Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chant Te Deum

Charpentier's Te Deum

...with choir and soloists this time. Parts One and Two are posted here.

Te Deum

Charpentier's Te Deum. A stirring way to wake up and greet the new calendar year.

Monday, December 29, 2008


...from the Interlude of Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, the Christmas message of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.
Consider also one thing of which you have probably never thought. Not only do we at the feast of Christmas celebrate at once Our Lord's Birth and His Death: but on the next day we celebrate the martyrdom of HIs first martyr, the blessed Stephen. Is it an accident, do you think, that the day of the first martyr follows immediately the day of the Birth of Christ? By no means. Just as we rejoice and mourn at once, in the Birth and in the Passion of Our Lord; so also, in a smaller figure, we both rejoice and mourn in the death of martyrs. We mourn, for the sins of the world that has martyred them; we rejoice, that another soul is numbered among the Saints in Heaven, for the glory of God and for the salvation of men.

Beloved, we do not think of a martyr simply as a good Christian who has been killed because he is a Christian: for that would be solely to mourn. We do not think of him simply as a good Christian who has been elevated to the company of the Saints: for that would be simply to rejoice: and neither our mourning nor our rejoicing is as the world's is. A Christian martyrdom is never an accident, for Saints are not made by accident. Still less is a Christian martyrdom the effect of a man's will to become a Saint, as a man by willing and contriving may become a ruler of men. A martyrdom is always the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. It is never the design of man; for the true martyr is he who has become the instrument of God who has lost his will in the will of God, and who no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of being a martyr. So thus as on earth the Church mourns and rejoices at once, in a fashion that the world cannot understand; so in Heaven the Saints are most high,having made themselves most low, and are seen, not as we see them, but in the light of the Godhead from which they draw their being.

I have spoken to you to-day, dear children of God, of the martyrs of the past, asking you to remember especially our martyr of Canterbury, the blessed Archbishop Elphege; because it is fitting on Christ's birth day, to remember what is that Peace which He brought; and because, dear children, I do not think I shall ever preach to you again; and because it is possible that in a short time you may have yet another martyr, and that one perhaps not the last. I would have you keep in your hearts these words that I say, and think of them at another time. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Commemoration of St. Thomas of Canterbury

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festal day in honour of blessed Thomas the Martyr: at whose martyrdom the Angels rejoice, and praise the Son of God. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: raise becometh the upright.
~from today's Introit

O God, for the sake of whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men: grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain the good fruit of their petition.
~from today's Collect

Ecce sacerdos magnus, qui in diebus suis placuit Deo. Non est inventus similis illi, qui conservaret legem Excelsi. Alleluia, alleluia. Ego sum pastor bonus et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meæ...Behold a great priest, who in his days pleased God. There was not found the like to him, who kept the Law of the Most High. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the good Shepherd: and I know my hseep, adn MIne know Me.
~from today's Gradual

Happy Fifth Day of the Octave of Christmas!

Praise and Worship Services interesting take on "praise and worship" from a Protestant point of a steady diet of P & W is like getting stuck in the new, the now. By Bobby Neal Winters in Touchstone:
My hope has been that a praise service would be the new wine. Its sweeter taste would draw in those who have not been a part of a rich religious tradition or have been alienated from it, but eventually they would taste the old wine and no longer want the new.

That may be true, though it does not seem to happen often, but I now have mixed emotions because I have become a lover of the old wine, the ancient tradition going back not only to the time of Jesus but even before. It never sours but becomes subtler and more nuanced as it ages.

In the movie 50 First Dates, a young man falls in love with a woman who is suffering from short-term memory loss. Every day she wakes up in a new world, not remembering that she fell in love with the young man the previous day. Each date for them is like the first.

Those who attend only praise services are like the girl in 50 First Dates. The church for them is continually “now.” While the church should certainly be in conversation with this age, the conversation must take place from the point of view of eternity. The history and the tradition of the church are essential. We are surrounded by a large cloud of witnesses, and we are fools if we don’t heed them.

The young man in 50 First Dates eventually succeeds in marrying the girl and having a family with her, but the price of achieving this was for him to engage in an active, intentional, nonstop program to remind her of their history together. The same thing is necessary when anyone joins a church, and it is certainly true when one enters the gates through a praise service.

