Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

I think this day (June 24 this year) deserves its own post, both because it rarely occurs on a Sunday, and because I have picked fabulous music for it, AND because it will *hopefully* be the first Sunday with my new choir at my new job! (If anyone comes!)
(And, the last time June 24 fell on a Sunday, I was at the CMAA Colloquium in D.C.!)

Blessed Feasts of Blessed Martyrs (tune: In Babilone)
Mass: (our parish's own setting)
Psalm 139: Click here for a preview, and scroll down to hear the sample. (I think that it is one of the most beautiful responsorial psalm settings that I have ever heard, and I'm lucky to be able to use it this year.)
R&A Alleluia
Canticle of Zachary (I'm using the one by Michael Joncas b/c it is longer and I like the tune a bit more than the "Forest Green" arr. by RVW.)
Behold the Lamb- John's words and appropriate for Communion!
For all the Saints (speaking of RVW...)

Father's Day

How convenient! I was already going to program "Faith of Our Fathers" for Fathers Day, and then I look at the readings and "We walk by faith, not by sight" is one of them! (I guess that will be the other song I'm looking for...)

(Except, it will be annoying that the numbers on the board will therefore be (thanks to the hymnal sorting things by theme,) 423, 422, 424
Does that drive any one else as crazy as it does me?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Corpus Christi Fail and Win

So, I figured that today was as good a day as any to refresh my memory on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. (Has it really been almost a year since I've attended one?!)
I had reason to believe that there would be a Corpus Christi procession, and since we weren't doing one at my Ordinary Form Mass, (and Corpus Christi is my FAVORITE Feast,) I figured this would be my best chance.
So, I get to Mass, and I'm following along in my missal, and I'm trying to listen to the choir sing the Introit, but it doesn't quite sound like what's in my missal...and then I realize. Oh. The missal says something about Corpus Christi Thursday. And then I look up and realize.... the priest is wearing green.
Had I not been celebrating Corpus Christi immediately after with the Ordinary Form, that would have been quite a sad and jolting ending to this string of some of my favorite feasts, and the beginning of the long and boring Ordinary Time of summer.

And I'm sad to realize that I missed a very cool liturgy and procession on Thursday. :-(

Oh well. The good news is... I really like my job, and my boss.
Yesterday, he was like, "Oh, tomorrow let's do the Sequence."
And I was like, "Oh, but it's optional."
"You want it?!" Sweetness!
I'm still not sure exactly where the translation is from, but I was delighted to find that the translation in our OCP missalettes was almost the same as the English setting by Fr. Samuel Weber! Yay!
The only changes were that OCP used "thee" instead of "you" and things like "knowest" instead of know. Which is interesting, b/c the "older english" words actually perfectly coincided with the Latin melody and syllables, so whoever wrote that made sure it would fit with the original chant melody, but whoever just willy-nilly decided to get rid of "showest" and the like, simply didn't care that they were altering the metrical structure.
So, I chanted it, with organ accompaniment, and fast. :-)   (Like Father wants!)

A colleague of mine at another church told me that his music director mentioned, "oh, don't do the sequence tomorrow."
What is happening? Is it the new translation? Never in my lifetime has ANY church that I've known of even considered doing this 7 minute long piece!
(Is it because for the first time ever it's in all the missalettes? If so, why? The new translation? Um,'s ALWAYS been an option in the Novus Ordo...)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Got my incense fix for the week!

This morning I was able to attend Matins and the Divine Liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of the Eparchy of Parma, right here near where I live, (whose territory apparently extends from Ohio all the way to Kansas and North Dakota!)
(** Parma is an incredibly interesting city from a liturgical viewpoint. All I can guess is that it is or was chock-filled with immigrants; As far as I can tell, they have no less than FOUR "ethnic" Cathedrals- Byzantine Catholic, Ukranian Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Ukranian Orthodox!)

I've been to probably 4-5 Byzantine liturgies, and I am always struck by how different they are from Roman Catholic, and yet how we are in communion with them! How they managed to not lose their liturgical identity with Vatican II!

After having been to several of their liturgies, but none for the past couple years, it is enjoyable to hear/remember many of the responses that are so essential to this liturgy- "Wisdom!" "Let us be attentive!" "Lord have mercy," "Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim..." and of course my favorite, "The doors! The doors!"

