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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Music for the Year of the Priest

A very timely article from Gary Penkala at CanticaNova:

Choral music relating to the priesthood

  • Behold My Servant An ordination anthem in distinctly British "cathedral" style, written for SATB choir and organ, with a part for Treble choir that can be taken variously by sopranos and tenors if no trebles are singing. The text is from Isaiah 42.
  • Bone Pastor, Panis Vere The last two stanzas of the Corpus Christ sequence, Lauda Sion set for SATB choir, a cappella. The music is mostly homophonic in texture and well within the grasp of any good church choir.
  • Complete Thy Work A beautiful 19th century text by the great English Catholic theologian John Henry Cardinal Newman, set in Edwardian style. This unaccompanied anthem for SATB voices, show superb voice-leading in a style reminiscent of Edward Elgar or Charles Villiers Stanford.
  • How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair Psalm 84 ["How lovely are thy dwellings fair! O Lord of Hosts, how dear Thy pleasant tabernacles are, Where thou dost dwell so near."] is used in the Lectionary for the Dedication of a Church or Altar, for Holy Orders, for the Profession of Religious, and for the Mass for Vocations. Any of these occasions would be a perfect opportunity for this setting, as would any Mass or service with a vocations theme.
  • Pastoral Processional An effective opening for any celebration of priestly service (ordinations, anniversaries). It has traditional elements (Latin verses, eloquent English verses, themes from Gregorian chant) but is crafted in a responsorial idiom so as to be useful in modern liturgies.
  • Simon, Son of John An interesting setting of the dialogue between Christ and Saint Peter found in John's Gospel. Particularly appropriate on the Third Sunday of Easter (C) where this passage of John's Gospel is read, Simon, Son of John may also be used for ordinations, on any feasts celebrating Peter or the apostles, Masses for the pope or the bishop, or liturgies with the theme of service and dedication.
  • Serve God in Love A processional inspired by one of the Roman Pilgrimage Churches, with appropriate texts in English, Italian and Latin. Serve God in Love was inspired by the Basilica of Saint-Lawrence-outside-the-Walls.

Talk About Diversity...

The last few weeks have brought me in contact with Catholic musicians of an absolutely charming diversity.

Rennsalaer's Chant Institute was a little more homogenous than the CMAA's but then, it is considerably smaller.

But in neither place did those who prefer modern notation come to blows with square note afficianados; nor the all-a-capella-all-the-time faction poison the merlot of the accompanied-chant-and-it's-gotta-be-Bragers' fans; nor a three-way brawl erupt amongst Spirit of Vatican Two-types, Rad-Trads and the Reform 2 gang; nor were gloves thrown in the faces of Old Solesmes adherents by the Semiology faction with the resulting unpleasantness of pistols and podati at dawn...

Actually, virtually anything at dawn is unpleasant, no?

I swear, had Maestro Wilko been a scintilla less engaging, I would have slept in the day of the Requiem, thereby depriving myself of one of the most profound prayer, (and premier musical,) experiences of my life.

Fr Columba Kelly was an engaging teacher, but I am still chewing over whether a more authentic rendering of the intent of Guido's predecessors necessarily brings about a better-prayed, more deeply felt encounter with the Holy Other than cou nting off your 2s ands 3s...

Could insistence on the former not be an example of the archeologism of which Pius XII warned us in Mediator Dei?

It is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device.

But I do love repercussions....

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Vatican Observatory Research Group

Who knew?

Fauré’s “Requiem” is playing in the background, followed by the Kronos Quartet. Every so often the music is interrupted by an electromechanical arpeggio — like a jazz riff on a clarinet — as the motors guiding the telescope spin up and down. A night of galaxy gazing is about to begin at the Vatican’s observatory on Mount Graham.

That was for you, Mike


And I must find out more about Joan Brudieu.

Giving Myself a Break

Since I will not be able to stay for tomorrow's Mass at the Colloquium and because i feel I have finally triumphed over the dragon of ictus placement, I am taking off from chant rehearsals this morning.

Packing, but also resting up for this afternoon's New Music Reading session, which was one of the absolute highlights for last year for me.

The canard that those of us with a stake in promoting liturgical orthopraxis are only interested in old stuff by dead white European guys in alanguages nobody speaks is never more patently false than at events of this type -- the support given to and admiration shown of contemporary composers is a hallmark of the CMAA.

(And this year, the music will be bound.) (!) ( :o))

Hieratic Language in the Liturgy

An article by Shawn Tribe on appropriate language for the Liturgy, in the context of a report on a celebration of a Solemn Pontifical Mass by His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, using the Book of Divine Worship, the liturgical book of the Anglican Use in the Latin Rite.
For a number of decades now, the matter of English within the Roman liturgy has been approached in a very particular way. Polyphony, chant and propers were all but abandoned as though the project of establishing continuity with their Latin equivalents was too difficult to undertake, even unattainable. As well, the form of English used was also relatively plain, as though this is what "vernacular" necessarily entailed for the liturgy.

I must have missed it first time around, well worth reading.
It seems important in any discussion of liturgical English to preface it with the following remarks: the use of Latin as a liturgical language is something that ought to be preserved in the Latin rite. This is not my personal opinion only, but also that of the Church which declared at the Second Vatican Council that Latin ought to be retained in the Latin rites. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which our tradition and the treasury of chant and polyphony written for the Latin language.

That being said, this piece is not about Latin, rather it is about English; specifically, liturgical English. It seems to be a given that the use of at least some vernacular in the Latin rite is now a fait accompli. There are varying responses to this, both positive and negative, but ultimately I would suggest that this is a liturgical development which is not lamentable of its own accord. It seems to me that there are some manifest spiritual benefits (if not also perils as post-conciiliar experience has clearly shown) to be found in the use of the vernacular within parts of the liturgy, particularly in the context of the Proper of the Mass -- most especially the readings -- and the Divine Office. Such a development -- applied properly -- in the present day Roman liturgy seems to genuinely manifest a legitimate development which is demonstrably for the spiritual benefit of the faithful -- though evidently, this does not exclude the possibility of liturgies celebrated entirely in the Latin language either it should be noted.

What has been lamentable, however, has been the application of the introduction of the vernacular in the Roman rite since the time of the Council. Perhaps this, more than anything, is what has left a sour taste in the mouths of many -- which is then reacted to as though there were a general incompatibility with vernacular and the Roman liturgy. The problematic application is two-fold. On the one hand, there has been the wholesale replacement of Latin in the Roman liturgy. This was never intended by the Church and further is not desirable as the costs are simply too great -- particularly in the domain of sacred music. Second, as it relates to the English vernacular specifically (and possibly other language groups as well) we have been subjected to a highly problematic English translation of the Roman missal - an impoverishment which is thankfully being addressed in our own day with a new, more faithful English translation of the modern Roman Missal underway.

There is, however, a second subset to the issue of the English of the missal which doesn't pertain just to the question of whether a translation is literal or “dynamic”, but relates also to the type or style of English that is employed. We are speaking here of course of what has been called by some “hieratic English” or, in other words, an English which retains certain older forms. Clearly in the new English translation of the Roman Missal that is underway, they have opted to not use this form, however a discussion of the principle yet seems worthwhile for future consideration...
Hieratic English language has become not only a more formal type of English, it has particularly become understood as a more sacral form of the English language.[emphasis supplied] Accordingly, it can be a quite effective vehicle by which to communicate the sacred in the context of the liturgy and is further in keeping with the Catholic tradition which seems to have historically shied away from the over-familiarity of the common vernacular of the day.