We lovers of old wine must keep that drink around and offer it to our new brothers because it does not matter how many people are in the building if they are not being offered Christ.
This is interesting that someone not Catholic would appeal to history and tradition...and ends with speaking about offering Christ. How often do we get accused of tradition being man-made? Here is someone who has intuited something deeper than just "man-made" in touching on Tradition..the handing on of the Faith Catholic.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Psallite Sapienter

...A Musician's Guide to the Extraordinary Form

Psallite Sapienter: A Musician's Guide to the Extraordinary Form

Recipe for Lapsed-Disgruntled Catholic Pie

~from Ignatius Insight Scoop (hat tip to Fr. Z):
... brought to you by National "Catholic" Reporter

1 cup of growing disenchantment
1/2 cup of some pronounced unease
3/4 cup of rotting historical illiteracy
1 cup of disillusioned with dogmatic bans
3 teaspoons of outgrown childhood fantasies about the Real Presence, purgatory, and guardian angels (note: can be substituted with a 1/4 cup of ripe theological ignorance)
4 cups of stale, bitter skepticism

Mix all well in a bowl of ambiguity. Pour into a pan of uncertainty. Heat stove of 150 degrees, the preferred temperature for lukewarm spirituality. Cook for whatever length of time feels good to you. Coat with thin layer of sugary, neo-pantheistic frosting. Serve to readers of National "Catholic" Reporter while in a natural state of discomfort, chanting, "I am Catholic. I am Catholic."

Read entire recipe. My favorite line: "I know now that humans can never penetrate the idea of God; certainty is – and has always been -- an illusion." Hmmm...for someone who doesn't believe in certainty, she certainly sounds very certain about not being certain.
Ha!!! This is one recipe to spiritual food poisoning for me, thank you very much.

Goode Christemas Musicke

Click on the play button to listen to the album. From Magnatune.

Goode Christemas Musicke by Stephane Potvin and the Con Brio Choir

Holy Innocents

~Today at Mass we heard not only the propers for the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, but also the Collect and post-Communion propers for Holy Innocents.

During this octave of Christmas the Church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighborhood of Bethlehem put to death by Herod. Sacrificed by a wicked monarch, these innocent lives bear witness to Christ who was persecuted from the time of His birth by a world which would not receive Him. It is Christ Himself who is at stake in this mass-murder of the children; already the choice, for or against Him, is put clearly before men. But the persecutors are powerless, for Christ came to perform a work of salvation that nothing can prevent; when He fell into the hands of his enemies at the time chosen by God it was to redeem the world by His own Blood.

Our Christmas joy is tempered today by a feeling of sadness. But the Church looks principally to the glory of the children, of these innocent victims, whom she shows us in heaven following the Lamb wherever He goes.

~from Catholic Culture

+ + +

Today, dearest brethren, we celebrate the birthday of those children who were slaughtered, as the Gospel tells us, by that exceedingly cruel king, Herod. Let the earth, therefore, rejoice and the Church exult — she, the fruitful mother of so many heavenly champions and of such glorious virtues. Never, in fact, would that impious tyrant have been able to benefit these children by the sweetest kindness as much as he has done by his hatred. For as today's feast reveals, in the measure with which malice in all its fury was poured out upon the holy children, did heaven's blessing stream down upon them.

"Blessed are you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah! You suffered the inhumanity of King Herod in the murder of your babes and thereby have become worthy to offer to the Lord a pure host of infants. In full right do we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers' womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present. The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod's cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers' bosom, are justly hailed as "infant martyr flowers"; they were the Church's first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.

— St. Augustine

Marie Antoinette Award

Jean at Catholic Fire was kind enough to award the Marie Antoinette Award to me a couple of weeks ago. Thanks, Jean for thinking of me. I was living and breathing pre-Christmas parish work that I didn't have time to acknowledge it properly.

The rules for this award are to display the icon and send it on to seven other bloggers I feel are real in who they are.

So here are the seven women bloggers to pass on this award:

  1. Adoro at Adoro Te Devote
  2. Cathy at Recovering Dissident Catholic
  3. Denise at A Catholic Matriarch
  4. Laura at One Woman's Thoughts
  5. Mac at Mulier Fortis
  6. Cookie at Holy Cookie
  7. and last, but not least, my dear friend, QM at Quantitative Metathesis, who rarely blogs these days because she's doing what I'm doing....pastoral musician work (*cough, cough*)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Antiphons: O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of nations and their Saviour; come and save us , O Lord our God!

