Thursday, December 29, 2005


The role of a good Church music director does not only encompass that of the artist perfecting his craft for the benefit of his congregation. Besides the obvious day to day business, our very title implies much more: direction. Not just directing other musicians, but directing and administrating a music department. Not only must a church musician know his craft and work to develop it daily, he must also function as an executive of sorts, making decisions and striking plans that will allow his department to flourish and grow. One may demonstrate a virtuosic keyboard technique, but, for example, if he is unable to determine what is beneficial for his department or if he can not maintain order at a choir rehearsal or make best use of the allotted time for choir preparation, his work as a music director is ineffective.
Critics (frequently music directors themselves) and liturgists will often pose a curious question to music directors: “Do you think you are a ‘pastoral musician’?” Such rhetoric! Better yet, this: “Do you think you act ‘pastorally’?” Nowadays we stumble across this concept in written media, at seminars, conferences, and sometimes even at parish staff meetings: the necessity to act “pastorally”. It is a product of the pervasive modern double-talk mentality, the fondness to perceive as utterly complex something rather pedestrian. In the old days, we just called it “common sense” or even “street sense”. The problem with these old fashioned terms is that they don’t really set anyone apart. In plain English, it’s trendy to be “pastoral”. We can attend a “workshop” to become pastoral. Who would pay money to attend a “Common Sense Workshop”? So, let’s go ahead and be pastoral. It’s he in term, so let’s use it.
But what does it mean to be “pastoral”? The immediate and simplest answer is this: to act like a shepherd, to shepherd the flock. The Western tradition informs our perception of “shepherding”. The Roman poet Virgil describes in vivid imagery the pastoral life in the Georgics. In fact, literature through the ages, both religious and secular, offers descriptions of the pastoral. The pastoral life is gentle and calm. It is peaceful and serene. Lambs frolic as the shepherd plays his pipe beneath a sprawling shade tree. The twenty-third Psalm is a thumbnail image of all this: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…He makest me to lie down in green pastures…beside the still waters…repose.” The lovely, bucolic life! Unfortunately for most who define the “pastoral” musician’s attitude in media and workshops, this is often where the image ends: I want, the shepherd gives. There is a medieval German legend about a wonderful place like this. The lucky inhabitants lack for nothing. Hungry? One has only to part his lips and a baked chicken lands in his mouth. Now that’s pastoral: I want it, so I get it. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But is this really what “being pastoral” should be? If we are to be “pastoral” church musicians, does that mean that we are nothing more than ecclesiastic house boys who happen to read music? As a witty colleague of mine once quipped, “Ganymede, I ain’t”. Let’s read a bit farther along in the Psalm 23: “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”.
The shepherd’s rod and staff have two purposes. They are used by the shepherd as weapons to keep harm from his flock. They also are used to keep the sheep in line. The shepherd’s staff after all has a crooked end to restrain a sheep that has gone the wrong way. Sure, the rod and staff give comfort in protection from harm, but they also dispense discipline. The shepherd gives the sheep what the want, but more importantly, he gives them what they need, like it or not. He leads the flock to good grazing land, but he also has to keep them together and on track. If all they received from the shepherd is what they wanted, the flock would splinter and wander in all directions: All we like sheep. Recently I met with a bride and her mother to discuss wedding music. At the end of such sessions, I typically collect all pertinent fees. This particular family happened not to be parishioners and were assessed what most parishes call the “non-parishioner fee”. The mother was outraged at having to dispense funds for the use of the church. She became quite aggressive in the meeting, and told me that she could just as easily have the wedding across town for free. I also knew that the bride’s family owned a very successful business in town: money was not the issue. I responded, “as a shrewd business woman, you should know, then, that it is in your best interest to go where you wouldn’t have to pay a fee.” Surprise to her: profit was not my goal. The only problem with the family’s home parish church was its architecture. Built in the 1970’s, it was constructed in a round seating format and has an extremely short aisle. The bride’s train was too long and would stretch, literally, from the sanctuary to the narthex. They needed, frankly, a traditional church edifice with a long aisle to accommodate the extra yards of trailing fabric. Afterwards, recounting this story to colleagues, I was reprimanded by a few who claimed I had not acted “pastorally”, that the fee should have been waived because the bride so much wanted to be married in my parish church. In fact, I had been “pastoral”, not in the customary “still waters, green pastures” way, but in the “rod and staff” way. These people didn’t need pampering, although they wanted it. They needed discipline, and they got it. Ironically, the groom informed his fiancĂ© some months later that he would not marry her. I surmise he had grown tired of being pastoral.
I never try to conceal the fact that I was not born a Catholic. It does not perturb me in the least that I am frequently referred to not as a “Catholic”, but as a “Convert”. I started off my journey as a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a member of a rather conservative, largely German parish. I am grateful that I was a Lutheran first. Starting off in this way gave me a greater advantage over my Catholic peers, I think: I had the opportunity to attend Sunday School and to learn “why I was Lutheran”. I often remark that I learned more about Roman Catholic doctrine in Lutheran religious education classes than any cradle Catholic learns in a lifetime. That is, however, the topic of another essay. To this day, the role model who demonstrated, in my opinion, perfect “pastoral” conduct was Pastor Fessler, of happy memory. I remember him as a large, stout man possessing an authoritative, often stentorian voice, particularly when speaking the words of the general absolution: “I as a called, ordained minister of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you!” After that proclamation, not one soul in the nave was uncertain whether or not the Lord had granted mercy upon a poor, miserable sinner. Fessler had class. Not only was he clearly audible across the vast nave without amplification, he also knew when to keep silence. In parish administrative matters, he was the shepherd of Virgilian verse: reclining beneath the tree as the lambs frolicked, but always with a watchful eye. In Missouri Synod churches, the parish is administered not only by the pastor and the vestry, the equivalent of sorts to the Catholic Pastoral Council, but also by the assembly of voters, comprised of all adult parishioners who had received Confirmation. Fessler and the parish president conducted these meetings. Discussion, I remember, was often very animated, but Fessler would say nothing and offered no opinions. At the end of debating, he would rise and proclaim, “I have heard all the discussion. Now, this is how we will proceed,” continuing to give the final word of action. Now that’s what being pastoral is all about. He let the sheep play, let them graze, then, using his crook, he herded them together and moved them to another place. He didn’t get in the way, he didn’t spoon feed them. He let them be sheep. Fessler taught an important lesson about being pastoral. One listens, then guides accordingly.
“Are you a pastoral musician?” To answer yes to this, doesn’t mean that one engages in poling the congregation what they like to sing and then delivers those requests at the next Mass. It also doesn’t mean that one transposes the hymns down a third so that the altos are content, or up a fifth so that the lead soprano is happy on her high C.
Conducting oneself as a pastoral musician, if one must use that term, means to survey the state of the musical life of the parish. Consider the repertoire the parish is used to, and possibly to push the limits of their tolerance or acceptance. Being pastoral doesn’t mean always being “Mr. Nice Guy.” Mother always said “eat your peas”. As a child, I remember several evenings sitting alone at the dinner table, starring down a plate of green peas, while my siblings were upstairs playing board games or watching television. “We only sing Glory and Praise here”. To act completely non-pastorally would be to give in and respond, “that’s fine with me.” It’s really not fine. The “we only sing” statements mean it’s high time to add some musical peas to the menu. “We don’t know that hymn.” So the pastoral musician should say, “Oh, ok, then we’ll never use number 315.”? This pastoral musician says to the we-don’t-knowers: “You don’t know it? Good, well, then we’ll sing it throughout Lent. By Palm Sunday, you’ll know it by heart.” In the end, they’ll be better for it. Why lead the sheep into one small corner of the pasture, when they can be lead just as easily to explore the whole territory? That’s where the rod and staff come into play. If the church musician doesn’t have a “rod and staff”, or if he is scared or apprehensive to use them, then he’s cheating his flock out what they need.
The music for Mass is meant to enrich worship of the Almighty. It is meant to offer the faithful a glimpse of the Beatific Vision as the earthbound liturgy joins with the eternal heavenly liturgy. A church musician who uses plain common sense, sizes up what needs to be done to enrich the musical life of his parish, listens, and then makes his own conclusions is the one who acts pastorally. Also, a church musician must be informed by Church doctrine and tradition, know Holy Scripture, and have at least a cursory knowledge of Church/Word History. His knowledge must come from Church documents and Holy Writ, not be based upon hearsay or loose opinions gleaned from some hired “workshop facilitator.” The truly “pastoral” musician is no drone. He must have a brain and use it – not only for his own good, but for his the good of the faithful, whose worship of God he is there to enhance. An ignorant church musician is a stranger to the flock, an imposter who frightens the sheep and drives them away. It takes much effort and much time to be truly pastoral. Anyone can give a congregation what they want. Much more challenging is to give them what they need. Using the metaphorical rod and staff from the Psalm, balanced with timing and education, the flock will get what they need, and come to know that what they need is really what they want, too.

