Thursday, December 31, 2009


...on Fox

Who will last the longest in making a jackass of him-/herself this year?
And what's the latest from William Hung?



Happy and Blessed 2010 to all our readers! Haven't thought of a resolution yet. Last year's resolution didn't work out the way I was hoping. So, I just might go back to the previous resolution, not to make any New Year's resolutions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Anyone having a hard time buying/receiving that "perfect Christmas gift"?

Well, Fr. Erik got the ultimate gift, made in an attempt to revive the Chia Pet industry...

Saith Fr. Erik:
I will water him and fertilize him… and put him in the sun....and name him Barry! Then at a time of my own choosing, he will go in a dry, dark closet. And I will repeat the process! Muahahahaha!

Now we need the "Pissed Off Chia Obama", for those days he's foaming at the mouth after learning that someone he just bailed out with our tax dollars just allegedly misspent the money.

Now for something even more frightening... the ChiaPelosi:

Chia Kennedy (Patrick, that is) coming soon.

BTW, Where's OUR bail out?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Et Incarnatus est

God's love is purveyed to each of us in the minutiae of our lives as much as in the major events. Maybe God's brilliance in this is the fact that we are able to survive His Grace more easily. Our minds are perhaps not fully capable in this earthly life, to be able to embrace all his goodness and love without exploding.

And perhaps it is thusly (oh, please forgive my use of that dreadful word), that we are always astonished at the birth of a boy, whose birthingplace was made known by the explosion of a star thousands of years before our earthly presence was graced with his.

As we encounter family and friends, and others, I pray that you will have a momentary explosion of thankfulness at the Incarnation of the one who has loved us more than all others combined.

Et incarnatus est.


Thursday, December 24, 2009


I just got a call from my good friend Dave Sylvester this morning, and we're out to see who's doing any of the following selections for any of the Christmas Masses this year:

- Laetentur Caeli (Carlo Carturan)
- Tollite Hostias (Camille Saint-Saens)
- Mass of the Shepherds (Pietro A. Yon) in Latin

Dave's doing all three! Anyone else?

Anyone who wants to hear these great works should visit Sacred Heart Church, Providence Street, West Warwick, RI. Mind you - the Mass is in the Ordinary Form.

(You certainly don't think those brainwashed by NaPalM would be doing these, do you?)

In the meantime, in case I forget tomorrow morning, Merry and Blessed Christmas from our families to your families!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Freakingly Stupid and Totally Iggerent Priests and Music teachers

There are, within the life of any given church organist/choirmaster, a finite number of times wherein a priest of low degree may enter into his/her space. Why is it, then, that oftentimes these priests linger in our lives just because of the stupid things they do - or DON'T do.

Case in point: when I wanted desparately to work out the situation with a recently acquainted priest, he refused to do it. We have standards, he said. Well, he certainly did - does - have standards. And they have plummeted to lower than any lifeform should allow. So my plan for the students' Christmas program this year (would have happened tonight, by the way), would have been on the order of Lessons and Carols. Carols included would have been German, French, Spanish and English. Among them, the original tune and German text of Stille Nacht, the lovely and familiar Il le ne le Divin Enfant, and others. So do you know what my "successor" is doing? somewhere, I think they are doing Go, tell it on the Mountain. Okay, so that's not so bad. But the children in Grades 1 and under will be doing hand motions. So, okay, I could even tolerate that, if mandated to do so. BUT. THEY ARE DOING ALL THIS ON THE STEPS OF THE SANCTUARY, facing an "audience". But had I suggested any such thing there would have been hell to pay (but rest assured, I would NEVER EVER EVER EVEN THINK ABOUT EVER EVER doing such a thing!!!!!!).

Oh, they are doing one piece in Latin. (That's all???). The priest stopped by and insisted that the kids skip out on phys ed so that they could more properly learn their Latin. Now, if the music teacher really knew what she was doing, she would have had this taught well before tonight........

So if errant clergy and totally inbecilic music teachers care to read this blog, there are lessons that they should learn:

1. Just because you are a priest, you don't have what it takes to lead. You must lead by example, not by order. If you expect one music teacher to work far beyond what is truly necessary, then you must expect any other music teacher to do likewise. Plain and simple, the old adage that an ass is always an ass, should be well understood.

2 If you are a music teacher, whether permanent or interim, following someone who totally knows what they are doing, then you should always be nice to your students, because the teacher in the front of the class and minds is the previous music teacher. And you must always strive to learn and stay ahead of your own game. And if you are going to use a curriculum of any sort, then you really ought to be in full knowledge of that curriculum. A curriculum devised for use in the Catholic Schools early in the previous century helped many students to be able to read music - including Gregorian Chant (in Gregorian Chant notation) - is not going to work for someone not from our faith tradition, and who would easily twang the geetar to Bringing in the Sheaves and We've a story to tell to the Nations, instead of playing the organ for improvisations on the truest music of the Roman Catholic Church. And making an effort to sing more loudly than anyone else in the nave at Mass does not bring about compliments of highest praise. It brings about smirks, scowls and honest feelings that would acknowledge the phoniness of such actions.

A reminder that the old adage attributed to St. Augustine is Qui bene cantat bis orat. The one who sings WELL prays twice. (Not he who sings prays twice). No sir indeedy. Even the ancients one knew that God, who is perfect, expects excellence.

