“Truly Blended Worship”

This Sunday our schola will enjoin the congregation in singing both at the Offertory,
and in singing THE Offertory.
As we know, the gospel for the Feast is the account of Dismas, the “good thief”, acknowledging and defending Christ against the taunts and mockery of the other crucified thief and centurians. It’s interesting to note that Dismas recognizes Jesus as Messiah and true King, despite the legalistic placard that Pilate deemed be noted above our Lord’s head on the cross, with “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus responds with a different metaphor, “…this day you will be with me in Paradise,” something considerably more than an earthly deliverer.
As we all know, Jacques Berthier’s most familiar composition is likely the musical refrain “Jesus, Remember Me” that congregations world-wide have taken up as easily as any melody ever written. But upon reflecting about this most modest of songs, and its mustard-seed size potential and power, I also remembered that there might just be a kinship between the narrative of the gospel and the actual Offertorio text, excerpted from the verses from Psalm 2  in particular:
Ask and I shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession.
Those of us who regularly use the Simple Choral Gradual Propers by the great Richard Rice have likely noticed that he sets his homophony most often in F Major. So, it occured to me that by alternating some repetitions of the Berthier with the Rice Offertory Antiphon links the Old with the New Covenant. So, that’s what we’re going to do this Sunday. I’ll let you know how I think it succeeded or not.

Okay, official post-script- IT WAS GREAT! We alternated three repetitions of the Berthier ostinato, and then interpolated a verse/refrain of the Rice Offertorio. The congregation seemed to be in step with our mp/mf/forte pyramid-crescendo for each of the reps of the Berthier and then we seemlessly moved into the “fauxbourdon” verses of the Rice via the common F Major tonal center. But the neat little shift to G minor of the Rice antiphon provided the ear some measure of refreshment before cadencing back in F Major, and resuming the Berthier. I love synchronicity.

It worked so well at our schola Mass, we repeated it at the ensemble Mass as well with just classical guitar single rolled underpinning. Sweet.

The Classical Guitar as “voices”….Dirait on by LAGQ

Over at the Musica Sacra Forum, I alluded to the LA Guitar Quartet’s virtuosity. I’ve also shared there the encounter I had one summer workshop with Paul Salamunovich, where I gave him a CD containing the following version of his protege, Morton Lauridsen’s famous “Dirait on” from Rilke’s Flower Poems. Here is a YouTube performance that has the LAGQ version with some shadow imaging.

I would like to dedicate this post to our bishop, John Steinbock, who is ailing and hospitalized with stage three lung cancer and severe blood clotting. Ora pro nobis….

Connections and Gratitude

This has been a day that the Lord hath made, and I rejoice and am glad in it!

My youngest daughter came into town yesterday, and save for having all three of them with Wendy and I, is there anything grander than enjoying the company of your grown children that don’t live close by? Our oldest lives “in town” and is the finest singer in the family, up there with MA, Singing Mum in the pipes department. But, having our 32 Y.O. “baby” in town provided all of us with the occasion of also having our two grandsons attend Sunday Mass together for the first time; mom and auntie can monitor our 4 year old genius/terror in tandem!

Sure, schola and ensemble Masses were successful, artful enterprises both. The “progressive solemnity” aspect of the schola Mass is well in tact, and the ensemble Mass can in no ways be labeled anything close to a travesty. These are givens.

What this post is about is the afterwards, the culmination. After packing out after the last Mass we were inching our way to the car for a brunch, greeting and exchanging pleasantries with assorted folk. We gained a new tenor for the schola, etc. But, as we about to make the final move to the car, a couple walked up to us with purpose and smiles. I knew that I should have recognized one of them, especially the gentleman. But they saved me from my confusion and the gentleman said, “Charles…Frank LaRocca.” I let loose with a litany of OMG’s that our Lord knew not to be taking His Name in vanity due to a smile that I haven’t felt so extremely wide for a while now. Dr. Frank LaRocca, Professor Emeritus at California State University East Bay was my composition teacher, and simply, the best teacher I have ever known.

He and his lovely wife, Lucia, explained they were in Fresno for a performance of his motet, EXPECTAVIT DOMINUM, with the Fresno State Concert Choir. And of course, I did my graduate work there 23 years ago, which was also about the last time I’d seen Prof. LaRocca as well. I could not contain my joy! Some of you might remember that Dr. LaRocca, a REAL, working composer such as MacMillan, Corigliano, Adams or Part, won second prize for his “Credo” (I think from his “Missa Cordi Sacro”) this last summer sponsored by the International Sacred Music Competition held at the National Basilica in D.C. And, in some brief correspondence, we reconnected and he shared that he had joined the chant schola at Oakland’s well-known EF church, St. Margaret Mary’s near Park Boulevard and my alma mater, Oakland High.

Frank just mentioned that, along with the Fresno State event and a visit to relatives in a nearby city, he just thought he and Lucia would get over to Visalia and see if I was around (I’m very round, actually!) He went to our 11:30am Mass after we exchanged salutations. I told Lucia and anybody around (I must have introduced him as “my most beloved teacher, ever” to anyone walking by) that he was also the best teacher in any discipline I’ve ever known.

