Tuesday, November 23, 2010

 Interesting week thus far in St. Blogs-

While being corrected and rebuffed (or “re-Ruffed©,” which I will copyright!) for the umpteenth time at PrayTell, the good (I mean that) monk referred me to a rejoinder earlier in the combox in which he ‘splained his admonition towards those who can’t keep their respective liturgical and gospel values in proportion:

“And for those traditionalists who are too easily offended: there’s really no reason, from a Christian standpoint, for putting down where someone was in the past, or where the Church was in the past.”

It actually occurred to me that, after admonishing me to “calm down,” he was referring me to that post and quote as if it was SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, to typify my objectionable (to him) commentary as justification for plopping “Charles Culbreth” right down into the bin labeled “traditionalists.”

And on the heels of that realization naturally rose within me the obvious, “He don’t know me vewy well, do he?” Ergo,


*A Christian believer who tries to yield always to God’s will, rather than my own…
*An artist who believes that God endowed to me particular talents…
*A leader of other talented Christians who desire to thank God
  with use of those same talents given them.
*That leader who, over many years, tries to be both
*An example and witness to Christ’s two ultimate commandments and
*An intentional, obedient disciple to Him and the Church He founded
*A failure on numerous, incalculable occasions to manifest that discipleship
*A soul who rejoices in God, My Savior and
*An instrument, like our Virgin Mother Mary, which magnifies Him
*A sinner who is called to repent of misdeeds and ill thoughts
*A joyful spirit, who accepts forgiveness,
  offers reconciliation with confidence in God
*A seeker in mind, heart and soul; who recognizes strangers first as friends
*A singer of songs, a composer of melodies, an instrumentalist in God’s service
*A fellow traveler towards salvation, a host to those in need,
  a listener more than orator
*Not alone, but am of free will to enjoin with other souls in communion with His will.
*And not a category, a diminution, a reduction, a type, a belligerent, an adversary.
*And certainly not whatever another, for good or ill, 
  would make me, save Christ my Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria, Amen.

I suppose I could have employed dynamic equivilency for all of that:
"Don't Fence Me In!"

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What you need to master...
if you want to chant or sing

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

O Quam Gloriosum-
Tomas Luis de Victoria
Dear Schola Members,
Now and then we can thank God for "modernity" when it serves beauty from of antiquity!
Enjoy and learn....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Over at the Musica Sacra Forum, I alluded to the LA Guitar Quartet's virtuosity. I've also shared there the encounter I had one summer workshop with Paul Salamunovich, where I gave him a CD containing the following version of his protege, Morton Lauridsen's famous "Dirait on" from Rilke's Flower Poems. Here is a YouTube performance that has the LAGQ version with some shadow imaging.
I would like to dedicate this post to our bishop, John Steinbock, who is ailing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 21, 2010
From our pastor, as well as some published news sources:
Bishop John's blood clotting issues have both presented in his legs, but more urgently in his lungs. By what was said, I infer he is not intibated, but is receiving oxygen constantly in the ICU via mask delivery. He cannot receive any visitations, apparently even from our Vicar General. 
I realize that in the narrow, earth-bound bandwith of the web (apt term, that) that is Satan's playground, there are many who have leveled criticism at our bishop, other bishops as well as the priesthood in general over the last generation for various earned and presumed reasons. But all that aside, we cannot fail to be Christians toward any soul in need of comfort, and particularly those of our ordained clergy.
Who among us has not injured others as well as having been injured? It's very simple, everyday 24/7- we are to love one another as He loved us.
Pray for Bishop John, because he has prayed for us, and we will need the prayers of others as we are put to the test. It is our measure, make no mistake.  

November 15, 2010

Bishop John Steinbock has been hospitalized in critical, but stable condition. A spokesperson for Saint Agnes Medical Center confirmed he is being treated there, but would not say why he was hospitalized. The Bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno announced in August that he had lung cancer.

As we look forward to this potentially momentous week as our bishops convene, one of their brothers will not be in attendance. Bsp. John Thomas Steinbock was diagnosed with a st.3/4 level of lung cancer just over a month ago, and is currently hospitalized at St. Agnes Hospital due to blood clotting issues. He has, according to all sources, remained upbeat and confident that he will come out of this current hospitalization, get in a round or two.

Though he'd likely not describe himself as a particularly liturgically savvy celebrant, he has always demonstrated an obvious love of the Lord as a celebrant, and an ardent advocate for social justice, right to life, youth ministries, R/E and a myriad of ecclesial concerns.

