Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Confession time...

ok, I admit it.
I actually sort of like the song "On Eagle's Wings."

(sorry, I feel like I may have blogged about this before....apologies if so!)

It's a bit of nostalgia-- when I was a bit younger, I remember sitting down at the piano and playing the melody line, while my mom (who is an excellent pianist,) embellished the chords and made a beautiful accompaniment. I thought it was just lovely.

And, I still think that it's quite a nice song, just not appropriate for Mass.
I'm thinking...musical theater? Yes, that would be perfect! Or the soundtrack to a movie. Something like that.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

a year seems so long...

It's funny how a year seems so long...
one year ago, when I was wondering what to play as a postlude for Gaudete Sunday, someone suggested a piece (I forget the composer) based on "O Come Divine Messiah." I discovered it too late, yet realized how cool it was, and thought "oh, I guess I could play it next year...but next year is so far away! The world will probably like have come to an end by then!"

and here we are.
It's "next year."
And I can play "Venez, Divin Messie" as a perfect postlude!

Monday, November 22, 2010

the 7th year...

I'm not honestly sure exactly what a "sabbatical" is. I have some ideas (like, my professor took one during the semester of my undergrad organ recital!)
I suspect it has something to do with the biblical command of giving the laborer the 7th year off? Or I am confusing that with the whole "jubilee year" thing that was like every 70 (or 49?) years. I'm feeling too lazy right now to go look it up.

Anyhow, I had a realization that on this upcoming Easter Sunday, I will have been a semi-full-time church musician for SIX SOLID years! That's six solid years of three Masses every weekend, one choir rehearsal every week, every single Christmas filled with 3-4 rigorous Masses, and every single Holy Week containing 8 rigorous liturgies!

And I kind of realized as I was sitting there during Mass this past weekend... I'm kind of a little bit...tired? I mean, I LOVE my job! I could barely ask for a more perfect one! But, oh, how I long for a period of time where I don't have to BE anywhere...a time where I could go to Mass wherever I wanted! A time where I'm not in CHARGE. How I would love to just sing beautiful music in a schola once a weekend and be done, or play just one Mass at someone *else's* church occasionally, and then be done for the weekend!
To be re-inspired. Refreshed.
hmmm...this whole sabbatical thing... I think they're on to something.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

All Saints TLM...and difficult music

Last night I had a wonderful opportunity to go to a TLM in a certain city, (and don't even try to guess where, cuz it is not anywhere near where I live!)
and, well I know there has been a rather heated discussion about this on the MS forum, I did get a chance to witness a very small choir with a couple of talented people and a couple of less-so singing a VERY HARD polyphonic Renaissance Mass setting!
I'm not quite sure how to describe it... I mean, it was very nice that they attempted it, and I quite admire them for it, but there was quite a few places where someone was out of tune, or I was trying to tell if they were just going along trying to get back in place...
I mean, I'm singing in an "Early Music" choir this semester, and here you have a roomful of music school students who can barely get through these pieces with 5-parts that are completely independent. It is HARD!
Of course, I don't know the choir at this church at all, or how much they worked on this Mass setting or anything else, but it does make me wonder if it would have been better to have found a simpler setting. (a 3-part Mass? or even one that was more chordal/homophonic?)
Perhaps part of the problem is that there are SO MANY Renaissance Masses written in the former style, and relatively few in a more simple style.

Anyhow, it was a lovely experience. However, I find that whenever I attend a TLM Mass, I am SO focused on "figuring out what's going on," that I can barely pay attention. In my case, I'm trying to know what's going on precisely because I have to understand it enough to be able to play organ for it! So, yesterday was a perfect experience to refresh my memory on all the things that I will need to prep for next weekend. (oh yes, let's figure out a 9-fold Kyrie. maybe a slightly fancier Agnus Dei then we do regularly? and I'll have to teach that priest AND choir the Ite Missa!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

let's just say...a low liturgical point...

so low, in fact, that I just have to laugh.

A friend and I were visiting a touristy-island recently, (yes, I'm being vague deliberately...) and since it was off-season, there weren't very many people there.

We decided to go to Mass, and as it neared the time Mass was supposed to start, there was no priest in sight, candles lit, other Mass-goers, etc. We sat in a pew and waited. A couple minutes before Mass was supposed to start, the priest shuffles in.
My friend and I agree that most likely the priest is not thrilled to see *any*one at Mass, since now he actually has to go through with it, but precisely for that reason we are going to make him say Mass. tee hee. (sure enough, he checks with us that we're going to participate.)

He seems to be over-all a pretty decent priest; he says some good stuff about how God is the only thing that matters, and doesn't change too many words. (except replacing "Him" with "God," and adding a whole bunch of chatty-pray-y type stuff,)

UNTIL...he is saying the prayers at the offertory and his phone goes off! (which is, btw, right under his chasuble, as there is no alb or stole or anything else as far as I can tell covering his street clothes...sigh.)

AND he says to us something about expecting an important call, and ANSWERS IT!!! No one seems to respond on the other end, so he hangs up and continues with the prayers.

good grief. It was just so ridiculously horrible that all my friend and I could do was look at each other and try not to laugh.

oh dear God, have mercy on us, and the state of Roman Catholic liturgy...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

first choir rehearsal!

Well, Thursday was the first choir rehearsal of the school year! It was extremely excited to have 10 people there, and 5 of them were completely new! (I had done no small amount of recruiting over the past couple weeks!)
However, I was reminded that having such a "new choir" poses some interesting challenges.
In addition to having several new members who truly do not read a bit of music (which I shall certainly work hard at fixing, at least to a minimum amount,) I am constantly reminded that my choir can't read my mind.
Not that they could at the end of last year, when we'd all been working together for a while, but I can tell a distinct difference. There are things that I say, phrases I shoot off, assumptions I make about what they know, that...with a half-new choir, they don't yet know how to read between the lines of what I say. Once we work together for a while, there really is a bit of ...mind reading? going on. It's fun. So, I am now reminded of the new challenges I will have this year. Challenges that I am looking forward to, challenges which will invite me to constantly be evaluating what I'm saying and how it comes across.
Overall, I'm quite excited for this upcoming school year, if Thursdays rehearsal was any indication of things to come. I think that I have a lot that I can teach them, if I can just be alert and creative. While it would be *wonderful* to have a semi-professionally trained choir--a choir that I never had to remind about pure vowels, or explain rhythm; a choir that could sightread perfectly! (sigh), it is always an adventure, and a greater challenge--requiring a greater level of skill! to work with such an inexperienced choir. And even more challenging is working with a choir with such varying skill levels, the difficulty being keeping everyone engaged and yet explaining everything in such a way that everyone can understand.
I hope I'm up for the challenge. :-)

organ music

A while back, I was asking my organ teacher for ideas of pieces/composers that are suitable for Mass, especially as preludes. He suggested, among other things, a fellow by the name Dom Benoit, or something like that. At some point I also happened to discover a book by this guy in my choir loft, and I only recently realized that it was the same guy! It's called something like "60 Devotional Pieces on Modal Themes for Mass" or something, and he hints in the introduction that he intended them for the "Elevation" (although he has another book with that in the title,) or something like that. This book is one of those delightful little finds, musty and yellowing pages, written in the 1950s or 60s, that has been sitting in my choir loft for who knows how long. I have found several other books like this, of varying levels of usability, and sometimes I think of showing them to my teacher and asking, "is this guy worth it?" and I even wondered that the first time I discovered this book and decided against it, since I just sort of assumed it was some drivel. They are nice, short, rather easy pieces, and with the reverent character that I am always looking for!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

an edit on "new translation."

