Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Musica Sacra St. Louis Conference October 23-25

The fifth annual Musica Sacra St. Louis conference will explore “The Beauty of the Mass Ordinary” and “English Language Adaptations of the Mass Propers”. Instructors include Dr. William Mahrt, Associate Professor of Music at Stanford University; and D…

Can We Talk? With OCP?

About a week ago, there was a brief lull in my work day when I was reconfiguring an old laptop to serve as a supplementary computer in my school office. I needed something to do that wasn’t a real project as I needed to monitor the computer processes. So I decided to look at the upcoming issue of OCP’s “Today’s Liturgy” periodical. Normally the amount that we receive is parsed out to music leaders with about half remaining unused and round-filed. So I opened it up, skimmed through the pages looking for any title that might be interesting (self-fulfilled prophecy: none) and then noticed, “Oh, the annual survey is in this issue.” Over the years I’ve done due diligence and not only checked off boxes thoroughly, including my assumptions about what other leaders under my management are likely still using, but I’ve often exceeded the survey by attaching reams of attached notes of why do you cut this out and let this in, or what is the real process you use to create the next Frankenstein’s creature known as “Breaking Bread” or “Music Issue?”

In reaction to my excessive responses, OCP has always kindly sent a letter stating their appreciation for my “sharing” and will take them under consideration. Most of us who’ve had a job (outside of ecclesial) know that “appreciation” is 99% code for the exact opposite, though courteously mannered, reaction, i.e. the round file.

Personally, I don’t believe that OCP (the “Hidden Hand”) of the Liturgical Industrial Complex will soon disappear from the landscape of pew racks in any foreseeable future. If the books do, then the images from them will be projected upon walls and screens. Feh and meh, so what? Over decades I’ve dreamed of various schemes to get their attention, or someone else’s attention that they really need to pay attention and serious heed to the evolving reform of liturgical paradigms, particularly as regards musical responsibilities and repertoires of the Roman Rite. Those would include my grandest idea: the boutique hymnal, designed by local See’s and their music gurus, specified and forwarded to Portland, and mocked-up by the mainframe servers on East Hassalo Avenue within a day, printed and shipped like Amazon for arrival next Tuesday. This idea is premised upon the obvious “anything Bartlett/Ostrowski/Rice” can do, we can do bigger, faster, better!” I don’t want to debate that little bon mot.

So what am I now proposing that is of interest to a chant-inclined readership? How does the lamb expect to approach, much less to lie down with the Lion whose leash bears the inscription: Supply, meet demand?

Well, the readership of the Café, MSForum, NLMovement, CCWatershed and other like minded sites, though maybe no more than 10-15% of the demographic size of NPM, comparing Colloquium to convention, is still a very powerful and influential voice in the RCC sacred music community. And as is often mentioned, demonstrably growing in both clerical and lay constituencies. So, how do we flex muscle and influence to the seeming hard-hearted mercenaries (joke, people, joke!) of Big Three editorial boards?

Up close and personal is the answer. And nicely, by the way, not “in your face, talk to the hand” style.

What I propose is this- if your parish subscribes to any pulp hymnal product (save the new Missal I saw in Indy which Noel Jones first brought to my attention), consider allotting some time for a thorough auditing of its entire hymn/song/chant/ordinary/Psalter contents. Select at least 10 and perhaps no more than 25 titles that you know in your heart of hearts, mind of minds that fail the most basic criteria for appropriateness of use at worship. Then list them, each having just a minimum number of sentence descriptions of those failures. Use clinical and direct but polite rhetoric. Then, complete your list.

Compose a brief letter of introduction of yourself as an authentic, endorsed staff member in charge of music for your parish/cathedral, and what music resource of the publisher from which the list was culled. Then copy and paste in your list to the letter. Perhaps you might want to preface the letter after the introduction with some “happy talk” expressing your own appreciation for what the publisher does, and the dedication we all expend together in helping the Faithful, etc.