Solemn High Mass of Christmas, Midnight, Fatima Church, Lafayette Louisiana

CAROLS FOR CHRISTMAS -- Choir and Congregation
Angels We Have Heard on High (vss. 1&2)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
I Wonder as I Wander, arr. Pennington: Contralto & Celtic Harp
The First Nowell
Hark, The Herald
God Rest You, Merry
In the Bleak Mid-Winter
If You Would Hear the Angels Sing, Williams: choir
Angels We Have Heard on High (vss. 3&4)

Proclamatio Nativitatis Christi: handbell & bass
Processio: Noel sur les grands jeux et Duo, L.C. Daquin
Introitus: Adeste Fideles
Kyrie: Missa in C, "Dominicus", K. 66, W. A. Mozart
Gloria: Dominicusmesse
Gospel Procession: Noel tierce en taille, L.C. Daquin
Alleluia: Gregorian & versicle (2d) "Dominus dixit, etc."
Blessing of the Creche: Benedictus, H-moll Messe, BWV 232, J.S. Bach
Credo: Dominicusmesse
Oratio Universalis: recto tono
Offertorium: Cantique de Noel, Adam
Le Sommeil de L'enfant Jesus
Sanctus: Dominicusmesse
Benedictus: Missa VIII, de Angelis
Mysterium: Christ has died, etc.
Amen: de Angelis (first phrase of the Sanctus from Missa VIII)
Pater: Mode IV
Agnus: Missa VIII, de Angelis
Communio: Quell est cette odeur agreable?, arr. Willcocks
Tollite Hostias, Saint-Saens
Vom Himmel Hoch, Celtic Harp
Silent Night, choir & congregation
Postludium: Symph. V, Toccata, Ch. M. Widor

A note to the above: the 52 rank Hoffmann developed a nasty cypher right before the gradual, so I had neither celestes nor manual reeds for the remainder of the Mass. I substituted the Daquin Noel Suisse for the Widor as the Postludium. Hopefully the contact problem will be repaired by the feast of the Ephiphany, when I plan to give another go to the Widor.

Midnight Mass at the Cathedral

Sorry for not posting sooner, it's been crazy around here. Merry Christmastide to all! ~nb

The Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Preludes (beginning at 11pm--anthems, organ pieces, and congregational carols)

Noel Etranger -- Louis-Claude D'Aquin
CAROL: Good Christian Friends, Rejoice
Rosa Mystica -- Chrysogonus Waddell
CAROL: Lo, How a Rose
Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light -- JS Bach (organ & brass)
CAROL: O Little Town of Bethlehem
In dir ist Freude -- Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (organ & brass)
Angels Carol -- Rutter
Dance Prelude on "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella" -- Christopher Uehlein
CAROL: The First Nowell (arr. Willcocks)
Psallite -- Michael Praetorius
CAROL: What Child is This
O Magnum Mysterium -- Morten Lauridsen (arr. as organ solo by yours truly)
Wonderful Peace (Jul, Jul) -- Gustaf Nordqvist
CAROL: Go Tell It on the Mountain
Carol of the Manger -- Dale Wood

Dominus Dixit -- Chant, Mode II (Graduale Simplex)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing -- MENDELSSOHN (arr. Willcocks, with brass fanfare)

Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

GLORIA: Gloria for Christmastime -- Richard Proulx

Psalm 96: Howard Hughes


Laetentur caeli -- Chant, Mode IV (Graduale Simplex)
O Holy Night -- arr. John Rutter

Community Mass (with the alternate "toccata" organ accompaniment on the Sanctus)

AGNUS DEI: Proulx in F

In splendoribus sanctorum -- Chant, Mode VI (Graduale Romanum)
O Come All Ye Faithful -- ADESTE FIDELIS (arr. Willcocks, with fanfare)
Away in a Manger -- MUELLER
Silent Night -- STILLE NACHT (after 3 verses in English, choir sang verse in German, a cappella, then a verse of "Oooos")

Hallelujah Chorus -- Handel
Joy to the World -- ANTIOCH (arr. by yours truly)

POSTLUDE: Fanfare and Toccata on "Joy to the World" -- Dennis Janzer

There were slight variations to the others Masses (different psalms, different Offertory Hymn for Masses sans choir).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


My wife Ann took some pictures at tonight's concert. Some may be a little fuzzy, as her camera is pretty much on her last leg. Please bear with me.

A better shot of the choir, and my ugly mug (hehehehe)

St. Teresa of the Little Flower and our Crucified Lord looks over Reuel and me (I'm on the right; Reuel, my guest accompanist, is on the left)
The Rodgers Insignia 577 Organ

The choir, directed by yours truly. It kinda looks like it's seen through bifocals, but that's my wife's flash, half shattered. I really have to get her a new camera.

I'll have some sound clips on the next post. Right now they're saved as .wav files, but I need to convert them to .mp3 files. Some of the clips may even be part of my next podcast.
Everyone pulled through tonight. Everything went wayyyyyyyyy beyond my expectations. Attendance was far better than expected, and a lot of happy people greeted the choir and me out the door. The choir was at its best ever!

