Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Amen and an Unintended Consequence

I find the new tone to the doxology before the "Great Amen" to be extremely frustrating.
I don't have the exact notes in front of me, but the previous tone ended something like, "doh-re-re-mi-re-do-do" on the words, "forever and ever," indicating a clear "do-do-re" for the congregation to sing "A-me-en." In fact, after singing that for a few months in a particular church, it's almost impossible to not sing it whenever I heard that tone at another church, but found myself being interrupted by the instruments proclaiming the beginning of a completely musically unrelated "Amen."

Now, it is quite interesting (and wonderful!) how the priests are being encouraged to sing so many of the newly translated parts of the Mass, and they are! And, many churches, at least among those I'm familiar with, are taking a stab at singing the corresponding parts, including the "Great Amen." But unfortunately, whatever musical genius decided to CHANGE the final ending tone of the doxology, along with the words, has provided a disappointing level of confusion for anyone trying to sing a simple "Amen" here.
The new doxology ends something like, "mi-mi-re-do-re-mi-re," on the words "forever and ever," (sorry if that's not exactly right, I've only heard it a few times,) but I've even checked the Roman Missal, and yes, the congregation is expected to start their "Amen" on DOH when the priest has just finished on "RE!!!!" ARRRRRRGHGHGHHGGHGHGHG!!!!!!!!!!
(I'll start it strongly on the proper note, doh, and the congregation cautiously joins in, as it is slightly intuitive, especially if the congregation is able to follow someone who knows what they are doing.) But... I am extremely sad as I suspect that this hesitancy of non-naturalness of being expected to start on a different note than what has just been heard, will not contribute to any congregations ever finding this tone "natural," which is what I found when I sang it previously.

It seems that hardly anybody is truly satisfied with the new translation, or at least the baggage that it brings with it (I heard a good priest recently complaining over the word "prevenient" in one of the prayers for the Immaculate Conception. And while I can't really argue against his complaint that he had no idea what it meant, I do wish that at that moment I had said, "Well, even if we don't know what it means, it does make me want to go and look it up!" le sigh.)
Anyhow, an interesting unintended consequence of how the priests have not been encouraged at all to sing their parts for the past 40 years, is that now, once they are, I have heard more than one person comment on how it helps the congregation with the new translation. By this I mean, in many churches, the automatic response to a spoken "The Lord be with you," is, of course, "And also with you." BUT... if "The Lord be with you" is sung, then it suddenly requires a moment of thought for the congregation, and they are more likely to sing "And with your spirit," especially if they are in a church which hasn't been singing the dialogues for the past 40 years.

So...for once, we can thank them for trying to (indirectly?) eliminate certain degrees of solemnity from the liturgy! It has helped at least one thing about this new translation to be easier!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Random thoughts

My life has been rather interesting... I had a great post to write about my new (temporary) job, but then things changed and I decided to not write it.

Organists, don't forget this fabulous postlude for this weekend! Sorry I can't find a link online... Franck's Sortie "Venez, divin Messie" from L'Organiste!

How come in the Mass, the priest says at the doxology, "All glory and honor IS yours," but then a moment later, after the Our Father, we say, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory ARE yours..." Which is grammatically correct? And is there a difference that I am not seeing?

Speaking of translations... We should just say, "And also with your spirit." And get over it. (haha, not really.... but that's about what it comes out to be!)

Children's choirs simply do not work during the liturgy. By the very nature of them being there, you have all their parents there, who are going to be turning around and waving at them, and being distracted by them, and so there is no way that the congregation is "paying attention" to Mass itself. And then, there is the applause. Even if it's not until after the final song, it just goes to show what people were *really* there for...

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm not in love with the latest music trend among traditionalists...

"Contemporary Sacred Music."

Specifically, Kevin Allen. The CMAA (or at least related people) has totally taken him under their wing and is promoting him loudly.

But honestly, I'm not all that impressed. While of course I greatly appreciate his attempt at writing 3-part, latin choral music (easily transposed for a 3-voice mixed choir!) and I also love the idea of singing psalm-tone verses in between repetitions of the same short motet (what choir hasn't been so sad at watching all the work they put into learning a piece, quickly disappear as they sing it once...and then it's done?!) I just haven't found the several pieces that I've listened to to be all that...good.

Yes, it's a bit contemporary sounding, and I know one of the reasons that it's so lauded is that it's relatively easy for a church choir. But... I wish I knew more about music theory... (I felt like I barely passed it in undergrad...) so I can't necessarily comment on his music as regarding the rules, but I find much of what he does, (like in terms of using accidentals,) to be...cheap.
Random picardy thirds, or borrowed minor chords, that just seem to...come out of nowhere!
I think it's pretty good voice-leading, but the actual chords themselves...just irritate me sometimes. They don't seem to be going anywhere!
(This is what I'm going to be working with the choir on.)

I mean, it's not bad, and can be quite enjoyable to listen to... well, I just don't know how to describe how I feel when I'm plunking out the chords on the piano. I'd love to hear someone chime in who has more theory background...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

I suppose I'll post this under the actual name of the cathedral, since I don't really have much to say that is negative... which, btw, it is quite a lovely cathedral, and really looks exactly like what a Catholic cathedral is supposed to look like... (unlike, ahem, certain dioceses in another state to the northwest...)