well, perhaps my excitement was a little premature about being able to sing the Mass in Latin and not having to worry for a while about teaching the congregation a new musical setting.

However, I received an email from the Office of Worship in our diocese, and among other things, it said, "Bishop has expressed his desire that all parishes of the diocese learn ONE Mass setting for six months, so that we might all be able to sing together. After that, feel free to introduce your parishes to other settings."

hmmm...I wonder if that will be a requirement *excluding* use of a Latin setting? But...perhaps I was too excited prematurely for other reasons also...a year and a half is a looooong ways away. I could be...on the other side of the world. Who knows what St. P will look like...
Churches (and music programs) have been torn down in far less time than that!

(also, the email didn't say anything about HOW the new setting would be chosen. This could be interesting. Almost something should be organized by a very high/national authority. Like how all Catholics pretty much know the "Mass of Creation?" What will be the "universally accepted setting" with the new translation? Who will decide? The big publishers? Or someone with a little bit more of a sense for the sacred... Well, I guess we could just all learn the Missa Jubilate Deo...ha!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

new translation!

yay! the new translation has been approved and scheduled for implementation on the First Sunday of Advent!

(yes, I know I'm a few days late with this but I was just reading another blog and this issue was pointed out...)
that while it is still unclear whether permission will be given to teach/use/practice musical settings of the Mass Ordinary, the first time that the congregation will be singing the GLORIA in the new translation will be (besides Immaculate Conception,) CHRISTMAS EVE! So, you're not exactly going to be teaching music to the congregation before Mass on that day.... but the congregation at St. P won't care, because they already know it in Latin! :-)

so I'm delighted that mine and Fr. G's efforts to introduce various Latin parts of the Mass to the people, and planning ahead!, will truly pay off, since for every part that they sing in Latin, they will notice one less immediate "change!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

piano students who can't read music

I occasionally get a new piano student who "took lesson before" from someone else, and about half the time, I am absolutely horrified by how the student cannot ready music at ALL. Then, as soon as I discover that, I try to see if they know the names of the notes on the lines and spaces...then if they don't remember those very well, I try and figure out if they even know the names of the notes on the *keyboard,* and I am sometimes shocked when they don't even know that! I'm sure it's at least somewhat related to how long ago they had their last piano lesson, but I have had students who had recent lessons and were as described!

My point being; I wonder if my students would be like that.

I hope not, but wow, I can't believe how sad that would be, how much one would be failing their students if that were the case.

so, is it that students just forget these things? Or that the teachers neglect to adequately teach them? Or that the teachers never taught them?! Or that the teachers just forget to regularly reinforce these? (the last one is most likely in my case!)

Maybe I'm just wondering whether I get to *judge* and *disdain* the previous teachers of my certain piano students (haha!) or I'm terrified that some future piano teacher will say the same of MY current students! :-o

Monday, August 09, 2010

Organ music for Assumption of Mary

so I'm trying to find a couple pieces of organ music to play for the Assumption this Sunday, and I'm just struck by how little of it I have among my loads and loads of books of "Preludes and Postludes."
Pretty much zero.
The reason? All the books I have are written by and for Protestants! argh! :-D

I'll use the Langlais Ave Maria, Ave Maris Stella as a prelude, but I'm still looking for a good Mary-based postlude. hm. Maybe I'll have to give up on that one.

Friday, August 06, 2010


I'm finding myself a bit intrigued/baffled/saddened/interested by a discussion going on over at PrayTell http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/08/04/holy-regret-on-intercommunion/

While some of the comments are getting into some of what sounds like rather deep theological discussion and quoting of documents, etc, I'm mostly disgusted by the swiftness with which people take offence at "I know that my church is right and yours is wrong."

Allow me to explain.

I know that the earth is round. Have I actually flown around it, or do I completely comprehend the scientific explanations of how we know it's round? No.
But I do believe that it is round based on others evidence and explanations. And if someone were to come up to me and insist that it is flat, I would have to shrug my shoulders, and say, "I'm sorry, but I believe you are wrong. The earth is round."

I also believe that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of Truth. As a matter of fact, I believe that I have more *personal* evidence of that than that the world is round!
WHY would it be offensive for me to tell that I believe that to someone who didn't agree with, that statement?

I suppose the difference would be that the earth being round is an acutally scientifically provable point, perhaps the Truth of the Catholic Church isn't.

ok, so what if I try the example of something a bit more arbitrary? (I admit, I haven't totally thought this through, I'm kind of just typing as I think :-)
What if I said, "I believe that my recipe for brownies tastes better than your recipe. While I admit that it wouldn't be the nicest thing to say, taken right out of context, but let's say you and I were trying to figure out which recipe we should enter in a contest? A very important decision! Then why would it be wrong for me to assert that my recipe is the best? It would certainly be necessary to the conversation!

If there were an even more important decision to make, then why I should I not make the statement, "I believe that [this particular statement,] which you hold to be only an opinion of mine, is factually the highest truth."?

And that is, of course, what Catholics are saying when they say that their Church is "completely right" or something to that effect. (sorry, this is where my lack of "theological terminology" comes into play!)

Coming at this from another angle; I have often wondered why more non-Catholics don't make the same claim: "My religion/church holds the fullness of salvation/truth."

I would not want to belong to a church that was "not sure" if it was completely right, at least in the main doctrines.

