Tuesday, December 29, 2009

future book review

I have heard good things about this book:
"Keep the Fire Burning"
mostly that it gives an accurate historical narrative, although the author tries to give a positive spin on the events of immediate post-V-II, apparently he is not very successful in making it seem like a good thing.
(see the review in the Winter 2009 issue of Sacred Music)

my question for my readers is, I don't really want to spend $20 for this book, nor do I want to own it, so is anyone interested in reading it after me, to make it a little more worthwhile?

inactive Catholics

I was at a party, (it was a very unusual party, for sure,) and I had several interesting conversations with interesting people about interesting things.

One was a guy from the Czech Republic, and while we didn't talk for long, he did make clear to me his disdain for anything besides the Tridentine Mass. (I told him to come to St. P, that he has probably never seen a Novus Ordo quite like how we do it there, and it might change his views on that...) I wish I had gotten to talk to him longer, to find out more his background, and why he thought that way, etc.

More interesting to me, however, was a girl about my age who I talked with for quite some time. She seems to be an "inactive Catholic," and the only reason that she said was that while growing up, the church she attended had just had guitars and tambourines, etc, and it just never appealed to her, and she thought that if she had been in a more reverent environment, she would have continued going to a Catholic church. (of course, I also told her to check out St. P--which she has been to but 10 years ago; quite different now!--next time she is in the city.)

relevance? ha. for all of human history, when people have gone to worship, they have not wanted anything relevant or every-day! rather, something different; holy and mystical.

She mentioned something about no one her age still going to church back where she is from, and I asked her if it was because they stopped just because of apathy, or if it was for her reason; that they would have appreciated a more reverent liturgy.

She didn't know.

oh, if we only knew the level of damage. the clarity of truth revealed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

in other, unrelated news...

good grief.

you put your umbrella in the closet cuz it's wintertime, and you can't imagine using it for a while.

then you need it...Christmas morning?!

(I'm posting here cuz I just posted on facebook and I just really need to let the world know my every banal thought. Maybe it's time for a twitter account...)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

clothes for holidays

when I was in high school, I used to *love* getting a new dress or outfit for Christmas or Easter.

but now, I *hate* having to pick a new outfit every holiday! Because the problem is, I only have so many "new outfits!"
Since people see me so much around the holidays, (up in the choir loft,) and they also see me every single other Sunday of the year in my nice Sunday-clothes, I really only have so many outfits to wear that are nice, and only so many that are extra-nice for Christmas and Easter!

I feel a little "lame" wearing my nice, cranberry sweater for Christmas, that I just wore on a weekend 3 weeks ago!
I have learned that, while *I* can hardly remember what outfits I have worn for past holidays or even past years, *other* people (usually women) remember every detail about what they or other people were wearing on a particular occasion! amazing!

part of the problem for Christmas is also that I hate dressing up when it's cold. I only have so many cold-weather outfits, also. I have lots more fancy summery outfits, but there aren't any fancy holidays in the summer! (Easter is usually still pretty chilly!)

so now I'm just kind of rambling. The problem is, I guess...I wish I had money and/or motivation and time to go buy a new outfit every holiday. (but I don't. Plus, I think that would be wasteful.) So I guess everyone just has to see me in a boring sweater and black pants...like I wear every Sunday. (An interesting contrast to my male organist friends: they just wear a suit and tie every weekend. easy. and no one thinks, "didn't you wear that last weekend?" I wonder if they would ever wear a tux for Christmas?)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

reading music

every once in a while, I sit down at the organ at Mass (it's usually on a Saturday,) and I look at the music in front of me, and I think, "omg, what if I can't remember what all these notes mean?!"
So I just put my hands down and start playing, and it always comes out fine.

I was reminded on this, cuz a couple Mondays ago, after not practicing all weekend, I sat down at the organ to get ready for my lesson, and it really was like I had forgotten how to play the organ! argh.

but wouldn't that be funny? like, if in the middle of Mass I go to play this hymn that I've played a million times, and I just *can't remember* what all of these notes mean?!
haha...that would be hilarious. (not.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

more on veils

I haven't thought much about this lately, but Fr. Z is blogging about it.

I do strongly dislike the lacey veils, as many have pointed out, "they really don't cover much of anything..."

Here's a look that I DO love:

(I just spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to wrap it like that--it seems to me that it requires a very very long scarf; it seems wrapped around her neck several time.)

but that is...classy. and modest.

plus, this all becomes even more appealing in this freezing cold weather!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

those opinions about music...

I had a strange conversation after Mass on the Immaculate Conception.
I'll try to summarize it, and then I will proceed to analyze it-was I obnoxious? was he obnoxious? why did I feel so weird afterwards?

