Thursday, January 31, 2008


Yes, that's not "populi" (of the people), but "pupuli" (of the puppet). Here's a glimpse of what's going on in Louisiana's capital city, Baton Rouge:

The puppet pooch with the number 12 shirt is "Dexter". Wait! This crap's going on at Mass. Shouldn't it be "Sinister" instead? Thank God "Dexter" isn't consecrating! We'd REALLY be in trouble!

According to the Curt Jester, the bishop there seems to be OK with it. Oy vey! Further, this could be a Louisiana epidemic. The Jester concludes:
I am starting to wonder if Louisiana is now the headquarters of the Puppet Mass since a Fr. Sweet in Shreveport is a ventriloquist who does Mass with his puppet Charlie. I assume In Persona Puppet.

This gets me wondering... Jason, do you know of any crap like this going on in Lafayette?

For my next act, Father will celebrate Mass invisible. Yeah, right! Drink some of that stuff Fred Flintstone invented - "412-Up", the stuff that Barney Rubble guzzled that made HIM invisible (the funniest part of that, btw, is when Fred got stopped for speeding, and the invisible Barney says to the cop, "uh, just give me the ticket and shut up!"). Yeah, drink that stuff, then start processing in - completely invisible.

You think that idea is stupid? It sure is. So is the puppet Mass and the ventriloquist dummy Mass (OH NO!!! It's Mister Hat!).

APPENDIX 2/1/08:
Do not give what is holy to dogs, unless they are a puppet dog, snarks the Curt Jester. I'm suspecting this is inspired by a line in the Ecce Panis Angelorum part of the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem that goes like this:

Vere panis filiorum, Non mittendus canibus.
This translates thus:
Truly the bread of children, not to be given to the dogs.



In the small town of Guelph, Ontario lies a big beautiful church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (or, as known by the townsfolk, "Church of Our Lady"). Outside, it kind of reminds me of SS. Peter and Paul Basilica in Lewiston, Maine.

I auditioned for the music director post at SS. Peter and Paul Basilica (above) in Lewiston, ME, back in 2002. Didn't get the job. You should see the Casavant that they're restoring there too! The church became a minor basilica, the only New England basilica north of Massachusetts, in 2005. Phil Fournier, who was the music director at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Portland, ME, at the time, was on hand at my interview. He's now music director for the Toronto Oratory.

Church of Our Lady, Guelph, ON, Canada. Quite the resemblance on the outside, give or take the statues, to SS. Peter and Paul.

Here's an interior shot of Church of Our Lady. Very nice! I hope the music's just as good.

More shots of the Church of Our Lady at NLM.

UPDATE: Bear-i-tone (who is from Ontario himself, along with his co-blogger wife, Puff the Magic Dragon) at The Spirit's Sword dropped me this line in the combox:
Fr Richard Vosko was brought in at one point to help with some renovations at Church of Our Lady. The congregation successfully united to bring an end to his proposed renovations.

The best thing the parish did was run Dick Vosko out of there! They saved themselves a lot of damage. Those who have read this blog for a long time know my opinion on Dick Vosko. It's not pretty. Type "Vosko" on this blog's search (all you who haven't heard of the Dickster) and you'll find some goods scattered about between 2005 and now.


Four Musician Questions From Our Colleague Lyn

They say every snowflake is unique. Name a musician who you think is unique and sounds like no one else.

In the organ world, I would say Olivier Messiaen is the most unique. His works don't sound like anyone else, and he has most absolutely a very unique and profoundly beautiful musical language. His voice is hated by neo-traditionalists especially who have no capacity to understand the music, since it is so deeply rooted in Scripture and especially in the Roman Catholic liturgical tradition.

On the secular side, I'd say the German singer Max Rabe, singer in the band Palastorchester, who pionieered the resurrection of countless dance hall numbers from the early 20th century. He has a classic big band tenor voice. The Palastorchester have also arranged several pop tunes in the big band style and have composed many of their own satirical and comic songs. My favorite is the song called "Viagra" in which the band pokes fun at Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. My second favorite is "Rinderwahn", a song about mad cow disease, quoting the melody of Hail Brittania: "Rinderwahn, man weiss nicht wo die Rinder war'n" ("mad cow disease, one doesn't know where that beef has been..." The text rhymns in German).

Of course we have the other singers with unique voices: Carol Channing (who can forget her excellent quote, "Welcome to this sea of booooooooooze and jaaaaaaaaaaaazz!" and her exclamation of "Raaaaaaspberries!". Then there is Eartha Kitt whose jazzy contralto is soooo sexy. I love her voice on "Wild Party", from the musical of the same name.

My least favorite unique singer is Sarah Brightman, famed ex of over-the-top-bring-out-the-elephants-Delila composer Andrew Lloyd von Webern. I get the feeling her ex hubby wrote those torturously high ariettas for his love and scribbled above the the vocal line "sing five octaves higher than written". The A.L.v.W. "Pie Jesu" from the "Requiem" (which I thought for years was actually a macabre musical, perhaps a sequal to Evita, that traced her after-death life in the glass casket as she vanished and reappeared under the coffee tables of various South American dictators), is the most god-aweful of the Brightman numbers. It can shatter a plastic two-piece champagne flute at 2 inches. On the "super singer side", Sarah more than likely has caverns in her head so high, they rival the groined vaults of the cathedrals at Bauvais and Amiens. (hehehehehe, he said "groin")

Tell us about a cover song you enjoy.

My favorite cover song isn't a cover song per se: the techno-remix of Petula Clark's "Downtown". It's actually a music video made from an old black and white performance of the song way back when. The tempo was slowed down a bit to accomodate the techno riffs. As a result of the editing, Petula's lips don't always match up with the words she's singing, giving it an interesting dubbed effect. Her gestures are so typically 1960's, and coupled with the techno beat, the video is very very enjoyable. It goes well with Crown and Coke, Grey Goose and Cranberry, or Vodka Punch at New Orleans club which shall remain nameless. A close second to this is the same song sung by Petula in German -- funky 60's lyrics in German but with a Brittish accent. The word "downtown" is never translated. Picture driving a yellow VW classic beetle listening to a cassette recording of the German "Downtown". Groovy.

Tell us your favorite Canadian musician.

I've never thought about that. Do Terrence and Philip count? But I don't think they're musicians...

Watching the snow fall can be very peaceful. Name a song that brings you peace.

That reminds me right away of the aria from "Messiah", How Beautiful Are The Feet Of Them. It's rather peaceful, but wickedly difficult to sing well. My most favorite artsong, though is Samuel Barber's "Sure On This Shining Night". I love it! It's fantastic to accompany a good singer on this. Another pick is the Faure "Apres un Reve", yet another, Henri Duparc's "Chancon Triste" (great fun for the accompanist!), another: Vaughan-Williams' "Silent Noon". And then who can forget Schumann's "Mondnacht" from the Liederkreis -- the words are delicious: "es war als haeett' der Himmel die Erde still gekuesst" ("It was as if heaven quietly kissed the earth"). Organwise, I pick Max Reger's Benedictus as the one. As the runner up from organ lit, I pick the reed solo from Cesar Franck's Organ Chorale #3 in A minor. Third place is the opening section of Franck's Chorale #1, and Fourth place organ winner is also Franck: The Prelude from Prelude Fugue and Variation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


(Got this from my wife)

After going through a virus attack
losing a hard drive,
Fighting off hackers ,
Upgrading all my software,
installing fire-walls,
being threatened with being cut-off by my email provider,
and a host of other problems...
I have fixed my computer...
and NOW it works exactly the way I want it to!

Entertain your geek friends with the latest conversation piece, pictured above!