And if I myself wasn't sure what I or my church believed about any of the main disputes among Christians?

well, I would certainly not stop seeking until we had figured that out!

and, to flip it around? If someone were to say to me, "I believe the fullness of truth is found in my church." I'd say (or think,) "well, that seems a bit arrogant, but not really, cuz I actually think that same thing about MY church, so obviously, *one* of us is wrong..." but I'm not going to be like offended... (maybe cuz...I actually KNOW that I'm right? :-D )

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"Revised" Mass Settings

I'm finally getting around to looking through the (mostly) awful music from the "music reading packets" at the NPM convention. I find the "revised Mass settings" rather interesting.

first of all, I think most people would much rather learn a totally new musical setting, instead of one with different words that sneak up on you or are awkward to sing

and secondly, since when did the publishers start caring whether or not they used the right text?
for example, I'm looking at the "Mass of Light" right now, and instead of where it used to (incorrectly) say "Glory to God in the the highest, SING, Glory to God," it now says "Glory to God in the highest, glory to God..."
so...it was ok to add/change words in 1988...I wonder what changed now? :-/

(I suppose I should be *glad* that they have realized the importance of using the correct text, but...I am still skeptical of their motives.)

edit: actually, I'd like to modify a bit of what I said. I'm looking through this booklet, and it seems to me that the infamous "Mass of Creation" (or the Gloria at least, cuz that's as far as I've gotten,) may actually be an improvement on the old version! and the parts that are different are different enough that it's not hard to sing, cuz it's like a new verse!

Charismatic Worship during Mass

I found a good quote that puts into words what has perhaps been my biggest discomfort with charismatic worship during Mass.

It's from Romano Guardini's "The Spirit of the Liturgy," p. 19
This was written in response to much of the "popular piety" at Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council, but I believe it is certainly applicable to charismatic worship.

"The primary and exclusive aim of the liturgy is not the expression of the individual's reverence and worship for God. It is not even concerned with the awakening, formation, and sanctification of the individual soul as such. Nor does the onus of liturgical action and prayer rest with the individual. It does not even rest with the collective groups, composed of numerous individuals, who periodically achieve a limited and intermittent unity in their capacity as the congregation of a church. The liturgical entity consists rather of the united body of the faithful as such--the Church--a body which infinitely outnumbers the mere congregation. The liturgy is the Church's public and lawful act of worship, and it is performed and conducted by the officials whom the Church herself has designated for the post--her priests. In the liturgy God is to be honored by the body of the faithful, and the latter is in its turn to derive sanctification from this act of worship. It is important that this objective nature of the liturgy should be fully understood."

Monday, August 02, 2010

piano student

So I have a little piano student, and he is all fascinated by Gregorian Chant. I've given him some books to read, and had him learn what I could think of on the piano that will help with singing chant. He's also a little ambitious composer. At his last lesson, however, he was more of an "artist."
He had "written" a piece of gregorian chant (I think he used the text Ave Maria Stellis or something,) in chant notation, and while it looked quite lovely, and incorporated all sorts of neumes, when I asked him to play or sing it, he could do neither!

he had just written the notes down!
hehehe... (don't worry, I definitely gave him an assignment for his next lesson... "ummm...well, how about if you find out what you wrote sounds like?")

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New setting of responsorial Psalms

In my opinion, these are very well-written, singable Psalms, complete for Year A with lectionary texts (with years B and C coming) for those who want more variety than psalm-tone verses. (can be adapted for use with the organ.)


Thursday, July 15, 2010


I went to a very good workshop at NPM today, on organ improvising. And I had a realization about 3/4 of the way through it. What he was explaining was the basic, (I'll call it for lack of a better word,) "American Protestant Improvisation." You play a hymn, and then you do cool things with it, but it still always sounds like the hymn. And people listening can always find the tune.

Then...contrast that to an amazing experience I had at the OTHER conference a few weeks ago, listening to an amazing organist improvise throughout a Tridentine Mass...the music never ended. (barely.) and it lifted your soul to heaven. There was no "theme," or hymn that it was based off of. (That I could immediately tell, at least.) Here's the TEN minute organ communion that absolutely made my week: http://music.dierschow.com/2010Colloquium/26Mass/Organ%20Interlude%20Communion.mp3

What a contrast. I guess that is improvising in the "french style." that of Langlais, even Messiaen. And that is...Catholic. That is what we use at Mass. The most holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where the music actually occurs *during* liturgical action.

I need to think more about this, but there is just something... different about that. And that is my goal in improvising. To be able to play like that. I suppose I need to study Langlais to do that. We will see if K will let me play Suite Medievale for my recital? :-)

Thursday, July 08, 2010


So, we're in the process of making a "book" for St. P.
A real, published book, unlike the current "hymnal supplement" that's in the pews now. (thanks to Lulu, I think?)
(It also has something to do with the new translation, and will have that in there as well, I think, but reading the latest liturgical gossip online, I'm not quite sure what's up with that lately...)

so, my job this summer (and before I go to NPM on Sunday!) is to compile all of the songs/Mass ordinaries, etc into a pdf format to be published.
good grief.
thankfully, I can use most of the songs from the previous "hymnal supplement," which I've already input into Sibelius to make that, so I'm just adding songs that might possibly be wanted (I found a few more Communion ones from an old choir book in the loft [that book in itself I could write a blog entry on! It seems to be one of the first after Vatican II--incorporating the "newbies" like "they'll know we are Christians..." as well as the Latin chants... interesting!] so I added a few,) but seriously, can you imagine thinking ahead for a few years and trying to imagine all of the songs which your congregation might POSSIBLY want?!
and, the Mass ordinaries. I'm not quite clear on my mission for this one. We have the Latin Ordinary Jubilate Deo (minus the Credo--based on how long it's taking to learn the Gloria; we haven't even started the Sanctus or Pater Noster! well... on second thought, maybe I had better include that...who knows what will happen in 2 years?) but am I supposed to find English settings of the new Missal translation? I hope not. But, it does seem to be a good opportunity. I have at least one friend who has composed for it, and when it does finally come out and become required, I'm not sure that I'm going to want to teach my congregation whatever is published by "the establishment." hm...

so, anyhow.

I'm trying to think of all the songs I might possibly want in here. Of course, when I made the first book, I left out a number of songs that I was like, "duh! why didn't I include that?!" like "Veni Creator," and an English translation.
but tonight, as I was working, I came across something where I had reminded myself of a gem... "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," set to Nettleton.
so, I put it into Sibelius, thought about the "Precious Blood" that those Protestants are talking about when the sing it, and felt really peaceful inside, that this song was needed (I think the choir sang it as an arrangement once, and at least one congregation member was like, "why don't we ever sing that?") so, I'm just so happy that it's there.

the end.

how to pronounce "Introit"

I've heard it pronounced "in-TROW-it" and then this website confirms it:

but why?