Special thanks to the choir for its hard work, commitment, and devotion, to Mike Alves and the Tiverton High School Honors Band, Reuel Gifford for his top notch accompaniment (he's as humble as they come, but he was at his usual - great!), Father Jay Finelli, my pastor, boss, and now fellow podcaster, for his tireless support and encouragement, and to all who attended. I can't remember when the last time was that I was this moved. I was dang near speechless.

One shocking note: When I first wrote "Rejoice in the Lord Always", I expected it to run about 4 to 4-1/2 minutes long. When my wife did the audio, also from her camera, little did I ever believe until today that, even with the first measure truncated by the camera, the piece turned out to be six minutes long! 5:59 to be exact! Figure about 6:04 before the minor truncations. That makes for THE longest piece of sacred music I've ever written. Breaks my record of 1999 with "Christus Vincit", which was 5:33. I nearly fell back in my seat when I saw the timing on my wife's media player.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Welcome to the third and newest member of our CHRISTUS VINCIT blogging team, Mr. Jason Pennington. Jason is the organist and music director at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. Jason is experienced in both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran circuits, even being in Germany for a spell.

Glad to see you made it, Jason. I have one more invite out to another friend in the Indianapolis area. I'm waiting to hear from him as well.


Sunday, December 25, 2005


Fr. Finelli has inspired me once again!!! Check soon for updates on CHRISTUS VINCIT Podcasting. I'll let you know how this comes out. I have the day off tomorrow from both the day job and parish duties, so I'll have a better chance to try things out. Right now, it's near 11:00 PM right coast time (8 PM left coast), and I'm about ready to hit the hay. It's amazing I've managed to stay awake, all this time, except for a brief nap at my mother's house this afternoon to try and kill a nasty headache.

And remember, Christmas is not just a day. It's a week. New Year's Day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is its Octave. Christmas Season lasts until January 8, the Epiphany of Our Lord. Normally, it runs a week beyond the Epiphany, that is, the Baptism of Our Lord. However, since Christmas and New Year's both fell on a Sunday this year, forcing the Sunday of the Epiphany to run as late as the 8th, the following Sunday automatically skips to the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.

+Peace, Goodwill, and Goodnight!


Fr. Jay Finelli's Midnight Mass homily can be found at iPadre. When you get there, simply click on "Podcast #9: Midnight Mass Homily". Father opens his podcast with the parish choir (directed by yours truly) singing "O Holy Night". "O Holy Night" was actually our Communion anthem, but Father's precision splicing made it possible to be played before the homily.

"Silent Night, Holy Night", though not listed in the podcast, as performed by our choir, is featured at the end of the podcast. This was on the most part done in unison, mainly because I couldn't bear to play all three verses on just three chords. So for verses 2 and 3, I played around a bit. ;)

Please bear in mind that this choir was built from scratch just last year. Many of our choir either never sang in a choir before, or haven't sung in a choir in a long time. In fact, only one of our choir members was a member of the parish choir when my predecessor was the director. And one 11-year-old young lady with a voice that resembles that of Charlotte Church sang in our junior choir last year. She has really proven herself, because I don't just take any old kid into an adult choir. We're not basilica caliber yet, but we're a long way from where we were a year ago. I take great pride in their progress, and their devotion to the parish.

As Father says: Please don't go to the manger and take Jesus out of there, but take Jesus with you in your hearts. (Someone already scammed our incense charcoal this morning - two bags of it, but someone did bring in a roll so we'd have it for 10:00 Mass).



Answer is in this article compliments of Ma Beck at the Ward Wide Web. Apparently not afraid of mortal sin, that's for sure!



Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas! I did, despite being tired (2-1/2 hours sleep, tops between coming home from Midnight Mass and waking up for morning Masses). Half the choir came back and sang the 10:00 Mass, so instead of the hymns of the non-choir Masses for Offertory and Communion, we went with the anthems from midnight in those places ("Laetentur Caeli" and "O Holy Night", respectively).
Let's see:
Last night: 4:30 Mass, then pick up wife and kids and go to my brother's house, come back, I get a half hour to kill before having to leave for Midnight Mass (my son Chris came with me - he's a hilarious impromptu parodist, so he did a great job of keeping me awake).
Return from Midnight Mass, wake up again at 5:30 AM to let the kids open their gifts, then off to my two Masses, go to mother-in-law's, then to my mother's. My wife's been under the weather for the past couple of days. Please pray for her recovery.


Back to regular Sunday schedule:
4:30 on New Year's Eve / 7:30, 9, and 10:30 on New Year's Day
Choir at 10:30

Introit: PLEADING SAVIOR - Sing of Mary, pure and lowly (Music Issue, #699)
Penitential Rite: parrot Father
Gloria: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Responsorial Psalm: Alstott - May God bless us in his mercy (Missalette, page 45)
Alleluia: DIVINUM MYSTERIUM, adapted by Page
Offertory: EN IST EIN' ROS' - Lo! how a rose e'er blooming (Missalette, #64)
Sanctus: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Anamnesis: Jubilate Deo chant - Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine...
Amen: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Lord's Prayer: Sacramentary chant - English
Agnus Dei: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Communion: GREENSLEEVES - What Child is this (Missalette, #88)
Meditation: Croatian - Ave Maria/As I kneel before you
Recessional: MENDELSSOHN - Hark! the herald angels sing (Missalette, #61)

All of the hymns today have some allusion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the carols: What Child is this - "the Babe, the Son of Mary"; "Hark! the herald angels sing" - "Offspring of the Virgin's womb". The Alstott setting of the Psalm antiphon "May God bless us in his mercy" could be interpreted as chant, despite it being adapted from the carol God rest ye merry, Gentlemen.

It's kind of a relief that Christmas and New Year's fall on Sundays this time around - something that happens only once every five to six years. Especially with the concert falling in between. My travelling music in my van this weekend was WCRB-FM (102.5 in Boston). They saved the "continuous Christmas music" (REAL Christmas music, mind you) for the 30-hour stretch from 6 PM on Christmas Eve to Midnight on Christmas Day night. My favorite of the carols I heard was that lovely arrangement that's in the Oxford books to In the bleak midwinter. It is absolutely gorgeous. I think the tune was the one by Harold Darke.

Well, relax up now, folks! I am. Anyone within reasonable travelling distance to Tiverton, I hope to see some of you on Wednesday evening at our concert!

+In the peace of the Newborn Prince of Peace,

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Greetings to all readers for a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Puer natus in Bethlehem, Alleluia!
Unde gaudet, Jerusalem, Alleluia, alleluia!
In cordis jubilo, Christum natum, adoremus, cum novo cantico!


Friday, December 23, 2005


Volume 1, Number 1 of Veni, Creator Spiritus - the Holy Ghost Music Ministry newsletter, published seasonally/semi-seasonally, is here. It's also added to the Music Ministry site.



The Christus Vincit Network site is up and running. The broken links still there at this time are pages I haven't uploaded yet. Bear with me, they'll get there.

The Christus Vincit Network consists of:
1. Christus Vincit Music - yet to be developed; will be started after I finish the Holy Ghost Music Ministry pages
2. Holy Ghost Music Ministry - about three-quarters done
3. a link to this here blog.

Temporarily, the URL is Eventually I'll be working on shortening that (gotta get up the dough to register and host a real domain name, TBA).