So, on this day which was both mine and my dear husband's last Sunday without both of us having church/work commitments, we decided to go to the cathedral for Mass, and were not only blessed with the bishop saying Mass, but also were pleasantly surprised with the beautiful music selections!

I didn't take a copy of the bulletin (which had most of the congregational of the music selections in it,) but I'll write about what was notable to me.

Apparently the full choir does not normally sing, and they certainly sounded quite prepared and professional!
There was a lovely organ prelude, followed by the choir singing some beautiful polyphonic piece (I believe it was in Latin, but unfortunately I have no idea what!)

The opening hymn was "Lord whose love in humble service" which isn't such a terrible hymn, although some of the verses have some very annoying PC social justice-y themes to them.
The Kyrie was surprisingly lovely; I believe it was an interesting combination of simple call-and-response with the congregation, with a middle "Christe" verse that was a beautiful polyphonic choral setting.

Followed by, unfortunately, the awful diocesan-mandated setting of the Mass of St. Paul the Apostle Gloria. I mean, it's not such a bad piece of music, but...suitable for the liturgy? And to be sung by a congregation? And the accompaniment, to be played by your average church organist? It's just so...syncopated. I love it when non-musicians (or else professional musicians with no sense of appropriate liturgical music) choose music to be learned by an entire diocese...
Lansing, consider yourselves lucky!
Anyhow, the choral section was really neat to listen to, and the organist was of course fabulous, but none of it really made anyone in the congregation attempt to sing along!

I don't remember much about the psalm...it might have had cool choral verses.
The Alleluia was taken from "For all the Saints."

The Offertory was a modern-sounding choral piece, probably a bit dissonant for some people, but very nice for the occasion, IMHO.
I believe that the Sanctus/Mem Accl/Amen were from an old-translation Mass.
And now I'm trying to remember the Agnus...I *think* it was similar to the Kyrie (or else I'm mixing them up,) with some congregation, and some lovely choral singing.

The song for communion was that awful "Center of My Life" song, that seems to be the absolute favorite of every single church around here (but I had never heard prior to coming here,) As a song, it really just makes me want to link arms and rock and sway with everyone else around me. Maybe we should all pull out our lighters (or cell phones) and wave them in the air.
I can't remember the verses, but I'm pretty sure that every time I've heard it, something about the theology (or lack of) has really bothered me about...maybe the last verse?
Finally, the closing hymn was the ever-wonderful and rousing "For All the Saints." (with, I must add, the PROPER rhythm... "ALLLLLLLL who by faith..." NOT "All WHOOOOOOOO by faith..."

And then I believe that there was a nice but relatively brief (the church emptied fast) postlude, although I didn't listen closely.

Anyhow, overall the best cathedral liturgy that I've ever seen! I'd give it an 8.5/10!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

St. Joseph in Toledo

Today being one of my last weekends where I am completely free to attend Mass wherever I want (at least until late February, and certainly one of my last in the SE Michigan area.) I received a recommendation to attend St. Joseph in Toledo, which was interestingly on my way to where I had to be later on Sunday!

After an unexpected realization that I must have written down the directions wrong, I knew I was in the right (somewhat sketchy) Toledo neighborhood, driving around on a Sunday morning. I had a vague idea of the cross streets, but couldn't find the church. I saw a steeple of what I was sure must be the church, but no, it was just some Protestant church. Finally I followed my gut, making use of the directions I had to leave the church (which were more accurate,) and saw another (much less impressive) steeple in the distance, which I determined to be it.

I found the church surprisingly small, but I decided that the inside was about the same size as St. P. (It's amazing the difference that being in the city versus country can be!) I attended their EF Latin Mass, and had a few observations.

One of the more interesting was that I noticed a great percentage (10%?) of the women wearing not just mantillas, but pashminas or scarves as a head covering. I must say, I am a fan. I approve of the simple, not-drawing-attention scarf, that a woman might even wear on the street today, (rather than the lacy mantilla...like...who ever came up with that idea?!)

I won't comment on the music, other than it was about what I expected, (Missa de Angelis, that pretty holy week Adoramus Te, I think Arcadelt's Ave Maria, the Panis Angelicus hymn, etc.) although this is not the first church like this that I've been surprised to find an all-male choir! (small though it may be.) They could also use a new organ. I didn't go up in the loft, but I could see pipes, but, let's just say...I don't think that's what they were using. :-/

The only liturgically interesting things I noticed, were that even though they did Missa de Angelis, they split the Sanctus/Benedictus as is permitted (required?) for a polyphonic setting. (Is that permitted for a chant setting? Every rubric I have ever read has directed it to be sung non-split.)
Also, I noticed that the communion antiphon was sung at the very end of communion. Is this an option, or incorrect?

ok, that's about all I can remember, although I thought there might have been a third liturgical interesting thing... the priest gave a VERY short homily (you know, one of those ones where you just start to really listen...and then he's done!) maybe cuz Mass started more than 10 minutes late I think cuz people were in confession... but yeah, overall a lovely church and liturgy! Thanks for the suggestion, JL!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Holy Family