Friday, 26 June 2009


Sometimes I miss my hometown, and its proximity to NYC, and I grow nostaligic for the days when at the drop of a hat I could go to see the latest movie, the opera, the latest museum exhibit, the...

And other times, not so much.
There's one of the works of this guy, f'rinstance:

I never cared much for pickled herring, myself.

And a good time was had by all....

these dour, joyless trads
, said she, delicately
dabbing the merlot from the
corner of her mouth.

Father Jeff Keyes, was the CMAA's "mystery speaker" last night, and the account of what he has accomplished at St Edward's is both inspiring and, (in my case,) discouraging.
Because, yes, it can be done.
It HAS been done!
But two things are needful, and the musicians are only half of the equation. If the other half is wanting... well, let's just say at the festivities afterward, (luscious wines, dear Charles and dear Wendy! many thanks,) a small element of sorrows-drowning may have entered in.

It is inevitable that in a machine with as many moving parts as this week has, there will be tiny breakdowns, probably on everyone's part, but as the week goes on and I become more and more tired, (what can I say? I'm a slug, and need nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep a night, and have now amassed quite a deficit,) and this mornings were doozies -- being in entirely the wrong place for a crucial pre-Mass, last mintue rehearsal, and then forgetting to put on glasses before leaving my seat waaaaay in the front of the nave, and heading back to the font waaaaay in the back of the nave to sing the motet at Offertory.

But the Holy Spirit takes care of fools, and nothing went wrong, (that I noticed, anyway.... Maestro Brouwers might beg to differ --- but he would do it so charmingly.)

And, as Himself asks, were ya prayin'? if you were prayin' it wasn't a mistake.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

What is this, the Seventy-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time?

Good morning, and welcome to Our Lady of Perpetual Noise. Our celebrant is Father Makesitupashegoesalong. After you stand and greet your neighbors, our opening hymn is "How Great I Art," number three hundred forty-two in the green "But Enough About Me, What Do YOU Thinkg About Me, God?" Hymnal, and our readings are those for

The Seventy-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dr Mahrt's address last night was on Sacred Space and Sacred Time, and the words in red are one of his lines.
Also: the re-ordering of the Sundays after Pentecost is the work of people who sit in little rooms without windows.
I am coming late to this realization, (since the current calandar is all I have ever known,) but indeed, great violence was done to the liturgical year in the new liturgical calendar produced by the Troubles, er..... I mean, the Reforms.

Liturgical and Aesthetic Opportuinites in Rogers Park

In light of something I said in a combox, any Catholic or music lover on the north side of Chicago would be unwise not to avail himself of tonight's Holy Hour, (5 pm,) tomorrow's Mass (10 am,) sung vespers (7:30,) and organ recital by the brilliant Br Jonathan Ryan, (8:30) at Loyola's Madonna del Strada chapel.

And speaking of brilliant organists, may I just say:
Scott Turkington
Horst Buchholz
David Hughes

I guess I may, I just did.

I was wrong....

...when I predicted that I was done with overt displays of emotion.

During the postlude, Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren by Brahms, (which has two measures at about the bar 34 point that I believe prefigure what I will hear when I die, if I have led my life in such a manner as to be allowed to hear the angelic choirs, so exquisite are the chords therein,) something reminded me of the composer's Nanie, which I was fortunate enough to sing in a choir when I was 14.
There were to be two performances but my Father died suddenly between the two, and certain choral harmonies will forever have the power to transport me to a very specific time and place, some very specific memories and emotions, a very specific Scelata. (Probably a nicer one.... although marriage to Himself has mellowed me.)

One of the best aspects of this week has been the variety of forms -- it is instructive for those of us who don't usually have the opportunity to experience them in close succession, to compare them.

Today's was a Solemn High Mass, EF, yesterday was OF in Latin (incidentally, that may be the only time I've ever been in the same room with a pallium,), we had an OF in English.... very good, very good.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

P.I.P. Colloquium?

The offereings at the breakout sessions this year have expanded.

This is not an altogether good thing, it increases ons anguish at not being able to do absolutely everything.
But I am really looking forward to one on service-playing tomorrow.

There are singers here, priests, choral directors, organists, composers -- it occurs that there ought to be some kind of a track for the Person In (the) Pew.

Obviously, neither the chapel at Loyola nor the housing could accommodate scads more people, and the week would no doubt be too long (and too expensive,) for the less intensely interested, but it seems to me some sort of joint effort with a retreat house near a larger church in Chicago (perhaps the cathedral?) including "lessons" in how to participate in Mass, how to sing the people's responses, the imminent (it is devoutly to be hoped?) new translations, the difference between liturgy and devotions -- culminating in a magnificent Mass, where your average John Q Pewduster could own (to use a favorite buzz word of both liturgists and actors,) his rightful participation?

I think it could be a really fruitful enterprise.


A Technidiot Prepares to Enter the 21st Century

Just as I was the last person in the 1st world to get a cell phone, and that kicking and screaming, and brusquely silencing the clerk, no, I don't want it to do that, no, I don't want it to take pictures, no, I will never text, no, just give me a phone, JUST A PHONE!!!!!! --

Well, now, I give in.

I need one of them picture machines, what are they called? Ah, yes, cameras.

And those little magic boxes that let you hear something over again.

NO, NO!!!!!! Not that!

Yes, that's it.

I gave up on souvenirs a hundred years ago, I have too many old programs, posters, headshots, reviews -- what did I want to archive my life for?

But now I realize how badly I want photos and recordings of this week.

The Nativity of John the Baptist

I think I have distilled all my objections to the would-be liturgical music to which I object, (and it comes from all eras, in myriad styles,), and to performances of that which could, in other circumetances, in other hands (and in other larynxes,) be irreproachable, to a single sentence:

It thwarts recollection.

The Mass for the solemnity prayed in song at Madonna del Strada Chapel was truly magnificent.

The CMAA Colloquium just goes from strength to strength.

There was not a note of music that did other than turn heart and mind toward the Almighty.

And the silences!

This sounds odd, but they were as eloquent as the Ecce Sacerdos.... to which His Eminence Cardinal George and a splendidly vested, veritable army of priests and ministers processed, (today, I was singing, so I didn't see as much of the ceremony as I might have liked.)


This is a great space for silences.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Um.... my dog ate my Graduale....

Incidentally for any reader who was suffering on my behalf, thank you for your concern, I found my Triplex.

I had changed the walmart-special stretchy book cover and had been searching for the wrong color.

I t was not cabernet, but lemon meringue.

I like to protect hard-bound hymnal, and only recently figured out that if I persist in putting similar books, of similar size, used on similar occasions, in similar environs, in similar coloured covers -- well, i am old and absent-minded and most of all lazy, and i will be perpetually picking up the wrong volume, and have to return to the loft, or the den, or the car, or the floor under my bed, or wherever I'm "storing" them.

I meant to mention, after that last porculus...

... one of the great delights of this conference is meeting up with old friends, meeting new people from vastly different places and backgrounds with vastly different experiences in Continuing Adventures In Catholic Music, and meeting face-to-face those one has only known virtually, hitherto.

I was hoping to put at least few more faces with screen-names -- if anyone reading this is here and we haven't spoken yet, and would like to, I am the plump bottle-blond with long hair, in Arlene's chant group and Wilko's polyphony choir.

