Recently in Liturgy and Music Category

Good-bye, good-bye, ch-ch

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I suppose this is a sign of positive reform for the liturgy in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, England. They're bidding farewell to some of the 70's throwbacks in the diocesan offices and as a result, OCP composer Paul Inwood has lost his influential job impeding liturgical improvement.

Damian Thompson writes:

Blessed silence in the diocese

Amid all the misery and confusion surrounding the Cardinal Keith O'Brien scandal, it's nice to be able to report some good news from the Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Portsmouth was until recently controlled by "progressive" lay people from the hippy generation. Their Chavez figure is one Paul Inwood, "Director of Liturgy" and composer of grimly trendy "folk antiphons". For years his music has been inescapable - but a new bishop, Mgr Philip Egan, has changed all that. The splendid Bishop Egan is making Inwood's job redundant, along with those of lots of other Lefty busybodies.

There have been banshee wails of anguish from Inwood Towers, says my spy. "Though, to be fair," he adds, "they may just be singing one of his hymns."

As Fr. Z. noted in 2007 and as Mr. Joseph Shaw, director of the Latin Mass Society, noted in 2012, Mr. Inwood, despite holding a diocesan job as "Director of Liturgy", has had a habit of writing recklessly deceptive propaganda about Pope Benedict XVI's broadened permission for the old form of Mass.

But most balefully and with a broader influence, Mr. Inwood has been the composer of junk music such as "Alleluia Ch-Ch" (MP3):

Congratulations to Bp. Egan on his work in Portsmouth!

My friend Peter Meggison has an interesting project going: he's helping to keep old-fashioned Catholic devotional hymns alive by commissioning choral performances and recordings of these sentimental favorites. I'm putting together a web site for him at, so drop by and enjoy some of these charming old songs!

Parish Book of Psalms

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Composer Arlene Oost-Zinner has been distributing her a cappella psalm settings for a few years through the Chabanel Psalms project, and this summer she has brought out a complete set of responsorial psalms for Sundays and solemnities, published by the Church Music Association of America.

View the Parish Book of Psalms at Scribd

By way of disclosure, I contributed to the book by doing some custom chant typesetting so I'm pleased with how the music looks. (The Scribd display above is not exactly what the page looks like, but it's close.)

It'll be available from Amazon shortly:

In CMAA's spirit of sharing, free downloads of individual psalms are available online at

I just finished reading the anthology Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments, edited by Stephen Cavanaugh (Ignatius Press).

The collection of essays is an orientation to the "Anglican Use" phenomenon by some of its leading advocates: the book covers its origins and development, its current status and possible future, with helpful articles about liturgy, ecumenism, and the experience of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

I'm particularly grateful for the articles on liturgy. Brother John-Bede Pauley, OSB's essay on the monastic character in Anglican liturgy is a help in understanding what the "Anglican patrimony" means as a gift to the Church. Prof. Hans-Jürgen Feulner's introduction to comparative liturgy and its use in studying the development of rites and texts indicates the sort of studies the Church will need in order to develop a set of rites for the new Anglican Ordinariates. These will need to be suitable for the Ordinariates in various countries, and thus will have to improve on the current Book of Divine Worship, developed hastily in the 1980s for "Anglican-use" congregations in the US; it drew heavily on texts of that era: the U.S. Episcopalian 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the 1975 ICEL Roman Missal (soon to become obsolete).

Fr. Mark Kirby, writer of the Vultus Christi blog, is in Italy for a few weeks, where is to present a talk at the Adoratio conference in Rome. He has some observations on the state of the liturgy in Italy: with priest celebrants omitting the daily Proper texts of the Mass and neglecting to sing, the celebration of the Mass is often impoverished there as much as it is here in the US.

Reflecting on the great letter on sacred music Tra le sollecitudini by Pope St. Pius X, Fr. Kirby offers some suggestions for a new papal letter to revive the practice of the sung Mass, where people and priest sing the real texts of the Mass, and not just songs.

A New Creation

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One of the small blessings of this Advent is we are less than a year away from the new translation of the Mass, and most US parishes will retire the "Mass of Creation." Adaptations of the acclamations we are all familiar with to fit the new translation are going to be a hard sell on folks who are in the habit of singing them the old way.

It's a great time to revisit the real classics - Gregorian Chant, and a great time to be a composer.

Let's hope the next crop of modern liturgical music has more reverence and less Disney!

Tuesday Novena thread


Today is the last day of our novena to Our Lady of Good Remedy for friends and family stuck in LC/RC. To find out more on Our Lady of Good Remedy, and how this novena began, please click here. Basically, it was under the title Our Lady of Good Remedy that the Blessed Mother miraculously helped St. John of Matha free thousands of Christians enslaved to Muslim overlords. Here is the daily Novena prayer, which I invite you to join me in praying for Catholics enslaved by Maciel's movement and methodology:

Christ is risen!

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Here's what our parish will be singing at sunrise:

Some perspective, please

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On a mailing list I follow, tempers got hot this week over discussions of liturgical abuses.