Tagged by Lyn the Organic Chemist (Hey Jason, you got tagged too!).

They say every snowflake is unique. Name a musician who you think is unique and sounds like no one else.

That's a tough one for me, in both the sacred and secular circuits, in both the pop and classical circuits. I can't say Raspberries, though they're my favorite secular band. They drew on earlier influences, and later bands drew on theirs.

I can't draw from the "treasury" of bad Catholic music, since Marty Haugen and David Haas sound very much alike. Same with all of the members of the band dubbed as the "St. Louis Jesuits". Tim Manion and Dan Schutte sound very close. Roc O'Connor's stuff sounds like just about anything done by most "charismatic prayer groups" of the seventies.

I'm going to revert to another seventies composer and say C. Alexander Peloquin. Though influenced by Gershwin and Bernstein, much of the music of Dr. Peloquin, even in such styles, made a mark in liturgical music at that time. The only shame is that most of it got shunned (with the possible exception being Gloria of the Bells) by many in favor of music by those artists (and facsimiles thereof) in the previous paragraph.

Snowfall covers everything in sight. Tell us about a cover song you enjoy.

In the realm of sacred music, I'd have to say Liszt's organ prelude on the Arcadelt Ave Maria.

In the realm of secular pop music, I'm going to go with Kiss' cover of Then She Kissed Me (the original was Then HE Kissed Me by a girl band whose name eludes me at this point). It's the closing song to their Love Gun album.

OK -- one more... Eric Carmen's cover of Baby, I Need Your Lovin' from his Change of Heart album. Very faithful to the original.

It snows a lot in Canada. Tell us your favorite Canadian musician.

It's a toss-up for me between Paul Schaefer (David Letterman's faithful baldheaded bandmaster) and the guys from the Guess Who.

Watching the snow fall can be very peaceful. Name a song that brings you peace.

No, that would not be Let There Be Peas and Carrots on Earth. I would have to say when I hear Louis Vierne's Berceuse, or even when I play it, I can feel the serenity, especially in the last 16 bars or so.

TAG, YOU'RE IT! anyone who reads this.


...And he shall speak to you of beagle's things, rubber toys and chewy things...

Gotta love it when the funeral "request line" starts running amok like a bunch of bad monkeys. Let me give you a quote from Domini Sumus' recent experience (emphasis mine):

My one victory: To the dismay of the parish secretary, I successfuly nixed Wind Beneath My Wings from the request list. Unfortunately, it was replaced by On Eagles Wings. What's the fascination with wings? The secretary even asked if I would play a CD with Wind Beneath My Wings. NO!

What part doesn't this secretary understand? No secular music at Mass. Period. Scratch that. EXCLAMATION POINT!

I can remember one funeral - roughly a couple of dozen years ago, where the family asked for Imagine. Yes, John Lennon's Imagine. I don't even like the song in secular circuits, let alone at Mass. And when I mentioned that it didn't belong at Mass, the PASTOR asked me, "Couldn't you play it at the recessional, just the organ? You don't have to sing it." WTF??? And I was only 20 then. Bright side - that pastor's now long retired.

Another sentiment I can relate to:
What's the fascination with wings?

What the hell IS the fascination with wings? More than once have I been asked for the Bette Midler "hit", only for the song to get turned down by yours truly, then get asked for Beagle's Things (who let the dogs out?). And yes, this included a deal with my wife's mother and aunts in picking music for her grandfather's funeral (my rare pro bono work at the console). I was lucky enough to successfully "catechize" my own in-laws at that moment, and I was complimented at the end by even the most distant of relatives.

Unfortunately, "catechesis" isn't always successful. But what I can't understand is that I've heard many horror stories about weddings. I've had pretty dang good luck overall with weddings. It's the dang funerals where most tiffs get created. Here's an experience that is a bit more current - during my Holy Ghost days...

One of the responsibilities of any parish musician is not only to ensure that only sacred music be allowed at Mass, but to ensure that the Mass music itself doesn't get toyed with (like seeing to it that All I Ask of You, Beagle's Things, and Make Me a Channel of Your Peace aren't responsorial Psalms), and to see to it that the apparent bad theology isn't present. A couple of the goofy things one often encounters is Here Me Is, Lard as the casket's being rolled down the aisle, and Gentle Woman because "Ant Josie was such a gentle woman" (As hideous as the song is, Gentle Woman was written to the Blessed Virgin Mary, not Ant Josie, though Mary must be rolling in her grave every time she hears this). Well, when one woman called me about Here Me Is, Lard as the entrance, I suggested that we move the song elsewhere into the Mass (like the offertory), she started ranting that she's a CCD director and she couldn't believe that "a parish could be so restrictive". I stood my ground. Where the hell do some of the people get these ideas? I don't even get this at weddings!

One of the nicer spots is that in my diocese, the parish hands the organist the check for playing the funeral Mass. The undertaker was relieved of those duties last July (he now hands a check to the parish for EVERYTHING and the parish draws from that to pay the organist). This change was Bishop Tobin's own doing, and his reasoning is very good. The intended purpose was to try to relieve the undertaker of any impression that since he's handing you the check that he own's yer hide. Unfortunately, it hasn't changed things much. The request line is still open in many parishes, supported even by many pastors. You can usually tell by the first words a pastor asks: "Did you get those requests they asked about?" Warning light right there.

Someday laity and clergy alike will get it. Maybe not in my generation, but someday.

Gerald Augustinus points out another problem - when you have to play a funeral and you only have Gather to work with (this is a response to a question he received from one of his readers).

Well, Gather violates the Geneva Conventions. It's one of the low points in the history of the West.
Ideas ? I'd suggest a traditional Requiem Mass, but that might be hard to come by.


Friday, January 25, 2008


Aristotle put it well:
Any religion reporter who trots out the canard “the priest turns his back to the people” when describing the celebration of Mass ad orientem is a religion reporter to whose work I can turn my back.

I like that one!


or "The Los Ahn-ghe-leez Religious Misedu-ma-cation Congress"

Over My Dead, Burnt, and Bleeding Body
Amongst the speakers:
"musical vandals Haaugen and Haas"

Part of the multis rooting Father Erik on, I remain peacefully,

PS: WOOHOO! Go Father Erik!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Video highlights of the funeral of the Most Reverend Daniel A. Hart, Bishop Emeritus of Norwich, Connecticut, can be found at The Day.

Doug Green's an excellent music director, serving at Norwich's St. Patrick's Cathedral for an x-amount of years now. Music selections (at least shown here) are excellent. Choir, organ, and orchestra were very good. That dang cantor and her vibrato has to go! There was absolutely NO reason she should be at the microphone drowning out the choir like this. None whatsoever. Sing your Psalm verses and BACK AWAY FROM THE DAMN MIC PLEASE!

GIA used to sell buttons that said BACK OFF! LET THE PEOPLE SING! What ever happened to them???



Tutorial in pictures by the Catholic Caveman. He makes learning fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

70 X 7 IS WHAT???

The Curt Jester has done it again with this new amazing product! Have you lost track on how many times you've forgiven someone? Do you think you've exceeded that limit of 490 (that "seventy times seven times" that Jesus speaks of in St. Matthew's Gospel reading) in terms of times you've forgiven someone?

Well, here's the product for you!

See the Curt Jester for all the features!


This morning I filled in as organist for a funeral at St. Jean-Baptiste Church in Warren, RI. Nice little church with side balconies as well as the choir gallery. This is actually the first time I stepped foot in that church. I got there about 50 minutes early, which gave me some time to practice on the organ there.

