Sunday, February 25, 2007

just more thing...

I was just looking through my site meter "referrals" page, and I discovered that someone had come across my site by googling "Haugen Psalms for the Church Year approved"

ha. I love it.
(there are none! deal with it! maybe if we all write him letters, he'll start to used approved translations? except that hardly anyone cares except myself, my boss, and whoever googled that...)
well, I guess I'm off, unless this darn Midwestern weather cancels my flight...don't expect any updates for over a week (not that I post that often anyhow...)
I guess just say a prayer for my safety, and the smoothness of my travels, and that I wouldn't get (too) lost...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

the church musician as a waiter...

so I don't CARE if we sing all the verses to the opening and closing hymns or not! Honestly, I'd rather just sing the introit and do nothing at the end of Mass except maybe play a big organ solo and let everyone just walk out of the church or continue praying when Fr. says, "The Mass is ended." It really is ended! I hate feeling like I'm keeping people there...
anyhow. So when I first got to this church, I would only do 2 or 3 verses for those two hymns. Then one of my choir members was like, "Why don't we sing all the verses to the hymns?" "My friends are telling me they wish we would..." (why does no one ever tell me anything? All of the feedback I get is through my choir!) and my favorite, "We used to sing all of the verses..." And I was like "fine, I really don't care." So it took a couple weeks until everyone stopped trying to run out as soon as Fr. was gone down the aisle, but now they're used to it.
But then at choir rehearsal this week, someone different mentioned that they had been hearing comments that people didn't like singing all of the verses!

good grief!

I KNOW I can't please everyone, but in this situation, there isn't really an objectively right or wrong answer (unless the Holy Spirit is the one you're leaving out with the third verse!) and because I don't really care, I don't know what to do!
And I wish that my boss would give me more feedback, about this and other things. He is so great in so many ways, but I know that he worries about stepping on my toes or "controlling" me too much. (Ha-he doesn't know me yet. control me?!!) But I highly respect his pastoral senses and his opinion, and besides, he's my boss! Maybe we'll have this discussion tomorrow between the Masses, if I see him.
Like a couple weeks ago, I announced to the congregation at all the Masses that for the opening hymn the men would sing the first verse, the women the second, and everyone the third. That goes well when the choir is with me, but I couldn't really tell at the other two Masses. So I wish the someone-anyone! had given me feedback about that.

I think that people don't understand how influential their feedback is towards people in my position. If ONE person tells me something, I have to take their opinion as the majority (unless I know otherwise,) because I have no reason to believe that other people think differently!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'm so excited!

So on Saturday night I will be sleeping in my own bed.
On Sunday night, on a plane.
On Monday night, in London.
On Tuesday night, in Paris.
On Wednesday night, in London again...

oh my goodness. that will be an adventure...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ash Wednesday C

nothing too exciting:

Entrance: Again We Keep This Solemn Fast (Erhalt Uns Herr)

Psalm: Respond and Acclaim "Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned"

Distribution of the Ashes:
Hear Us Almighty Lord (Attende Domine)
Parce Domine (verse English)
Dust and Ashes (verse one if unavoidable-see post below)

Preparation of the gifts: There's a Wideness in God's Mercy (In Babilone.) [It's not a bad hymn at all, but does anyone else find it slightly annoying? maybe it's the AABA format, like we're too dumb to learn more than 2 lines of music...]

Remember Your Love
Softly and Tenderly

Closing: Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days (St. Flavian)

(PS: I think that my favorite hymn tune is a tie between St. Elizabeth and the Passion Chorale.)


oh, I do love Lent. However, as the last big liturgical season that I am currently unfamiliar with in my new-since-August job, it will certainly hold it's challenges.

Ash Wednesday...
(so exactly how many songs will I need for the distribution of ashes? and how about how many people do you expect for Communion song/s planning purposes?) sigh.
When he hired me last July, my boss specifically forbid my from playing "Ashes," which was fine with me since I had never even heard the song. And even more fine with me after I skimmed through the lyrics...