So after Mass, this guy who I have never seen before, and after our conversation I have to assume this is the first time he has been at St. P, about my age, comes up to the choir loft, someone points me out (I was talking to someone else.)
the first thing he says is, "Did you know you did the Gloria way to fast?" (It was the usual Latin Gloria that we just taught at the beginning of November.)
Being quite surprised and taken off guard, I responded, "according to who?"
then he said something about "all the religious orders...when I was in seminary we did it much slower..."
I can't remember the order of the rest of the conversation, but it was cordial and back-and-forth, at some point I began to explain that "no, I don't sing chant according the old Solemnes style, but rather more like Cardine, based more on the text." I also at some point started to explain that it's impossible to say chant is sung in "this or that way" at any given point in history because we really just don't know, and it certainly has been sung in different ways at different time and places, and of course I am well aware it is a controversy. He didn't really seem to want to have *discussions* about either of those points, he kind of interrupted me when I went of on either of those tangents, but he *did* modify what he was saying by adding "In my opinion..." to what he kept saying about how fast it was (once he realized that I actually DO know what I am talking about, which is probably more than he knows....) He mentioned that the congregation seemed to be fumbling for the book to find where it was, like they didn't know it (cuz it was too fast,) but I quickly pointed out that we have actually only sung it for 6 weekends before Advent started and we haven't sung it for the past 2 weekends, so of course they don't know it well.
(a side note- I honestly don't expect the congregation to be comfortable with it until we have sung it for a YEAR! I am not disappointed with the progress so far! but yes, if in a year they are singing it as they are now, of course I would be disappointed and modify it somehow--perhaps slow it down, but at this point i don't think that's a problem...)
He also then mentioned that I play ALL of the hymns "too fast," at which point in my mind his opinion becomes very much discredited cuz I realize he really doesn't know what he's talking about. (I responded to that with, "uh...I very strongly disagree..." and then I tried to explain that if you can't get through a musical phrase without taking a breath, then it's too slow!)
I play the hymns too fast?! no, many other places, they are played too slow, due to poor organists who do not understand how to keep up with the natural "congregational delay."
At some point towards the end of the conversation he asked something about, "well, if the priest told you it was too fast would you change?" and i said, "of course, but he greatly respects my musical opinion, and I dont think he would ever tell me that." and then he said something about, "just wanted to see how much the people around here respect the priest..." and I think that was the end. (I did realize later that he probably didnt realize that we had a visiting priest that day, one who appears slightly feeble and old, so perhaps he perceived that as something which I would take advantage of and disrespect or not obey the priest somehow.

a few thoughts: I believe that due to this young fellow, the conversation got off to a bad start. you don't come to a church for the very first time, and say to the music director, "you are doing this WRONG." (He seems to hold his opinions so strongly, I can see myself being like that in some situations, but he doesnt realize how much he *doesn't* know, so he is convinced that his opinion-probably based on many experiences but nonetheless probably neglecting any sort of studying of the topic, but really...)

a much better start would have been, "you know, it seemed to me that the Gloria was quite a bit faster than anywhere else that I've ever been...do you think that may contribute to why the people didn't seem to sing it very heartily? did you know you do it relatively fast?"
and I would have been put in the mindset for a much more enjoyable conversation!

anyhow, I am glad that he altered his statements to opinions, once he realized that I actually know quite a bit about what I am talking about and have thought about it a great deal.
I mean, I would LOVE to hear if other people thought this...but he is the first time that anyone has told me i do things way too fast! otherwise, all I hear every weekend are many wonderful comments!

why can traddies be like this?
something to do with, "don't mess with my worship of God when I am convinced that it is supposed to be done *exactly* this way..."

but seriously, listen, dude, come to this church for 6 weeks in a row, THEN you can tell me what you have really observed!

(on another note-it is looking very likely that I will get to do a rather interesting internship next semester--will write about that in another entry...)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The subjection of music TO the liturgy

Protestants are often baffled about why Catholics don't sing all the verses to the hymns. This is usually attributed to Catholics just wanting to "fulfill their Sunday obligation" and get out of there as fast as possible...but I think it is a bit more deeper than that, and even theological.

It is something like this topic that I would someday like to study for something like a doctoral dissertation (ha-if I ever get there. but then again, 2 years ago I NEVER thought I would even be working on my masters...)

But I will try to summarize my (unofficial) thoughts up to this point on this topic:

Catholics have Propers, a prescribed set of texts for every Mass, that can be sung.
but they don't HAVE to be sung.
Mass is perfectly legitimate if the propers are not sung. In fact, if there is no singing at all.
Most Protestants cannot imagine a worship service without singing.
But Catholics come to Mass for more than just to hear a sermon or to sing.
(a sermon is not even essential at a Catholic Mass.)
Catholics come to Mass to witness a Holy Sacrifice, or, at the very least, the high-point of Mass for some of the less-well-informed, but still good-intentioned is, "to receive Communion."
(although, that in itself is certainly not essential to have a Mass-other than for the priest.)
that's why many Catholics walk out the door right after Communion-that's the whole reason they are there.
I am saying all of this to make the point that Catholics come to church for an entirely different REASON than Protestants.
(even, say, Lutherans. While communion is very important for them, I suspect most of the them would be horrified to come to church and neither sing nor hear a sermon.)
Going back to what I said about the propers--they exist FIRST as texts, THEN as melodies (translation issues aside...)
If you've ever witnessed an Extraordinary Form Mass, from the viewpoint of a musician, you would have been struck by how little what the choir is singing has to do with what the priest is doing.
At most places (Gloria, Agnus Dei...) the choir is just singing away while the priest is doing...whatever he's doing. (this exists in the Ordinary Form still with the Agnus Dei, "let's just keep singing verses until the priest is ready with the Host...")
I *think* but I'm not sure, that the Church views this as the ideal--the whole action is never really *supposed* to stop and wait for the music, although it does usually in the Ordinary Form.

And that is what I would like to study more. Read the documents, observe... when-if ever-is the action of the Mass supposed to wait for the singing to be finished?