So here I was, at a cathedral, and the amazing thing is how everything is sung, with no instruments! There did appear to be an organ in the choir loft, but no one used it; it was just an old man cantoring with a young man with a beautiful voice singing a harmony of 3rds, 6ths, and 5ths. I never know how to describe Byzantine singing. It's not chant, and it's not metrical. It's just... singing. I mean, like 95% of the service was sung, by the cantor (sort of with the people), or priest/deacon. The church wasn't very full, maybe 100 people, but it does make me sad that not many people made much effort to sing. Especially, since most of them probably go there every Sunday, and most of the music is the SAME - how hard can it be? So, I'm not sure that the answer to "how to get Catholics to sing," is necessarily, "sing everything, the same, every week." I think there needs to be something more, I'm just not sure what. Perhaps a choir, of at least a couple people singing the melody, in octaves, would help? (No one wants to feel like they are singing along with a soloist, which is what I felt like this morning... See "Why Catholics Can't Sing.")

A few other things to note:
The deacon and priest really like walking around the church ringing bells.
There were kneelers, but they were not used at all. Grr... Orthodox influences... :-(
I don't really know if this would be considered a "liberal" church, or what the spectrum of that is in the Byzantine Church, but I do know that the Mass intentions in the bulletin for the deceased were apparently "in celebration of the life of ..." Um, I'm pretty sure that offering a Mass for the "celebration of life" of someone is not by any stretch of the imagination a prayer, which is the definition of what a Mass is able to be offered for!
I have probably observed this before, but it's interesting that the Byzantines get their own translation of things, like for example the Creed. If I remember correctly, for example they said "of one essence," instead of the old Roman translation, "one in being," or the new translation, "consubstantial." They also definitely said  "who proceeds from the Father" (with no mention of the Son.) Hey, Greek Orthodox, you can still be in communion with Rome and not have to add "Son" there!

Anyhow. Where should I go to church next month? Perhaps I could try the local SSPX chapel? Or one of the other ethnic cathedrals I mentioned above? They might have some fascinating singing and/or harmonies.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Church hopping

Since my once-a-month free Sunday is quickly approaching again, I figure that I had better write a review on my church experience from last month!

I had the privilege of going to Mary Queen of Peace, which is a lovely church with a great pastor and an excellent music director (and organist who played a fabulous prelude and postlude) who really understands some of the sacred music concepts. They are lucky to have a part-professional choir, which of course allows them to do some very difficult choral pieces with relative ease.

Luckily, they print all of the music in the bulletin, so I am able to refresh my memory with that. Unlike some people who think that chant/Latin are the SOLE ideals, there was a very pleasant mixture of chant, Latin, hymns, English antiphons, and choral pieces.

I will start off with my single complaint-
The Introit was the proper (English translated) text set to "Duke Street" with four verses. My opinion about the Introit is that if anything is chanted, it should be, since the way something is begun sets the pace for the entire thing, and it should not require the congregation to sing the majority of it, so that they are able to look up and watch the procession, which is a very cool thing if done with all the smells, bells, and whistles. So, singing a new text to a familiar tune in a "marching" style is not ideal for that, I think. There was a cool instrumental interlude between some of the verses, so that was nice.

Oh, then my other sort-of complaint was just that silly "O Mary we crown thee..." song that is far too high for any congregation to sing, and is so schmaltzy that it sounds like it's straight out of a black and white movie. (Nothing against black and white movies; I just don't think most of their music is suitable for Mass!)
However, pretty much every Catholic thinks, "But we've always sung this song at May Crowning!" {eyeroll}

The choir sang a neat piece for offertory, and then I was thrilled to look in the bulletin and see that the choral Agnus Dei was the one written by my buddy Dan Knaggs, "Missa Sancti Ioannis Apostoli!"
Then, (while I don't explicitly remember this, although the bulletin tells me it occurred,) the proper Communion chant was sung, followed by the Communion antiphon in the style which has been very encouraged by the bishop in this diocese (and I approve,) with singable antiphon, short enough to easily memorize and sing without looking at the page, alternating with psalm verses and/or instrumental pieces.
Then the closing was the suitable "Regina Caeli."

A very enjoyable and reverent liturgy; if I didn't have other Sunday morning occupations, I would certainly consider making this parish my home!