(I'm currently listening to a talk by Fr. Phillips who says it quickly and seems to say "in-troht.")
I have usually heard it as "in-troit," with the diphthong "oi"

but...it usually seems that people who are slightly more "knowledgeable" say it either in 3 syllables, or like Fr. Phillips.

but why? doesn't Latin have diphthongs?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

bulletin article

Two weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a conference about sacred music. Many of you probably noticed that I was not present for the weekend Masses last week, and that is because I was in Pittsburgh at the annual Colloquium sponsored by the Church Music Association of America, which is an association of Catholic musicians, and those who have a special interest in music and liturgy, active in advancing Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and other forms of sacred music, including new composition, for liturgical use. The CMAA’s purpose is the advancement of musica sacra in keeping with the norms established by competent ecclesiastical authority. I highly recommend their quarterly journal, Sacred Music, for those who are interested. More information can be found at the website www.musicasacra.com.
This year was the 20th annual conference, and I am told that even just four years ago there were only about 40 people that would attend. I had been to the same conference 3 years ago, and while it was a great experience both times, the difference was surprising. Three years ago, it was held in Washington D.C., and for the first time ever the conference was filled to capacity, which was just over 100 people. This year, the capacity was 250 people, and even that was filled and had a waiting list by mid-April! This is truly a testament to the growing interest in our country to the restoration of sacred music. I was also extremely surprised by the increase in overall musical skill at the conference; it seems to me that most people in attendance were professional church musicians, unlike the same conference three years ago, and a similarly surprising percentage were young adults!
The days were filled with few breaks, and packed from 7 am until 10 pm almost every day. They contained chant and choral polyphony rehearsals based on your experience level, workshops (including organ playing and conducting chant,) sung morning and night prayer, many lectures on various aspects of sacred music, and of course the choirs sang everything at Mass every day, ranging from an English Novus Ordo to a Solemn High Latin Tridentine Mass. Almost everything was recorded, and can be accessed via www.music.dierschow.com (click on the link to access the recordings from the 2010 Colloquium.)
Although as of this writing only about half of the files are currently available online, I am sure they will be by the time you read this, so I would like to direct you to a few personal highlights for me. If you only have a few minutes, I would encourage you to listen the "Responsory" from the Vespers Service on June 25. This was a favorite for me because I was in the group of women singing it (under a director who may be one of the best conductors I have ever sung with!), and I also thought that the chant was particularly exquisite. Another highlight that I am sure you would enjoy listening to was the beautiful "Post-Communion: Locus Iste" on June 27. This was sung in the impressive Church of the Epiphany by ALL 250 participants as a 4-part choir scattered throughout the church!
If you have a little more time, the lectures are also available online at the bottom of the page, and I would encourage everyone to listen to them, in particular the introductory lecture by Dr. Mahrt about Sacred Music on June 21. Another favorite lecture of most people was that given on June 22 by the esteemed Edward Schaefer on the relationship between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Masses.
While it is extremely impressive to listen to the recordings of any of the individual Masses (and it was even more stunning to be present at them! My absolute favorite was the Mass on Saturday morning, in large part because of the remarkable improvisations by the talented organist,) it is important to understand that the musical result of this gathering of 250 musicians will most likely not be obtained in any normal parish! The talent and sheer forces required are simply beyond us. Instead, what I have taken away from these Masses and the conference overall, are many individual ideas that can be used even at this parish. I observed excellent chant and choral conducting, and was given many ideas for how to improve the sound of our own choir. I also learned many new choir pieces that I hope to incorporate in the liturgy at Old St. Patrick, and was so impressed with some of the organ playing and improvising that I am encouraged in my own practicing of the instrument!
To summarize, I was able to participate in a variety of incredibly beautiful liturgies celebrated according to the Roman Rite, as the Church has directed and given options, and I see this beautiful whole as far-off goal to inspire all of us to deeper and more reverent worship at Mass.

EDIT: Actually, this won't be in the bulletin til next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

a realization

I just had a kind of sad (but intriguing) realization:

If I were to have to pull together a small choir for, say, a wedding or funeral at which was requested "chant and sacred polyphony," I might actually be able to get a group of good musicians together who would say, "we love doing this music so much...we never get a chance to! that we'll do it for free!"

isn't that sad? (the point being: the more "qualified" a musician is, the more likely they are to appreciate and *want* to perform this type of sacred music...but the riff-raff give them barely any chances to!)

however, not to be saying everyone should be taking advantage of this... I think I can quickly ascertain how deep someone's pockets are when they are discussing music for an event. So I would, and I have, said, "yup it'll be $$$ per singer..." but the beauty of what I mentioned at the beginning would more likely happen if someone were like, "we love this music sooo much, but we just can't afford it..." then the musicians might say, "wow, that's just wonderful. of course we'll help you--it's so rare to find someone who appreciates it!"


I'm a little confused about when the "Year of the Priest" actually ends.
When I was at Mass today, I was looking at the picture of St. Vianney, and as we were praying the prayer for priests I was thinking this was the last time we would do that, since I'd heard at least one place today was the last day, confirmed on a website such as this :

but...that seemed a bit early to me, for some strange reason, and I would tend to trust these guys over the ones referenced above:

(I do acknowledge, that the USCCB website doesn't explictly say "the last day for the year of the priest is..." but it sure looks like it is June 11!)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

spread the good news

I talked on the phone with someone this afternoon who actually has a very similar background to me, and will be moving out west to be the music director at a parish. He was at St. P this weekend, and wanted to ask about different things like where to do I get the English version of the Introit. It was great to talk to him. Very encouraging to talk to a person who could *tell* that the prelude this past week was Bach! And even more encouraging to hear how these things like the English Introit (and the "hymnal supplement" that I put together) will be spreading through the country! (I also know that there are far less hymnal supplements in the pews than when I put them there, so I can't help wondering how many other music directors have stopped in and "borrowed" one without letting me know... :-) )

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

the secret to finding SA-Men choir music is...

...to transpose SSA music.
then, you will never run out.
I had this realization recently when I discovered a famous SA-Men piece, and then realized that I had the same piece as an all women or men schola arrangement in a book I have written for TTB or SSA (which of course was the original.) then, I realized that almost any piece can be transposed! Which is wonderful, cuz even though my women can sing SSA music, the sopranos do hate those high F's and G's...

So, take any SSA/TTB piece. I'm looking at this book, and I'll just take a piece by Aichinger, "Assumpta est Maria."
The top part goes from treble F to high A
The middle part goes from middle C to high E
The bottom part goes from a low F up to A

transposed down a perfect 4th?
We will have the sopranos singing the top part from middle C up to E
The altos will sing from low G up to B
Then the men will all sing from C up to middle D

I would say that works *perfectly!*
(some pieces might need to be transposed down a 5th instead, especially for the benefit of the men.)