It's nice to be free on Sunday mornings...
Finally got a chance to go to Holy Family in Greektown this morning! It did not appear to me that they do ANYthing illicit. It is basically just a Latin, Novus Ordo, ad orientem, (very sparsely attended) Mass.
The claim to fame, being that it is likely that they are the only Catholic church in the US that has NEVER had an English, versus populum Mass!
(The rumor is, since they are the Sicilian church in the diocese, apparently back when VII happened, the grandmothers there were just like, "no, we're not doing that...") I would like to now dispel the rumor that it is much of a "mixture" of EF/OF.
There was nothing illicit, especially that the priest did as far as I could tell... the only "crossovers" that I noticed were in what the people did:
-knelt at beginning of Mass
-didn't sing pretty much anything (the tiny choir did.)
-servers lifted chasuble
-didn't say "Amen" at communion, the server did. (at the rail)
-knelt for final blessing

A little gem of a church, housed away downtown! I think it seems smaller than it is, being surrounded by those big buildings. But when I was inside and thought about it, I'm sure it's actually larger than St. P! (It just doesnt have as high a ceiling. maybe thats why it seems smaller.) Very gorgeous. If you want to sort through some pictures, you can get an idea of what it looks like from AF- http://picasaweb.google.com/115178373895033328671/DetroitChurchBlog or his whole experience (similar to mine) http://detroitchurchblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/holy-family-greektown.html

Friday, August 26, 2011

Electronic organs

While being a student of organ, I was always taught to look down on "electronic organs" (read: an organ without pipes. Which pianist would prefer to play an electric Clavinova over a Steinway?)
And, in my experience, this was easy to do. But I had pretty much only ever played 30+ year old electronic organs.

That's one of the big accusations against them--how many other electronic devices do you know that dont last more than a few years? So isn't it obvious that these organs will all need to be replaced within our lifetimes? Contrast that to "real" organs; many of the good ones last well over 100 years, and just need the occasional re-leathering.

Obviously, for most or all churches who end up buying a new electronic organ, price is a huge factor. A "real" organ will easily be $200,000+, whilst a nice, large, electronic organ could run $20,000-$50,000. (I *think* my figures are about right. I kind of guesstimated, based on little things I've picked up over the years.) While the electronic one is still expensive, I wonder if churches forget to factor that they will probably have to buy a new one in 30 years? (Well, maybe nowadays most churches aren't thinking that far ahead--they're wondering if they will even be open by then!)

Other than the replacement likelihood, the real organ has other advantages, like the enjoyablity of playing it and how it *sounds* better. (Like, it sounds "real.")

I used to think that I could tell the difference, but the extent of my experience was from the 30-year old Allen that my first church had. (It was an awful instrument, if you can call it that...) More recently, my fiance, has been pointing out the occasional electronic organ, that sounds quite impressive to me, and pointing out how it is not real (and he would know as he has played on lots of electronic organs!)

And my surprise has led me to being quite impressed with some of the sounds that I have heard! And recently, I even was able to spend some time playing a brand new, very impressive Rodgers. I was pleasantly impressed with how much I enjoyed playing it. One thing I noticed, (compared with the only one other electronic new organ I have played recently,) it was LOUD. The volume was much more comparable to that of a real organ. For some situations, a single stop was enough. There was even one rank that I could not believe that didn't have pipes (it was a bourdon in the pedal for which a few of the middle notes, I *heard* some breathy, wind noise. [sorry, I don't know what the technical term for that is. I hope the organists understand!]) I looked for the pipes, and there didn't seem to be even a hidden rank, but, I should mention that the organist of that church was not there to verify if it did not have any ranks of pipes.

So what is this post about? My genuine surprise at the level of quality of some (at least one!) of the more recent electronic organs. Would I ever encourage a church to buy one? No. I will always value the artistic value of the craftsmanship that goes into making a pipe organ, as well as the other reasons listed above, and others I probably haven't mentioned, but I won't disdain some of the newer electronic organs as much as I used to.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

more on accompaniment books...

apparently, there IS more than one church in the world whose organist likes to lock the accompaniment book away in his office! wow! who would have guessed....

Also, word to the wise-- be sure to check *how much* you are getting paid with the person who is actually hiring you for a service, before you do it, and don't just believe anyone who tells you what they "think" you will get! :-/

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

holy moley!

A parish FIVE miles away just posted a job description that includes the word "schola!"

This is gonna get interesting...

Monday, August 22, 2011

So I THOUGHT all organists kept the accompaniment books in an obvious place...

I mean, every single church I had ever seen had the organist hymnal right next to the console, within grasp of the organist!

So I had to play a wedding this weekend at a church where I had never touched the organ, and I assumed they would be where the books always are, so I didn't bother swinging by St. P's to borrow their books.

oops, fail. apparently there is at least one organist in the world who keeps her books locked up in her office.

LUCKILY, the wedding was at 4 on a friday, so I was able to have the office lady open the MD's door for me to get the books! phew! no more assumptions about that! (and the kind of weird thing is that the MD *knew* was coming, and had been very helpful in all other ways; I just forgot to check if the hymnal would be out, and perhaps she assumed I wouldn't need it, or didn't think of it.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My liturgical life

A lot has been going on in the past couple months. Most significantly, I formally finished up my work at St. P's, where I have been for the past 5 years! (I left because I am moving to a new city!)

It leaves me in the interesting position of looking for a new job, which has its own repercussions...

For the first time in *years*, I am going to freely choose where to go to Mass on Sunday! I really don't know yet. I'm a huge fan of beautiful music, so I'd like to go to a church with that, but it's hard to know in advance when that will be! It's not like there is a published schedule put out by the diocese...