My new ambition is to win the lottery and become a less erudite Justine Ward, and fund all this extravagantly... I know, I know, ya gotta buy a ticket to win.

But I should like, in the words of a sassy person who shall go nameless, to be more of a producers and less of a consumer.

Now to go sing some porculi....

"Ya mean like somethin' IMPORTANT was happening?"

I wish every Catholic in America could experience Mass as we did this morning at the Colloquium.

The gentle, loving care with which every, single aspect of this most sacred, most awesome of human endeavors was approached simply has to be instructive, cannot fail to be evangelical.

And the remarkable thing is that this rarest of events many places, is ROUTINE here.
(This is only possible because no one treats it as if it were.)

Through a strange series of events, (no good deed going unpunished,) I was separated from my seat, and more, my music and glasses just as Mass was beginning, and so sat most things out, vocally speaking -- physically slothful though i am, I will be delighted to engage in a smack-down of anyone who say mine was not, therefore, participatio actuosa.

And I was actually so overjoyed to be able to look, to be able to listen.

And hopefully, my moment of being so overcome that rivulets run down my fat face is now out of the way, and nothing else this week will make me weep.

I am very keyed up about that Vittoria tomorrow.... Wilko is a fascinatingly good conductor.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Restorificationizing the Sacred?

According to Holy Smoke's Damian, Westminster Cathedral, (the site of an Archbishop's Installation mass that thrilled people around the world last month,) is, not so much undergoing a renovation as declining to re-wreckovate.

The freestanding altar is gone for good in favor of the high altar.

I have a soft spot for Wesminster Cathedral, it was the first place my non-Catholic husband knelt.

Yes, the seats and kneelers were separated by too great a gap, (mind the gap!) for Himself to execute what he calls "the Protestant Lean," an effort by which Methodists at Mass attempt to make themselves inconspicuous.

It's my belief that this instance of being obliged to kneel for the consecration is what initiated his hunger for the Body and Blood of Christ, and started him on the road to Rome to satisfy this appetite.

Yikes! I've lost my Graduale Triplex!

Which is understandable, since I haven't used it in 3 years, (bad Scelata, BAD SCELATA!) but If I don't locate it this evening before I leave for Loyola, the chances of my finding it in the half day I'm home before heading to St Joe's are slim to none...

Yikes, and yikes again.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Year of the Priest and Why It Matters

I don't have many readers here, and I imagine all of them also read the musicasacra message boards, but on the off chance...

These two posts, from the same person illustrate why we must pray, "O Lord, send us priests. O Lord, send us holy priests. O Lord, send us many holy priests and religious vocations"

Last Fall, I was told by the Pastor that I would be responsible for playing all weddings in the new church, to keep the music in character with the new Romanesque church building we were to move into at Christmas.

However, brides were booking the church and I was not getting calls. Finally found out the church office was telling brides there was no one to play, they had to find their own musicians. And, it turns out, that is the ongoing plan, though I have requested that I get first opportunity to play them.

But the Pastor has decided not to decide about having me play the weddings and coordinate the music. A parish council member has undertaken a 'study' to determine what is the norm at neighboring parishes in order to develop a policy on who plays weddings and how much to charge, I have been told. It's been weeks and weeks and no progress.

So a few weeks ago I met with one of the few brides who was able to contact me. She, her mother and I met and I explained that the music had to be sacred. "We can't have the Hawaiian Song?" No. The mother said, sarcastically I thought, "so this means we can't have Night and Day?" I confirmed this, if only for the reason that it sort of fails to mention God. I suggested we meet in a couple of days.

I saw the Pastor on the way out and said that they had brought this up and how I had handled it, and he thanked me for keeping the level of music up where it belongs in his new church.

Four days later we met and the mother said, "Tell him. Tell him what Father said." The girl had called the Pastor that afternoon, he told her she could have any music she wanted as long as he got to approve the lyrics.

At that point I kindly suggested that they find another organist who might be willing to play the music they want.

I referred them to a neighboring parish with a very praise and worship music program. ... their organists contacted me and said he was getting ready to meet with them and wanted to confirm that we were as strict as they are and do not permit the traditional wedding marches. This surprised me, since their music program is much beloved and is not traditional.

I attempted to explain the situation, thought I did a good job.

Tonight I happened to run into this organist. The wedding was a couple of weeks ago.

The Bride's Mother processed down the aisle to Moon River. He had already played Night and Day and Stardust He wants to apologize to the Pastor. I suggested that the Pastor agreed to this. He said that the Pastor had mentioned Moon River in the Homily and that he was not pleased.

It appears that the bride and her mother may have decided not to tell the Pastor that Moon River, Night and Day and Stardust were part of the program since........they were played and there were then NO LYRICS for him to approve!

The Pastor does determine the level of music in the parish. And this is how it plays out.

I continue to like and respect the Pastor, and it pains me that people go around him like this to get what they want.

And tonight, in a church with 7.5 seconds of reverberation, a visiting priest started a wedding rehearsal saying over the microphone. "WELCOME, K-MART SHOPPERS!"

I was drafted into the US Army back in the late 1960's, went from living in NYC in the middle of the rarefied air of some greatly inspiring sacred music to standing at attention each morning at 6 AM staring at the trees across the way at Fort Knox, KY, watching them change color as the seasons passed.

I hated being in the Army. Eventually, I ended up in Germany, got into an Army band to finish out my two years. Stayed another 2 years working as a musician in Germany after I was discharged. Those two years of my life were essentially wasted, but they did get me to Germany. My goal the entire time I was in the army was to exist until it was over. But I realize that I would have never gotten to Germany if it were not for the Army, so I understand that although being in the army was the pits, something good came out of it.

At this parish, the pastor with the support of his associate at the time gave me a free hand to reform the musical liturgy. He and I together have had to put up with lots of criticism of our projects...mine the music program, his the new romanesque basilica-style building. The building is now complete and my goal was to prepare the choir to sing music for that building.

Any choir can sing any music if you work hard enough at it and encourage them and choose music that teaches them what it takes to sing even more difficult and challenging music. But you have to stick it out with the knowledge that you are doing good,

The choir is now singing at a high level, able to sing Palestrina mid-level pieces, the more difficult ones are still beyond us. cpdl.org has been a blessing, since I can pick exactly what i want them to sing, I can choose something and if it turns out to be beyond them, back off to a simpler piece that will teach them what is needed for that more difficult work in the future. In a year I will pull it out and they will be able to sight read it and I have to remind them that a year ago they were unable to sing it.

The choir has gone from about 16 regular singers to as many as 46. We've lost a few but gained many.

The pastor has gone through the agony of having a vision and sticking it out through all that one can imagine when building a church that looks like a church in a diocese which has buildings as contemporary of the music we all prefer to avoid. A church of great beauty.

It has not been easy for him and he has stuck it out. There is not a mean bone in his body and he has many jewels in his crown, as the Baptists say. While it may appear at first glance that the pastor's at fault with this wedding business, he's not. And sticking it to realize my vision is a challenge to me as he has taken upon his own challenge. We've both been beaten down but both have stuck it out.

I am sure that he has reasons for not having someone in charge of the music for weddings. I may be too difficult for Brides to deal with? But he also does not want Moon River wafting through the columns and up into the 45' dome of the church.