The organ was a 1949 Casavant Freres, Opus 1963. I've seen many a Casavant around here - from the small two-manual 1896-built tracker in the former Our Lady of Victories Church in Woonsocket to the 125-rank four-manual tracker at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence. I've also seen a fair share of three- and four-manual electropneumatic Casavants. However, this Casavant I played --- well, this is only the second I've seen of its kind (the only other Casavant unit I saw was at St. Joseph's in Attleboro, Massachusetts). It was a two-manual, four-rank UNIT. For those who don't know what a "unit" organ is - it's an organ where multiple stops combine into one rank. Stops borrow or extend from another, instead of using independent ranks (one for each stop). This organ has nearly thirty stops.

Here are the four ranks:
Open Diapason (stops: Great Open Diapason 8', Octave 4', Fifteenth 2' / Pedal Octave 8')
Salicional (stops: Salicional 8', Salicet 4' on Swell and Great)
Dulciana (stops: Dulciana 8', Dulcet 4' on Swell and Great)
Rohrflote (stops: Sw. and Gt. Rohrflote 8', I forgot what the 4' was named, Sw.. Piccolo 2', plus mutations)
The pedal stops draw from any of the four above ranks.
There are unison couplers Swell to Great, Swell to Pedal, and Great to Pedal.

Well, here's the music list - I had to bite a couple of bullets, typical funeral request line being open just about anywhere.

I heard the voice of Jesus say..."Kingsfold"
My soul is thirsting...Proulx/Gelineau
Alleluia...Mode VI
Hail Mary/Gentle Woman...Landry (requested)
People's Mass (Sanctus/Agnus)...Vermulst
On Eagle's Wings...Joncas (requested)
Ave Maria...Victoria (they asked for AN, not THE, Ave Maria. I don't default to Schubert. I do, however, manage to do the Victoria for melody and organ reduction quite well.)
Come to her aid...Smolarski/Old Hundredth
In Paradisum...Mode VII

Here's the scary part - the deceased was a 55-year-old woman who died of pancreatic cancer. That scared my wife to bits when I mentioned it, since I was hospitalized back in August for pancreatitis.

BMP (Brian's Medicine: Protonix)


Lyn F. the Organic Chemist posted this cute ditty on how NOT to use the pistons on the King of Instruments (or as Larry the Cable Guy would say: He did WHAT on the King of Instruments?)

I remember going, now several decades ago, to tune and service a lovely three manual Æolian-Skinner located in a beautiful Episcopal parish church in Gothic style (which shall remain nameless) and finding that every piston on the organ contained the same registration: all manual eights and sixteens coupled together. Upon pointing out this obvious failure of the combination action, I was informed by the senior technician, with a chuckle, that this was the registration which the resident organist used for all hymn playing and that she thought it was very clever to have it on all of the pistons--that way, no matter which one she happened to hit, it would be right! One might almost find registration by crescendo pedal preferable!

At least on THAT organ one would prefer the crescendo. And God forbid one would reset a couple of pistons on her. This tempts me to want to find this church and do that.

On another note - I can recall a conversation with a Peragallo rep when I was at Holy Name. We were talking repairs that needed to be done to the Hook and Hastings/Laws organ at the time. This was around 2001. I can remember telling the guy there I'd much rather pull stops one by one than use a crescendo pedal and risk getting stops I wouldn't want. His reply: Spoken like a TRUE organist!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


It's what's for dinner!

OK - I usually don't post on political matters here, but I can't resist this video from Gerald Augustinus.

Up here in southern New England, we don't have to fry squirrels. They usually fry themselves. Yeah, I'm talking about the ones that make their way up the utility pole and crawl into a transformer. There's been more than one instance in this little neck of the woods where we've lost power, then learned after that it was because a squirrel fried himself in a transformer.

Maybe we should send our pre-fried squirrels to Mr. Huckabee. They're already cooked. Just nuke'em up in the microwave.

Personally, I love watching them jump from tree limb to tree limb. I've yet to see one miss!



Webster Young wrote this article which appears in the 1/27-2/2/08 issue of the National Catholic Register. (snarky remarks mine)

One of the present conundrums of the secular music world is its inability to reject once and for all what is inferior in music and elevate what is superior.

It has been pointed out by writers like R.H. Bottum in The Christian Science Monitor that this is due to the existence of recording technology: New music of any kind goes into an ever-growing pool of recordings in which bad music is never really discarded in favor of music that supersedes it.
(The same goes for music used in many Catholic parishes.)

In this environment, there is no way for a better style to evolve — there is instead a pool of recorded musical styles that can be shelved and unshelved at will.

One result of this process is that good music can be devalued, being buried in an unsifted heap of recorded music.
(Like I said - the same goes for music used in many Catholic parishes.)

Let us hope that the best music of the Catholic Church (including its great treasury of music) does not fall prey to this loss of memory.

The danger for Church music comes not so much from a pool of recordings — as is the case in the secular music world — but from an ever-growing pool of new compositions for Mass that are published by reason of possible popularity and not by expert evaluation for musical quality.
(Most of these seem to get on recordings, however. And the experts? Have you seen the ones who get acclaimed as experts these days? Just check out Today's Liturgy or GIA Quarterly. These liturgeists have been wreaking havoc for almost as long as this fortysomething has been breathing.)

To contradict this loss of memory, it should be valuable to recall two high points in new Catholic music of the last few decades. The first is the music of Spiritan Father Lucien Deiss (1921-2007). His was the Gospel acclamation, “Keep in mind ...”
(Mr. Young errs here for the first time... Keep in Mind was never written with the intention of being a Gospel acclamation. However, by the mid '70's, Keep in Mind was erroneously included in missalettes published by World Library Publications and to J.S. Paluch Company as a Memorial acclamation. I still use the piece, but usually while people are receiving Holy Communion.)

Deiss wrote many good pieces, and there was a volume of them published by World Library Publications. There is therefore enough of his music to use it often at Mass and still have variety. (Deiss was certainly one of the far better composers of his time. Can you believe I still enjoy using two of his "lost 45's" - The Spirit of God and Grant to Us, O Lord? The only bad part is that the publisher of Fr. Deiss' music took the liberty of altering much of his texts, even to the point of neutering Almighty God to the point of extremely poor grammar.)

This is music that should not be forgotten, since it is musically superior to much music written only a few years later. Deiss’ music has fallen into disuse and inferior pieces are now in favor.
In my view, his pieces should become standard, for the time being — at least until the giant heap of newly written Catholic music can be sifted.
(Ah yes, the trash heaps of music found mainly in assorted Glory and Praise and Gather volumes.)

In addition, there is a particular piece of music important to revive: the hymn “Gift of Finest Wheat,” which was written by Robert Kreutz for the International Eucharistic Congress in 1976 in Philadelphia. (First lines: “You satisfy the hungry heart — with gift of finest wheat.”)

This is one of the better new Catholic hymns written in recent decades. It has a good melody and sets excellent words. It ought to be used as often as possible, especially given the present musical environment.

One might worry that any new piece of music becoming standardized for use at Mass might bore parishioners — and yet there is evidence to the contrary. There are certain new pieces used at Mass that have become absolutely standard through a process of common usage.

There was a “Gloria” that originated in New York that had the rhythm of a victory march. The reader may recall it. It made this writer think of Christians marching down a city street in a Hollywood scene. (I have no clue which one. Possibly the one that John Foley wrote in 1978 that - sadly - became a hit in many parishes?)

In any serious composition class at a university or conservatory, it would have been criticized for errors in text setting and compositional technique. Yet it has gained a standard position in many churches of America.

Almost by luck, this poor piece of music gained a nearly indestructible position.

