California Missions Music Presentations – Santa Clara, CA

Friday, October 6th – Recital and Presentation, 6pm
    Works by Sancho, Sumaya, and Gozos to St. Joseph and the Blessed Sacrament. 
    “Choral Repertoire of Colonial Latin America and California Missions:
       an examination of style, repertoire, and “Gozos”, the hymn of praise.” – Dr. Craig Russell

Saturday, October 7th – Feast of the Holy Rosary
  Mass for the Feast of the Holy Rosary with music by Zipoli, 8am
  Sung Rosary with Children, 9:30am and 11:45am

Purgatory still exists in December

As December is upon us, we logically turn our attention toward Advent and Christmas planning. Nonetheless, the coming winter months also can be a time of many funerals.  Let us remember the beauty of the simple Requiem chants, as well as the many polyphonic settings.

There is an excellent article over at NCRegister on the recent St. John Cantius recording of Mozart’s Requiem, in the original “Süssmayr version”.  The article interviews Father Michael Magiera, FSSP who is the Tenor soloist for the CD. 

In the article, there is a beautiful and concise explanation of the value of Sacred Art–drawing our senses and souls to higher things.

As musicians and artists, it is our obligation to guide the faithful, as well as the non-churchgoing to higher things!

Perhaps a nice Christmas present for your musician friends?

Happy Advent (the CD is purple).

Turning toward our Lord in Music

Amidst all the discussion of Ad orientem, many may not have caught a small but important musical note last week. In his Sacra Liturgia address of July 5, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, his Eminence spoke at length of the need to reexamine conciliar and papal teachings.  Returning our focus to God, and our profound need to worship him, there was a beautiful reflection on Sacred music:

…we must sing the liturgy, we must sing the liturgical texts, respecting the liturgical traditions of the Church and rejoicing in the treasury of sacred music that is ours, most especially that music proper to the Roman rite, Gregorian chant. We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs.

What is Sung and When?

Perhaps one of the most frequently heard questions regarding Sacred music is something to the effect:

“Is there a priority for what we are supposed to sing at Mass?”

This of course, presupposes an understanding of Sacred music as greater than singing hymns and a Mass setting. It also is more than simply providing music for the congregation to sing while the clergy say the black and do the red.

At a typical Sunday Mass, it is commonplace to expect the people to actively participate as follows:

  1. Entrance Hymn
  2. Kyrie
  3. Gloria
  4. Psalm
  5. Alleluia/Gospel Acclamation
  6. Offertory
  7. Preface Dialogue (if sung)
  8. Sanctus
  9. Mysterium Fidei
  10. Amen
  11. Agnus Dei
  12. Communion Hymn #1
  13. Communion Hymn #2
  14. Choir sings nice piece here
  15. Recessional

Wow!  That is quite a lot of music.  What do the clergy sing?  On occasion, perhaps the preface dialogue or blessing on larger feasts?

All of this is quite opposite from directives following Vatican II.  In 1967, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued an Instruction of Sacred Music:  Musicam Sacram.  In it, there is a plan for achieving a sung Mass, which can be described in three degrees:

  1. The Acclamations (Clergy)
  2. The Mass Ordinary (Faithful)
  3. The Mass Propers (Choir)

Now this is much more manageable!  The difficulty lies in the 1st degree: the Clergy.  Without the Clergy singing the orations and dialogues, music at Mass becomes secondary–a liturgical filler.  The presidential prayers to God as well as the call and response “the Lord be with you”, etc. are an essential element to the sung Mass, perhaps the most distinguishable one!  

When neatly divided into Musicam Sacram’s three categories, or perhaps a fourth by separating the priest’s part from the deacon, each group is left with a manageable repertoire of roughly 4-5 musical offerings!

The same division of roles is true for the choir and people, making the sung parts more manageable.

*Hymns are the last option given (GIRM 48) and steps should be taken toward singing the proper texts.

For more information, visit:

Sacred Music from the Heart

Our human emotions are an important criterion for the continued renewal and development of Sacred music. There is a great chasm in many places distinguishing the Church’s patrimony, her Heart and Mind, from a more popular view.

Church music and other liturgical arts are easily mistaken in their aim and goal.  Contrived, emotional and superficial, the aim is to entertain, fill a void, please an audience, rather than a humble service to the liturgical ceremony, glorifying God and sanctifying the faithful.

An aforementioned source is Msgr. Guido Marini’s address to a liturgical conference in Mileto.  Translated into a compact book, his reflections are worth reading, re-reading and passing around:

“Thus, singing and music in the liturgy, when they are truly themselves, are born from a heart that searches after the mystery of God and become an exegesis of this same mystery, a word that, in musical notation, opens onto the horizon of Christ’s salvation. Therefore, there is an intrinsic bond among word, music, and chant in the liturgical celebration.

Music and chant, in fact, cannot be separated from the Word of God, of which, indeed, music and chant ought to be a faithful interpretation and revelation. Chant and music in the liturgy stem from the depth of the heart, that is, from Christ who dwells therein – and they return to the heart, that is, to Christ, And from the question of the heart, He comes as the true and definitive response. 

This objectivity of chant and liturgical music should never be consigned to the superficial and extemporaneous nature of our sentiments and fleeting emotions, which do not correspond to the greatness of the mystery being celebrated.”  

Rev. Msgr. Guido Marini, Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies, English Translation © 2011, p.40.

Hoc Corpus – Passion Sunday

Although many do not specifically celebrate “Passion Sunday” on this 5th Sunday of Lent, a brief note on the common Communio Hoc Corpus may be worthy.

This is my body which is given for you;
this cup is the new testament in my blood, saith the Lord:
do this, as oft as ye shall meet together in remembrance of me.

The tritone from Fa to Ti on vobis tradetur provides insight as our Lord begins his suffering and passion.  It is a difficult journey, one which takes great pains.  We see this same intervallic relationship on calix novi, meo sanguine, and meam commemorationem.  As we begin the last week of Lent and begin Holy Week, may our Sacred music reflect the giving of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and on the Cross as truly a gift for our salvation.