(wow, it's been a long time since I've written here! see what happens when it is May and I am not in school and doing hardly anything?! my life practically falls apart!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

summer reading list

This is a little overwhelming as I type this all out, but (for posterity's sake,) here is my summer reading list (only as it may interest you.) Just finished reading (finally! can't believe it took me all these years!) Ratzingers' Spirit of the Liturgy

Sitting on my desk right now: (and calling my naaaame....)

The Liturgy Betrayed: Denis Crouan (purchased for $2 off amazon!)
The Spirit of the Liturgy: Romano Guardini (Ratzinger mentions it a bunch in his book, bought brand-new with gift card. I'm also pleasantly surprised at how thin it is!)
The Organic Development of the Liturgy: Alcuin Reid (also bought with gift card. However, *not* pleasantly surprised at how thick it is! This could take me awhile...)
Sing Like a Catholic: Jeffrey Tucker (borrowed from a friend)
The Difference God Makes: Francis Cardinal George (given to me at sitting on my desk since Christmas...)
An Introduction to the Interpretation of Gregorian Chant: Agustoni/Goeschl (library)
A Short Treatise on Gregorian Accompaniment: Bragers (library)
What Happened at Vatican II: O'Malley (waiting for me at the library! must pick up soon!)
The Reform of the Reform--A Liturgical Debate: Kocik (ordered from ILL)
Vatican II--Renewal Within Tradition: Lamb/Levering ("waiting in queue" for me at library)

wow. that is a lot. But, I'm super-excited! If I get through all of these, it will make quite a dent in my list of "must-read-books in your lifetime regarding your favorite topic..." and who knows when will be the next time that I don't have a full-time job during the summer...

I also received from interlibrary loan, the book "Turning Towards the Lord" by U.M. Lang.
(this brings the current stack of books on the floor to 7.5" high...)

Monday, April 19, 2010

clapping for the choir

I made an interesting observation recently.

I was at a concert of sacred music in a church. The first piece was chant, sung from the choir loft. At the end of the piece, there was no applause. Then, the next performer came out on "stage," in front of the audience, and everyone clapped as she came out. And they clapped when she was done.

This got me thinking about and wondering "why" people didn't clap for the chant singers in the choir loft.

It could be, possibly, that chant is just a style of music that does not encourage clapping. While that is true, try to imagine the same group of singers, walking out onto stage, and singing the chant, and walking off again. Of course people would clap when they walked onstage, and when they were finished.

People don't clap for things in the choir loft, or really, for things they can't see.

Leading me to conclude... (as I already knew before typing this...) that musicians during Mass should be *unseen* and in a choir loft if available, and not up front where it *looks* like they are performing, and people may even want to clap!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

church jobs

so, I just found out that an organist position which I once called "my dream church-job" may be opening up soon.

But...I have recently realized that there are more important things than having a huge church with a big, beautiful, fancy, loud organ.

Things like having a pastor who loves you and supports you in whatever you do, and a congregation who (mostly) thinks that you're just absolutely wonderful.

There are some things...that money just can't buy. And you can't be sure that you will ever have again, for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


so, apparently people think that the music director/organist has time during Mass to babysit their kids.

This has happened more than once: a kid or two, come up the stairs to the loft (during Mass,) kinda look around, then decide to stay. The thing that freaks me out the most is how they hang over the choir loft rail, or they stand on the kneeler and lean over, then I'm REALLY nervous! Or there is books or papers sitting on the ledge of the railing, and I'm thinking about how easy it would be for them to bump them off...

Either I'm actually playing a hymn, and so I can't do anything at the moment, or I'm just afraid to make the kids view me as "the mean organist." Kids are funny, cuz if you say something like that without having a previous "relationship" where they know and trust you, then they will definitely not like you if you chastise them, even very nicely!

But my point is, I shouldn't even be having to WORRY about this...people, please, you should know where your kids are during Mass, and if you know they are in the choir loft...well, *why* are they?! and why aren't you there with them?!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a quote

I am (finally!) reading "The Spirit of the Liturgy" by our beloved pope, and I found a quote worth sharing in the chapter on "Music and Liturgy."

He is contrasting "Rock" music... "in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects."

hmm, I thought to myself, that reminds me a bit of the Easter Vigils of certain un-named churches, no?

Friday, March 26, 2010


Fr. Z writes a little rant about the latest abuse scandals in the Church.

One sentence in particular caught my attention... "The sins this man and others like him (committed) deserve eternal hell."

And I so badly wanted to respond in the comments (but they were off!) "The tiniest sins of ANY of us deserve an eternal hell!"

Not to excuse anyone's sins, but just keep that in mind when you are judging others of their heinous sins!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

bulletin article

Here's an article I'm planning for a few weeks from now. (Notice it is NOT official yet, and could still be altered from this present form.)
I am also posting it in order to receive input from people about it, so that I can change anything that should/could be changed BEFORE it is published! :-P