But then at rehearsal one of my choir members asked about the song "Dust and Ashes." Well, I wasn't really sure as I don't know that song, either, and in the middle of rehearsal I didn't exactly have time to study the words. I hemmed and hawed, and finally agreed to use it on Wednesday.
of course this weekend I checked with Fr., and he was like, "um, no." We looked at the words closely, "some people actually do suffer with depression, so isn't that kind of offensive to be singing as if we all suffer from it? And, no, we are certainly not oppressed. Some people may be, but not us." But the song is nostalgic for them. And the best part is, MARA gets the wonderful job of explaining to the choir why we won't be using "Dust and Ashes" this year in the brief few minutes before Ash Wed. Mass when she sees them next (even after she kind of told them we could use it...) Perhaps we shall compromise and use only the first verse, it's not so offensive.
So my boss and I went back and forth on both that and the issue of the possibility of more frequent introduction of Latin in the liturgy, which we want, but I argued that certain choir members (as I am not in a position to judge the congregation as a whole) may not be ready for that...
But as Fr. pointed out, it's not quite fair for a few people to be "holding back" the rest of the congregation.
so perhaps he will come up to the choir loft during the next rehearsal and have a little talk with the choir...this should be interesting.
Maybe he'll come bearing the gift of giving each of them a copy of "Spirit of the Liturgy." (his idea...)

and this all is not even touching on the excitement of the whole Triiduum. (what happens next?) my last church job certainly didn't care at all about what was "correct," so now I get to learn all of that as well as "appropriate," as well as, "what we've always done..."

it is a VERY good thing that I love my job...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Liber Usualis

so I think that I was offered a Liber Usualis today. But I'm not quite sure. And I definitely turned it down (regretfully...)
I was in a someone's office, and I noticed and said, "Hey! You have a Liber Usualis!" (on the bookshelf.) And he was like, "Yeah, do you want it?" and pulled it off the shelf.
My first thought was, "of course I want it!"
but my second thought was, "How do I know if he's offering to give it to me or just letting me borrow it or just showing it to me?"
my thinking is never very clear in these situations requiring great amounts of immediate tact (which I lack in general) in a very short amount of time.
How I wish I had said, "To borrow?" or something like that to which he easily could have replied, "of course," or, "oh no, to keep!"
But I figured in that split second that a Liber Usualis is far too expensive to be giving away to people that you don't even know all that well, so I decided that he meant to borrow. so I said something like, "Oh no thanks, the library (at school) has copies I can check out anytime..."
sigh. hindsight is always 20/20.
why am I not a more articulate person? Or someone who always knows what to say to prevent situations from being awkward?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm sorry.

There are no interesting thoughts in my mind right now.
Just happy that I have nothing to do today. Cancelled my piano students cuz of the snow, but that means I didn't go into work to get anything done for choir tomorrow. (I can never get much done beforehand cuz some people pray the Divine Office right before in the church.) Hopefully I can play all of the songs...ha. Meeting later tonight has been cancelled because their tractor thing broke so we couldn't even get in their big driveway. Going out to dinner to celebrate that new freedom with some friends. (Ignoring the fact that it's St. Valentines Day-however, the guys house made us a WONDERFUL breakfast this morning!)

In other news, on Friday morning I have a very important meeting with someone, that will probably alter/determine the course of my life. I'm quite excited/nervous.
Say a prayer for it and for me!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

vocal range

goodness. I have been awfully busy this past week, and this next promises to be no different.
I was thinking, as I was warming up my choir this morning, more about vocal ranges and why it's hard to find songs that no one complains about.
Certainly, it is extremely rare to hear people complain that a song is too low. Usually, people just sing quieter if it's truley too low, instead of where they end up screeching or straining their voices when it's too high.
The psalm I used today went down to a Bb for the refrain, and I could certainly tell my cantor at the first Mass was straining. I promised her I would bring it up next time. (But how much? It goes up to an Eb at the current level, and I'm trying to avoid using the key of C right now b/c I had to take out an important C pipe because it was ciphering-I suspect because of the dryness. So that leaves me with B or Db-the most beautiful of keys, which in itself is a big plus, but that would mean it goes up to an F#/Gb. We'll see.)
I was thinking as I was warming up my choir that it's not just that men's voices are in general a step or so higher (minus of course an octave) than women's, but that perhaps between different men (tenors vs. basses) there is a greater range of uncomfortableness than between sopranos and altos.
Like, sopranos and altos seem to be all right between a low B and a high C# (some of my older altos will start complaing around then,) on the other hand, my tenor (singular...) is fine up to an E, but I noticed as I was working with one of my music school tenor friends, he said that he can't even sing a low C loudly. Maybe that's why there's so many songs inthe key of D. (which I then complain about cuz I really don't like hearing women sing a high D!) But in contrast to all of that, the basses love getting all the way down to a G or F, but they complain when songs hang around high C and D. So basically, it's the tenors that mess everything up...
Ah. I really ought to do a study on this with different people, both trained and untrained singers, and record their comfortable vocal ranges.
But of course, a song that is comfortably high at the 430p Mass will be ridiculous at 8am the next morning! Ah, another reason I need to vastly improve my visual transposition skills...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

following the texts...

