Ascend Your throne, O Righteous One

Ascend Your throne, O Righteous One,
An altar made not out of stone,
That not by hand or skill or trade
But of eternity is made.

And vain the hand that dares to raise
Against this throne of ancient days
A stone or sword of falsity:
Your truth stands through eternity.

And on our altars, Lord most blest,
Take up in majesty Your rest.
Accept the simple gifts we raise;
Accept our faithfulness and praise.

Give us Your life to drink and eat.
Take up, take up Your mercy-seat!
Ascend Your throne, eternal Son,
And lift Your people to their home.

Text: Kathleen Pluth
Copyright © 2005 CanticaNOVA Publications. Duplication restricted.


A Beautiful Vespers

A dozen years ago today, in liturgical time, Wednesday Vespers of the Fourth Week of Easter was celebrated in a special way.

The highlights below present a good example of musical taste, and particular skill in blending the old and the new, from newly composed English antiphons to the Victoria Gloria Patri to the English translation of an ancient Latin hymn. Aside from the momentous character of the occasion, the music set a beautiful example for cathedral and parish Vespers.

Silent Presence

As pastors begin planning to eventually re-open parishes for worship, there is a key fact that must be considered: singing and speaking are propellant activities.

Some studies suggest that speaking alone spreads droplets more than coughing:

Loudon and Roberts investigated the role of singing in the spread of tuberculosis and showed that the percentage of airborne droplet nuclei generated by singing is 6 times more than that emitted during normal talking and approximately equivalent to that released by coughing27. More recent work using advanced particle characterization techniques have yielded similar results21,28,29,30. Chao et al.28 used an interferometric imaging technique to obtain the size distribution of particles larger than 2 μm and found that counting aloud from 1 to 100 releases at least 6 times as many particles as an individual cough. Likewise, Morawska and coworkers21,29 reported that counting aloud for 10 seconds followed by 10 seconds of breathing, repeated over two minutes, releases half as many particles as 30 seconds of continual coughing, which in turn releases half as many particles as saying “aah” for 30 seconds. They also reported that more particles are released when speech is voiced, which involves vocal folds vibration, rather than whispered, which does not.

Much more here.

While surgical face masks do seem to be effective in preventing the virus from spreading by aerosol, homemade masks will vary from this standard in many ways, and may not protect congregations.

While it does seem to be useful to scale the number of allowed congregants to the size of the building, it seems to me that either parishioners should be asked to speak or sing responses internally, or asked to sit farther apart than six feet, or be provided with surgical face masks–which is unlikely at this point but may become possible in the future.

Webinar: Chanting Monastic Vespers

Following the April 15th webinar on monastic Compline, I’m offering a 4-part series on chanting monastic Vespers, for which I will be joined by Dom Benedict Andersen of Silverstream Priory in Ireland. We will spend 40 minutes learning, and then chant Vespers together. Each week will cover a new topic, and it’s not necessary to join each week, though the information shared will be cumulative throughout the series. A Vespers booklet with all the music (Gregorian chant, and an English adaptation of the chants for personal use) will be shared with all participants.

Part 1 – Psalms and Psalm Tones
Part 2 – Antiphons and Complex Psalm Tone Endings
Part 3 – Hymns, Responsories, and Magnificats
Part 4 – How to sing different feasts and seasons after the webinars end

5:00-6:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (New York)
May 3, 10, 17, & 24, 2020
Price: Free
Sponsored by the Sacred Arts Guild of Alberta.

Free Online Organ Class with David Baskeyfield

Sacred Music Institute of America offers Free Online Class

Organ Pieces to Practice at Home and Online Learning with Organist David Baskeyfield – a Survey of Manuals-Only Repertoire — FREE CLASS ONLINE SATURDAY, 4/25/20 AT 1pm (EST)

From the Sacred Music Institute:

We heard from many musicians who either missed the event offered earlier this month or had difficulty logging on, so David Baskeyfield has graciously offered to repeat this event live this Saturday, April 25th at 1pm (EST).

Due to the Coronavirus situation, many of us are currently shut out of our churches and, more widely, being encouraged to stay home. Organist David Baskeyfield will present a brief survey of manuals-only organ repertoire that can be practiced on the piano or any keyboard. During this time of restricted social interaction, we would particularly like to emphasize that online lessons are continuing through the Sacred Music Institute. Since online lessons may be a new style of learning for many people, during the presentation David will teach some very short “demo” lessons with currently enrolled students to give an idea of what online teaching looks like. The Institute and this presentation are perfect for all levels of skill and experience whether you’d like to expand your repertoire and technique or gain some new perspectives on service playing.

This event is free and open to all; however, access to this free event is limited, so attendees must register in advance in order for us to send you the link to join this online presentation.

Two Hymns to the Guardian Angels

These are my translations of two office hymns that ask for the intercession of our Guardian Angels.

Aeterne rerum conditor…mare

Eternal maker of all things,
you govern everything as King:
the sea, the sun, the heavn’ly vault,
and pay each one for good or fault.

To ruination you condemn
the arrogant and all like them;
they shall receive what is their due,
but help us, Lord, who call on you.

With ever-growing confidence
we pray for heavenly defense:
our champions in armies send,
to us,through them, may grace extend.

O may they visit, cleanse, inspire,
and gently teach us to aspire
to noble paths of good and right,
and may they end the demons’ might.

O angels’ Glory, safely lead;
by paths secure make us proceed.
Give us these guards, your gifts of grace,
that we may come to see your face.

O Lord of angels, let us raise
unto your honor songs of praise,
whose wondrous ordered working brings
both us and them to heav’nly things.


Custodes hominum

Let us in chorus sing the angel guardians,
Friends from the heav’ns who aid our fragile nature,
gifts of the Father, saving us in danger:
enemy ambush.

For since the traitor angel fell from honor,
losing the place he merited by nature,
now filled with envy, he seeks the destruction
of God’s elected.

Fly here to us, then, vigil-keeping guardians.
Protect our souls from every kind of illness.
Clear out our country from whatever trouble
keeps us from resting.

Praise to the holy Trinity forever,
Ruling the threefold marvel of creation,
reigning in glory through the endless ages,
God everlasting.