For those who regularly attend the 10:30 am Mass, can you believe that it has been nearly two years since we started chanting the Introit? Doing that, combined with some of the other changes that have been made, such as "ad orientem" worship, have resulted in a beautiful, sacred, and solemn liturgy. Father Gerald and I have received many positive comments, including from people who admit that these elements are the main reason that they are parishioners at Old St. Patrick!
Several people have also requested that these changes be incorporated into the 8:00 am Mass, since they would prefer to attend that Mass. This seems to make a lot of sense, since many can attest that the 10:30 am Mass is regularly packed to overflowing! To begin this process, over the next couple of weeks we will be teaching the Introit at the 8:00 am Mass, to help familiarize the congregation.
However, many of you are probably wondering: What is the Introit, and why is it better than a hymn?
The "Introit," sometimes called the "Entrance Antiphon," is a text that is proper to each Sunday that has been given by the Church as the first (and therefore, preferred,) option for the "processional" at the beginning of Mass. It is found as Gregorian Chant in the Gradual Romanum (which is the book of Latin chants for the Mass,) but we will be singing a translation of it as a congregation in English to a psalm-tone, so even though the words change every week, the music will stay the same and involves many words on the same note.
People often ask me if I get to "choose the music" for Mass, and while I do, it can be a difficult task because I try to match the text of whatever hymn is chosen for the entrance, offertory and communion, to the text that is found in the Gradual Romanum. This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter or "Divine Mercy Sunday" is a perfect example of this. It is also occasionally called "Quasimodo Sunday," since (along with "Gaudete Sunday" and "Laetare Sunday") that is the first word of the Introit for that Mass.
The text of the Introit is always very rich, and even teaches and affirms theology. Compared to this, most hymns have a simple theme of "Praise the Lord," or even more shallow and having almost nothing to do with God and worship, a theme like "All are Welcome." In direct contrast to these relatively ambiguous hymns, an example of an Introit text from today (which begins in Latin with "Quasimodo,") is "As newborn babes, alleluia, desire pure spiritual milk. Alleluia. Rejoice in honor of God our helper, shout for joy to the God of Jacob." While it is short, one could literally spend hours studying and meditating on the theological references and implications of those sentences! In fact, it is taken straight out of the Bible, from 1 Peter 2:2. And I am certain that there are no hymns in our hymnal that have any reference to this text!
For the next few weeks, since we are in the particularly joyful season of Easter, many of the Introits do revolve around themes of "Praise the Lord," (like next Sunday, April 18,) but the Introits for Ordinary Time, which encompasses the majority of the year, are usually focused on themes of "Have mercy on me, O God, protect me..." And certainly all of Lent the Introits are based on this, for example as recently as the 5th Sunday of Lent, (March 21 this year,) the text was "Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly nation; from wicked and deceitful men deliver me, for you are my God and my strength." None of the hymns that we are familiar with even come close to expounding upon this particular image.
I hope that as we sing the Introits, you are able to meditate on the text as we prepare for Mass, and appreciate the richness and wisdom of our Church in giving us these beautiful, sacred, scriptural texts. For those who attend the 8:00 am Mass, it will take some time to get used to the tune that we are using for the Introit, but my hope is that as time goes on, you will become more comfortable with it and will be able to participate more fully in the worshipful tone that it sets for the liturgy.
As always, I greatly appreciate those of you who give me feedback on the music at Mass. It warms my heart when I know that the music is a blessing to others, and I am also thankful to those of you who may disagree with aspects of the music at Old St. Patrick but are willing to engage in dialogue with me, or those who just want to learn more and understand why we do certain things! I am privileged to work at such a beautiful parish with so many wonderful parishioners!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mara is...

having a musically interesting day.

This morning I (well, the church,) got offered a "like-new" Hammond B-3 organ. And this afternoon three of my piano students quit.

The former is particularly interesting b/c I get offered old, crappy, tiny, electronic organs all the TIME, and there just so happened to be someone in the room who knew that this kind of organ is actually worth something! (I know next-to-nothing about electronic organs.) And the later is notable b/c I don't feel like I could try to get more students right now, b/c at this point in my life I can't commit to being here for more than the next year.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

the volume of the organ

A parishioner told me recently that he was at another parish in the city, and that the organ was "so loud!" compared to my organ, I supposed.

Really, he doesn't know, but if I HAD a bigger organ (more than, ahem, a 3-rank Moller...) it would most certainly be louder than it is now!

I was planning on blogging on how interesting that was that people thought that this other organist played too loud...but then, I just happened to be talking to another person who goes to this other parish, and they are not necessarily musically inclined, but they told me that they did NOT think that their organist was too loud, (that in fact, they loved the postludes after Mass.)

So...is loudness relative? I wish my organ could be louder. How I long for a Trompette en Chamade for the final, rousing verse on Easter Sunday morning! But perhaps my parishioners have just gotten used to my organ being quieter than a much bigger organ in a much bigger church?

I've heard lots of stories about parishioners at other churches complaining about the organ being too loud. Apparently, mine don't complain b/c the organ CAN'T get as loud as I want it! (well, once I had someone tell me that. but they go to the least crowded Mass, so the sound isn't absorbed by the people, and there is no choir singing, just me, so I should just sing louder. Their actual complaint was that they can't hear ME singing.)

So the problem is, how can the organist tell how loud is too loud, since we are up in the loft, and can never test out the sound on a full church?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


during my previously-mentioned internship this semester, I have been able to make several interesting (although not earth-shattering) observations.

The first is that I am extremely impressed with how polite the seminarians all are. Someone has clearly been training them. (a friend of mine made an amusing comment about this topic...I wish I could remember what it was...but it made mention of a few older priests who apparently were *not* taught this in seminary...it seems the rectors are learning their lesson!)
Like, when I'm leaving for the day, and they're in choir or something, rather than just muttering "bye," I receive a chorus of "Thanks for coming!" "Drive safe!" When I was first there, *every single* one of them (who was in the class) came up to me and introduced himself!

Also, I was fishing around for some indication of the general trend of liturgical/musical preference among these young men who will be our future priests (and therefore my future bosses,) and of course while this is really a generalization and everyone is different, it was noted by a-well-aware observer that while they have many different preferences for musical styles, the general trend is that they all see the importance of "vertical" worship. That is, Christ-centered. Awesome.

Monday, March 01, 2010

"back in the good ol' days.."

well, actually this post isn't quite going to be about what you think it is....

It's really about...corporal punishment!

Every once in a while, I hear someone (usually over the age 60,) talking/joking about how when THEY were growing up, their teachers (nuns, usually,) would smack them for getting an answer wrong. Usually the story involves making the point that, however cruel and uncivilized this appears now, it actually *worked*, since the student never forgot that particular answer ever again! (and was even better at learning other answers for fear of the lash.)

now, of course I would NEVER do this, but everyone once in a while... I really want to smack a student. Only because I think that it is something like THAT which will make her (usually) recall the answer to a particular question, or at the very least, never forget it again!

A couple times recently I've had situations like this:

"(insert name of child,) what is this note/other musical question?"
(long period of waiting...)
no answer
(I attempt to be extremely patient, offering helpful hints, re-explaining things in different ways, trying to guide the thought process)
finally I say,
"this is a g/we call this a quarter note/whatever the answer is..."

recently, it happened that the student needed to know and could not remember the EXACT SAME answer to the same question a few minutes later, after ALL of that explaining... and that got me thinking of how the answer would probably not have been forgotten so easily after having been explained, had I had some instrument of corporal punishment handy!

Friday, February 26, 2010


"One of the major errors of our time, at least on the religious plane, is to believe that a liturgy can be invented, that the ancient liturgies are inventions or that elements added in a spirit of piety are such; this is to confuse inspiration with invention, the sacred with the profane, saintly souls with bureaus and committees. Another no less pernicious error is to believe it possible to jump over one or two thousand years and retrace one's steps to the simplicity -- and the sanctity -- of the primitive Church; now, there is a principle of growth or of structure to be observed here, for a branch cannot become the root again. One must tend towards primitive simplicity by recognizing its incomparability and without imagining that it can be recaptured by external measures and superficial attitudes; one must seek to realize primordial purity on the basis of the providentially elaborated forms, and not on the basis of an ignorant and impious iconoclasm, and one should above all renounce introducing into the rites a pedantic and vulgar sort of intelligibility which is an insult to the intelligence of the faithful."