And he was so gracious to repay the compliment that he was so pleased that I followed my dream to be a professional musician for this last quarter century. I laughed when I told him that I was a bit stunned that in an alumni periodical he was titled “Professor Emeritus” and that I felt so old when I read that. Little did I know that he and I were born the same year! Frank graciously said that he, as well as many of us like me, are just getting our feet wet in the everlasting, ever freshened font of chant.

Later this evening I called a former protege of mine whose regarded me as his mentor for many years, as he pursues his degrees in music at Fresno. I asked him did he meet Professor LaRocca and remember his piece. He answered with great affirmation as to the beauty of Frank’s motet. “Will the circle be unbroken?” No, not with providence and inspiration such as this that our Lord provides.
We had our respective appointments to leave for, so we agreed to exchange a couple of pieces.

But, I hope I haven’t trespassed the sensibilities of our cafe with this personal indulgence. I thank God for this day, for the opportunity to visit with a great mentor and friend from what could have just been another lifetime. And it speaks to the real tendons that ennervate our efforts to restore that which is sacred, beautiful and universal to our worship arts at all levels.

P.S. Frank didn’t really know what goes on at colloquium. I simply said basically that it’s truth in advertising: “Six Days of Musical Heaven.” I hope he can join us in June.

I wish I could join him in Glasgow for the world premier of his “Iam Lucis Ordis Sidere!” Maybe we should give MacMillan a ring and they could widen our circle!
Soli Deo Gloria

Yes, They’ll know we are Catholics by our chants, by our chants!

I type as I’m listening to Jeffrey Tucker’s interview with Dr. Jennifer Pascual on Sirius Radio via Adam Bartlett’s link here at the Café.

There is no way to know how many folks actually listen to such joyful exhortations on the wires/wireless’. There’s no way to measure any sort of corporate conversion of the hearts of the clergy and laity who might happen upon the encouraging, informed common sense from the pen of Dr. William Mahrt in “Sacred Music.”

But I’d like to revisit an experience I’ve now shared with my own parishioners on this Holy Day, and on this same day last year, that is undeniable testimony to the principles that are espoused by CMAA and all champions of restoring chant to a place of principality in our liturgies.

Again, as I type, I’m listening the very same Introit for All Soul’s from the pen of Adam Bartlett that we actually enjoined an impromptu congregation at our district cemetery this afternoon. I literally printed the one sheet Order of Music from Adam’s post, along with Arlene’s Psalm 23 and they were handed out and sung at first reading by a completely diverse congregation of souls from all demographic points. A couple of members of our local garage schola (profiled in an earlier post,) myself and my lovely bride comprised an ersatz, but mighty schola, and we bolstered a gathering of about 200 folks who took up the English Propers with ease, as well as the Ordinary of the Requiem Mass commonly associated with the “Jubilate Deo” project.

There has been a great deal of reportage about various multicultural traditions that express a reverence or anamnesis for the souls of relatives that have passed. Here in the San Joaquin Valley we have embraced the traditions of Latinos, the tribal peoples of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, the Filipinos and others. But, each of those ethnic subcultures were represented by folks this afternoon called to pray for the state of the souls of “all the faithful departed” in a catholic manner, one that transcends and unifies us all within the unity of the ritual. By the God-given language of chant, I not only wished afterward that such a witness to our rituals and faith traditions could have been such witness to our entire Christian community in our city, but that it could have been such witness to our own dis-enchanted Catholics who have, through no fault of their own, been kept at bay from their rightful inheritance.

I don’t know what else to say. I know that I’m whole and complete in the midst of colloquium liturgies, even at rehearsals. And I am likewise whole on this unique day by virtue of being presented the opportunity to exclusively “sing the Mass” on All Soul’s Day at our cemetery rather than the “brick by brick” pastiche at our magnificent church, and confident that I have empirical evidence in my own vineyard (where my grandparents rest) that St. Pius X called it correctly over a century ago; the Faithful can, will and do sing the chant when afforded the trust and opportunity by the powers that be.

Thank you, CMAA. Thank you, Jeffrey, AOZ, Dr. Mahrt et al. Thank you, Adam. All praise be to the Risen Christ, Lord of All. Soli Deo Gloria!

“Ancient Chant and Hymns for Guitar” by Gerard Garno

This volume of arrangements is a studied, serious and comprehensive necessity for the future of guitarists whose earnest desire to advance the instrument’s “value” to the liturgy will eventually come to terms, and merge with the growing enthusiasm for restoring “pride of place,” or even “primary place” to the use of Gregorian Chant that is burgeoning in this century. The author does not hesitate to equate the revival of chant with the revival of Christendom (“Save the Liturgy, save the world” come to mind?) and sees his work allowing guitarists to “participate more effectively” in that aspect of the worship life of the singing church.

Mr. Garno gives a not-just-a-nod introduction to chant and its current revival in his introduction, and then states, “My goal…is to aid the working guitarist…..(whose)….economic success….depends upon their ability to be flexible in a wide variety of performance situations. Having the potential to play Gregorian chant melodies….will broaden the possibilities of performing in churches, or even accompanying congregations. (Interesting that he would note “chant” in the participation active modality!) He also notes that with the larger public’s interest in the meditative qualities of chant that the guitar, as a “meditative” instrument makes an appealing antidote to the busyness, industrialization and technical distractions of modern life. He concludes, in this vein, “Logically, then, the melodies of Gregorian chant are a type greatly complemented by those qualities inherent in the acoustic guitar.”

