Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Aquinas Institute: Discounted Pre-Orders on new, affordable Works of Aquinas

I received the following note from Dr. Peter Kwasniewski of Wyoming Catholic College, with news of a new initiative that is very worthy of our support:
Some years ago, a group of theologians at Wyoming Catholic College came together to establish The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine.

By now you may already know about the ambitious project that our Institute has launched -- nothing less than publishing, over time, the works of Thomas Aquinas, in Latin certainly, and whenever possible, in bilingual Latin/English editions, in a uniform hardcover format, beautifully printed, and (finally) at affordable prices.  Our initial offerings are the complete Commentaries on Paul’s Letters, the Summa theologiae, the Commentary on John, and the Commentary on Matthew.

We are looking for pre-orders at this time to help offset the initial costs of printing.  I come to you with the request that you would consider whether you might be able to pre-order one or more of the volumes being offered by our Institute.  The discount on pre-orders ends on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8th.

Please take a moment to visit our website for details: www.theaquinasinstitute.org.

"What is the nature of liturgy?" Or, the Elephant metaphor.

"Don't you love when you get back to the table and your food is waitng for you?" That's a line from a Quentin Tarantino blockbuster film that is apropos of my post yesterday. Well, that's how I feel when I happened upon my email inbox just now-
Mr. Adam Wood just happened to send me this compelling essay. Synchronicity-is it real or just an album by the Police? Anyway, this is a guest post from Adam (his own blog is found HERE ). I hope you enjoy his wisdom as much as I. Disclaimer about the post title-the first portion is a quote from his essay, the second is my usual odd teaser. Adam's essay-

    A recent conversation thread at the MusicaSacra forum explores the "debate" (for lack of a better word) between two views about what the Mass is: a "celebration" or a "sacrifice." Alternatively, the two opposing understandings might be called "a shared community meal" and "a sacramental ritual."
    Now, I'm of the opinion that these are all true and/or accurate descriptions of what is going on in the Eucharistic Liturgy. But let's explore what the question is really asking, before we get into arguments over the true nature of our public sacramental life.
    The question, as framed by the original commentator and also (it seems) Pope Pius X, runs along something like: IF the Mass is X, THEN what thing (Y) ought we to be doing?
    Since the Mass is a Sacrifice, the music needs to be real serious. Since the Mass is a community celebration, it's okay to play calypso music and dress in shorts.
    If liturgy is essentially a cultic act of ritual, then we should never change a single detail. If liturgy is essentially a public act of political theatre, then we should add giant puppets.
    While I'm sympathetic to this line of reasoning (especially when the reasoner confirms my own biases and preferences), it rests on a singularly faulty foundation: the idea that we can possibly understand what the Mass is truly about.
    This, to me, seems the great fallacy of 20th-Century liturgical reform (and possibly earlier liturgical reform- although I'm not qualified to speak on anything other than what I have experienced myself). Workshops and planning books have turned "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" on it's head, teaching would-be liturgists that we should mold the liturgy to express our (new and improved) theology. But that's exactly the opposite of what (I understand) that phrase means. The prayer comes first, the belief second. Among the many graces bestowed on us by the sacrmental act, one of them is a potential lesson in the nature of supernatural things- things which we cannot, and perhaps should not, express in any other way.
    Outside of a firm grounding in the age-old traditions of how the Mass is CELEBRATED by the Church, any conversation about the nature of what is happening at the liturgy is mere speculation. And any attempt to use that speculation as a guide to the planning and execution of the Church's public prayer is meddling in things best left to more capable (and Venerable) hands.
    Liturgy then, should not be "done" in some particular way (as opposed to another) because we believe some particular set of things (as opposed to another). Liturgy should be "done" according the traditions of our heritage.
    Yes, yes- you can argue that within our tradition is a huge range of possibilities. True. And each parish or individual celebration has the freedom to find their way within that tradition. Even in a liturgically-ideal world (ha!), some will use Latin, and others the vernacular. Some will celebrate the Novus Ordo, and other the older Rite, and still others the Anglican Use, or the Ambrosian Rite, or one of the Eastern Catholic forms. Some would sing polyphonically and other monophonic chant. Some would employ an organ, and others not. Some would have a vested clerical choir of Men and Boys singing from within the Sanctuary, other a Women's schola in the loft, and still others a single Cantor (with his or her well-worn copy of the Simple English Propers in hand).
    But really- none of them would have giant puppets, would they? And while it's easy to point out the most obvious and ridiculous "adaptation" that has ever been made to the Roman Rite, I think we can agree that - even within the inherent disagreements that would follow - a basic conception of fidelity to tradition itself would cause a profound, and positive, change in contemporary liturgical praxis.
    Only THEN might we be able to understand what the liturgy actually is, and what it does to and for us.
    And then, when someone asks, "What is the nature of liturgy? Is it a sacrifice, or is it a celebration?" instead of stumbling over seminary-style explanations, we could simply say: Come and see.


There are two kinds of Church music:
  • sacred
  • utility
or is it:
  • elevating
  • subsumable
or is it:
  • perduring
  • ephemeral
or is it:
  • Word-driven
  • meter-driven
or is it:
  •  vertical (theologically, i.e., meant to aspire towards God's beauty)
  • horizontal (theologically, i.e., meant to reflect the anthropology of the assembly)
or is it:
  • horizontal (musically, i.e. based on melody)
  • vertical (musically, i.e. based on chordal progressions, i.e. written at the piano)

Conference at Birmingham Oratory: Sept. 21-22

21/09/2012 - JHNILM Conference September 21st /22nd 2012 at the Oratory, Birmingham

In September, the Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music celebrates its first birthday, and the second anniversary of the visit to the Oratory by Pope Benedict on the occasion of the beatification of Blessed Cardinal Newman, founder of the Oratory and Patron of the Institute.

To mark the occasion the JHNILM is holding a two day conference at the Oratory, on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd September.

Speakers include Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, currently the Executive Director of ICEL, who has had varied experience as a professional musician, schoolteacher and chaplain, and who will explore the way "Towards a new Culture of Liturgical Music”.

Mgr. Andrew Burnham, is also a distinguished musician, author and former Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet, will speak about the musical life and aims of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, of which he is a member.

The outstanding organist and choral conductor Joseph Cullen, former Organ Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, who has held posts in Leeds, Glasgow and Westminster Cathedrals and has directed the London Symphony Chorus and Huddersfield Choral Society for many years, is addressing the Conference on the subject of "Stripping the Cladding”, in which he examines the search for an authentic voice in today's Roman Rite.

Ben Whitworth, assistant editor of the liturgical journal "Usus Antiquior” will talk on the "Use and abuse of Hymns”, exploring their true historical place in the Liturgy and ways in which they have sometimes come to be misused.

Jeremy de Satgé, founder of "The Music Makers”, singer, composer and choir conductor, will speak on "How to get Catholics to sing, or why we should sing the Mass”.

Jeremy White, the internationally renowned operatic soloist and a Cantor of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, founded by the acclaimed plainchant Scholar, Dr. Mary Berry, will speak about his own experience as a church musician.

There will also be classes in practical liturgical musicianship presented by the speakers. Joseph Cullen and Jeremy de Satgé will take classes of children and introduce them to liturgical music and the art of singing it. Joseph Cullen will give direction to those who wish to learn more about the art of liturgical organ playing, particularly the accompaniment of plainchant.

First Vespers of the 25th Sunday of the Year will be sung in Latin and English Chant and directed by Philip Duffy KSG, who was for thirty years Director of Music at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, and who now lectures in music at Liverpool Hope University.