And secondly, until I find a formal job, I suspect that I will be "selling myself" (or I could use cruder terms...) anywhere as a sub. Goody. I'm going to be immersed in the full experience of a wide variety of liturgical styles, most of which I have been not only trying to avoid for the past several years, but also deliberately working to combat!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I suppose that's cool...

Apparently, the Mass setting that my mother co-wrote will be one of the 5 in the St. Augustine Hymnal. (Not that I am advocating for that particular hymnal ;-) but I still think it's pretty cool!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I am not quite sure what Pope Benedict means here...

It is true that splitting the Sanctus and the Benedictus is not necessary, but it makes a lot of sense. if the choir sings the Sanctus and the Benedictus together, then the break between the Preface and the Eucharistic Prayer can indeed be too lengthy. When this happens, it no longer serves the congrega­tion’s silent, yet cooperative entering into cosmic praise because the inner tension is not sustained. On the other hand, if a filled silence and an interior greeting of the Lord along with the choir take place after the consecration event, it corresponds profoundly to the inner structure of the occasion. The pedantic proscription of such a split, which came about not without reason in the development, should be forgotten as quickly as possible. [A New Song for the Lord, (NY: Crossroad, 1995) p 145]

It seems to me that he first praises it, but then calls it a "pedantic proscription" to split it, which should "be forgotten."

So... is it, or is it not ok to split it? (In the Novus Ordo at least, is all I care about at the moment.)

And this one:

A Choral Agnus Dei

Now just a word about the Agnus Dei. In the Regensburg cathedral it has become a tradition that after the Sign of Peace the Agnus Dei is first spoken three times by both the priest and the people and then continued by the choir as a communion hymn during the distribution of Communion. Over against this custom it has been asserted that the Agnus Dei belongs to the rite of the breaking of the bread. Only a completely fossilized archaism can draw the conclusion from its original purpose of accompanying the time of the breaking of the bread that it should be sung exclusively at this point. As a matter of fact, it became a communion song as early as the ninth and tenth centuries when the old rites of the breaking the bread were no longer neces­sary because of the new hosts. J. A. Jungmann points out that in many cases in the early Middle Ages only one Agnus Dei was sung after the Sign of Peace while the second and third ones found their niche after Communion and thus accompanied the distribution of Communion where there was one. And does the request for the mercy of Christ, the Lamb of God, not make sense at that exact moment when he defenselessly gives himself into our hands again as Lamb, the sacrificed, yet triumphant Lamb who holds the keys of history in his hands (Revelation 5)? And is the request for peace made to him, the defenseless yet victorious One, not appropriate especially at the moment of receiving Communion since peace was, after all, one of the names of the Eucharist in the early Church because it tears down the boundaries between heaven and earth and between peoples and states and joins humans to the unity of the Body of Christ? At first glance, the Regensburg tradition and the conciliar as well as post­conciliar reform seem to be two opposite worlds, which clash in harsh con­tradiction. Whoever stood right between them for three decades was able to experience the severity of the posed questions for himself. But where this tension is endured, it turns out that all this belongs to the stages of one single path. Only if one holds these stages together and holds out will they be correctly understood and will true reform flourish in the spirit of the Sec­ond Vatican Council—reform that is not discontinuity and destruction but purification and growth to a new maturation and anew fullness. The cathe­dral choirmaster who has borne the weight of this tension deserves thanks: This was not only a service for Regensburg and its cathedral, but a service for the entire Church. [A New Song for the Lord (NY: Crossroad, 1995) p. 145]

(I've read it now a couple times, and I'm STILL not sure what conclusion he makes about a "choral sanctus!")


Sunday, July 10, 2011

I may be temporarily cracking down soon on the privacy of this blog...

When I next apply for a promising job, I will most likely need to change the privacy settings on here for a time so that the whole world can't read every post (like the ones in which I unknowingly sabotaged future job prospects at churches which may not completely agree with my views ;-) ). Hopefully, this will only be temporary, until I get a job and they decide that they like me. :-)

I'm not sure the best way to go about doing that-- after looking around on here for a minute, it only seems to give me the option to include people by email address. I will automatically add people who are under my google list of "friends," (I have no idea when I made this list, so don't be offended if you are not on it,) so if you ever notice that you can no longer view this blog, feel free to just shoot me an email (and if I like you,) I'll add you.
Not sure yet what is involved with reading this and needing to sign in...but we shall see.

(and the annoying thing is, I think my name is linked to this blog in only one place! and it's from someone that I am not sure I can contact! argh!)


ok, I admit it. While I do not mind it, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is not my favorite.

Occasionally I have heard the argument that "little children seem to instinctually know that something sacred is going on, and are much more calm and sedate than at a 'happy-clappy' Novus Ordo Mass."

sigh. I beg to differ.

At our EF today, there was a young child (about 1 year old?) who was *shrieking* his head off the ENTIRE second half of Mass. good. freaking. grief.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking back over the last 5 years...

Someone just asked me to explain the "plan" that Fr. G and I had as we improved the music and liturgy at St. P. Well, we didn't really have much of a "plan," we mostly just did what seemed like a good idea at the time, thinking at every step to try and make the liturgy more like the Church envisioned it, and with the only other clear goal to teach the congregation the Latin Mass Ordinary that all Catholics were expected to know after Vatican II, as complied by Pope Paul VI; "Jubilate Deo,."

