Tuesday, December 30, 2008

this morning (edited)

Mara just had a ridiculous morning.

after hearing yesterday that some of the canons regular of sjc were coming into ann arbor, and wanted suggestions on places to visit, I found out at 8:45 am this morning they were going to say Mass at St. P. in 20 minutes.
(I won't tell you exactly what I was doing at 8:45 am, but let me just say it was a feat that I can not recreate that I arrived at St. P approximately 14 minutes after getting off the phone!)

The priest said a low mass, and then Fr. G, myself, their priest, and 8 brothers went out to the flim flam for breakfast. (I have never been out to breakfast with that many guys in cassocks and collars, and I probably never will again. tee hee.)

I guess that's the most ridiculous part of the story, but it was quite fun. especially hearing Fr. G. tell them some of his quite exciting stories from when he first arrived at St. P, and then laughing over them!

I should have waited before typing this post! The day was not yet done! Just as I was getting ready to put my leftover pasta in the microwave for dinner (yum,) I received a phone call from Fr. G asking me where we should tell the Canons to go /slash/ take them to dinner. After a great deal of discussion ranging from Qdoba to Coney Island to Buffalo Wild Wings, (I found the thought of the brothers sitting in a sports bar with way too many huge tvs to be hilarious!) we settled on the famous Blimpy Burger! you can't go to this city without going there! We all met up and drove over there, pretty much filling up the little restaurant. It took some time to explain how BB's works and to get all eleven of us through the line, but we eventualy had delicious burgers and fried veggies which subtracted ten years from each of our lives.

Fr. G. had to leave to get ready for Mass early, but one of the brothers mentioned to me that he had suggested the law quad as a neat place to see. I was pleasantly surprised to realize I had forgotten that as being fabulous architecture that the brothers would be interested in, and we were only two blocks away! After firmly warning them that there was a good chance it wouldn't even be open due to the holidays, and that they probably wouldn't see much anyhow because it was quite dark, we trekked over there. Sure enough, it was locked, but after I explained the size of the room and they could see the windows on the outside, they were rather impressed. We trotted back (trotted: because by this point we were quite cold,) back to our vehicles and wished one another well, and will hopefully (probably, as my life seems to go,) to see each other again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas was...beautiful

of course, I know that my perspective from my perch is possibly a bit skewed...
but at the very least I ought to summarize the past 36 hours as historical interest:

an hour before the Christmas Vigil Mass, as I was just about to begin rehearsing the children's choir, I heard...water dripping.
"Is that...water dripping?"
"I was just about to ask that..." replied the harpist.
Sure enough, water appears to be dripping down behind the organ (from the bell tower above it,) and onto the organ's reservoir! argh!
In a panic, I called Fr. G, who of course resoponded, "well, I can't really do anything about it cuz I'm not there right now, and come to think of it, when I do get there in half an hour I won't be able to do anything either..."
(keep in mind, that earlier this week the real feel temp was negative thirty degrees, so to even have rain on Christmas Eve is, well, welcome to Michigan.)
Someone helped me by getting some large trash bags to put over the organ and file cabinets. (wherever the water was coming from was so high up that it was quite spread out by the time it got down to the loft, so it wasn't just going to one small spot.)
As typical Michigan weather goes, the temperature dropped twenty degrees just during Mass, so hopefully I won't have to deal with this again until it thaws...which might be tomorrow. argh.
It was just the...perfect timing of this happening on Christmas Eve.

Anyhow, the MUSIC then went fabulously. the choir (small as it was,) sounded pretty good, and the harp playing arpeggios along with the sustained chords of the organ on the carols was lovely.

Following Mass, with a few friends (including my sister,) we had a polish/slavic traditional sort of Christmas Eve dinner, complete with mushroom soup, pierogies, beets, rolls, pastries, and of course some kind of flat bread with honey on it (which was actually an unconsecrated priest-host which I obtained from the sacristy, ahem...) [I have been americanized enough to not know the name of all of these polish/lithuanian dishes...]

Then of course it was back to the church for 9:30 pm rehearsal for 10:3o pm carols and 11 pm "midnight mass."
(I had been informed 2 weeks ago that one of my newer choir members is an accomplished violinst, so, even though she's from Germany and didn't really know any of our carols, I threw some violin and descant parts at her 5 days ago, and she pulled them off wonderfully!)
I had probably the largest choir I've had since I've been at St. P for 2.5 years, they were overflowing off the normal but rather small space they sing from, let's see, I'm counting...I think 15! wow!
Contrary to what many people at the NLM and other places think, I do NOT think that Christmas is good time to be adding new and unusual things to Mass, so we didn't even do some of the things we've been doing for the past several months like chanting the entrance antiphon (in English.) It was pretty much straight carols, except for the group of ladies and myself who have been singing the proper Communion chant first thing at Communion for almost a year. And the choir sang a three-part arrangement of Bach's "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light," which we've been working on for probably a month, and that was beautiful. (Actually, I couldn't bear to have them sing it just once after all our hard work, so we sang it as the second Offertory song, first once really soft, and then again a bit louder.) Then at Communion we also sang an anthem arrangement (3-part) of "Infant Holy."
Nothing I would do differently, except somehow I planned one too many carols before Mass, so we had to leave out "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which I actually really like.
I was home by 12:30 or so, and calculated that I could sleep til 7 am (for 8 am Mass,) and get to church by 7:35. (I live closer than I've ever lived before to church--I can get there in 8 minutes sometimes!) So I actually felt better all Christmas Day than I have for the past 3 years, really cuz that extra half hour or so of sleep compared to past years.
anyhow, enough about my sleep habits. St. P is one of the very few churches I've heard of (actually, I'm not sure I've heard of any others, but then I haven't really looked,) who celebrate all four Christmas Masses, (vigil, midnight, dawn, and day.) and while every year Fr. G and I are like, "why do we have an 8 am Mass on Christmas morning?" and sure enough only about 75 people come, I still think it's cool that we have all four Masses.
So for the first Mass in the morning, it was just me as organist and cantor, nothing special.

then, for 10:30 am Mass, everyone was in for a treat. Four of my friends, (actually, I've gotten to know them all during the past few months through my new roommate as of September,) all normally sing at and attend other churches either in Detroit or away at grad school, but their families all go to St. P. So...for Christmas one of them had suggested to me the idea a couple months ago of all singing at St. P together, and singing some cool stuff, cuz they're all decent musicians.
They all knew Victoria's "O Magnum" and "Lo How a Rose" and I introduced them to Tallis' "O Nata Lux." (I didn't realize before that the O Nata was in five parts! good thing I was there--I sang the counter tenor part. tee hee, --minus the low D!)
We sang all three as preludes, then we sang "O Magnum" as a second Offertory song, and "Lo" again at Communion. It was ....beautiful. As Fr. G described it afterwards, we didn't just sing, we sang with...love.
(I don't know if anyone can access this, but here is a facebook link to O Magnum http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=41856631934 --I didn't know it was being recorded, and the blend is a bit distorted b/c of the position of the recording device.)
And it was fun, cuz they're all friends!

then off to my Grandma's to eat a wonderful dinner and open presents with the whole immediate family and some of the extended family.
A very lovely Christmas, I must say.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

an interesting quote from Fr. Z

"Some of the sourest people I have ever met are on the traditional side of the fence. Sadly, the traditional thing attracts people who are only happy when they are unhappy."

Why on earth? that doesn't make sense...and yet, I have found it seems too often true in my own life with those I have met!

from http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/12/catholic-herald-bp-conry-arundel-brighton-speaks-out/

Thursday, December 18, 2008


blogging has been light as of late...(partly due to the fact that I've discovered "the forum.")

and, note that Christmas is a week away, so blogging comes in quick spurts while I'm eating dinner before choir rehearsal!

at some point, I want to write a post on how I wish I could wear a head covering (maybe not while I'm at work in the choir loft, but for daily Mass at any of the 4 places I regularly attend.)
but I don't...because I am afraid of what people would think of me...of being judged.
once I wear a headcovering (except to a few select churches where it is completely acceptable which are far away,) then I am afraid of being lumped into the group of "oh, Mara is one of those...super-traditionalists!"

at one place I like to attend daily Mass, everyone receives communion on a prie-deux (sp?) and on the tongue. while there are several reasons I do NOT like going to this place, I LOVE that that is the NORM and no one will judge you or think you're weird for receiving communion in that way!

ok, maybe that was enough of a post to elicit some feedback!