The Conference ends with a performance of Catholic liturgical Music in the Oratory Church by the Sixteen under the direction of Harry Christophers CBE.

Attendance at the Conference and concert costs £65 and can be booked by telephone on 0121 454 0808, or by writing to JHNILM, c/o The Oratory, 141 Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE, or online at admin@oratorymusic.org.uk. You can visit the Institute's website at: www.oratorymusic.org.uk

If you think things are bad in your church...

I have a confession to make. Readers from southern states or devoted fans of the now ancient and defunct seminal rock band, R.E.M., will understand what I mean by declaring I’m losing my religion. No, not my faith or practice in our beloved HRCC, God forbid! “Losing my religion” is colloquial code for when you feel doubt about the worth of something that once was pretty an all-consuming passion. In my case, it’s about the value of internet discourse as a helpful tool for dialogue, enthusiasm and fraternal support among peers serving the Church as musicians. I found myself giving advice to a colleague at our sister forum that to offer sound advice via the “written word” on the web that produces responses other than what one anticipated was immaterial in this age when people DON’T READ ANYTHING. What, you say, no one READS ANYTHING anymore? Well, you show me someone who reads every word and mark on a contract for a mortgage or auto loan, and I’ll show you the odd duck. Realizing someone actually reads these little missives and responds consistent to your dialectic would be like finding Waldo, heck maybe even Amelia Earhart! No, I know for darn sure that I am not a completely thorough reader. Happily I have lots of friends who remind me of that in our respective and various Liturgy Encampments. But, at some point I’m sure that the best intentions bloggers have when hitting submit, knowing that saying something with fervor is going to be like being in the middle of a riotous bunch of bridezillas at the wedding gown blue light special sale, you’ll be relatively unscathed if someone just criticizes your spelling, punctuation or word count. But, in reality, it’s generally nasty business. Blogger Adam Wood (Music for Sunday) nailed it today at Pray Tell after a lovely little post of Alan Hommerding’s satire at NPM called “How do you solve a problem named ‘translation?’” (think “Sound of Music.”) Adam quipped “Cue comments lacking a sense of humor in 3… 2… 1…” So, I’m not tired or weary. I’m just doubtful about the time investment. I’m hoping to hand over my Café calligraphy pen to someone like Adam or my other young and brilliant colleagues I’ve met at colloquia and online. And I wondered, what the heck is there to write about anyway?
God’s a funny person, what with Him being our Creator and all. I had avoided this issue: to post or not to post by doing what I do- procrastination. So, in a thread another new contributor at MSF offered this little gem up in so many words (Hildegard of Bingen thread), “Why not Doctors of the Church who were musicians?” Besides my patron, Gregory the Great, I thought “Yeah, what about Tallis or Palestrina?” Now, if you’ve READ THIS FAR, here comes a little fable before getting to the point.
Chuck was an organist and choirmaster of a tiny parish in a small town in the eastern desert area of Oregon for over five decades. He’d displayed quite a talent at the piano when he started lessons with a lady who also taught second grade at St. Precocious School at the age of seven. He was playing school Masses on Fridays by the third grade on an old Wurlitzer in the gallery. He started with the two part St. Gregory, added the SATB by the fourth grade, and started messing with the pedals after a growth spurt in the fifth grade. Chuckie was close enough to commute to college where he earned a degree in English, then a teaching credential, and he, too, became a school teacher. But he he would always be found at the Wurlitzer console on Saturday and Holy Day Vigils, and on Sunday and HD Masses. Once in a while, whomever the current pastor was might give Chuck a bonus a couple of weeks after Easter or Christmas. And a couple of times, he was sent to some conventions where it became evident that there was much more music than the Catholic top twelve hymns recording by the great Proulx. But Chuck only seasoned his weekly ordos with an occasional song like “Let There be Peace on Earth” or “How Great Thou Art.” One summer his pastor sent Chuck to a diocesan workshop where everyone was given huge packets of music, and he returned and reported to the parish and the pastor to learn that they were going to use all these new songs because they were switching to a yearly paperback hymnal and that would surely help the people to participate more fully (and louder) when singing at Mass. So, Chuck looked through the hymnal. It was Ordinary Time, and he said to himself, “Okay, let’s just try some of these out. Some of the tunes are actually quite well known anyway.” So for the upcoming weekend he chose four new hymns: ALL ARE WELCOME (Entrance); SING A NEW CHURCH (Presentation); SONG OF THE BODY OF CHRIST (Communion); and “CANTICLE OF THE SUN” (Dismissal). He thought of the last one, “That’s really a bit too peppy for me, but maybe the people will enjoy that.” At the end of the Vigil Mass on Saturday, Chuck turned the power off the console and expected to look over the gallery rail expecting to see just a few stragglers, but it seemed like the whole church was still full. From the hodge podge of faces first came some murmurs. Then louder, Chuck could make out some words. Then the words became shouts: “What in God’s Name was that?” “Chuck, what’s wrong with you?” “Have you lost your mind, Chuck, what was that crap anyway?” “If you play anything like those again, I’ll never come to Mass here again!” “Chuck, now you’ve gone too far, I’m going to the pastor about all this change!” He sat backwards on the bench, stunned and bewildered. It was difficult to take in “what just happened?” All he could come up with was “I just played some different music. How could that make all those folks so angry? What did I do wrong?” Unease and confusion tussled in his head. Then Chuck woke up with a start. Oh, thank God, it was just a dream. His memory emerged from a fog, it was just like other end of Mass, just a few people praying silently, a few chatting, no one noticed Chuck’s changes at all, apparently.

Back to the post. In a world where image is everything and self image is at the top of each soul’s agenda, surely nothing like Chuck’s nightmare would ever happen in reality. Such scenes are imaginary or cloaked in the anonymity of the combox echo chambers. Think again. When I considered the notion of “composer” Doctors of the Church, I thought immediately of the address given by Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev in 2010 to the faculty and students of the Benjamin Rome School of Music at Catholic University in D.C., in which he particularly emphasized the singularity of the union of soul and composer in the example of J.S. Bach. His stunningly eloquent and persuasive essay can be found here. In tracking the address down via Google, as I scrolled down the first page of hundreds of thousands of addresses, this caught my attention: Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) shouted down as heretic by members of the Patriarchate of Moscow I followed the link to a site “ORTHODOX ENGLAND,” an independent publication associated with St. John’s Orthodox Church, Colchester, UK. I thought, “This can’t be serious, can’t be real.
On the evening of Saturday 13 February, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk was greeted by shouts of ‘heretic’, as he came out at the polyeleios at matins. The disturbance took place in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of All those who Sorrow, which is on the Ordynka in Moscow. Metropolitan Hilarion serves regularly in this church. The situation has not been helped by the leaking of a discussion document which resulted from ecumenical talks about papal primacy. These talks were held last year in Crete among academics from the Orthodox Church and from the Vatican. The discussion document has been dubbed the ‘Cretan Unia’ by its opponents. The situation thus resembles that in Greece in the 60s and 70s, where Greek ecumenists of that generation were also regularly shouted down during services as heretics. All this serves to show just how broad a spectrum of opinion is represented within the Patriarchate of Moscow. These are far broader than within the Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, where views are much more consistent. Presumably, this must result from the fact that there are so many recently baptised in the Patriarchate, who do not always know or understand the Tradition.
Are we talking about the same prelate here? Shouted at by, presumably, the laity of his own church, maybe even by clergy. What could this eminent pastor, scholar, composer and ecumenist have done to warrant such visceral vitriol among his own “flock?”In his Wikipedia bio there was this tidbit to ponder- On 5 October 2008 Bishop Hilarion took part in the "Bible marathon" organized by the Italian state TV channel RAI-Uno. He read Chapter Two from the Book of Genesis, immediately following Pope Benedict XVI, who read Chapter One. Bishop Hilarion was followed by 1246 readers from various countries.