--Frithjof Schuon, Christianity/Islam: Essays on Esoteric Ecumenicism, transl. Gustavo Polit. Milan: Arche Milano, 1981.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

do you wanna sing or not?!

so, I'm there. Before Mass, standing at the ambo (the church is too small for another lectern,) and I'm standing in front of a full church, everyone is looking at me, and I'm supposed to teach them a very short, easy, 2-line, *Latin* acclamation.

You wouldn't think it was hard, and when I look out across the sea of faces, most of them (60%?) are making admirable attempts, and I'm so proud of them.

Of the other 40%, I'd say you have the group that's your typical totally apathetic "I don't care at all what happens, you could start screaming and jumping up and down and I'd probably still ignore you, I'm just here cuz I have to be..." and they comprise about 30% of the congregation. And, ok, fine, I admit. They are pretty much a hopeless cause. It's sad, but I don't lose sleep over them.

But...it's the final, remaining 10% of people that really get to me. I'm standing up there, and they're looking back at me, and I can see what they're thinking; they're like, "I'm not going to sing in Latin. I'm not even going to try. It's probably toooo haaaard! So I'm not even going to open the hymnal and at least pretend to look at it..."
(and don't accuse me of judging them cuz I of course can't actually read their thoughts--but I can certainly see that they aren't trying!)

And the thought occurred to me, the most recent time that I was up there, trying to teach them, looking into their faces...
"YOU! You all are the exact ones who have been clamoring the loudest for 'active participation' for the last 40 years! And yet look at you! I could just have the choir sing all the time, but oh boy, I wouldn't hear the end of that... So now I'm trying to make it so you can sing easily; I'm doing everything that I can so that this tiny, little, two-line snippet of music could be easy for you!"

The...irony? They don't really care about active participation...or, at least, not when there's any Latin or something else that might stretch them uncomfortably even a little bit...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

a nine-year old who loves chant

so, I have a piano student who loves chant. And he is nine years old.

As part of his lessons, I have been having him learn a different chant every week (written in modern notation) on the piano keys.

His mom told me that his dad got him a copy of this book on chant, which he has been devouring. It seems pretty legit, but I only got to look through it for a moment (and I hope it isn't too "new-agey-spiritually" if you know what I mean.)

But...then what? He is homeschooled, and with very supportive Catholic parents, but keep in mind I'm only his piano teacher, so I don't really have time to do much more outside of things directly related to piano. I'm thinking I will next have him start learning chants on the piano that are written in square-note notation. He has a very good ear, and will sing along quite well with what he is playing on the piano, so of course the obvious benefit is that by learning how to read chant notation better on the piano, he will be able to sing it better. But of course that will only get him so far, and at some point he is going to have to learn the practical application within a choir, and how to make it actually beautiful, (by following whatever method of singing chant that is being used.) He is also VERY creative, definitely a budding composer (but he is only at level 2 in the piano books, so his composing skills on paper are kind of limited to that.)

So...any other book resource ideas? (keep in mind that it has to keep the attention of a creative nine-year old!) Or other general teaching ideas?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the things we realize in the later part of life

I read this in Faith Magazine a month ago, and I found it thought-provoking enough that I wanted to re-post it here. It is from an article in which our previous bishop talks about his life since retirement.

"The good Lord is giving me time, time to be open, time to be open to being a priest in the full sense of the term. Before I retired, I was a priest for many years, 53 years actually, and I had a false notion about retirement. I had the idea that once I was retired I could really get down to the business of my spiritual life and then, in a definitive and positive way, devote all of my time to becoming a saint. But I quickly realized that journey should have been going on for 53 years."

...food for thought.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

our pope is just so smart!

"...Let us think first of all of the Dionysian type of religion and its music, which Plato tackled from his own religious and philosophical point of view. In many forms of relgion music is ordered to stupor and to ecstasy. Freeing humans from limitations, which is the goal of that hunger for the infinite proper to humans, is supposed to be achieved through holy madness, through the delirium of the rhythm and the instruments. Such music pulls down the barriers of individuality and personality; in it human beings free themselves from the burden of consciousness. Music turns into ecstasy, liberation from the ego, becoming one with the universe. Today we experience the profane return of this type of music in a large part of the rock and pop music whose festivals are a counterculture of the same orientation---the pleasure of destruction, the removal of the barriers of everyday life and the illusion of redemption in the liberation from oneself, in the wild ecstasy of noise and the masses. It is a question of redemptive practices whose form of redemption is related to drugs and diametrically opposed to the Christian faith in redemption. Hence it makes sense that in this area satanical cults and satanical music are constantly spreading today whose dangerous power intentionally to wreck and eradicate the person has not yet been taken seriously enough. The dispute between Dionysian and Apollonian music with which Plato deals is not ours, since Apollo is not Christ. But the question Plato posed concerns us in a most meaningful way. In a form we could not have imagined a generation ago music has become today the decisive vehicle of a counterreligion and thus the showplace for the discerning of spirits. On the one hand, since rock music seeks redemption by way of liberation from the personality and its responsiblity, it fits very precisely into the anarchistic ideas of freedom that are manifesting themselves more openly all over the world. But that is also exactly why such music is diametrically opposed to the Christian notions of redemption and freedom, indeed their true contradiction. Music of this type must be excluded from the Church, not for aesthetic reasons, not out of reactionary stubbornness, not because of historical rigidity, but because of its very nature."

A New Song for the Lord
"The Image of the World and of Human Beings in the Liturgy and Its Expression in Church Music"
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

singing something for the sake of singing it

A classmate of mine (who works at a very high, professional level,) recently made the comment in class about, "we don't sing something during Mass just for the sake of singing it."

She gave some sort of example like how we shouldn't have the choir sing "Sheep May Safely Graze" just because we want to learn it, but instead should just sing Easter pieces at Easter, etc. (I can't remember what the exact examples that she used were.)

I've been thinking about that assertion quite a bit since then, because, honestly, that's something that I do all the TIME! I find a bunch of pieces that the choir could learn and that look good, and then I kind of have an idea of what order they'll go in, occasionally I'll find one that fits a particular Sunday particularly well, and then they'll sing it when it sounds good (which I usually have a pretty good idea about when that will be.)

Anyhow, a particularly limiting factor for me is simply due to the skill level and numbers of my choir. It is VERY difficult to sing anything in 4 parts, it takes quite a few weeks so I can't just pull out any old 4-part anthem and be like, "oh, we'll sing this on this week!" So I sift through the internet looking for quality 2 or 3-part pieces, or easier 4-part, and since those are all somewhat hard to come by, and I try to do one choir piece every week, well, if it works then we'll do it!