When you have a moment....

Through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Do You Solve a Problem Named "Marty?"

This is in response to a new poster over at the Musica Sacra Forum who's taken a DM position and is definitely a Reform of the Reform kind of director, as is his pastor that recently hired him. He has a a program that includes a small, but proficient traditional choir, cantors and.....

However, there is a small group in the choir that forms an "ensemble" that performs once a month at mass. This is a group of four people...three guitars and one bass guitar. They play Haugen and other songs in the same style and only want a piano as an embellishment (sic) to their guitars.

What is the best approach to begin "converting" this group over to more traditional forms of music and get them to accept my wishes for the music program without offending them and having them leave the choir? The prior music coordinator was there for over 20 years and was very loose with her ensembles and allowed questionable practices. I don't want to be the big bad new director who is trying to create emenies.

Has anyone else experienced this problem, and what have you done to slowly move away from this kind of polarization?

Could you provide some additional information? Some questions will follow this response.

I would suggest that the notion of “conversion” is a misnomer. People do “convert” by persuasion or coercion, but mostly people “evolve” as they survive and/or thrive. I also would ask whether you mean to accept your influence and leadership by your credentials as the “coordinator,” or by your taking the time to integrate (take it or leave it, you are now part of the “body” that is your parish and its ministerial groups) your talents as musician, leader and liturgical resource? Two things indicate that your influence might be welcomed, your skills as a keyboardist, and that the pastor supports and shares your “vision.” Whatever you’ve heard inferred about the previous coordinator’s legacy remains a moot point; you are simply on track if you really want not to emerge onto the scene like Moses with some smokin’ new commandments. First of all, you’ll need to remember that these four people likely regard themselves as just as much family, or fellow travelers than just a long-lived ensemble. Whether their musical chops are decent, great, static or insufficient is irrelevant to what your job is: you’re called to help them evolve in their skills of choosing, preparing, leading and performing worship music that is in concert with the mind and laws of the Church, and to lives as prayerful and faithful Christians. So, are you prepared to greet and meet them at their level, and then offer your skills to augment their modalities successfully, and gain their trust, respect and interest in your influence?


*Has either the former coordinator or the leader of the ensemble kept a decent catalog of their “Orders of Music” for whatever number of years? You must have a much more thorough knowledge of their repertoire choices for Ordinaries, Psalters and (presumably) songs/hymns that have comprised the majority and preferences of that repertoire. Typifying this aspect as “Haugen” isn’t beneficial. You might find that certain pieces performed regularly are musically, liturgically and textually a cut above, and be able to show them appreciation for those choices with some sort of “attaboy.”

*If there are no such records easily accessible, make the time to meet with the ensemble (leader) and do a thorough inventory of what they have “in stock” based upon the hymnal or worship aide that is used.

*What is that primary music source? GIA Ritualsong, Gather; OCP MI/BB?.....

*Informally assess if they’ve ever ventured, as Kathy suggested, beyond the genre of the sacropop song? Have they interpreted hymns, or even chants with their plucked/strummed guitars and bass?

*Are they first and foremost, competent and capable vocalists and leaders of the sung text? Do they work on basic skills of blend, balance, good tessitura choices for the congregations they lead, etc. Do they insure that the melody voice is pre-eminently necessary without being over bearing? Do they obscure the melody by an inclination towards incessant harmonization or vocal improvisation?

*Are their performance skills relatively similar? Do they all strum? Do they arpeggiate either with flat picks or finger picking? Do they obviously demonstrate that notated chord inversions are observed, if not understood? Does the bass player also understand that such note movement is important towards the artful rendition of such songs; a.k.a. not always playing the root of a given chord? Do the guitarists prepare each song with a variety of interpretive methods: transposition via capoing that adds to the sonorities that support the song melody in wider registers?

*Have they demonstrated interest in expanding their repertoire and modalities, even if only for their own benefit, if not the parish’s?

*Can they read new material off the page, or are they dependent upon recordings?

*Have they attended any skills improvement events sponsored by their diocese or NPM or such?

These sorts of “information gathering” tasks might provide this group and other musicians the notion that you don’t regard “them,” prima facie, as a “problem” but an opportunity. Polarization is a problem, but not a normal state of being. It is a human reaction to conflict between intractable parties. There is nothing inherently wrong with allotting sufficient time to the task called “getting to know you, getting to know ALL about you.” And that works two ways.