Thursday, June 11, 2015

What exactly is it that we want?

Initially I intended to frame this article from the perspective of “being in the twilight” of my career as a church musician. Typically myopic, I’d forgotten about mentors such as Professor Mahrt, Maestros Salamunovich and Wagner, and Msgr. Schuler. Careers span multiple generations. And I wonder if our mentors had a slight sociological advantage in the formation of fundamental values necessary to their calling as church musicians? Mahrt’s famed anecdote about a pastor asking him to start singing English settings of the Mass , hymns and such, to which he replied “I will, when someone writes something worthy of the Mass in English” illustrates that liturgical confidence instilled in him so early in life. Right now in our situation in Central California, I think we’ve managed the “brick by brick” strategies fairly well and without resistance from any quarter. That said, many might say if they visited all of our 15 Masses over the weekend, that my assessment requires an asterisk. Sure, our 22 year schola/choir has always sung Latin motets, some Latin Ordinaries since day one, and we now have infused SEP/Simple Choral Propers/Choral Communios (Rice)/Weber and Kelly Propers, Kevin Allen’s collection, Noel Jone’s Anthologies, Heath Morber’s English Communion motets into weekly rotation while singing Masses by Mueller, Jernberg, Nickel, Ostrowski and others since MR3. What’s the asterisk for? We offer this RotR at one of those 15 Masses only. We underwent a complete pastoral change of clerical staff a year ago, and it’s taken a year for things to settle into “smooth functioning.” Our newest associate, a late vocation, is taking weekly tutoring in chanting all the collects from MR3, and he’s already capable of offering the Missa Lecta in the EF, with the goal of moving up to Cantata, Solemn and Requiem. He’s a voracious student which astounds me. Our other associate chants collects, prefaces and the prayers of consecration fairly regularly, and now prefers the “Circumambulation” method of entrance. Even our pastor, who is possessed of fine voice but rarely chants, offered his gratitude to the schola for maintaining the use of Latin at English Masses, reminding the congregation that “Latin is still the mother language of the Church,” direct quote. He then proceed to offer the final blessing in Latin (spoken) flawlessly. At this point I’m happy to have assisted getting the “sacred, universal and beautiful” maxim ensconced (or at least a foot in the door) in a very diverse parish of four churches. But, what I have not tried to do is shift my managerial style for subordinate leadership from “example, suggestion, catechesis etc.” to mandatory and unilateral change. The newer voices among us now, Pluth, Ostrowski, Leung, Yanke, Motyka, Woods and many others are now afforded a much larger audience eager to hear and put into practice their advice and strategies to revive liturgically/musically malnourished and impoverished parishes. However, I wonder if their motus operandi’s occasionally have a sort of Marie Antoinette attitude when practicality occasionally conflicts with philosophy. “I want to eat my cake, and have it too” when it comes to programming styles and forms of music that clearly do have pride of place at liturgy, namely chant and polyphony (in the Roman sense) and newer works that are clearly generated in those models? Over at CCWatershed, Andrew Leung’s methodology involves negotiating three “battles.” The first of these is Theocentric Vs. Anthropocentric textual/lyrical content as regards the theological consonance with RCC tenets/ethos. That is an easy sell here, MSF, NLM and other RotR sites. And this consideration ought to be the first priority of pastors and musicians if they’ve gotten lazy or convenient. But I’d wager that musicians who program “Gather Us In” aren’t much concerned with either of those battle stances. They choose it because they aren’t at all interested in quality of worship, or upsetting a status quo, or they simply don’t want to “learn new stuff.” And if the pastor and congregation provides no evidence of rejecting “Standard Operating Procedure” no battles at all will ensue unless some brave muckraker wants to upset a lot of apple carts. You could solve the poetic hymn versus assigned Proper processional problem with a hymn setting by Pluth, Tietze, Woods and many others, but a reactionary opposition may insist that strophic hymnody belongs to Leung’s second battle: Liturgical Vs. Devotional. “Hymnody” per se is relegated by liturgical purists to the Liturgy Hours and Devotions. That would likely include Latin metric hymns that are set in chant form. Well, are we prepared to revise the culture of the last half century (and longer actually) by insisting on chanted Propers only? Are we going to then bend to the numerous resources of vernacular chanted Propers rather than going all in with the Liber, Graduale, Gregorian Missal, Graduale Simplex Latin Propers in the OF? One could then slide over to the Ordinary and ask the same questions. If your congregation has successfully acquired Bob Hurd’s Missa Ubi Caritas in Latin, are the only other settings you can move to are the Gregorian settings? Or if your choir and congregation can sing the Proulx Missa Oecumenica or the Jernberg Neri, should you next shoot for the Schubert in G, or Lord help us, the Vierne? If you sing a Kevin Allen polyphonic Sanctus in Latin, should you regularly program the Hassler Missa Dixit Maria? I want all these cakes! They’re all sacred, universal and beautiful! I’m not inclined to deliberate Leung’s third battle, “Revolution Vs. Reform.” I think perhaps his premise is that the Church’s post-conciliar “song” devolved (or gravitated to what Tom Day called the “sweet song” option) into misappropriation of secular, idiomatic musical styles and forms. I don’t believe that’s wholly incorrect. But I think that contemporaneous genres often defy simple categorization, and that it is not a fait complite that some “classical” Latin Masses heard in the last fifty years belted out by Cappella Sixtini are of a higher nature, or more simply put, more worthy in terms of beauty than some Masses by Joncas, Schiavone or Janco. These observations won’t sit well with many of my friends like Dr. Kwasniewski who argue well for the narrower, clear cut with less “options” method, that, prioritized or not, still make room for the "My Little Pony" sort of setting as licit under the GIRM. But I think a lot of our contentiousness is because we simply want to have access to all our cakes, and to eat them too. What do you think?

