Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Funeral this morning that I get to pick the music for. Does that ever happen to anyone else? What do you pick? I want to pick things that people have a chance at knowing, but I won't use the "typicals." (for oft discussed reasons...)

Here's my picks for today:

O God Our Help in Ages Past
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Keep in Mind
Amazing Grace

what songs would other people pick?

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I was reading the latest blog from NLM (, and I was thinking about how thankful I am for my own parish situation.
For the Saturday Mass, I usually end up singing by myself, at the organ in the choir loft, facing away from the people, so I use a microphone. I really only sing loudly for the Psalm and Gospel Acclamation. I know their are many who would criticize the fact that I sing into the microphone at all for everything else, but I think it works well for Saturday (when there are only about 50 people in the church-I think the fact that there is so few of them makes them feel like they are the only ones singing, so they sing quieter, and it's just a downward spiral,) so I very very moderately use the microphone as a kind of backup.
Then for the first Sunday Mass, I have a FABULOUS cantor who just sings from the loft without any amplification. She has a loud but lovely voice, that fits well into our small church. So, for those who would criticize my own use of the microphone (note especially that I face away from the congregation, and my voice is not very loud!) what is so different between using quiet amplification and a loud (but not overpowering) cantor?
and then finally, the choir Mass, which is just wonderful. I mean, I have no idea what it is like to be down in the congregation, but first of all, it is the most crowded Mass, and I know that having more people makes it easier for everyone to sing, and at least from my vantage point, I just hear the choir, so that sounds great! And of course the choir is the ideal situation, I just have one cantor or myself sing the Psalm amplified, and I usually teach the Gospel verse to the whole choir right before Mass.
so, I guess I'm doing something right.
sorry for another self-indulgent post.
there are lots of really other interesting things about my church and my boss, and my job...but I can't control who reads this, and I certainly don't want to get in trouble like blogger X (yes, you know who you are... ;-) so the gossip in me will just have to be stiffled by writing about all of these silly things that no one really cares about. sigh.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

ramblings (don't read if you're only looking for profoundness...)

worked at St. X's fish fry last night. I can't believe I've been Catholic for 22 years, and I've never worked at a fish fry, and until 2 weeks ago had never even BEEN to one! I guess that's what happens when the parish where you grow up at doesn't have any.
It was fun, got to talk to a lot of people, had a nice conversation with Father where he told me that he had heard from TWO people that my way of assigning Psalms for Holy Week had offended someone (and I was already frustrated cuz I had realized that I had not used the best strategy, and was annoyed at myself for not having been more organized-but I can't cuz my recital coming up-see below, so to find out that even HE had heard about it [although not to make it sound worse than it was, he actually thought it was a cute story, and kept telling me how wonderful of a job I'm doing and how everyone is liking me more and more] I guess I'm just to hard on myself...) so that just exacerbated my irritation with myself.
but the fish fry was fun cuz even though I worked a lot, I also got to talk to a lot of people, and not just people from the parish, but people I know from around the area.
Like, I talked to one older couple who I know, and they're like, "Oh, we saw you're working play the organ?" "Yeah." "How many Masses are there? So do you just play the organ for one of those?" "Uh, no, I play for all of them..." "Really? (note of surprise) You mean there isn't like a, um, youth Mass?" "No..." (at which point I thought of a whole lot of things I could reply, but none of them seemed to work, so I just said,) "Do you know Father?" And they laughed and said, "Oh yes..." But I'm not sure if they got what I was referring to about "youth Masses."
But that is something I need to think about more once I graduate-how I can incorporate the youth more with music that has substance and yet will appeal to them...
anyhow, recital.
ah yes. "Recital Approval" is on Tuesday. Fabulous. that's like, what, 3 days away? We'll see how well I can play my pieces under stress. meh. and recital is April 2, which is coming up sooo soon... I'm pretty terrified. maybe I need to stop talking about how terrified I am, cuz maybe that makes it worse...
I just need to focus on how I am NOT inviting any critical organ majors, and therefore, everyone who will be there will know and love me and WANT me to do well, and also how I'm just doing this for the Glory of God. (although I'm not quite sure if my playing of these pieces will be up to any sort of decent standard... :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

recorded music in church?

