Throughout the next year, and until the implementation of the New Translation of the Roman Missal, The Authentic Update will focus on issues surrounding the New Translation and developments in Sacred Music arising from it. I hope you will visit here frequently and join in the conversation as the Church enters into this remarkable period of liturgical transformation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Progressive Solemnity as a Basis for the Sung Mass in the Ordinary Form

“Between the solemn, fuller form of liturgical celebration, in which everything that demands singing is in fact sung, and the simplest form, in which singing is not used, there can be various degrees according to the greater or lesser place allotted to singing. However, in selecting the parts which are to be sung, one should start with those that are by their nature of greater importance, and especially those which are to be sung by the priest or by the ministers, with the people replying, or those which are to be sung by the priest and people together. The other parts may be gradually added according as they are proper to the people alone or to the choir alone”. (Musicam Sacram #7)

The principle known as progressive solemnity is one of those concepts that is often referred to in liturgical music but is very often misunderstood or at least poorly or incompletely understood. With the call for greater assembly participation in the music of the Mass as the reform of the liturgy progressed, there may have been some concern that the hierarchy of the various parts of the Mass, particularly those that were to be sung, might be lost. This concern can be seen in passages of Musicam Sacram such as that quote above, as well as in passages that emphasize the sung dialogues and assembly responses as being of principal importance. Absent the formal distinctions of the Low Mass, the Missa Cantata and the High Mass, and with the many options available in the 1970 Missal, the formal schema of progressive solemnity was proposed as a guide to what parts of the Mass might be sung in a given situation in order to impart a corresponding distinction of forms in the Mass.

The 2006 USCCB document on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, develops the concept of progressive solemnity to a greater degree than previous documents had done, and gives the following instructions concerning the principle of progressive solemnity:

115. Singing by the gathered assembly and ministers is important at all celebrations. Not every part that can be sung should necessarily be sung at every celebration; rather “preference should be given to those [parts] that are of greater importance.”

a. Dialogues and Acclamations
Among the parts to be sung, preference should be given “especially to those to be sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding, or by the pries and people together.”90 This includes dialogues such as “God, come to my assistance; Lord make haste to help me” in the Office, or “The Lord be with you; And also with you” in the Mass. The dialogues of the Liturgy are fundamental because they “are not simply outward signs of communal celebration but foster and bring about communion between priest and people.”91 By their nature, they are short and uncomplicated and easily invite active participation by the entire assembly. Every effort should therefore be made to introduce or strengthen as a normative practice the singing of the dialogues between the priest, deacon, or lector and the people. Even the priest with very limited singing ability is capable of chanting “The Lord be with you” on a single pitch. The acclamations of the Eucharistic Liturgy and other rites arise from the whole gathered assembly as assents to God’s Word and action. The Eucharistic acclamations include the Gospel Acclamation, the Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamation, and the Great Amen. They are appropriately sung at any Mass, including daily Mass and any Mass with a smaller congregation. Ideally, the people should know the acclamations by heart and should be able to sing them readily, even without accompaniment.

b. Antiphons and Psalms
The psalms are poems of praise that are meant, whenever possible, to be sung.92 The Psalter is the basic songbook of the Liturgy. Tertullian witnesses to this when he says that in the assemblies of the Christians, “the Scriptures are read, the psalms are sung, sermons are preached.”Psalms have a prominent place in every Office of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Responsorial Psalm in the Liturgy of the Word of the Mass and of other rites “holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on the word of God.” The Entrance and Communion chants with their psalm verses serve to accompany the two most important processions of the Mass: the entrance procession, by which the Mass begins, and the Communion procession, by which the faithful approach the altar to receive Holy Communion. Participation in song on the part of the assembly is commended during both of these important processions, as the People of God gather at the beginning of Mass and as the faithful approach the holy altar to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord.

c. Refrains and Repeated Responses
The Liturgy also has texts of a litanic character that may be sung as appropriate. These include the Kyrie and Agnus Dei of the Mass, the response to the Prayer of the Faithful at Mass or the intercessions at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, and the Litany of the Saints in various rites.

d. Hymns
A hymn is sung at each Office of the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the original place for strophic hymnody in the Liturgy. At Mass, in addition to the Gloria and a small number of strophic hymns in the Roman Missal and Graduale Romanum, congregational hymns of a particular nation or group that have been judged appropriate by the competent authorities mentioned in the GIRM, nos. 48, 74, and 87, may be admitted to the Sacred Liturgy. Church legislation today permits, as an option, the use of vernacular hymns at the Entrance, Preparation of the Gifts, Communion, and Recessional. Because these popular hymns are fulfilling a properly liturgical role, it is especially important that they be appropriate to the liturgical action. In accord with an uninterrupted history of nearly five centuries, nothing prevents the use of some congregational hymns coming from other Christian traditions, provided that their texts are in conformity with Catholic teaching and they are appropriate to the Catholic Liturgy.

Although it has been argued to the contrary, it is obvious to me that the above ordering of the sung parts of the Mass into these groups is intended as an ordering of them by importance and thus their priority (hierarchical), otherwise there would have been no point in saying “preference should be given to those parts that are of greater importance”. Further, if this ordering into groups by importance is to have any meaning, it would have to be true that ALL of the selections in the first group of dialogues and acclamations are of greater importance than ANY of the selections in the second group of antiphons and psalms, and ALL of the selections in the second group would be of greater priority than ANY of the selections in the third group of refrains and repeated responses, and so on down through the various groups. It is not specified anywhere if there are any selections within the groups themselves that are of higher priority than other selections within the same group, although common sense might lead one to conclude, for instance, that within the second grouping of antiphons and psalms there would be greater importance attached to the Responsorial Psalm within the Liturgy of the Word than to the Offertory Antiphon.

Following the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass in 1970, there was considerable confusion regarding the ordering of the musical elements of the Mass, and the parallel development of a liturgical music industry that emphasized compositions based on the larger scale texts for the Opening Hymn, Gloria, Responsorial, Offertory Hymn, Communion Hymn, Recessional Hymn, rather than the shorter snippets of text that comprise the dialogues and orations had the unfortunate effect of giving greater musical emphasis to some parts of the Mass which are of lesser importance in the liturgical form.

An even more unfortunate consequence of this misplaced priority has been the undue emphasis on congregational singing of hymns rather than on singing the liturgical dialogues that are the foundation of the Roman Rite liturgy, an emphasis that has developed to such a degree that most clergy and even many liturgical musicians are under the impression that a liturgy with minimal music is one in which the Processional and Recessional Hymn and maybe the Sanctus are sung, or perhaps a Processional Hymn and the Responsorial Psalm, or maybe just a Processional Hymn. I refer to this rather random selection of sung parts of the Mass without regard to their priority as the a la carte approach to liturgical music, where all of the possible sung options are seen as having equal value and status, or worse yet where the congregational hymn takes the place of greatest importance. This approach is precisely contrary to that given in the liturgical books and leads to the opposite of progressive solemnity, creating instead a schema in which distinctions between degrees of the sung Mass are arbitrary and often indistinguishable and where less important parts are more often sung than those of greater priority.

So if the principles laid down in Musicam Sacram and expanded upon in the USCCB document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship were followed closely, taking into account the priorities of the various sung elements of the Mass, what would Masses of various degrees of solemnity look like? How can the categorization of sung parts according to their liturgical priorities guide the selection of what parts of the Mass are to be sung in various situations and result in a meaningful application of progressive solemnity? I would suggest that an application of the principles set out above result in four basic categories of Mass roughly corresponding to the four categories of sung parts of the Mass detailed in Sing to the Lord. Of course, these four basic categories would be in addition to a Mass in which nothing is sung. I have included a brief explanation of each of these categories and a representative set of possible selection of sung parts for each. In places where I have indicated the use of the Missal Chants it would also be equally valid to use some other approved setting: this is not so much a question of the style or the promotion of one musical vision over another, but rather it is simply a question of which parts of the Mass should be sung in view of their role in the liturgy. I would also be interested to hear some ideas about what to call such various types of sung Mass in the Ordinary Form so as not to be confused with the established forms already in existence in the Extraordinary Form.