A congregation’s will to memorize goes only so far. Once even a poor piece like this is learned, there is inertia to learn more repertoire. The piece has become standard, but not through any process of musical evaluation — only through being introduced and becoming known to parishioners.

Thus it is that some pieces are used constantly regardless of quality — in some cases every Sunday — and no other word than standard applies.

If certain poor pieces have become standard by usage and are used over and over again, then better music which was once popular, like that of Lucien Deiss, could be made standard, replacing the poorer music.

The music of Lucien Deiss and the hymn “Gift of Finest Wheat” have faded from view, lost in a sea of uncritiqued newer music.

Let us hope that the Catholic music world does not develop the inability to sift for the good and winnow out the bad in new music.

That, for the present, is the problem of the secular music world. (Don't trust the secular world to write your Mass music. What next? A rap Mass?! Do you know what RAP stands for? Retards Attempting Poetry!)

Apart from his one error, Mr. Young's got an excellent article here.


Previous parts:
Pars prima / Pars secunda / Pars tertia / Pars quarta / Pars quinta
Pars sexta / Pars septua / Pars octa / Pars nona

The "Different Kinds of Music in the Liturgy"

Music for the Sacred Liturgy

67. “Sacred music is to be considered the more holy the more closely connected it is with the liturgical action, whether making prayer more pleasing, promoting unity of minds, or conferring greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.” This holiness involves ritual and spiritual dimensions, both of which must be considered within cultural context.

Sadly, to many, this seems to mean songs that focus on our "gathering" or "being as one". Yeah, promote unity by singing together, not by bragging about how "united" we are.

68. The ritual dimension of sacred music refers to those ways in which it is “connected with the liturgical action” so that it accords with the structure of the Liturgy and expresses the shape of the rite. The musical setting must allow the rite to unfold with the proper participation of the assembly and its ministers, without overshadowing the words and actions of the Liturgy.

69. The spiritual dimension of sacred music refers to its inner qualities that enable it to add greater depth to prayer, unity to the assembly, or dignity to the ritual. Sacred music is holy when it mediates the holiness of God and forms the Holy People of God more fully into communion with him and with each other in Christ.

70. The cultural context refers to the setting in which the ritual and spiritual dimensions come into play. Factors such as the age, spiritual heritage, and cultural and ethnic background of a given liturgical assembly must be considered. The choice of individual compositions for congregational participation will often depend on those ways in which a particular group finds it best to join their hearts and minds to the liturgical action.

You still want to avoid stuff like this. Further, age doesn't justify having to infest your congregation with sacro-pop. I can't stress enough my belief that today's junior choir is tomorrow's senior choir. Teach now the music that belongs to the Mass - simple chants, solid Catholic hymnody, etc., not sacro-pop.

71. With gratitude to the Creator for giving humanity such a rich diversity of musical styles, the Church seeks to employ only that which, in a given style, meets the ritual-spiritual demands of the Liturgy. In discerning the sacred quality of liturgical music, liturgical musicians will find guidance in music from the Church’s treasury of sacred music, which is of inestimable value and which past generations have found suitable for worship. They also should strive to promote a fruitful dialogue between the Church and the modern world.

Gregorian Chant

72. “The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” Gregorian chant is uniquely the Church’s own music. Chant is a living connection with our forebears in the faith, the traditional music of the Roman rite, a sign of communion with the universal Church, a bond of unity across cultures, a means for diverse communities to participate together in song, and a summons to contemplative participation in the Liturgy.

73. The “pride of place” given to Gregorian chant by the Second Vatican Council is modified by the important phrase “other things being equal.” These “other things” are the important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor, and liturgical musician. In considering the use of the treasures of chant, pastors and liturgical musicians should take care that the congregation is able to participate in the Liturgy with song. They should be sensitive to the cultural and spiritual milieu of their communities, in order to build up the Church in unity and peace.

That is, other things being equal place below Gregorian chant.

74. The Second Vatican Council directed that the faithful be able to sing parts of the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin. In many worshiping communities in the United States, fulfilling this directive will mean introducing Latin chant to worshipers who perhaps have not sung it before. While prudence, pastoral sensitivity, and reasonable time for progress are encouraged to achieve this end, every effort in this regard is laudable and highly encouraged.


75. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered.

I took the Gloria in three sections when teaching the people at Holy Ghost - 1) Et in terra pax to Jesu Christe (this was the day I got that lovely e-mail from a parishioner saying that I was singlehandedly driving people out of the parish - needless to say, I stuck to my guns), 2) Domine Deus, Agnus Dei to Miserere Nobis, and 3) Quoniam tu solus sanctus to the end.

76. “The assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Proper of the Mass as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.” When the congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well. As an easier alternative, chants of the Graduale Simplex are recommended. Whenever a choir sings in Latin, it is helpful to provide the congregation with a vernacular translation so that they are able to “unite themselves interiorly” to what the choir sings.

As opposed to that lovely little "gathering song". (blech!)

77. The Entrance and Communion antiphons are found in their proper place in the Roman
Missal. Composers seeking to create vernacular translations of the appointed antiphons and
psalms may also draw from the Graduale Romanum, either in their entirety or in shortened refrains for the congregation or choir.

One should keep in mind, however, that the Entrance and Communion antiphons from the Roman Missal were meant to be recited when there is no singing to take place.

78. Gregorian chant draws its life from the sacred text it expresses, and recent official chant editions employ revised notation suggesting natural speech rhythm rather than independent melodic principles. Singers are encouraged to adopt a manner of singing sensitive to the Latin text.

79. Missals in various languages provide vernacular chants inspired by Latin chant, or other melodies, for sung responses between ministers and people. For the sake of unity across the Church, musicians should not take it upon themselves to adjust or alter these melodies locally.

80. Whenever strophic chant hymns are published with Latin or vernacular texts, their
melodies should be drawn from the Liber Hymnarius.

The Composer and Music of Our Day

81. The Church needs artists, and artists need the Church. In every age, the Church has called upon creative artists to give new voice to praise and prayer. Throughout history, God has continued to breathe forth his creative Spirit, making noble the work of musicians’ hearts and hands. The forms of expression have been many and varied.

OK, so what actually happened to the composer? In all actuality, the composer got shunned in many places in favor of the songwriter.

82. The Church has safeguarded and celebrated these expressions for centuries. In our own day, she continues to desire to bring forth the new with the old. The Church joyfully urges composers and text writers to draw upon their special genius so that she can continue to augment the treasure house of sacred musical art.

I wouldn't consider All Are Welcome or Gather Us In drawing upon a special genius. That is, unless that genius is particularly in the art of wreckovating the liturgy.

83. The Church never ceases to find new ways to sing her love for God each new day. The Sacred Liturgy itself, in its actions and prayers, best makes known the forms in which compositions will continue to evolve. Composers find their inspiration in Sacred Scripture, and especially in the texts of the Sacred Liturgy, so that their works flow from the Liturgy itself. Moreover, “to be suitable for use in the Liturgy, a sung text must not only be doctrinally correct, but must in itself be an expression of the Catholic faith.” Therefore, “liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about faith which are untrue.” Only within this scriptural, liturgical, and creedal context is the composer who is aware of the Church’s long journey through human history and “who is profoundly steeped in the sensus Ecclesiae” properly equipped “to perceive and express in melody the truth of the Mystery that is celebrated in the Liturgy.” No matter what the genre of music, liturgical beauty emanates directly from that mystery and is passed through the talents of composers to emerge in music of the assembled People of God.

That last sentence can be dangerous.