Listen to the chant by the Dominican Studentate in England. Read the accompanying meditation at Godzdogz.

Read a meditation by Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi on believing in Love Incarnate casting out fear.

Pray the Christmas Novena

O Christmas Tree

...the family went out last night and purchased our Christmas tree. It's all set up in the livingroom and the house smells like a pine forest. Today, the children will decorate it as is our custom. Each child has his own set of ornaments that we've collected over the years, so it's fun to have them tell stories of each ornament. Wrapping the lights is always a bear...the usual source of bickering.

Today, I'll make a big pot of eggnog. The family schola is practicing music for Christmas Eve and Day, which is always a treat to hear. I also need to bake the panettonne...Christmas isn't Christmas without panettonne.

However, I am pretty sick today, so I need to take it easy as the Christmas Marathon begins tomorrow at 4 PM and won't end until 2 AM Christmas Dawn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Swamped at work

Dear all, I am so swamped with work, I beg your prayers. Three Christmas Eve Masses back-to-back and then one the following day. Then the usual five weekend Masses, then the Octave Day of the Nativity. Oh, and my house is hardly decorated for Christmas. Parish work is very intense these next few days. It feels like a sandstorm (no snow here, I'm sorry to say) swirling around me. The children's productions went very well which pleased everyone tremendously. But no rest for the weary here. I think I'll go into Adoration today and let the Lord speak about what's truly important. Is it the bright lights? Rudolph's red nose? Stockings hanging on the mantle, mistletoe? I'm trying not to be Scroogish. I do love Christmas and the Christ Child coming in his humility for our Salvation, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her abandonment to the Father's will, and St. Joseph in his faithfulness to God's word.

Advent for me this year was a time of greater meditation, ironically in the midst of a serious workload. I found myself in contemplation while while I was painting sets and scenery for the plays, I prayed. And at the organ practicing with only Jesus in the Tabernacle to keep me company....folding laundry...mopping floors. It was a deeper path of humility for me, to see that I could glorify God in these simple acts.

There were moments of pure grace, when God peeled back the curtains and let me glimpse for a millisecond, the weight of glory, so to speak. And so the dazzle of tinsel and Christmas lights just can't hold a candle. It's hard to put into words.

I've been too busy to participate in the holiday shopping frenzy. At times, I feel like I live in a bubble being so immersed in parish work...there are gravely ill people to pray for, the dead to bury, the hungry to feed, shut-ins to visit, that I don't have the energy left to put up the Christmas tree.

So what's enlivening me, sustaining me during this time of necessary busy-ness? I'm pondering on the words of "O Magnum Mysterium" which is the third Matins Responsory of the Nativity of Our Lord. In recent years, Morten Lauridsen's setting has become very much identified with this liturgical text.
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
This particular text always reminds me of Fra Angelico's Nativity. It is spare and full of space, inviting one to enter into the contemplation of Mary and Joseph, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Peter Martyr, and the wonder, in awe, at Our Lord laid in poor array for our sake.

It reminds me a great deal of being in the Adoration Chapel, being on my knees gazing at the Blessed Sacrament, letting my mind empty of all extraneous things and for a brief moment each week, I soak in the rays of the Sun. Perhaps, incrementally, but in a profound way, my time of adoring each week has changed my perception of what Christmas is and I can't seem to bear to confuse it with images of elves and reindeer. I can't really share what all has been given to me with my time in the Chapel, it's too personal and intimate to relate here. All I can say is that it fills me with tremendous gratitude for everyday of my life, has allowed the scales fall from my eyes to see the glory in every second that I breathe. No Christmas bauble can compare with it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

O Antiphons: O Clavis David

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, cludis, et nemo aperuit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis. Magnificat.

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, you open, and no one shuts, you shut, and no one opens: come, and lead the prisoner from jail, seated in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Listen to the chant by the Dominican Studentate in England. Read today's meditation at Godzdogz.

Read today's meditation by Don Marco at Vultus Christi, "The Yes to Love".

Pray the Christmas Novena

Friday, December 19, 2008

O Antiphons: O Radix Jesse

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, who stands as a sign for the people, kings stand silent in your presence, whom the nations will worship: come to set us free, put it off no longer.