Mass with Minimal Sung Parts

Entrance Antiphon– Recited Antiphon or Silence

Opening Dialogue – “The Lord be with you…”and response ( simple tone)

Penitential Rite – Recited Confiteor and Kyrie or form B or C

Gloria – Recited Gloria

Responsorial Psalm – Recited in alternation with assembly

Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia and verse (simple tone)

Offertory - Silence

Preface Dialogue – simple tone

Sanctus – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Memorial Acclamation - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Doxology and Amen - simple tone

Lamb of God – Recited

Communion Antiphon - Recited Antiphon

Mass with Sung Antiphons and Psalms

Entrance Antiphon– Antiphon from Graduale or SEP

Opening Dialogue – “The Lord be with you…”and response ( simple tone)

Penitential Rite – Recited Confiteor and Kyrie or form B or C

Gloria – Recited Gloria

Responsorial Psalm – Sung using an approved setting

Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia and verse (simple tone)

Offertory - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP or Silence

Preface Dialogue – simple tone

Sanctus – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Memorial Acclamation - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Doxology and Amen - simple tone

Lamb of God – Recited

Communion Antiphon - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP

Mass with Sung Litanies

Entrance Antiphon– Antiphon from Graduale or SEP

Opening Dialogue – “The Lord be with you…”and response ( simple tone)

Penitential Rite – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) setting or Recited

Gloria – Recited Gloria

Responsorial Psalm – Sung using an approved setting

Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia and verse (simple tone)

Prayer of the Faithful - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) setting or Recited

Offertory - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP or Silence

Preface Dialogue – simple tone

Sanctus – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Memorial Acclamation - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Doxology and Amen - simple tone

Lamb of God – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Communion Antiphon - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP

Mass with Hymns

Entrance Antiphon– Antiphon from Graduale or SEP or a hymn appropriate to the liturgical action

Opening Dialogue – ” The Lord be with you…”and response ( simple tone)

Penitential Rite – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) setting or other approved setting

Gloria – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) setting or other approved setting or recited

Responsorial Psalm – Sung using an approved setting

Gospel Acclamation – Alleluia and verse (simple tone)

Prayer of the Faithful - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) setting or other approved setting

Offertory - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP or a hymn appropriate to the liturgical action

Preface Dialogue – simple tone

Sanctus – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Memorial Acclamation - Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Doxology and Amen - simple tone

Lamb of God – Missal Chant (ICEL Chant) or other approved setting

Communion Antiphon - Antiphon from Graduale or SEP or a hymn appropriate to the liturgical action

Recessional - A hymn appropriate to the liturgical action or instrumental recessional or silence

Looking at the four hypothetical Masses detailed above, and it is important to add here that there are a great number of possible variations within each so long as the general principle is followed that ALL of the main components of the categories of greater priority be sung before ANY of the components of a category of lesser priority are sung, we find eliminated that all-too-common practice of singing the Four Hymns and perhaps the Responsorial Psalm while reciting most or all of the dialogues and the Sanctus. For this alone I find enough reason to advocate for such an approach to determining which sung options are to be chosen. However, a closer look at the above examples also reveals some problematic features that may lead one to ask if some revision of the categories as described in Sing to the Lord would be necessary if they are to be used in any meaningful way to determine the order of selections to be sung as proposed here.

To begin with, there is an inconsistency in the placing of the various sung parts of the Mass into specific categories. Some, such as the dialogues and acclamations are placed according to their liturgical role and the importance of their texts, while others, such as the Gloria and the Kyrie, are categorized by their supposed musical form (A hymn and a litany), with little regard for their historical designation as part of the Ordinary of the Mass. There is good reason to dispute the claim that the Kyrie and Agnus Dei are texts with a litanic character to begin with, and the placement of these in a category distinct from the rest of the Ordinary simply because they employ a three-fold repetition should be seriously questioned. The Gloria, while certainly a hymn, is also certainly a very different type of hymn in the Mass than those hymns that are frequently substituted for the antiphons, and the placement of the Gloria alongside sung elements of a significantly lower priority results in the fragmentation of the Ordinary across three different categories. Slightly modifying the categories given in Sing to the Lord such that the Gloria, Kyrie and Agnus Dei belong to the same category that includes the rest of the Ordinary and the Dialogues while entirely eliminating the third category of refrains and repeated responses and expanding the last category to encompass hymns and other various optional or substitute elements unique to specific liturgies such as the Litany of the Saints, Sequences and The Exsultet, the categories then would look something like the following:

a. The Dialogues and the Ordinary
b. Psalms and Antiphons (Propers)
c. Hymns and other elements unique to specific liturgies

This organization of the sung parts would be simpler and would have the added benefit of creating two general types of sung Mass for most Sundays– A Mass in which the Dialogues and some or all of the Ordinary are sung, and one in which all of the Dialogues and Ordinary are sung and some or all of the Psalms and Antiphons are sung. There would then be an expanded form of the second type of sung Mass for more solemn Feast Days or Solemnities (Easter, Christmas, Pentecost), where all of the Dialogues and Ordinary would be sung, along with all of the Psalms and Antiphons plus the addition of specific texts for these larger celebrations to be sung as well. This would seem to make more sense and comes about as a result of a very minor modification of the categories already in existence.

Some will argue that since hymns are substitutes for the Proper Antiphons at Mass, they should be a part of category b and not a distinct category of lower priority. There are two compelling arguments against this suggestion. First, the claim is not entirely true since there are legitimate options in the Mass where a hymn is specifically indicated, such as GIRM #86:

86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian” character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.73 However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.

In this case, and arguably in the singing of a hymn for the recessional, hymns are legitimately used in liturgical roles where they are not substitutes for Proper Antiphons. This is not to suggest that they can’t be used as substitutes for Proper Antiphons in any case, but rather that their use in the role indicated in GIRM #86, their established use at the recessional, AND their substitution for the Proper Antiphons are all of lower priority than the singing of the Dialogues, Ordinary and the actual Antiphons and Psalms of the Mass. This suggestion is reinforced by the passage that immediately follows the description of the categories in Sing to the Lord:

117. Proper antiphons from the liturgical books are to be esteemed and used especially because they are the very voice of God speaking to us in the Scriptures. Here, “the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them. And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life.”96 The Christian faithful are to be led to an ever deeper appreciation of the psalms as the voice of Christ and the voice of his Church at prayer.

Referring back to GIRM #86 which I cited above, while most of the heated discussion surrounding the revision of this and related passages in the GIRM centered on whether it was specifically indicating that the Entrance, Offertory and Communion “chants” were to be actual chant, or whether what was meant was simply a “song”, it occurred to me that there might be something more subtle being put into play. GIRM #86 creates an actual role in the Mass for the hymn, albeit a rather low-priority role. But this may be precisely the intent as this specifically indicated use for the hymn, along with its long-established use at the recessional, also a low-priority role as this is entirely optional and not a substitute for another, higher priority antiphon, and finally the admonitions in SttL 117 and GIRM 41 all reinforce the notion that while hymns can have a legitimate role in the liturgy, it is a role of distinctly lower priority than most other parts of the Mass that can be sung, and the substitution of hymns for the Proper Antiphons is similarly of lower priority than the use of the actual antiphons of the Mass.

Such a low-priority for the substitution of hymns for antiphons would indicate their use in far fewer circumstances than is generally the case now, and would ostensibly apply to specific situations where such a substitution would actually be advantageous, such as the use of a hymn such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” at Christmas, “All Glory Laud and Honor” on Palm Sunday and perhaps “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” at the Mass for Easter. In such situations, the substitution of a hymn for the indicated antiphon would take place in a liturgical schema where nearly everything else that could be sung in the Mass would be sung, and the hymns would not necessarily be sung at the exclusion of the antiphons, but perhaps in addition to them due to the large scale nature of such liturgies. In such instances, hymns would expand and ornament the liturgical form rather than reducing it by pushing out other more important sung parts. Such would be the goal of a more enlightened understanding of the role of hymns in the liturgy, where more recent developments such as the distinction made in GIRM #86 and the placing of hymns in a lower priority category than the Psalms and Antiphons could have a major positive impact via the application of progressive solemnity to the liturgy as envisioned in Musicam Sacram and expanded upon in Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship.