Some people were appalled about erroneous practices; some people, who don't see those abuses locally, wondered what the fuss was about.

So I urged everybody to be more understanding:

Dear fellow list-members,

Please try to keep some perspective about liturgical faults that happen in various churches.

First, it's reasonable to feel offended by abuses that happen now, and abuses that we witness personally. On the other hand, let's not give undue importance to one-time aberrations that are not widespread and are not repeated. Let's not be outraged for years over some abuse that we saw on the Internet. Constant outrage is not good for our spiritual life.

Second, let's acknowledge that right now there is good news: there is a strong movement underway among priests, bishops, and laity to recover reverence and beauty in the celebration of Mass. The writings of Pope Benedict are contributing to this.

You can follow this development through websites like

Third, the clergy are changing, but correcting problems takes time. The 1960s generation of ultra-liberal priests that introduced many abuses is going to retirement; they are passing from the scene, and younger priests are not interested in keeping their erroneous attitudes or erroneous practices.

Many people have learned wrong practices, and in some parishes, they are so habitual that correcting the problems is going to require some patience. Sad to say, it's going to take decades to turn attitudes around.

This week the press reported about the Archbishop of Ottawa who is trying to get people all over his diocese to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. In some parishes up there, people hadn't been kneeling at all:

This movement for reform is a good thing, but the press is happy to report complaints from people who don't like it.

(Be aware that the rules for kneeling are not the same in every country, so don't be surprised if the Archbishop's rules are not the same as the American rules.)

Bishops and priests who want to make the celebration of Mass more correct and more reverent often have to choose their battles carefully, letting some smaller failings go on, while trying to educate the people about what the Church wants.

So if some minor deviation happens, don't jump to conclusions about the priest or the parish. Be merciful.

Fourth, keep in mind that your local experience in your diocese -- whether your experience is good or not so good -- can't be projected out to the whole country or the whole world. Other readers who have different experiences from yours are not crazy: conditions really are not the same everywhere.

Thanks for thinking about these things. Thanks for being merciful.

Quaeramus Cum Pastoribus, Jean Mouton

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Let us seek with the shepherds

The Word incarnate;

Let us sing with all mankind

For the King of the age. Noel.

What do you see in the stable?

Jesus, born of the Virgin.

What do you hear in the manger?

Angels with a song

And shepherds saying: Noel.

Where do you eat, where do you lie?

Say, whether you weep or laugh:

We ask you, Christ the King. Noel.

My food is milk of the Virgin

My bed is a hard manger,

My tears are songs. Noel.

CMAA Chant Pilgrimage

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Catholic Light co-founder John Schultz and two of his work colleagues undertook a fine project recently, to record video of the closing Mass at the Church Music Association's fall Chant Pilgrimage at the National Shrine in Washington.

Here are the segments he has published so far:

Organ Prelude and Introit ("Salve sancta Parens"):

Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mass IX): Kyrie and Gloria:

At the parish today, there was a rite of sending the catechumens (and candidates too!) for the Election rite to be held at the cathedral: and, man, was it overdone! Since the books on-line describe it as an "optional" rite, that probably means that some liturgist invented it out of whole cloth.

Here's an excerpt from some old LTP book:

Reverend Father, these catechumens, whom I now present to you, are beginning their final period of preparation and purification leading to their initiation. They have found strength in God's grace and support in our community's prayers and example.

Now they ask that they be recognized for the progress they have made in their spiritual formation and that they receive the assurance of our blessing and prayers as they go forth to the rite of election celebrated this afternoon by Bishop N.

Ugh: "they ask that they be recognized" for their spiritual progress? Thank God I didn't have to go through that indignity as a catechumen.


I've been talking about this chant recording for some time, and now you can hear it too.

My pal Michael Olbash directed it -- you know, the guy who directed the music for Magnificat magazine's "Pilgrimage" conference -- and the CD has just come out, so follow the link over to CD Baby to find out more.

In this album, the Stepping Stone Chant Project (named for the property where we made the recording) isn't singing music for Easter or Christmas or Pentecost or any prominent day. It's some nondescript N'th Sunday of the church year.

And that ties in to Michael's point: the Church wants us to have music this beautiful on ordinary Sundays. Music directors can train their choirs to sing this sort of chant, which is fitting for the Mass at any time of year. It's not just something to do in Advent or Lent.

So listen to the lovely sound samples on the CD Baby page -- yes, I'm in there, discreetly in the mix -- and yes, you should get one for your pastor too.

Here's a discreet but decisive change in Rome: Catholic News Agency reports that Pope Benedict has quietly dismissed all the former consultors to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, holdovers from the tenure of Abp. Piero Marini, and replaced them with supporters of the 'Benedictine' reform.

For English-speaking readers, the most familiar name will probably be Oratorian Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, author of "Turning Towards the Lord", recently appointed an official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

I'm going to have to start watching papal liturgies more closely!

What doesn't work

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One good thing we used to do at my old engineering job was to look for "Lessons Learned" when projects failed.