And maybe this unfortunate experience, like many in my 2 years in the army, will result in a policy that will work to plug the loopholes that people will find to get around what the church wants played and sung in the church.

My companions that got me through the two years in the army were 2 Lea pocket scores of the Well Tempered Clavier of Bach. Those 48 preludes and fugues were always there for me to study and, sometimes on the weekends, play.

You can't be everywhere at once...

... but if I COULD bi-locate, next Wednesday I'd be listening to this, as well as fretting over whatever polyphony with which the choir of which I am a part at the CMAA Colloquium is charged:

June 24, 2009 Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture Series, 7:30 pm
"Sing to the Lord" with Fr. Dennis Gill

Join the Liturgical Institute for a stimulating lecture on the new document on liturgical music released by the US Catholic bishops entitled "Sing to the Lord." Fr. Gill is the Director of the Office of Worship in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and author of
Music in Catholic Liturgy: a Pastoral and Theological Companion to Sing to the Lord with the Liturgical Institute's Hillenbrand Books. Free and open to the public. Please call 847.837.4542 to reserve a place.

F'Cap & the "Language" of Christianity

In the latest "Tidings" from the Liturgical Institute, its erudite and charming director, has a few words to say about participatio actuosa, the way the sloganeering use of the "colloquial understanding" of its usual translation carries the risk of a betrayal of the actual principle represented by the phrase.

(Yes, regardless of the sputtering and fussing from the F'Cap Deputies, "perhaps even introverts can participate 'actively'." There's room for the Publican!)

I liked this from Fr. Martis: "regardless of the FORM of the liturgy [emphasis supplied, he did not capitalize the word, but I'd like to think that was a nod to, a coded encouragement to, the still-beleaguered-in-some-places devotees of the Extraordinary Form], the faithful will always have the ability to participate actively if the notion flows from what is happening in a person's mind and heart.

Perhaps the most significant need today is that the faithful develop their understanding of the Chrsitian cultural symbols."

He goes on to speak of how it matters not a jot whether one has heard the word water, or agua or aqua -- if it conjures images and thoughts of H2O rather than Baptism, the Flood, or that which flows from the rights side of the Temple.

"At the Liturgical Institute we pray in Latin and in the vernacular WITHOUT STIGMA [emphasis supplied]... For us, language is not a political statement, but is seen as a natural aspect of our Catholic faith and celebration."

And that's why, the last time I was conversing with Cardinal George, (I am phrasing it like that because it is strictly true and yet it manages to imply the outright lie that His Eminence and I are old buds, and chat all the time; it was the last time I spoke with him, and it is also the only time ;oP) ) I thanked him for the Liturgical Institute.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Because things ARE getting better...

... the Forces of Dimness may be stepping their efforts up.

Sad for Denver

the lack of support shown by several institutions in the city, be they orchestras, churches, or universities, has allowed two incredibly fine and gifted musicians to leave Denver and go elsewhere for support. And when I say support, I do not mean just financial support. I am also speaking of artistic support and appreciation for their artistry. Dr. Horst Buchholz, and his wife, Dr. MeeAe Nam, contributed greatly to the musical heritage of Denver. That is no exaggeration. Dr. Buchholz is a world class conductor who founded the Berlin Chamber Orchestra when he was twenty-one, shortly after his premiere as solo organist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also assistant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Choir. He had his debut with the Salzburg International Summer Festival in the year 2000 and has returned there to conduct every summer. All of this while touring the world as a concert organist.

Part of his contribution to the city of Denver was really to the University of Denver. Under his close guidance and supervision, he was responsible to DU for one of the finest organs in the United States: known as the Coors Organ. It will be a long time, I think, before DU will find any faculty member that matches his artistic devotion and intellectual curiosity.

In addition, he led the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra to a new level that is unparalleled among the community orchestras in the state. In this position he also helped many soloists along with their careers. As the conductor of this orchestra, he worked for almost no money at all when compared to other conducting positions. He did it because of his love for music and his love for conducting. One must realize that a conductor's instrument is the entire orchestra. It is the same as having one instrument and performing concerts on that. He demanded much from the orchestra, but sometimes the orchestra did not seem to understand his love for music and his passion for correctness. I would say that also applies to the Cathedral For The Immaculate Conception. He gave astoundingly fine performances there as Canon of Music and organist. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that his efforts there were underappreciated. He should have had their unqualified support.

Dr. Buchholz' wife, Dr. MeeAe Nam, is certainly one of the finest sopranos that I have heard, and there is no doubt that she is Horst's musical equal. They often performed together with Horst as conductor or as organist. In addition, Dr. Nam has performed all over the world in operas, lied recitals, and soloist with orchestras performing oratorios and masses. She possesses a vocal technique that is well nigh perfect, and it will allow her to sing for many, many years. She is gifted with an amazing sense of pitch and I certainly never heard her sing when she was having an "off night." She simply never had an off night. She imbued all of her performances with a sense of drama that often brought laughter or tears from the audience.

She was Artist in Residence and Chairman of the Voice Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her level and quality of teaching is unsurpassed and her students held her in very high regard.

In addition to her worldwide performance activities, she also devoted a considerable amount of time to scholarly activity and research. Her book, "Living With a Healthy Mind and Voice" will be published in 2010. She is also a very well known adjudicator of vocal competitions and a well-known and respected vocal clinician.

But, both Buchholz and Nam are gone. Dr. Nam is now on the voice faculty at Eastern Michigan University and Dr. Buchholz is just down the road in Cleveland as Canon of Music at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and conductor of the chamber orchestra there. The institutions that they were involved with here in Denver could not afford to keep them. But before any of you readers accost me and state the obvious that these are difficult financial times, please realize that these institutions should have tried a little harder to raise the money to keep these two individuals. It was possible. If they thought it was impossible, they need to realize that it is kind of fun to do the impossible. However, if, as I suspect, the institutions did not feel the artistic necessity to make more of an effort to keep them here, then I can only say Godspeed to Buchholz and Nam. I know that no matter where they are, they will receive genuine appreciation and have a profound impact upon the musical community in which they reside. Farewell.

Get on the stick, your Eminences and Excellencies!

The U.S. bishops will have to poll members missing from their meeting in San Antonio before it's known whether they are approving liturgical prayers, special Masses and key sections of an English translation of the order of the Mass.

Five texts being prepared for use in English-speaking countries failed to get the necessary two-thirds votes of the Latin-rite U.S. bishops during the June 18 session of the bishops' summer meeting.

With 244 Latin-rite bishops in the United States eligible to vote on the questions, the required two-thirds votes in favor of each of the sections would be 163. With 189 eligible bishops attending the meeting, only 134 voted to accept the first section, Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions.

On four subsequent translations, the votes also failed to reach two-thirds, meaning the 55 bishops not in attendance will be polled by mail for their votes on all five parts. That process was expected to take about two weeks.

The items that failed to pass contain prefaces for the Mass for various occasions; votive Masses and Masses for the dead; solemn blessings for the end of Mass; prayers over the people and eucharistic prayers for particular occasions, such as for evangelization or holy orders.

The closest of the votes was on the Order of the Mass II, with its prefaces, blessings and eucharistic prayers, with 159 yes, 19 no and three abstentions.

The bishops did have enough votes to approve a sixth action item from the Committee on Divine Worship, a Spanish-language lectionary. After that vote of 181 to 2, with three abstentions, the bishops' president, Cardinal Francis E George of Chicago joked: "Ahora, vamos a continuar en espanol" ("Now we will continue in Spanish.")