Returning to my original point, I would suggest that the meaningful application of progressive solemnity to the liturgy, at least as is given to us in Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, requires that the various categories of sung parts be both hierarchical (ordered by priority) and exclusive (all parts of greater priority would be sung before any parts of lesser priority are sung), and that applying such a hierarchical ordering of sung parts, which has significant historical precedence in both liturgical law and liturgical practice, results in a sung Ordinary Form Mass that is significantly different from current practice in most parishes.

It is my hope that there might be some attention given to this very important aspect of the Ordinary Form Mass as it is developing during our lifetime, and that there might be a corresponding move away from the a la carte approach to selecting the sung options for Mass. Recent liturgical developments would seem to indicate a move in the direction of re-establishing the prioritized ordering of sung parts in the liturgy corresponding to the re-establishment of hierarchical orderings of liturgical roles for various ordained and lay ministers. The connection between the two cannot be dismissed and I would expect that musical priorities for the liturgy will be influenced to a greater degree by the organic move towards a more distinct hierarchical ordering of the liturgy in general than by any legislative means.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Well, it's been two weeks now and I am (somewhat) settling in to my new position. There are a lot of changes...different people, different schedule, different organ (and I am, by the way, really enjoying that change!)...and a whole assortment of different things to do.

My first two weeks have been focusing on getting in touch with lists were woefully neglected, e-mail addresses were non-existent for many of my choir members and in some cases I have spent several hours just trying to track down information for a cantor so that I could call them! However, by this afternoon I have finished a complete information list for my choir members and have all of my cantors and office staff neatly entered in my Blackberry Contacts list!

The next big project is to get a children's choir up and running! Please pray for me and perhaps even wish me luck..

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Change of a Different Sort...

As I have now informed everyone who needs to know (my Pastor, close associates, etc...), I can announce for those who know me less formally that I will be resigning my current post to accept a position "up north".'s only a few miles "up north" from where I am now, and it's still in the same city.

And even though the organ is a digital instrument...

It is a vast...vast...vast improvement over that which I have played on for the last 5 years..a 1979 Baldwin 632...

Don't get me's a charming instrument, but there comes a point in time. The one pictured there isn't mine by the way...mine is down in a pit beside the altar, and to it's credit, it is a three manual version rather than the two-manual pictured above. Strangely enough, the two and three manual versions have the exact same stops. Go figure.

And the organ and the choir are up in a choir loft...yes, a modern church designed with a functional and well-designed CHOIR LOFT. I have had dreams of such a thing since my first "position" (I was in High School and played for the early Mass on Sunday) at St. Mary's Church in Holliston, MA...a classic 18th Century structure with a beautiful Hook and Hastings up in the loft. Since then, I have been "up front"...but no longer.

The Pastor and associate are looking forward to implementing the new Missal Chant settings, and also to starting use of the Simple English Propers for the Introit and Communion antiphons. I feel so fortunate that not only do such places exist, but they are close enough that I don't even have to move...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just Another Brick in the Wall

An interesting bit of information about the direction of music in the Catholic Church today. Although not necessarily a "watershed event" for either liturgy or liturgical music in particular, World Youth Day and the week-long celebrations around it have become important public events for the Church.... a chance for larger audiences of people around the world to see the Catholic Church on display.

In the past, the liturgies at World Youth Day have been sometimes embarrassing, sometimes very much in line with what one would expect to see at an average Catholic parish, and on rarer occasions have actually been good models for what liturgy should be from an evangelical standpoint. Those are MUCH rarer occasions, by the way.

This year, some of the Masses for World Youth Day will probably raise more than a few eyebrows... not among the youth, mind you, but among those who have bought into the "cutting edge music will attract youth to the church" agenda. These Masses are actually....what would be a good description....well, they are actually very CATHOLIC!

Let's take a look at what we'll hear....

Wednesday, 17 August 2011, 12:00 noon
Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit
(Missale Romanum of 1970)

Palacio de Deportes, Madrid

Prelude: Ave Maria (Schubert) [World Youth Alliance Quartet]

Hymn at the Procession: Come, Holy Ghost (Lambillotte)
Introit: Caritas Dei (plainsong, mode ii)

Kyrie: XVI

First Reading (Hebrews 11:1-2,7-11)

Psalm: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people. (St. Luke 1:68-75) (plainsong, mode v; Marier fauxbourdon)

Alleluia (plainsong, mode vi)

Gospel (St. Matthew 14:23-33)

Intercessory Prayers

Offertory: Confirma hoc Deus (plainsong, mode viii; with chanted verses)
Hymn at the Offertory: Come Down, O Love Divine (Down Ampney)

Sanctus: XVIII
Memorial Acclamation: Mortem tuam...
Agnus Dei: XVIII

Communion: Spiritus Sanctus docebit vos (plainsong, mode viii; with psalm verses)

Motet at the Communion: Ave Maria (Victoria)

Hymn at the Communion: O Lord, I Am Not Worthy (Gouzes)
Motet at the Communion: Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)
Motet at the Communion: Veni Creator Spiritus (Josquin)
Marian antiphon: Ave Maria (plainsong, mode i)

Hymn at the Retiring Procession: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Postlude: Fugue in D Major (BWV 532) (J.S. Bach)

Thursday, 18 August 2011, 12:00 noon
Votive Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
(Missale Romanum of 1970)

Palacio de Deportes, Madrid

Prelude: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach) [World Youth Alliance Quartet]

Entrance Hymn: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (Lauda anima)
Introit: In nomine Jesu (plainsong, mode ii)

Kyrie: XVI

First Reading (Acts 4:8-12)

Psalm: Our help is in the name of the Lord. (Isaiah 12:2-6) (plainsong, mode v; Marier fauxbourdon)

Alleluia (plainsong, mode vi)

Gospel (St. Matthew 1:18-25)

Intercessory Prayers

Offertory: Portas caeli (plainsong, mode viii)
Hymn at the Offertory: The Lord is Now About to Enter His Temple (Gouzes)

Sanctus: XVIII
Memorial Acclamation: Mortem tuam...
Agnus Dei: XVIII

Communion: Gustate et videte (plainsong, mode iii; with psalm verses)

Hymn at the Communion: Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All (Sweet Sacrament)
Motet at the Communion: Jesu dulcis memoria (Palestrina)
Motet at the Communion: Ave Verum Corpus (Byrd)
Marian antiphon: Ave Maria (plainsong, mode i)

Recessional: Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (Hyfrydol)

Postlude: Praeludium in D minor (BuxWV 140) (Buxtehude)

Certainly a bit different from years past, no? And yet there are still those who insist that there is NO WAY that Catholic music is moving back towards tradition....right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Would Jesus Say?

This from the Catholic World seems that some self-identified dissidents are critical of money...privately donated money at that...being spent on World Youth Day and the Pope's visit to Spain.

The Priests’ Forum, which claims to represent pastors in Madrid’s poor neighborhoods, objects to the corporate subsidies. Charging that the multinational corporations that are sponsoring the visit are also responsible for the worldwide economic crisis, the group argues that the Church should not accept such funding.

Critics are also complaining that the costs of WYD are excessive in light of the budget cuts that have been forced on many Western governments, including Spain’s. Echoing an argument that is advanced in the Gospels(John 12:4-5), the Priests’ Forum suggests that the money invested in WYD could have been spent on the poor.

An interesting argument to make to say the least, however, they aren't really making the convincing argument that they think they are. At least they had the sense to quote another rather prominent dissident. Here's the passage they cite (John 12:4-5):

"4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”

But it is in the passage that immediately follows this that we find the grain of truth in what they're saying....because the complete passage (John 12: 4-6) says this:

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Uhmm...OK. So what would Jesus say?

8 You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”

You really have to be careful when quoting scripture.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Preparing for Change

There has been an awful lot of talk about "change" in the liturgy during the past several years. We've had changes in some of the minor aspects of liturgical practice, such as who can cleanse vessels after communion or whether we can use the word YAHWEH (we can't!). Things that were one way once, and now are another way. Not much problem with either of these examples...maybe some ruffled feathers since there were apparently people who actually wanted to clean the vessels after communion I guess. And a correction insert in some hymnals, or tape over the word YAHWEH for the more frugal parishes. Such changes don't require a lot of preparation because frankly, they don't have a lot of real consequence at most parishes.