Does anyone know if it is still forbidden to use any recorded music (at all!) in any liturgical services?
This document from 1958 seems to think so... (see #71)

but it's also pre-Vatican II (although I'm certainly no decrier of things pre-Vatican II, I just couldn't find this verified in any of the Vatican II documents.)
and it also forbids the organ during Lent and Advent and stuff? (I know, there's been lots of discussion online about that issue, but with my particular issue at the moment, I was just wondering if it has either been reaffirmed or modified since 1958!)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

yes! score! rose vestments!

I was sooo tempted to take a picture during the homily with the camera in my phone, but if he had seen me, I never would have heard the end of it. Or else the picture just wouldn't have turned out.

but here's how it came about:

So back in Advent, for Gaudete Sunday, Father told the congregation that while the church did own some "rose" vestments, they were ancient and much too small for him. As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked the sacristan a few days ago if that was true. He said it wasn't.
So yesterday, when I got to church, I was in the office and saw Father and said to him,
"So, I have a proposal. Given that this is Laetare Sunday and we ought to be more 'rejoiceful,' I'll play a prelude before all the Masses if you'll wear rose vestments!"
"But I don't have any rose vestments! How about if you just play a prelude?"
"Hm. I don't think so. And you do too have rose vestments."
"But they're tiny! They don't even go down to my knees!"
"That's not what I heard..."
"Who'd you hear that from?"
"Jim." (the sacristan.)
"Well, I'll go try them on again just to prove that they're too small!"
"No, really, if it's that big a deal, don't bother...I was just suggesting... I know you just don't like the color pink..."
"Mara! It's not about what I like! I'm going to go try them on again and you'll see they're too small!"

(and of course to prove that he also wasn't just not wearing them because he hates pink, sure enough, he wore them for Mass! And 8 minutes before Mass started I noticed this, and had to pull a prelude out of my hat...)

At the third Mass he actually told the congregation, "So this is Laetare Sunday, and the reason I am wearing rose vestments is because Mara said she would play prelude music if I did so. I HATE the color pink. I won't even use a pink post-it note!"

And after Mass someone asked me, "He was joking about that story, right...?"


Friday, March 16, 2007

Does anyone know how to easily find out all the places on the internet that have linked to this blog?

5 Lent

Open: There's a Wideness in God's Mercy (In Babilone)
Psalm: The Lord Has Done Great Things for Us
Gifts: Hear Us, Almighty Lord (Attende Domine)
choir: You are the Light (Perza from WLP-great easy SAB choir song! nice either w/accmp or a cappella. The sopranos can't stop singing their part...)
Healer of Our Every Ill
Eye Has Not Seen
Close: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (Kingsfold)

4 Lent (Laetare)

(I plan on seeing if I can bargain with Father that I'll play prelude music this weekend if he'll wear rose. The sacristan told me that the rose vestments which the church owns actually are NOT too "small" for Father, which is what he told the church on Gaudete Sunday...It takes a true man to be able to wear pink! And sadly, the vast majority of men in general in our society find it too much...)

nothing too exciting (I just feel like I haven't posted anything in a while, and I have a few minutes of freedom):
Open: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Psalm: Taste and See (Holtz)
Gifts: Taste and See (Moore)
Communion: I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Amazing Grace
Closing: The Glory of These Forty Days

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

after thinking about it a little more...

and reading posts on other people's blogs and comments,
I think that people would get a lot more out of it if they stopped complaining about how the document doesn't conform to their own personal crusade (I can't think of a better word at the moment,) their own personal crusade in which they are trying to cause as much disunity in the Church as possible by promoting their own little nit-picky agendas, anyhow, I think that these people (and all of us) would appreciate it a lot more if they just read it in a spirit of prayerfulness instead of complaining that it didn't live up to THEIR exaggerated expectations...

Snippets I might use with my choir...nothing earth-shattering...

"...Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131)."

"...Furthermore, the precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected: besides the singing of an appropriate hymn, it can also be most helpful to remain recollected in silence. (152)"

(Regarding "large-scale/international liturgies:)
"In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (184)"

Now why does it say "Given in Rome...on the 22nd of February" when we didn't get to read it til today?

Monday, March 12, 2007

instrumental music during Lent.

