The Congregations Gets It!

I recently had a conversation with a church musician friend about her parish.  She is a Protestant cantor in a Catholic church.  At one point she exclaimed, “I don’t know what’s the matter with most of those people.  They sing all the Mass parts, but they won’t touch the hymnals.”

Lacking time for a detailed review of liturgy and history, I just said, “It’s a Catholic thing.”  I guess I’ll catch her up later on the integral role of the ordinary parts of the Mass.

Beautiful and Accessible – The Angelus – Say it, Sing it!

How often we complain about the sad state of the Liturgy of the Hours?  How it never quite made it out into the parishes as planned.  How little enthusiasm people have for it.  Why the laity (present company included) don’t embrace it in their daily lives.  We worry, wonder, and fuss. We feel like liturgical failures because we don’t pray 7 times a day like the Benedictines or even 5 times a day like the Muslims.    

Well, here’s one answer to the “why.”  For most lay people with jobs, families, studies, and all the cares the flesh is heir to – the Liturgy of the Hours is just too much!

However, here’s a lovely alternative that sits right in front of us – and which many of us hear rung out regularly on the electronic carillon:  The Angelus.

6 a.m., Noon, 6 p.m. – and if that doesn’t work for you, morning, lunch, and evening will work just fine.  Easily memorized, no books or ribbons required.

Beginning with the recitation of three Hail Marys at evening and later popularized in the 13th century by those tireless evangelizers of the laity, the Franciscans, it’s perfect for the overwhelmed believer in the 21st century.  And it honors the moment in history that changed everything!

And if you want to chant it, just sing along with this Latin version or translate the same into English for greater acceptance and wider distribution.


Report on the 2012 Tournemire Conference at Duquesne

The current issue of The American Organist, the AGO house magazine, has a lengthy article on this conference that drew Tournemire performers, scholars, and admirers to Duquesne.  “To Transcribe the Timeless: A Student Perspective on the Music of Charles Tournemire” by Stephanie Sloan and Rebecca Marie Yoder is quite readable – even for those of us who don’t fall into the aforementioned categories.

There is also a quite excellent photo of Sr. Marie Agatha Ozah, HHCJ and the Duquesne University Schola Cantorum Gregorianum (including Dr. Ann Labounsky) for you to enjoy.

If you belong to the AGO, head for page 62 of the September 2013 issue.  If you don’t, ankle over to the university library or wherever and look it up.

Sounds like it was a smashing three days!

Wow! A Drum Roll and Taps!

Historical research often yields surprising tidbits, helping to bring those rosy thoughts of the past into line. 

In a report about a “Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament” in 1940 at the Cathedral in St. Augustine, Florida, I read:

“At the elevation of the Host in the gold monstrance, a roll of drums were played, and after the Host was reposed again in the tabernacle, a bugler sounded Taps.”
Yowzah! Bet it knocked their socks off! 
And in the presence of the Apostolic Delegate Giovanni Cicognani, no less! 

Recruitment Season

Just wishing all those directors and choir singers a good start to the “recruitment season.”  You know, the time of year when you put announcements in the bulletin, approach strangers with good singing voices after Mass, lurk in the back of the church with little brochures after the principal Mass, and offer free beer after rehearsal to reluctant friends. 

Whatever works!

Be bold and brave.  And don’t forget to thank the faithful singers who come back year after year!

Troparion for the Dormition

Since I was traveling on the feast, this is a few hours late – but this great feast was once a “Double of the First Class with a Common Octave,” so I think we can keep rejoicing. This video gives you a sense of the variety of chants and styles that developed in the Orthodox Churches from Greek to Arabic, Church Slavonic and English. 

I’ll take a villancico with that, please!

It’s never too early to think about Christmas!  In fact, I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge – I think about it year round.

How about adding a villancico by Francisco Guerrero to your choir’s repertoire this year?  They’re not too long, generally within reach of most singers who can hold a part, and have some interesting syncopations in the middle to keep everyone awake.  Many are 4-part, some are 3-part treble.  Here’s a Spanish quartet in rehearsal.  Lots to be found in the Choral Public Domain Library, so finances are no excuse. 

And Guerrero’s life is worth telling – a choirmaster in Sevilla, he was kidnapped by pirates on his return from a Holy Land pilgrimage, landed in debtor’s prison after he was ransomed and returned to Spain,  bailed out by the Cathedral in Sevilla which hired him back.  Guerrero wrote a best-selling account of his adventures and died of the plague before he could undertake a second, planned pilgrimage.  What a guy!