Then there are the changes like the new translation that will be coming our way this Advent, or perhaps even sooner in the case of the sung parts of the Ordinary as most Diocese in the US at least are permitted to begin using these responses as soon as September. It took a while to get a firm date nailed down, but eventually there was a date given and we began preparing for the coming changes. Since there were going to be all new Mass settings coming at a given point down the road, it didn't make any sense to take on learning new ones for the past year or two. A great amount of effort has been put into preparing the priests for the new texts as well. Since there implementation is a certain thing at this point, I don't imagine that there has been much emphasis on learning the old texts at the seminary level, and preparatory and catechetical resources for the laity have all been re-tooled for the new texts as well.

After all, why continue going in the direction of something that will shortly be obsolete, or in many ways already IS obsolete? It rises to the level of absurdity to imagine that a parish would have continued down the path of using and teaching from resources based on the old translation during the past year or two as though the time when the new translation would arrive were somehow not real. No, most parishes took on a transitional posture and began integrating the changes in the Missal text into parish catechetical programs, at least at the planning and preparation level, so as to mitigate the negative effects of change when it eventually comes. It just makes good pastoral sense to do so.

But some changes don't have a definite date attached to them, at least not yet. A lot of digital ink has been expended this past week on the "controversy" surrounding some aspects of the revision of the GIRM to accompany the new Missal. Some say it's a game changer...some say it's a tempest in a tea pot.

I know this...during the past 8 years we've heard....

"Liturgical music must meet the specific prerequisites of the Liturgy: full adherence to the text it presents, synchronization with the time and moment in the Liturgy for which it is intended, appropriately reflecting the gestures proposed by the rite. The various moments in the Liturgy require a musical expression of their own."
(November 2003 - Chirograph on Sacred Music -Pope John Paul II)

"An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony"
(2005 - Address to the Pontifical Academy -Pope Benedict XVI)

The assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Proper of the Mass as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings. When the congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well. As an easier alternative, chants of the Graduale Simplex are recommended"
(2006 - Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship - USCCB)

"Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy."
(2007 - Sacramentum Caritatis - Pope Benedict XVI)

"After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduate Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop."
(2011 - Revised GIRM - USCCB)

And then there is the inclusion of a complete chant setting of the Dialogues and Ordinary integrated into the new Missal and which are to be included in all published resources. And there is the explosion of online resources for vernacular chant, and specifically for vernacular Propers. All of this is moving in a very easily discernable direction.

And so my question is this: Do we begin preparing for where we are headed, a little at a time, as we have wisely done with the new translation so as to mitigate the ill effects of inevitable change? Or do we do an about face and try and move away from inevitable change in an attempt to avoid it? Music is certainly an important facet of the liturgy, and one about which people get very emotional. It is inevitable that there are changes coming down the road, and it is all but certain in what direction that change is going to be.

How are we going to get ready?

Friday, July 8, 2011

R.I.P: “Other Suitable Song”

Several years ago I wrote an article that posed the question “What exactly is meant by alius cantus aptus” as it appears in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the GIRM. It is an important question to ask because very nearly the entirety of the musical selections proffered for use in liturgy by the major music publishers and accepted and generally advocated by unknowing parish musicians and clergy fall into the category of alius cantus aptus, a term which had been translated rather loosely as “other suitable song”. I posted that article below as a reference, and if you are at all intrigued by where this is going now, I would urge you to scroll down to the next post and read The Alius Cantus Aptus: What does it really mean?

A lot of water has flooded under the bridge since that time, but little by little there have been steps taken to address the very glaring conflict between what music is actually required by the liturgy and what music seems to be permitted by the particular law in the GIRM pertaining to that music. For review purposes, let’s take a look at the current (2003) version of the GIRM and what it says:

47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

The passages in question are options #3 and #4 in par.48. Both of these seem to imply that the “song” that might be used is something quite different from the Proper chants indicated in the first two options, option 4 being the most vague, indicating merely “a suitable liturgical song”. Enough cannot be said about the effect that this option has had on liturgical music as it has been practiced in parishes for the past 45 years. The wording of option 4 seems to allow just about anything to be used in place of the designated Proper chants indicated in the first two options. And as a result, in most parishes one is likely to hear anything BUT the actual Proper chants. This paragraph is also of particular importance because of later passages in the GIRM that refer back to it, specifically those concerning the Offertory Chant and the Communion Chant, both of which are indicate as having the same options as in #48.

There has been a considerable interest in the re-introduction of the Propers for the past several years. The USCCB document on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Catholic Worship spends a considerable amount of time on the issue of the Propers and their use, going so far as to say:

“The assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Proper of the Mass as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.”72 When the congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well. As an easier alternative, chants of the Graduale Simplex are recommended.

At the time this document was issued (2006) this seemed like an unusual thing to suggest given the predominance of songs unrelated to the Propers in use, and also the lack of any accessible resources for the Proper chants for most parishes. Many wondered how such a suggestion could be made seriously while the counter-suggestive option #4 remained in the GIRM. As long as the “other suitable song” was an option, it was likely to remain the option of choice.

And so it is with great surprise, relief and joy that it can now be confirmed that the issue has been given the attention it so greatly deserves, and the nearly 45 year conflict has been resolved. As of Advent of 2011, the corresponding passage in the new GIRM will read as follows:

47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.

48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduate Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop

Not only has the word “song” been replaced by “chant, but that chant designated in option 4 must be suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year. In and of itself, this would seem to preclude much of the musical repertoire currently in use, implying fixed texts for specific days or seasons as is the case in the Graduale. Such a body of texts was indicated as an integral part of the new translation of the Missal, as indicated in LA par.108. Although this project has not yet been undertaken , and I really do think it is a matter of yet, it’s easy to envision what form this may take, heading towards a vernacular Graduale along the lines of Adam Bartlett’s Simple English Propers or the Simple Choral Graduale of Richard Rice. I find it significant that it is given as an option that these selections may be sung by the choir alone, indicating that there is no specific requirement for the Entrance, Offertory and Communion chants to be sung by the assembly.

Jeffrey Tucker has discussed this issue, albeit from a different perspective, at the Chant CafĂ©. I join him in his excitement over this development and in his prediction that the days are numbered for the use of unrelated songs as substitutes for the Proper chants of the Mass. I also agree with his assessment that those who promote the use of “other songs” in place of the actual Mass texts will continue to do so, even if they are now in opposition to the GIRM… a document which those same individuals readily point to as the single authoritative document governing liturgical practices. I would add that they are also in opposition to the USCCB document Sing to the Lord, the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis and, if one considers the source of par.48 of the GIRM… they are also in opposition to Sacramentum Caritatis.

Not that it will matter to them… obviously “Gather Us In” is a liturgical chant suited to the action. Of course, and Glory and Praise is practically the same as the Graduale Simplex….

The Alius Cantus Aptus: What does it really mean?

The following is an article which I originally posted in June of 2007. As such, there are a few things here that seem to ignore such developments as the Simple English Propers and other resources for the Propers that have come into being since that time. I am re-posting this article in preparation for a discussion of the recently made changes in the GIRM which, for all practical purposes, now says precisely what I was claiming it actually said more than 4 years ago. As such, the suggestion to seek hymns or songs which correspond to the texts or at least to the general source of the Proper texts also seems, in retrospect, inadequate as it will soon move form the "permissible" column to the "not permissible" column.

As a Sacred Musician of the “working” variety, one of the primary tasks given to me is selecting music for Mass each week. As important as this task is, it is surprising that many musicians given this responsibility are carrying it out with little guidance or insight into what they are supposed to be doing. In my travels and discussions with many such musicians, I have discerned that there has evolved a method of sorts, which while practical and consistent with the suggestions of commercial music publishers, nonetheless falls short of the demands of the liturgy.

