Thursday, October 04, 2012

What is POSITIVE in the current OCP books?

It's been a few years since the article "The Hidden Hand Behind Catholic Music" posited that the most egregious malefactor in the Liturgical Industrial Complex could only be Oregon Catholic Press. First I saw the title, I smiled at the subtle hint of a sort of Sicilian La Cosa Nostra, "Godfather," inference. Their initialed acronymn, OCP, generally seems to be regarded by most of the "independent" forums and blogsites as if were gang grafitti tags splayed on the outside walls of a church! You can almost feel the blood pressure of some writers bubbling up, reddening their faces and widening the whites of their eyes when the mere mention of "OCP" pops up. Then, inevitably, someone reminds everyone that, like it or not, OCP is not likely to go away quietly into that dark night.
But, as I've done in the past, very few people ever take the time to actually  comb through the major OCP English hymnal/missal books, looking for merits rather than targets to demerit.
So, take a look at the first half of the current year (2012) Breaking Bread from #1 to 500 for hymns, chants and songs you may have missed when perusing, or likely not perusing through the book. In subsequent articles I will finish the 2012 BB. But I'm also going to try to include an article in which I'll share my opinion of some pieces of music that OCP regretably has dropped from their congregational offerings, real editorial lapses of judgment.
Then feel free to share whether you think it's worth the effort to put up with some of the dross, or even better, drop those dessicated oldies and work towards infusing some of these into the rotation.

Title of piece Hymntune/Composer Merits for usage
The ICEL (English Mass) setting composite, arr. Fr. AW Ruff, OP Like its Latin predecessor, Jubilate Deo, from which portions are based, the setting is meant to be universally inculcated at all churches, cathedrals, basilicas, missions should be mandatorily implemented by all rectors, pastors, bishops and abbots as SOP when needed.
Respond and Acclaim Mr. Owen Alstott Also a controversial commodity in the Gradual/Psalter/Responsorial category. But after decades of use, almost an imperative because of its inclusion in the Missal cantor the verses without ego and overwhelmingly poor declamation or dramatics.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus Janet Sullivan Whitaker Ms. SW's very semitic melody complements the Aramaic cry beautifully. The verses require a choir or soloists to project, in all ways, the prophetic texts with authority. do demand surety and stability to be successful.
Creator of the Stars of Night Conditor alme siderum chant!
Of the Father's Love Begotten Divinum mysterium not truly Gregorian chant, but chant! OCP should mirror it with the Latin text opposite
Once in Royal David's City Irsy One of the great Anglican carols, noble and stately
Child of the Poor/What Child Soper/Greensleeves A very accessible partner song, Soper's text might seem preachy, but its theological merit is obvious
Led by the Spirit Kingsfold/B.Hurd-text A Lenten compliment to the famed "I heard the voice of Jesus" text. No objectionable text issues.
Transfiguration Fr. Ricky Manalo A borderline inclusion; the melody has to be acquired, and its semiolgy, or syllabic emphasis is clunky because of the many intervallic leaps. But those leaps pay off well in the refrain "Praise and glory…"
Christ is arisen Dr. Randall DeBruyn A strophic allusion to the Easter Sequence with a quite appealing, dignified melody. The full effect of the actual sequence text is somewhat diluted, but for parishes that don't chant, it works nicely.
Two were bound for Emmaus Dr. Bob Hurd/Kenmare This text qualifies as one specifically as a "Hymn of the Day" candidate. Hurd's other "Emmaus" text, In the Breaking of the Bread, dropped the very personal disciplereinforcing reminder of this post-Easter encounter.
Three Days Thaxted (Holst); M.D. Ridge text A mini-documentary alluding to the chronology of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection; not an insult at all to the monumental hymn based on Holst's tone poem.
God We Praise You Nettleton; C. Idle, text Nettleon is one of the iconic hymntunes, the text paraphrases the Te Deum, what's not to like?
Here at this Table Janet Sullivan Whitaker JSW's text is "light years" beyond that of the ubiquitous, obnoxious "Gather us in." It also can function other than an Entrance "chant" (ha ha) but, as appropriate, an offertorio or communio
As We Gather at Your Table Nettleton; C. Daw, text Nettleton again, short text which is a plus for "accompanying" the entrance procession without needless time extension.
Sacramentum Caritatis Rv. Dr. J. Michael Joncas Absolute proof that Joncas, author of "On Eagles' Wings," is a master composer. OCP should print the whole hymn rather than just the Latin.
These Alone are Enough Dan Schutte The King of "3/4" sing-songy can also tap into a deeper, if somewhat emotional, melody and text combination that congregations should be offered for their consideration. This is one of those.
For Your Glory Reigns Berberick and Walter There are so many neo-Celtic, modal songs in that sing-songy category, that it is too easy to dismiss a real heir apparent. Though its chorus has an arena-anthem feel, the text and melody are wed well.

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