old" music?

To answer these concerns, we could extend the Church's teaching on the new translation to the use of liturgical music: "So the liturgy of the Church must not be foreign to any country, people or individual, and at the same time it should transcend the particularity of race and nation. It must be capable of expressing itself in every human culture, all the while maintaining its identity through fidelity to the tradition which comes to it from the Lord" (Liturgiam Authenticam, 4).

In other words, the Church, though existing in many cultures, has her own authentic culture because she has authentic liturgy… both which come to her from Christ. The unity and integrity of the Roman Rite is embodied in the Rite's sacred texts and musical forms, as a vine is expressed in its branches. Growth requires pruning and nourishing, but never ignoring or starting from scratch.


Please read the entire article, and series.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Simple English Propers to Lumen Christi Missal

The Chant Cafe readers who have been following us since the beginning will remember that there was something similar to the current weekly posting of the Simple English Propers that began in September of 2010. This weekly posting, though, was much more organic, and developmental in nature. This weekly post often included much experimental material, and rough engravings and layouts, not to mention typos!

For those who do not know the story, the Chant Cafe was the cradle of this project and it was discussed intensely and fine tuned a great deal through the public "beta" process that led up to the book's publication in the summer of 2011.

As the composer and editor of this book I can tell you that this experience was very profound. It was almost as though a new generation had emerged around this project with fresh eyes to look at the question of sacred music in our parishes, had access to the greatest scholars and practitioners of the previous generation, and a communication tool (the internet) which enabled exchanges so rich that they might as well have been taking place in the studios of 16th century Florence.

We all know the result. Jeffrey, the Cafe ring leader, has not held back his enthusiasm about this book. I still have a hard time understanding the effects of it, but hear stories that are almost unthinkable, difficult to believe or imagine.

Just today, Jeffrey briefly shared with me a conversation he recently had with Prof. Mahrt, the president of the CMAA. Dr. Mahrt has been directing one liturgy at his parish in Palo Alto, CA, for over 40 years, while most of the other liturgies at the same parish have mostly reflected the status quo. I'm told that one of the parish's musicians (not in Mahrt's choir) approached him and said something to the effect of: "Have you seen this new Simple English Propers book? I think we're going to start using it!"

Why did it take 40 years for this to happen? I certainly don't understand it, and we may never know.

The reality, though, is that great ideas can pop up almost out of nowhere, and while no one can really take credit for them, they can change life as we know it. Before the idea or thing, no one could have imagined it. But after they see it, there is an intellectual connection between two points and life is forever changed, and life without it cannot be imagined.

Whether the Simple English Propers was really one of these moments, I'm not entirely sure. But I can say that I can't imagine directing music in Catholic liturgy without it. Perhaps many others feel the same.

What some of you may not know is that the work that was done in the SEP to address the needs of Catholic parish choirs has been carried on into a book that is similarly addressing the needs of Catholic parish congregations. For the past four months I have been editing, full-time, a new publication called the Lumen Christi Missal

The Lumen Christi Missal is imbued with the same ethos that permeates the SEP. Its focus is different, though, because it is not intended for use by parish choirs and musicians, but is intended to be in the hands of the faithful. It gives them everything that they need and offers a replacement for the common parish "missalette" that is aimed at the new liturgical renewal, and  is beautiful, permanent and dignified, bespeaking the beauty, permanence and dignity of the sacred liturgy.

The aim of the Lumen Christi Missal is to at once meet parishes where they are at, yet at the same time open possibilities that were otherwise unimaginable.

I am excited to announce that Illuminare Publications (the publisher of the LCM) has launched a new website and is now taking Pre-Orders for the Lumen Christi Missal. Pre-orders are being taken for individual copies as well as in bulk, and during the pre-order period we will be offering a discounted price.

There are generous sample (draft) contents on the site, and we will soon offer sample copies for those who are interested in purchasing for their parish. If you pre-order now you will also assist us in getting through the first print run. So in the spirit of the SEP, I would like to ask you for your support in making a book available to Catholic parishes throughout the United States that I believe could even surpass the SEP in its paradigm shifting influence.

It is an exciting time to be a Catholic. In the face of public and secular attack, the Church continues to persist in faith and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The renewal of the sacred liturgy is at the heart of this battle and I consider this work to be at the front lines. The celebration of the authentic liturgy is critical to the task of strongly reasserting our Catholic identity, and in showing forth the truth that only the Church holds in these dark times.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. Let us continue forward toward the "new era of liturgical renewal" that awaits us, and that indeed has already begun.

Liturgical Catch Words and Phrases To Be Scrapped

At the MusicaSacra Forum, a thread is compiling words and phrases that really must go.

Here are some samples
  • Gathering Song
  • Sending-fourth song
  • Table (in reference to the Altar)
  • Presider
  • Opening Prayer
  • Closing Prayer
  • Presentation song
  • Gathering space
  • Proclaimer
  • Travelling Cross
  • "our story"
  • "our journey"
  • worship space
  • Arena of worship
  • We are church
  • Bread and cup
  • Faith community
  • "Good morning and welcome. In the Name of the Father...."
  • "Mass is ended go in peace, and 'have a nice day'!"
  • "And also with you, Father."
  • "In these or similar words..."
  • "Worship committee."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Simple English Propers

Simple English Propers, which are being used in so many seminaries now that I can no longer keep up.