Then before summarizing, here’s the kicker- make sure you then suggest what specific items you would find most beneficial that would replace those 10-25 pages of “system-fail” pieces with items from resources already in the catalogue of the publisher. For example using OCP, if I were to list every song from Carey Landry or Tom Conry as defunct, I would offer that the space allotted those would be filled by the Entrance and Communion Propers by Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB already typeset in modern notation and, more importantly, in their mainframe servers! Or, the entire contents of “Laus Tibi,” OCP’s little pamphlet of round note chant greatest hits. If you are a little more daring, you could mention that so much chant (in Latin, English and increasingly Spanish) is now freely available in the Commons 3, that if they were so inclined, the editors could contact the author/composers for reprint permission that is already gratis.
Now, you put that into both an email and snail mail forms and forward it to the publisher first, in OCP’s case, John Limb, and then every other editorial board member and others (such as Bari Columbari) and even influential folks like Randy DeBruyn or Chris Walker with a heartfelt salutation, prayers and hope for fruitful consideration.
That’s it, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve already done this. Perhaps some of you also have done something like it as well. But imagine if the entire readership of just the CMAA blogs were to send such “Dear John” letters…. The publishers would ignore them at their own peril I like to think.
If you’re pessimistic about all this, that’s okay by me. But I ask you before moving on and away from this proposal, try to imagine all around OCPLand parishes, when the musical Powers That Be open the next year’s “Breaking Bread” and find all sorts of chants mixed in among all the option four stuff that remains, IMAGINE the message that will subliminally be injected into their sensibilities. Can it possibly hurt? Do harm? I think not.

Magnificat Monday: Willam Byrd – The Great Service:

Unfortunately, the video ends prematurely, so the full text is not included here

The World Vernacular Is English, Korean Edition

I’ve mentioned a number of times here, from points abroad, that English is the world vernacular. As Latin was in the West, and Greek was in the East, so now English is, everywhere.Our Holy Father’s recent apostolic voyage was an opportunity for him to …

Chants Abrégés – Fantastic Resource for Beginning Scholas

As people who have sung with and under me probably know, I’m not a fan of the overuse of psalm tones. Chanting psalms in the office? Great use for them. Singing the gloria patri during the introit? Fantastic. Psalm verses during communion? Wonderful. But replacing a gradual? Please no! Psalm tones are great for supporting psalm verses, but not for primary melodies. It is always such a shame to hear propers reduced to psalm tones, especially in the ordinary form where the graduale simplex could be used, or even many english propers.

Don’t get me wrong, it is better to hear propers sung than not. If you’re struggling to put together a gradual with your choir, you should check out the Chants Abrégés! I don’t currently direct a schola, but last year when I was getting one off the ground, we used it frequently to pull together the gradual, when we weren’t quite ready to pull off the full versions in a reasonable amount of time. As we grew in skill, we moved beyond it, and only used it occasionally when we were faced with more difficult chants and limited time. It also has simplified alleluias as well, though the verses are set to psalm tones.

Thanks to the CMAA, this book is now back in print! If you are in a schola who has trouble with graduals, check this book out!

Download or buy a copy for your schola

An Extraordinary Parish Mass

Tonight I attended a local parish’s Assumption evening Mass. This isn’t an FSSP parish, or a “designated” parish for the Missal of Pope John XXIII. It’s just a regular, territorial, parish church, and this was a normally scheduled Mass for a Holy Day o…

The songs of the angels–and of martyrs

Sometimes the beautiful seems irrelevant, in the face of all that is urgent. When brutality meets us at every turn of the tv channel, how can we possibly make liturgical song the center of our working lives?Now, more than ever, the Church needs to witn…

Magnificat Monday: Andrew Carter: Californian Canticles

Thanks to Chuck Giffen to help me find this!

Ubi Caritas – Stephens

"God IS Not Dead" and "Chant is NOT dead" either.

Over at MSF I’ve reported that our parish quietly heard its first EF (Low) Mass via a funeral request. That was effected by a former vicar who’s now the pastor of a parish in a neighboring town who offers the EF every Thursday evening. I went to join a…

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