On one single Friday during this Lent, we will depart from our usual and immemorial parish custom for Stations of the Cross, and, (using a format inspired by the elegant and moving devotion that St John Cantius presents,) we will have Stations with music.
(Ours will not be in the same style as theirs, and certainly not at the level of either musical taste or accomplishment, and CERTAINLY not with any... shudder... LATIN, but it will suit us.)
I was actually more than a little surprised when Father agreed to my suggestion so quickly. Caught short, because I assumed he would either reject the idea outright or postpone it indefinitely by saying we'd "think about it," I had to scramble a bit.
And I believe I need to tread a very narrow way...
I am trying to prepare worthy music, of a quality that justifies the effort put into it, but at the same time, I can't be as rigid in planning this as I am Mass. This is NOT a liturgy, this is a devotion, there is room for more personal expression, there is room for beloved songs that don't suit Mass.
And there is such a wealth of choir music that they have been singing for years, or HAD been singing for years which either is (and always was,) simply inappropriate for the Holy Sacrifice Mass, or is just.... "surplus," since unlike decades ago when much of this repertoire worked its way into their hearts, there is only one week of Passiontide; and much of the emphasis in Lent is now on building up towards the sacraments of initiation rather than penitence or Christ's passion.
And I don't want to deprive them of what they love. In fact, I am going out of my way to create opportunities for them to sing things, that in some cases, I don't much care for..
So we can do some of the things they would like to do for Good Friday but which are simply completely unsuitable for a Catholic Mass, or that don't work without accompaniment; or that used to be de rigueur for Palm Sunday but what with the frenzy of the outside first gospel and procession as we do it now, no one hears that prelude and half of the choir always ends up stuck on the wrong staircase, or positioned so that they can't hear each other or see me, or trapped in the vestibule by catechumens blocking the doors with palms, and the cantor up front trying to lead the people who won't go outside has no idea what is happening and... (can you tell I dread Palm Sundays? I'm the only one who is thrilled that it will be so early this year that it will SURELY be too cold to start across the street.)
Anyway, the women can do the Jesu Salvator Mundi (Corde?) from faded purple mimeos older than I am, and the men a bit of that Carlo Rossini (I think) Stabat, and there will be a couple spirituals.
And beside that, that gorgeous Gluck De Profundis, the rather too dramatic Schubert In monte oliveti, one stunning movement from the Pergolesi, the people can sing the 'We adore you...." to the DuBois, slightly modified, a little Taize, a little Palestrina, everyone's favorite German chorale-style hymn -- perhaps too eclectic, but I think it will please people and make them more receptive to better refined programming in the future.
I wanted more input from the other musicians in the parish, I didn't want to suggest to them what their contribution should be, but I'm not gettin' it...
And I put quite a lot of effort into streamlining the scripture readings and the prayers (adapted from those written by then-Cdl. Ratzinger one year,) because it is VITAL that this not seem long to people who expect their Stations to last a certain length of time and will nover come back if they are given too much excuse to sing the Seven Last Words--
We Never Did It That Way Before.
Anyway, we had a great rehearsal last night.
They are all finally, actively LIKING, rather than merely tolerating the entrance antiphon, albeit in English (baby steps, baby steps.)
The Gouze sounds good, both Farrant (or attributed to Farrant) anthems are finally learned, the Novello "Like As the Hart" is a nice change of pace, the Stainer God So Loved the World was really quite thrilling (they are "getting" that the rests are as important as the notes in a space as live and reverberant as ours,) and the (not) Palestrina O Bone Jesu almost brought tears to my eyes.
Thank you, choir!