Thursday, June 30, 2011

Order of Music-July 3, 2011
Saint Mary’s Parish, Visalia, California

14th Sunday, OrdinaryTime

Introit: S “Within Your Temple…”Simple Choral Gradual/R.Rice

Entrance: SE #480 I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS 239 (Kingsfold) cp

Opening Rites: S Kyrie-plainsong/Oecumenica-Culbreth

E Kyrie(Sleeth)/Dancing Day Gloria-Ford

Responsorial: SE Respond & Acclaim

Gospel Accl.: S plainsong “Alleluia”modeVI

E Alleluia (Sleeth)

Offertory: S #537 WE WALK IN FAITH/IN TIMES OF TROUBLE 605 (Jesus dulcis)

E #518 ALL THAT IS HIDDEN 21 (Farrell)

Eucharistic Accl.: S Oecumenica/Agnus Dei

E Holy/Christ/ Amen (Hurd) /Lamb (Culbreth)

Communion Procession: SE Antiphon: “Gustate et Videte”

S #331 TASTE AND SEE 510 (Moore)

E #775 TASTE AND SEE 675 (Talbot)

Communion Anthem: SE #650 THIS IS MY SONG 556 (Finlandia)

Recessional: S #654 GOD OF OUR FATHERS 188 (National hymn) TP descant


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


"I Know Where I'm Going" is the title of a Scots love ballad that has a lass pining for the company of her true love Johnny. A lovely little film was spun from it in 1945, where the lass becomes an English woman who becomes stranded upon an island among the Hebrides, and is challenged in her resolve to marry her betrothed by an attraction to another heroic character. There are storms aplenty, both figurative and literal, that contradict the simplicity of meaning of the ballad declaration, "I know where I'm going."
I am posting my thoughts on the video above on my blog as I'm sure that what I need to say might not be received or understood by my beloved confreres of the Church Music Association, and my fellow contributors at the Chant Cafe.
The video, produced by the brilliant Jeffrey Ostrowski of Corpus Christi Watershed, does clearly provide a mere glimpse of the sheer, transcendent beauty that is the colloquium experience. I have yet to encounter, after five of these, anyone who would decry any aspect of it as not beneficial in personal and corporate ways.
But I first viewed the video with the sound muted, as there was other media on in the room Wendy was listening to. And in the course of just four minutes I observed a pattern within the editing that, at face value, gave me pause and troubled me. I invite any readers of this post to do the same: watch the video without the sound. What gave me pause is the pattern consists of a sequence of action shots that primarily feature the conductors and presentors who comprise the leadership echelon of CMAA. And a brief sequence shows the CMAA Board of Directors in session before resuming the serial exposition of the multitude of choirs and scholas that "zoom in" principally upon the directors. To be fair, of course there is substantial content of attendees visually. But without the sound, the thematic emphasis upon the "star" faculty I believe is quite evident.
Am I critizing Ostrowski or CMAA with this observation. Absolutely not!
But as my friend and medical angel Jeffrey Tucker has stated repeatedly at the Cafe and the MS Forum, sacred and liturgical music is at a particularly important and momentous cross roads, represented most notably by the publishing of the Parish Book of Chant, the Simple Choral Propers and the uniquely valuable Simple English Propers, all under the banner of CMAA. And the beauty of all this is that CMAA has appeared, to me, an organization that has grown and thrived based upon participation from the ground up as informed by the scholarship and inspiration of the top down.
But can CMAA clearly sing "I know where I'm going"? It was repeatedly hammered home to attendees this last colloquium that we, CMAA, stand on the shoulders of giants such as Msgr. Schuler, Dr. Marier, Calvin Shenk, Maestro Salamunovich, Dr.Berry, Mrs. Ward, Fr. Skeris et al. And equally clear is that those giants were not the earlier era's equivilent of this era's megastardom of liturgical celebrities whose names are omnipresent in their product and publicity provided us by our large publishers. But I ask, in all humility and honesty, are we taking care not to advance a celebrity class of our own among CMAA ranks? As a side note, I have no personal bias or agenda by asking these questions (no dog in the hunt as goes the saying.) I am, and always have been quite happy to remain a parish musician.
I will leave this an open question for anyone who happens upon this post.
Next year around late June I do know where I'm going: to the Madeleine Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah for CMAA Colloquium 22 (provided I'm not court martialed!) I do hope that those who plan and articulate the schedule and content and goals for next year consider carefully how to expand both membership and influence in the market of ideas and ideals in a way that keeps and treasures the value and experience of each and every member who attends in order that the focus doesn't de-evolve and become diluted.
PS. I think it would be most appropriate to have any and all evaluations of Colloquium XXI published at MS. I'm sure that a great majority of those will attest to the immense value of attending it! Soli Deo gloria.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Order of Music-June 26, 2011