In short, this method consists of drawing specific “themes” from the readings within the Liturgy of the Word and extrapolating them into more general themes to guide the selection of the Entrance, Offertory, Communion and “Recessional”. This method of selecting music is given some legitimacy and a great deal of encouragement by the publishers of music resources which contain a considerable variety of songs based on scriptural texts from the lectionary cycle, particularly texts from the Gospels. As such, it is usually easy to find a variety of songs which are thematically “related” to the readings at Mass, and it appears to make sense to use these songs in conjunction with these readings. The result is a liturgy which is thematically centered around the readings, and most often the Gospel. Is this really what Catholic liturgy calls for?

To answer this question, let’s take a look at the actual texts of the Mass for a specific Sunday. For an example I’ll use the Second Sunday In Ordinary Time for Year B. The texts given here are those from the Missal for that specific Sunday.


ENTRANCE - Psalm 66

May all the earth give you worship and praise,
and break into song at your name,
O God, Most High.
Shout joyfully to God,
All you on earth sing praise to the glory of His name,
Proclaim His glorious praise.
Say to God: How tremendous your deeds!
Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you.

FIRST READING – 1 Samuel 3: 3-10

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you, “ Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, “ he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.


Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

SECOND READING – 1 Corinthians 6: 13-20

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body

GOSPEL – John 1: 35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.


Sing with joy to God, All the earth,
Sing a psalm to His name.
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will tell you what great things
The Lord has done for my soul.

Cry out with joy to God, All the earth!
O sing to the glory of His name.
O render Him glorious praise,
Say to God: How tremendous your deeds.

Because of the greatness of your strength,
your enemies cringe before you.
Before you all the earth shall bow,
Shall sing to you, sing to your name.

Come and see the works of God,
Tremendous His deeds among men.
He turned the sea into dry land,
They passed through the river dry-shod.

O peoples, bless our God,
Let the voice of His praise resound.
Of the God who gave life to our souls,
And kept our feet from stumbling.

COMMUNION: John 1 / Psalm 34

We know and believe in God’s love for us.
Glorify the Lord with me,
Together let us praise His name,
I sought the Lord and he answered me,
From all my terrors He set me free.

Taste and see that the Lord is good,
Happy is he who seeks refuge in Him.
Revere the Lord, you His Saints,
They lack nothing, those who revere Him.

Come children and hear me
That I may teach you fear of the Lord;
Turn aside from evil and do good,
Seek and strive after peace.

Many are the trials of the just man,
But from them all the Lord will rescue him.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants,
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.

And so, if we look at the texts for this Sunday’s Mass in their entirety, we can make a few observations. First, of the seven texts designated for the Mass, four of them are intended to be sung. Of these four sung texts, the only one which we are likely to hear in most parishes is the Responsorial. Second, the Entrance, Offertory and Communion are drawn from the Psalter, in this example two passages from Psalm 66 (Entrance and Offertory) and a setting of Psalm 34 (Communion). By eliminating these three texts from the liturgy, we rob the liturgy of the Psalms, regarded as the “prayer of the church”. The Psalms are the “voice of the faithful” as opposed to the readings which are the “voice of God”, and in an approach to liturgy that seeks to increase the participation of the faithful, wouldn’t it make sense to include more Psalmody rather than less?

The final observation is perhaps the most difficult observation to make: The considerable contrast between the “theme” of the readings in the Liturgy of the Word and the “theme” of the designated texts for the Entrance, Offertory and Communion. The thematic “nugget” that would likely be drawn from the scripture readings is “Here I Am”… a statement of our service to God. This is reflected in the reading from Samuel and responded to in the Responsorial. The Epistle Reading reminds us that we are to prepare ourselves for service to Christ, and the Gospel recounts the calling of Simon Peter to serve Christ. Extrapolating this into a general theme for the liturgy, the selection of “songs” for the liturgy might look something like the following:

Entrance Song: Here I Am, Lord (Schutte)

Psalm Response: Psalm 40- Here I Am, Lord

Offertory: Servant Song

Communion: Here I Am (Ward)

With the selection of these songs for their thematic relationship to the readings, the result is a liturgy focused on our service to God in both the readings and the sung texts of the Mass. But is that really what this liturgy intends? Consider for a moment those “other” texts given for the Mass, the Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons.

Psalm 65, which is given for both the Entrance and Offertory, is a song of praise to God for his protection from our enemies. The Entrance Antiphon implores “All the Earth” to give praise to God for his mighty deeds. The Offertory Antiphons expands on this with a litany of those deeds; sheltering us from our enemies, guiding us through difficulties to safety, keeping us from stumbling. Considering only these texts, the thematic “nugget” would be something like “Give praise to God for the many things he does for us”. This realizations leads to an interesting understanding about the actual dynamic of this particular liturgy.

Taken in their entirety, the complete texts of the Mass create a dialogue between God and his faithful: The Word of God calls us to serve him, and we respond by crying out “Here I Am, I come to do your will” in debt and gratitude for His help, guidance and protection. Notice that the texts are arranged in such a way that God (through the readings) calls us to serve Him, and we respond (in the Antiphons and Psalms) by giving him praise and thanking him for his protection. Considering the complete set of texts, the selection of songs might look something like this:

Entrance Song: All The Earth

Psalm Response: Psalm 40- Here I Am Lord

Offertory: Psalm 96- Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds

Communion: Taste and See (Ps. 34)

The result is quite a different set of selections which would probably not be considered if only the readings were taken into account. It might look like there is now too great an emphasis on the Antiphon texts, however keep in mind that all three readings express God’s call to serve Him. The dialogue between the texts proclaimed to us in the scriptures, and those which we, in turn, proclaim to God creates an authentically liturgical dynamic that is very different from that which is created when we simply mirror or mimic the words which God has spoken to us. Our participation in the liturgy is clearly proscribed for us in the texts designated for us to sing, we need only pay attention to them!

And so now I get to the phrase used in the title of this article –Alius Cantus Aptus. This is the phrase used to describe the fourth of the four options given for settings of the Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons in both Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram. Lest these sources be thought of as “no longer relevant” or “out of date”, consider that these options are suggested in the most recent guideline Sing To The Lord, and in the new GIRM as well. The phrase is often translated as another suitable song, but can also be translated as another suitable setting. The latter makes more sense when we consider that this is the fourth option of four that are given, the first three of which are all settings of the designated text from the Missal.

The question that is of greatest importance then is this: What is meant by suitable? We can see that the first two options given are specified settings of the designated text (from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex), and the third option is a setting from an approved collection of Psalms and Antiphons which presumably would also use the designated text. As such, it would make sense that the fourth option would be an unspecified setting of the designated text from some other source. In this context, alius cantus aptus becomes “some other setting” of the designated text, not just some other song. What makes a setting suitable is its use of the designated text.

So how can all of this help in selecting music for Mass? To begin with, just the understanding that there are actual texts that belong in the liturgy which we are removing and replacing with texts of our own choosing is a great first step. Realizing this should give us pause and perhaps urge us to consider why we are doing so, and whether there are other, better options that we aren’t exercising. There is already within the Church an increasing emphasis on the use of Proper Texts for the liturgy, and there will likely be settings of these texts composed and published for our use during the next few years. When such resources are widely available, it would be irresponsible to not make use of them. Although such resources are not widely available now, there are still ways to incorporate these texts into our preparation of the liturgy, even if not verbatim. As has been said many times… do not shy from the imperfect while striving for the perfect.

The “perfect” in this case would be the actual Gregorian settings of the Proper texts to be sung by the assembly with the assistance of a cantor or schola. That would be the perfect scenario. While that is certainly the direction in which things have started moving, even the most optimistic workers in the vineyard have to admit that is probably a number of years away. In the meantime, why not use these Proper texts to guide the selection of the music which we are using to replace them each week?

The example I give above may be simplistic, and not to everyone’s taste, but at least it makes use of songs that are settings of the actual Proper texts for that Sunday. In the case of the Offertory I substituted Psalm 96, which is closely related to Psalm 66, both in actual wording and certainly in meaning. For the Communion, I made use of a setting of Psalm 34 which, while not word-for-word the same as the Proper text, is at least a paraphrase. And since this is a widely used text for communion songs anyhow, why not make use of it on the Sundays where it is the specified text. Are these “perfect” options? Not by any means, but they are a considerable improvement over songs which re-iterate the texts of the scripture readings at the exclusion of the Proper texts and their distinct role within the liturgy. As a transition from “where we are” to “where we are going”, this approach to music liturgy can begin to move in the right direction with music we already know while working towards that “perfect” liturgy at some point down the road as resources become available.