It seemed appropriate for me to think through this, as I only have a few more weeks at St. P. :-(

Looking back on this 5-year period, I must say that I am quite impressed with what has been accomplished!

Here's the timeline as I remember it-
-I started working at St. P
-immediately began phasing out 1970s popular style music, and replacing with more traditional hymns or other acceptable (sometimes contempoarary) music
-I began singing Communion antiphon for the first couple minutes of Communion every Mass (she would sing the English translation first)
-taught/reminded translation of simplest "Agnus Dei"
-created and put in pews a small hymnal supplement that contained some latin as well as english translations of chant (and other hymns/prayers we thought might be useful)
-several of the (female) choir members were interested in joining me in singing the communion, I would send them a recording and they would learn it on their own every week
-taught/explained translation of and began using "mortem tuam," (but this was discontinued soon afterwards)
-meanwhile, more traditionally-minded parishioners were starting to come to St. P, who came deliberately for the combination of better music choices we offer as well as the preaching/reverence/etc of Father G.
-Put the communion rails back up from where they had been in front of the first pews.
-meanwhile, congregation singing more chant, especially english translations of things like Adoro Te and Jesu Dulcis
-Introduced chanting of english translation of Introit at 10:30 Mass, set to a gloria-patri tone (based on Anglican Use Gradual); provided a photocopy in the pews for people every week. Explicitly taught to congregation the first few weeks, then just let them follow the choir afterwards (since the melody remains the same every week)
-taught simple Sanctus to congregation at all Masses (it was included with a word-for-word traslation in the hymnal supplement we made.)
-began including a very simple, shortened version of the Proper Offertory (set to a simple psalm tone,) on the same page as the introit. Began using it; we treat it similar to the responsorial psalm: I sing it, the congregation sings it, I sing verses of the appropriate Psalm alternating with the congregation singing it for the remainder of the Offertory (following an Offertory hymn.)
-re-introduced "mortem tuam" memorial acclamation
-invited the congregation to begin receiving communion at the communion rail at the 10:30 Mass (I believe that most people do, since that is the most popular Mass for the more traditionaly-minded people to go)
-taught and began using latin "Gloria" at all Masses (over the past 4-5 years, as we have been teaching all the latin Mass Ordinaries, we have not usually been doing all of them at the same time. We have usually just done one or two at a time, with other settings, like Proulx's Community Mass. It has only been the past few months [a year?] that we have been doing them all in Latin.)
-began offering a monthly Extraordinary Form Mass
-invited the congregation to receive communion at the communion rails, if they wished, at all masses. (the option still remains to receive standing, usually from an EMHC.)
-Sometime in the next few months, we plan on updating our hymnal supplement to a more permanent book, which will include more chants (also in latin, like Veni Creator,) as well as all of the Introits that we will need, in the English settings described above.

Two other things to note that don't really fit in the time line:
- I would NEVER have attempted anything close to this without the full support of the pastor.
- As a result of his support, at every step of the way, we both worked together at catechizing the people and explaining and teaching everything. I don't know how you would do that without a supportive pastor, and I do not think the people would appreciate it or get much benefit from it if they did not understand why we were changing things.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Low Mass and High Mass?

Interesting conversation going on at my favorite forum (uh oh, maybe it's becoming second favorite. well, regardless, I'm not telling you where the other one is... ;-) )

It was mentioned, that one of the things (among many, as we know) that has really changed after Vatican II, was the distinction between Low Mass and High Mass.

Now, I realize this may not have been so cut and dry in every parish, but if my understanding is correct, then at most parishes, most of the Masses were 45 minutes (or even 30), music-less, or else with a smattering of hymns. Then, every parish had it's "main Mass," which was High Mass, and while I'm not sure exactly how long that would normally be, it was the one with all the frills, and was definitely going to be longer than the other Masses. And you knew which one it was!

So, people who wanted Mass to be quick and easy, went to one of the Low Masses, and those who wanted the full "experience," could go to High Mass.

SINCE the Catholic Church is pretty much the only one that "requires" weekly Mass attendance, and now that we have lost this distinction, if Mass goes over 60 minutes, everyone is complaining and leaving as soon as they can.

Wouldn't that be interesting if we brought back this distinction? (For many other reasons also than the ones I've just mentioned.) Say, at St. P, if people KNEW that the 4:30 pm and 8 am were going to be less than an hour, with no incense, not even any sung Mass Ordinary (ok, now I'm getting into dangerous territory,) and Father would talk on the faster side; and then that the 10:30 am Mass would easily be 1.5 hours, with LOTS of singing... and it was always this way every week, then people wouldn't complain about the long Mass, since they would only be there if they wanted.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

This could be about any priest...


This could happen to any priest. In fact, when I first came across this website, I thought, "oh here we go again. Another priest who is whining because he has been "censured" by the Church authorities for preaching things that maybe were contrary to official teaching..."

Ooops, I assummed too soon, once I realized as I skimmed through it and gasped when I read the author's name at the bottom.

But I did find it interesting that much of what he said could have been from any priest--orthodox or heterodox!

(not to be airing the Church's dirty laundry or anything...)