The introduction continues to give a thorough history of the chant, complete with engravings, complete footnotes and supportive quotations. Then Garno systematically introduces the modern notation reader to the mensurate contrasts both in symbolic notation and in actual rhythmic practice. He offers the studied guitarist the tools to interpret phrase divisions and neumes, and basic guides to the duple, triple groupings with which chanters are familiar. He demonstrates his methods for transcribing chant scores to guitar staff notation correctly. And then he declares at the end of the introduction that “Gregorian chant transcriptions should be a part of the standard classical guitar repertoire, citing many authoritative artists such as the late Andres Segovia as champions of this cause.

Then the bulk of the volume, which he titles “Hymnum Gloriae,” consists of staff and tablature versions of four basic Mass movements: a Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.

And then he provides full transcriptions of Missas VIII, IX, XI and XVI.

The next section includes “Miscellaneous Chants” that are of great renown, and then a section of Latin Hymns that include “Adoramus te Christe, Ecce panis angelorum, O esca viatorum, O salutaris hostia and a host of others.”

Following those transcriptions Garno includes the appendices with the original neumatic scores. The volume concludes with excerpts from “The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913” and his bibliography.

This collection should be part of every serious guitarist’s library, especially those whose instruments remain closeted from their scholas or choirs when chant is employed. And folks who question the validity or propriety of the classical guitar at Roman Catholic worship should simply browse through its content out of respect for the fact that the instrument is not explicitly named as illicit or deficient in accompanying the highest form of sacred music for liturgy. Take it or leave it, this book is worth a thorough examination.

Dr. Invigaro says “Don’t use a wrench as a hammer; someone will get hurt.”

You might remember that a few weeks ago I posted on “Dr. Invigaro’s Prescriptive Solemnity” remedy for liturgical situations and choirs. The good doctor contacted me recently with a few comments and questions he’s since received, and a particular one caught my eye.

“Dear Doc Invigaro,

A significant number of my singers in our choir are converts, some who swam the Tiber before we entered the desert, and many over the intervening 40 years. I have noticed as we have deliberately, slowly, “prescriptively” moved towards propers, chant and polyphony that not a few of my singers apparently miss those occasions that the odd spiritual, the rousing gospel tune, the ubiquitous non-catholic anthem or choral song would be programmed. A few have even remarked that we’ve gone all polyphony, all the time. They didn’t seem to be complimenting my programming. Doc, what do I do?”

Dr. Invigaro then left a few suggestions in his memo:

*Eclecticism in programming is neither friend nor foe. It is a tool among others. For example, in my previous advice I reminded folks that if there are folks (among them even clerics) who just can’t abide the imposition of an Offertorio proper into the mix, and thus displacing the notion of the “hymn of the day” which bridges the scripture readings and homily into the Liturgy of the Word…. a well-thought out choral song could present a golden opportunity. For example, in this devotional month of October, or with the upcoming feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the late Leon Robert’s “CANTICLE OF MARY” could be the pill that fills the bill. It includes congregation, has a solid gravitas to both refrain and melody that could contrast well with other Marian literature. One doesn’t know if it’s incongruous, jarring or uncomplimentary until one tries. This might also work with many other choral and congregational pieces of recent times. John Foley’s “MAY WE PRAISE YOU” or the Mark Haye’s “PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS” comes to mind.

*In larger parishes where the whole “process” of distributing Holy Communion requires a disproportionately longer time period, one of these eclectic selections could follow the Communio and the Communion Processional, and still allow for reflective silence from all after the Tabernacle Veil is shut. I think of pieces by Lazlo Halmos, such as his proper “CANTATE DOMINO,” that wouldn’t function quite as well if it was programmed at its proper location. Or Stainer’s “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD,” Brahm’s “HOW LOVELY…” or even a setting of “I HEAR MUSIC IN THE AIR” such as arranged by Alice Parker or John Bell.(Consider editing the text of this one.)

*Of course, if there is a “whipping post” for the odd favorite, it will always remain the terra incognita of the recessional. If you absolutely, positively must “throw a bone” to choir malcontents with pieces like “EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT,” or “RIDE ON, KING JESUS,” or Wilhousky’s BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC, then this is that time.

One could bridge the time it takes for the celebrant to have made his procession and retreat by a brief organ postlude, and then launch the sonic rockets.

But, these choices cannot be made willy-nilly. As I said, this eclecticism is a tool. Using a specific wrench as a hammer will be injurious, probably to the choir director, the choir, the congregation and worst of all, the integrity of the Liturgy. But if used with precision, might be another tonic to keep your choir members unified and happy.

Sincerely, Dr. Lucious Invigaro”

Well, I don’t know if this addedum protocol might work for you in your program, but I might just consider this as I continue reconfiguring my own bricks. I expect lots of different mileage variances and stalling might result here, there and everywhere.

A Father Dade Christmas Concert

With full disclosure, our Advent/Christmas Annual Concert title is a misnomer, though it’s meant as a quaint and humble homage to our founder. Though it’s hard to imagine, Christmas music, carols especially, have proven not to be the centerpiece of sacred seasonal concerts of a hundred-years yore.