If there is one obstacle now to the use of the actual Proper texts, it is the problem of resources. As I noted above, there will very likely be several complete settings of the Proper Antiphons available within a few years. At this time, there are several options that are available, although each of them requires some work on the part of the musician. The primary resource for the Antiphons is the 1974 Graduale Romanum – the official “Choir Book” of the Catholic Church.

There are three versions of the Graduale – The Graduale Simplex (Simple Graduale), The Graduale Triplex (Triple Graduale) and the Gregorian Missal. Each of these is published for a specific purpose – The Graduale Romanum contains the complete set of liturgical chants in Latin with all 18 Ordinaries. The Graduale Simplex contains the chants for the Sundays and Holydays and a limited number of Ordinaries. The Graduale Triplex is a “study version” of the Graduale Romanum, presenting the Gregorian notation alongside the more ancient lineless neumes from the Laon text and the manuscript from the St. Gall family. While interesting to chant scholars, this is not of much use to the parish musician unfamiliar with Latin. The third of these books, the Gregorian Missal would be appropriate for the purpose I have outlined above, since it is laid out in the form of a standard Missal and provides English translations in the margin. These three books are the only official and approved resources for music in the Roman Rite.

Another excellent option that is easier still to navigate is the Anglican Use Gradual. This book is the Gradual approved for the Anglican Use Catholic Church and is used regularly in every Anglican Use parish in the United States. It contains the Entrance, Psalm, Offertory and Communion chant for each Sunday and Holyday arranged in order for the Church Year, and is entirely in English. For the Church musician who wants a readily available resource for the Antiphon texts for each Sunday, The Anglican Use Missal might be the best option. It is also available online for free in PDF format, something which should be a pre-requisite for ALL church music in the future, but that is another matter for another time!

As we continue to move forward in this time of the Liturgical Reform we also continue to grow in our understanding of the Second Vatican Council and its teachings about that reform. Each of the Holy Fathers during and since the time of the council have called us to an “authentic interpretation” of these teachings. Pope Benedict has specifically called us to re-examine these teaching in a “hermeneutic of continuity”… meaning an interpretation that grows organically from the great liturgical traditions of the church throughout her history. One such great tradition is the liturgical music of the church, and restoring the actual Mass texts to our worship is perhaps the best first step we can take. And best of all… it’s really not that hard to do!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Corpus Christi at Christ the King

This evening at 6;30PM will be the Mass for Corpus Christi at Christ the King parish in Sarasota Florida. The Scholae have prepared the following program...

Schubert, Salve Regina (St. Philomena Choir)

Introit: "Cibavit eos" (Scholettes )

Kyrie: Missa Secunda, Hassler

Gloria: Missa Secunda, Hassler

Gradual: "Oculi omnium" (St. Philomena Choir + Cindy)

ScSequence: Lauda Sion TRH 106 (women odd, men even)

Credo III (omnes)

Offertory: "Sacerdotes Domini" (men's schola)
Jubilate Deo, Mozart

Sanctus: Missa Secunda, Hassler

Agnus: Missa Secunda, Hassler

"Quotiescumque manducabitis" (men's schola )
Ave Verum, Byrd
Sacris Solemniis STG 111

Procession: Pange Lingua TRH 122 (v 1-4)
Adoro Te Devote TRH 101
Ave Verum Corpus TRH 103
Jesu Dulcis Memoria TRH 90
Anima Christi TRH 102

Benediction: Tantum Ergo TRH 122 (v 5-6)
Holy God We Praise Thy Name TRH 217

There may be recordings to post in a day or two...

Monday, June 20, 2011

An Excellent Article on the SEP

For the past year and a half, we have used the Simple English Propers as a resource for the Communion Antiphon, and more recently, since the beginning of Lent 2011, for the Entrance Antiphon at most of our parish Masses. This is an interesting article from the Catholic Phoenix about this new music resource and the impact it is having on Catholic liturgical music across the US.

Friday, June 17, 2011

USCCB President Authorizes Gradual Introduction of Musical Settings of New Roman Missal Starting In September

Modification will help people learn new parts, ease implementation

BELLEVUE, Washington—Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Divine Worship, announced that diocesan bishops may permit the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people’s parts of the Mass from the new Roman Missal in September. Primarily this affects the the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the Memorial Acclamations.

This variation to the implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, set to take place all at once on November 27, was authorized by USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translation “in a timely fashion and an even pace.”

The Committee on Divine Worship made the decision in response to requests from several bishops, echoed by the National Advisory Council. Some suggested that the various acclamations could be more effectively introduced throughout the fall, so that when the full Missal is implemented on the First Sunday of Advent, the congregation will have already become familiar with the prayers that are sung.
“I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation,” Archbishop Gregory told the bishops. The announcement took place June 16, during the U.S. bishops Spring Assembly near Seattle.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Pentecost Sequence

Like many parishes this year, we will be chanting the sequence for the first time in probably many years rather than either reading it (ughh...) or singing it to a forced metrical hymn (the OLD 100th setting comes to mind...).

This is a good thing, and only required a little bit of ingenuity on my part. I say that because I was asked first that it be sung in English (OK...we've been doing a lot of vernacular chant as of late) and second that I use the text given in the Missalette.

Yikes. The text in the missalette is intended to be sung to a metrical hymn, but thank heavens they just printed the text rather than the actual metrical setting as well. This enabled me to do a bit of improvising. What came to mind was something like a chant hymn, using an AA-BB form rather like the Dies Irae; Two distinct melodic strophes sung twice each in alternation. Rather than use an existing chant hymn (not to mention that I couldn't find one in 677 meter that sometimes changes to 767 or was just too strange!) I decided to just, well....make one up.

I don't know whether this is really the best solution here...but given what I had to work with, it isn't such a bad one if I may say so myself. I may want to fix the "Amen; Alleluia" at the end...after listening to it I don't think it really works all that well.

VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS - Pentecost Sequence (English)

I wonder if this sort of thing is going to become more common in years to come?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ascension Thursday at Christ The King, Sarasota

I've finally had the chance to get back to making posts... it has been a very busy Easter/Divine Mercy/First Communion/Ordination/Graduation season... it's nice to finally have some time on my hands!

I'm posting the audio of some of our Ascension Thursday Mass at Christ The King Parish in Sarasota. Although small, I think our schola sounds pretty good! Leo Labreque does an excellent job with us given the VERY limited rehearsal time and unpredictable attendance...

Ascension Thursday Music Selections

Introit - Viri Galileai

Offertory -Ascendit Deus

Communio - Psallite Domino

Sanctus Mass VIII - (Polyphonic Setting)

Motet - Ave verum Corpus (Mozart)

Motet - Exsultati Justi in Domino I said before, I think we sound pretty good, which brings me to another point I would like to make. For nearly 50 years or so, our impression of what chant (and polyphony) should sound like has been shaped to a great extent by recordings, as this music has been mostly absent from the liturgical life of Catholics worldwide. As such, there has arisen an attitude that unless you can sound like the Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos you have no business singing at Mass. This is worrisome, because the recording studio can produce a kind of perfection that is never really possible to duplicate, either technically nor accoustically.

I also find this attitude to be much like what I used to find expressed at Life Teen conferences regarding the music component of that particular venture. There, it was emphasized that it was important to get professional (paid is possible) musicians and to try and replicate the sound of the recordings as closely as possible and that anything less would bee seen as "lame" or "amateur" by the intended teen audience. While studio recordings are great for a lot of reasons, they aren't and shouldn't be the model for what we sing at Mass, whether in the OF or EF!

I hope you enjoy the recordings..

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Thursday

OK... I know I said just yesterday that I would not have time to post, but I have a few minutes here and just wanted to say a few words about the Holy Thursday Mass here at my parish last evening.

I have to say that it was one of the high points of my work in parish music up to now, although I have to say that was not by any accident or "luck"... there was a lot of preparation and rehearsal, both by our musicians and by the liturgical staff of our parish, including the Pastor and Associate, our Deacons, Lectors and student servers. We spent yesterday early afternoon doing a final "run through" of the liturgy with the servers... when and how to incense the altar, how to accompany the Deacon to the Ambo to incense the Gospel, and a hundred other details (like how to walk backwards while incensing the Priest while processing to the Chapel for Reposition at the conclusion of the Mass!).