Having no idea what was going on, or even any prior experience of Fr. Corapi, I was slightly confused about why he referred to himself as "no longer Father..." but this article helps me understand how I feel-

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dear bishop of xxxx diocese (to which I am moving)

Why does it have to be so hard to find a job? All I want to do is serve the Church, really, honestly! I don't even have to paid a lot of money! All I want to do is to provide high-quality, sacred music, just like the Roman Catholic Church directs.

And the pastors and churches in your diocese are not exactly making it easy.

Here's a description of the last three full-time job openings in your diocese--

The most recent parish sounded very promising. They claim to appreciate both contemporary as well as traditional music, and say that their mission is in line with the values of the Second Vatican Council. Well, apparently we must not have read the same Vatican II documents, because after browsing around on their website for only a couple of minutes, I came upon a video of a large Mass from a couple years ago, and not only was the viewer blessed by "liturgical" dance, but the Mass also involved a large glass bowl filled with little pieces of leavened bread at the offertory. How original. (Um, the Eastern Churches beat you to that by a couple thousand years. Sorry guys, how about you stick with the directives for the ROMAN Catholic Church.)
I think I would cry every weekend if I worked there.

Also recently posted, is a parish that requires "comfort in various liturgical styles," as well as a Bachelor of Music, but declares that "no experience is necessary" for the applicant. Wow. Not sure how that would work. I was curious to discover more of what this church values, so I went to their website to read their mission statement. In the very first sentence of it, they call themselves an "open and welcoming Catholic community, centered in the Eucharist and celebrating God's gift of Diversity." Well, "Diversity" can be nice, but to put it right up there with the Eucharist? Hmmm... It appears that everywhere else on their website or bulletins that they use certain buzzwords, they are always capitalized, like "Peace and Justice" or "Diversity," but won't capitalize the word "bread" even when referring to the Eucharist. I only bothered to look at 3 of their recent bulletins, but 2 of them included pre-Vatican II bashing in the priest's bulletin article, as in "the bad old days when no one but priests or nuns were allowed to read the Bible." Moving along...

Prior to that, a parish that I had recently visited for a concert publicized a job opening. While at the concert, I noted that they had a pretty nice, new, organ, but that the "Stations of the Cross" around the sanctuary (which I believe are required in every Catholic Church?) were not exactly scenes from the Way of the Cross...they were more like "Happy Scenes from Jesus' Life." A church that does not appreciate the value of suffering, especially Christ's Redemptive Suffering, is not somewhere I want to be.

So, dear Bishop, please help me. Either find me somewhere to work; like I said, I really don't need a lot of money! I just want somewhere that will appreciate me! Somewhere that I can use music to glorify God, and not a parish whose theology centers around making people "feel good." Or else, please just lay the smack down in your diocese. Kick some butt, please. You're the bishop! I know of priests who get letters sent to the bishop because they preach things that are true and beautiful, (and those priests hear about it!) so why don't you do anything about priests who are actually disobedient to the directives of the Church? I know you won't do anything. Why bother.

With all respect,

(A letter which I very seriously will consider sending if nothing changes in the next couple months!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a job that I'm NOT going to apply for...

upon seeing a new job posting, always go and check out their recent bulletins, to find gems like this:

Those of us who grew up in the Catholic Church before Vatican II did not learn much about the bible or how to read it. In fact we were discouraged from reading it.

oh...those "bad ol' days..." when everything was sooo horrible!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

for Catholics:

why do some priests give really long homilies and then use the shortest Eucharistic Prayer?

I don't really care what you have to say. I want the Sacrifice!


Friday, May 20, 2011

"Great Amen"

So, at most Catholic churches, the "Great Amen" at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer is taken as an opportunity to bring out all the bells and whistles and to make the loudest most complicated setting of music for a two syllable word ever.

I suspect that this tradition originated with some quote from St. Jerome about this particular "Amen" making the pagan temples tremble, or something like that.

However, at St. P, for pretty much the whole time I have been there, we have been singing the simple two-tone "A-me-en" that is the appropriate response to the tone on which the priest sang the final doxology. I wonder what people notice when they hear that and are used to hearing a much more complicated and un-chant-like version?

For myself, now that I am used to it, I am always struck with appropriateness and ease with which it is sung. In fact, I find that when I go to other parishes and the priest sings the doxology, and my mouth opens in preparation to sing the final, easy, fluid Amen, I am literally *jarred* when the instruments interrupt loudly to introduce us to some loud, completely unrelated, musical ditty.

And to those who might argue that this "simple Amen" is not "resounding" enough to qualify within the writings of church history? Well, you should have been at my church for confirmation this week when the bishop sang the doxology. The church was completely packed, and let me tell you, boy, did that "Amen" resound. It was the most natural thing in the world. Every single person sang it, and not one felt "forced." A glorious sound to attempt to sum up the majesty of the Consecration.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


am I not that funny, or is this the funniest Fr. Z quote that I have ever read?

Lastly, I have a single male Cardinal visiting regularly. I hope he finds a girlfriend soon and starts a local consistory.

Monday, May 02, 2011

this is interesting...

I love reading things like this on the VIS and thinking "this doesn't happen every day..."


VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father removed Bishop William M. Morris from the pastoral care of the diocese of Toowoomba, Australia."

and then going and reading more thorough articles...

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I was feeling pretty blah earlier this week, thinking about tonight, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday and all the liturgies that I have to do and the work the choir had to do, and especially about how little sleep I'm going to get on Saturday night! and so I was just sort of wishing that it would just hurry up and be Easter afternoon already!