4 Advent B

for 10:30 unless noted:

open: entrance antiphon (english, to psalm tone)
other masses: Creator of the Stars
Offertory: Sing of Mary (Pleading Saviour)
Ave Maria (chant)
Communion: Ecce Virgo
choir: Divinum Mysterium/Lo How A Rose (arr. sjmp)
O Come O Come Emmanuel
close: People Look East

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I saw a license plate yesterday that was "OREMUS1"

Friday, December 12, 2008

An advent wreath is not a wheel that needs the lugnuts put back on

...and therefore should be lit in the proper order.

and what might that be?
seemingly not random, which would be, "oh let's light this purple one, and then how about the across from it, and then oh yes we have to light the pink one now, and then i guess we have to light the one all the was across from it cuz that's all that's left."

nooo...we need...some semblance of order.
if you start with the one directly across from the pink one, then it doesn't matter which direction you go, you'll always light the one next to it! (assumming you keep going in the same direction.)
that is nice and orderly.

it seems perfectly reasonable to me, except that both of the churches I have been in recently light it randomly! (starting with one next to the pink candle, then lighting directly across from that.)

is there any logic to this that I am unaware of? A reason for doing it in that order?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2 Advent B

After getting less than positive responses on the music a few weeks ago, (and feeling extremely uncomfortable with it myself,) I think I have come to find a happier median for the music at Mass, particularly regarding my struggles to do what I believe the Church wants us to, while helping people to participate exteriorly to the degree that they want.

here's what the music at St. P has been looking like recently, specifically this upcoming weekend:
music for 10:30 am (unless otherwise noted)

Entrance: "People of Zion" (to the same Gloria Patri tone we have been using.)
(other Masses: Creator of the Stars [Creator Alma])
Psalm sung to simple psalm tone
chant Alleluia
Offertory: The King Shall Come (Morning Song) followed by (at 10:30 only...)
"Show us Lord your mercy, and grant us your salvation" to a psalm tone alternating with verses
chant English Sanctus
chant (to psalm tone) "When we eat..."
two-tone Amen
chant English Our Father
simple Latin Agnus Dei
Communion: Ierusalem Surge
O Come Divine Messiah (Venez, Divin Messie)
Choral Anthem: On Jordan's Bank (by sjmp)
Recessional: Savior of the Nations (Nun Komm)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ad orientem

from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 2002

299. The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns.116 The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.

desirable whenever possible!?
I thought the GIRM was a pretty high-ranking/authoritative document... I was just rather surprised to find this directive in it. Since I've recently been concerned with things like this, I've been under the impression that the idea of "facing the people" was just made up after Vatican II, not actually prescribed anywhere...

but here we have conflicting what the pope has been doing, with the GIRM. I guess I'm just then confused about the authority of this document.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a very interesting weekend at St. P

40 Hours Devotion:

Tridentine Wedding:

(sorry, my camera takes pretty bad pictures.)

(this being particularaly significant b/c this form of the Mass hasn't happened publicly at St. P since before Vatican II)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I love the things that people search for online that my blog comes up for.

around this time of year I get a lot of people searching for "People Look East." (not sure what they're looking for...melody? lyrics? if anyone here is looking for that, the text is by Eleanor Farjeon, and it's a French tune called "Besancon" with a meter of 87 98 87, according to my Ritual Song hymnal published by GIA. Sorry I'm not going to bother typing out the lyrics. I'd rather not get sued by "David Higham Assoc. Ltd." They sound important...)

I wish I could respond to the people who come looking for things. To the person who searched, "Catholic psalm settings" I would have a lot to say, as to the person who searched, "instrumental recessional songs."
I'm sure I could also have a nice discussion with whoever looked for "hymns that match scripture" or "churches playing recorded music."

and then what about whoever searched for, "Catholic Mass processions entrance offertory communion recessional"?

Recently someone searched for "choir rehearsal panic"
(and they got MY blog?! hehe...)

Tridentine Wedding

Would you believe that there probably hasn't been a Tridentine Wedding in this city in 40 years, and now there are going to be TWO this Saturday! at the same time! so I have to miss one! But I am in charge of the music for the other...oh goodness. We rehearsed last night, and I think it should go pretty well, but say a prayer! (I have hired-or rather the couple getting married has-a quartet of music school singers, and I will also sing.)
Here's the plan:

Bride Procession: Tiento lleno de Pange Lingua de V Tono- J.B. Cabanilles
Introit: Deus Israel
Kyrie: Missa de Beata Virgine - Cristobal Morales
Gloria: chant (Mass VIII)
Gradual: Uxor tua
Offertory: In Te Speravi
Ave Maria - Tomás Luis de Victoria
Sanctus: Missa de Beata Virgine - Cristobal Morales
Benedictus: "
Agnus Dei: "
Communion: Ecce Sic Benedicetur
Ave Verum - William Byrd
Presentation to Mary: Regina Caeli - G. Aichinger
Recessional: Tiento Lleno de V Tono - J. B. Cabanilles

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

at 10:30: Introit in English, psalm tone
others: O Christ the Great Foundation (maybe to another tune)
Offertory: 10:30: offertory antiphon as response
others: Christ is made the Sure Foundation (Picardy)
Communion: Communion Proper
At that First Eucharist (Unde Et Memores)
Organ Recessional: Lobe den Herren (Cherwein)

EDIT: and the crowds went wild with appreciation!... (not...)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Most Beautiful Mass

I had the incredible opportunity to attend the most beautiful Mass I have ever witnessed last night.
Yesterday at 7 am, an ambitious group of 7 young people from this city piled into 2 cars and drove to St. John Cantius in Chicago, for their annual All Souls Extraordinary Form Requiem Mass, with Mozart's Requiem.
We made great time and arrived around 10:15am their time. A friend of mine who is in the Canons Regular (Brother R) obtained permission to spend some of the day with us, which was delightful. First he showed us around the church, then we heard the Canons chant mid-day prayer, following that one of the brothers played a short but neat piece on the organ for us. Then Brother R took us in their van for a little tour of Chicago.
First we stopped at a little cafe for a much-need lunch, then we went to three different churches all very nearby and all very neat. Mary of the Angels, St. Stan's, and Holy Trinity. Then Brother R drove us downtown, pointed out some of the big sights, and then dropped us off. Half of us went to the art museum, and the other half had their own adventures which they can tell you about. After eating some deep dish pizza, my group headed back via subway to the church, arriving a nice half an hour before the Mass began, in a quickly filling up church.
The moment the Mass began, my heart swelled with indescribable emotion. Having heard the opening bars of Mozart's Requiem so many times; for this one more time to then turn and witness the beautiful procession with the reverent altar servers solemnly carrying the cross and candles, followed by the deacon and subdeacon and priest, all dressed in beautiful, gilded vestments appropriate for the most sacred event on earth, I thought, "how appropriate. after all the times I've just been staring at a choir... Of course there ought to be a procession for this music!"
The Mass continued on, and I enjoyed every moment of it (although I was informed later by the MC that there were many flukes--I was not aware of anything not going perfectly!) Quickly into the service the familiar "Dies Irae" sequence was sung, the primary chunk of Mozart's Requiem. We sat and listened to a good 20 minutes of some of my favorite pieces of music, like the "Lacrymosa." We sat and listened, and prayed, and meditated, and our thoughts were carried to heaven through the experience of all our senses of things that are distinctly sacred. (for those who joke about "smells and bells," they don't know what they're missing--when your whole person is experiencing so many beautiful things!) Throughout the Mass, although of course I know intellectually where (for example) the "Offertory" is supposed to "go," it was absoloutely fascinating to witness the appropriate actions occuring with the music.
After a good 25 minute homily, (I was happy-I had heard he might preach up to 40 minutes!) Mass continued with fitting reverence and solemnity rarely seen elsewhere.
Following Communion, I was once more indescribably affected at the very end. I didn't think I had ever heard Barber's Adagio, which was played at the very end as the priest and servers processed back down the aisle. A very fitting anti-"closing hymn!" (If I die soon, make sure that's the "closing hymn" for my funeral!) While listening to those beautiful closing notes of the string instruments, we prayed for bit.
After saying our goodbyes and thanks to Brother R for taking time out of busy day for us, we departed right around 10pm (their time,) and arrived back at 3 am.
I can't wait til next year!

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Soul's

I am quite excited about the planned music for this weekend, particularly at our "main Mass." Of course, things can always change last-minute, but here's the plan:
Entrance: "Eternal rest grant unto them..." (to a solemn psalm tone)
(other Masses: Parce Domine)
Offertory: antiphon: "Out of the depths have I cried to you, Lord hear my prayer." (to a simple psalm tone.)
Pie Jesu (2 boy sopranos, I think they're singing the one by ALW, but it might be the one by Faure.)
(other Masses: Keep in Mind)
Communion: Lux Aeterna
Let All Mortal Flesh (Picardy)
choir: God be in My Head (published st. james music press)
Organ Recessional: Duke Street (can't remember who wrote the arrangement. It's very cool. I played it once before.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

indexes (indices? whatever.)

I hate that the Liber doesn't have an index. I mean, I am sure it would be quite large, so I'm not really surprised.
The Gregorian Missal does, but it's subdivided into all the categories for the propers, so you still have to read through each category, but that's usually what I use when I need to find a chant.

However...while I'm on the topic of making an index...what about an index for everything for all Gregorian Chant?

Here's what my perfect index would contain for all the chants:
-by scripture reference
-by Latin first words
-while I'm at it, how about an index containing all of the major Latin words in it (like, this happened to me--I knew the chant I couldn't remember contained the Latin words "king" and "beauty" in it. wouldn't that have been great if I could have just pulled out my index and looked up all the chants containing the word "rex" in them!?)
-and I might as well have an index containing all the English translations of the important words in the chants!