Saint Mary’s Parish, Visalia, California

Corpus Christi Sunday, OrdinaryTime

Introit: S “The Lord fed His people with finest wheat…”Simple Choral Gradual/R.Rice

Entrance: S #311 GATHER US TOGETHER 166 (Alstott) cp

Opening Rites: S Kyrie-plainsong/Oecumenica-Culbreth

E Kyrie(Sleeth)/Dancing Day Gloria-Paul Ford/arr. Culbreth

Responsorial: SE Respond & Acclaim

Sequence: E Lauda Sion chanted in English (J.Eason setting)

Gospel Accl.: S plainsong “Alleluia”modeVI
E Alleluia (Sleeth)

Offertory: S #323 O SACRAMENT MOST HOLY 377 (Fulda)
E #328 AS GRAINS OF WHEAT 41 (Rosania)

Eucharistic Accl.: S Oecumenica/Agnus Dei
E Holy/Christ/ Amen (Hurd) /Lamb (Culbreth)

Communion Procession: S Antiphon: “Whoever eats my flesh…”Simple Choral Gradual/R.Rice

S #341 I AM THE BREAD/YO SOY EL PAN 235 (Toolan) cp
E #336 AMEN: EL CUEPO DE CRISTO 33 (Schiavone)

Communion Anthem: S AVE VERUM CORPUS- Culbreth

Recessional: S organ postlude-Trent Barry
E #377 CELTIC ALLELUIA v.1-3 88 (O’Carroll)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Why Can't We All Just Get Along....but to My WAY?!?"

Consider the lilies, the swallows…not even Solomon in all his glory was so adorned. (No quotes, just paraphrasing as I recall His words.) The flip side, my words: Look at the images of the birds on this blog’s masthead. How many are still flying I wonder? Most of the images of the saints and sinners that adorn blogs have arrived to their reward or will do so at some point of time. This isn’t meant to be morbid in the slightest. We believers in Christ push on, whether dragging through the mud and waste or flying in concert with the Spirit, confident in faith that a “reward” does, indeed, await.

I personally believe that there is a sublime reality that escapes our notice about one particular endeavor we enjoy from God’s bounty that also escapes death. Whether this re-creation is rewarded with a hellish posterity, an ignorant, interminable limbo, or received into glory, dunno. Of course, I’m speaking of music. I mean, how couldn’t I feel this way based upon the blog title? “Music is the greatest gift of God.”

Notice I’ve never qualified that. It’s not “some music,” “my music,” “your music,” “our music” and most certainly not “God’s music.” He’s passed that. Who of us that has consciously put the muse to the pen or the recording device hasn’t secretly acknowledged that we were gifted to be the sharers, or “authors” of our tunes and harmonies from the one who created this aspect of the cosmos and spread it out upon the ether.

Here’s the point. I believe it’s basically a vanity and therefore pointless to use this gift as any form of tool or weapon to advance our truly heartfelt, informed and even righteous agendae and thus lambaste any and all perceived adversaries to our self-proclaimed truths in an effort to (what?) simply prevail upon others. And doing so seems to me a remarkably counterproductive waste of time (that is also a gift) if we are to be fully invested in evangelizing our neighbors and strangers to the whole of the Gospels. To be clear, I have no enmity towards sharing the bounty of our Catholic Church’s wise counsel that, at worship, we are inheritors and benefit from the unique and mysterious charms and priceless treasure that are revealed in chant, polyphony and other truly sacred forms of music.