But during Mass tonight (which was absolutely beautiful, btw, more on that later...) I almost began to cry several times, realizing that this will be my last Holy Week at St. P, and wondering where I will be next year. I honestly have NO idea. It's pretty scary.

I am pretty sure, that never again will I experience another church, where the congregation heartily sings the Latin chants of the Mass, where they sing six verses in latin of the Pange Lingua, where a parish of 500 families can produce a choir that can pull off Durufle's 6-part Ubi Caritas!

I am so blessed. I can't even begin to describe it. But, I will admit, it took work. I had four Holy Week's here before I've felt this way; weeks of anxiety and not-singing-anything-terribly-impressive lol.

Here's the lineup:

Holy Thursday:
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Gloria VIII
Psalm: Our Blessing Cup (a contemporary SSA arrangement)
Gospel Accl: Respond & Acclaim
Washing of Feet: (I wish we had more appropriate music to sing that reflected the proper texts for this time, but unfortunately everything that is in the hymnal of a "servant" character is either extremely trite, or else theologically questionably appropriate.)
Ah,Holy Jesus
Glory Be to Jesus
Offertory: Ubi Caritas (Durufle! woot woot! and they rocked!)
Ordinary: The usual
Hoc Corpus
O Domine (Palestrina)
Humbly We Adore (Adoro Te)
Sing My Tongue (6 verses, Latin)

Good Friday
Psalm: Respond & Acclaim
Veneration of the Cross:
Psalm 51- Miserere (4-part chanted setting by some 20th century Italian, can't remember whom, alternating with chant)
Were You There (if needed)
Offertory (or whatever it's called): What Wondrous Love
Pater, Si Non
Sing My Tongue (Picardy)

Easter Vigil:
7 Psalms (mix of R & A and CTK Psalms)
Gloria: chant
Psalm/Alleluia: R & A
Litany of the Saints (Becker, with REAL Saint names.)
Vidi Aquam
Offertory: At the Lamb's High Feast
Pascha Nostrum
Worthy is the Lamb (Fishel)
Alleluia, Sing to Jesus (Hyfrydol)
I Know that My Redeemer Lives (Duke Street)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good Friday

I have always noticed that the Gregorian Missal (Graduale Romanum), from which I base most of the music for Mass, is strangely silent on music at Communion on Good Friday. Since it isn't even a Mass, there isn't a "communion antiphon."
Given that, this year, I was thinking that we would just have silence for Communion, since that seems not only appropriate on Good Friday, but that seems to be what the book is telling me, as well as being a lot easier for the choir to not have to sing for an additional 5-10 minutes!

Then I came across this thread on my favorite forum, which seems to give other sources that do suggest that there is appropriate music.

Sigh, what to do. It's barely a week away! And I have like 2 or 3 choir rehearsals before then (with lots else to learn!)

Either silence will be starkly appropriate, or else 7 minutes of awkwardness. lol.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I almost fell off my chair!

I just got an email from our diocesan worship person regarding music/liturgy for First Communion Masses, and at the bottom it said this:

"Since our parishes use such a variety of hymnals, I do not have a list of music suggestions for Holy Communion. However, I do not recommend the theology found in "Take the Bread, Children" by Herbert Brokering (GIA). ".

woot! finally! something remotely helpful from them!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I got engaged on Saturday, and now it is hitting me that I also should be really preparing for the Extraordinary Form Mass with the bishop on SUNDAY!
I am so not ready for this...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

wedding cancellations

I'd be curious to hear from other organists if they've ever encountered this, but I have found that I have NEVER been paid in advance for a wedding that ended up being cancelled. A few years ago, a wedding was cancelled the day before it was supposed to happen that I was going to play for, and I hadn't been paid for it yet! Fine by me, but the strange thing is, I almost always get paid sometime *before* the wedding. (maybe 75% of the time?) I don't require it, since I've never actually been short-changed, but when I meet with the couple a few months before their wedding I always encourage them to pay me then, but I tell them that they can mail it in to the church or even wait til the day of the wedding, but I discourage that.
Relatively recently, there has been 3 weddings cancelled that I would have played for. In the case of 2 of them, I hadn't yet met with the couple (not terribly unusual; I'm not sure how far in advance they were cancelled, but that may or may not be strange because sometimes the couple wants to meet with me really far in advance, but other times they wait til like 4 weeks or less!) But then the third wedding that was cancelled recently I *had* met with the bride and worked out her music, she was just going to mail me a check!
Is that unusual? For the only two weddings that I had already been communicated with regarding the music but were later cancelled, I had not been paid! I'm not saying I mind; I would certainly rather not have to worry about whether I should refund a check or not!
BUT...it's like...I wonder, did they suspect? Did they think there was a chance they would call off the wedding?
Any other church musicians experience this?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I need something to do this summer! something inspirational, that will help me to be a better church musician! Well, but for other reasons in my life I have de-motivating things going on right now.
But, honestly, I don't necessarily need to spend $500+ on a week somewhere...why can't I just get myself to practice hard-core for half that time?!
I was talking to an organist-friend a couple months ago about taking lessons from someone who specializes in french improvisation (which tends to be particularly suited to Mass,) and it seemed at the time like a great idea, but then I realized that I lack much of the basic improvisation/musical skills that would make special (and expensive) study very productive. So...why can't I just get myself motivated (and organized?) enough to practice extra?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

help for church musicians! :-)

I know it happens... you want an easy piece but beautiful piece, and yet your basses all totally flake out and you realize that you have a weekend with a 3-voice choir coming up! Never fear, there are plenty of SSA or TTB music written...and all it needs is a simple transposition for a competent but small mixed choir to sing it!