Friday, September 05, 2014

The A Team

This is a list of hymns and songs culled from a spreadsheet I made years ago from OCP. This is in response to a Chant Cafe post by Kathleen Pluth regarding what we think are "songs that everyone knows" or "should know" in the average American/Anglophone parish.

When John Baptized By Jordan's River
Rendez a dieu
Out Into the Wilderness
Led by the Spirit
Parce Domine
In These Days of Lenten Journey
At the Cross Her Station Keeping
Stabat Mater
Tis Good, Lord, to be Here
All Glory, Laud and Honor
St. Theodulph
Sing My Tongue, the Savior's Glory
Pange Lingua
O Sacred Head, Surrounded
Passion Chorale
O Sacred Head, Surrounded
Ye Sons and Daughters
O Filii et filiae
Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Easter Hymn
Alleluia, Alleluia
Ode to Joy
Regina Caeli
Christ, the Lord is Risen Today
Jesus is Risen
Lasst uns erfreuen
Three Days
Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise
Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid
Lasst uns erfreuen
Veni Sancte Spiritus
C. Walker
Veni Creator Spiritus
Come, O Holy Spirit
Ode to Joy
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
Grosser Gott
Praise to the Lord
Lobe den Herren
Now Thank We All Our God
Nun Danket
Immaculate Mary
Hail Holy Queen
Salve Regina
Holy, Holy, Holy
God, We Praise You
O Love of God/Amor de Dios
B Hurd
Come to the Feast/Ven al Banquete
B Hurd
Here at this Table
Sullivan Whitaker
All People That on Earth Do Dwell
Old 100th
Amen: El Cuerpo de Cristo
Ubi Caritas
B Hurd
I Am the Bread of Life
Pan de Vida
B Hurd
Come to Me and Drink
Ave Verum Corpus
Jesu, Dulcis Memoria
Jesu, dulcis…
God Has Chosen Me
B. Farrel
Celtic Alleluia: Sending Forth
The Summons
Jesus, Remember Me
Church of God, Elect and Glorious
The Church's One Foundation
All the Earth
Canticle of the Sun
Ubi Caritas
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Be Not Afraid
We Will Rise Again
On Eagles' Wings
You are Near
Come Holy Ghost

By the Waking of Our Hearts
In Every Age
Sullivan Whitaker
I Heard the Voice of Jesus
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
St. Columba
Faith of our Fathers
St. Catherine
Center of My Life
Those Called by Christ
Pescador de Hombres
Only This I Want
Dwelling Place
Psalm 42
O waly waly
We Walk by Faith/In Times of Trouble
Christ Be Our Light
Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring
Werde Munter
Adoro te Devote
Holy Wisdom, Lamp of Learning
Beach Spring
O God Beyond All Praising
All Creatures of Our God
Lasst uns
Praise the Lord Ye Heavens
Ode to Joy
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
Ode to Joy
Sacred Silence
Laudate, Laudate Dominum
Praise God From Whom All Blessings
Old 100th
Sing With All the Saints in Glory
Ode to Joy
The Strife is O'er
Stand By Me
For the Beauty of the Earth
Thanks Be to God
All Good Gifts
River of Glory
Turn to Me
Hear Us Now, Our God and Father
God, Who Created Hearts to Love
Lasst uns
The Lord is My Light
Fly Like a Bird
Be Still My Soul
Healing River of the Spirit
Beach Spring
Salve Regina
mode 5
Ave Maria
mode 1
O God, Almighty Father
Gott Vater
All Hail Adored Trinity
Old 100th
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Lasst uns
For All the Saints
Sine Nomine
To Jesus Christ, Our Sovreign King
Ich glaub an Gott
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
The King of Kings, Christ Jesus Reigns
Ich glaub an Gott
At the Name of Jesus
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Alleluia, Sing to Jesus