Today, a friend let me know that her efforts to put some really nice music into her father's funeral this week weren't going anywhere. The rest of her family overruled her. They didn't want the lovely Bainton motet or the Faure In paradisum. They didn't care about the plainchant Mass ordinary. They wanted "the Irish Blessing", "Be Not Afraid", and "Precious Lord, Take My Hand".

This effort reminds me about the value of a gradualist approach. People accustomed to OCP songs can't be expected to accept Latin plainchant and polyphony. We know that. I know that. I'm sorry I didn't say so up front. I could have told her, your suspicions are right, dear: this program is overreaching, so aim lower!

It reminds me of Dr. Mahrt's talk last year (mp3, 45 min.), in which he described turning his parish's music program around radically when they hired him; it took years, but he made many of the Church's musical ideals a reality, all without introducing Latin. Making the music of the Mass beautiful is more important than making the text Latin; and in fact, making it beautiful in the present is the pre-requisite to getting acceptance for Latin in the future. So beauty is what we need to focus on, and changes need to be introduced gradually.

For an average funeral, the best one can do may be just to steer the parish music staff to somewhat better, more beautiful choices than they would normally make; for example:
-- to use a dignified Mass setting (Proulx or Vermulst instead of Haugen)
-- to replace a bunch of musical-theater ditties with three or four sweet classic hymns (they can even be a bit cloying, but people will like them, and they're better than what they replace)
-- to sing a real responsorial psalm instead of a non-Scriptural song
-- putting the not-so-great songs that you're compelled to include before the Mass or after it

And when we're not making the final decisions, which is most of the time, we're forced to pray the famous prayer of AA and the other 12-step groups: "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...."

Dealing with a big family of siblings, my friend had nowhere near a free hand this week in her efforts. I had things easier when arranging for my mother's funeral a few years ago. Since she and I were both converts, there weren't any other Catholics in the family to interfere in the process! Even then, I couldn't get the parish music director to agree to all those items above. But some improvement was better than no improvement.

So when you have a chance to influence your parish in the direction of good music, be aware of what you really can't do yet; and do what you can!

The US bishops' conference Committee on Divine Worship is offering study materials on the new English-language Roman Missal texts, including a PDF file with the partial Mass Ordinary texts recently approved by Rome.

These translations are not coming to a parish near you any time soon, so there will be plenty of time to become familiar with them.

(Any composers want to get to work on musical settings? Go to it, and please do keep the Church's ideals and binding norms for liturgical music in mind.)

I sent a note to Fr. Z. today:

According to a press report, the new English Mass will say, "Lamb of God,
who takes away the sins..."

As far as I can tell, that's a grammar error, putting the verb "take" into
the third-person form, whereas the sentence is addressed to the second
person. It should be "who take", as in "you who take".

Is that press bit right, and do we need to ask CDWDS to head this bug off?


The reply:

Thanks for that!

I wrote to Card. Arinze about it.

Fr. Z

Quis custodiet custodes? Well, OK, I will. :-)

But this might just be an error on CWN's part. A WYD musical setting of the Mass used the new text approved in Australia, and it says, "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world...."

That's not ideal, as it doesn't follow the structure of the Latin clauses, but it would be better than having a grammar error ensconced in the official Mass text. I'd be gritting my teeth for decades if that were to happen.

We'll find out what the case is eventually.

A good start at the Cathedral


In Boston, the traditional Latin Mass has moved from its former home at Holy Trinity Church to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross; today's celebration was a Low Mass in the lower church, and 101 souls attended, about as many as attended at Holy Trinity. Fr. Bernard Shea, SJ, has been a frequent celebrant of the old Mass. Holy Trinity's music director emeritus George Krim served as organist, and the chant choir Schola Amicorum sang.

For the anniversary of the announcement of Summorum Pontificum, we sang the Oremus pro Pontifice.

Don't do this in church (2)

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Just to prove that we Americans don't have all the bad taste in the world, here's an AP report about how the Aussies are just as able to choose bad funeral music:

Australians making odd choices for funeral songs

5 minutes ago

Hymns are being replaced at funerals in one Australian city by popular rock classics like Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," a cemetery manager said Wednesday.

At Centennial Park, the largest cemetery and crematorium in the southern city of Adelaide, only two hymns still rank among its top 10 most popular funeral songs: "Amazing Grace" and "Abide With Me."

Leading the funeral chart is crooner Frank Sinatra's classic hit "My Way," followed by Louis Armstrong's version of "Wonderful World," a statement said.

The Led Zeppelin and AC/DC rock anthems rank outside the top 10, but have gained ground in recent years as more Australians give up traditional Christian hymns.

"Some of the more unusual songs we hear actually work very well within the service because they represent the person's character," Centennial Park chief executive Bryan Elliott said.

Among other less conventional choices were "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by the Monty Python comedy team, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," "Hit the Road Jack," "Another One Bites the Dust" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."

The Pope's Mass in Washington


When the Pope started the Mass at Nationals Park, he began it with the words: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

This must have surprised many people who are used to hearing other greetings such as "Good morning, everyone," before or after the Trinitarian invocation. But the faithful attending did respond with, "And also with you," instead of "Good morning, father" or whatever. So it's good to know that we Catholics are at least a little teachable.