Our choirs had rehearsed the hymns and chants for Mass for the last month and a half and sang confidently and beautifully. For the past two years our Antiphon Schola has sung the communion Antiphon for Holy Thursday. This year we made use of the Richard Rice setting in the Simple Choral Graduale, although I elaborated on the psalm-tone given for the verses. Although these settings have been criticized by some for being "formulaic" and lacking a melody related to the text, when they are sung within the context of the liturgy the impression they leave is quite different. I received several comments about how striking and "holy" it sounded as the Priests received communion... one said that it reminded them of chant they had heard in an Orthodox Church several years ago.

This year we added the chanted Entrance Antiphon, making use of the setting from the Simple English Propers by Adam Bartlett. I cannot say enough about what a gift these settings are to parish musicians. Our Schola learned it with minimal effort. I made a recording and put it online for them to practice, so they all came to rehearsal with the notes learned already, saving valuable rehearsal time for some details of phrasing and tempo. And this is real chant... not a "chant flavored" song, or a "chant like mantra"... it is actual chant for the texts of the Mass.

And so as our Mass began, rather than a series of announcements or an amplified welcome by the cantor accompanied by a series of instructions for where to find this or that song, the usual chatter and murmering of the people in the pews was quickly silenced by the unaccompanied sound of a voice proclaiming "Let our glory be in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...". Some people kneeled in prayer, others closed their eyes and relaxed. All listened in silence. And when the organ introduced the Processional Hymn, all joined in singing "Lift High The Cross"... and together we indeed "Gloried in the Cross of Our Lord".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week - Easter- Divine Mercy Sunday Blogging Break

It's unlikely I'll be making any posts here or even taking much time to read other blogs for the next week or two. My calendar is heavily booked up from morning into evening with rehearsals, meetings, liturgies and other Holy Week related activities...then of course there is EASTER! After that, I have a brief week to assemble, rehearse and execute what will be about a 3-hour long Divine Mercy Sunday devotional liturgy, as well as practice with the Schola for the Second Anniversary Mass at Christ The King Parish (FSSP) on May 7th which includes a variety of chants and a Mass setting that I very definitely need to review (Hassler Missa Brevis).

I'm not complaining mind you... this is one of those things that just happens every year and has happened every year for as long as I've been doing this...which is a pretty long time now! Pope John Paul II could have had a little more compassion for the faithful church musicians by placing Divine Mercy Sunday, oh let's say sometime in July.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Palm Sunday

As we all began our celebrations of Holy Week with yesterday's Masses for Palm Sunday, I considered how very different these liturgies likely were this year from just a few years ago, and how very different they will be at this time next year. In many parishes across the country, Catholics might have heard the actual Entrance Antiphon for Palm Sunday - Hosanna Filio David - either the Latin version from the Gradual or perhaps one of the excellent English versions now available, such as Adam Bartlett's "Simple English Propers", rather than a substitute. The ready availability of these resources and their ease of use means that for the first time in many years, it was possible to celebrate the liturgy of Palm Sunday as it was intended rather than making it an occasion for creativity or an exercise in attempting to extract participation from the assembly at a time when the assembly's participation is neither envisioned nor required by the liturgical structure.

I always find the Procession for Palm Sunday fascinating, as it is one of the very few places in the Missal where there is both an Antiphon (Hosanna Filio David) AND a Hymn (Gloria, laus et honor) given for a specific liturgy. This is important because it makes clear the exceptional nature of THIS procession....a procession that is different from the processions of other Masses on other Sundays. Sadly, this high point has been diminished by the use of hymns for the procession on EVERY Sunday throughout the year, making this "Triumphant entrance" of Jesus into Jerusalem just like every other Sunday in the vast majority of parishes. How wonderful would it be if our celebration of Jesus's entrance into the Holy City were something exceptional, something out of the ordinary? Such is the genius of the actual liturgical structure of the Roman Rite, if only we could set our own vanity and personal preferences aside and celebrate it as it has been given to us!

Perhaps it will take some time...and a change of heart...before we are once again ready accept and follow the wisdom of 2000 years of tradition and liturgical development over our own desire to put our personal signature on our worship. It's a difficult step that will require a great deal of humility, and that's a rare commodity these days! But there is hope in the knowledge that there are more and more instances of faithful celebrations of the liturgy today than there were even a few years ago, and there will be more such celebrations this week than there were last year during Holy Week. And there will be an even greater number next year for the simple reason that when the liturgy is faithfully celebrated, it ALWAYS WORKS. Without fail...

And so as we enter Holy Week, we can perhaps approach our own celebrations with a renewed sense of humility. Are we celebrating what we are given, or do we still want to sign our own giant JOHN HANCOCK to all that we do? In years past there were so many excuses, but as we are given better texts, better musical settings and a greater awareness of our liturgical past, those excuses are withering and becoming tired.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Early Look at Things to Come

Jeff Ostrowski at Corpus Christi Watershed has given a preview of what may well be the future of Catholic Liturgical resources. This one comprehensive book contains the readings and Propers for each Sunday... particularly settings of the Responsorial and the TEXTS of the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons.


Although this is an early version, I have no doubt that this type of resource will catch on quickly as an alternative to the disposable resources now so much in favor.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Bees Are Back!!

The Bees are back.... and I don't mean in the Exsultet! No, these are actual bees, and they are swarming the Jasmine grove in our front yard.

And I don't mean the cute honeybees... these are the honkin' big ones that sound like a P-51 Mustang in a full dive! Pollinating away today...

They don't seem interested in stinging, but they will circle around you buzzing like crazy if you get too near to them. They also chase down other bees and the ubiquitous dragonflies that make their home in the grove as well.

Charlie, our Basset Hound, stays safely inside watching them do their thing through the front window...

Time to get back to work now...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Interesting Point of View

I came across this article by a former Church Musician via the "Chant Cafe". Almost more interesting than the article itself are the comments made to it. As bob dylan sang - "The times, they are a-changin'"!

Ave Maria Chant Conference and a Workshop on the New Translation

This past weekend was the Gregorian Chant Conference at Ave Maria University... an excellent event that is only in it's third year and already getting a lot of attention. As I've said quite a few times in quite a few places, events such as this would have been impossible only a few years ago... the attendees at this conference were not specialists or academics from Latin Mass communities, but were musicians and ordinary parishioners from parishes across the state. Hopefully this event will continue in coming years as we continue the mission of bringing about the restoration of sacred music in the liturgy. A surprise element of the conference (for me at least!) was the letter from Bishop Dewane to the conference attendees. It's encouraging to hear such words from our Bishop.

Which leads to the workshop this coming weekend at the Cathedral of the Epiphany on the Chants of the new Translation. This is the second session of the workshop (the first session was on Saturday, March 12th) and we are expecting between 80 and 100 musicians from the Northern deanery of our Diocese. The point of these workshops is to introduce our musicians to the chants that will accompany the new translation of the missal, and emphasize to them that these chants will be the "normative setting" of the sung Ordinary for the Diocese of Venice as Bishop Dewane has indicated. Beginning next year, the Missal Chants will be used for all Diocesan Masses (Chrism Mass, Ordinations, Anniversaries, etc...) and all parishes are expected to learn the chant setting of the Ordinary beginning next November.

It's great to see so much happening... I only wish it wasn't all happening two weeks before Holy Week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Letter From Our Bishop

I received the following letter from our Bishop, Frank Dewane, at the Gregorian Chant Conference this weekend at Ave Maria University. It is encouraging to know that our own Bishop is very enthusiastic about the efforts we make in regards to Catholic sacred music!

Of particular interest is his recognition of the "resurgence" of traditional sacred music, and that it is not a mere coincidence, but is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is perhaps significant that Bp. Dewane has been most supportive of the catechetical efforts we have made up to now with our Diocesan musicians as regards learning the chants of the New Translation of the Missal, and that he has further designated that the chant settings of the new texts will be promoted and used in all parishes, and will be the setting used at all Diocesan functions such as Chrism Mass and Ordinations.