Reading the Holy Word of God with 1246 other souls is added to a tote board by attacking sheep to a faithful and, it cannot be overstated, literally orthodox prelate of the other lung of sacramental Christendom, so much so that one could imagine a sort of “occupy” mob mentality must have been coordinated on that February day. From what else I’ve read about the metropolitan, he is not someone who cowers in the solicitude of academic hallways or libraries. He has known risk and championed the beauty of orthodoxy and discipline at every step. I would think he’s not much for staying in the confines of his material office. If he can “get” Bach, and be a clarion to call attention to Bach, man of God, he certainly wouldn’t have reservations reading a bible chapter after the Pope of Christian unity, Benedict XVI. Wouldn’t it be wonderful were one a fly on the wall when those two chatted privately about old Johann?
So, oops, I’ve done it again. Another long, obtuse post. Well, that’s, among a very few other things, what I do and have done during my time at the Café. I try to put things into a perspective that I can comprehend, that means no offense and hopefully ministers to someone else as these revelations edifies my continued enthusiasm. So, thank you yet again, Metropolitan Hilarion. Thank you, Lord God of heaven and earth. I may not in the unforeseen future continue sharing stuff that keeps me honest and going. But, rather than to curse the darkness for all that hasn’t come to pass in WHAT I THINK LITURGY SHOULD BE in my little corner of the ant farm, I’m not going to “lose my religion” over the stuff of Chuck’s nightmare, but to emulate and follow the fine example of leadership lived by some orthodox bishop over in Russia who is, if anything, not a “heretic,” but maybe a future Doctor of a united Church, either in this world or the next.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes

Pope Benedict XVI: "The miracle did not come from nowhere, it came from an ordinary boy's desire to share what he had. Jesus does not ask us what we do not possess, but shows us that if each of us offers the little we have, a miracle can always happen. God is able to multiply every one of our small deeds of love and make us share in His gift."

So too with music, which has the attribute the permits infinite sharing and duplication, just as in the story. Musicians give what they have and then watch miracles happen. God multiplies our deeds of love when we share his gift.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Year of Sacred Music

Hello again to all of my friends at the ChantCafe. It has been a while since I’ve been with you here, though this has in no way been intentional – I’m sure you can understand that I’ve been a bit busy lately. I look forward, though, to joining you in the great year in sacred music that lies ahead. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that we’re not only about to enter the Year of Faith, but are about to enter what history will also record as being a Year of Sacred Music.

We are now eight months past the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal in the English speaking world. After all of the buildup and anxiety surrounding the Missal’s reception, we can now see that for most parishes and for most Catholics in the pews, this really was not that big of a deal.

Many parishes have used the new translation as an opportunity for deeper catechesis on the Mass itself, drawing upon the clarified scriptural allusions in the Missal and the greater theological precision brought about by the clearer translation, and have helped guide parishioners into a deeper and more actual participation in the sacred mysteries of the liturgy. But many are now asking, what will be the next step?

The answer seems very clear: The next step is sacred music.

More parishes than ever have been taking up the task of singing the Order of Mass. This is made possible, of course, by the fact that the sung parts of the Mass are placed in the heart of the Roman Missal itself. Bishops and Church leaders have emphasized the importance of singing these texts, and parishes all around the world are responding and are achieving success.

I experienced proof of this just a few weeks ago when I returned to the small town in the Midwest where I was raised, and as a child strummed songs from Glory and Praise week after week: The priest sang his parts from the Missal, sang them well, and the people responded with enthusiasm and vigor. I never could have imagined this. The framework for a renewal in sacred music is now in place. What people will see, and are now seeing, is that guitars, drums, and folk/pop music really do not have a place in this picture. The need to fully sing the Mass is becoming very strikingly and pressingly apparent.

What people are finding is that the sung Order of Mass simply cries out for Mass Propers. It cries out for chanted Ordinaries. When people experience chanted Propers and Ordinaries amidst the sung orations and dialogues they feel a profound sense of relief, an aha moment. They often say things like “it just makes so much sense!”, or “it just feels right!”. This is the genius of the Roman Rite speaking, there is no doubt.

The sense of the faithful is calling for the sung liturgy, and when parishes achieve it in practice suddenly they are seeing that their pews are filling up with young families, collections go up, the parish is reinvigorated with life and vitality.

Parishes have been taking advantage of the recent surge in sacred music resources, many of which have been made available by the CMAA, some of which have been brought to life in our midst here at ChantCafe. I am personally blown away by the way in which parishes have found success using the Simple English Propers, and the various other wonderful resources that have made inroads in parishes in the past few years. It is the dedicated parish musicians, priests and pastors who are to be commended for their patient and prudent work of liturgical renewal. Many of them are now finding that their parishioners are grateful for their work, for opening up to them many of the spiritual treasures of the liturgy that they had never before known.

The coming year, I believe, will be a year where the momentum that has so far been gained will begin to snowball, and where sacred music will reach more parishes than ever.

I am personally very excited to announce that my latest effort, the Lumen Christi Missal, has now been approved for publication by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has received the Episcopal Imprimatur of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, and is now being sent to print. It will begin shipping in September.

I believe that this book will help many parishes take the next step. It will put in the hands of the faithful the sung liturgy, and a complete resource that can help deepen parishes’ fruitful participation in the sacred mysteries. It is not the only solution, or even a solution at all – the only solution to our needs can be found in Christ – but it does hold the promise of equipping parishes with the tools that they need for the liturgical renewal that was envisioned by the Second Vatican Council, and that is now being brought to life by God’s grace in our day.

In this coming Year of Faith, as we recall the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, let’s hope and pray for an authentic renewal of sacred music in our parishes. The foundation has been laid, and the tools are being made available to us. Glorious days indeed lie ahead.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Down in Adoration Falling

Here we are once again, in the days of mini-retreat on the Eucharist at our Sunday liturgies. During Cycle B, the Year of Mark, the shortest Gospel, we hear for a few weeks from the Bread of Life Discourse from the Gospel of John.

It seems to me that this might be a good time to do what we can to revive the beautiful habit of Eucharistic devotion through our choice of postCommunion hymn, especially during these brief weeks. According to the GIRM:

88. When the distribution of Communion is over, if appropriate, the Priest and faithful pray quietly for some time. If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation.

This option was so memorably employed at the Holy Father's Mass at Westminster Cathedral a couple of years ago.


I thought I might offer a few hymns I've written with the highly accomplished Australian composer Colin Brumby, whose sacred work has been published in the States by CanticaNOVA Publications. The intent, like the above, is devotional, tender, yearning, and confident.


Dear Music Directors...

I've received a lot of correspondence from music directors since Jeffrey posted the FAQ from the Words With Wings Workshop site the other day.  Here's a summing up of the kinds of comments I'm getting:

"I'm really excited about using Words with Wings book with my kids' choir.  I'm not sure how this would work with kids in the parish, though.  My pastor feels, and I agree, that we have a good thing going with our music program.  He relies on me to keep making it happen.  Everyone is so busy, and it is all I can do to get eleven kids together for a choir rehearsal"

I hear what this person (and many like him) are saying.  If things are already on the right track, why ruffle feathers in the parish?  If the music at Mass is already pretty good, why should we worry about getting more kids involved, especially at the expense of other programs going on?  Moreover, we already have a music director (me) and things are going well.