+In Christ,

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Compliments of The Curt Jester:

A few links to some "favorite" carols, then a really cool invention: the Latin lyric to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and even a link to the file of a choir singing it, accompanied by a pipe organ (probably built to theatre specs, but a pipe organ just the same).

Also in the story is a link to a really bad rendition of O Holy Night. I thought being tortured by the Christina Aguilera version was bad, until hearing this. This is from Victor Lams' Free Albums Galore.

Bon appetit!


Equally sick of the generic "happy holidays" crap, my 12-year-old son, Brian, has a more positive way of making a greeting for ALL Americans - a little something for everyone:

Merry happy Christmahanukwanzaakkuh!

In the words of Rocky, as portrayed by Peter Falk in the movie Roommates: "Good! Settled!"

Peace on earth! Good will toward men!


Updated from Previous Post

Fr. Finelli's iPadre Podcast #8, done yesterday - Church Tour. The podcast opens with the iPadre jingle, followed by yours truly doing one of my own impromptus on "Wachet Auf" (Wake, O wake, for night is flying). That little two-manual Rodgers sounds pretty dang good on tape. This was done after everyone cleared out of Mass on Immaculate Conception.

Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, Nick made the Channel 21 newscast with his choir at rehearsal. Go to Channel 21's Media Center, then click "Dream Job". This was taped at choir rehearsal, with the choir performing "The First Nowell", as arranged by David Willcocks. The III/52 pipe organ has recently been restored, and it sounds great!

NOTE: For those readers who don't know about organ specifications, the "III/52" is described thus: the Roman numeral on the left of the slash is the number of manuals (keyboards) on the console of the organ. The Arabic numeral on the right is the number of ranks (groups) of pipes (grouped by voice) in the organ case(s).

+In Christ,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

REQUIESCAT IN PACE - Rev. Rene E. Gagne (1925-2005)

It is with a heavy heart that I break the news that one of my favorite former pastors, Father Rene Gagne (he used the French pronunciation, "Gah-nyeh", not the Americanized "Gag-nee"), went home to Almighty God on December 10. The even sadder part is that I didn't know about it until today - 10 days later, and five days after his funeral. He was 79, and just 19 days short of 80.

In the eight years I served as organist and music director of Precious Blood Church in Woonsocket, RI (1989-1997), 6-1/2 of those years were with Fr. Gagne (until his retirement in January 1996). He had a great love for classical music, especially operas. He was known to travel to New York City just to catch a good opera. His appreciation for good liturgical music was evident as well. For 11-1/2 years, his organist was Henri St. Louis, one of only a handful of top-notch organists in Rhode Island, and probably the best in Northern Rhode Island. On the day of my interview, Fr. Gagne told me, "I want to hire someone who can do justice to the organ." The organ is a three-manual, 26-rank Aeolian-Skinner, which was built and donated to the parish in 1947. He had referred to Henri as a "pro". He was absolutely right!
Before Henri was Henri's organ instructor, the late George Beaudet.

Fr. Gagne's resume:
1951 by Bishop Russell J. McVinney at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence
1951 St. John the Evangelist Church, Slatersville (North Smithfield)
1951-52 St. Joan of Arc Church, Cumberland
1952-59 St. Ann Church, Woonsocket
1959-60 St. James Church, Manville (Lincoln)
1960-68 Holy Family Church, Woonsocket
1968-73 St. John the Baptist Church, West Warwick
1973-96 Precious Blood Church, Woonsocket

Upon retirement, he still remained active and did volunteer work at St. Augustine and Blessed Sacrament Churches, both in Providence. I heard a while back from one source that he did a couple of Latin Tridentine Masses at Holy Name as well.

Fr. Gagne will be sadly missed. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

+In Christ,


St. Stanislaus Church, a church found in schism by the Archbishop Burke of the St. Louis Archdiocese for taking it upon themselves to hire a priest who himself was suspended by the Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri, will be celebrating their schismatic Midnight Mass at 10 PM on Christmas Eve.

The Curt Jester might have just finished writing their new Introit. Syllabically it needs to be adapted, but then, so does St. Stan's.



Finally, we got a DSL connection and got out of the dial-up syndrome. Pages fly, downloads fly, over 50 times faster - I'm still getting used to this "Internet on steroids". My wife's in heaven, as she often does voice conferences with her out-of-state relatives and the dial-up (which is about as slow as granny's erratic driving) would distort, twist, garble up, you name it, to anything my wife says.

The benefit on my end is that I got to download some new web-authoring software. A new CHRISTUS VINCIT NETWORK is in the works and will temporarily be a GeoCities site till I get up the dough for a domain. I'll keep you posted when the network is up. This blog will be linked from it, as well as two "sub-sites" - the Holy Ghost Music Ministry, and Christus Vincit Music, which is my own little publishing outlet. Stay tuned!

I also got to listen to some of Fr. Finelli's iPadre podcasts without an hour of "buffering". Well worth the listen - check it out.

+In Christ,

Sunday, December 18, 2005


CHRISTMAS EVE (Saturday, December 24) 4:30 PM
MIDNIGHT MASS - at Midnight, of course, with choral prelude at 11:45 PM
(Midnight Mass will be with choir and two trumpeters - Nick Fleming and Ariel Guertin)
CHRISTMAS DAY (Sunday, December 25) 8 and 10 AM (a little different from our regular Sunday schedule)

CHORAL PRELUDE (11:45 PM Christmas Eve)
1. Page - Rejoice in the Lord always
2. CAROL - It came upon the midnight clear
3. ST. LOUIS - O little town of Bethlehem
4. Beethoven - The Worship of God in Nature

(Note: parenthesized numbers refer to the Missalette. Also, selections are for all Masses, except where noted.)
Introit: ADESTE FIDELES - O come, all ye faithful (57)
Penitential Rite: parrot Father
Gloria: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Responsorial Psalm:
- (4:30) Page - For ever I will sing, the goodness of the Lord
- (Midnight) Grail/Proulx - Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord
- (Morning) Peloquin - All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God
Alleluia: Mode V - DIVINUM MYSTERIUM, adapted by Page
- (Midnight) Page/Gastoldi - Laetentur Caeli (antiphon is adapted from the hymntune IN DER IST FREUDE)
- (4:30 and Morning) ST. LOUIS - O little town of Bethlehem (75)
Sanctus: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Anamnesis: Jubilate Deo chant - Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine...
Amen: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Lord's Prayer: Sacramentary chant - in English
Agnus Dei: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
- (Midnight) Adam - O Holy Night (English/French)
- (4:30 and Morning) GLORIA - Angels we have heard on high (60)
Meditation: STILLE NACHT - Silent night, holy night (67)
Recessional: ANTIOCH - Joy to the world! the Lord is come (58)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - 7 PM

Brian Michael Page, Conductor
Reuel E.M. Gifford, Guest Organist
Nick Fleming and Ariel Guertin, Trumpets

Featuring Holy Ghost's own Nick Fleming
Mike Alves, Conductor

SEGMENT 1 - Choral/Organ selections by the Choir
1. Page - Rejoice in the Lord Always
2. French/arr., Holst - Let all mortal flesh keep silence
3. Gastoldi/Page - Laetentur caeli
4. Adam - Cantique de Noel
5. Vaughan Williams - Prelude on "Rhosymedre" ("Lovely") (Brian Michael Page, Organist)
6. Beethoven - The Worship of God in Nature

SEGMENT 2 - Tiverton HS Select Honors Band
Selected carols

SEGMENT 3 - Carol Sing with Choir and Audience
1. ANTIOCH - Joy to the World
2. ST. LOUIS - O Little Town of Bethlehem
3. GREENSLEEVES - What Child is This
4. GLORIA - Angels We Have Heard on High
5. CAROL - It Came upon a Midnight Clear
6. MENDELSSOHN - Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
7. STILLE NACHT - Silent Night
8. ADESTE FIDELES, arr. Willcocks - O Come, All Ye Faithful

Coffee and pastry will follow in the hall! If you can get to Holy Ghost on this night, you won't go wrong!