OK, now to liveblog, if not to say nitpick, the music of the Mass:

Kyrie eleison: the invocations were set to some black-gospel-inspired music, and came across as rather self-indulgent: they drew attention to the deacon's virtuosity. However, the "Kyrie eleison" responses were quite nice.

Gloria in excelsis Deo: The Gloria was accompanied by some handbells that didn't seem quite in harmony with each other. The text was chopped up artificially to give it a responsorial form. Here a pattern started to appear: apparently any old music was thought to be just fine, provided one slapped a few words of Latin on it. If the modern liturgists in charge of this production think they've solved the problems facing the contemporary music establishment with this tactic, they've got another think coming.

1st Reading: Acts, in Spanish. Is it really normative that a lay person not invested in the ministry of lector (lay women are not eligible for it) present the Scripture reading?

Responsorial Psalm: The music was a Broadway-style number, with weird dissonances in the setting of the verses and the refrain. It started out as laughable and ended as horrifying. Too bad that no-one was capable of singing the proper from the Roman Gradual, as the GIRM prefers.

2nd Reading: Romans 8: Another lay woman reading the Scripture, and reading it well enough. But what about diversity: is there some problem with lay men? Are they unacceptable?

Alleluia: a modern composition built on the refrain from O filii et filiae. This illustrates that even some antique hymns written in chant notation are not suitable for this sort of liturgical use. O filii et filiae is the Renaissance's equivalent of the Celtic Drinking Song Alleluia: a "rousing" number in triple meter. Let's all lock arms and sway, right? Um, let's not. It's not an ideal preparation for listening to the Holy Gospel.

The Homily was a wonderful word of encouragement to the faithful to be a faithful leaven in society. The Pope is not unaware that the Church here needs to accept the practice of penance and follow the way of holiness. We need to engage in sound catechesis, and Catholics need to "cultivate an intellectual culture that is truly Catholic", ringing the insight of Christian thought and judgment to society, lest we be merely conformed to the every vagary of the latter.

The General Intercessions were, as Fr. Neuhaus pointed out, a display of multiculturalism. Whom are we trying to impress in the General Intercessions?

The offertory music was a bit of Latino dance music performed with bongos and, I think, an ocarina or maybe a Peruvian flute. At the "breakdown" of the song, there was clapping. I don't think the Offertory proper was sung.

It was good to see the altar adorned with a crucifix and six candles in the arrangement that has come to be described as "Benedictine".

And then the most amazing thing happened. As Jeffrey Tucker has already commented on the NLM blog, Marty Haugen's setting, his Mass of Creation became a surprising moment of relative musical dignity.

There seemed to be no bells at the consecration, which is odd since there was plenty of handbell ringing during the Gloria.

The memorial acclamation was introduced by a fanfare of car horns, I believe, and they were used again for the Amen.

Now, at this point of the Mass, I stepped into my kitchen for a few minutes, so I missed the Our Father. Was it sung? I didn't notice it.

The Agnus Dei was another multi-culti display. Apparently singing the little litany in Latin plus several obscure languages to some strange music is better than singing it in Latin. The result was a piece that no one could reasonably use in any parish whatsoever.

The Communion selections included everything but the kitchen sink, except for the proper. One of them was a merengue number. One was the Cesar Franck Panis Angelicus, sung by Placido Domingo: the only piece of music in the entire Mass that visibly pleased the Holy Father.

So thanks be to God, the successor of Peter has come to strengthen us, to exhort us, and -- now that he has experienced the genius that is American-style liturgy at its ultimate -- he has come to suffer with us.

What we heard at Mass today


Went to my suburban parish today for a Saturday 4 pm Mass. They had a pretty competent organist at the console today, which you can't usually count on at this church, so it was a good start.

Entrance Hymn: These Forty Days of Lent
Kyrie: plainchant from the Missa Primitiva

These first two pieces were a good start too. Have I been too critical of the parish's music? Are things actually improving? Maybe I should be willing to volunteer here.

Responsorial Psalm setting: Psalm 23, some contemporary setting in 3/4 time.

It didn't sound bad, but the composer took liberties with the text: "You give me the courage I need". What? I wish they wouldn't do that.

Today was Appeal Sunday, so some teens who didn't know how to genuflect came into the sanctuary and maneuvered a projection screen in front of the tabernacle. We saw a video by the Cardinal. It contained a good homily, so I forgave the intrusion of technology. Then the teens put the screen aside again.

Things went downhill from there:

Offertory: Precious Lord, Take My Hand

It's a classic black gospel song written by the great Thomas Dorsey (see the documentary Say Amen, Somebody), but was it suitable for Mass? Nope, nope, nope: (1) it's a syncopated text setting, and that's enough to rule it out: an above-average choir can sing something this rhythmically irregular, but congregations can't, especially with the loose tempo they used; (2) the text is soloistic: all about the Lord Jesus and Me; (3) it's a black gospel song, sung in a practically all-white suburb, which is pretentious. For probably all of those reasons, nobody in the congregation sang along.