Makes sense.  Why fix what doesn't appear to be broken. 

But how many kids are really involved in the music program?  And how many kids participate in your CCD program?  If you compare the two numbers, you'll see a huge disproportion.  I don't think it is because all of the other kids in the parish are incapable of singing simple songs or chants, or incapable of learning a tiny bit of music theory and a lot about the liturgy.

I have suggested to many that have written to me that they talk with their pastors about broadening music education for all kids.  The lessons in Words With Wings don't take much time.  And even though there are so many things for classroom teachers to do, isn't education on the music and the liturgy just as important, if not more important, than some of the other activities planned for classrooms?  We have to be honest with ourselves here, and quit blaming things on packed schedules.

As a music director, how can you help?  And why should you?

Something that is hard for musicians to admit to themselves– myself included – is that non-musicians can do a good job of things, too. In fact, this is precisely how things used to work in the Catholic schools. There was a lot of Ward lessons in classrooms the United States and beyond until the 1960s.  The Ward curriculum was designed, not for music specialists, but for classroom teachers to make part of there daily work with the kids.  Training was offered every summer, and teachers would go get the training they needed for the year.  In fact, if you look at the Ward Centre classes still offered at the Catholic University of America, you can see that that is precisely how it works.  You go get the training in Ward I.  Then you can teach Ward I.  Then you go back and get the training in Ward II.  Then you can teach that, and so on.

So why isn't anyone teaching Ward anymore, not even in the schools?  Well, you might have a handful of people trained, and a rare program or two that features some Ward instruction, but the problem is, again, that the demands of today's culture and today's classroom do not make room for music lessons every day.  Ward was designed to be taught in the regular classroom – every day – for eight years.   

I did take time out from life and work and went through all of the Ward training a few years back.  The lessons I learned are valuable, but if there is no place to apply them outside of my choir rehearsal, how can they really make an impact?  How can they do all they promise to do?

The Ward program of yesterday did make an impact.  In workshop after workshop I do across the country, there are people from a certain generation who come up to me and say:  "I remember this stuff from school.  I remember singing the chants, and singing at Mass.  I loved it. What happened to it all?"

What happened will never be entirely clear.  Though they had the education, did all these people join church choirs when they reached adulthood?  Probably not – one reason being that because during the 70s, there were few choirs left to join.   And those that were formed were not singing any of the music these people had learned in their early years.  But that doesn't mean that their music education wasn't valuable.  All of these people still have a sense of how music works in liturgy.  They remember it, and they value it to this day.

Wings author Wilko Brouwers has done what was long overdue and seemed impossible… he has taken the best of this tried and true pedagogy and updated it to fit today's schedules.  He has made it accessible to all, once again.  In twenty short lessons, all children are given the opportunity to learn something they will carry with them all of their lives. 

Teachers who learn the program, even if they go into it kicking and screaming, just may catch the bug, or at the very least, have to admit a greater appreciation for the music that the GIRM says is to be given pride of place after they've taught the twenty lessons.  Parents who see children and teachers making progress every week will become more invested in what is going on musically in liturgy. And in the liturgies of the parish.  And music directors will have a greater pool of children to draw from for their children's choirs in future – not to mention scholas down the road.

As music director, you can teach the Words With Wings curriculum in your choir rehearsals.  But since you are the music go to person in your parish, you can go one step further in the spirit of service. You can encourage pastors to schedule a workshop to bring classroom teachers along. (Sometimes it is good to bring a neutral party in from outside to do the dirty work, especially if you or your pastor fears some reticence).  

You can attend the workshop – along with the teachers – to let them and your pastor know that you will continue to be a resource for them.  You can help the teachers throughout the year.  Music and education programs don't have to operate on separate planes anymore.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Critical Mass-at what level should the discourse be held?

Over at "The Loyal Opposition," (an example of healthy sarcasm. that) the always compelling PRAY TELL BLOG, James Frazier has posted an article providing a comprehensive overview and review of GIA's new flagship hymnal, WORSHIP, FOURTH EDITION. You can access the review via either link and read the entire critque as Mr. Frazier composed it. In recent weeks there has been an increased sense of healthy dialogue between folks affiliated with CMAA and some familiar habitues of PTB concerning matters of the OF and EF seen through the lens and prism of the recent colloquium. It was refreshing to have the likes of Jeff Tucker, Arlene Oost-Zinner and Fr. Robert Pasley engage at PTB, and the discussion is still ongoing there, here, MSF and other blogs by folks like Fr. Allan McDonald. Usually though, the POV's of CMAA folks are offered by myself, Jackson Osborn and occasionally Jeff Herbert, compared to when PTB was first erected (about the same time as Chant Cafe.) We don't need to dwell on the reasons lots of us have abandoned the conversation. But MJO and I keep the fires lit. Hope springs eternal, eh what? But after the first reading of the Frazier review I was moved to comment: Upon the first reading of James Frazier’s review I was particularly struck by the paragraphs dealing with Mass settings.
I noticed the perfunctory disinterest over the neo-Jubilate Deo ICEL setting typified by a perceived boredom with the adapted Mass XI Glory melodic motifs. Devoting so much attention and word count to other issues such as multiculturalism, relevant new hymn texts and the ensconced late 20c sacro song, it seems somewhat arrogant to treat the ICEL as crafted by our bloghost as if it were some melodically equivalent of a gnat or paramecium. Well all I can say is that when my parochial school students chant ICEL XI Glory by memory with fluidity and precision, the effect is hardly perfunctory. But then, upon second reading I noticed this little gem, “chant Masses simply lack sex appeal. commenting upon the lack of enthusiasm for D. Hurd’s Plainsong Mass staple. Did Mr. Frazier even consider that such a quip would escape notice? Or did he just assume that such irresponsible, cavalier colloquial cuteness would elicit only a chorus of “yeahs” from some “Amen Corner” of PTB elite? Well, I won’t dwell on that further at this moment. I do, however, wish to point out what should be obvious about the balance of reviews of most of the W4 settings that remain. At the end of what I’d describe as a lukewarm reception of the litany of settings both revised and new, that a great amount of attention was provided the time signatures and metered affects of many settings and certain movements within them. Only Michael Guimont’s setting was given a hearty thumbs up, presumably for the decision not to employ triple meter signatures. And then the reviewer reminds us that triple meter is popularly presumed to indicate a joyful state, which he reminds us is erroneous. Yes, and major is not “happy” and minor is not “sad.” I can even hear Homer Simpson burping “Doh!” over that keen insight. But that is not even where my point is going. Whether a setting uses a pedestrian common meter as does Proulx’s Community “Holy” or the cliché’d 6/8 of the cliché Peloquin “Bells,” the issue of metered settings as being problematic in and of themselves isn’t even considered. It’s simply reduced to A. chant not sexy, boring; B. metered versions workable gebrauchsmusik but less filling, and less satisfying. What the review cannot say as it’s not in the hymnal is the problem of how to integrate artistic inspiration and worthiness into the realistic constraints and disciplines that liturgically informed Mass settings must observe. It is a difficult task to “talk about” musical affect, but Frazier could have worked into the equation the exhortation to seek inspiration from chant and polyphony, rather than from the strains of bluegrass and the Sacred Harp. I was gratified that he did lament the reality that GIA perhaps did not scour the hinterlands for more worthy settings that would have added substantial artistic merit to rival the proportionate amount of new hymn texts. And he did, by extension, gently remind us all that the singing of the Ordinary is of higher consequence in MS than of even the Propers, so more attention might have been given to composers beyond Guimont and Haugen during the compilation. Alas. This is a real issue facing composers in the post MR3 era, but W4 is a done deal. And, for the record, chant Ordinaries are far from “sexy,” they’re transcendent, ethereal, and, uh, enchanting.
Which then elicited an immediate reply from Mr. Frazier:
I appreciate Mr. Culbreth’s comment, but he seems to have brought some underlying gripes to the review which led to a misreading of some of my observations. Regarding Mass XI, the quality of the setting has nothing to do with how well his school kids sing it. I happen to value chant masses very much (partly because they are unmetered), but my quip about their lacking sex appeal was meant sarcastically, as I thought readers would understand. (Most with-it congregations would not tolerate a chant mass.) A blog is conversational, after all. Finally, I actually thought I had given too much attention to the eight mass settings. To each his own. Hmmm, thought I, I rather thought we were going to play chess, but it seems this is checkers instead:
To the contrary, Mr. Frazier, no gripes or axes were in my kit bag in advance. But your response to a respectful commentary continues to have a dismissive tone along with that presumption. There has been quite a lot of substantial discussion about the use of Gloria XI (which also has nothing to do with my students) that explored dimensions well beyond its tessitura and sequence of motifs. So, one might expect a bit more attention than E-G-A as a critique. The quip, yes it was taken as sacrcasm. What I tried to avoid saying directly was: is that an appropriate tactic to make a point in a serious review? Or does it call into question how seriously the reviewer has regarded the task at hand. Finally, you seem disinclined to engage furthering the conversation regarding the challenges composers face when trying to set the Ordinary in a worthy manner that meets some pretty daunting criteria such as aesthetic, accessibility, duration and style. Did I miss something key to understanding Mr. Frazier's POV that, thus far, causes him to not want to engage in addressing the same concerns he expressed in his review about specifically the Ordinary settings chosen? I was careful not to mention the names Ostrowski, Bancks, Rice, Allen or Mueller et al. That wouldn't have any bearing upon the issue I did address, the dogged reliance upon metered settings that Mr. Frazier himself oft cited. In so far as the remarks Frazier made regarding the ICEL Glory (XI) and chant not being "sexy," does anyone think that it would be incumbent upon a serious reviewer to at least provide a further explanation, if not evidence, to a declaration that "Most with-it congregations would not tolerate a chant mass.? Adding to a sense of condescension, or even disdain, to preface such an unfounded notion with a statement professing his affection for chant Mass settings seems to be self-contradictory, and a little bit smarmy, ala "Some of my best friends are..." I really do await Mr. Frazier's responses here or at PTB. In the meantime, if any of you would like to explain to me "what just happened here?", I'm all ears.

