Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Here's an interesting series of events that happened today...

Normally I've been attending Mass, as you've been seeing in recent posts, at St. John the Baptist Church - gorgeous, majestic Roman basilica style church with a three-manual, 31-rank organ built by Compagnie Orgues Canadiennes. Today, however, they had only one Mass - a bilingual English/Spanish Mass, and I know very little Spanish, unfortunately.

So, today I went to another majestic church in the Providence area. I will not mention the name of this church just yet. I will say that the church is very beautiful - very ornate, and built in the Romanesque style. Gorgeous baldacchino. The pulpit is one of those "high pulpit" types (ya gotsta climb a few stairs to preach, that is) with one of those umbrella-type thingies (I don't know what they're called) that I've only seen in pictures from fifty or more years ago.

The church is very well-known for the number of vocations emerging from there --- four bishops, 89 other priests, and 101 nuns.

The organ is an Aeolian-Skinner, three-manual, 28 ranks (there are only five Aeolian-Skinners in all of Rhode Island).

Well, a lady had substituted for the music director today. She's one of those "one-to-two chords per bar" organists/pianists that I've seen very often around here. However, the selections weren't all bad. The two pew books are the 2008 Breaking Bread and the 1984 People's Mass Book. All the hymns came from the latter. Here's the list:

O come, all ye faithful..."Adeste, Fideles"
Gloria...Mass of Creation/Haugen (on piano - WHY???)
O little town of Bethlehem (vv. 2/3)..."St. Louis"
- Now, I have no problem with O little town as a hymn. It's beautiful. The problem wasn't even that it was played on piano, though it did make me scratch my head. However the problem was that it was sung in place of the Responsorial Psalm. That's a big no-no. The very last sentence of GIRM paragraph 61 clearly states: Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.
What child is this..."Greensleeves"
Eucharist...Mass of Creation/Haugen (the Agnus was on piano)
Angels we have heard on high..."Gloria"
Silent night, holy night..."Stille nacht" (both of these Communion hymns on piano)
Hark! the herald angels sing..."Mendelssohn"

It seemed as that anything that was intended to be played somewhat softer was relegated to the piano (except for the Gloria, which should be done with gusto).

The cantor was in good voice and did not drown the congregation - a good thing. There were a couple of details I would have done differently. 1 - Before introducing the Introit hymn, the cantor said "Good morning", then "Happy New Year" (people responded back on both counts). I would have saved the social stuff for after Mass, preferably in the narthex and not the church proper. 2 - She announced the recessional hymn by proclaiming "Let us join in singing our final hymn of Christmas joy..." "Our recessional hymn is..." would have been sufficient.

One good note - unlike my last two parishes, but like the one before them, the people in the pew actually stay and finish the hymn instead of racing the celebrant out the door.

Anyhoo, after Mass, an elderly lady stopped me and said "you should be singing with the choir" (the choir probably got the day off after doing Christmas). I told her that I was just an out-of-work organist. That's when I found out (thankfully) that today's organist was just a fill-in from another parish and not the music director's assistant. Sadly, however, the music director, who I've heard is very good, suffered a nasty fall on the ice recently, thus leaving him incapacitated for a bit.

Funny note - when I got home, I got an e-mail from a local friend saying that the church I attended Mass at this morning is hiring. Whether the position be interim or permanent, I sent my resume anyways. (Which is why I'm NOT mentioning the name of the church in this post, however, I will disclose it if and when the lead becomes fruitful).

Happy, blessed, and snarky 2008 to all of you!


Lyn F. said...

Cool, Brian, good luck!

Oh, and Happy New Year to you.

Brian Michael Page said...

Thanks much, Lyn. I don't know whether this is interim or permanent, but I'm gonna give it a shot anyways.
Happy new year to you too. :)

Adrienne said...

Consider yourself lucky!

How about O Sanctissima with a strumming guitar and electric bass accompaniment???

It was enough to make your ears bleed. That's what we got to hear this morning.

Adrienne said...

.......and, lets not forget the made up whatever it was substitute for the Psalms. NO, NO, NO.

When it comes to music our pastor has a tin ear and is being led down a very sorry path.

DominiSumus said...

Good luck!