+In Christ,

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Archbishop Burke hated to do it, but he had to, and rightfully so.

Here's the story! (no, the next few words are not "of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls" LOL)

Here's the good Archbishop's explanation to his flock!

This comes compliments of Clayton at The Weight of Glory.


Thursday, December 15, 2005


After enough pressure from a couple of attorneys and a bunch of parents, SILENT NIGHT will stay intact!

Reason to rejoice!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The Holy Ghost Parish Website has just been updated, and Fr. Finelli put the concert right on the front page. He and I are obviously both excited. It also got into this past weekend's bulletin.
Also, a special thanks to Fr. Joseph Santos over at Holy Name for including the announcement in their bulletin. This was my first contact with Fr. Santos, and he was just as cordial as the former pastor (whom I worked for), Fr. Kevin Fisette, had been the four years I was there (he was great!). Thank you very much. For their bulletin, just click on the link above, or on the sidebar, and click the bulletin link and follow instructions there. But you only have till the weekend to check it out, as the bulletin page gets updated weekly by Mark Berardo and John Corrigan (two super gentlemen from the Latin Mass community there).

+In Christ,

(Not so ranting this time)

The Liberty Counsel is our friend!

The Liberty Counsel, a legal group that supports religious liberties and (like I mentioned in the previous article) is like the anti-ACLU, has a FREE legal memo that can be issued to anyone who wants to ban CHRISTMAS! (Man, I just love putting the word CHRISTMAS in all caps - in the words of Bugs Bunny, "ain't I a stinker!").

It's great that groups like this will stand up for CHRISTMAS! And they're WINNING battles! That's a good thing!

My mom's old CHRISTMAS record collection

Here is my attempt to recall the old CHRISTMAS record collection that my parents once had when they had a working stereo with a turntable. A lot of these were really cool. Christmas music WAS Christmas music in those days (60's, 70's) and not Christmas muzak like these "24/7 holiday stations" play now. The records are no longer there *sigh*, so I will attempt to describe what I can remember to the best of my recollections.

Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sing We Now of Christmas
The country/gospel singer with that cool deep bass voice (I'm a bass too, so I can relate), who looks a bit like Ronald Reagan in his early days (LOL), put out eleven tracks, backed by a chorus. He opens the album with the title song, using the French tune NOEL NOUVLET. Other really cool highlights include his own rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High, a setting of Caroling, Caroling that would put Johnny Mathis' version to shame; a really cool arrangement of The Twelve Days of Christmas (in B-flat) which has a soprano section squealing "four calling birds", tenors taking "three French hens", followed by TEF dropping to low F on "two turtle doves" - really cool. There's also this tune called Little Grey Donkey, in which, part-way through the song, he gives a cool little story (spoken). I forgot the story he told, darn! My favorite on the collection is the opener for side two: Good King Wenceslaus. Again he takes his bass voice and applies it to verses 2 and 4 quite nicely. It's not operatic. It's light, but reverent.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols
Of this album, I will admit to only recognizing a small handful of the 14 tracks as standard carols. Joy to the World, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (I love the "echo effect" on the Rejoice, Rejoice at the refrains), O Holy Night, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night are those tracks. The tune for Away in a Manger is not the Muller tune used in most hymnals and missalettes, but the Kirkpatrick tune found in GIA's Worship II (now out of print) and Worship III hymnals. It is absolutely gorgeous. There are many good choral works in here (none in Latin - dang!). Watts' Nativity Carol is beautiful. There Shall a Star from Jacob Come is a lovely anthem which ends with a text I don't quite remember, but is set to the tune WIE SCHON LEUCHTET.

Mitch Miller and the Gang - CHRISTMAS! Sing along with Mitch!
Though only the basic standard harmonies of the 14 standard familiar carols on this album, it was still a great album. Away in a Manger was set to yet another different tune: FLOW GENTLY, SWEET AFTON. My absolute favorite on the album: Coventry Carol. Only one secular song - Deck the Halls.

The Great Songs of Christmas (Albums three and four)
These were part of a Columbia Special Products project, and presented by Goodyear. A new album was offered nearly each year, with album one in 1961, and album seven in 1970. My parents had albums three and four, each album had roughly 20 cuts sung by 12 different stars/groups. Among those were Mitch Miller and the Gang, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, violinist Isaac Stern (he did two settings of Ave Maria - Schubert's on album three, Gounod's melody over J.S. Bach's Prelude in C on album four), the Brothers Four (maybe not in church, but cool to listen to on my mom's stereo), the New Christy Minstrels, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, pianist Andre Previn, Robert Goulet. Mary Martin appeared on album four with her tenor version of Silent Night, while Julie Andrews sang the same on album three in her sweet mezzo-soprano voice that was beloved by many.

Your Favorite Christmas Carols (Volume 2) and Your Favorite Christmas Music (Volume 4)
Another collection by various stars, presented by Firestone, on their own label. This too was a seven-volume collection. Some volumes were also presented as Your Christmas Favorites and The Voices of Firestone presents Your Christmas Favorites.
Volume 2 contained songs performed by Rise Stevens, Brian Sullivan, the Columbus Boychoir, and the Firestone Orchestra and Chorus. The album opens up with the first couple of lines of O Holy Night sung by the Boychoir, then are joined by the Chorus with a rousing O Come, All Ye Faithful. Side Two opens with the Chorus singing Hallelujah! from Messiah by Handel. The album's finale is The Twelve Days of Christmas sung by the entire cast, with something for all the stars to shine with. Again, very rousing!
Volume 4 starred Dorothy Kirsten, Julie Andrews, Vic Damone, James McCracken, and the Young Americans. Ms. Andrews' three cuts included The Christmas Song, Little Jesus Sweetly Sleep (sung to the tune ROCKING, a tune found in Pilgrim Hymnal, a hymnal once used widely in the United Church of Christ, and The Bells of Christmas.
In both albums, many of the tracks were solo artists joined by the Chorus (Volume 2) or the Young Americans (Volume 4). Some were grouped as medleys, so your 12 cuts in Volume 2 and 14 cuts in Volume 4 turned out to be 20+ different songs in each Volume.