New Gregorian Missal: Available!

Solesmes is right up to the liturgical minute with a fantastic new edition of the Gregorian Missal with the new English text from the Roman Missal. Get yours here.

Bill Riccio Weighs In: Voice of the OF/EF

Bill Riccio was MC for the Sacred Music Colloquium, and one of the leading rubrical experts on the planet. Here are his thoughts on the ongoing discussion of whether the OF has a distinctive voice and whether or to what extent it does or should depart from tradition.

In the ongoing discussion (one is tempted to call it “controversy”) occurring here and elsewhere concerning the Masses as celebrated during the recent CMAA Colloquium, a few points should be noted. As the person who was charged with putting the liturgical parts together into a coherent whole with Fr. Robert C. Pasley, I wish to dispel some suppositions that seem to be the underpinnings of many of the comments.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll not try to answer each criticism or objection, as they seem to be as numerous as the individuals making them. I will stick to some principles given and decisions made based on those principles. I will confine my remarks to the Ordinary Form as with the Extraordinary Form few decisions have to be made. One just opens the books, makes a few adjustments as to space and logistics, and proceeds.

The first principle -- and one expressed by Fr. Pasley implicitly and explicitly -- was that of continuity. This was our first priority.

I'm always intrigued by the fact those who seem to frown on Tradition have little to say except what their liturgical preferences are. There's no acknowledgement of the fact that having the OF in the context of Tradition is the will not only of the Holy Father, but more and more people whose job it is to safeguard the liturgy. It always boils down to preferences, likes and dislikes. The "me" never comes out of the equation.

Some of the comments were written as if we were the ones breaking with tradition -- that liturgical practice within the context of the Roman Rite-in-continuity is something avant garde.

Seeing the post-conciliar Mass as something breaking with Tradition is what got us into trouble in the first place. Trying to steer it back in line with Roman liturgical practice is what is necessary for the good of the Church. That is certainly the opinion of more august individuals than this liturgical traffic cop.

Fr. Pasley is exactly right when he states the years following the council saw liturgical practice never envisioned by the council fathers, and things done in “the spirit of the Council” served no purpose but to take us off our Liturgical moorings.

The Mass is the heart of the Mystical Body, and the problem with the Missal of Paul VI is not what it does, but what it says – or doesn’t say. The Mass as a re-presentation of Calvary and offering for sin is less evident because of deletions. Many of those deletions were intentional because the goal of the post-conciliar revision was to make the liturgy more accessible to a non-Catholic audience. That was the heart of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci’s famous Intervention.

The Intervention was written following the presentation of the Missa Normativa at Rome in 1967. It held up publication of the missal for two years, and allowed Paul VI to re-introduce Roman elements into the rite – including the Roman Canon, the Orate, Fratres, and incense. It also caused a re-write of the infamous No. 7 in the Instructio Generalis.

It was under this set of circumstances the new missal was published, and the fears of those venerable cardinals realized. A rupture occurred, and that rupture led to all kinds of liturgical abuse. But, it did more. It all but eradicated the ethos that surrounded Roman Liturgical practice. Admittedly, problems happened in the immediate years after the council, but the imposition of a new missal at just that time finalized the rupture.

Fast forward to the pontificate of Benedict XVI. He saw the difficulties in the revised rites and had first-hand experience with some of its problems. He sees the “reform of the reform” as going back to the seminal documents that came out of the council, and using those liturgical resources that stand on the foundation of Roman Tradition.

Using Sacrosanctum Concilium and the desires of Pope Benedict XVI as expressed in his writings both before and after his accession to the papacy as starting points, decisions were made. The use of Latin, the chants as listed in the Graduale Romanum and other liturgical books, and taking the missal at its word (in the matter of orientation) were conscious decisions made by Fr. Pasley and the CMAA directors. It was not an attempt at turning the clock back, but a way of showing what the mind of The Church was then and what it is now, some two generations after the 1970 missal was promulgated.

The second principle was set forth at the outset of the Colloquium. In his remarks at the opening dinner, Dr. William Mahrt expressed the goals of the Colloquium and said the decision was made to show the Mass, both EF and OF, at its most grand in music and ceremonial. In other words, a paradigm was used that showed members of the CMAA as well as others what could be done in their parish churches in part or in full.

I believe the CMAA and its directors should be commended. They accomplished what they set out to do.

The lack of the Prayers of the Faithful or decisions to have choral sections instead of congregational chants was a big criticism by some. The crux of the criticism (as I understand it) was the lack of participation on a certain level by those in attendance. I disagree. The amount of participation (actual, not active) was palpable in every Mass celebrated that week, regardless of the rite. And, to be clear, the decisions were more practical than agenda-driven.

I agree with at least one comment that lamented the fact after 40-plus years of the Pauline Missal, we are still having this discussion; but, it is a discussion that should have taken place long ago. That it is happening now is because people are starting to acknowledge the elephant at the cocktail party.

The question is not the Missal of 1962 or the Missal of 1970. The question, instead, is how does the Church convey what she believes about the Mass and herself in her worship?