We have endeavored to reconstruct a facsimile of “American” Roman Catholic music as it was practiced and heard during the years of Fr. Dade’s formation and service in Philadelphia, and what of that repertoire might have eventually emigrated with him to California, Visalia and St. Mary’s. In addition, we have researched period catholic hymnals of the mid to late 19th century for carol texts, Spanish-language “villançicos” and other song forms that would have likely been sung during Fr. Dade’s tenure as Visalia’s pastor.

Virtually the only musical forensic evidence in Fr. Dade’s biography, THE APOSTLE OF THE VALLEY, denotes that “entertainments” that included music and dance benefited the building of the second church building in 1872 and that the parish did have an organist/music teacher for the parish school children. Speculation about exact musical pieces is all that remains from that. However, the book states “, “Music was provided by a quartet who went in a special conveyance from Visalia; they rendered ‘Peter’s Mass in D’ ‘ in a beautiful and impressive manner.”

Thanks be to God, the very pleasant agents of the Library of Congress and the University of Louisville, we were able to locate that very Mass setting and secure copies. Before discussing this work and others, I must also give great appreciation to my colleagues Ed Teixeira (Organist/Director-St. David’s, Richmond CA), Dr. Doug Shadle, (Musicologist at the U. of Lousiville), and Dr. Mike O’Connor, (Musicologist of Palm Beach Atlantic University), for providing veins of sheer gold for me to mine.

The “Peter” of the “Mass in D Major” was composed by Williams Cummings Peters, whose personal history is associated with the great Stephen Foster. Peters was a noted Catholic choir director who also compiled and published a number of catholic hymnals that bore striking resemblance to the forms of denomination hymnals of that era, using the terms “Harmonist” and “Harp,” as in the famed “Sacred Harp” school of shape note singing used for worship and music literacy. Peters’ Mass is grounded in a sort of Hadyn meets Mozart European style. The two movements from the Mass that we will perform are the Gloria (most appropriate as it is the hymn the angels sang to the newborn Christ at His Nativity) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God.) The Gloria contains a pastiche of melodic “scenes” which could lightly be called “text painting.”

Another great “find” was an emigrant German Philadelphian composer, Albert RoSewig (b.1846) who had many Victorian-era hymns, carols and motets. The choir will sing my arrangement of his setting of the AVE MARIA, as well as his setting of a Communion motet “O Salutaris Hostia” and another period piece for Christmas.
An amazing piece that we will feature is yet another Philadelphian, J. Remington Fairlamb’s “Great” TE DEUM, a hymn of praise sung at the New Year and at great feast days. This piece is significant in that Fairlamb uses English rather than Latin (unusual for the era) and for some compelling musical harmonic devices that are unique to my ear. Fairlamb was designated by Abraham Lincoln to be a consul to Switzerland as well!

More traditional carols such as “Adeste Fideles” and “What Child is This?” we have located in the “Young Catholic’s Hymnal” circa 1870 that contain verse lyrics that are stunningly different than those we sing today. We will enjoin the audience in the singing of these “discovered” texts.

As mentioned earlier, the choirs will also sing Christmas “villançicos.” These are a hybrid form of European polyphonic motets with native (Nahuatal) folk idioms of the post-conquisition and missionary era in Mexico. They are incredibly beautiful Spanish “carols.” Though there is no evidence that this music was sung in St. Mary’s, there is plenty of evidence they were sung daily across the central coast range in the Franciscan missions in this era.

And we will be joined by our own Gregorian Schola of St. Francis, led by Ralph Colucci, for a selection of Advent, Nativity and Epiphany proper chants that were hopefully sung by the children’s choir in those pioneer times.

We hope the entire Visalia music-loving community will join us at 4pm, December 18th for our “antique” concert celebrating our history.

Dr. Invigaro’s “Prescriptive Solemnity” in the OF

A great deal of prognostication of late focuses upon whether we who speak the King’s English are being shepherded towards the narrow sheep-gate over which hangs the sign “ICEL-approved chant settings.”

Personally, I don’t find that scenario at all displeasing. Fact is, it would be at the least a refreshing change from the tyranny of options that both the GIRM and the marketplace inundate us all with weekly. To its merit, issuing some sort of binding legislation to literally universally learn the ICEL chants would be a clarion call that “WE” mean business when it comes down to constituting truly catholic worship; equivocating wimps R us no mo’!

But how can the average parish, say like St. Omnibus in Saskatoon or Stockton, musically prepare themselves for the cognitive combustion of a mandated use of the ICEL chants which would displace, even for only a while, the normative ease of continued reliance upon the status quo, Gather Us In to Sing to the Mountains of Massive Creation?

Well consider the fact that anecdotally, St. Omnibus worship has been besot by a persistent tension and calcification in its physiology, it suffers from occasional tonic spasms by irregular consumption of newly concocted musical “antidotes” to boredom, diffidence and stagnation within the Body. The industry devotes the front piece and pages of its new catalogues to the latest synthesis of glucosamine, St. John’s Wort, Green Tea and caffeine-based compounds as bold new solutions to very natural and long-known maladies.

Well, Dr. Invigaro recommends a protocol for St. Omnibus that is gradual, orderly and as non-invasive as it is non-threatening to a repertoire body that has grown slovenly and unwieldy. It’s called “Prescriptive Solemnity.”

Here’s the regimen (there is no one magic bullet.)

