Saturday, January 19, 2013

Catholic Mass Readings for Saturday, January 19th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R.(see John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Gospel

Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

(8)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Friday, January 18th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb 4:1-5, 11

Let us be on our guard
while the promise of entering into his rest remains,
that none of you seem to have failed.
For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did.
But the word that they heard did not profit them,
for they were not united in faith with those who listened.
For we who believed enter into that rest,
just as he has said:

As I swore in my wrath,
â??They shall not enter into my rest,â?

and yet his works were accomplished
at the foundation of the world.
For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner,
And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;
and again, in the previously mentioned place,
They shall not enter into my rest.

Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest,
so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 78:3and 4bc, 6c-7, 8

R.(see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
What we have heard and know,
and what our fathers have declared to us,
we will declare to the generation to come
The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
That they too may rise and declare to their sons
that they should put their hope in God,
And not forget the deeds of God
but keep his commands.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And not be like their fathers,
a generation wayward and rebellious,
A generation that kept not its heart steadfast
nor its spirit faithful toward God.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Gospel

Mk 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

(9)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Thursday, January 17th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb3:7-14

The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
â??Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, â??They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.â??
As I swore in my wrath,
â??They shall not enter into my rest.â??â?

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still â??today,â?
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 95:6-7c,8-9, 10-11

R.(8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
I said: “This people’s heart goes astray,
they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
“They shall never enter my rest.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Gospel

Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

(8)

Catholic Mass Readings for Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 105:1-2,3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R.(8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generationsB
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel

Mk 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

(2)

Catholic Mass Readings for Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb 2:5-12

It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come,
of which we are speaking.
Instead, someone has testified somewhere:

What is man that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you crowned him with glory and honor,
subjecting all things under his feet.

In â??subjectingâ? all things to him,
he left nothing not â??subject to him.â?
Yet at present we do not see â??all things subject to him,â?
but we do see Jesus â??crowned with glory and honorâ?
because he suffered death,
he who â??for a little whileâ? was made â??lower than the angels,â?
that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he,
for whom and through whom all things exist,
in bringing many children to glory,
should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.
He who consecrates
and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.
Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them â??brothersâ? saying:

I will proclaim your name to my brethren,
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (see 7) You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
O LORD, our Lord,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.

Gospel

Mk 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

(3)

Catholic Mass Readings for Monday, January 14th, 2013

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First Reading

Heb 1:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he spoke to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,

who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:

You are my Son; this day I have begotten you?

Or again:

I will be a father to him, and he shall be a Son to me?

And again, when he leads the first born into the world, he says:

Let all the angels of God worship him.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 97:1and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

R.(see 7c) Let all his angels worship him.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Let all his angels worship him.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. Let all his angels worship him.

Gospel

Mk 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

(10)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Sunday, January 13th, 2013

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First Reading

Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, ?Glory!?
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Second Reading

Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

Gospel

Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
?I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his
sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
and fire.?

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was
praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit
descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

(57)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Saturday, January 12th, 2013

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First Reading

1 Jn 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against idols.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel

Jn 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing.
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings.
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him.
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.”

(47)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Friday, January 11th, 2013

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First Reading

1 Jn 5:5-13

Beloved:
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

or:
R. Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel

Lk 5:12-16

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was;
and when he saw Jesus,
he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said,
“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
And the leprosy left him immediately.
Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but
“Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing
what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The report about him spread all the more,
and great crowds assembled to listen to him
and to be cured of their ailments,
but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

(45)

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Catholic Mass Readings for Thursday, January 10th, 2013

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First Reading

1 Jn 4:19–5:4

Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Gospel

Lk 4:14-22

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

(26)

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Nice selection of Mass settings by Dominican Sisters

These are nice chant settings of the Mass in English.

The Beautiful Persistence of Chant

In some way, it’s all a miracle.

I can stand right here where I am and quickly sing a melody that is roughly the same as the first melody cooked up by an anonymous monk in the 7th century. That melody was committed to memory by others around that monk and then transmitted from place to place through constant repetition. It lived further through the generations, passed from old to young, and then again as the young became old and it was passed on again, cascading through time and place, and all long before anyone had thought up a way to write it down.

Then in the 11th century, the means became available to take this series of sounds and put them into paper form, so that the melody could be transmitted from place to place and from generation to generation even if it weren’t heard. The melody took on a new form, a form that made immortalization even more technologically possible.

Then printing came and made the process even easier. For the first time, the entire body of work could be easily reproduced and distributed all over the world.

Five hundred years went back until something even more spectacular happened. The chant took on a new digital form. Once the chant became digits, the limits of physical transmission were entirely overcome. The same chant, again without actually being heard, could be distribute billions and trillions of times unto infinity and never degrade with each passing use. One click to put the chant on digital networks and it enters into a new status of universal reach, capable of serving all of humanity so long as this world exists.

But there was even one more stage in this long evolution. Digital media made it possible to transmit not just the physical music but also a real recording of monks singing the chant. Right now we can hear a version that was sung perhaps back in the 1950s. Every singer is probably dead by now but that one version they sang that one time way back then can be resurrected and live, as alive right now as it was when it was first sung.

We can copy their vocal inflections and their careful interpretations and make them out own, and then turn around and make our own versions, which can be listened to by people 100 years from now. It’s like a time capsule that is never buried but continues to be added to even as it serves the living and the dead.

And to think that it all began with one voice, one person singing one thing some 1,400 years ago.

To enjoy such access is a unique privilege of our generation. This is the music of the Roman Rite. It came of age with the ritual itself as a means of making it more beautiful, more worthy, more compelling, more wonderful as a means of praising God in our public worship.