A final note, one particularly irksome comment had to do with whether the CMAA was in the business of music or spirituality. One would hope it is a “both/and” not an “either/or” proposition. Music directors and those charged with the service of the altar, no matter how peripherally, must have a spiritual (one would hope “Catholic”) center.

This was my first Colloquium and not my last, please God. It was the spiritual side that touched me most. The participants were unabashedly Catholic and faith-filled people.

One can only hope such would be the case in all the choir lofts around the world.

Bill Riccio, Jr.

Master of Ceremonies

Hymn Tune Introit: 17th Sunday OT

This is a "placeholder" for this coming Sunday's Entrance Antiphon. I hope to be able to make changes to it before publishing the complete Hymn Tune Introit project. It is not everything I would wish it to be. Although the first two lines are well done, I think, the last line is extremely weak, with two unnatural expressions for the sake of rhyme and meter. The important Biblical expression "his people" is missing. 

I think it's ok for the moment (for all for whom making the switch to propers a priority is). At least, it's closer to the proper than most hymns, although All People That on Earth Do Dwell would not be a bad choice, would it? As usual, it is in iambic Long Meter ( the usual conventional exceptions to the stresses that are allowed in hymn writing.

Perhaps I can think of a better solution, though, before Sunday. If so, I'll post it here and above.

God is in his holy place,
God who unites those who dwell in his house;
he himself gives might and strength to his people.  

The Lord is in His holy place, 
Uniting all who dwell inside. 
He, He Himself gives might and strength 
To all who with Him will abide.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview on the Current State of Music in General

I hope you like this interview I did with BandMo.

I was of course flattered.

Integral...or Incongruity?

The "competition" and market
Over at the Musica Sacra Forum folks (including m'self) have had themselves quite a time debating the pros/cons of a start up Publishing House envisioned to eventually rival "THE BIG THREE" primarily in terms of market presence and as a clear catalogue alternative to the status quo and/or perceived monopoly ensconsed in the consumer Catholic culture.
Our blogging colleague Jerry Galipeau of World Library Publications has always honestly and enthusiastically kept his readership informed of some of the inner workings of one of those BIG THREE houses at his blogsite, GOTTA SING, GOTTA PRAY

. So, his first post from the first day of the NPM national convention in Pittsburgh was up this afternoon. I'm going to simply quote an excerpt from his post along with two photos he included. Then I have a few questions for us to ponder.

This afternoon's opening plenum address was quite moving. Fr. Ron Raab, the keynoter, gave a presentation on the call to holiness, marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. He begged us Church musicians never to allow the liturgy to be separated from real life; our own real lives and the lives of those around us. (My emphasis)

The Opening Plenum, NPM 2012
* What do you think Fr. Raab meant by exhorting "us" to "never allow the liturgy to separated from real life..."?

 * How would you go about planning a CMAA presence/booth, or that of an allied/affiliated entity such as Corpus Christi Watershed or a such as startup competitor to the Three Initial Houses in the midst of the shown model of modern resource marketing?

* And, as an adjunct, how do these convention venues comment upon the concepts of "resources....liturgy.....and real life?"
Even if this main convention hall was packed SRO, what sorts of statements about ecclesiology, missio, personal investiture and postures, signs, symbols and sacraments and so forth are implicitly or explicitly being advanced and shared?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

16th Sunday, Simple English Propers

Fr. Pasley on the OF's Distinctive Voices

Excellent letter from the CMAA chaplain on the issue of the OF and the distinctive voice. This is a response to Paul Ford's original, my article, and Ford's response.

Does the Ordinary Form have its own distinctive voice or voices?
Fr. Robert C Pasley, KCHS
Chaplain CMAA

I would like to add to the discussion raised by Jeffrey Tucker about the distinctive voice of the OF. It doesn’t, in my opinion have a voice, but many voices.

Paul Ford said, “This CMAA Colloquium was the perfect venue for experiencing the reform of the reform at its most exemplary.” While I agree that it was exemplary and I thank him for the compliment, I don’t agree that we are engaged in the reform of the reform or that we tried to enrich the OF by adding EF elements to it.

Ad Orientem worship is not foreign to the OF according to the books. As a matter of fact we all know that Ad Populum was never mentioned by VII. It spread on its own, flying on the wings of the “Spirit of Vatican II.” Either GIRM #299 in the new Missal was translated incorrectly by accident or someone injected their agenda on purpose. It does not say that Ad Populum is preferred, but it says the following, “Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.” Which, thanks to Fr Z, the literal translation means, “The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.” By celebrating the OF Ad Orientem we are not reforming anything. We are not imposing EF customs on the OF. We are simply doing what the book not only allows, but seems to suggest as the first option.

Using Latin is not part of the reform of the reform. It is called for in the OF.

Not extending the Sign of Peace is not reform, or influence from the EF, it is an option granted to the priest to use, or not use, at his own discretion.

Using beautiful Roman style vestments in the OF is not imposing the EF. All legitimate historical vestments can be used in either Form. You can use modern vestments, with all the proper parts, for the EF and you can use old vestments in the OF. As a matter of fact, even though the maniple and biretta are no longer required for the OF, there is nothing forbidding a priest from using them. The Canons of St Peter’s Basilica wear the biretta at the sung Mass on Sundays at the Altar of the Chair.

Finally, the omission of the Prayer of the faithful during weekday Masses seems to raise the hackles of many a person. This is also not a throwback to the EF. Many times the intercessions are so wordy and so long, they are easily tuned out. They can actually become more prominent and meaningful by using them less. The rubric says they are desirable. It doesn’t say mandatory. If the daily intercessions are so essential, then why not just say they are mandatory.

As long as I have been a member of the CMAA our policy has been to try to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy as close to what Sacrosanctum Concilium seems to want and what the rubrics of the OF Missal seem to prefer. This applies to rubrics, music, ars celebrandi, and spirituality. The problem is the word “seems.”

The word “seems” is the crux of the matter, the place where the many voices of the OF appear. Michael Davies wrote a book called “Liturgical Time Bombs.” In it he described the various places in Sacrosanctum Concilium where imprecise language opened the way for innovations that many could never have imagined. In my opinion, one of the most egregious problems of the OF is the multitude of options and suggestions. This flexibility has opened the way for a Pandora’s box of experimentation and ultimately a complete disregard, by many, for following any rules. I hate to say this, but one could believe that the rubrics and rules that keep the OF close to the tradition were placed as the first option to keep the peace and not shock too much. The other options or loopholes were included so that in time the Rites could develop in ways that would never have been accepted at first. After all, I think it was Fr. Gelineau who said that the Roman Rite was dead. Under Archbishop Marini’s guidance, during the Papacy of Pope John Paul II, I don’t think I ever heard a Gradual or Gregorian Alleluia at a Papal Mass. At times, even the Vatican didn’t seem to be following the precedence set down in the Liturgical books, especially in regard to music.

I would like to conclude where I began. I don’t think there is one voice for the OF. I don’t even think there are two or three voices for the OF. The problem is that there are so many voices even within the celebration of the OF, it can often seem like the expression of two different religions. This occurs even without throwing the EF into the mix. The CMAA, under the guidance of our predecessors, especially Msgr. Schuler, has always practiced the hermeneutic of continuity. We do our best to keep that continuity with our Tradition and traditions alive. As for the EF influencing the OF or vice versa, that is a challenge for another day and for people at a much higher pay grade. I once heard a very kind and yet determined Traditionalist say, “better the Old Mass in English facing the people than the New Mass in Latin facing the altar.” Whether one agrees or not, it is a very thought provoking statement. It shows that mutual enrichment is much deeper than the style of vestment a priest might wear and it has a long way to go.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You can teach chant!