84. In the years immediately following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, especially because of the introduction of vernacular language, composers and publishers worked to provide a new repertoire of music for indigenous language(s). In subsequent decades, this effort has matured, and a body of worthy vernacular liturgical music continues to develop, even though much of the early music has fallen into disuse. Today, as they continue to serve the Church at prayer, composers are encouraged to concentrate on craftsmanship and artistic excellence in all musical genres.

85. The Church awaits an ever richer song of her entire gathered people. “The faith of countless believers has been nourished by melodies flowing from the hearts of other believers, either introduced into the Liturgy or used as an aid to dignified worship. In song, faith is experienced as vibrant joy, love, and confident expectation of the saving intervention of God.”

When done right!

The next section will cover Instruments.


See The Curt Jester for details on this and many other new shows for the 2008 season!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Aufgeht's, Kinder!!!

It's soon that time again. I grew up calling it Fasching, but down here it's known as Mardi Gras. Fasching, of course, starts each year on November 11, at 11:11 -- that's right, folks: 11/11 at 11:11. That's traditionally the date and time the Prince and Princess are announced. And of course, the rest of the day, the Gesellschaft, (the Krewe, for our Louisiana friends) spends walking in procession with costumed musicians from beer hall to beer hall. Indeed with trumpet and horn and drums. The insignia above is that of the Narragonia, Regensburg, the Faschingsgesellschaft (Mardi Gras Krewe) that I belonged to when I lived in Regensburg. In fact, I was elected one of the Elferrat, the company of 11 men who escort the Prince. Great fun, and loads of free beer, as you can imagine. At any rate, the rest of the time there are parties and balls and such and more parties and of course, there are the parties. So, next weekend, be sure to remember your friends who are celebrating Fasching and Mardi Gras. Meantime, I salute you all as the Narragonians do, with a rousing shout of RADI, RADI!! RADI, RADI!!
(Note on the toast: Literally, it means "radish, radish!". The white radish is also one of the Narragonia's traditional symbols at Fasching. I remember once having to stand post at the bandstand holding up a banner on which was emblazoned an enormous aplique radish)


Domini Sumus got this from a priest on a message board she frequents. As she says in her post: I wouldn't classify him as a liberal, but he certainly isn't a conservative.

Here he writes:
Respectfully, it seems that the proponents of both sides of this discussion have missed an important point. The priest standing at the altar in the position prescribed by the 1962 Roman Missal is not "turning his back of the people", but "standing with the people in prayer". When he says, "Te igitur, clementissime Pater ... rogamus, ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas haec + dona, haec + munera, haec + sancta sacrificia" illibata ... " [We therefore humbly pray and beseech you, most merciful Father ... to accept and bless these + gifts, these + presents, this holy and unblemished Victim ..." he is not speaking in some form of the royal We", but uniting himself with the members of the congregation in the normal grammatical first person plural: We, not Me!

On the other hand, the priest who stands behind the altar facing the congreation, is, by his stance, separating himself from the people for whom he is celebrating the Eucharist, not uniting himself with them.

OK - he's not conservative, but he gets it. And I have a gut feeling more and more priests are beginning to get it. I may, soon enough, get to play/sing/direct choir for an Ordinary Form Mass ad Orientem!

The priest in question here, btw, goes under the name Fr. John L, and runs a blog called Bear Witness to the Light.


Sunday, January 20, 2008


I have it right here. Rich at Catholic Light sent me this by e-mail.

Here I Am, Lord/Ecce Ego
Translated into Latin by Father James Buffer

Deus maris et caeli / Plorantes meos audivi
Habitans in tenebris / Salvabitur

Stellas noctis quae feci / Tenebras inlustrabo:
Quis portabit meam lucem? / Iis mittam quem?

Ecce ego / Sumne ille? / Te vocantem nocte audivi
Ibo, Domine / Te ducente / Gentem tuam corde tenebo

This reminds me of the little project Jason and I undertook over four years ago - long before either of us knew what a blog was. Jason had translated Hail Mary/Gentle Woman into Latin (Ave Maria/Clemens Mulier), and I had converted (the former Rev.) Carey Landry's hideous melody into chant. It was nearly unrecognizable. It's too bad I lost the only copy I had, thanks to an infamous mill fire that took some houses with it (including mine).



Sunday III of Ordinary Time / January 27, 2008
Blessed Sacrament Church, Providence, RI

Normally I fill in for the 8:30 and 10:30. On 1/27/08 I only have the 8:30, but that's because the 10:30 music will be done by the parish school that day (Catholic Schools Week).

For this Mass, the usual disclaimer applies (that is, I didn't pick'em).

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty..."Lobe den Herren"
My soul is thirsting for you...della Picca
Alleluia...Mode VI
We have been told...Haas
Sanctus/Agnus...Vermulst/People's Mass
Lord, who at your first Eucharist did pray..."Unde et memores"
How great thou art (with a barf bag by my side)..."O store Gud"

Good news on the Psalm situation for this week - I got out of the Schutte Here Me Is, Lard for both of my Masses today, albeit we landed up settling on the della Picca Ps. 63. I'd much rather do the Psalm of the day, but I'd also much rather do a seasonal Psalm than something that's not a Psalm at all (like the Schutte).


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ok Already, Lookie-Loo's!

If you're here out of curiosity looking for what I wrote, I busted you doing it, and you're out of luck! It just ain't here no more, as they say. What was it? Nothing pornographic. Nothing too outrageous. Nothing false. No lies, just the plain truth delivered in the way that our readers know me, and especially the way my closest friends know me: candidly but with a bit of humorous writing thrown in. I am hardly the author to read if your skin is thin or if you suffer from an overdose of low self-esteem or some sort of repressed psychological issue from your childhood that enables you to turn a brick of kingsford into a diamond when...well, you can figure that out. But, one good thing from all of this, the blog has been viewed a zillion times more than usual. I think I counted a few hundred viewings of my own profile within a 24 or so hour period. WOW! That tells me another truth about humans: if someone tells us something is really really really bad, so bad it can't be read aloud, then what are they going to do? Leave it alone? Ha! Hardly. Let's go see what all the ruckus is about. So, in the end, instead of just using a bit of diplomacy and a kind request, the Christus Vincit blog became a celebrity, and I did too to some extent. I haven't ever seen that many folks interested in my Catholic University ball cap mugshot before! Ironically, after all this, even more folks read my humorous words than would have otherwise. Thanks readers for your kind words. What's more, many readers locally called me at home thanking me for voicing opinions that they didn't really want to bring up themselves, lest they burn eternally in the flames of Tartarus, removing sock lint from Satan's toenails with an incense spoon. But on the bright side, in th end, neither you nor I will be hurled headlong into the lake of fire and adamantine chains (thanks, John Milton). We will have shared a chuckle and laughed at ourselves and at those who are too proud to, or just too darned fake to do it themselves. I always liked Umberto Eco novels, especially Der Name der Rose -- the Name of the Rose, which I read in German years ago. There was a character in there name Jorge. He was an old codger monk, always solemn, warning that it is unchristian to laugh: Jesus never laughed, so neither should we. I can't imagine a world without laughter, without humor or levity. What a burden life would be. Let us keep in our prayers the Jorges we know. They don't need the chains Milton speaks of. They've made their Hell here on earth and wish that everyone's experience here should be just like theirs. Trouble is, they may just spend a longer time trying to feed ol' Cerberus a spelt cake than we ever will. Why? Well, for trying to make our own lives so darned miserable. So, it's time to relax and revisit my good Greek friend Herodotus. Nothing like visiting old friends. Warm, comfortable. He always makes me smile and think. You know, the old boy says the darnest things about the Ethiopeans and why they look the way they do. But that's a topic for another time, maybe even for another place. So let me relax in my wingback with my Oxford Press hard back and enjoy some great Ancient Greek, an old friend, and a very dry martini. Pax et bonum omnibus!