Read Fr. Mark's meditation on the flowerings of the Root of Jesse.

Listen to Godzdogz chant today's antiphon and read the accompanying meditation.

Pray the Christmas Novena

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Antiphons: O Adonai

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento. Magnificat.

O Mighty Lord, and leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and on Sinai gave him the law, come to redeem us with outstretched arm.

Fr. Mark's homily on O Adonai

Listen to Godzdogz chant today's antiphon:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Antiphons: O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum, nos viam prudentiae. Magnificat.

O Wisdom, who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching out mightily from end to end, and sweetly arranging all things: come to teach us the way of prudence.

Fr. Mark's meditation for O Sapientia

Listen the English Dominicans Studentate, aka Godzdogz chant today's antiphon.

Pray the Christmas Novena

Time compresses

...when it's December. Especially if you're a church musician. And too, if you teach at your parish school and it's time for putting on the annual Christmas play. This year, we decided to separate the little ones from the upper and middle grades. So I'm responsible for putting on two productions.

This year, I decided to adapt some of the medieval mystery plays. Yes, Towneley, Chester, York....the lot. There is nothing sweeter than hearing little first and second graders saying:
Hail, Mary, and well you be
The Lord of hosts is with Thee
Hail, woman to God most dear
Have no fear..
A child of might you shall bear
Jesus, God's son, you shall him call
And he will be Ruler over all.
And having a second grader with a beard on declare:
You know how it all befell
Where Adam was doomed to hell
Therefore God will stir and raise
A prophet in the latter days
To free all from the curse
The evil fiend disperse
One of the teachers pulled vocabulary words out of the script and had her class do story boards. "Hearken" was one of the words and the students all drew huge ears.

How fares your Advent?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.

Today, we are at midpoint in Advent and our readings help us to rejoice with expectant hope at Our Lord's coming for our salvation. The vestments are rose, not pink. For an explanation of the color, please read Fr. Z's article here.

Music for the Ordinary Form of the Mass

Processional hymn: Prepare the Way, O Zion
Introit: from the Anglican Use Gradual
Kyrie: chant
Collect: recto tono
Responsory Psalm: from Chabanel Psalms
Alleluia and Verse: Chant Mode VI
Offertory Hymn: When the King Shall Come Again (Gaudeamus pariter)
Sanctus and Benedictus: chant
Memorial Acclamation: "Dying you destroyed our death...", recto tono
Great Amen: chant
Agnus Dei: chant
Communion Hymns: O Jesus, We Adore Thee (Fulda melody); O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts (Wareham)...This is the fourth Sunday in a row that we've sung this and the congregation is still pretending it doesn't know this hymn. The text is Jesu, dulcedo cordium attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Are they holding out for "Gifts of Finest Wheat" perhaps? Maybe, "One Bread, One Body"....sorry, no dice.
Post-communion prayer: recto tono
Recessional Hymn: Come, O Long-Expected Jesus (sigh, "thou" is just too hard for us modern people....never mind that the school children's Advent booklet retains "thou" and "thy" of Friday, they hadn't burst into flames for singing the words.)

Music for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Low Mass)

Processional Hymn: When the King Shall Come Again
Offertory: Rorate coeli
Communion: Verbum supernum prodiens
Recessional Hymn: People, Look East (Besancon)

Next week, we'll finally sing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" since the Great "O" Antiphons begin on the Octave before Christmas. I'd been rehearsing the choir on how to chant the vernacular and breaking them of the habit of singing the hymn in the plodding tempo that we all grew up with. I remind them that it's chant and therefore the flow of the text moves the tune.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Idiots on Parade: Making Christmas Carols Politically Correct

~from The Telegraph, the march toward uniform speak.
Enduring favourites such as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen are being altered by clergy to make them more "modern and inclusive".

But churchgoers say there is no need to change the popular carols and complain that the result is a "festive car crash" if not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

It comes just a day after a Church of England vicar banned his congregation from singing O Little Town of Bethlehem because he believed its words do not reflect the suffering endured by modern residents of Jesus's birthplace.

Another clergyman has rewritten the Twelve Days of Christmas to include Aids victims, drug addicts and hoodies.