RCA Victor Presents Music for the Twelve Days of Christmas
Another multiple-artist collection with an even balance of the sacred and secular. Three choirs featured here: the Ralph Hunter Choir (The Twelve Days of Christmas - the first setting I ever heard of this), the Norman Luboff Choir (The Little Drummer Boy), and the Robert Shaw Chorale (O Sanctissima). Sleigh Ride was done in orchestral form, and is my favorite arrangement thereof. Tenor Mario Lanza chimes in with Adeste Fideles. The Ames Brothers does my second favorite rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (second only to the Beach Boys - both of these avoid the needless screeching of SAAAAAAAAANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN! SAAAAAAAAAANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN!). The big highlight of this album is A Christmas Festival, a grand medley of favorites performed by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE - The Glorious Sound of Christmas (Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, joined by the Temple University Concert Choir, directed by Robert Page)
As I mentioned in my first anti-overkill article, my father (passed in 1981 due to heart failure at the age of 48) was Robert Page, but not the Robert Page that directed Temple's choir. My dad did do some drumming, however, in his youth.
Anyways - the choir appears in Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, O Come, All Ye Faithful, The Worship of God in Nature (Beethoven - we're using this at Holy Ghost this weekend, as it is based on the introit verse for IV Advent), and Silent Night. Beautiful meditative orchestral arrangements on O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, Ave Maria (Schubert), The First Noel, and O Sanctissima. Some really cool upbeat lighter arrangements appear in Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (I particularly love this one - much of it sounding like music for some old Western movie cliche), Deck the Halls, and O Come, Little Children.

Those were the days!


Monday, December 12, 2005



One student's lawyer starts a stink and all hell breaks loose over a Christmas Carol that has been sung for over 200 years. Then you wonder why the crime is so much higher (not just with the rise in population, I mean per capita), and why the world is in such a dang tizzy!

I read the article quick thinking that this "Liberty Counsel" was the group out to ban the use of the sacred hymn written by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr. But another look got me realizing that the "Liberty Counsel" is the opposite of (let's say) the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Liberty Counsel is for traditional family values, from reading the article further, and it, too, is sickened over the overkill and secularizing of Christmas.

OK - I'm out on a daring little task... From now on, when a clerk at a store - any store - says "Happy Holidays", or "Have a Nice Holiday", I'll just ask "Which one?" and see if the word CHRISTMAS comes out of their mouths. And if they do, I'll say, "You do the same, and thank you for uttering the word CHRISTMAS".

It makes me so sick that an entire school would want to change the lyric of such a sacred piece. Personally, I'm not crazy over ditties done on only three chords, but "Silent Night" IS CHRISTMAS in the eyes of CHRISTMAS music. I've been known to change the harmony a little bit, to add some life to the piece (not "rock out" with it, or "jazz it up", those are bad ideas), but the melody and text will always be preserved.

For the love of Almighty God, please, let's keep CHRIST in CHRISTMAS. Man, when I was a young'n, I grew up with CHRISTMAS carols that spoke of Santa and Jesus (not in the same sentence, btw). And the settings were all good. And I find it funny that there's all this use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "MERRY CHRISTMAS", but yet such self-centered schlock like "Santa Baby" is played all over the airwaves (the diva singing it "wants Santa to give her all these extravagant gifts", for those who don't know the song). And soon Santa will be outlawed for his being Saint Nicholas. THEN WHAT??? How far will this craziness go???

Gee, does anyone know any CHRISTMAS carols that don't have Santa or Jesus in it? Man, I hope not! Let's celebrate CHRISTMAS, and eliminate the obvious and blatant work of the devil.

Update 12/15/05: GREAT NEWS!

BMP - oh, and, MERRY CHRISTMAS! (well, for now, HAPPY ADVENT for another 13 days) ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2005


A new politically correct group of junior carolers, compliments of the Curt Jester.




Masses Sat. 4:30 / Sun. 7:30, 9:00, 10:30 (10:30 is with choir)

All numbers in parentheses are found in the Missalette (Today's Missal, OCP)
Introit: VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL - O come, O come, Emmanuel (#19)
Kyrie: Parrot Father
Psalm: Page - For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord
Alleluia: Page, adapt. from CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM
- (10:30) Beethoven - The Worship of God in Nature
- (all other Masses) STUTTGART - Come, thou long-expected Jesus (#20)
Sanctus: Mass XVIII (in Latin)
Anamnesis: Iubilate Deo - Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine
Amen: Iubilate Deo
Lord's Prayer: Sacramentary chant (in English)
Agnus Dei: Mass XVIII (in Latin)
Communion: Mode I - Rorate caeli desuper
Recessional: TRURO - Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates (#41)

The Introit hymn I chose (O come, O come, Emmanuel) is that of a seasonal nature, but follows a bit of tradition on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. From December 17 through 23, each of the "O" Antiphons, of which the hymn is based, was traditionally associated with a date. Verses 2-7 were associated with December 17-22, respectively, and Verse 1 (yes, "Emmanuel", though invoked first here was actually the LAST of the antiphons) was associated with December 23. In the case of this Sunday, the 18th, Verse 3 will be used for sure. In the case of the Saturday Mass (the 17th), well - the Saturday Mass is the anticipated Mass for Sunday, so, the Sunday date applies here.

The Introit appointed in the Gregorian Missal has this for an antiphon:
Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum: aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem. (Let the clouds rain down the just one. The earth will open and bring forth a Savior.)
In addition, the verse, when translated is:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
For this day, we have separated this into two seperate hymns: 1) Rorate Caeli, whose antiphon is actually part of the Introit antiphon, and 2) The Worship of God in Nature, which incorporates the verse. The beautiful setting of the latter, by Ludwig van Beethoven, has this for a text:
The heav'ns are telling the Lord's endless glory; Through all the earth his praise is found.
The seas re-echo the marvelous story, O man repeat the glorious sound.
Who made the numberless stars of the heavens, who from his chamber leads the sun,
He comes rejoicing and laughs from afar off, a hero strong his race to run,
A hero strong his race to run.

I first heard the Beethoven piece when I was about 11 years old and thought, "Wow! This is glorious!" The opening line also works for Christmas. Paraphrase the opening line with the Gospel passage where the angels, upon the birth of Jesus, sing Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Happy Advent!
+In Christ,

Friday, December 9, 2005

LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL TO THEE (Introit-based hymn for I Advent)

Updated 12/9/05

Text: from The Psalter, 1912. Based on Psalm 25 - the Introit and Offertory for I Advent.
Tune: NEW 25TH, 77 77 D; Brian Michael Page, 2005.

Though appointed as above, the piece is suitable for Advent, and even for Lent.
Part of my new SING THE MASS series.

CLICK TO HEAR THE MIDI (link is FIXED as of 6:03 EST 11/25/05)

If you would like to have a copy of this hymn to share with your parish, e-mail me for pricing.

+In Christ,


Happy Holidays!!!

I'm following through on my vow that every time someone wishes me "happy holidays", I now say "thank you, and have a merry CHRISTMAS". You can't get any more generic these days.