(this all stemmed from the fact that I have an old book from ocp something about "organ meditations on gregorian themes," and the titles of all the pieces are in English! So this one I really liked, was called "you are the honor of your people" or maybe it was "our people," I can't remember. So I was like how on earth am I going to find it? I don't even know how to translate that into Latin! much less what word would be first even if I had a Latin index... well, before I wrote this whole post, it really only took me 5 minutes of doing a few google searches to find that the chant I'm looking from is [I think, but I'll have to check when I have the book with me,] from the Immaculate Conception Gradual, from the middle of it, and the Latin is "tu honorificentia populi nostri.")

eh, who needs an index when you've got the internet?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Rossini Propers

For a while, I read online about "the Rossini Propers," usually mentioned with a bit of disdain.
I was never quite sure what exactly it was referring to musically, and I was even more confused by the fact that I had found in my choir loft two old books written/edited by "Rossini," containing 3 part polyphonic settings of some of the propers (mostly for feasts. I knew they weren't complete.)
I had difficulty believing that these were the Rossini Propers, looked down upon by so many. Trite at times as they seemed, I doubted many choirs could "easily sight-read them."
So, I was somewhat confused about to what everyone was referring!
Until, last August, I held in my hands, for the very first time, The Rossini Propers.
And then I knew what all the fuss was about.
Truly, the texts just set to a psalm tone.
hey, I could have done that! (In fact I do, every week, just in English...)
I suppose I should obtain a copy, for the probable but distant possibility that I might have to use them with a choir for the Extraordinary Form...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catholic Devotions

I grew up with hardly ANY exposure to things "traditionally Catholic." (I am from a very interesting parish, where most people do/did not seem to appreciate traditional music, such as organ and chant.) I got to know some basic Latin texts (such as the Mass) and classical arrangements through singing in various high school choirs. (Our church choir did some traditional works, but that was not the main style of music.)
Really, Eucharistic Adoration with praise and worship music was the extent of my Catholic devotions.
And yet, I still haven't quite figured out exactly why or how, even though people occasionally ask me, somehow I became interested in Latin, and chant, and even the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. (I think it may have had something to do with a combination of reading blogs and certain friends from music school).

But now I feel as thought I missed out on some sort of Catholic developmental-type-thing.
I mean, I didn't know until my current job what was the response to "You have given them Bread from Heaven." (and I still don't know it in Latin...)
And even more applicable to my job...what's a Tenebrae service? 40 Hours Devotion? (well, ok, that's all I can think of for now...)
And then what kind of MUSIC goes with them?! Am I supposed to do something?
We're going to have 40 hours devotion in November...should I take some initiative and get some people to sing at some point?
what about this Tenebrae thing that everyone always talks about during Lent? My boss mentioned a year or two ago we should do it. Does that mean it won't happen if I don't go ahead and do it? (It's not like the choir is bored during Holy Week or anything...)
so am I a bad music director if I don't just go ahead and figure out what I need to do and take initiative?
I feel rather...incompetent.
My point in all this was, I feel particularly incompetent b/c I seem to have missed out on these Catholic public devotions while growing up, and now...if I'm supposed to DO anything for them, well, I am quite at a loss.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

28 Sunday A

today will go down in my mind, for several small reasons, as being one of my worst Sunday mornings so far. I mean, nothing terrible happened, nobody besides me probably even noticed the little things. But strangely, it went well. I was probably stretched in a good sort of way.
+my microphone decided to not work at all today--it was fine yesterday! so at the last minute I had to teach a cantor the Psalm [who had never cantored here before], teach the choir the solo part of the entrance antiphon and Gospel Accl [very last minute] run through 2 hymns with a violinist 10 minutes before Mass who had only played for me once, I just felt SO tired especially for the 1st Mass-I have no idea why; one of my choir members thought it was a good idea to go downstairs and receive Communion-right before I started the choral communion anthem!, I didn't get through nearly as much as I wanted to in the reharsal before Mass, in fact, all of the last minute teaching kind of added up so I didn't do a single prelude before the 10:30! I mean, I knew that I would have to run through with the violinist at the last minute...but everything else took longer than I thought, and then having to teach the extra stuff that I normally pull off myself because of the microphone not working really topped it off! (even though I did have in the back of my mind that I want to start getting someone else singing the Psalm, I just never get around to it cuz there is no time! so maybe today was a needed push-from-Above to get me to let go? hehe...)

here's for the 10:30 with the choir:
Entrance: Si Iniquitates, in English to solemn Psalm tone
Offertory: Faith of Our Fathers
Communion: Aufer a Me
Ave Verum (L. Perosi)
Humbly We Adore Thee (Adoro Te)
Final Song: Come Holy Ghost (Lambilotte)

but, it could have been so much worse...I could have been sick, the organ could have gotten a cipher, none of my choir members could have shown up...etc.

oh yeah, and get this that happened yesterday:
usually Fr. does the announcements and THEN does the final blessing, but yesterday I still have no idea if he gave the final blessing, I just know that he gave the announcements and then announced the last song, but if he HAD already given the final blessing, I had zoned out. So, I was up in the choir loft waving at him to give the final blessing. and he was like, "Mara thinks I didn't give the final blessing. Did I?" and half the people were like "no," (those who weren't paying attention like me.) and half the people were like "yes." And he said he thought he did.
Next time, I am just going to shut my mouth (or, rather, just play the song when I'm told to play it!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

one thing I hate.

There is exactly one thing that I hate about my job.

teaching songs/hymns/chants to the congregation.
I just feel so disruptive, and it's like no one even cares.
I think that the congregation would pick stuff up after a couple weeks, but my boss makes me teach everything; and even review it the second week we do it!
"Good morning everyone. I would like to take just a minute and teach you this song. It's number blah blah." (wait while 1/4 the congregation shuffles around. The others just stare blankly in front. "Please turn to number blah blah. Ok, I'll sing the first line and then you try it. (la la lah) ok, now everyone (la la lah) ok, good, now here's the second line (la la lah.) actually, that line is kind of tricky, how about you listen to it again. (la la lah.) ok, now let's all try it. (la la lah.) " blah blah blah. there has got to be a better way to teach songs!
there has got to be some sort of osmosis process that would work...
oh wait, that's what I've already stated! I should suggest to my boss that we just try not teaching a song, but give them 4 weeks before we make any judgements about whether they're singing or not. Maybe I'll try that with a new Alleluia.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

three and a half years

3.5 years ago, I started my first job as a real music director.
After years of singing in high school choirs, church choirs, taking piano lessons, playing piano at Mass, and several years of organ lessons, I knew it was time.
It was almost like...what I was made for. (But who God knows my future, only time will tell.)
Someday, I really should type up my whole musical history, how everything has led me towards this, how perfectly it all fits together...and then I think, how exciting! I wonder what will come next...?

For those 3.5 years, "Today's Liturgy" has been my friend, to varying degrees. Originally, I used almost all of their song suggestions (it helped that the church I was working at also had OCP hymnals, whereas now I can't even use some of the songs if I wanted to; they're not in the Ritual Song!)
but now I pretty much glance at them, see if there's any possibilities, and just use the spaces they give to write down my own song/choral plan for upcoming weeks.

My point in this whole entry, is that over the past 3.5 years, I would occasionally think about the 3-year lectionary cycle, and how neat it would be to finally have gone through a whole cycle...and technically never have to plan another Mass! I have saved all of those issues of "Today's Liturgy..." And yet, I somehow passed the 3-year mark without even a passing thought.

It amazes and terrifies me to think of how my song selections have changed over those past 3.5 years. Most of what I programed 3 years ago, I hope and pray that I will never (or never have to,) use again. I know it was filled with songs like "We Remember," "Be Not Afraid," even "Sing of the Lord's Goodness," (the one that sounds like Take 5. My choir director at the time found it, and was like "let's teach this!" so we did, and I liked it, and even the priest told me to use it a lot, cuz the people liked it. This was at the church where I was the only person under 50 ever in attendance...)

Anyhow, my heart feels faint at the thought of even opening up those old issues of "Today's Liturgy" where I recorded the weekly music selections. (much less would I even consider using my selections from the same Sunday 3 years ago, so I dodn't have to plan the music again!)

but I will save them, so that some day, when the recent past is ancient and fascinating history, rather than a reminder of my younger days.
however, I couldn't have done it any differently. I had to use those songs. The people weren't ready for anything else, although I did introduce some good songs to them (I have no idea what happened after I left.) and the priest certainly wouldn't have supported anything different.

and I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have such a great job, with a priest who has a similar mind to mine, and a congregation (mostly) interested in good, high quality Sacred Music.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Perosi, Recruiting, and Teaching

The Laudate Dominum by Perosi went excellently yesterday
I'm not really familiar with him, but the choir will be singing a Ave Verum next week by him http://www.choralwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Ave_verum_corpus_(Lorenzo_Perosi), and there is a very interesting looking Ave Maria http://simoneolivieri.altervista.org/file/pdf/avemaria.pdf
who is he?
I am definitely a fan of 2-part music!
My choir has been going better than I expected a month ago. After an aggressive recruiting drive (involving sending lots of facebook messages to people I had never met,) I have 4 or 5 new members, bringing my Sunday regulars up to about 11 singers!
After struggling to find a time that people could rehearse, most of the choir has started to rehearse Sundays from 9:10-10:15am. That's when some of the new recruits are able to rehearse, (actually, everyone can rehearse on Sunday before Mass!) but having them there is making the older members realize that they actually are missing out on something...so they show up even if they already attended the Thursday rehearsal! Let's hope this keeps up.
It has really been great, even some of the choir members who don't really like latin enjoyed the energetic but still pretty easy Laudate Dominum.
I know some would question the orthodoxy of dividing up the men and women into just 2 parts, (for example for the Soprano-Alto Laudate Dominum, I put Sopranos and Tenor on the top line, and Altos and Bass on the bottom line. ) [notice the singular. it was intentional...]
With my small numbers I have difficulty doing anything SATB, it takes too long to teach the one or tenors or bass very much on their own, I would rather just have them sing with their corresponding women's parts; I think it still gives a nice, rich sound.