+However it can be managed, start using the Introit Antiphon and verses/Gloria Patri as a prelude, assuming St. Omnibus policy requires an Entrance or “Gathering” hymn. Whether or not this pre-emptive pill is taken up by the congregation along with the music ministry is not to be deliberated as important. The importance lies in preparing the congregation with new cell growth that will eventually result in a new understanding of how the body functions at the beginning of liturgy. The closer the Introit can come to a chanted form, the better. Use any instruments sparingly; the voice and Word must build strong new tendons.

+If and whenever possible, choose an Entrance hymn/song whose textual content has at its source the scriptural attributes of the Introit, or has recognizable ties to the proper Introit. If any group/cantor’s repertoire is so malnourished that such relationships can’t be found, then discern the best of the scriptural inferenced hymns for the day, or if one must, fall back on the publisher’s assigned categorical choices.

+For the opening rite, if St. Omnibus uses an Asperges or Confiteor/Kyrie penitential rite, consider switching to a purely chanted version of either form as soon as possible. This prescriptive also is recommended for the Lamb of God/Agnus Dei litany.

All of these can remain accompanied tastefully, artfully. But their elegant simplicity is best served by chanting, not metered singing. If one is concerned about melodic consistency, just defer that concern to aligning the tonal/modal key centers to the Gloria which follows.

+Regarding the Glory/Gloria: the increase of cellulite in this era seems to not result from serving up portions of the hymn text in different thematic portions, but from the calorie rich, nutrient deficient repetition of a refrain. Consider auditioning leaner, meaner settings that use musical motifs repeatedly for ease of consumption and digestion, but whose text is sung without needless redundancy.

+The Psalm: Dr. Invigaro simply advocates using the psalm or gradual text assigned for the day from the myriad sources available. Strict adherence to the regimen means that paraphrases of the assigned psalm, and even seasonal psalms are best left on the shelf, if palatable versions that aren’t burdened with excessive compositional forms or over-cooked, heavily spiced-up pharmacological soups.

+The Gospel Acclamation: dump all the triumphal gospel or Celtic processionals into the waste bin. Let the body thrive by chanting the beautiful acclamation, “Alleluia.” If mode VI was good enough for your granny, it’s good enough medicine for you. If you’re worried about gender inclusive issues, sing the setting borrowed version from “O filii et filiae.”

+The Creed: Dr. Invigaro defers to the local practitioner the final analysis per this portion of the regimen. He does suggest that recitation actually may be more beneficial than a recto tono declamation. However, he does endorse both the benefits of the de Angelis chant or the use of psalm tones as a mineral enhancement.

+The Offertory: this portion of the protocol demands the patient’s attentiveness and acumen in order for the whole of the process to eventuate with success. The Body of the faithful at St. Omnibus will likely not know that this portion of the liturgy actually is a procession. Some may regard this portion of time as a moment to musically reflect upon the transition of cognition to digestion, and the coughing up of the monetary cud. Others may think that these few moments provide a relief from the disciplined attention demanded by their active listening to various modes of elocution, including those with tones. Dr. Invigaro suggests that, whenever possible, in the absence of the ability to use the proper processional antiphon, even those of Mssrs. Rice, Bartlett or Revs. Kelly, Weber, et al., that an alius cantus aptus that best expresses the homiletics gleaned from the lessons will first do no harm.

+This next prescriptive item is sensitive, so imaging the good doc whispering: the patient should prevail upon the presiding ministers to boldly chant where no presbyter has chanted before at St. Omnibus– the Preface Dialogue and Preface. To nurse the congregation towards acceptance of their own priestly responsibilities, the celebrant must swallow and take down his own Castor Oil and chant these “collects.” Simply put, they’ll then know they are Catholics by their chants, by their chants, yes they’ll know they are Catholics by their chants.

+The Eucharistic Acclamations: the doc strongly emphasizes that the taking up of the “Sanctus” (“Holy” doesn’t quite translate with panache, does it?) is among the most prominent “source and summit” moments of the solemn rites. It calls the question to the Body: are we One, at least in our real time, with angels and saints, or not? Well, yeah. But the combustibility of that notion requires serious temperament with our musical prescriptions. So Dr. Invigaro finds himself in the unique company of both Dr. Hahn and the late Rev. E. Walsh. But if there is a moment of clarity for the most jaded, it is now in the regimen: the people must take up the song humbly and with some measure of shock and awe. So, stepwise motion that disguises the steps, harmonies that are more inferred or imagined by the mind and heart, and a familiarity that eschews banality are all called for in this moment. This is precisely a moment when head-banging meter is to be avoided as a plague. This is a potent moment, calling not for a dalliance with liqueur or aperitif. This is a moment where the terroire, the vine, the tender, the vintner, the server and the guest become one with creation and Creator. So whether a preference by the body is a convenient buzz provided by a Bud or TwoBuckChuck, and to move on, avoid this convenience and lead the Body towards the sublime, the eternal musica sacra. Dr. Invigaro left no notes regarding the “memorial acclamation” or the “Amen,” in which the congregation and celebrant acknowledge consensus of the sacral moment. So, in keeping with the discipline of exercising atrophied muscle mass, use chant as the tonic.

+The Agnus Dei: for opaque reasons, this litany’s text seems to elicit participation in proportion to the sentimentality of the setting of the text. Dr. Invigaro reminds the patient to be mindful that this is not an expression of blatant emotion or a child-like fondness for images of tiny, tender animals, rather it is a moment of profound, against-all-odds final plea for healing and mercy. It cannot be manufactured, troped into faux-ebullience or masqued by sweet herbs. It must taste, at once, sweet and bitter, elemental but refined, ethereally beautiful as it is held down by gravitas. Once the celebrant returns to the ciborium and chalice from “the Peace,” the chant is to be rendered as pristinely it was created.