My choir just doesn't get it. And I barely do, so I can hardly explain it to them.
I know that we MUST use the texts as translated by the bishops committee of whatever. The Approved Texts. Therefore, we cannot use that really nice setting of Marty Haugen's Psalm 103 which everyone loves. So when I bust out the new one that we'll be singing in a week and a half, everyone is gonna go, "uh, well, this is nice...but what about the one that we used to use...?" And the only explanations I can give are, "Well, Fr. says we have to use this translation, and eh, he's my boss..." (which I do not want to have to say,) or "Well, this is the only approved text!" but I can't really explain WHY we have to use the approved texts! I mean, it's all Psalm 103!
Like, I know why. But I don't know how to explain it. If we don't do what the Church teaches, then why are we Catholic? Or I can see the slippery slope down to priests who change all the words to Mass, and I've been to some that I even wondered if I had just eaten the Eucharist...
But I don't think that those are very good reasons. agh.
My choir likes me. I don't want to pull the, "because I'm the MD here" card, either. But this topic has come up before, ("Why can't we sing this particular setting of the Great Amen that adds words to it?)
sigh. any thoughts?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

here's my bulletin article as it was in this weekend (not that there's anything to be done now about it..)

A regular comment that I hear when I am talking with people about the music at Mass is, “Oh, well, I can’t sing at all.” But I don’t think that is the point of singing. Don’t we come to church to give glory to God? I carefully choose the music that is used at Mass with a great deal of thought given to the words of the songs, and without exception the songs we are singing are either praises to God, or prayers.

Attending Mass is not something that is easy or passive, like watching television or going to a movie. The word “liturgy” in Greek means “public work.” And it can be hard work. It’s certainly not entertainment. In order to be worshiping God, we need to be actively participating, obviously by saying the prayers, but we also give glory to God by singing the prayers that are in the songs-even though we often don’t “feel like” expending energy in that way!

In the same way that someone does not need to be a great orator in order to say a prayer, no one needs to be an accomplished musician to praise the Lord through singing! In fact, if every one sang, the very few people who are actually tone-deaf wouldn’t be able to be heard-and that is the beauty of congregational singing.

I’m not asking you to join the choir (although if you can carry a tune-and that includes “Happy Birthday”-the choir is always looking for new members!) but I am asking you to prayerfully consider your personal participation in Mass, whether or not you think you’re “good” at it.

As Mother Teresa summarized it, “We are not always called to be successful, but we are called to be faithful.”

....I wish that I had thought to quote more from Musicam Sacram and/or Sacrosanctum Conciliwhatever. I was just skimming through them yesterday to find the quote for my boss about "choirs of men or boys," and I ran across a couple of bits about the participation of the whole people that would have been great for the article. meh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

New translation.

My aunt, who is also a liturigcal type church musician like myself, but at a much larger parish, attended the NPM conference thingy recently where they basically just bashed the new Mass translation. She told my mom about it, who of course told me after I prodded her. They criticized the loftiness of the modified words, and basically just told people to write to people to put pressure on...stopping the change? slowing the change? modifying the translation? (I'm not quite sure what the point of that will be.)
My aunt was very depressed after the first day after they talked about what the (depressing?) result of the new translation would be, but it sounds like my mom tried to encourage her to look at it from a perspective of whether the Holy Spirit was speaking through these people who were making her feel depressed, and why did they claim this conference would be objective if they actually didn't present ANY of the positive reasons for the new translation?
perhaps someone has an "agenda...?"

I'm very inclined to feel depressed about all of this myself, of course from the other side, however. Just sad to know that there are people out there-in positions of great authority who should have more wisdom!-who are so against this.
But then I have to be reminded.
The Roman Catholic Church will survive, regardless of the outcome. She has weathered far worse conflicts. In the end, all earthly things will pass, but Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Catholic anecdote...

yesterday at Mass, there was a little six year old boy whose birthday it was, and he was dressed up as St. John Bosco. (whose feastday it also was.) So cute. Complete with the cassock and little black hat...