Ok, I read about him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_Perosi
too bad they don't teach you about guys like him in music school...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

27 Sunday A (10:30am)

Entrance: English translation of Proper Introit, set to solemn Psalm tone
Offertory: Sing Praise to Our Creator (Gott Vater Sei Gepriesen)
Choir: Laudate Dominum (2-part; Perosi)
Communion: In Salutari Tuo
Jesus My Lord, My God, My All
Where Charity and Love Prevail (Christian Love)
Last Song: Crown Him (Diademata)
Postlude: Lobe den Herren (Micheelsen)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mara is...

...thinking that trying to plan the music selections for "All Souls Day" and "Dedication of the Lateran Basilica" is one of the more difficult things she has had to do for her job.
Too bad we can't just sing the Propers...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If I ever get married...

...can I have the music for my wedding look and sound like this?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

reading through the archives...

I spent some time today going through the archives of St. P, including old bulletins from 1964-1968.
A most interesting time in the history of the Church.
Those of us who weren’t around for that time always wonder, “How exactly were the changes of Vatican II put in place? Those intended and those not? How did they go from reading in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that the Latin language was to be preserved, and then 4 years later it appeared to be abolished?”
I found a few answers, at least those that were given at St. P (which was, notably, at the time in the Diocese of Detroit.)

I have chosen some pertinent excerpts from the bulletins of the time period, and included my notes on how the announcements or explanations have proved to be interesting.

I wasn’t able to do as full and detailed an examination as I wanted, but there was mention of the council occurring. The first notable bit from it was the inclusion of the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” included on one side of the bulletin, beginning on April 4, 1964 and continuing. (The last bulletin I found was from May 31, 1964, but it only went to paragraph 82. I don’t know if the following bulletins were lost, or if there was a change in the format.) I made particular note of paragraph 36 in the May 3, 1964 edition, as saying Latin is to be preserved.

Continuing on…
Excerpt from 6/13/1965
“Liturgical Explanation: According to a recent letter from the Archdiocese, after the priest has said the prayers at the foot of the altar at the beginning of the Mass, “he should now go to the chair where he presides over the liturgy of the Word. The chair faces the congregation. He may however remain at the altar if circumstances so dictate.” Since circumstances are not dictating very much, the priest has been doing just this in recent weeks. The purpose of facing the people is to show that the priest is presiding over the entire ceremony, not just enduring it. Some priests have been known to claim that they do not enjoy staring at all those people. No doubt the people could claim much the same thing…and maybe with greater justification. Still—it brings priest and people closer together and shows more clearly that the priest is the presiding officer, the leader, or Master of Ceremonies, of all the goes on. This new way of doing things is not a hard and fast rule, so don’t be surprised if some priests do not do this.”
(that's it? and so it just happened?)

“Our church is operated on a hierarchical system, which means that direction is from above. Bishops are directed by the Pope; priests by their bishops; and finally, the people, by their pastors. For centuries this system has prevailed. The reactions have been varied. Some have welcomed direction and have always presumed that Mother Church knew best. Others have taken the defeatist attitude and said or implied that you can’t fight City Hall, so why try. Still others have been in silent rebellion.
Thanks to this present Vatican Council, this attitude is fast changing. If there is one startling result that is most evident coming from Vatican II, it is the fact that this is the ‘Era of the Layman.’ This does not mean that the old governing structure of the Church is going to be replaced by a Trusteeship in each Parish. But it DOES mean that in this era of a more educated Laity, there are certain areas where the know-how and the experience of the competent Layman can be of great service to the Church and the individual Parish.”
(note however, that we will still listen to our archbishop/archdiocese even when they contradict the council… as evidenced above and below.)

“For the first time since the days of the Apostles, our Church has seen fit to mitigate her regulations concerning the Lenten fast. This shows her existential outlook as a living organization. Just as customs, educational horizons, and personal conveniences have changed since those early days, so too, the Church tries to keep pace with the era in which She finds herself. What was considered as a standard penitential practice for a first century Christian would be looked upon as barbaric by a Catholic of today. Conversely, Lent of 1966 might well be considered as a mockery in the times of Sts. Paul and Timothy. Regardless of personal taste, the Lenten Season still retains the overall characteristics of PENANCE and ATONEMENT. The sincere Catholic welcomes Lent because it gives him an official time, with constant reminders, to make amends for his past excesses, and a period in which he can renew his fervor for things spiritual.”
(then goes on to describe the necessary Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasting, almsgiving, and some prayer.)
(For the first time since the days of the Apostles??!!)

“Our Next Liturgical Change”
(describes the introduction of the bringing of the Elements for the Sacrifice to the Altar, at the same time as the offerings are brought to the Sanctuary. Apparently the Offertory Procession had recently been introduced.)
“Please try to enter into the spirit of this latest modification of our worship-pattern. The other changes have gone smoothly and you have accommodated yourselves to the Church’s wishes in an exemplary fashion. It is our hope that this latest revision will serve to make the Mass more meaningful and a new experience in the overall ideal of proper participation.”

(a survey had been taken with various questions. Some of the results are below, and answers to less interesting questions were included in later bulletins. I do not know how the views expressed at St. P reflected those of the general population—Was this particular church even in 1966 considered more “liberal” or “progressive” than other churches? I do not know. I suspect at least slightly.)
“Survey Results: (39 returned)
1. What do you think of the Vatican Council?
Waste of time…2
Other comments…2
No comment…2
2. What do you think of the New Liturgy?
Like it…32
Dislike it…3
No comment…1
3. Which action of the Council interested you most?
Relations with other religions…23
Revision of fasting laws…11
New rules about Mixed Marriages…17
Liturgical changes…9
Proposed changes on Birth Control…14
Greater role of the Layman…15”

“The History of the Mass:
The appearance of lay lectors and commentators in the sanctuary was one of the major reforms in the Mass that went into effect on Nov. 29, 1964, the First Sunday of Advent.
Each played a role recommended by the fathers of Vatican II and spelled out by the American bishops. The lector was assigned to read the scriptural parts of the Mass with the exception of the Gospel. The commentator supplied instruction and explained the Mass as it progressed, thus helping the faithful in their praying and singing. Another layman who assumed a role at this time was the leader of song, who developed and encouraged congregational singing, again in response to directives of Vatican II.
These laymen were all cautioned, however, that their function was a subordinate on and that the presiding officer at the Mass was the celebrant.”
(I do not know if certain excerpts such as this one—it appears to have been a column called “The History of the Mass,” were specific to this parish, or were included in a large number of bulletins.)

“The History of the Mass:
The final change-over to English for the Canon of the Mass came with relative suddenness on Oct. 22, 1967. The development, of course, had been foreshadowed by the instructions from Vatican II and by action of the American bishops five months earlier when they ordered several other changes and simplifications in the Mass.
But most speculation had been that for such far-reaching change the First Sunday of Advent would be chosen, just as it had been earlier for the 1964 changes in the Mass. But then the leader of the American bishops, in Rome for the Synod last September, received final Vatican approval for the English text of the Canon—and the change was ordered for Sunday, Oct. 22.
Bishop John F. Dearden made the announcement that from that date on it would be mandatory to say the entire Mass in English, adding that only missal inserts would be necessary to accommodate the change.”
(emphasis added) (so, we do listen to our bishop, wrong as he may be…)

“The History of the Mass:
‘Religious singing by the people is to be skillfully fostered, so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.’
That was one of the things Vatican II had to say about music in the Mass. And then, in March, 1967, Pope Paul issued an ‘Instruction on Music in the Liturgy,’ to become effective on Pentecost Sunday that year. It urged more singing in services, authorized singing of ancient Latin hymns in modern languages and recommended use of instruments native to different countries and cultures.
While cautioning that ‘Anything done in churches, even if only for experimental purposes, which is unbecoming to the holiness of the place, the dignity of the liturgy and the devotion of the faithful must be avoided,’ the document did not specifically prohibit the use of blues, spirituals and even jazz.”
(so therefore anything that wasn’t specifically prohibited can be done?
And it was just downhill from there, folks…)

I am not necessarily condemning all of this, my primary purpose in putting it up here is to give examples of how changes in the Mass were conveyed to the people, and their response.