Then things got better again:

Holy: something reasonably good and singable: it sounded like Proulx
Amen: a matching piece
Agnus Dei: plainchant from the Missa Primitiva

And then we went back to Protestant sentimentality:

Communion: Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling

You know the one I mean? "Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me" -- this time they decided to dip into the Baptist playbook and pull out this 1880 piece; another dramatic solo number, a little more bathetic than the previous one. Too bad the missalette publisher didn't respect the song's integrity, and took out the pointed expression: "O sinner, come home". Blah.

Second communion piece: The Old Rugged Cross (organ instrumental)

What's the deal here? Do these musicians think they're improving the Mass by pulling out this 1913 number? A lot of Catholic hymns from the period were kitschy music that doesn't belong in Mass, and -- guess what? -- so are a lot of the Protestant ones!

If the musicians in this parish wanted to bring in some Protestant music as an attempt at "inclusivity" or "inculturation", they should have noticed that we here in New England are not surrounded by revivalist tabernacles or black churches, so those songs don't reflect the local culture. They're a cultural pose. In contrast, New England has lots of congregations where you'll find Congregationalists, Methodists, and Episcopalians, and if only we'd stick to stealing their hymns, we'd have something much more singable!

Finally, as a relief, the music switched back to a perfectly acceptable hymn:

Recessional hymn: Lift High The Cross

The parish music is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder.

OK, I admit it: there is a "Christmas carol" which I really, really don't like. I simply find "What child is this?" rather depressing. I think it's not the tune's association with Henry VIII (that robber and killer); it's the whiny "Greensleeves" tune itself.

The carol would have been more upbeat if the pop-band "Chicago" had sung it:

"Does anybody really know what Child this is?
Does anybody really care about this Child?
If so, I can't imagine who;
but He was born for me and you."

Verse 1:
"As I was walking through the town one day,
a man and woman came to me
and asked: is there an inn where we can stay

The Russian concert on EWTN


For those who didn't hear the concert aired on EWTN Monday night from Washington, here's a link to other music by the same composer, the Russian Orthodox bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev).

I only heard about half of his Christmas Oratorio, but so far I like his liturgical music better. The latter is really quite beautiful, but the oratorio's long recitatives of Scripture texts, delivered ascetically stentorian and recto tono, didn't seem fitting in the work of a non-liturgical nature, intended for concert performance.

The premiere of a lengthy new work necessarily carries with it a certain amount of tension: when the composer is a bishop and the concert is hosted by another Church, add some more; this time, in a foreign capital, at a time of heightened international stress, this performance by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Russian Defense Ministry, of all things, came off as a joyless reminder of the Cold War. It's too bad: Bp. Hilarion deserves better.

Rorate caeli desuper

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A sweet video of two chant singers performing the lamentation Rorate Caeli.

Kyrie fons bonitatis

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Here's an audio sample from the "Stepping Stone Chant Project", a recording session I attended in Vermont this October: Kyrie fons bonitatis. (Sorry the file's in WMA format, but I didn't want to lose any quality by putting the file through a conversion procedure.)

Well, there goes that excuse!

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If this three-year-old can sing plainchant, your choir can too.

(Hat tip to her dad, Ian Rutherford.)

Msgr. Valentin Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (an educational institute founded at the direction of Pope St. Pius X) offers some refreshingly plain-spoken criticisms and suggestions regarding the state of Church music:

in none of the areas touched on by Vatican II -- and practically all are included -- have there been greater deviations than in sacred music.

If Pope Benedict takes up Msgr. Grau's suggestion for an authoritative pontifical office to regulate sacred music, it might be one of the most influential acts of his pontificate.

Ah, these creative types

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It's not exactly my taste, but this Canadian monk is rockin' the Gregorian chants:

More at his web site: click the album images to get to the MP3 links.

(HT to Catholic Church Conservation.)

nashua-2007-09-16.jpgToday, St. Patrick Church in Nashua took the honor of being the first church in New Hampshire to host a celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form since 1969. About 600 people attended, including many students from the nearby Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. Some enthusiastic supporters drove as much as 135 miles to attend the ceremony. Parishioners hope that the pastor Fr. Martin Kelly will start to offer Mass in the old form twice a month at St. Patrick's.

Music was provided by organist Chris Bord, while music director Michael Havay joined the parish choir to sing the Mass VIII ordinary. Members of Boston's Schola Amicorum joined local cantor Jim Gordon on the plainchant propers.

For pastors planning celebrations of the Extraordinary Form, here's a tip which I should offer to Fr. Kelly: you can compensate for the absence of a classic altar rail by setting up a row of prie-dieus at the steps to the sanctuary. They can be set up before Mass with a gap at the aisle, or put into place by the servers before Holy Communion. While many people will be able to kneel at the sanctuary steps even without any structure in place, having the prie-dieus makes the process easier for more people.

Priest: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord and one another.
People: Thanks be to God and one another.