+Communion: in St. Omnibus’s around the orb it might be customary to extend the Agnus Dei to accompany the reception of the celebrant(s) and the distribution of vessels to EMHC’s (don’t even go there, for now!) This reality can be easily dealt with by the most timely use of the Communio proper by the choir. Yes, there are many hymns and songs whose lyrics recall (with relative success) a Eucharistic ethos. There are others that functionally paraphrase the propers themselves. Both of those options do no harm, and in specific instances, are beneficial to the welfare of the Body. But, if ever there is a moment of prescriptive discipline that a musician can employ without fear of redress, it would be this moment. As long as the Body understands that this portion of the regimen is particularly mandatory for their own welfare, they will appreciate its immediate effect while their full attention is focused upon receiving the host of everlasting life, the salve of redemption. If a communal singing of a hymn is taken up as an honest chaser after each week’s prescribed proper formula, then so much the better. And should sufficient time that does not impede reverent silence before the Communion procession has ended for the choir to augment the beautiful thanksgiving in sound, then choirs, work your art for His and our sake.

+The dismissal is just that: people leave to realize (or not) the “missio” in commission.

Dr. Invigaro has no recommendation for this “moment.” However, he offers a caveat that it is not a moment, like all that came before, for self actualization, aggrandizement or celebratory inebriation.

Below is your correspondent’s unique but fairly representative formulae for “prescriptive solemnity.” You are free to adjudicate it as a real tonic or a recipe of snake oil. But, we believe we’ll be better prepared to receive the change coming next winter because we have laid down a discipline plan for years now.

28th Sunday, Ordinary Time ©
Introit/Prelude “If You, O Lord, laid bare out guilt…”/Simple Choral Gradual-R.Rice
Entrance: S(chola) GATHER US TOGETHER
E(nsemble) LET US GO TO THE ALTAR

Opening Rites S Kyrie (chant)/Glory to God-(Oecumenica/Proulx-Culbreth)
E Kyrie (Sleeth)//Dancing Day Gloria (P.Ford)

Responsorial Respond & Acclaim

Gospel Accl. S “Alleluia” chant Mode VI
E “Alleluia” Sleeth

Offertory S LEAD ME, GUIDE ME
E JESUS, YOU ARE THE HEALING

Eucharistic Accl. S Oecumenica/Agnus Dei (chanted)
E Sleeth Acclamations

Communio “The rich suffer want….”/SCG-Richard Rice
Commnion Hymn SE YOU ARE MINE

Anthem/Song S ADORAMUS TE CHRISTE (Palestrina)
E EYE HAS NOT SEEN

Dismissal S LORD, YOU GIVE THE GREAT COMMISSION (Abbots leigh)
E I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS (Kingsfold)

NOLA Chant Intensive- don’t forget the “intensive.”


I am, among other things, “Charles in CenCA.” A few folk know or remember that despite being born in a laconic little town in the middle of California in 1951 I was raised in Oakland, California.

Yes, that OAKLAND. Oakland formed me, mothered me, made me, made me CATHOLIC. Oakland is, to me, the New Orleans of California minus Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, the mystique, a recent football championship, and natural and man-made disasters (unless murdering one’s neighbors is factored in.)
Wendy and I have the SAINTS/VIKINGS game on. We’ve only visited NOLA once, a month before Katrina. It was lovely, lovely like Jack London Square in Oakland only a whole city. A month later, NOLA was 9/11 all over again. But, like Pogo, it took a while to recognize that the aggravating enemy wasn’t trained terrorist pilots, but the enemy was “US.”

 New Orleans has weighed upon my mind, and I suspect most of our minds, for these last five years. I’m happy for the Saints and the saints. I have wanted to return and take the trolley to Treme and the Ninth Ward. I don’t even know if the trolley goes there.

When AOZ posted that the Chant Intensive would be held in NOLA this January, I didn’t have a moment to share that info with my better half. We were in the midst of effecting the first Solemn Vespers (Sept.8, Nativity of the BVM) at our parish in at least 40 years. But, when I told Wendy tonight about the Intensive, she decided she had to attend. My beloved wife, lyric soprano who is gifted with a voice beyond measure, wants the torture (kidding) of the Turk for twelve hours a day in NEW ORLEANS! We’ll be there. I may be the director/composer of the family, but she is the voice and the accountant! She scored a 94 on an insane, one day Notary exam in the “state” that is known as California. This opera woman wants to freakin’ chant. Got it?

But I’ve done an intensive. I’ve jokingly, haltingly recalled it as akin to doing another Masters. It wasn’t easy for me. Fifty brains in the room, mine the smallest! But I have the “diploma” on my office wall, it meant that much to me. So, I’ll accompany my crusading wife, but I’ll go to New Orleans with another attitude. The first time was Pre-Katrina; second will be post-Katrina/BP.

There’s been a lot in the media five years after Katrina, and the summer of unending oil. I don’t know what to expect of me as I accompany my wife to NOLA this January. But I have to see and feel that what CMAA represents with the Intensive resonates in concert with our Matthew 25 mandatum.