I would LOVE to go through the bulletins typing up a thorough examination, and quoting everything that was said about the liturgical changes, even bulletins from other churches!
They thought they were so...innovative.
but now it's just...ancient history.
I wonder what they'll think of it in another 40 years? a blip on the liturgical radar screen?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

25 Sunday A (last Sunday)

Prelude: Andantino (C. Franck, ed. Callahan)
Picardy (Al Roberts)
Open: For the Beauty (Dix)
(10:30 Entrance Antiphon thingy in English)
Offertory: All Creatures (Lasst Uns Erfreuen) In C! ha!
Communion: Communion Antiphon (whatever it was)
At that First Eucharist (Unde Et Memores)
10:30 Let All Mortal Flesh (Picardy)
Sending: Heart of Christ (Stuttgart)
Postlude: Toccata (David Crouse)

26 Sunday A (upcoming)

Prelude: Adagio (Mozart, K 356, ed. Callahan)
Entrance: To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King (Ich Glaub An Gott)
(10:30 Entrance Antiphon in English to a Psalm Tone)
Offertory: Be Thou My Vision (Slane)
(10:30 To Jesus Christ)
Sanctus: (tentative) teach congregation English chant arr. St. Meinrad
(any ideas for a matching Mem. Accl? I'm thinking of setting "When We Eat..." to the tone I've been using for the Responsorial Psalms: do-re-fa...)
Communion: Memento Verbi
Alleluia, Sing to Jesus (Hyfrydol)
10:30 Be Thou My Vision (arr. Shephard)
Sending: Jesus Shall Reign (Duke Street)
Postlude: Fugato (Meert, ed. Callahan)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

bulletin article

I have been turning over in my mind for several weeks, a possible bulletin article.
This particular one will be in response to the occasional comment that I get:
"Mara, I really appreciate everything you've done here, but sometimes the songs are just so high, I can't really sing along..."

I know that some of my organ friends will have a lot to say on this issue...
I am going to now use this space to formulate my thoughts.

Objectives in writing this article:
-Demonstrate that it's not my fault that the songs seem high, but apologize that they seem that way for many people
-Explain why they seem high
-Explain what I as the organist occasionally do to lessen this burden upon the congregation

How I will do this:
-Explain how the SATB system of hymn writing works, and how we as Catholics in the congregation just sing the "melody line" which is actually for the sopranos
(at which point I can make a shameless plug for people to join the choir-- so they will always be singing a part that is comfortably in their range!)
-Point out that since people do have different ranges of singing (as demonstrated above) what is "too high" for one person is "just right" for someone else--perhaps I could even give examples, like Fr. G as opposed to the Deacon! tee hee. Or perhaps that would be unnecessary/innappropriate... :-)
-Explain how I often deliberately play the hymn in a lower key, either one that is written out somewhere besides the hymnal, or I spend hours practicing transposing it by sight. (ok, well, maybe not quite hours...but, what I would give for a little knob on my organ! Oh well, let's call it my "ongoing musical education.")

Sometimes I'm not sure exactly what people mean when they say things like, "your voice is too high to sing with," but I kind of wonder if they mean it just sounds high, (because it is usually men who say things like that,) or if they mean something other than that. I mean, because like if a man was singing from the choir loft, would they feel more comfortable singing with him?

What I might want to avoid:
-Discussing how much of the complaints about music being "too high" actually is just a result of people being either lazy or having untrained voices.
But maybe if I told them they had untrained voices, I could offer a class on how to sing better, and they might come! (or not.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

even more on solfege...

I just want to say, that someone did a google search for "what is the point of solfege in college aural" and clicked on my blog.
That makes me laugh (I have a sitemeter, so I can see things like that.)
Oh, how I wish I could talk to that poor college student...
And, I wonder if my post answered any of his questions!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I had the strange experience as I was studying aural music theory in college, that I began to think of every melody that I heard in solfege. You know, "do, re, mi." Instead of having songs stuck in my head, like most people occasionally get, I would hear a melody--and find myself singing it mentally to solfege! I was only sitting in an aural music theory class twice a week for an hour, and I did struggle in the class, but I passed, so I'm not sure how my mind got so attached to solfege. I would even play little mind games with myself, "wait Mara, what if this melodic phrase actually started on DO instead of SOL; is there really a way to tell for certain?" Like, I see how that can sometimes be applied to chant...is it "so-la-do," or "do-re-fa?" And I hated it! Just like how everyone else hates it when they get a song stuck in their head! It must have been for 2 solid years that I am pretty sure I was constantly hearing solfege. Gosh, it was annoying. At some point, however, it has thankfully dwindled away. I can't give any sort of precise date, but I will say that it now only happens when I think somewhat consciously about it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Instrumental Recessional...

Fr. G and I have spent a bit of time recently discussing the pros and cons of having an "instrumental recessional" rather than a closing song. I certainly think it is more appropriate and wish we could do it always: there isn't much of a point to a closing song, very few people probably actually want to stay and sing a few verses!
Fr. G had seen it done elsewhere, so he has been bugging me to try to play some loud and fancy organ piece for a while, but every time he brought it up I would try to explain all my reasons for not wanting to do it; mainly, that once you let people know that it's "ok" to leave right after the priest does, then they always will. (of course, I am aware that it is permitted for them to leave then, it is just rude if they are supposed to be singing!.) He doesn't/didn't think that will be an issue, so we will see if more people leave early in coming weeks!
I finally agreed to play something this weekend, as it seemed appropriate on such a great feast.
But I was able to articulate a couple days ago the real reason that it made me nervous--and that is because I am afraid people will say I am showing off!
I have asked a couple people, and they all seemed to like it. My only regret is that at none of the Masses was I actually able to turn around or look in my mirror and see what was going on, as in, were people confused? Did they turn around and look up at me? How long did it take for the priest and servers to leave? How long after that did everyone leave?
So, we shall probably do it again, maybe for the next major feast (All Souls?) or even sooner.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Prelude: O Mensch, Bewein Dein Sunde Gross (or whatever it's called. the "best instrumental piece ever written by JSB)
Entrance: "Let Us Glory in the Cross" (English to Gloria Patri tone, 10:30 am Mass)
Alleluia, Alleluia (Hymn to Joy; other Masses)
Gifts: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (this is the "do-do-re-mi" one; can't remember the tune name. Not sure how many people will know this...we'll try it.)
Communion: Per Signum Crucis (chant)
Pange Lingua (chant, all the verses in Latin)
If time: Glory Be to Jesus (Viva Viva Jesu) 10:30
NO "closing hymn"
instead: either Widor Toccata (if I can play it well in 48 hours...unlikely) or Vierne last 2 pages of Carillon

Saturday, September 06, 2008

the singing on Marian Feasts

I meant to write about this a couple weeks ago, as in, right after the Feast of the Assumption, but of course I am not getting around to it until now.
I made an observation on that particular feast day, about how wonderful the singing is at Marian Feasts.
For two reasons:
It really is pretty much just the "good Catholics" who will go to Mass on a Thursday evening--holy day or not! And those are the Catholics who are more likely, period, to ...sing!
and then the songs we sing for Mary...they just LOVE.
They will belt out "Immaculate Mary" and "Hail Holy Queen" like no other! (I mean, it's wonderful! I love it!)
And I made another interesting (but really not surprising at all) observation that I would like to point out:
The singing at the evening Mass (contrasted with the 8:30 am Mass) was like...the Mass of MEN!
Of course, the 8:30 am Mass was full of women and children, but all the working fathers went to 7pm.
And they sang their hearts out.
it was a beautiful sound.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sancta Missa

I returned on Friday night from the Sancta Missa workshop for the laity in Chicago. After normal Masses as well as THREE weddings over the weekend, and trying to move in between all that, I have finally settled into my new apartment, and now have a couple minutes to write about the conference (before my first choir rehearsal of the school year! yay! say a prayer it goes well and loads of people come!)

I was surprised that there were only 12 lay people at the conference, but it made it nice so we kind of got to all know eachother, an eclectic mix of those who regularly attend the Extraordinary Form, and those who don't even have one offered anywhere near them.

I was there deliberately to become familiar with exactly how music can be incorporated into this form of the Mass, and by trying to be more acquainted with it, because we WILL be offering it at St. P in the near future!
So I was thrilled that we got to attend both a low mass in the morning, and high mass every afternoon. We had excellent lectures about the history of the Mass and other aspects pertaining to reverence and the extraordinary form and such. I think I was the only person there who was mainly interested in the music.
I was very pleased especially with the couple of Canons Regular of St. John Cantius who were there, and their experience with the Mass as well as knowledge in answering all of my many questions!
I certainly feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it, and the musical aspects, as well as now having a much greater appreciation for exactly how much effort Fr. G gets to put into learning everything!

For me, it was also interesting to talk with the brothers of St. John Cantius, as they actually sing the Liturgy of Hours, and hearing their knowledge about the different chants that are in the Liber Usualis, that I would otherwise never become acquainted with!
For example: I would never know about "O Quam Suavis Est" from first vespers, Corpus Christi...the Sanctus from Missa de Angelis is based on it! (I think.)
I had never really heard "Ecce Panis Angelorum" (from the end of Corpus Christi Sequence) either.
And then a lovely, melismatic Ave Maria from the Offertory for "Feasts of the BVM"
and "Adoremus in Aeterum," which has a neat little refrain that people actually could learn from "After the Blessing" at Benediction.

Maybe I'm way behind, and everyone else already knows these, but it was pretty sweet! and that's exactly what I'm trying to learn!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

last week of August

as my extremely busy August continues, I leave early tomorrow morning to drive five hours and go to a conference for laity on the Extraordinary Form. It should prove to be quite interesting.