The CMAA has produced a video from this year's Sacred Music Colloquium, to inspire you to attend next year's edition in Chicago.

Along with comments from participants, the video has some nice footage of Fr. Keyes celebrating a requiem Mass in the Basilica during the colloquium week, and even a cameo of my handsome face at (-06:55) -- for some reason, YouTube videos display on my system with a time countdown instead of an ascending time counter.

We have a ways to go yet


The music director at our new church is a good pianist and sight-reader, but isn't all that familiar with the music of the Catholic liturgical tradition. Tonight, while she was working with the ladies of the Preces Cantatae choir on a setting of the Magnificat, she looked at the Latin text and asked, "By the way, what does this mean?"

A beautiful word of encouragement for choral singers:

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy, JULY 22, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says that choral singing is an authentic education in life and peace, and an exercise in the "hearing of the heart."

The Pope said this Friday following a concert in his honor performed by Alpine choirs at the Castle of Mirabello, near where he is vacationing until July 27.

"Training in singing, in singing in choir, is not only an exercise of the external hearing and voice; it is also an education of interior hearing, the hearing of the heart, an exercise and a education in life and peace," the Holy Father said in his improvised remarks.

"Singing together in choir and with other choirs together, demands attention to the other, attention to the composer, attention to the conductor, attention to this totality that we call music and culture. And," he added, "in this way singing in choir is a training in life, a training in peace, a walking together."

Seven different choirs from Cadore participated in the concert, offered by Bishop Giuseppe Andrich of Belluno-Feltre.

Before the beginning of the concert, Bishop Andrich spoke of the dramatic stage of the First World War in which the Dolomites were also a theatre.

The Pope too spoke of those dramatic moments "when this mountain was a barrier, a terrible and bloody theatre of war."

"Let us thank the Lord because there is peace now in our Europe and let us do everything to make peace grow in us and in the world," he urged. "I am certain that precisely this beautiful music is a commitment to peace and a help to live in peace."

Psst... get your Liber here!

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The CMAA web site is offering a PDF of a 1961 Liber Usualis for download, but to avoid burdening their servers, you can download it (115 MB) from this caching site. Bravo to whoever made the PDF available!

Does my bishop "get it" yet?


My archbishop doesn't seem to realize how much interest there is in the old Mass. He writes:

From Cleveland I flew to Rome at the request of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to participate in a meeting discussing the Holy Father’s Moto Proprio about the use of the older form of the Latin Mass. There were about 25 bishops there, including the president of Ecclesia Dei Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Cardinal Francis Arinze, several heads of bishops’ conferences as well as some cardinals and other residential bishops.

They shared with us the Moto Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter explaining it. We also had an opportunity to read the Latin document. We each commented on that, and then the Holy Father came in and shared some of his thoughts with us. The Holy Father is obviously most concerned about trying to bring about reconciliation in the Church. There are about 600,000 Catholics who are participating in the liturgies of the Society of St. Pius X, along with about 400 priest.

The Holy Father was very clear that the ordinary form of celebrating the Mass will be the new rite, the Norvus Ordo. But by making the Latin Mass more available, the Holy Father is hoping to convince those disaffected Catholics that it is time for them to return to full union with the Catholic Church.

So the Holy Father’s motivation for this decision is pastoral. He does not want this to be seen as establishing two different Roman Rites, but rather one Roman Rite celebrated with different forms. The Moto Propio is his latest attempt at reconciliation.

In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low. Additionally, according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country. Therefore this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England.

In our archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass has been in place for several years, and I granted permission when I was in Fall River for a Mass down on the Cape. The archdiocesan Mass is now at Immaculate Mary of Lourdes Parish in Newton. It is well attended, and if the need arises for an extension of that we would, of course, address it.

This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country, however I think they wanted us to be part of the conversation so that we would be able to understand what the situation is in countries where the numbers are very significant. For example, in Brazil there is an entire diocese of 30,000 people that has already been reconciled to the Church.

I think I know what's leading the Cardinal to underrate the issue's importance for the US: he's thinking only of the Motu Proprio's effect for Catholics who worship at SSPX Masses.

In France and Germany, they're substantial, visible communities, a large segment of the active Catholic population. In France, some parish churches have even been placed under SSPX control by direct action of the laity with the cooperation of local officials.

So the Cardinal counts 18 SSPX priories in the US and figures that's how big the movement is. But SSPX priests serve multiple locations -- 105 of them; and there are other groups as well: splinter groups from the SSPX, smaller movements, and also individual priests with independent chapels. All told, there are over 300 unapproved Mass sites: a lot more than 18. The unauthorized traditionalist groups are just more diverse and more dispersed.

But the Motu Proprio is aimed at benefiting all the faithful, not just those who have opted for the illicit chapels. It should improve the celebration of the Roman rite Mass in general, if the clergy and the musicians who shape its celebration can develop in it the values to which the old rite bears witness.

My response to the Cardinal follows after the jump.