Have a look at the very cool FAQ on WingsWorkshop.org


I am a dedicated teacher, but I don’t know how to read music.  How can I possibly teach this curriculum?
Can you sing “Happy Birthday” and “Immaculate Mary”?  Do you sometimes sing songs in class just for fun?  If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are perfectly suited to teach this program to your students.  Reading square notes is easy…far easier than reading standard musical notation.  You will be given all the tools you need to unlock the system of notation in the Words With Wings workshop.  All you have to do, literally, is stay a lesson or two ahead of the kids. Don’t forget,  you have twenty weeks before you have to teach lesson twenty.  And other teachers around you can help.

But shouldn’t this program be taught by the parish music director?
We’ll answer this one with a few questions.  Are children in our parishes learning much about music at all?  Moreover, is it the role of the Church to give  children music lessons in general?  No. The real questions to ask here is: are children in our parishes learning about the relationship between the faith and the Church’s liturgy? If the faithful are supposed to sing the Mass, then they must be taught that music and the Word are inseparable in a liturgical context.

We get the kids together to sing at Christmas.  We don’t have time for music during the year.
It doesn’t do much good to teach children (whether you are the music director or a CCD volunteer) a slew of Christmas carols once a year.  These songs are rarely Catholic in origin, and do little to underscore the catechetical lessons they have been offered in the classroom.  It is better to teach the kids to understand the ancient relationship between their faith and the sung Word.  Words with Wings does just this…within the context of their regular classrooms.  It builds a bridge between education programs and the liturgical life of a parish…at last.  And the lessons take only fifteen minutes per week.

I learn best by listening. After the workshop, will I be able to find recordings of all the tracks in the books?

Yes, practice tracks are available here.  You can listen to them online or download them on to a CD.  These downloads are free, and designed specifically to help you achieve success in your classroom.

I teach the high school kids.  Isn’t this program too simple for them?
Not at all.  Everyone needs to start somewhere.  This program is recommended for all age groups – so long as the children can read.  It is ideally suited for a First Communion age group.  It would work just as well with fourth graders.  It can  provide critical lessons for junior high kids.  High schoolers  and College-age individuals aren’t too old to learn, either.  Why not start off a youth group meeting with a fifteen-minute lesson that will impact their perception of the liturgy?

Is it reasonable to think that after one year, students of this curriculum will be able to read and sing from square notes well enough to join or form a schola?
Absolutely.  In fact, if your music director or pastor would like to form a schola in your parish, the Words With Wings curriculum can give any group a jump start.  It can even help a music director brush up on his or her own reading skills!

I’ve taught all twenty lessons.  Where do we go from here?
The children now have all the skills necessary to read music and sing the Mass.  And you yourself can teach it!  If you want to keep singing in the vernacular, follow up with the Missal chants, the Parish Book of Psalms, and the Simple English Propers.   You can also continue with some simple Latin responses, a simple Latin ordinary, or even the Gregorian propers.  The most important thing to remember now is:  the children can read it and sing it.  So can you.

Your Church Music? Hate It.

Instead of feeling the joy of joining with other believers in offering praises to the Almighty, I often feel insulted, bored, and disconnected from 2,000 years of worship history. And just when I think that maybe it’s just me having a selfish and sinful attitude — a very real possibility — a flamboyant electrical guitar solo breaks out. I’m left deciding whether to waive my iPhone and buy the t-shirt or just shut up and go home.

Read the entire essay.

Does the Ordinary Form Have a Distinctive Voice?

Does the ordinary form of the Roman Rite have a distinctive voice from that of the extraordinary form? One one level, the answer seems obvious. You go to the extraordinary form (EF from hereon) and you hear Latin, chant, silence, and the rubrics, worked out over many centuries, yield a result that can be stunningly beautiful. Happen onto one of many EF Masses that has been instituted over the last ten years, and this is what you experience.

The archetype of the ordinary form (OF from hereon) is very different. You hear the vernacular. There is popular music. The rubrics are loose. The atmosphere is casual. It can often be difficult to tell the difference between laxity, approved improvisation, parish tradition, and outright abuse. It all gets mixed up in what often ends up as a liturgical stew that, if observed from preconciliar point of view, would not look like the Roman Rite at all.

So, from the point of view of real-world experience, the question is easy to answer. But at the Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America, we’ve all attempted to show another side to the OF. We adhere to the General Instruction and attempted to present the Mass in light of the larger historical experience of the Roman Rite. We use Mass propers, whether in Latin or English. The celebrant has said the Mass ad orientem, that is, not facing the people. The celebrant is not front-and-center; the sacrifice on the altar is the focus.

We employ silence. The Mass parts are chanted. The dialogues are chanted. The readings are chanted. Vestments are beautiful. We’ve used polyphonic ordinary settings. We do not neglect the Kyrie. The creed is sung. Optional prayers are eliminated as unnecessary innovations. Instead of the Responsorial Psalm, we have typically sung the Gradual chant from the Graduale Romanum. The use of hymns is generally restricted to the recessional. There are lots of other “smells and bells.”

The result is something spectacular, something rarely if ever seen in the Catholic world. It is solemn and dignified. It is moving and spiritually fulfilling. Older Catholics who have attended these Masses say that it is easily recognizable as the Roman Rite that they knew from their childhood. Even sophisticated observers are unable to distinguish this OF from the EF. I had people insist to me that this was certainly the Tridentine Rite. Yes, it is missing the prayers at the foot of the altar, the last Gospel, and other pieces of the puzzle, but unless you are specially looking for those, you could easily mistake what you experience for the older form of Mass.

It is a beautiful thing to behold.

I’ve never really questioned this approach. It strikes me as an obvious proposition that the OF when done properly should look and feel like the EF of Catholic history.

And yet, some comments by one of our faculty do give me pause and cause me to wonder whether this is the whole of the answer to our liturgical problem. Paul Ford, author of the first English simple Gradual called By Flowing Waters, wrote on the blog PrayTell that we really went too far with this methodology. The OF does have a distinctive voice and all our efforts to dignify the celebration have managed to mute that voice.

Here is what he wrote:

This CMAA Colloquium was the perfect venue for experiencing the reform of the reform at its most exemplary. Readers of this blog will know that I am not convinced that the ordinary form of the Mass can be enriched (let alone needs to be enriched) by the extraordinary form in ecclesiology, sacramental theology, or pneumatology, although the latter can contribute to the former its ars celebrandi and its standard of musical composition and music making.... Although the extraordinary form’s ars celebrandi and its standard of musical composition and music making were august, I am not convinced that we need to celebrate the ordinary form ad orientem. The wise presider gets himself out of the way by directing his attention to the assembly, to the word, to what he is doing, and to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Professor Ford offers other comments along these lines. He wanted the congregation to sing the propers. He wanted to hear the prayer of the faithful. He wanted more integration between the sanctuary and the nave, and he desired more active participation from the people.

One can argue with his specifics, and the chaplain of the CMAA did so, defending ad orientem and the elimination of the sign of the peace by the people. These defenses were persuasive, in my view, and I remain unconvinced by the specifics that Paul Ford offered.

And yet that leaves the larger question. Is the only path through the reform of the reform to make the OF like the EF as much as possible? Maybe not. The OF certainly does have some merit on its own: the intelligibility of the readings, the openness and audibility of the some prayers, the unavoidable emphasis on deeper involvement of the people in the pews.

Had the postconciliar reforms been conducted with more caution, we might have ended up with all the benefits of reform without experiencing the radical remake that the rite of Paul VI ended up being.