And will be quite a contrast to this past week.
I have a future blog post brewing in my mind entitled, "My Double Life."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Byzantine Catholics

I had the extremely interesting opportunity to go to a Byzantine Catholic service on the Vigil of the Assumption (Dormition.) It included both a vespers service and then Mass. I was quite fascinated by everything, ranging from receiving Communion on a spoon, to the beautiful prayers we said before Communion. (Instead of just, "Lord I am not worthy...") Pretty much the whole thing was sung. The Deacon really was in charge. The vespers service included the congregation processing around, as well as paying homage to Mary. I would be interested to study the chants that they used. It was mostly somewhat similar, somewhat rhythmic, with clear longs and shorts, with no instruments. I wish I knew more about modality to know how to describe it. It was all in English. The altar and edifice in front of it were just gorgeous. Oh yes, and we all got anointed with rose chrism! how wonderful!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

singing high

occasionally I get a comment like, "you sing everything so high..." or "your voice is so high..."
I never take the time to explain either how
-I am singing the soprano line of these 4-part hymns, and ideally we all should just be singing our own individual voice part,
-even with that, I often bring hymns which are in the key of D down to C (because most untrained females are not sopranos, and most untrained men are not sopranos one octave down,)
-and I don't bother to point out that if they're men, they're supposed to actually be singing an octave lower than me! ;-)

(and to those who are going to dispute this even though that wasn't what my post was originally about, I am quite certain that for an untrained congregation, a high D, is quite too high. And I am not going to take the time or energy-as if they would let me-to teach them how to sing correctly so they can reach it!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

visiting priests

well, some of you are probably thinking I'm going to say a lot more about this than I actually am. Don't get too excited.

Whenever I have to play organ with a priest I have never worked with before, I go up to him beforehand, and briefly let him know what I am planning on doing in terms of music, and/or ask him what he would like or is planning on having sung.
It seems that about half the time he is like, "Oh that sounds good, what about this...etc."
But the OTHER half of the time, he either acts like he doesn't care at all, or worse, seems to be like, "and why are you talking to me and telling me this and asking me this?"
I HATE it when I get that kind of reaction! I mean, it's hard enough as it is for me to go up and talk to a strange person I've never met before!
And it really baffles me. I think that I'm doing them a favor by giving them a quick run-through of what to expect, and even asking their opinion!
Do these priests who act like they don't care seriously want me to not talk to them before Mass? Like, the time for the Kyrie will come, and I'll look at you, and you look at me, and everything will stop, and then I'll start to play and you'll start to speak it at the same time. yeah, that makes a lot of sense, but could have been prevented really easily... (That's never actually happened to me, since I always do talk to the priest beforehand, but I wouldn't if I knew he didn't want to talk to me, but of course I never know that until I'm actually talking to him!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

more on weddings

Several times, I have had the experience of meeting with a bride (and her mother?) to help them choose songs for a wedding, and while planning the processions are always fun and easy, if it's a Mass and they have to pick hymns, that can be...excruciating. If they just think my voice is lovely, and don't really have opinions about the songs, then I'll be like, "oh, how about this Panis Angelicus? It's pretty famous." or if they like or don't mind chant, I'm like, "or we could even do the Proper Communion Chant for a wedding,..." and I sing it and they usually like it.
But when they say right up front, "oh, we don't really like any of that latin stuff..." (actually, it's usually the mother who says this. And then of course I wonder what the bride really thinks ;-) ) And then they're like, "I mean, what do most Catholics know? Or what would they have sung here at this church 10 years ago?" I can feign ignorance, "well, I really don't know what they did here 10 years ago, I mean, I've only been here for two years. I could tell you what they know here now! How about his lovely song 'Alleluia Sing to Jesus,' it has a really famous melody, and great words about the Eucharist..." And I play it and they wrinkle their noses.
Then I try again, "Well, how about this one, 'At that First Eucharist?' I think most Catholics know that..." Same response.
Finally, I see I'm not getting anywhere...
"Oh! A few people like a song like 'One Bread One Body' Have you ever heard that?"
"Oh yeah! I love that song! Wait, play it for me to make sure it's the right one..."

I mean, the situation itself IS really funny. Like, what am I supposed to do?
Here we are, I've given them several perfectly lovely song choices, and yet I KNOW that the songs they are trying to get me to suggest are precisely those which I hate!
I don't think they actually ARE thinking of any songs in particular, like, they're not being malicious or anything, they truly are just waiting for me to sing a song they're familiar with that they like!
Luckily, most weddings at which this would occur end up being not Masses. :-)
I think that this exact situation which I have just described has only happened to me twice!

I was asked recently if I would rather do a wedding or a funeral, and for which do I get paid more. I get paid more for a wedding, but would rather do a funeral any day. I have heard that priests feel the same.
You couldn't pay me enough to WANT to deal with a bride and her mother who have their idea of a perfect dream wedding...For funerals, people usually just don't care.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

political choral conducting

I was at a choir rehearsal recently, led by a guest conductor.
At some point he mentioned he had recently been conducting some "nice young Baptists," but his tone was...strange. I couldn't put my finger on it. I was waiting for him to insert a comment about Baptists being nice (or not.) But regardless of the fact that I can't adequately describe what it was in his tone or precise wording that made me anticipate this, I didn't have to, because sure enough, a couple girls behind me picked up on this "tone," and inserted that sort of comment.
A few minutes later, (the piece we were singing had something to do with the tragedy of war,) he started going off about how he had a choir member in another choir who had been shipped off to Iraq, blah blah blah, and how terrible it was; making no secret of his political opinions in the matter. In fact, he closed his soliloquy by saying, "well, I mean, maybe that's just my opinion."
Regardless of MY personal opinion, I felt so unwelcome by this supposedly "professional" person who makes no secret of his opinion in political or religious things.
(I ended up leaving, as a result partly of just feeling unwelcome, as well as not liking the piece we were singing, and having a lot to do at home.)
But seriously, I would NEVER even reference anything remotely political while conducting my choir. In fact, I have on occasion tried to "clear the air" after someone else unnecessarily brings up something political (even something like politics/groups within the church.)
But to do otherwise while in such a position of authority is really...tacky. certainly unprofessional.
I seriously thought about going up to the conductor during the break and mentioning that I thought it was inappropriate, but the reason I didn't is that I knew I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on any actual wording he used that was inappropriate, because it was just his tone!
I mean, my brother was over in Iraq and you don't see me getting up on my high horse about it...
I hate it when people assume that the whole world agrees with him!

(lol, I just realized the irony of the post below this... However, certainly the difference is when one is in a "professional" position!)

Monday, July 21, 2008


a couple times recently, I have been in a conversation with someone, and of course it turns to music and liturgy, and I start to say something, and then I realize, oops, they don't exactly agree with me...

I mean, sometimes it's unavoidable (like, I'm not being obnoxious about the topic in the conversation,) but a couple days ago I was chatting with someone at a party, and I was telling her about my plans for the rest of the summer, and I mentioned I will be going to a conference in August, so of course she asked me what kind of conference, so I had to tell her it was a music/liturgy conference, and then she asked what kind, so I had to tell her it was for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass...and then she went, "ugh," and made a face.
So I certainly couldn't leave it at that! (awkward...)
These situations are probably actually really good for me, just to remind me that not everyone even that I think of as a "good Christian/Catholic" agrees with me.
Of course, the moment I get a response like that, I tone it down.
But actually, most importantly, it provides me with an opportunity to politely explain to people more of the mindset, and reasons, and personal experiences (which can be the most powerful arguments) of someone like me, who certainly didn't grow up with any sort of Latin Mass. And why it has become so fascinating. (this lady in particular was very interesting. She has daughters my age, who are also somewhat interested in Latin and things, so she actually seemed like she wanted to know a bit more about what exactly it was that makes our generation like Latin and stuff.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I did just update the sidebar a bit, it's been a long time. In fact, I have been updating my own blog and commenting on and reading other blogs a lot less than I would like to for the past year (approximately.)
I am happy to say that I anticipate a particular situation in my life to change in about 6 weeks, so that I can return to more regularly surfing the internet, specifically good Catholic and music blogs!

Friday, July 18, 2008


When I started my job, I expected and anticipated criticism about all sorts of things, such as songs I pick and introducing new things. However, I believe that I have avoided most of that, I'm not really sure why; perhaps I have just been shielded by it. I like to think that any changes I have made have been less than disruptive.
But I didn't really expect criticism about my own personal character. I think I wrote about that once before, about how I anonymously received some strange but VERY brutal anonymous criticism, but since it was so false and anonymous, it was relatively easy to brush off.
I mean, when you get a job as a music director, you don't really think about how you actually are visible to the parish, whether you try to be or not, and that people create an image of you based on a very small amount of relating. And after you have been at a church for two years, people have gathered enough interaction with you, to have a perception of you.
And so of course people talk about you. You're a figure-head!
So when you really hear your first bit of true criticism of your character, it's hard. Especially if it's something that you know on some level to be true, that people have observed character flaws that you have been struggling with for your whole adult life.
I mean, no one else (except the priest) is under the microscope constantly, and ones every action and word being analyzed.
But of course, it's true, and a necessary reminder that you DO represent the whole parish, and you DO need to watch your every word and action.
Overall, you have to love people, every day

Monday, July 14, 2008

The liturgical landscape of Metro Detroit

is, I believe, a wasteland.