The Mass as it should be sung

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OK, everybody, get over to the web site of the Church Music Association of America, and hear some moving and beautiful recordings of polyphony and chant works sung by participants in this year's CMAA's annual colloquium. I attended the program June 19-24, and enjoyed the experience greatly. I'll post more about it over the next few days.

This should be a fine event by two excellent musicians.


Michael Olbash, baritone
Frederick MacArthur, accompanist

Sunday, April 29, at 4:00 p.m.

United Church of Christ
496 Main St. (Route 109)
Medfield, Mass.

Free, open to the public, completely accessible.
Freewill offerings will be accepted to support the concert series at the church.


"Cycle of Light" by Joel Martinson, a collection of sacred texts by women poets.
"Five Mystical Songs" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a classic cycle of George Herbert poetry.
...and, for your sweet tooth:
Schubert "Ave Maria," Franck "Panis Angelicus," and Mallotte "Lord's Prayer."

(If I can work around a conflict, I'll be there.)

How Byrd was rediscovered

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Thanks to Richard Terry (1865-1938), and the Archbishop of Westminster.

Spem in alium

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The monumental motet for 40 vocal parts by Thomas Tallis is sung by one man.

Hymn for Candlemas

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In case you are wondering what to sing for the feast of the Presentation (February 2):

Hail to the Lord Who comes,
Comes to His temple gate;
Not with His angel host,
Not in His kingly state;
No shouts proclaim Him nigh,
No crowds His coming wait.

But, borne upon the throne
Of Mary’s gentle breast,
Watched by her duteous love,
In her fond arms at rest,
Thus to His Father’s house
He comes, the heav’nly Guest.

There Joseph at her side
In reverent wonder stands,
And, filled with holy joy,
Old Simeon in his hands
Takes up the promised Child,
The Glory of all lands.

Hail to the great First-born
Whose ransom price they pay!
The Son before all worlds,
The Child of man today,
That He might ransom us
Who still in bondage lay.

O Light of all the earth,
Thy children wait for Thee!
Come to Thy temples here,
That we, from sin set free,
Before Thy Father’s face
May all presented be!

A MIDI file for the tune "Old 120th" is available at

English choral music on-line

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Streams of gorgeous audio, provided by the Anglican-use parish in Houston:

Radio Walsingham
Little Walsingham

Sacred Music magazine has an informative article by Laszlo Dobszay. His "Critical Reflections" (PDF) describe the historic structure of the Roman Office, and explain how reform efforts over the past centuries turned it from a liturgy meant for choral celebration into a book for priests to read.

A salutary instruction

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Prof. Bill Mahrt (music, Stanford) has proposed some ways for the US Catholic Bishops to improve sacred music in this country by improving their coming document on the subject. Along the way, he cuts through numerous confusions about the music of the Mass.

(Thanks, Amy.)

Come, Thou Long Expected Indult


ACI Prensa has this on the upcoming liturgical documents.

(NB: this is my own off-the-cuff translation of the Spanish. Caveat lector.)

Motu Proprio after Christmas, Apostolic Exhortation in January

ACI NEWSROOM, 14 Dec. 06 (ACI).- Sources in the Vatican tell ACI Prensa that the Motu Proprio by which Pope Benedict XVI will grant a universal indult for the Missal of St. Pius V may be published after Christmas; furthermore, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist will see light in the middle of January.

The sources confirm the press statement by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, who recently participated in the meeting of the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission –charged with dialogue with the Lefebvrist schism– in which the final version of the text of the Motu Proprio was revised.

The indult is said to allow the Mass of St. Pius V to be celebrated freely, without the current requirement of explicit permission from the local bishop. The Motu Proprio, however, does not deal with the canonical issue of the Society of St. Pius X, the schismatic organizatión created by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre.

The Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, according to the same sources, has been completed by Pope Benedict XVI and is in the process of translation into the various languages in which it will be published.

The text, which will see the light after January 15, say the sources, reaffirms a "no" for married priests, promotes the use of Latin in liturgical celebrations, and also asks that seminarians learn the use of that language.

The text also supports the recovery of Gregorian chant and polyphonic sacred music in place of modern music, which would imply a gradual removal of musical instruments "inadequate" for the solemnity and reverence of the Eucharistic Celebration.


Music for an ordination of bishops


Tuesday at 2 p.m., two new bishops will be ordained as auxiliaries for the Archdiocese of Boston. Choirs from the Cathedral's English and Spanish communities and from the new bishops' respective parishes will join to sing these musical selections, along with a couple of pro soloists and a few extra voices responding to the APB.

(Updated with the actual order of music:)

Before the Mass:
Cesar Franck: Praise Ye The Lord (Ps. 150, ed. Treharne; very triumphal)

Also, before the Mass, a Life Teen choir sang Carey Landry's Hail Mary, and while it was nothing fancy, they really were a good assemblage of voices and sounded quite nice.

After them, a soloist did 2-3 Spanish-language religious songs, with (I was horrified) an audio accompaniment track. Karaoke time in the cathedral! And the priests' procession took place during this embarrassing performance.