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, warned that delaying approval or failing to send the Vatican guidance by the end of November will risk shutting the U.S. bishops out of the translation approval process.

Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., had several times raised questions about the timetable for submitting the liturgical texts and voiced frustration with their grammar, sentence structure and word choices that he said were not suited to contemporary worship.

"I say yes to more accurate Latin translation ... yes to a more elevated tone," Bishop Trautman said from the floor. "But a resounding no to incomplete sentences, to two and three clauses in sentences, no to 13 lines in one sentence, no to archaic phrases, no to texts that are not proclaimable, not intelligible and not pastorally sensitive to our people."

In an interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Trautman singled out for example a phrase included in the translations for votive Masses and Masses for the dead: "May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of his dew."

"What does that even mean?" he asked. Another particular frustration for Bishop Trautman were phrases such as "the sweetness of your grace."

"I don't think the word 'sweetness' relates to people today," at least not in the way the translation intends, he told CNS.

Bishop Serratelli, who sits on the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, known as ICEL, told the meeting that ICEL members pray the texts aloud as they draft the English versions.

He also emphasized that after an eight-year process to get to this point, the Vatican is waiting on the U.S. bishops to weigh in with their approval.

"We're at the end of the process," Bishop Serratelli said. Of the missal text, he said it's "a very, very good text It's not perfect, but we're at the end of a longer, healthy process."

In June 2008 the Vatican granted its "recognitio," or confirmation, to the translation of the main parts of the Mass. The U.S. bishops had in June 2006 voted to approve the material.

Bishop Serratelli explained to reporters at a press conference after the meeting that he expected enough votes among the bishops being polled by mail to result in approval all of the texts. If any fail to get two-thirds support, those sections will come back to the bishops as a whole at their November meeting.

Typically, attendance is higher at the November meeting, which is where the USCCB conducts most of its conference business.

In November 2008 the U.S. bishops signed off on another section, the Proper of the Seasons, which includes the proper prayers for Sundays and feast days during the liturgical year.

Yet to come for approval by the U.S. bishops are new translations of the Proper of the Saints, propers for the dioceses, antiphons, eucharistic prayers for Masses with children, introductory material and appendices. The propers are expected to be taken up by the U.S. bishops at their regular business meeting in the fall.

As the material was introduced a day earlier, among a handful of questions raised about the process was Bishop Trautman's question about the timetable for sending the finished missal changes off to the Vatican and what he found to be too short a time for review.

Noting that the text came to the bishops at a very busy time of year, close to Holy Week and Easter, he said its 812 pages -- 406 each of English and Latin -- meant few bishops had time to do detailed reviews, Bishop Trautman said.

Bishop Serratelli disagreed that time was too short, saying the material went to the bishops for review in March.

"The Holy See wants it in November," he said.

The new translations originate with ICEL, made up of representatives of 11 main English-speaking bishops' conferences.

The bishops conferences of each English-speaking nation receive the same material for review and have the chance to weigh in on the text. Once each national conference has submitted their recommendations, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments takes the material for confirmation before issuing a "recognitio."

Epicedium for an Episema

Quoth the Chantmaster: Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! how could you doooooo that? leaving those two episemas, just LYING there!.... like ROADKILL!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Theology 101

"Remember, if you can understand it, it isn't God."

A line from, Fr. Jeff Keyes' blog.
Self-centered person that I am, the worst aspect of how overworked your average parish priest is, is the infrequency with which he updates a blog that was once one of my daily reads.

Yet another reason to pray for vocation ;o)

I wonder if anyone at the Intensive is discerning a vocation to the priesthood?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Singing Dotted Pumpkins.....

Chant Intensive just grows more and more awesome.
I have been fortunate enough to have many wonderful, gifted teachers in my life, from Mrs. D for 1st grade, to Jillian who almost managed to make it look as if I can dance, to that terrific math lecture in college, to Mr C for AP American History -- but Scott Turkington is very nearly in a class by himself.
He is a great teacher, a GREAT teacher.

He also has a trait I envy, whether because his face is so pleasantly open, or because he is so joyously zealous about his subject -- or heck, maybe because he's a good person, did you ever think THAT might be where he has it all over you, Scelata?


But in any case, he can manage to express a position in no uncertain terms, leaving no room for doubt -- without seeming to ipso facto disparage the opposite position.

Is is a kind of optimism? I don't know, but everything is just so positive, so affirming.

Anyway, despite being someone who had to re-take the Intensive -- because I failed it last year 8oP -- I'm suddenly not displeased with my progress. Some of it actually did take.

(Strangely, one of the few other teachers with whom I have been privileged to study who is on a par with Scott? Fr. Larry Heiman -- that's right, also a chant master.

Perhaps what conducting in general does for a conductor's heart, biologically speaking, conducting the greatest of all music does for it metaphorically and spiritually?)

Monday, 15 June 2009


I know sometimes when one is working on a really difficult role, there is a point, near the end of the process when everything falls apart, instead of progressing one seems to have gone backwards, nothing one has discovered so far works or even makes any sense -- and then, after an interval, EUREKA!

So maybe that's what is happening with my solfegge skill...

It doesn't matter, the first day of the Chant Intensive was terrific. I love Scott. I love Arlene. I love Sr Pauline. I love the staff at Loyala. I love everyone.


Killing Baby Girls

Family balancing? Let's call it what it is.
The trend is buried deep in United States census data:seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent.

In those families, if the first child was a girl, it was more likely that a second child would be a boy, according to recent studies of census data. If the first two children were girls, it was even more likely that a third child would be male.

Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.

New immigrants typically transplant some of their customs and culture to the United States — from tastes in food and child-rearing practices to their emphasis on education and the elevated social and economic status of males. The appeal to immigrants by clinics specializing in sex selection caused some controversy a decade ago....

But a number of experts expressed surprise to see evidence that the preference for sons among Asian-Americans has been so significantly carried over to this country. “That this is going on in the United States — people were blown away by this,” said Prof. Lena Edlund of Columbia University.
In general, more boys than girls are born in the United States, by a ratio of 1.05 to 1. But among American families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the likelihood of having a boy increased to 1.17 to 1 if the first child was a girl, according to the Columbia economists. If the first two children were girls, the ratio for a third child was 1.51 to 1 — or about 50 percent greater — in favor of boys....
The preference for males among some immigrant Asians may fade with assimilation, experts said. And no one expects it to result in the lopsided male majorities like those in China, where, according to a study published this year in the British Medical Journal, the government’s one-child policy has resulted in the world’s highest sex disparity among newborns — about 120 boys for every 100 girls.

“The patients come in and they all think they owe me an excuse, but the bottom line is it’s cultural,” said Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of the Fertility Institutes, a California clinic that began sex-selection procedures in New York in March.

The Fertility Institutes, which does not offer abortions, has unabashedly advertised its services in Indian- and Chinese-language newspapers in the United States.

“Culturally, there are a lot of strange things that go on in the world,” Dr. Steinberg said. “Whether we agree with it, it’s not harming anyone.”

Efforts by clinics to appeal to Indian families in the United States provoked criticism and some community introspection in 2001. Some newspapers and magazines that ran advertisements promoting the clinics, which offered sex-selection procedures, expressed regret at the perpetuation of what critics regard as a misogynistic practice.
Oh no, ya think? Misogyny? How can that be? Reproductive "rights" are all about empowering women.
If you kill most of them, the girls who are left will all that much more special.
Can't you see?
That's true feminism.
So: = killing ?