Previous parts:
Pars prima / Pars secunda / Pars tertia / Pars quarta
Pars quinta / Pars sexta / Pars septua / Pars octa

Section I - Latin in the Liturgy

61. The use of the vernacular is the norm in most liturgical celebrations in the dioceses of the United States “for the sake of a better comprehension of the mystery being celebrated.” However, care should be taken to foster the role of Latin in the Liturgy, particularly in liturgical song. Pastors should ensure “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” They should be able to sing these parts of the Mass proper to them, at least according to the simpler melodies.

Very few do that, unfortunately. My most recent former pastor did, however. As badly as things went sour in the end, I do commend him for his want for Latin, even with some nasty complaints from some of the people (including an e-mail I got from one person just hours after I started teaching part of Gloria VIII, stating that I am singlehandedly driving people out of the parish). We taught Sanctus XVIII and Agnus XVIII in my first year, Mortem Tuam in my second, and Gloria VIII my third year. In fact, before I had gotten to Holy Ghost, the pastor was leading the Sanctus and Agnus a cappella with the people. I urge more pastors to take that route. Just don't fire your music director in the process if your congregation starts getting bitter over it.

62. At international and multicultural gatherings of different language groups, it is most appropriate to celebrate the Liturgy in Latin, “with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful.” In addition, “selections of Gregorian chant should be sung” at such gatherings, whenever possible.

Ah, this is what I had pointed out at the end of pars octa.

63. To facilitate the singing of texts in Latin, the singers should be trained in its correct pronunciation and understand its meaning. To the greatest extent possible and applicable, singers and choir directors are encouraged to deepen their familiarity with the Latin language.


64. Whenever the Latin language poses an obstacle to singers, even after sufficient training has been provided—for example, in pronunciation, understanding of the text, or confident rendition of a piece—it would be more prudent to employ a vernacular language in the Liturgy.

I often find this paragraph a chance for those who are simply against Latin in the first place to "act dumb". I've run into at least a couple of choirs that would "act dumb" if there was a particular piece of music that didn't fit their little agenda.

65. Seminarians should “receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate
Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant.”

I couldn't agree more!

66. In promoting the use of Latin in the Liturgy, pastors should always “employ that form
of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation.”

I fully believe the average adult has the capabilities. It's the will (or lack thereof) that creates the issue. If people are willing to try something, they'll get it, more likely than not.

Of course, I'm not saying "fully immerse them with Latin in one sweeping blow". It just won't work. Bits at a time is sufficient, especially for those who haven't had any Latin except for singing the Latin endings of Immaculate Mary, O Most Holy One, and Hail, holy Queen enthroned above. And keep repeating those bits until it sinks into their heads. That's what we did at Holy Ghost over my three years there. We would teach the Latin Ordinary in the order I mentioned between paragraphs 61 and 62, above. We'd start it in November, and use it weekly until Easter. After Easter, we would use the Latin Ordinary on the last Sunday of each month, even during the summer months. During Lent, we did it weekly, as it gave me something to do a cappella.

In pars decima, we start covering "the different kinds of music".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Previous parts:
Pars prima / Pars secunda / Pars tertia / Pars quarta
Pars quinta / Pars sexta / Pars septua

Section H - Diverse Cultures and Languages

57. Even as the liturgical music of the Western European tradition is to be remembered, cherished, and used, the rich cultural and ethnic heritage of the many peoples of our country must also be recognized, fostered, and celebrated. Cultural pluralism has been the common heritage of all Americans, and “the Catholic community is rapidly re-encountering itself as an immigrant Church.” “The cultural gifts of the new immigrants” are “taking their place alongside those of older generations of immigrants,” and this calls for interaction and collaboration between peoples who speak various languages and celebrate their faith in the songs and musical styles of their cultural, ethnic, and racial roots. In order to do so effectively, music publishers need to be encouraged to offer multilingual options for use which would be more expressive of our unity amidst such great diversity.

58. Liturgical music must always be chosen and sung “with due consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical assembly.” Immigrants should be welcomed and should be provided with the resources they need to worship in their own language. “Religious singing by the faithful is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises as well as in liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may be heard, in conformity with the norms and requirements of the rubrics.” However, as the second
generation of an immigrant group comes to maturity in the worshiping assembly, bilingual (native language and English) resources and songs are needed to promote participation of the multicultural and multigenerational assembly.

59. As dioceses, parishes, and neighborhoods become increasingly diverse, the different cultural groups strive for some expression of unity. In a spirit of hospitality, local worshiping communities are encouraged to develop bicultural or multicultural celebrations from time to time that reflect the changing face of the Church in America. When prepared with an attitude of mutual reciprocity, local communities might eventually expand from those celebrations that merely highlight their multicultural differences to celebrations that better reflect the intercultural relationships of the assembly and the unity that is shared in Christ. Likewise, the valuable musical gifts of the diverse cultural and ethnic communities should enrich the whole Church in the United States by contributing to the repertory of liturgical song and to the growing richness of Christian faith.

60. Liturgical music today must reflect the multicultural diversity and intercultural relationships of the members of the gathered liturgical assembly. The varied use of musical forms such as ostinato refrains, call and response, song translations, and bilingual or multilingual repertoire can assist in weaving the diverse languages and ethnicities of the liturgical assembly into a tapestry of sung praise. Liturgical leaders and musicians should encourage not only the use of traditional music of other languages and peoples, but also the incorporation of newly composed liturgical music appropriate to various cultural expressions in harmony with the theological meaning of the rites. Care should be taken, however, to choose appropriate hymns in other languages so as to avoid an expression that could be misconstrued as tokenism.

The best three solutions in worship with multi-ethnic or multi-lingual communities:
1) Latin - It's the official language of the Church!
2) Latin - Vatican II demands it be preserved!
3) Latin - You'll be surprised how many ethnic groups do very well with it!

That's really all I have to say for that one. The next SotL posting will involve the section on Latin in the Liturgy.



Sunday II of OT / January 20, 2008 (8:30/10:30)
Blessed Sacrament Church, Providence, RI

Disclaimer: I did not pick these. However, I will definitely be pushing to change one of these. See if you can guess which one and why?

Praise the Lord, O heav'ns, adore him..."Hyfrydol"
Gloria...TBD (most likely Creation)
Here I Am, Lord...Schutte
Alleluia...Mode VI
O Holy Spirit, come to us..."Tallis' Ordinal"
- (Finally I get to do Tallis' Ordinal! WOOHOO!)
The Spirit of God...Deiss
On Jordan's bank the baptist's cry..."Winchester New"




Well, not the Catechism itself, but how it's taught in CCD (and maybe even in some Catholic schools too)...

Overheard in one of the medieval galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, during a conversation between two trendy young ladies in jeans and (pretend) riding boots.
"And this is the Annunciation, when she got knocked up."

Matthew over at Holy Whapping, who wrote the above, also says:

*I can't decide if this is worse than the catechism class I heard about when one of the kids asked "why Jesus had to get whacked."

Argent has the cure:

Dust off the Baltimore Catechism and put away those pink-butterfly-covered-CCD workbooks...Why again did burlap and felt and glue become more important than teaching the Doctrine of the Faith? Another generation wasted at the altar of self-worship catechesis.