But that’s all water under the bridge at this point. The vernacular exists. The OF exists. The calendar was changed. So let us put the question a different way. Does the OF, as it exists in the liturgical books (as distinct from how it exists in the real world) have anything unique about it that needs to be protected from being absorbed by the history of the Roman Rite? I find this question intriguing and the answers not entirely settled.

In general, I think the answer is yes. The Of does offer some uniquely meritorious features that I would not want to see entirely go away. The vernacular is a gift, as Msgr. Schuler used to say. The wider range of readings is a good thing. I can even see that there is a point to the Responsorial Psalm when done well. To my mind, these must be considered against what I find to be regrettable aspects of the OF: its linearity, its lack of quiet prayers, its reductionism, and, above all, its overemphasis on choices and options.

Nonetheless, Ford does raise interesting points. It is undeniable that, for example, polyphonic settings of the Mass ordinary, enjoy a happier existence in the EF than the OF framework (for distinct reasons). Even from the point of view of the liturgical books, the OF does seem to call forth a distinct treatment, and I do believe that Ford might be onto something here. The problem of the reform of the reform might not so easily be addressed with the one standard that the EF provides.

Hymn to St. Anne: Nocti succedit lucifer

With her Feast fast approaching, I thought I would re-post my translation of this very fine Office hymn to St. Anne. Please feel free to sing it at Mass, Vespers, etc.

The morning star is on the rise
And soon the dawn will fill the skies,
Foretelling of the coming Sun
Whose light will shine on everyone.

The Sun of justice, Christ, true Light,
And Mary, grace's dawning bright,
And Anna, reddening the sky,
Have caused the night of Law to fly.

O mother Anna, fruitful root,
From you came your salvation's shoot,
For you brought forth the flow'ring rod
That bore for us the Christ of God.

Christ's mother's mother, by the grace
Your daughter's birth brought to our race,
And by her merits and her prayer
May we her favors come to share.

O Jesus, Virgin-born, to You
All glory is forever due.
To Father and the Spirit, praise
Be sung through everlasting days.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Colloquium Keynote Lecture in the International Catholic Press

In his address to the Colloquium on Wednesday, June 27, Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth criticized a number of liturgical and musical choices made by the organizers of the closing liturgy of this year's Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. His criticisms have been widely noted in the religious press.

In case anyone is wondering whether his criticisms are justly due, the video of the Mass is below. Much as I hesitate to criticize any liturgy whose homily concludes with quite a nice quotation from my great patron St. Ephrem, and whose ars celebrandi is in several important ways commendable, it seems to me that in terms of musical and choreographic sensibility, a stronger contrast could not be made between this celebration of the Mass and those liturgies in Cameroon and Angola which the Holy Father complimented some years ago in this way (my emphasis):

[I was] moved by the spirit of meditative absorption in liturgy, the powerful sense of the sacred; in the liturgies there was no self-presentation of groups, no self-animation, but the presence of the sacred, of God Himself; even the movements were always movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence.

May I draw your attention particularly to 1:54:20, 2:06:06, and 2:57:20

Installation in Denver tomorrow

Denver is getting a new archbishop, Archbishop Samuel Aquila. The Mass of Installation is tomorrow, June 18th, 2012 at 4:00pm EDT.

For those of you interested, the Mass can be viewed live at www.livestream.com/archden or on EWTN.

Rumor has it the music will be surprisingly good.

Announcing Sacred Music Colloquium XXIII

For the second year in a row, the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium will be held at the beautiful Cathedral of the Madeleine, home of the famed Madeleine Choir School, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The dates are June 17-23, 2013. Details and registration information forthcoming.

Monday, July 16, 2012

15 Centuries of Sacred Music

Wow, here is a great way to get a full education in sacred music in 25 minutes!!

CMAA Books!

Fantastic new page at MusicaSacra.com

CMAA books are available through our pages at the booksellers Amazon and Lulu.
Lulu runs occasional holiday specials, so check these coupon sites for discount codes: 1, 2, and 3.

Music Teaching
Title Author Sellers
Advanced Studies in Gregorian Chant Justine Ward Lulu
An Applied Course in Gregorian Chant Joseph Robert Carroll Amazon, Lulu
Gregorian Chant according to the Solesmes Method Dom Gregory Sunol Amazon, Lulu
Gregorian Chant for Church and School Sr. Mary Antonine Goodchild Lulu
Music First Year Justine Ward/Elizabeth Perkins Lulu
Music Fourth Year: Gregorian Chant Justine Ward Lulu
Music Second Year Justine Ward Lulu
Music Third Year Justine Ward Lulu
A New School of Gregorian Chant Dom Dominic Johner Lulu
The Technique of Gregorian Chironomy Joseph Robert Carroll Amazon, Lulu
Words With Wings (instructor guide) Wilko Brouwers Amazon
Words With Wings (student workbook) Wilko Brouwers Amazon

Chant and Choral Music
Title Author Sellers
Chants Abregés Solesmes Amazon
Chants of the Church GIA/Desclee (1953) Lulu
Communio: Communion Antiphons with Psalms (softcover) ed. Richard Rice Amazon, Lulu
Communio: Communion Antiphons with Psalms (hardcover) ed. Richard Rice Lulu
Communio with English Verses ed. Richard Rice Lulu
Graduale Romanum 1961: volume 1 (hardcover) Solesmes Lulu
Graduale Romanum 1961: volume 2 (hardcover) Solesmes Lulu
Graduale Romanum 1961: volume 1 (softcover) Solesmes Lulu
Graduale Romanum 1961: volume 2 (softcover) Solesmes Lulu
Kyriale Romanum (hardcover) Solesmes Lulu
Kyriale Romanum (softcover) Solesmes Lulu
Offertoriale with Offertory Verses Solesmes Amazon, Lulu
Officium Majoris Hebdomadae et Octavae Paschae, Cum Cantu Ratisbon Lulu
The Parish Book of Chant CMAA Amazon
Plainchant Gradual, vols. 1 & 2 (in one edition) Palmer/Burgess Lulu
Plainchant Gradual, vols. 3 & 4 (in one edition) Palmer/Burgess Amazon, Lulu
Simple English Propers Adam Bartlett Amazon
Simple Choral Gradual Richard Rice Amazon
Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum Solesmes Lulu

Essays, History, Interpretation, Practical Guidance, Spirituality
Title Author Sellers
The Bugnini Liturgy and Reform of the Reform Laszlo Dobszay Amazon, Lulu
A Byrd Celebration (softcover) Richard Turbin Amazon, Lulu
A Byrd Celebration (hardcover) Richard Turbin Lulu
Catholic Church Music Richard Terry Amazon, Lulu
Chants of the Vatican Gradual Dom Dominic Johner Amazon, Lulu
A Dictionary of the Psalter Rev. Matthew Britt Lulu
Frequently Asked Questions on Sacred Music CMAA Lulu
Gregorian Chant: A Guide Daniel Saulnier Lulu
The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal Rev. Matthew Britt Lulu
The Musical Shape of the Liturgy William Mahrt Amazon
Pange Lingua: Breviary Hymns of Old Uses McDougall/Fortescue Lulu
Psallite Sapienter B. Andrew Mills Amazon, Lulu
The Rhythm of Plainsong Dom Joseph Gajard Lulu
Sing Like a Catholic Jeffrey Tucker Lulu
The Spirit of Gregorian Chant Marie Pierik Lulu
A Study of Gregorian Musical Rhythm (hardcover) Dom Andre Mocquereau Lulu
A Study of Gregorian Musical Rhythm (softcover) Dom Andre Mocquereau Amazon, Lulu