If you remember my post about tacky secular overkill at Christmas, and the stations I've already boycotted until after Christmas (and yes, I did say CHRISTMAS, and I'll say it again CHRISTMAS!!!) - well! One station that my wife still listens to BLATANTLY says every few minutes "Happy Holidays from Lite Rock 105." "We play HOLIDAY music 24/7" (like it's something to brag about - if you listen to some of the stuff). No one does CHRISTMAS shopping anymore. They do HOLIDAY shopping. Ever hear the dang commercials??!!

Let's just say this - these people THINK that they're being "politically correct". Now there's an oxymoron these days - "politically correct". How can you be political and correct at the same time these days with the issues at hand? But anyways - if I remember correctly, "holiday" was originally intended to be a short cut to the words "holy day", little does the PCS (politically correct society) realize. However, the word "holiday" has been blatantly substituted in society these days to avoid the word CHRISTMAS, a "holiday" that started (not only literally, but historically) with the birth of one man - Jesus Christ, who is the world's true Redeemer.

Another cool little tidbit - ever notice in the secular world, radio stations, malls, and live carolers go about singing Christmas carols and other Christmas music from Thanksgiving Day (and even a week before that!) until the end of Christmas Day, while in Catholic worship, we sing sacred Christmas carols from Christmas Eve (the Vigil Mass of Christmas) up to the Baptism of the Lord (normally the second Sunday of January)? Of course maybe not on such a large scale on Baptism of the Lord, but I for one did program Joy to the world, the Lord is come last year on that day.

While the secular world and even many churches of many denominations (including Roman Catholic) hold their Christmas concerts, pageants, and even Lessons and Carols, etc., during the season of Advent, a season where we "prepare the way of the Lord", and await the Lord to be born, thus giving us a reason to celebrate by singing carols AT THAT TIME, we at Holy Ghost are holding our Christmas concert DURING the Christmas season.

I read once in a story behind the song The Twelve Days of Christmas (I think the Chipmunks and the Muppets do pretty cute renditions of that song, by the way), that the "12 days of Christmas" are really Christmas Day through January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. We could tack on another 7 days to extend to our Lord's Baptism. On the nineteenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.... (nah, almost as monotonous as Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall - LOL).

The Curt Jester has several articles, parodies, and links to others' thereof, relating to this topic.

So, before I go off to my dayjob, I have two words to all readers and their loved ones, even though I'm still a good sixteen days ahead:


+In Christ,

Thursday, December 8, 2005


A few months ago, I had heard of this thing in the news called "podcasting". It's kinda like - you make your own little broadcast via this thingie called an iPod (I believe this is an Apple product), and it's like radio, without all the commercials.

Shortly after, I started reading Clayton's blog The Weight of Glory. Guess what... he podcasts.

Tonight, before the 7:00 PM Mass, I learned that Fr. Finelli now has a podcast going called iPadre. Definitely worth checking out. And check often for updates. Yours truly may have a couple of little ditties on one of his casts. After Mass, he asked me if I could record a few things - two in particular, The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came, and Victoria's Ave Maria (I managed to adapt this as an organ solo - but it's really best when sung in SATB a capella, trust me). Then he asked me to play any old Advent tune that's pompous. I gave him my own impromptu (which grew to near full organ) of Wachet Auf.

Working on a dialup really stinks, but I'm working on trying to get DSL. But in the meantime, I'll get some time to check some of these podcasts out myself. Fr. Finelli's an excellent preacher. I can imagine how well he podcasts.

By the way, here's a really cool promo he did!

+In Christ,

Wednesday, December 7, 2005


Compliments of Jeffrey Tucker at THE NEW LITURGICAL MOVEMENT:

A speech from Valentino Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, as printed in the Italian news source Chiesa.

Thanks to Jeff for pointing us in the right direction. :-)


Tuesday, December 6, 2005


Following is a letter to the editor that got printed in the December 2005 issue of The American Organist, the official monthly journal of the American Guild of Organists, which I am a member of. The letter was written by none other than renowned liturgical music composer Noel Goemanne, and is presented below.

Much has been written about "Why Catholics Don't (Can't) Sing." Reasons given: lack of music education in the schools, lack of teaching good taste in music (TV takes care of that!), and lack of understanding why church music is different from entertainment. According to some, music should make you feel at home, as some "liturgists" have done after Vatican II by placing bird cages and aquariums on the altar. Should we drag God down to our level, or should we try to lift up humanity to God's level--the God of Beauty, Power, and Order?

When disaster strikes, we realize that God is all powerful. When churches become "gathering places" for horses and soldiers in time of war, (see my article, "A Memorable Christmas", in TAO), we realize that this is not a normal way of living. Then, only faith, prayer, and hope will give us the mental sacredness necessary to overcome and survive the sad circumstances in which we suddenly find ourselves.

I believe another reason for not singing is that the hymn is at the wrong place in the liturgy! First of all, "Gathering Song" sounds awfully cheap. Gathering people? Just like "collecting food and raw materials from the wild" (Webster's Dictionary). Second, should the people not be "gathered" before they sing? (Note: I've brought that up more than once! -BMP) How can we expect a great sounding opening hymn when people are still "trickling" in. Perhaps some organ music would be better, just as some organ music also might be better to cover the noisy talking when people exit. I do not agree with the many organists who protest against this idea. Here again, we are facing a lack of education in good manners and taste or savoir vivre!

Staying in an air-conditioned church to listen to the organist perform some great organ work is different from "cooling off" and "gossiping" over the "too loud" organ of the postlude. Oh, and let's not forget that the celebrant has to leave at the first stanza of the closing hymn so as not to be "trampled down" by those in a hurry to get to the parking lot!

Any solutions then?

1. Give the "gathering song" a more dignified name and place in the liturgy, such as the Entrance Hymn or Opening Hymn, to be sung with the celebrant at the altar "leading" instead of the overpowering "solo" at the microphone.
(Reply: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (with U.S. adaptations) names it the "Entrance Chant", a name which is still ignored amongst many musicians and so-called liturgists, and even publishers. This term is the translation of the Latin phrase "Cantus Introitus", where we get the "Introit" from. It should start while in procession. The celebrant should be leading this hymn/chant while in procession, and finishing it from the altar, or at least his chair. And I agree with Mr. Goemanne that the overpowering "solo" at the microphone should be eliminated. GIA Publications has a cool little button they sell in packs that says Back off! Let the people sing! -BMP)

2. Sing the "closing" hymn before the "Go, the Mass is ended."
(Reply: Believe me, if the Roman Missal or General Instruction thereof provided for it, I would. However, neither even makes mention of a "closing" or "recessional" hymn. It was an innovation that came with the idea of having hymns for Low Mass right around the time of Vatican II, and appears to be customary to this day. The ideal spot would be where the General Instruction does give an option for, and that is the "Hymn of Praise" or "Meditation Hymn" after Communion, once the celebrant and all are seated. And sing ALL the verses whenever possible. I wouldn't expect to sing all seven verses of, let's say, "All Creatures of Our God and King"; pick three or four good verses for that, not just one or two verses. -BMP)

3. Replace the Communion hymn with softer music (i.e., a Bach chorale perhaps). Who can sing properly while receiving Communion? Give the people a time for silence and meditation with their Lord! If needed, sing a Meditation Hymn after Communion.
(Reply: By right, the first option in the GIRM should be given priority for the Communion hymn, and that is the antiphon in the Roman Missal. Same goes with the "Introit" at the beginning of Mass. It could be followed by a hymn, or used as a response to several verses of a Psalm. The Communion antiphon could be sung as the celebrant receives Communion, then, by Mr. Goemanne's suggestion, follow with softer (instrumental) music. 90% of the time, I try to pick something with an antiphon that the people can sing while in line waiting to receive, and let the choir or cantor handle the verses as in a typical responsory. -BMP)

Simplicity can sometimes be more powerful than a showy "operatic" or country-western solo! Why not have the congregation sing a chant "Kyrie" in unison. "The Liturgy is not a show, a spectacle." (Pope Benedict XVI). The Liturgy can be very powerful, prayerful, and in total accord with what the bishops of Vatican II wanted. Let us restore a more sincere, sacred, sung-prayer liturgy.