There is little surety in this musing. But, there must be a tangible, visceral connection with G’s slogan, “Save the Liturgy, Save the world,” that is represented by the trials New Orleans has endured in this new century. And I hope to find it.

Home Brewing: Starting a Schola from Scratch

In our merged parishes, we have a number of choirs, coros and cantor/song leader/psalmist resources. We have only one exclusively Latin-language schola, and that was founded and is led by a truly wonderful, talented, dedicated-Catholic, but musically untrained amateur. I interviewed my friend, Mr. Ralph Colucci, recently about the origins of his chant enterprise, and this is a condensed version of that interview. Just for the record, Ralph’s group, the Gregorian Schola of St. Francis, will provide the music ministry for my Requiem Mass whenever that need arises!

CC Ralph , every new endeavor or enterprise results from someone’s perception of a need. Could you sketch out when and how you came to realize there was a “need” and how you processed that and you began your schola?
RC I came back to the church in 1995. Several factors brought me back to the sacraments. I was baptized as a child and kind of fell away from the church. Many factors brought me back, especially the Eucharist, which was the driving force behind my (re)version. I’ve always had a love for singing. My sisters dragged me to church, most often at the 10 AM Mass.

CC
The Ensemble Mass?
RC Yeah, you were directing. I starting following along in the OCP Missalette.
CC So, you didn’t like my music? (laughter)
RC No, no I did like your music! But my sister introduced me to Gregorian chant. She had some cassettes and couple of CD’s and I started to listen to those. I was commuting to Fresno every week for business, and I just listened to the chant during that time, and it was just so beautiful. It was so different, though I liked the contemporary music as well.