So I get the impression that my boss really prefers if I play nice meditative music before Mass for 10 minutes or so. I managed to convince him (he really tries to do exactly what the Church teaches, but also has excellent pastoral abilities and insights, and sometimes I wonder if the two clash once in a while, like on this occasion.) I managed to point out what the Church teaches about instrumental music during Lent, as in, there should be none, it should only support the singing. And to me that means there shouldn't be preludes of any sort. But I'm not a stickler for this! If my playing actually helps people to pray before Mass, (it provides a more respectful atmosphere? But as I haven't been playing for the past couple weekends, I also haven't noticed more people than usual talking!) then should I do it even if maybe I shouldn't during Lent?
Perhaps I will put to him the proposal that I'll play before Mass on Laetare Sunday if he wears "Rose" vestments... (hehe, he won't-he claims he doesn't have any!)
But perhaps in all serious that would be a nice compromise?
any thoughts on the importance of obeying a direction from the Church such as this (which could be argued isn't all that clear, or is not very high on the scale of things that are important...) as opposed to following a pastoral sense which would help people to possibly experience more reverence before Mass?
"Hope does not come from what I do, but from the awareness that there is Someone who loves me with this everlasting love, who calls me into being every instant, having pity on my nothingness."

-Fr. Julian Carron

Saturday, March 10, 2007

in other church news...

upon discovering yesterday morning that the church won't be available for choir rehearsal next week because of a speaker (which I had originally wrongly assumed would be speaking in the parish hall!) Given the amount of Thursdays before Holy Week, I began to panic and assessed the situation. There is a horribly out of tune piano in the basement of the hall that one of the choir members had mentioned the night before and asked if I could get it Saturday so he could use it! I said I'd see what I could do...
So anyhow, realizing I might as well utlize the piano for the choir rehearsal next week, I wondered how to get a piano tuner on short notice, and also how to get one who would do it for free as it's technically not in my budget :-)

I called a friend of mine from the music school who is taking a piano technology class, and I said, "hey, want some experience tuning a crappy piano?" So I drove him out the church, fed him some fish fry food, and we came back an hour and a half later, and I now have a usable piano for at least the next short while!

(my point is, how many other situations have you heard of where a piano gets tuned at a 6 hour notice for free?!!)

Monday, March 05, 2007


Europe was pretty wonderful. Perhaps the best actual trip I've taken in my life. I'm debating whether or not to link to the photos when I put this up, as I rather prefer this blog to be somewhat mysteriously anonymous. hm.
Anyhow, in terms of music/liturgy (which is what my goal for this blog is,) a couple of interesting things:

Went to Evensong at Westminster Abbey (the Anglican one.) it was interesting as "High Church" experiences go, it was a men's/boy's choir, which was LOVELY to hear, although I wasn't terribly impressed with the actual styles of the music they sang. Something like harmonically Renaissancish 4-part chanting of the Psalms? I'm not really up for analyzing it. I totally coincidentally sat next to guy from the music school at the University (here in Michigan!) that I know. How random is that? We took a picture cuz we figured no one would believe us.

On Saturday morning I went to Mass at Westminster Cathedral because it was some sort of latin/chant Mass with the men of their choir. That was cool, and I actually prefered the parts that were sung in true chant to the Evensong of the night before. However, I was extremely disappointed with myself (and with the training that I have NOT received) that I wasn't able to chant the basic Mass parts in Latin! (They only gave us the words, but they were the familiar/most famous Latin setting, so I should have known them better!)

Then on Sunday, I went to Mass with my friend (who I was staying with.) now, you must understand the religious situation in Europe. It is non-existent. There is truley no money for organists. The church we went to, however, had a wonderful priest who was filled with the Holy Spirit, which I suspect is a rarity in the UK. But, as my friend warned me, the music was seriously lacking. In fact, it was rather hilarious and I had to work very hard to not laugh, and I'm glad she warned me. The organist was this kind of old guy who could NOT play at all! He played the melody of the first line as the introduction (constantly bumping wrong notes,) then fumbled along through all the verses, literally stopping and starting and playing loads of wrong notes as the congregation struggled to follow. However, I was quite impressed by how the congregation DID sing even through all of that, and I would be interested to hear how they would sound without the organist dragging them down! Poor guy, he's probably trying his best, but I do think they could do better without him... He only did 3 hymns, all the Mass parts were spoken. Oh, God help us. This is my vocation...