Sunday, 14 June 2009

"F'Cap", Devotions, and Devotion


Right after confessing my guilty attraction.... to "moldy old", (no, I shall not tell you whom I quote,) devotions, I happened across this column by His Excellency in Portland:

The Catholic Church incorporates into its liturgical practices a significant number of devotions. The most notable and traditional of these is the devotion known as exposition and benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. ...

One of the illegitimate interpretations of the liturgical adaptations of the 1960s was that such devotions were to be diminished and limited. The unfortunate interpretation seems to have arisen, in part, because of a previous overemphasis on devotional practices which sometimes eclipsed even the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One still occasionally hears the stories of Mass attendees reciting their rosaries throughout Mass or engaged in other private devotions while Mass was being celebrated. My own recollections include images of my grandparents reciting Czech prayers and the rosary during Mass. The modern liturgist cringes at the thought of such a perceived aberration. Yet, I know that my grandparents had a tremendously deep and rich devotion to the Eucharist and while they may have engaged in other devotions during the course of Holy Mass they were never far in thought from the Lord whose sacrifice they were also recalling.[emphasis supplied]

Nevertheless, those spiritual activities which were classified as “devotions” were frowned upon, discouraged and even forbidden. This was done, in many instances, without a suitable catechesis and without a legitimate interpretation of what full and active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice entailed. Full and active participation, which is the phrase from the liturgical documents, was often interpreted in an inappropriately superficial fashion to mean physical activity. [emphasis supplied] Thus there was a great increase in “participation” through recitation of the Mass parts in English, reading the scriptures, leading the prayers of the faithful, and singing, but whether this actually led to a deepened “full and active participation” in the Holy Sacrifice on the part of the congregation as envisioned by the Council is certainly questionable. It is legitimate to wonder whether my grandparents were not just as fully and actively participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice even though their participation would have had all of the external appearances of great passivity. ...

[This is brought to mind by] the more and more frequent reference to the future Roman Missal with its more careful, intentional and perhaps even more devotional translation. This new translation will most likely be available for liturgical use in the fall of 2010. There is a founded hope that this new work can help accomplish more completely the “full and active participation” intended by the Council. While it was the intent that this participation be interior as well as exterior, it is highly possible that the actual result was a replacement of the interior participation by the exterior participation. [emphasis supplied] Since the interior looked to be more passive and the exterior more active a false sense of “greater participation” was generated. ...

The more somber and dignified language of the new translation as well as beautifully ceremonial devotions have the potential of helping us lift minds and hearts to God and to Godly things a bit more effectively. Liturgy and devotions are concerned with both the mind and the heart. Beautiful, dignified language, while not always appealing to the mind, can and does appeal to the heart. The ceremony of solemn exposition and benediction may not appeal to the secular or practical mind but it appeals very strongly to and touches the heart. I think it enhances the possibility of a deeper interior participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where the host used for adoration is consecrated. Without the devotions we run the risk of losing our hearts. With an exaggerated emphasis on devotions we run the risk of undermining intellectual knowledge and understanding. Both are necessary. They complement one another

I started out with a reference to the Litany of Our Lord Jesus Christ Priest and Victim..... prayers for priests: “That You would deign to provide Your people with pastors after Your own heart; That you would deign to fill them with the spirit of Your priesthood; That You would deign to give them gentleness in their ministry, resourcefulness in their actions and constancy in their prayer; That through them You would deign to promote the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament everywhere.” The good and holy response, which needs to be both interior and exterior: “We beseech You, hear us.”

By Bishop Robert Vasa

Te Deum, Laudamus!

Even as things a little closer to home threatened to become more disappointing, liturgically and aesthetically, my week of wonders continued.
Shrine of Christ the King

Actually, I shouldn't complain, the choir has been golden on the psalms, on the (too infrequent) English language propers.... and they were singing with the angels on the Monteverdi last week.
Part of it is helpful (for a change!) end of season attendance attrition, as some occasionally problematic singers are too busy elsewhere. (Deo gratias!)

But back to the point -- Wednesday I had Himself drop me off at St John Cantius, (honest, God, and any F'Cap Deputies reading, this is rare!) , to be, frankly, a spectator and auditor at an Extraordinary Form Requiem -- I had found out at the last minute, and knew I wouldn't be there for the entire Liturgy, (there are advantages and disadvantages to being a one-car family,) but the music was exquisite, and very moving.

I need to find out what the Ordinary was.

Then we both, as originally intended, assisted at the anticipated EF Corpus Christi Mass.

What can I say....? except what I always say: As if something IMPORTANT were going on.

And one of the most powerful celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation I have ever been privileged to receive, (well, the rottener you are, the better the absolution of your sins is gonna be, huh? And I told the confessor, a new personal record -- "...four DAYS since my last confession...")

But I digress.

And on Friday, after a little more juggling of schedules pick-up/drop-off I went to Benediction at the Institute of Christ the King.
Some highlights -- the brilliantly (almost comically, ) serious, tiny torch-bearers; chatting with Cardinal George afterwards, (he is a surprisingly regular guy, of all the bishops I've ever met, easily the most down to earth); the stirring Bruckner Ecce Sacerdos; the remarkable reception afterward, (where did trads get the reputation for dourness?); the self-abnegation and diffidence of all the ministers and musicians; the roof-raising closing hymn; and surprisingly perhaps, the SILENCES.

Long, warm, pregnant silences.

I've never encountered anything quite like them.
(For someone who grew up without it, I am becoming hugely attached to Benediction.)

And above all, (this was really the point of the post, took me long enough, huh?)

Kevin Allen's Te Deum.

Just, wow.

Especially the Tu Ad Liberandum section.

But no, the entire composition.

Wow, again.

I am in danger of become an aesthete, maybe I need to make myself attend a Lifeteen liturgy, and remind myself it is not about the Beauty.

"Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool: what is this house that you will build to me? and what is this place of my rest?"

Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.
Compare and contrast...

My blog is not unlike my.... er... real presence.
I repeat myself ad nauseum.
I only have two or three thoughts, which I harp on.
And I suppose I have complained about the national anthem of the Sovereign Kingdom of Pelagia numerous times already.

But there it is, requested unrefusably, and so here I am, again.


But just a question, to all who believe,
"Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive,"
is a suitable and apt substitute for, oh, say,
"God is the strength of his people. In Him, we His chosen live in safety. Save us, Lord, who share in Your life, and give us Your blessing; be our shepherd for ever."*

To what sort of song do you think the USCCB's BCL subcomittee was backhandedly referring when they asked, in their powerpoint about the choice of texts to be sung at Mass, "Is there sufficient emphasis on God’s initiative rather than an overemphasis on human action?"

Just askin'....

*The English of the prescribed texts for the Introit of Ordinary Twelve.

I love my choir...

Well, they're not mine, I suppose I'm theirs.

Anyway, they were wonderful this morning.