CC So you had never had any exposure to chant because you’re, age-wise, roughly a Gen-X’er? You never knew there was such a “thing” as chant?
RC My sisters knew, as they’re a bit older than I. I don’t remember this, but they claim when I was a kid I sang “Sons of God.” And I remember singing “Drummer Boy” for Christmas and other stuff like that. But I didn’t have any experience with the Pre-Vatican II Church. Fast-forward to my conversion, I fell in love with Gregorian chant around the time that the “Chanto Gregoriano” CD came out by the choir of Benedictine Monks of Santiago de Silos. I was able to find a book with text, as I wanted to know the texts they were singing and the translations. So I just started learning them on my own.
At the same time I was encouraged to sing in church for the first time (in front of a mic) with Mario at the late Vigil Mass on Saturdays. Then I joined the choir at Holy Family Church (directed by your sister-in-law) and it was still contemporary music. But in my “free time” I was still learning chant on my own. Not very well, but I knew it. So, when I had the opportunity to sing with Mario or Susan I would ask “Can we do Gregorian Chant? Can we do Gregorian Chant?”
CC Were you still using modern notation or did you start with neumes?
RC At that point it was all by listening. I had no music at all.
CC So it was more like the aural tradition from the early church then?
RC Yes, the first chant I learned was “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” the Sequence for Pentecost. I just memorized the melody first, listening to it over and over again in the car, but I still had no square notes whatsoever.
CC Did you realize that your method is almost a universal formula that is still used in acquiring proficiency in chant, melodies first, overlaying texts afterwards? Once you learn those melodies and have them firmly planted in your brain, and you know the basics of Latin pronunciation and enunciation, retro-fitting the texts becomes a fairly simple exercize?
RC Yes.
CC So, you’re learning these chants and gradually started unveiling them yourself at some of the Masses at both parishes?
RC Yes, but I found that there was little opportunity to actually use them very often. Mario gave me a little leeway to do them as solos. For the most part, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to sing chant.
I remember asking Fr. Jerry (a former vicar) “Are there any monasteries that still sing Gregorian Chant?” And he said to the best of his knowledge, “No, there aren’t.” Apparently now there are.
CC Oh, there’s lots!
RC Yes! But for several years I continued helping in singing hymns and contemporary music at Mass. Then I finally got this idea about six years ago to get a few guys together who are, like me, third order members of the Franciscan Order. We began to prepare by rehearsing hymns for Evening Prayer. I realized, “Hey, these guys sing pretty good.” So, then I thought I should try to get these guys interested in Gregorian Chant. We had a practice a short time before there was to be a profession of a new member of the order at our retreat center. And I managed to get one guy from the fraternity to join me, along with Ray (a choir director from another parish near Visalia) and we practiced for the ceremony at my home.
CC Well, that’s interesting. I know Ray has a gorgeous voice, but I’ve only ever known him as a proponent of contemporary music.
RC Yes, he does primarily sing that, but he has a deep appreciation of chant as well. And he wanted to do it with us, though that was the only time as he’s so committed to other parishes regularly.
I then recruited a few more fellows that I knew from the Vigil Choir, and George (a fraternal member who’s since passed away) was interested in helping to restore traditional Catholic music joined as well. So then we started meeting at George’s house and learning Propers, though we didn’t actually have a place or Mass at which to sing!
CC So what source book were you using, like the Simplex or…?
RC We used the Gregorian Missal.
CC When did you all come to, sort of, discover the “architecture” of the modes? Did you study the introduction?
RC No, we weren’t quite that far along. Mostly, we used the way I was comfortable learning the chant through listening and repeating from the recordings that I had.
CC Kind of like the “listen then modeling what you’ve heard” method?
RC Yes. We started with most of the chants I already knew and gradually taught them to the other guys. And then we did get to the point where we all had to learn “new” pieces all together. Most of the Propers we do now, they are as familiar with them as I am.
CC Because you’ve been through the liturgical cycles at least a few times.
RC Yes, but at the same time we’re relying less on our original formula for learning chant (by rote imitation) and we’re relying upon using the actual music notation. So, learning to read the music has been a gradual procession.
CC I know you’ve been so kind as to let me join you on occasion. Have you had other singers join you from time to time?
RC Yes, we’ve had some members who’ve stayed with us for substantial periods.
CC Do you still take advantage of the increased availability of audio recordings, such as the complete cycles recorded from the Brazilian monastery?
RC Oh certainly, and also the Jogues Chant Site, which is so much clearer.
CC That’s great. That site is part of a huge effort by the group, Corpus Christi Watershed, which was co-founded by a young, great chant scholar, Jeff Ostrowski. And they’re doing some amazing work in increasing chant literacy, by having the chant score “scrolling” in perfect timing with the audio performances.
Have you entered into the more scholastic concerns that the chant “communities” engages, such as semiology, interpretational issues, historical or authenticity research? Issues that inform scholas how to basically interpret the chant scores.
RC Not really. Our philosophy is that “It has to sound like one voice.”
CC Well, you’re in good company. That’s precisely the bottom line approach that Jeff Ostrowski articulated to those of us who sang in his schola at Colloquium XX.
RC Sometimes that takes several rehearsals before you get “it” right. And then it’s simply beautiful, you know immediately when you’ve got it right. It just all comes together and there’s this beautiful feeling.
CC It’s a kind of physical reaction more than an intellectual realization. And that edifies the souls of the performers spiritually, I believe. As conversant as I am in all forms of vocal and choral traditions, at some point last summer I just had this epiphany sweep over me, “I was born to chant.” Even though a singer can be attuned spiritually and “connect” to the divine through many musical forms, none of those seem to be as viscerally apparent as when the singer is chanting in total unison with others and, by extension the Church on earth and in heaven.
Anyway, what have the guys in the schola said about their experiences? How do they self-regard the effort?
RC Well, we really don’t talk too much about the experiences. All of us are just committed to the promotion of Gregorian Chant. We sing other types of music, we all do it. But we really don’t want to very much anymore. Chant is our focus, this is what we want to do in music ministry. And hopefully we’ll continue to have more of the opportunities we have now in the future.
CC How do you go about choosing which Mass Ordinaries you use during the seasons? Do you use the ones historically assigned by the Church?
RC Originally we stuck with the Jubilate Deo version, and continue to use that often as the people are becoming more familiar and joining in steadily. We do the Gloria now in another parish outside of Visalia. We don’t use it currently at Holy Family. We hope to restore it soon.
CC Yes, absolutely. The cantillation of texts are fluid, without the “stop/start” effect that is present in recitation. So, it actually makes more sense to chant the longer chant movements, though that makes some celebrants wary. Chanting the English “Snow” setting of the “Our Father” makes the prayer more intelligilble than the “I pledge allegiance (beat) to the flag (beat) of the United States…” recitation.
RC There are several factors involved with those decisions. The congregation at this particular Mass were not used to singing anything at all. So, it was a new challenge for them to sing period. But they’re coming along, and I think that they’ll be ready for more in a year or so. And they’re singing the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei quite well now.
And, on occasion, we do the Credo and the Pater Noster in some parishes.
Our second, “Go-to” Mass setting is “De Angelis.” And we’re starting to use “Orbis Factor” occasionally.
CC Have you found that having a celebrant chanting all of the priestly orations is of tremendous assistance in helping the congregations to respond likewise in chant, and that bolsters your efforts with Propers and the Ordinaries?
RC Oh yes, absolutely. I would say that is much more effective than a celebrant just joining the congregation visibly or audibly in singing the Entrance or Offertory hymns and such. And the celebrant can be so effective whether he chants his collects and prayers in English or Latin.
CC Or alternating both, such as done at the EWTN daily televised Masses?
RC Yes. That’s right. We also are anticipating (in a parish not in our town) that the pastor is going to try to establish a primarily Latin-language Mass in the Novus Ordo (OF) on a regular basis.
CC It’s been recently reported that more Catholics attend more Latin Masses in the Extraordinary Form than in the Ordinary Form, and that this could be a bell-weather for the “death” of the Latin N.O. What do you think of that notion?
RC It would be a sad situation. We need both, and I think the Holy Father’s intention from reading both his letter and the motu proprio is that his whole intention is to help both forms of the Mass. By giving more exposure to the EF there could come a result of more solemn or reverent OF’s by the use of Latin, chant and polyphony. I think there are some people who are so tired of irreverence at some Ordinary Form Masses that they leave parishes to seek out EF Masses. And I don’t see that as a larger solution to the liturgical problems. And I think there is also another fear on the other side: that if the more traditional forms of the Mass take root in parishes, that the contemporary forms of liturgical music will suffer. I don’t think that would be a natural outcome. I think there’s plenty of room for reverent worship using a variety of musical styles. But, at the same time there needs to be a Mass that Catholics can regularly attend at each parish that are culturally Roman or Latin in nature. That is an ideal for all of us.
CC Thank you, Ralph, and God bless you.