Steve Goddard, co-editor of the Christian website Ship of Fools, which is running a competition to find the worst example of a rewritten carol, said: "It's a festive car crash.

"Half the congregation sing familiar words from memory, while the rest stumble over revised alternatives. Our readers are telling us straight – for some new versions there should be no room at the inn."

Among the "theologically-modified, politically-corrected" carols encountered by visitors to the website are Hark the Herald Angels Sing in which the line "Glory to the newborn King" has been replaced by "Glory to the Christ child, bring".

The well-known refrain of O Come All Ye Faithful – "O come let us adore Him" – has also been changed in one church to "O come in adoration", both changes apparently made for fear the original was sexist.

"[One reader] wrote in asking if the original line was considered too gender-specific," Mr Goddard said. "But as he rightly pointed out, Jesus wasn't hermaphrodite, neither was he a girl."

Churchgoers at one carol service will not be allowed to sing the words "all in white" during Once in Royal David's City in case they appear racist, while another cleric has removed the word "virgin" from God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.
O come in adoration? God save us from insufferable intolerant prigs who dictate how we--ordinary stupid plebs that we are--should think. Because, you know, if we say gender-specific pronouns or use color adjectives, why, we might go up in flames.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Music for Second Sunday of Advent

At the Ordinary Form of the Mass:

Prelude: None, the organ is subdued this season.
Processional Hymn until Father reaches the altar: Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
Introit: Populus Sion, Anglican Gradual (Father censes the altar)
Kyrie: Chant
Collect: Recto tono
God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalm: Chabanel Psalm
Alleluia Verse: Psalm Tone
Offertory Hymn: Prepare the Way, O Zion (silence during the censing of the altar)
Sanctus: Chant
Memorial Acclamation: Recto tono "Dying you destroyed our death..."
Great Amen: Chant
Agnus Dei: Chant
Communion Hymns: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence; O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts (Jesu, dulcedo cordiam)
Post-communion prayer: Recto tono
Recessional Hymn: On Jordan's Banks the Baptist's Cry
Postlude: None

The text for Comfort, Comfort Ye My People in the hymnal has a mangled translation so we're using the one out of the Episcopalian hymnal. Prepare the Way of Zion is not in the Worship III hymnal, which is a pity, so that's also been reprinted for the worship bulletin. One of the reasons why we pay the LicenSing service. I'm trying to stay away from O Come, O Come, Emmanuel this year so as to acquaint the congregation with other Advent hymns. I had hoped to add the Offertory Verse proper to the Mass this season, but I need to proceed with a little more caution. I am very relieved to be done away with the Andrews Glory to God and look forward to replacing it with something altogether different, preferrably with the new Mass translation text. There's an embargo on the English settings at Music Sacra.

At the Extraordinary Form of the Mass: Low Mass

Prelude: Creator alme siderum
Processional Hymn: Prepare the Way, O Zion
Communion Hymn: Rorate Cœli desuper
Recessional Hymn: City of God, Jerusalem (tune: Purpose)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ad te levavi animam meam

Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus in te confido....(from the Introit of the First Sunday of Advent)

To Thee lift I up my soul; my God, in Thee have I trusted.

...More photos from Missa Cantata.

Keeping Advent

~In his sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, our pastor encouraged us to keep Advent, and not to allow the secular world to swallow it up into Christmas. Without Advent, we would lose the power and joy of Christmas.

One of the hymns for Advent is the beautiful and haunting Rorate Cœli. It's the first Gregorian chant that the family schola chanted for church since our conversion, so there's a special place in my heart for it. The words of the versicle Rorate cœli desuper et nubes pluant justum stays with you and opens a door to contemplating the season of awaiting upon the Lord.

Monday, December 01, 2008

At the Hour of Sacrifice

The awesome power of the Mass.

Excita, quæsumus, Domine

...potentiam tuam et veni: ut ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis, te mereamur protegente eripi, te liberante salvari: Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost God, world without end. Amen.

The picture above is from the Missa Cantata of the First Sunday of Advent and it captures the part of the Mass called the Secret Prayers. The text that I quoted is from The Collect.

Our friend Philip came to serve as Master of Ceremonies and our newly-expanded schola, now called Schola Canticum Novum, chanted the Propers from the Liber Usualis. The Ordinary was Missa de Angelis sung a cappella. It was a truly beautiful Mass.