Traditional: Las Apariciones Guadalupanas
Traditional: O come, O come, Emmanuel / O ven, O ven, Emmanuel

Berthier (Taize): Kyrie
James Chepponis: Melodic Gloria
at the Responsorial Psalm: Chepponis, Magnificat

Ordination Rite:
plainchant: Veni Creator Spiritus
Chant (in English): Litany of the Saints

John Ireland (the 20th c. composer, not the 19th c. Archbishop): Greater Love Hath No Man

Marty Haugen: Mass of Creation (Holy, Acclamation, Amen)
(Unknown): Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God)

Gabarain: Pescador de Hombres
Bob Hurd: Pan de Vida
Mozart: Laudate Dominum

(while the new bishops blessed the congregation)
Traditional: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
F.X. Moreau: Tu Reinaras, a march
(The congregation went wild for the new bishops, so we had to sing three verses of the latter, twice, and it still wasn't enough.)

Recess Song: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus -- but the text was so much changed from the original -- Heaven knows why -- I stopped trying to sing it.

PS: Boston-area cable viewers can catch reruns of the Mass on the Boston Catholic TV cable channel Tuesday, Dec 12, at 8:30 pm and tomorrow (Wed., Dec 13) at 11 a.m.

Quaeramus cum pastoribus by Jean Mouton (1459-1522): I haven't found a voice recording of the motet, but here's an audio file I made from CPDL's MIDI sample.

I'm learning it for a concert Saturday, Dec. 16, by the New England Classical Singers. We're not going to sing it at quite the pace illustrated in the audio file, but I speeded it up for John's sake. :-)

Vox Clara may have English translations of the Mass ordinary ready by summer




With those bad "phonetic" spellings, it might be painful to hear, but I guess they have to start somewhere.

Litany of Peace: in Latin

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If you've ever attended a celebration of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, you'll be familiar with the Litany of Peace which begins the service. A deacon sings the (more or less) twelve petitions, and the people join in each intention by responding, "Lord have mercy".

Since it is not unusual for the Latin church to borrow some of the beauties of the Eastern liturgies, I've wondered whether this litany has ever found its way into Western church books; and it has: at least recently. The 1981 Psalterium Monasticum (Monastic Psalter), p. 518, presents this Latin version of the litany (reduced to nine petitions) and authorizes its use in the Office, before the Our Father.

V. Dicamus omnes ex tota anima et ex tota mente: Kyrie eleison. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro pace orbis universi, prosperitate sanctæ Dei Ecclesiæ, omniumque christifidelium unitate, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro papa N. et omni sacerdotio, Christi ministris et ascetis, cunctoque fideli populo, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro aerum temperie, fructuum terræ copia, tranquillisque temporibus, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro salute infirmorum, incolumitate viatorum, ac sublevatione pauperum et tribulatorum, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro liberatione omnis animæ christianæ a furore persecutorum et a vexatione dæmonum, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro conversione peccatorum et illuminatione errantium a fide vel non credentium, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. Pro requie eorum qui iam dormierunt patrum fratrumque nostrorum et omnium ubique in Christo defunctorum, Dominum rogemus. R. Kyrie eleison.

Et simul his qui domum hanc sanctam, cum fide, pietate, et timore Dei sunt ingressi, nostram ad Dominum precem compleamus.
Pater noster...

Here, off the cuff, is a somewhat free English version:

V. Let us say with our whole soul and our whole mind: Kyrie eleison. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For peace in the world, the well-being of the holy Church of God, and the unity of all Christians, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For Pope N. and all the priesthood, for those who serve Christ and are consecrated to Him, and for all His faithful people, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For the health of the sick, the safety of travelers, and relief to the poor and suffering, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For all Christian souls, that they may be freed from the persecution of men and the vexation of evil spirits, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For the conversion of sinners and the enlightenment of those who err in faith and of unbelievers, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.
V. For the repose of our fathers and brothers who are now asleep and all who have died in Christ, let us pray to the Lord. R. Kyrie eleison.

And also for those who enter this holy house with faith, reverence, and fear of God, let us complete our prayer to the Lord:
Our Father....

(Update: fixed three typos)

Every Advent, I get a little impetus to start saying the Office regularly, though I don't usually last long. Since it's time this evening for Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent, I figured I'd pull out some books I bought recently and give it a go.

It turns out that it's not totally easy yet, because the chant books for the Office have been published in an piecemeal fashion over the past 25 years: the psalms are in one volume (Psalterium Monasticum, 1981), the antiphons are in another (Antiphonale Monasticum, 2005), the hymns are in a third (Liber Hymnarius, 1983), and the collects are, as far as I can tell, to be sought over in the Gregorian Missal. Putting it all together requires a bit of flipping around and determination.

It's a fitful observance of Vespers, as I have to pause at times to work out the unfamiliar tunes on a keyboard. It pays to remember that the good of praying the Office does not depend on how easily it goes for us, but on the simple aims of adoring God who is worthy of all our love, and of praising him in union with Christ's mystical body, the Church present throughout the world.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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unless you state otherwise.


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