Why are we attracted by making our own bodies instruments to make this happen in our time? Because in this music we find truth and meaning. This means transcends the lifespans of all all existing things. It is evidence of the capacity of truth to extend beyond one generation, any existing political arrangement, any existing business firm or man-made institution. It is a manifestation of the persistence of the faith in all times and places, its miraculous capacity for outliving every attempt to kill it. It is immutable. It is strong. It is mighty. It gives us a glimpse of eternal truth.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about this claim that the reason we are drawn to chant is that our deconstructionist age has made us fearful of change. The claim is that we cling to chant as an arbitrary source of stability.

What is meant by this idea of deconstruction? The movement is a 20th century idea. It began with legal studies. The deconstructionists observed that the law does not necessary embed robust truth. It is essentially made up by self-interested politicians. It is the product of interest groups, designed to help them at other’s expense. The law was revealed to be a kind of hoax.

The method of analytics spread to literature. What does a novel mean? The author might have one idea, but we can’t necessarily known what he or she intended. And maybe the author himself or herself was not fully aware aware of its meaning. In any case, we are the readers. We are the interpreters. Our own cultural conditioning heavily influences our own reading, and we cannot escape this. The dominant meaning for us is entirely subjective and it is pointless and fallacious to somehow insist that our subjective meaning be imposed on others.

So it is with language. It is just words and words change. They serve an instrumental value of enabling communication between people. We use them as a way of groping through the dark, working together to find ways to cooperate with each other. The means of words extends from their use only and is never embedded in the words themselves. It is all arbitrary and changing, never fixed. In this way, language too evades any claim to permanent meaning. Meaning is dictated by culture and does not descend from on high.

So too with the interpretation of philosophy, politics, art, theology — really everything. Nothing really means anything in a fundamental sense. Everything is conditioned on society and on our subjective minds. This is why we cannot speak of truth with a capital letter but only what is true for me and what is true for you, and this is forever evolving.

So goes the deconstructionist way of thinking.

Let’s grant that this is entirely correct. None of what we once thought to be true really is. What is left for us to hang on to? What in our universe can be counted on to last and persist and actually embed something valuable in the ultimate sense.

Liturgy is the great exception. It does not exist in time. It extends out of time into eternity. It touches a real outside of time and the material world. It points up and out of time. Through it we receive communication from God and find ourselves transported out of the limits of the physical and into communication to God to give praise. In sense this, and if this is true, the deconstructionist critique of the realm of time cannot touch it. We did not make up liturgy. The liturgy is a gift from all eternity to us.

No matter how much we might decided to accept the deconstructionist idea — and maybe even the more we accept the idea — the more impressive the liturgy truly is. It is the great exception, a means that we have to access truth with a capital T. Within liturgy we are rescued from a world that is otherwise invented, manufactured, and arbitrary.

This is one reason that the liturgical spirit that imagines ourselves to be making the liturgy rather than accepting it is so dangerous. It threatens to reduce liturgy to the status of law, literature, language, and politics. It cannot be so! The liturgy is the one thing in our world that evades the imperfections of all the things we create ourselves.

Now back to the chant. Here is the music of the liturgy, a thing transported through the ages by repeated singing, blessed by God to achieve immortality across all ages and places. It is the musical corollary to the liturgical text and integral to the liturgical action itself. We are not drawn to it out of fear but because we long for things that the permanently true, for sounds that are not arbitrary, for art that points to the Creator of all art.

Yes, the chant was made at some point by one human person but a human person who worked to discover a musical sound of eternity. And when this happened, it became part of the liturgical experience and it took on a new form, blessed and blessed again by its use in the eternal project. We stand here a millenium and half later and sing it in the same way. It is our means of accessing the longest possible human experience in our insatiable desire to find and touch the truth of God.

One simple song can do this when it is part of liturgy. It is not arbitrary. It is a rare and impenetrable well from which our generation can drink something pure and true in a time when everything else seems to be crumbling. This is a true act of love. To sing the chant is to find authenticity and purpose, to be part of something that is not only larger than our own time but larger than time itself.

Hymn to St. Agnes

Just a quick re-post of my translation of the Ambrosian hymn Agnes beatae virginis, in honor of the Virgin Martyr whose feast we celebrate Monday.

 

The blessed virgin Agnes fliesback to her home above the
skies.With love she gave her blo…

Ward Courses will be offered in Colorado this July

Ward method classes, taught by Dr. Alise Brown, will be offered at the Univeristy of Northern Colorado as follows: Ward I will be offered July 8-12 and 15-17; the dates for Ward II are July 22-26 and 29-31. The cost is $825 for in or out of state tuition for each course, with 3 credit hours available for each. More information can be found here

Dr. Alise Brown is an instructor of music education at UNC. She began her teaching career in Secondary English Education, but discovered that her love of music presented a more fulfilling career path. Dr. Brown received her Master of Music degree in Music Education and her Doctorate of Arts in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado. She has taught music in private and public schools at all levels.

She holds Orff and Kodaly training, and is fully certified in all levels of the Ward Method. Dr. Brown has been privileged to study under the Gregorian chant specialists Father Robert Skeris, previously of Vatican City, and Scott Turkington.

Dr. Brown specializes in music literacy and expressivity as taught in the Ward Method. Her work with two children’s choirs, ages 4 -12, and directing the Windsor Community Choir rely heavily on these same principles. Dr. Brown also leads workshops and gives in-service presentations to schools and organizations regarding the Ward Method and its tenets.

Teaching in the Music Education Area at UNC since 2001 has been Dr. Brown’s joy. She has also taught music appreciation at Dayspring University in Ft. Collins and at Rivendell College in Boulder. Write to Dr. Brown at [email protected]