Not to be harsh or anything, there are oasis' in any wasteland, but I am speaking from my experience a week ago.
Last week, I spent a few days babysitting a couple of my cousins, and I had a few hours for three mornings to go to daily Mass. I prepared myself for what I would find, and searched for churches nearby that offered Mass at a time when I could go, and I went to three different churches. There does seem to be a different church about every 2 miles!

The first church I went to was having a funeral at the time for the normal daily Mass, so that was interesting. Nothing too terrible, just the expected (sadly) typical funeral songs, and the priest canonizing the deceased.
The second day was probably the best, except that it turned out to be just a deacon doing a communion service. The reading had to do with asking for "more laborers for the harvest," and his homily was about how that actually meant that lay people need to get more involved...uhhh...yeah. But there was no liturgical silliness.
The third day was definitely the worst. I've never actually heard a priest say, "The Lord IS with you." And it just went down from there... I mean, how am I supposed to respond? Something like, "And obviously not with you." Cuz I don't want to say "And also with you," cuz I certainly don't know that! It's the difference between assuming something, and PRAYING for it: "MAY the Lord BE with you!" And then he proceeded to ad lib at EVERY possible opportunity...at least that made the Mass shorter so I had to suffer less.

I reflect on all of this NOT just to complain or mock or pity these other churches, but honestly because it makes me ponder how these situations will affect my own future life.
How, I am SO lucky/blessed/thankful to be in the church where I am, with the priest I work with.
But what about...someday...it won't always be like that...
And then where will I work? I think I would absolutely die before working for a priest who began every Mass with "The Lord is with you."
I suppose I can only trust God, that He has the perfect plan for my life, and most certainly I will have to suffer through difficult liturgical situations in my life, even as part of my job, but He will take care of me, and every difficult situation is an opportunity for growing in holiness, and as long as I listen to and obey Him, He will use me to bless others and help them grow in holiness.
Wherever I am.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A really serious questions that NEEDS some answers!

what do other organists do in those old hymns where the congregation adds long breaths/fermatas and pauses that aren't written?

I am speaking of two hymns in particular, they are both very old, which would make sense that they have had a lot of development/changes over the years. Have others actually seen them notated as people sing them?
I have actually come to dread playing these two hymns since I don't quite know what to do with the rhythm!

Let me try and describe it here:
Nun Danket Alle Gott:
"Now that we all our God (dotted half note, which is natural to sing,) with hearts and hands and voi-CES" the "CES" is where there is only a quarter note written, but everyone wants to make it a dotted half note! A similar problem after "in whom his world rejoi-CES." It would make perfect sense to give it three beats, (not necessarily in our modern 4-4 rhythmic notation, but certainly for when Nun Danket would have been written!) but also since all the other places resembling a cadence or half cadence in the song get three whole beats!

Old Hundredth:
exactly a four phrase hymn, however, all of the ends of the phrases are notated as only a half note (two beats,) while the congregation wants to give them 4 whole beats. ("All people that on earth do dwell--and I end up cutting them off to come in with--Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice", etc.)

After doing either of these songs I occasionally get comments like, "there's something about the rhythm/way you play that song that makes it hard for me to sing it..." (of course people don't know how to properly musically describe things.)
SO this is my dilemma! I DO actually know exactly how these songs should sound to be sung naturally/comfortably, BUT I am so attached to doing things exactly as notated! Are these two songs somewhat mis-notated? (Or have we lost some of those possibly misunderstood, ancient fermatas?) Or have other people seen other rhythmic notations?

WHAT DO OTHER ORGANISTS DO IN THIS CASE? These two hymns in particular?

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Single-Subject Mind

I find that when talking to people, the conversation invariably turns to sacred music, in some form or another.
And I end up passionately talking about it, to the point where I feel like people are rolling their eyes.
Usually, the person seems honestly interested, but even the things which I say that (I feel) are rather basic, even good Catholics don't have a clue about.
So I end up thinking, ok, back to square one. and I start explaining
But I worry that people start to find me boring, as if, I can't talk about anything except my job and music and liturgy! But that's just my passion.
Once in a while, I do start to go on a tirade about something else like recycling or drinking diet pop, and then people are like, wow, Mara, you are just passionate about very specific topics!

I just don't want to become one of those people who can only talk about one thing...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I SLICED my 4th finger on my left hand open last night. I am just now finding out that it really hurts to type with it! (yeah, there was lots of blood. it was pretty gross.)
we shall find out in the next couple minutes how this feels to play the organ...
yay for this happening on a weekend when i have FOUR Masses to play for in the next 24 hours!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I <3 our bishop!

Bishop Boyea Statement on Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Veto

Most Reverend Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, issued the following statement after Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed Senate Bill 776, legislation which would ban partial-birth abortion in Michigan:

"I am very proud to be a citizen of Michigan where we do not execute even the cruelest criminal. Today, however, I am deeply saddened that our state permits the execution of an innocent baby through the process of partial birth abortion. The people of this state by direct vote in 2004 and through their elected legislators in this year, 2008, have justly condemned this evil. The governor, by vetoing yet again the will of the people, is allowing this barbaric act to continue. Persons of good will are encouraged to contact the governor and their legislators to express the need to protect the most vulnerable among us."

related link: http://www.micatholicconference.org/public_policy/press_releases/20080613-AbortionBanVeto.php

can we make t-shirts that say "Boy-YEA!" or something like that?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I decided today that if I get married, I want to name all of my children after Saints who are named in the Roman Canon.

I mean, I'll skip the "Chrysogonus" and "Marcellinus," but the rest are pretty awesome!
Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cosmas, Damian, Matthias, Ignatius, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Cecilia, Anastasia...
None of them are unpronouncable, but when was the last time you heard someone called "Agnes," or "Simon."
My point is, most of them (except, uh, Cletus? Sixtus?) actually exist but are just rare enough as good Catholic names that it's not another John Paul or Mary or Theresa.

Monday, June 02, 2008


my dream is to have my choir sing Allergri's "Miserere" on Good Friday.

now, all I have to do is find a soprano who can sing a lovely, clear, high C... (and a choir at least twice the size of mine...)

[oh wait, I have a fabulous university music school in my back yard!]

Friday, May 30, 2008

Corpus Christi Procession

This is what it's supposed to look like, right?
Maybe next year I'll make it my goal to just be slightly obnoxious briefly and get at least ONE really good picture with no heads in the way or anything. (these aren't my pictures)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bishop's homily

Here is a copy of Bishop Boyea's homily that he gave to the musicians in the diocese at Solemn Vespers on Holy Trinity.

Evening Prayer for the Diocese of Lansing ministers of music; Ephesians 4:3-6; St. Mary Cathedral; May 18, 2008

In 1922 a fragment of an early Christian hymn was found at Oxyrhynchos dating to about 280 AD. Some of the very few words which survive are these: “All the glorious creatures of God should not remain silent and be outdone by the radiant stars…” The stars, in their radiance, in their power and majesty, are praising God by their very existence. We can do more. We can sing our praise and thanks, especially on this great day as we praise our Most Blessed Trinity. Thus we give praise as do the stars. However, we, by consciously acknowledging the source of all goodness, our God, Three in One, our creator and redeemer, go beyond the stars and the rest of creation by deliberately not looking to ourselves but rather to the Other, the One.
This evening I wish to thank all of you for assisting our priests in leading the people of this local Church of Lansing in their acts of thanksgiving and praise of our God. I have often told parish musicians that everything you do is like another homily or instruction. Thus the words we use in our songs and hymns and inspired songs are of critical importance.
Thus, if we are singing hymns which glorify ourselves or what we do rather than give God the glory, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 115: “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.” If we sing and celebrate that somehow we create the Church or our salvation or the goodness of the world rather than acknowledge God as the source of all and in comparison we are nothing, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 144: “Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man, that you keep him in mind; man, who is merely a breath, whose life fades like a passing shadow?” In short, if we celebrate ourselves rather than our God, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 146: “My soul, give praise to the Lord…make music to my God while I live. Put no trust in princes, in mortal man in whom there is no help. Take their breath, they return to clay and their plans that day come to nothing.”
Yes, you have a singular, vital, formative role in our Church. If it is true that Lex orandi, lex credendi, then your assistance in the life of prayer which we live out each weekend in our parishes, is truly formative of the faith of our people. This also means that you bear an awesome burden—do not teach wrongly, do not teach idly, do not teach carelessly; rather teach in season and out the great truths of our faith. We preachers need you song-preachers to assist us.
For this to happen you must let the word dwell in you richly. This is the first and most important part of your ministry. To live in and with the Word of God. It is only out of that abiding with Jesus that any of us can presume to speak about the word.
Secondly, know well the Church, that bride of Christ for whom Christ shed his blood and to whom he gave that outpoured blood and his broken body as food.
Now to do both of these things may require of you some more work. It is not enough that you may be skilled and technically proficient in your tasks. You need also to breathe and know Christ and his body, the Church. First of all, pray, pray, pray—know Jesus, know our Heavenly Father, know the Holy Spirit. In addition, then, read, take courses, become certified. Do whatever is necessary that you may more effectively proclaim this faith. For then you will truly be doing all in the Name of the Lord Jesus and thus giving Thanks to God.
God bless you all.
Catechism #302-314

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Prelude: Ich Ruf Zu Dir (JSB, Orgelbuechlein)
Entrance: Let All Mortal Flesh (Picardy)
Offertory: Humbly We Adore Thee (Adoro te Devote)
Communion: Qui Manducat
Jesus My Lord, My God, My All
Choir: Jesus My Lord (J.S.Bach)
Closing: Panis Angelicus (only for Masses without Procession)
Postlude: Christe, do Lamm Gottes (JSB, Orgelbuechlein, only for Masses without Procession)
Exposition: O Salutaris
Procession: Joyful, Joyful (Ode to Joy. We did this last year. I'm not quite sure why. I should remember to change it for next year.)