Many thanks and much gratitude to our Bishop, Frank Dewane.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Second Anniversary Mass: Christ the King, Sarasota FL

On Saturday, May 7th at 11:00am, Christ The King (FSSP) in Sarasota, Florida will celebrate its second anniversary as a parish in the Diocese of Venice. We are indeed fortunate to have a parish dedicated to the Extraordinary Form here in our area and we are grateful to Bishop Frank Dewane for his support and encouragement.

Our Schola will be singing at this Mass - this is not a group of paid professionals, but a group of very dedicated individuals under the direction of Leo Labreque. There is even a children's choir who sing in Latin without any problems at all... imagine that!

Here is the program for May 7th:

Votive Mass of Christ the King

Introit: "Dignus est Agnus" (Scholettes)

Kyrie: Hassler, Missa Secunda

Gloria: Hassler, Missa Secunda

Gradual: "Alleluia, Alleluia, potestas eius, potestas aeterna..."

followed by
"Alleluia: Habet in vestimento et in femore suo scriptum: Rex regum…" (Scholettes)

Credo III

Offertory: "Postula a me..." (men)

Exultate Justi, Viadana

Sanctus: Hassler, Missa Secunda

Post Consecration: Jesu Rex Admirabilis, Palestrina (sheet)

Agnus: Hassler, Missa Secunda

Communion: "Sedebit Dominus Rex in aeternum..." (men)

Ave Verum, St.-Saens (sheet)
Ave Maria, Victoria (sheet)
Veni Jesu Amor Mi, Cherubini (sheet)
Anima Christi (all drone, Sister solo, women sing Miserere Domine) (if needed)

Exit: Crown Him with Many Crowns (DIADEMATA: 3 verses)

For those who might be able to attend:

Directions to the Christ the King from I-75: Exit # 205. Take the Clark Road exit (West), which becomes Stickney Point Road. Turn right (North) onto Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) then left (West) onto Meadowood Street and go approximately 1/4 miles.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Music Preparations: Third Sunday of Lent

Beginning with the First Sunday of Lent this year, I began the practice of chanting the Introit at the start of all Masses except our 9:00am Folk Group Mass. So far, the response from the parishioners has been so encouraging... there have been at least one or two people after every Mass who come to me saying how beautiful it is to hear these chants, how they create a kind of "quiet time" before Mass begins and again before communion (we've been chanting the Communion Antiphon immediately after the Priest receives communion since last September).

Although not a perfect arrangement, we've taken the approach that I think has been the most successful for those parishes where the "4-Hymn Sandwich" has been the norm for a long time - chanting the Introit before the Processional Hymn, and chanting the Communion Antiphon during the time when the EM's are receiving communion before going to their stations (this can often be as long as 5 minutes!). I've heard this approach referred to jokingly as the "Stuffed Mass" ..... an appropriate term since the presence of the Antiphons really renders the hymns pointless. However, it is probably this approach that has allowed for the ready acceptance of these chants by both the parishioners and the Priests of our parish.

Just for an example, here is what my preparations look like for this coming Sunday (Lent III)

Third Sunday of Lent
March 27th , 2011

Introit – Oculi mei (Ps 25 (24): 15, 16) (Simple English Propers)

My eyes are forever turned towards the Lord; *
for he shall release my feet from the snare;
look upon me and have mercy on me,
for I am abandoned and destitute.

Processional Hymn- I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say (Kingsfold)

Kyrie – Mass XVIII

Psalm 95- If today You Hear His Voice ( Fr. Weber chant setting)

Gospel Verse - (Jesu Dulcis Memoria setting)

R/.Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ;
King of endless glory!

V/. “Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world,
Give me living water that I may never thirst again
”. R/.

Offertory Hymn – As The Deer Longs (O WALY WALY)

Sanctus – Land of Rest (Proulx)
Memorial -“Lord by Your Cross...”
Amen -(Proulx)
Agnus Dei – Mass XVIII (Latin)

Communion Antiphon – Passer invenit (Ps 84 (83): 4, 5) (Simple Propers)

The sparrow has found herself a home, *
and the turtle dove a nest in which to lay her young:
at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God!
Blessed are they who dwell in your house,
they shall praise you forever and ever.

Communion: I Heard The Voice of Jesus Say (Tallis)

Recessional Hymn – Shepherd of Souls, Refresh and Bless

Monday, March 14, 2011

An Excellent Article on Vernacular Chant

Fr. Anthony Ruff, well known as one of the great advocates of liturgical chant, has penned the following article for the March Edition of LTP's Pastoral Liturgy magazine.

The Value of Unaccompanied Vernacular Chant in the Liturgy

Forget for a moment the baggage that Fr. Ruff carries as a result of his open criticism of the new translation. This has nothing to do with that issue - when speaking about liturgical chant, Fr. Ruff is definitely on his home turf.

What is perhaps most interesting, and has begun to happen more frequently with little fanfare or comment is the very fact that this article appears in Pastoral Liturgy, not exactly a mouthpiece for things liturgically conservative! And during the past year similar articles have begun popping up in places like the GIA Quarterly and OCP's Today's Liturgy, in addition to the expected places like Sacred Music Magazine and the Adoremus Bulletin.

Chant is once again becoming part of the mainstream music culture of the Church at an accelerated pace, thanks in large part to the new translation of the Roman Missal, and thanks also to the tireless efforts of the CMAA (Church Music Association of America) and their outreach and training programs that have multiplied in the past three years.

I have begun my own "Resource Page" for online resources for liturgical chant.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Today's Workshop on the New Translation

This morning (Saturday March 12th, 2011) we held the first of a series of workshops for the musicians of the Diocese of Venice on the musical component of the new translation. Sessions included "Changes in the People's Parts", "The Role of the Cantor" and a reading session in which we sang through the ICEL chant settings of the Ordinary. The session was attended by perhaps 60 Directors and Cantors from the Southern Deanery (Lee and Collier Counties).

There was a lot of discussion about the new translation, and as was expected, a great deal of misinformation expressed. There were a lot of questions that people wanted answered. What I found most interesting was that there was actually very little negativity about the new translation, and what negativity there was mostly concerned rumors or "facts" that they had been told which turned out to be wrong. Once we began singing the settings, any negativity disappeared.

One interesting moment occurred when we put the Gloria setting up on the screen and without any introduction began singing it. It only took about one line of the notation for everybody to "get the hang" of the ICEL setting and the remainder of it was sung with no problems (Okay, the typical Mode III "Amen" caused some problems for those who are not familiar with such figures from Gregorian Chant, so we had to go over it a few times).

Here's the real kicker though... when we finished, one of the cantors raised her hand and asked "So what will the setting of the new Gloria text look like?"

We pointed out that this WAS the new text,

"Ohhh... your right it is!". Several others in the audience also sounded surprised, not noticing as they were singing that this was the new translation.

The key to introducing the new translation is found in the music folks....use it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Lenten Challenge

I have decided to "give up" taking part in on-line arguments on blogs. In particular I've found that I spend way too much time arguing about things that shouldn't even be issues of contention( in particular the new missal translation) and that after a while it's of no real use anyway as there exists a group of people for whom these arguments have become a way of life. There are more important positive things to be done, like preparing for the implementation of the new translation and the very welcome changes it will bring to the liturgy.

In a few weeks I'll be giving several presentations to groups of church musicians on the topic of vernacular chant and the new missal translation. The three groups I have so far presented to have all been quite excited about the new translation and about the prospect of new musical settings. There are certainly a lot of questions and even some apprehension about what needs to be done. But I have yet to come across the kind of deep-seated "rejection" of the new translation that is becoming more deep-seated by the minute among those of a particular point of view across the blogosphere. I think my time can be better spent addressing those who want to come along rather than trying to convince those who would rather "fight than switch".

As I'm keeping busy enough with a new project at my parish (chanting the Introit at all Sunday Masses... we already chant the Communion Antiphon with verses) and composing some new settings of the Psalms for the Liturgical Year, I think I might use the free time that I'm not spending engaged in pointless discussion doing some work around the house that I've been neglecting or maybe even getting in some time to go fishing. There are a lot better ways to spend time these days...