I have a couple of nice little books put together by our friend Carol Rossini that contain 3 part music in ridiculously high keys, but since I've done the work on transposing one down a perfect fourth (!) here it is for the enjoyment of the world and my fellow church musician friends, and so that the 45 minutes I spent inputting this can have additional benefit!
Adoramus Te
perfect for Lent!
(If you want it a whole step higher or anything, leave a comment or email.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


One of the most difficult things that I teach little kids in piano is the concept of "ritardando." A *gradual* slowing down of the music. They just don't get it. I explain, with huge exaggeration, the "gradual" part, and then when they go to play it, they come to the "rit" and suddenly play everything twice as slow. What do I need to do? Count out loud and wave my arms to indicate the gradually slowing notes like my college professor?!

Monday, January 31, 2011

when non-musicians lead the hymns

It never ceases to amaze/amuse me when I go to daily Mass somewhere, and there is no instruments, and some congregation member just leads an opening and closing hymn, and I am always fascinated by the range they sing in. I think people pick the starting note as something which is comfortable in their range, (and too bad if that happens to be a high or low point of the song!) but much more often than not, it ends up that the song is transposed down a perfect 4th or even 5th! I have been involved with plenty of arguments about how people complain that the songs are too high so therefore we should teach the people how to sing higher. Um, something is slightly lacking from that argument, I would say. (Mainly, what church musician as the opportunity to "teach" the "entire" congregation HOW to sing?!?!)
So, it seems to me that the obvious solution would be to lower the songs, even slightly. But upon listening to a congregation of non-musicians sing something, it's rather amusing how we argue about whether a particular song should be in C or D or even Eb...let's talk instead about lowering it down so the highest and lowest notes are A! I bet you very few people would feel it was too low...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Dear blog readers,

If you appreciate/love a priest, send his bishop a letter/note to let him know why. It really does make a difference.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

missal translation

I know there has been a lot of discussion on the new translation that we are supposed to have beginning in November, and about how people will receive it, and how angry they will be, or if they will love it, and perhaps whether some people will refuse to say it... but as I think about human nature, and my experiences of it, I believe that people generally don't like change, and complain about it for a brief period of time...but then soon after? they don't even remember what it was like before.

This is MY prediction: (well, it is only my prediction if the scenario occurs as I describe)
I think that if there was just a little bit of explanation, "so we'll be using a new translation soon, that will be more accurate to the original..." and then hand them a copy-but not too far in advance! and then say, "ok, read this during Mass." they might complain a bit, but you know what? I betcha that (especially if whoever presents the material doesn't present it in a negative light,) I betcha that 4 months later people won't even remember that they were ever saying anything differently.

new look!

wow, thank you AF... I haven't made any changes to my blog since, like, uh, 2006? wow I'm old...
anyhow, that was all for the purpose of allowing YOU to easily become my "follower." ooooo....how stalkerish is *that*?! (It didn't seem like I could add the "gadget" with my old template, at least not easily.)

soo...feel free to click on that, you know, little thing over on the right side. It seems to be the cool thing to do.

Unfortunately, in the changes, I seem to have lost my list of links, (which doesn't really matter anyhow, b/c it's not like I ever looked at more than a couple of them regularly!) So, apologies if your blog isn't linked to anymore, let me know if it should be, or if you know of any others that are interesting. But, that has the added plus that I now don't have links to any abandoned blogs, and that I've even added some new ones! yay!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

worst sound EVER...

a church full of old and middle-aged women belting their heart out on the refrains of "Be not afraid" and "Here I am Lord."
Even if I didn't dislike those songs in particular, the sound of 100+ old ladies singing as loud as they can is pretty awful...

(It's funny how the sound is imprinted in my memory. Even at this moment I can recall in detail how it sounded. I literally cringed at the swell of singing that occured at the onset of those refrains. Maybe it was just one person who was singing loudly in particularly, but still...*shudder.* It was like...yelling. or croaking.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

songs and text

so, what do you do when there is a song with perfect *text* that matches the proper antiphon...but it sounds like either something right off Broadway, or else a schmaltzy love song? I've looking at "Lord When You Came to the Seashore" as a substitute for the antiphons for this upcoming Sunday having to do with "Follow me, I will make you fishers of men." ok, well, looking at it again I guess the text doesn't match as well as I thought it did...but still, there's other times that this occurs! So where's the line? Should all songs that are musically inappropriate be excluded from the liturgy, even if they could substitute for a proper antiphon where nothing else can?

Friday, January 07, 2011

this is REALLY funny...

ok, I admit, I didn't even read it (I don't think I need to...)
but it was even funnier before they modified the note at the end, which now says:

Editor's Note: When this column was first posted, NCR incorrectly reported that this homily was given at St. Patrick Church in Ann Arbor, Mich. We are waiting to hear back from Bishop Gumbleton about where he celebrated Mass last weekend. In the meantime we apologize for the error.