Then, there is the whole other topic of how to "pick" pieces for Mass. Going on the assumption which I have written about before that the Propers are the primary choice of text, and *not* that of the "theme" of the Mass for the day (which may or may not exist,) that brings a whole new level to the debate. What can be sung *after* the Proper is sung? Can't anything? At St. P, the congregation sings a simple arrangement of the Introit in English, a very simplified arrangement of the Offertory after a hymn has been sung, and a small schola of women sings the latin Communion chant. Once that has been sung, then can't *any*thing be sung? Therein lies the dispute. Some people firmly hold to the belief that every Mass has a "theme," however, I subscribe to the belief that (especially since V-II rearranged all the readings,) most Masses are just a hodge-podge of scripture readings, and certainly don't relate to the "theme."

Finally...what is the "theme" of every single Mass?

Repentence, Praise, Adoration.

In that order.

I'm pretty sure that any piece that I have the choir sing will fall into one of those categories...

Saturday, February 06, 2010


TOMORROW--we're being "reviewed!"


how cool is that?

stay tuned and check back for the write-up!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

church musicians query?

so... during church, when you are playing/singing a particularly beautiful piece of music, and every once in a while (but always perfectly on cue,) a little kid starts to have a temper tantrum somewhere in the church--do any other church musicians ever get the urge to either seriously strangle the above-mentioned child, or else at the very least, to scream "shut up!" from the choir loft?

oh yes... it is very tempting once in a while...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the wisdom of the Bible...

from Nehemiah (the first reading for tonight and tomorrow)

""Go your way, eat fatty meat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

I first saw it in the Communion Antiphon (which we only do this particular one once every 3 years, so I had neve seen it before,) and laughed out loud.

however the translation for the first reading is LAME-O! It doesn't even mention wine...it says something like "drink sweet stuff." yeah, whatever. Go read the RSV. We all know the NAB is horrible...now it's trying to hide the fact that we're *supposed* to drink wine to celebrate the day of the Lord!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the story of how I *almost* held the door for the archbishop...

alright, never fear, my (three) regular readers, I have not given up blogging!
I just sometimes feel like I have nothing to write.
However, TODAY, I do!

so, to start at the beginning of the story, I may have mentioned this in an entry before, but now it's official. I will be doing an internship at the seminary with the music director there this semester, AND getting credit for this! (no one at either institution seems to know what to do with me, since apparently this arrangement has not been done before, but today went well. I filed a ton of music, and there is lots more to organize-which I love doing, warmed up the seminarian schola, then observed their rehearsal. I am also planning on doing more there like talking to the director and getting ideas and observations.) Of course, it doesn't hurt to make friends with nice young men who will possibly be your future employer some day! :-P

SO...today was my first day. Everyone was talking about this special vespers service that would be done tonight for bishop so-and-so who is leaving, and I thought it might be interesting to stay for that, but I knew that would involve me getting no dinner before my own choir rehearsal (which I am eating now.) Plus, I wasn't sure if it would be like me and 100 priests and seminarians, or if this was a more general open-to-the-public thing.

So there are priests everywhere, and as I'm walking out the front door to go home (and eat dinner) about 15 minutes before it starts, two priests are approaching me coming inside, and one of them has a suitcase-with-wheels type thing, so I figured I should probably hold the door for him, but then it was a little weird because right behind me there was a man and a woman leaving, so I figured I should hold the door for *them* too, but they, as people naturally do, took the door from me and held it for the priests. THEN they greeted the priests and addressed the one as archbishop! (duh! I should have guessed it! I knew he looked familiar!) So once the priest and archbishop were safely inside, the man and woman and I continued walking to our cars; one teased the other, "oh I should have let *you* hold the door for the archbishop!" And so I couldn't resist turning around and teasing them both, "Oh but you know really *I* should have been the one to hold the door for him!" and we all laughed.

So that made me smile the whole way home through rush-hour-highway-city traffic. (yay.)

It is funny; driving in, I even had a conscious thought, "now what if I see the archbishop?! I'm not even sure I would recognize him!" haha, what are the chances?

Monday, January 18, 2010


I've been thinking about this blog lately, or, rather, I haven't been thinking about this blog lately.

It's like... I have no new thoughts on liturgy or music.

I feel as though I'm just coming out of a really incredible journey (in a sense) from this stage of my life. I would say it started probably in... 2006 sometime? What I mean by a journey is, that I've been through all of these phases and wondering all sorts of questions and talking to lots of people and reading tons and trying to figure everything out about (wait for it...) the perfect liturgy and how music relates to it.

But I feel like I've kind of explored every nook and cranny of this big old room, and I've finally just decided to sit down and curl up by the fire.

In my own mind, I've straightened up some things; realized some are more important than I used to think, others are less important, and that there certainly are negotiable areas. However, I'm certainly not done with my intellectual wanderings, and no doubt I will still continue to change my mind about more things, and discover other things.

But...the whole purpose of this blog (for me) has been to share my questions and my thoughts and observations and rants, and now I feel like these are becoming less and less common, as my own opinions become more steady.

so, yeah. that's all for now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Problem

wow, it's been quite a while since I've written here. My apologies to my (two or three...) regular readers!

Also, a note to those who aren't regular readers: I am fully aware that everything I say on here is completely available to anyone in the world with an internet connection. I have published nothing on here that I would not want ANYone to read. If even the bishop himself were to stumble across my blog, and read things I've written about him, I would not regret anything I have written! So, my apologies to anyone who has been offended by anything I have written. I would hope that if that were to ever occur, people would take the opportunity to engage in intelligent dialogue with me, to determine if there really is any reason for offense.

now, on to business.

my latest thought:

I wonder if I'm beginning to grasp the heart of the difficulty of music in the Catholic Church.
People *want* to sing. The Council of Vatican II instructed to have "active participation" among the faithful, and while there can be a great deal of debate about what that actually means, I am certain that they meant at least *some* level of physically-engaged participation. However, as music goes, they gave us the Graduale Romanum, and put the chants in there as the most highly valued option over hymns! There's no way the congregation is singing that! So they gave us the Graduale Simplex, with simpler, more seasonal responses. (sort of what I do at Offertory, but in Latin, and with different melodies.) Could they truly have intended -as the first choice- to not have the people sing at all at entrance, offertory, and communion? What about what I do as the introit (setting the whole text in English to a solemn psalm tone that stays the same every week.)?
THIS is what I mean by wishing I knew what the "perfect liturgy" would look like...
sometimes I think it would be cool to just hear a schola singing everything, but...people *want* to sing! even if they can't read music! so what to let them, or encourage them, to sing?