Speaking of those pink-butterfly-covered-CCD workbooks... Has anyone ever noticed that in the rare photos of a scene in church posted in said workbooks, it's one of those hideous mid-to-late-60's-built churches, and the guitar group, not the organ, is shown? We can't possibly sing of perdy little pink butterflies on a pipe organ now, can we?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CATHOLIC CARNIVAL 155 up and runnin' at Deo Omnis Gloria. This is actually my first post to the Carnival in quite some time. I gave it a break after a post I had sent got omitted. This time it got included. My contribution is the Don't Blink post about the early arrival of Septuagesima.

While reading the Carnival, I discovered the newest contributor to the Chabanel Psalms Project - one of the best in the west, Fr. Jeffrey Keyes.



Every now and then, Catholic Culture will send something useful to my inbox. Today's mailing started with this (emphasis mine):

St. Augustine said that he who sings prays twice. But it is probably not that aspect of singing which causes many Catholics to be deeply concerned about the type and quality of music they are asked to sing at Mass.

Two different kinds of musical settings are frequently used in the sacred liturgy, the singing of various parts of the Mass and the singing of hymns. The hymns typically used at Mass are the Processional, Offertory, Communion and Recessional hymns. Did you know that these hymns are supposed to bear a relationship to the Mass texts?

In all actuality, hymns are the last of the four (soon to be only three once the emandation gets approved by Rome) options given for use at the Introit, Offertory, and Communion, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Another unfortunate note is that though there are a number of musicians, myself included, who do know that hymns are supposed to bear a relationship to the Mass texts, unfortunately a much higher number of musicians (as well as many pastors, liturgists, composers, and publishers) either don't know, or focus only on the readings, or simply don't care.

Further in the e-mail I received, Catholic Culture leaves a link to an article by Susan Benofy, called Singing the Mass -- We Cannot Say that One Song Is as Good as the Other. The link actually points to the article in their own website. However, that story first appeared in the November 2007 Adoremus Bulletin.


With no mechanism for episcopal review in place, composers produced a constant stream of new music — and publishers strenuously promoted it through their publications and workshops. For many reasons, this “contemporary” music for use in the liturgy virtually supplanted any other kind, in the decades following the Council. As a result of this musical “rupture”, the “rich patrimony of faith” of the Church’s musical heritage was all but lost.

Thus, the chaos we have today.

The Consilium’s response was very clear :
That rule [permitting vernacular hymns] has been superseded. What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not “something”, no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass.

The Proper of the Mass was to be sung. This ruling was utterly ignored, however. Almost forty years later the average Catholic at Sunday Mass will join in singing “something” at the Entrance, at Communion and perhaps the Offertory. Almost never will the actual texts prescribed for these processions be heard.

Of course not. You hear All Are Welcome or Gather Us In instead, or Anthem (I don't mean a good choral anthem here, but Tom Conry's infamous ditty which makes you lose count on the number of times the word "we" is sung before the first chorus is done).

Now, let's look at Ms. Benofy's rightful assessment of the infamous OCP planning guide, Today's Liturgy, which I've taken issue with more than once on this here blog. In fact, the group that passed themselves off as a search committee for the job interview that I flopped on mentioned that they like to use Today's Liturgy as their bible when it comes to music selections.

Today’s Liturgy usually lists 4 to 6 suggested hymns for each of several parts of the Mass, and there is a code to indicate when a selection corresponds to a prescribed antiphon or reading. There is only one Sunday (the 24th in Ordinary Time) when any of the suggestions for the Entrance correspond (in the compiler’s opinion) to the Introit antiphon. On that day the antiphon is from the Book of Sirach:

Give peace, Lord, to those who wait for you and your prophets will proclaim you as you deserve. Hear the prayers of your servant and of your people Israel.

The hymns that are alleged to correspond to the antiphon are “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”, whose text is based on Psalm 103; and “Rejoice the Lord is King”, which is based on the Christus Vincit. Neither has any real connection with the antiphon from Sirach.

In some cases the suggested hymns are very far removed from the substance and spirit of the prescribed text. Consider, for example, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The prescribed antiphon from the Missal (and Gradual) is: “If you, O Lord, laid bare our guilt, who could endure it? But you are forgiving, God of Israel.”

This is a verse from Psalm 130 (129) whose first verse, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord”, is the prescribed psalm verse for the Introit. This is the text the Church proposes to congregations to “introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season”.

What does Today’s Liturgy suggest for the Entrance hymn on this Sunday? First on the list is “Sing a New Song” by Dan Schutte, said to be “based on” Psalm 98. The refrain has us “singing alleluia”, and in the first verse we “dance for joy” and play “glad tambourines”.

Now you know why I don't use their planning pages.

Seriously, Ms. Benofy knows what she speaks. Read the whole thing. It's really good!


Over at Holy Family Church in NYC (aka "The United Nations Parish"), I got to hear something cool. This file will be up for the week at the parish's website.

Paul Murray, the organist/music director at Holy Family, is really good. Often times, the procession itself is longer than the entire entrance hymn, so he's gotta do a little improving between verses. What really interested me in this week's webcast was how he incorporated movement II from Francois Couperin's Mass for the Convents in between verses 2 and 3 during the entrance hymn (When John baptized by Jordan's river, the tune being "Rendez a Dieu" by Louis Bourgeois). Groovy!


Monday, January 14, 2008


Pope turns his back on the people at Mass

At least that's what Reuters said. Get some hot water! Get some disinfectant!

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, re-introducing an old ritual that had not been used in decades.

Never mind facing the Lord, or facing the same direction as the people. That wouldn't be newsworthy, at least not for the folk over at Roto-Reuters.

The Carolina Cannonball gives this accurate report:
In other news... Reuters hires trained monkey reporters.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


It's no secret that though I live in Rhode Island (where at one time the big game was duckpins), I'm a big fan of candlepin bowling. I just found this quiz and here's the result.

You got 75% right!

A great effort! There's a lot of tough questions on this quiz, and you got most of them! You know a lot about Candlepin Bowling!

How much do you know about Candlepin Bowling?
Make a Quiz



Septuagesima Sunday - January 20, 2008 (5 PM)
Low Mass in Extraordinary Form
Saint Leo the Great Church, Pawtucket, RI

The kingdom of God..."Laudate Dominum"
O Esca viatorum...J. M. Haydn
Ave verum Corpus...Mozart
Holy God, we praise thy Name..."Grosser Gott"

I'll have the Blessed Sacrament list for 2 Ordinary Time posted once I get it.


With another month or so before spring training starts up again, my wife sent me this example of how a Yankees baseball cap is to be used.


Friday, January 11, 2008


Septuagesima is sneaking up quickly!

The other day I e-mailed the music list to the music director at St. Leo's for the Extraordinary Form Mass we're doing on 1/20/08. Of course, I forgot that Easter is coming up so early that there's no such thing as a mere "Sunday after Epiphany" this year. THE Sunday after Epiphany (this Sunday) is the Feast of the Holy Family (which trumps Baptism of the Lord in the Extraordinary Form, though its fixed date, January 13, is a Sunday - thank you for pointing that out Jason). The following Sunday is NOT the Second Sunday after Epiphany as I originally sent the list for, but Septuagesima. Why so early? Because Ash Wednesday is on 2/6. Therefore:

1/20: Septuagesima Sunday
1/27: Sexagesima Sunday
2/4: Quinquagesima Sunday

So, as early as January 20, the Gloria will be dropped, the Alleluia will be replaced by the Tract, and the Mass vestments will be violet, not green. Many of the propers will have more of a "penitential flavor" to it, very similar to much of Lent or even the last few Sundays after Pentecost. For that reason, I've heard this "mini-season" of Septuagesima referred to as that "little Lent before Lent".

So, tomorrow I'll be delivering the corrected list to the music director. I'll be posting the final list this Sunday.