Long-sleeved, button-downed collar and necktie not necessary.

Non nobis Domine.


Saturday, December 12, 2009


Clockwise from top left: Dave Sylvester, yours truly, Reuel Gifford, and Joe Gama - the Rhode Island Snark Quartet, or the cast of a remake of the flick "Going in Style".

We had a nice little get-together tonight at St. William's Church in Warwick, RI - a ceremony of Nine Lessons and Carols. Music was provided by the Rhode Island College Chamber Singers, directed by Teresa Coffmann, and Pro Cantare and the St. William's Choir, both directed by the parish music director (and good friend and mentor) Reuel Gifford. Sitting behind yours truly, my wife and my daughter were two other good friends of mine - Dave Sylvester and Joe Gama.

Like anything typical of Reuel, the music program he presented was nothing short of excellent. In fact, he's one of a small handful of organists in this neck of the woods who has successfully rescued a parish's music ministry from hootenannydom (the aforementioned Dave Sylvester is another). Here's the list:

Palestrina: Advent Responsory
HYMN: O come, O come, Emmanuel (vv. 1-4) (Mode I)
Opening Prayer
Lesson I (Gen. 3:9-15)
Setchell: Adam lay ybounden
Victoria: O magnum mysterium
Lesson II (Is. 9:1-6)
Reger: Behold the days come, saith the Lord
Lesson III (Is. 11:1-9)
HYMN: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming ("Es ist ein ros'")
Nelson: O magnum mysterium
Lesson IV (Mk. 1:1-8)
HYMN: On Jordan's bank ("Winchester New")
Lesson V (Jas. 5:1-11)
Brahms: O Savior, open heaven's height
Lesson VI (Lk. 1:26-38)
Kulia: Ave Maria
(Wexford Carol was originally slated, but was replaced with a piece whose title eludes me at the moment.)
Lesson VII (Lk. 2:1-7)
HYMN: O little town of Bethlehem ("St. Louis")
Scheidt: A Child is born in Bethlehem
Lesson VIII (Lk. 2:8-20)
Away in a manger (by a composer whose name eludes me at the moment, but the setting was gorgeous!)
HYMN: Angels we have heard on high ("Gloria")
Lesson IX (Mt. 2:1-12)
Walton: All this time this song is best
17th c. German: While by my sheep (I sang this in high school chorus! Happy memories there!)
Vetter: Choral Prelude on Nun komm der heiden heiland
Responsory, Closing Prayer, and Blessing
HYMN: O come, O come, Emmanuel (vv. 5-7)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On the Road for IC

My wife and I have been working toward moving back to our old haunts in TN - and it has taken us several weeks, it seems, to get from Corpus Christi to TN, but we arrived tonight - 12/8, at 12.30....after driving for hours through driving rain.....yeah, bad pun, but it was soooo nasty.

Tomorrow we begin house hunting. Dooley is thrilled to not be in the car (his 30lb bod is tired of all the vibs from riding in the Stratus for a zillion miles).

So we stopped at the Cathedral in Birmingham for the 12.10 Mass. Complete with cantor and 50 some rank Moller (one of their last). I think the people were singing, it's hard to tell in lively acoustics, and the organ was not a timid thing (yeahhhhh!). At communion, we sang a setting of the Magnificat to the tune, Jerusalem. The Hillert Lamb of God was very nice. The Kyrie was not familiar to me, and the music was not printed in the bulletin (all other music was). The music dir. for the Cathedral was at the console, subbing for the regular organist, and there was also a sub cantor; all things went well, though. I had the pleasure of meeting the dm and talking with him briefly, and then got to spend about 40 minutes playing - just tried the stops, then improvised on St. Elisabeth, Katie's favorite hymn. It wasn't my best, but I've not played for well, a long time - and I was wearing those huge shoes so my pedal work was sparce, but it had form. To my surprise there was another organist listening in (he had come to practice - a retired choral conductor, who was the nicest person in the field that I've met in ages). We had a great time, but had to leave. Had the Red Roof Inn at Knoxville not been so hugely expensive, we'd have spent the night there, but are in Johnson City at the RRI, one of our favorites and comfortable.

Gotta run. . . am tired. We giggled for several miles while I imagined my composition list to be printed in an upcoming recital bulletin (not scheduled...just dreaming here)..... Prelude, Fugue and 36 Variations on My Name is Leonardo; Flight of the Fly before getting eaten by Dooley; etc..... it must be late.



I can only hope that for the third week of Advent, we get the page in ROSE, Brian!!!!



Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Here it is, the annual Tossmas video. RSCT to the Curt Jester.


UPDATE 12/3/09: I've been seeing some improvement in the Christmas department as of late. WalMart and JC Penney actually say Christmas in their commercials. I've seen that same improvement in a few other commercials that I can't remember the source of at this point. Further, normally I land up boycotting two of my favorite radio stations as of All Saints' Day due to their overkill of 24/7 playing of Christmas muzak, you know, that stuff that passes for yuletide favorites, or as many of the radio stations call them, "holiday favorites". This year, two of those stations waited till 11/15 (whoopie!), and another actually waited until Thanksgiving. To boot, one of the stations that started with the crap on 11/15 actually calls it "Boston's Favorite Christmas Music", instead of all that "holiday" crap. That said, any 24/7 of nothing but Christmas tunes is overkill, at least until Christmas Eve. -BMP