Noel Goemanne,
Dallas, TX

Mr. Goemanne was a composer who made many contributions in liturgical music (in English) in the 1960's and 1970's. Much of his work was published by GIA and by World Library Publications. I'm glad to see he was still around to post this letter in The American Organist.

+In Christ,

Sunday, December 4, 2005


Now with a cool new feature: VIRTUAL NUMBERBOARD!!!

7:00 PM (with choir)

Introit: PLEADING SAVIOR - Sing of Mary, pure and lowly (Music Issue, #699)
Penitential Rite: parrot Father
Gloria: Peloquin - Mass of the Bells
Responsorial Psalm: Gelineau/Carroll - Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Alleluia: Mode IV, adapt. Page (from CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM)
Offertory: Croatian - Ave Maria/As I kneel before you
Sanctus: Vermulst - People's Mass
Anamnesis: Chant - Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine
Concluding Doxology: single Amen
Lord's Prayer: Chant (in English)
Agnus Dei: Vermulst - People's Mass
Communion: Psalm Tone 6F - Magnificat (from Worship II)
Recessional: ES IST EIN' ROS' - Lo! how a rose e'er blooming (Missalette, #64)

Saturday 4:30 / Sunday 7:30, 9, 10:30 (10:30 is with choir)

Introit: DARWALL'S 148TH - Rejoice, the Lord is King (Music Issue, #732)
Penitential Rite: parrot Father
Responsorial Psalm: Gelineau/Batastini - My soul rejoices, my soul rejoices in my God.
Alleluia: Mode IV, adapt. Page (from CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM)
- (10:30) Page - Rejoice in the Lord always/Psalm 85
- (all other Masses) VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL - O come, O come, Emmanuel (Missalette, #19)
Ordinary during the Liturgy of the Eucharist: same as December 8 listings, above
- (10:30) VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL - O come, O come, Emmanuel (Missalette, #19)
- (all other Massses) Psalm Tone 6F - Magnificat (from Worship II)
Recessional: WINCHESTER NEW - On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry (Missalette, #21)

Of all general Marian hymns, I found Sing of Mary, pure and lowly to be especially fitting for this feast during Advent. For those using a GIA hymnal, Immaculate Mary contains a text that is very Scriptural, and very useful here.
The refrain of the Croatian Ave Maria setting, is actually the Offertory proper appointed by the Gregorian Missal. The verses are a little more on the devotional side, but the refrain is a perfect match.
For Communion, the proper in the Gregorian Missal is translated "Glorious things have been proclaimed about you, Mary; for the Almighty has done marvelous things on your behalf". The second part of that antiphon brings me to that line in the Magnificat, "The Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is his name". This setting, set to Psalm Tone 6 in the Worship II hymnal, is in Latin, and we use the first verse Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul rejoices in my God) as the antiphon, so the people in the pew have something to sing while in line for Communion.
Finally, the Recessional hymn, Lo! how a rose e'er blooming, though listed under Christmas in most hymnals, can be equally useful during Advent.

The Third Sunday of Advent is known as "Gaudete Sunday", after the Introit appointed for the day: Gaudete in Domino semper! Iterum dico: Gaudete!" (Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say: Rejoice!). Plenty of opportunity to REJOICE! here.
First, the Introit hymn Rejoice! the Lord is King - the refrain is rendered Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, rejoice! Again, I say, rejoice! Verse 4 has a key Advent verse as well: Rejoice in glorious hope; the Lord, our God, shall come, and take his servants up to their eternal home.
At 10:30 Mass, the choir will premeire my own setting of Rejoice in the Lord always, which contains a translation of the Introit text from the Gregorian Missal, though we'll be using it at the Offertory.
At the non-choral Masses, the Tone 6 Magnificat will be sung during Communion. This is the same setting that we're using for Immaculate Conception.
For the Offertory at non-choral Masses (4:30/7:30/9:00) and for Communion at the choral Mass (10:30), the familiar O Come, O Come, Emmanuel will be sung. The Rejoice, rejoice! motif is a dead giveaway.
Finally, the recessional hymn, On Jordan's Bank, though not necessarily a "rejoice"-themed hymn, does summarize the Gospel reading of the day quite well.

+In Christ,


Last night, my wife, my kids, and I went to see Pro Cantare in concert. Pro Cantare is a group directed by my good friend and mentor, Reuel Gifford. Reuel, as mentioned in an earlier article, is also my guest accompanist for our own concert.

The concert took place at St. Mary's Church in Providence, where Reuel is music director. The concert was Pro Cantare, directed by Reuel Gifford, and the Rhode Island College Chamber Singers, directed by Teresa Coffman. The concert took a nice antiphonal effect, with the Chamber Singers up front, and the Pro Cantare in the gallery.

Here's the lineup:

Matin Responsory - Palestrina
HYMN: Wake, O Wake, and Sleep No Longer - WACHET AUF (sung by all)
In the Bleak Midwinter - Holst
Lord, before this Fleeting Season - Larson
Is God, Our Endless Day - Larson
This Day Is Born Emmanuel - M. Praetorius
No Sad Thought His Soul Affright - Vaughan Williams
Christe Redemptor Omnium - Monteverdi
King Jesus Hath a Garden - Dutch, arr. Wood
I Saw a Fair Mayden - Terry
Ave Maris Stella - Greig
Lalulla Lu, Babe Jesu - Nielsen
Silent Night - STILLE NACHT, arr. Rathbone
Good King Wenceslas - PIAE CONTIONES, arr. Willcocks
HYMN: Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming - ES IST EIN' ROS' ENTSPRUNGEN
- (first two verses were sung by the choirs in German, the all joined in verse three in English)
Joseph Lieber, Joseph Mein - H. Praetorius
Hodie Nobis Coelorum Rex - Handl
Angels We Have Heard on High - French, arr. Paul Nelson (Mr. Nelson is a singer in Pro Cantare and dedicated it for this concert)
HYMN: O Come, All Ye Faithful - ADESTE FIDELES, arr. Willcocks

The choirs were excellent, as was Reuel's work on the III/27 Kilgen organ, which is undergoing an upgrade.

+In Christ,