Some probably remember this post about my first job lead from mid-November, just days after being sacked from the ghosthouse.

Well, after not even bothering to follow up after a very crappy interview, I got this lovely little missive from the pastor via snail-mail:

Dear Brian,

Please excuse the delay in responding to your application for the position of Music Director of St. Francis de Sales Church.

I recently received (January 8) the committee's report of your interview with them on December 4, 2007. The committee did not recommend you for this position, and they gave various reasons.

I will respect their recommendation and wish you well in your pursuit of employment elsewhere.

A little story about this interview: The pastor took absolutely no involvement in this interview (read: was absent). The committee consisted of four women, a couple of choir members, a violinist, and a so-called "liason" that "monitors congregational singing". This committee has absolutely no care in the world about music for liturgy with the exception of seeing to it that nothing other than the "greatest hits" (or the euphamism, "the songs that they're comfortable with") are in the repertoire. When I had mentioned that I prefer to go with the wishes of the Vatican (e.g., the GIRM), their response was, "but what if the pastor wants you to do something different?" Why the sam hell wasn't the pastor there to ask that question himself? They don't want a leader by any means. They just want a butt kisser.

Just as well. My good friend Fr. Fisette was absolutely right by telling me that he couldn't picture me over there. That's because he knows I won't sell what I don't believe in. If the Vatican says so, than it's so. That's my belief. :)



The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ / January 13, 2008
Blessed Sacrament Church, Providence, RI

Well the good news at least for now is that I am the steady sub for the two Sunday morning Masses until Donald Dame returns. The pastoral assistant asked me last Monday if I could take those two Masses regularly, and I accepted. Obviously I'm still looking for full time work in the meantime.

Anyhoo, I just got a call from the rectory with the music list for this coming Sunday:

The Church's one foundation..."Aurelia"
Gloria wasn't mentioned, but I believe Fr. Carusi likes it sung. If such is the case, they'll probably go with Creation.
My soul is thirsting...whatever is in the 1975 People's Mass Book
- (my opinion: if you're going to use a seasonal Psalm, Psalm 72 with Lord, every nation on earth would be more appropriate, since the Baptism of the Lord is the end of Christmas season, not the beginning of Ordinary Time, but again, I didn't pick these)
Alleluia...Mode VI (YAY! No Celtic Alleluia)
There is one Lord...Deiss
Mass of Creation (exc. Agnus)...Haugen
Come to the water...Foley
- (wouldn't have been one of my personal picks, but I've seen and heard a lot worse titles than this)
Sent forth by God's blessing..."Ash Grove"
- (I'll do key of F for 8:30, but expect it in G for 10:30)



LL at NLM posted this video clip of Balulalow from Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. This brings back memories of my junior year in high school - just days before Christmas 1980 - when the chorus I sang in went to New York City to sing A Ceremony of Carols, joined by a New York dance troupe. That same troupe came to Rhode Island to join us.

The choir here is from St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England.

My top three personal favorites from the Britten work:
1. Wolcum Yole
2. As Dew in Aprile
3. Deo Gratias


Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Robert Kumpel at the St. John's Valdosta blog may have found this poster on the telephone poles of his hometown...

What a bargain, considering $60 would barely get you cheap seats at one of Mizz Spears' regular concerts!

Too freakin' hilarious!


Did you ever want to crash a NaPalM get-together (whether it be a chapter cookout or a national convention) wearing a t-shirt of this design?


But if you want one, you have to see Paul Nichols. He made the design. He also gave us this cool cartoon (yeah, I'm just catching up on Paul's blog)...



I wasn't kidding when I said this church was gorgeous!

I stumbled onto some really nice pics of St. John the Baptist Church in Pawtucket, where I had attended Mass for Advent IV, Christmas (Midnight, with my daughter Jessica), and Holy Family. Of the twelve Catholic churches in Pawtucket, St. John's is definitely the most majestic looking (though other notable mentions in the city include St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, St. Cecila, Our Lady of Consolation, St. Edward, and St. Joseph - the old St. Joseph, before it burned down in 1976). These come courtesy of the Lemieux and Associates Pipe Organ Company. Daniel Lemieux has been doing work on several notable organs in southern New England and upstate New York. The notable organs around here include St. John's, St. Anne's monster Casavant in Fall River, MA, and St. Anthony's monster Casavant in New Bedford, MA.


The sanctuary, which is eight steps high. Though you can't see it from this pic, above the apse is the inscription ECCE AGNVS DEI (Behold the Lamb of God). The classical Roman style of using "V" in place of "U" was utilized in this inscription as well as the inscriptions on the side walls of the nave.

View from sanctuary to the choir loft. Note the inscriptions along the top of the side walls:
(Praise the Lord, O children, Praise the name of the Lord, -- Psalm 113(112))
(Praise the Lord from the heavens, Praise Him in the highest. -- Psalm 148)

The case of the 1924-built organ by the Canadian Organ Company

The console of the COC organ. And it's nice to see my favorite '70's hymnal (Worship II) up on the music rack.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Man, this really hits home! Got this from Lyn F., the Organ-ic Chemist, via e-mail this evening. This reminds me of the alleged reason that I was sacked on 11/15/07. Enjoy!


"TURN - IT - DOWN!!!"
Charles Richard Lester

More often than not, the person who chronically complains that the organ is too loud is the same person who complains that the sermon is too long (or too short), the temperature too hot (or too cold), the pews too hard (or too soft), there are too many hymns (or not enough of them), the cookies at the after-church social hour are the wrong kind, etc. etc. etc.

And this type of socially dysfunctional person ["Does not play well in groups"] fully expects that by expressing their "humble opinion," their complaint will not only be heard but acquiesced to.

DON'T DO IT. Or you will be forever sorry.

It's the old "give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" cliché.

Take a garden-variety compulsive griper, stir in a pinch of "Control Issues," and you have your typical Church Complainer.

I too have "been dere, done dat." I too have learned to just smile nicely, thank the complainer for his/her input, then do nothing. UNLESS, of course, the complainer is the pastor, choir director, or some other authority figure. Other than that, I simply "file the complaint in the circular filing cabinet" and am done with it.

Arrogant? Perhaps. But decades of experience sometimes do bring along a bit of arrogance, of the educated variety.

I'll never forget one church in particular where there was this grumpy old man who EVERY SUNDAY would come charging down the aisle during the postlude with his fingers in his ears, loudly belly-aching that the organ was too loud. One Sunday he apparently was having a particularly bad day (had not gotten his way elsewhere, most likely): He charged down to the front of the chancel and bellowed to me at the top of his lungs,"TURN - IT - DOWN!!!"

Shocked, I stopped playing. What else could I do?

There was a moment of stunned silence; all eyes were trained on the man who just stood there, red-faced and quivering with rage.

I shut off the organ, pulled down the roll-top, took off my robe, changed my shoes, and left.

That afternoon the pastor called me and we had a long talk. I told him if he did not tell that man to stop harassing me, I was going to resign. The following Sunday, the man, meek as a little lamb, kept his distance- although glowering at me from afar. I was just waiting for him to stick his fingers in his ears but he knew he did not dare.

An extreme case, perhaps, but illustrative of the sort of person you are usually dealing with in a chronic complainer. They just want to get their way and will go to extraordinary lengths to that end. (BMP's note: in the case of my former parish, that would be either the complainer either leaving the parish or at least cutting his/her weekly budget donation substantially, and then "blaming the music". The old lesson to that is the same as the one in politics I used to hear the when my father made an unsuccessful bid for a city council seat back in the mid '70's - "Money talks and bullshit walks.")