Excellent job on the Sequence, (short version, alternating the chant with verse from an 18th c. four-part motet.
Nice, supported and blended sound on the hymns' harmonies (the Fight Song, Let All Mortal Flesh/PICARDY, O Saving Victim/DUGUET, Alleluia Sing to Jesus/HYFRYDOL,) they kicked on the postlude (Saint-Saens' Tollite Hostias,) and were just fine on everything else, (including my adaptation of a snatch of melody from the Gregorian Ave Verum for the Responsorial Psalm. I had done the same thing 3 years ago, but it was too close to the actual chant and someone had a fit. So this time, I made it more recognizably rhythmic and added harmonies. And that someone wasn't at a single Mass, so I could have gotten away with it. Oh well... I'm trying not to think in terms of "getting away with" things.)

Oh, and the harmonies on the Vermulst People's Mass sounded quite wonderful, (often, they, no, we are too.... insistent? yes, that's the word.)

Liszt's O Salutaris
Webbe's Litany of the Sacred Heart
The Canticle from Daniel (WAYFARING STRANGER)
Mozart's Ave Verum

Another Restless Heart...

... this time, in the breast of a thirteen year old boy.

Interesting story in the NYTimes, a child raised without Faith by his lapsed Catholic, (and one-time monk,) Dad and un-churched and perhaps anti-Catholic Mom, wanting, looking for, needing something.

And finding at least some of it by leading his parents to the local Presbyterian church.

(Led there partly by Beauty, incidentally. Don't say it doesn't matter.)

(And drawn in deeper by fellowship. Don't say it doesn't matter.)

Am I the only one who read of the boy's impending confirmation and wondered, where does it say he was ever baptized?

A point the story makes, albeit only implicitly, and even, perhaps, without the journalist's awareness, is what bringing offspring into the world is designed to do for parents, it is a cliche how often young adults feel the need to "go back," whether to church or family or tradition, only at the birth of a child.

Note the ages of these parents.

Deferring parenthood until it's convenient seems to thwart a design, no?

I'm just askin'....

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Proudly Identitarian

That is I.

But I am also chastened by His Excellency's reminder that we Identitarians must find a way to work with those who are not as zealous about... well, frankly, what distinguishes Catholics from those who are not Catholic.

I've been thinking about it as regards musicians.

Seven degrees of Francis Bacon, and all... I find myself encountering musicians whose aims and composers whose oeuvre I have, and do, (justly,) disparage -- but since our intent can never be to drive them out of the loft, (or worse, out of the Church,) but rather to admonish them and bring them round to orthodoxy and orthopraxy I need to stop being .... so loud.

I need to strategize -- there is always a compliment to be paid, and encouraging word that can be said.
Isn't there?

I need to get me some more o' those Cookies of Joy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Please, anyone who reads this --

Offer a prayer for a dear priest, who has just been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
I would rather not violate his privacy by posting his name, so perhaps a prayer for all our holy priests, especially those who labor on with health problems?

Vespers and 'Burgers and Prayers, O My!

Yesterday was a nearly perfect day, and today isn't shaping up much off from that benchmark and the rest of the week is looking not too shabby and next week is the Chant Intensive, and then the Colloquium and then the Chant Institute -- who wouldn't want to be me?!??!?

And I have been so blessed at the beauty of the liturgies I have attend lately -- I am in danger of becoming like a museum-goer, and just leaning back and soaking in the splendour .

(When I get caught up, I'll have to tell you about the Mystical Cookies, so I was cookied as well as burgered -- although I did not give in to Himself's plea and tell the waitperson to "burger me!")

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

And in other news, Cheerios experience no real emotion

And those Keebler cookies?
Cooked by people!
I knooooow......
A California federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a San Diego woman who said she ate Cap’n Crunch cereal for years thinking “crunchberries” were real fruit.

Janine Sugawara sued General Mills, the maker of Cap’n Crunch, for fraud for claiming the colored balls of sugary cereal sprayed with strawberry juice concentrate were fruit. Sugawara only noticed the true nature of the cereal after eating it for four years, she claimed in her suit.

Judge Morrison England of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, however, dismissed Sugawara’s suit on May 21 and ruled that she had failed to prove her legal case against the Cap’n.

“A reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist,” the judge said in his ruling. “So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world.”

The judge ruled that Sugawara’s suit, which had sought class-action status to seek damages on behalf of all others who were similarly tricked, had failed to establish that she relied on General Mills’ fraudulent claims in eating Cap’n Crunch thinking it contained real fruit.

“Plaintiff did not explain why she could not reasonably have figured this out at any point during the four years she alleged she bought Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries in reliance on defendant’s fraud,” the judge said.

This was not the first time Sugawara had gone to court to challenge the contents of a classic American breakfast cereal. She previously filed a lawsuit claiming Froot Loops do not contain real fruit. That suit was similarly dismissed by the court.

O Columba spes Scotorum!

Of course it's also St Columcille's feast day -- he was, as saints go, a bit of a bad-ass, and other than his Irishness is only endeared to me by having one of the sweetest and most singable of Irish hymntunes named after him. Although he has a bit of Catholic nerd blog traction right now, in light of a copyright issue, literally fighting, over, literally, a right to copy -- the Vulgate.

I have no objections to this warrior saint being taken as a patron of ours in the ongoing war against the Forces of Dimness who would try to enforce their ownership of, and right to profit by the very texts of the Mass.

Monday, 8 June 2009

"Hymns laden with doctrinal details to inoculate right-thinking Christians against heresies"

Imagine that!
Hymns that mean something!
That say things that matter!
Hymns with a purpose!
Instead of, "well, it gives me a peaceful feeling....", or "I like it...." or best of all, "it's just a hymn, what do the words matter?"

Read about St Ephrem, here, and here.

Give thanks to the One Who sent His anger... that His anger might be a merchant of mercy.

I have an idea!
Maybe there should be a new rule: you can sing any non-liturgical text you want at Mass --AS LONG AS IT'S WRITTEN BY A DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH.


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Reynold Hillenbrand and the Liturgical Movement

A heartfelt thank you to Mary Jane Ballou, harpist and schola director and all around swell person for pointing me toward this.

I admit to being the sort of careless reader whose mind often fills in the ends or middles of words often without regard to sense -- and in the several years that I have been attending seminars and buying books there, I was vaguely under the misapprehension that the imprint of Mundelein's Liturgical Institute was Hildebrand, as in "Dietrich von".

Anyway, plenty good things there, especially for those who from press of time, eccentrically fading eyesight, or intellectual laziness, (raising hand rapidly, three times in succession,) are more prone to finish an article than a book.

Although I would quibble with this quote from Mons. Hillenbrand on the first page of the exhibit:
The death of Christ was the central act of history.

Only His death? not His very life? or His resurrection? I really like the term, the bete noir of certain conservative Catholics with whom I fell in several years ago, the Christ Event, (although it sounds better in other languages -- in English, the word "event" is so blunt it is perfect for hyping a used car sale.)

I think it may be a failure to balance all the elements of the Christ Event, a disproportionate emphasis on His death that gave rise to the now all too common tendency, (inching toward heresy,) to ignore the death, the sacrifice the need for atonement -- after all, one wouldn't need to atone for the spiritual equivalent of a fractured femur, and we're not sinful, right? it's our brokenness that needs fixing...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

What does "optional" mean?

Whilst I was working on the Sequence for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, it was pointed out to me that this sentence from the GIRM, which I and all the musicians I know thought pretty straightforward, is nothing of the sort, it is very ambiguous...

"The Sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day, is sung before the Alleluia."

I was naturally reading "except for on..." to mean "except for on... when it is required, DUH," and although the sheer existence of Victimae Paschali and Veni Sancte would indicated that this is the correct reading, it was pointed out that the sentence on its own could mean "except on.... when it is forbidden."