Look! Me and my favorite new bishop!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Solemn Vespers with Diocesan Music Ministers

Last night was extremely interesting. (Why do I feel like this is the beginning of a diary entry? Dear diary...)
I went with three of my choir members to the cathedral for Solemn Vespers (with the bishop!)
Meeting him was definitely the highlight for me. (I totally ran up to him at the reception afterwards and got my picture with him, and told him that I was so happy he was our new bishop and that I would be praying for him. He probably thinks I'm ridiculous. Especially with the picture part. See facebook...)
Anyhow, I won't say much about the actual ceremony, except for a few things:
It started with "O Radiant Light" (Jesu Dulcis,) sung at a rather um, quick, tempo. (making me wonder once again if the head of music is really clueless about chant. I mean, not to say I'm any expert, but I certainly am never accused of dragging chant!)
There was a variety of chant/music styles for the psalms and prayers, and it concluded with a lovely Salve Regina.
I do want to ask about that, since I have always noticed that there are several places in the traditional chant where people take pauses that are not notated. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about? I mean, I've heard it enough to know that those pauses are standard, and where they are. However, last night it was sung precisely as notated. (once again, does the music director simply know how to read music and never actually seen chant in practice?) OR, is singing the Salve Regina exactly as notated a legitimate option?

Mostly however, I want to comment on how wonderful a brief homily our dear bishop gave during the ceremony. I took a few notes, and I think I am going to discuss with my boss the possibility of writing a bulletin article on the event/the homily.
Here's a summary of my brief notes:
He talked about how important a role we musicians have in leading the congregation in prayer through our music. Because of this, the TEXT of what we sing is so important.
He said we should not be singing about how we "create church," but rather we should be praising God in our song. He quoted many different Psalms and showed how they praise God, (and we should follow that example...)
He also said, "Our assistance is truly formative in the life of prayer for the congregation."
We should "teach out of the great Truth of our faith."
It is "not enough to be technically proficient, we need to know Christ."
We need to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! We need to know Jesus, know the Father, know the Spirit, and read.

(I know he said more than that, I was just too busy writing! I never was a very good note-taker. If I actually do end up writing something for it, I'm going to see if I can get an actual copy of what he was reading from.)
Can I just say again how excited I am to have him for a shepherd?!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Psalm Tones

I wrote an entry a month or so ago about what to use for Responsorial Psalms.
Many of the comments mentioned setting them to Psalm tones, even though that is not the purpose of Psalm tones, I do like the idea.
Someone said that Liturgical Press has a disposable called "Celebrating the Liturgy" that has the psalms set already set to a Psalm tone.
When I looked at their website, I could only find one called "Celebrating the Eucharist," and the copy of it that I have only seems to have the refrain set to a tone.

Does anyone know of any resources online that has both the verses and the refrain set to a tone?
(and by that I don't necessarily mean transcribed, I mean maybe even just with the + and bold and italics or whatever the little notations are by which one can follow the flex or whatever and choose your own tone. Sort of like "choose your own adventure. remember those? yeah, they were awesome...)
Otherwise, I will have to write my own if I want anyone besides myself to sing it...
I want to try doing this a little more this summer, and see how it goes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

recordings of Communion Antiphon

I do believe that it is quite possible to learn chant mainly by ear. Isn't that what the monks did for a thousand years?
Therefore, I will begin an experiment in a week and a half that will hopefully begin to be the standard by recording the communion antiphons every week, and those who wish to sing them may learn them and practice before Mass.
I don't know how it will go; however, it does seem to me that one just has to listen to something a hundred times and then one will be able to sing it perfectly!
I will provide my choir with the recordings, and the sheet music, either from photocopies of Communio, or if this works out, then from the actual book, or even thinking really far ahead to the Gregorian Missal! (to incorporate this to other parts of the Mass!)
[which, by the way, Fr. G just told me that he is in the process of obtaining for me a Liber Usualis! yay! omg!]
Feel free to criticize my style of interpretation, it certainly is NOT "old Solemnes," but I do not know how to read the St. Gall neumes or whatever, so it is my attempt at combining them! I try to incorporate bits that I learned in my year of singing in a schola with someone who was basing her interpretation off the St. Gall manuscripts (think: Graduale Triplex.)
(we will save the old neumes for another summer...)

here it is:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holy Trinity

Preludes: (Three Chorale Preludes on the Persons of the Trinity)
Gott der Vater Wohn Uns Bei (Samuel Scheidt)
Christe, du Lamm Gottes (J.S. Bach, Orgelbuechlein)
Komm, Heiliger Geist (F. Zachau)
(for some reason I am super excited about these preludes. I think I have very cleverly chosen them! However, the irony is that I doubt anyone will notice. First of all, I am sure not a single person in the congregation even knows the tune of any of those three German chorales, and I would even be surprised if anyone noticed, "hey, she just played three different little songs! I wonder if that has any significance!")
Open: Holy, Holy Holy (Nicaea)
Gifts: Sing of Mary (Pleading Savior, last verse is a doxology)
Communion: Benedicimus Deum
Sing Praise to Our Creator (Gott Vater Sei Gepriesen)
Choir: How Wonderful the Three in One (Prospect)
Close: All Hail Adored Trinity (Old Hundredth)
Postlude: Prelude in C (JSB, and no, I have no idea which one. It's just in some collection that I have of various composers and periods.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pentecost A

Prelude: Veni Creator (Lachenauer)
Open: Fire of God (Nun Komm)
Sequence: Veni Sancte (in English) (only on Sunday)
Gifts: Sing We of the Blessed Mother (Hymn to Joy)
Communion: Ultimo festivitatis, or Factus est repente
O Breathe on Me o Breath of God (St. Columba)
Choir: Veni Creator (some verses English, some Latin)
Close: Come Holy Ghost (Lambillotte)
Postlude: Komm Gott Shoepfer Heiliger Geist (Bach, Orgelbuechlein)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ascension A

Prelude: All Glory Be (R. Haan)
Open: A Hymn of Glory (Lasst Uns)
Offertory: Hail the Day (Llanfair)
or Sing of Mary (Pleading Saviour)
choir ladies if they can pull it off in rehearsing before Mass: Ascendit Deus (Rossini) (if they do, then I am admittedly quite nervous about this one...)
Communion: (proper Communion chant)
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Choir: Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All (J.S. Bach. I have no idea what the German is.)
Close: Go to the World (vs. 1 & 2) (Sine Nomine)
Postlude: All Glory Be (R. Haan, same as prelude, just full reg. and only the IV movement)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

there are only FOUR places...

there are only 4 places during Mass where the priest is supposed to "turn and face the people."
Does anyone know exactly which places they are?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

a few more thoughts on the Installation

well, the bishop was installed today. I am pretty excited, although I am trying to not be TOO excited since I've heard about so many bishops who people thought were going to be so great and...weren't.
Since I was in the choir, we were in the back of the church, and when he knocked on the door at the beginning of the service and came in, I just felt kind of this rush of emotion, like kind of like how I feel about the pope. like, yes, this man is going to be my shepherd/father. and a good one. hopefully. My first glimpse of him, just a few feet away, he just seemed so...energetic, happy, excited, almost radiant.

My only additional thoughts on the music have to do with the proper prayers.
(the Opening Prayer, Prayer after Communion, etc.)
He sang all of them! I definitely have to point that out to Fr. G, since he's been doing that a bit more recently. (speaking of which, when he gets back from retreat I am going to look more seriously into finding someone he can take a few voice lessons from...yeah...)
But the strangest thing was that MD found it necessary to conduct the choir for the "It is right to give Him thanks and praise..." etc. parts. I mean, all the way down to the "Amen's" after the bishop prayed the prayers. (the one-pitch "Amen.") Is it that the congregation has never had to sing those parts with our previous bishop? I just want to point out to him that by its very nature no directing is required for congregational chant. Like it was strange how for the "Amen's" he found it necessary to cut off the choir, which sounded particularly odd since the congregation obviously wasnt watching for the cut-off, and so they were still singing after the abrupt choral cut-off!

and a final thought.
I'm going to set aside (for a few sentences) any humility I might have ever had and say how I think I single-handedly prevented a musical disaster.
I was looking through the program before Mass and noticed that All Creatures of Our God and King only had 6 verses, and of course as I wrote yesterday I knew that the choir was planning on singing 7! Rather than bother MD, as he was pretty busy and I wasn't sure if like a ton of people had told him or something, I pointed it out to his wife, an alto, and I'm sure she told him, and then he told us a few minutes later that we wouldn't be singing verse 6 (of our music.)
So basically, the congregation would have been singing verse 7 while we were singing verse 6. that would have been interesting.
(pat on back)