On the other hand, if we cannot in good conscience deny that God is the sole author of grace and operates in His time and wisdom, then should any soul in pain, doubt and darkness who cries out for solace, reconciliation and forgiveness, and salvation have those prayers rejected by God’s ordained ministers? It’s about the sacraments, silly (to paraphrase President Clinton in irony.) But, if that same soul is hanging by a thread to the Christian life and asks for a sip of water that musically is known as “Be not afraid,” who are we to deny that? (I’m reminded of another irony in the hymn-tune PLEADING SAVIOR; “Father, if it be possible….) Are we to declare to that pleading soul, “Why sure, sinner-man, as long as it’s chanted and in Latin, ‘you down with “Nolite timere?”

Well, the way I see it going down at least for another four decades of wandering is that great strides will be made towards restoring solemnity and dignity to the performance of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass as sung in the vernaculars. But they will continue to be sung in the vernaculars by and large. And bar the highly unlikely scenario of an official reckoning with the IGRM/GIRM, proper texts may be restored to their appropriate roles at the processionals, graduals, alleluia/tracts/sequences more pervasively and hopefully persuasively, but that will never come at the expense of the use of strophic hymnody (as opposed to liturgical hymnody) and religious song whose paraphrased textual source may align to the proper calendar, as well as the vast body of both poetical and scriptural allusion lyrics. These latter forms, Frankenstein-monster-spawn of the Freemason Bugnini or not, have been taken up by more than one undisciplined, laconic and spiritually-undernourished generation. And they now own these songs and a great many of the hymns that they “get.” And those of us chant TRUE BELIEVERS that want our Quick Remedy Wagon surplus bought en masse right now by the unwashed PIPs are prone to that time-honored curial penchant for forked-tongue-ed “you can have your cake and eat it too” rhetoric in our spiels and appeals.

Of course the people are to sing their appointed portions of the liturgy, as long as they’re those of the chanted Latin settings appropriate to the seasons and occasions (huh?). But if you can’t master much more than the Death Mass in Latin or even English, don’t worry, we, THE SCHOLA, will cover for ya, no problem. You just listen real hard, contemplate, watch and pray. And now that you know those bold fonted thingy’s called antiphons in the missalettes actually mean something, just trust us that they’re more attuned to the scriptural lessons than all that sacropop syrup those hippies have spoon fed you, and we’ll sing them real purdy, and not just at the “gathering, preparation and feasting” parts, but we’ll sing them ourselves between the readings and dazzle ourselves with our florid gymnastics that will make Christina Aguilera even more embarrassed and jealous of her obvious lack of ornamental skills. But wait, what? You want to take part too? Watch and pray isn’t working for you? Okay, then, we can do that. Here, we’ve got tons of vernacular chant propers and ordinaries that are “Lite,” you’ll get the hang of ‘em real soon. But wait, what? No, you can’t sing “On Eagles’ Wings” ever again. Here, I’ve got a 400 word treatise on why it doesn’t even qualify as an “alius cantus aptus,” so there! But wait, what’s an “alius cantus aptus?” Well, look it up ‘cause I’m done with schooling you all, and “Beagles’ Wings” ain’t one of ‘em in any case. Trust me! I mean it, TRUST ME!

I think I’ve exhausted the point. Make no mistake about it or me. If I could attend a solemn Latin High Mass in EF every day, that’s how I’d worship. You heard it here by these lips, “Ed Schaefer was right.” (Look it up.) Some of us eventually have to make a hard and fast choice. But equating our choice with imposing same upon others isn’t good medicine for all like cod liver or castor oil. It is more akin to the cliche about teaching the pig to sing. But guess which of the two protagonists in that cliche is more pig headed? Slow and steady as she goes, hope and pray and nourish the poor and teach them to swim in waters that are moving and not in pools. But don’t expect them to do a swan dive off a high cliff right behind you because you can come up and breathe afterwards to applause (which is, of course, meant to be no applause.)

Get used to the Big Tent having more than one ring in the circus maximus for a few more decades, my friends.