Studying the "American Documents" in Rome?

My understanding is that the the subject is pretty much responsible for the content of entries is this grade of "Who's Who."

So what exactly do you suppose is meant by this:
[A Catholic liturgical musician] studied in Rome and was exposed to the world view of American documents [emphasis supplied] and other ministries.
I have never thought myself to, or wanted to, belong to the "American Catholic Church", or the "US Catholic Church"; and so far as I know, (I am open to correction on this,) the bishop of Atlanta, or the bishop of N'awlins, or the USCCB as a whole, or committees thereof have no more authority over me than the bishop of Juticalpa or of Qacha's Nek.
It has always irked me that so much emphasis was put by liturgical PTB on "our" documents (or what they tried unsuccessfully to convince me were "our" documents,) rather than universally authoritative documents.
In 2003, at how many nipmishy gatherings I attended did a presenter wax laudatory and nostalgic over the anniversary of MCW, already on it's way to oblivion then, while ignoring this.
This musician's CV may not be illustrative of such an instance, of course, it may just be oddly worded.

Friday, 5 June 2009


There seems to be a snarky joke to be made here, but I can't come up with it. I'll have to give it some thought.
Among NPM's offerings at their upcoming convention is one on dealing with the aging voice; do they mean the increasing irrelevance of what the SoV2 types have to say? or the demographics of organzations like this?
Not that I am in a position to talk...

Scelata enjoying the first gin and tonic of the summer

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

"Rowdy" Amish?

Oh, the times, oh, the mores, oh, my...
What exactly is going on? (And how did I miss this when it was news? I have to rely on Craig Ferguson to keep up with these tidbits from the police blotter....)

Sign of the apocalypse?
Leon, N.Y. (AP) -- Police cracking down on rowdy Amish youths ticketed a teenager for having beer in his horse-drawn buggy when they pulled him over on a western New York road.

They say [a] 17-year-old ... was charged with underage possession of alcohol after he was stopped by Cattaraugus County deputies late Monday night in the town of Leon, 40 miles south of Buffalo.... the teen admitted drinking beer, but passed a field sobriety test.

Amish man in the buggy, [a] 22-year-old... was charged with providing the beer. Both are scheduled to be arraigned June 22.

Patrols were stepped up after an Amish elder's property was vandalized when he confronted youths about their drinking and listening to radios.

Do not try to be understood by the world, but rather to be of Christ in the truth."

Happy anniversary to the Holy Father's secretaries

(No, I am not just using this as an excuse to look at, and post pictures of the beautiful Msgr. Georg)

(Besides, I only have the emotional energy to have a crush on one priest at a time, and right now it's the former Joseph Alois Cardinal Ratzinger)

A Totally Frivolous Relic Question

The autograph of a saint would be a second class relic, right?

Wondering what the earliest known extant saint's autograph would be...

Surely there are many each for St Pio, ST Therese of Lisieux, St Thomas Becket, St Ignatius Loyola, etc., but what about any of the Church Fathers?

I've never been an autograph hound, (although I have a handful of books about opera and its stars in which I have scads from the singers mentioned therein.)
My aid to memento famae, or infamae, (no, I'm sure the Latin's all wrong...) has more usually been photos in which the subject wears a pair of golden sunglasses. It is remarkable how accommodating some very famous people are when asked to do something so silly.

I now realize that, believing I have encountered not just saints but people who will actually be canonized as such some day, I could have been gathering relics.

(I recently acquired a new crucifix, and had it blessed yesterday in such a way that I believe it will someday be a second class relic, although the priest who obliged laughed and turned the color of a poppy when I said so...)

A Woman's Way With Words

...or do I mean her "wayward words"?

In any case, coming from a study of Office Hymns, reflecting on the lyrics of the contents of a modern "hymnal":
"Instead of honeyed phrases they give us high fructose corn syrup!"
(Mind you, I am in no position to throw such stones, my tastes are so puerile that blank verse hymns irk me. Nonetheless, a martyr to the marketing success of Archer Daniels Minions, I can appreciate another's denigration of corn syrup. Not to mention of bad hymns.)

Caecilia Magazine & the Definition of Insanity

Yet again, the CMAA has made available a treasure of enormous value, a storehouse of back issues of Caecilia, the journalistic precursor of Sacred Music.

With my slow connection, I can't read these at will, but will get to them in time, and honestly, I've already pored through many of them in the flesh, or rather, in the paper.

The reactions to their availability saddened me at first, reminding me of my reaction when I first had access to several decades of this and other similar periodicals (Praise to the God of gods for open stack libraries!) To whit:
I am struck, above all, by some of the articles, because they sound so similar to those today -- some could have even been written today!

Truly, our fight for appropriate Church music did not start in 1965 !!!


I was struck by the same thing; these articles have nearly the same tone--encouraging and supportive while upholding high musical standards--as any number of contemporary issues of Sacred Music or many discussions here on the forum. It is refreshing and heartening to know that these battles were happening well before 2009, and the very thought of similar struggles in the past gives me some hope for the future.
Refreshing!??! Heartening??!?

Knowing that the same problems have been recognized before, the same right solutions proposed, but the same wrong paths apparently taken!
(I remember earning a glare from a librarain, inadvertantly laughing aloud so as not to cry at one article during the Great Open Stack Sabbatical, I think in Diapason, but perhaps not, an optimistic musician/sister triumphantly writing in the wake of the Vatican Council, or perhaps in anticipation of it, that now at last they would rid parish music of all that inferior stuff, the low Mass + random hymns, the insipid waltzes - if you start humming Let There Be Peace On Earth or Come, Live'n the Light sarcastically now, I wouldn't blame you. The irony of the history of the decades between her writing and my reading made me think ruefully of [Truth], The Daughter of Time.)

But through the intercession of the Great Bow-Tied One, I too find myself refreshed and heartened -- a post of his, in part:
the movement back then was extensive and growing but mainly because of two forces: centralized dictate and centralized funding. It became like central planning in time: it looks impressive from the outside but the roots were weakening underneath. The winds came and it all-but disappeared in a few years. This indicates a serious problem. And there were serious problems. When all the work is done by and funding by a few people at the top of a production pyramid, the lower orders develop a sense of dependency and lack intellectual and material resources to maintain during a crisis.

Ours is completely different in this respect. The energy is from below, the talent is diffuse, the passion is wide spread and deep, and there is no one organizing anything from a central location, much less funding it. So the roots are deeper; the foundation is more solid. And the movement today is not the slightest bit naive: we all live in the real world and faces relentless challenges, which have steeled us all. Nor is there a danger of money being cut off or a danger of being controlled by a funding source. It doesn't exist. We've all learned to get by as best we can. This necessity has been the mother of great innovation, and it has prepared us for a long struggle ahead. We all know very well that the only source of our growth is hard work and passion and evangelism. We are not waiting for a sugar daddy to save us or for some pronouncement from on high that makes everyone do what we wish. Instead we are taking the initiative ourselves at all levels and seeking to inspire by the force of truth and beauty.

And of course, Greg sagely points out, "one other thing: technology. At a bare minimum, how many people on this forum would even be aware of the existence of the CMAA if it wasn't for the Internet? I certainly wouldn't. Then add the difficulty of obtaining music before copying machines, much less computers and printers."

So praise the God of gods for open stacks and the interwebs!

All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well....