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.

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...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Composing Chant

Composing chant in the 21st century. It seems like an odd proposition, after all wasn't most of the chant we have today written between 600A.D and 900A.D? Shouldn't we be at least a little bit "beyond" such simple composition?

And yet there are composers today who have once again taken up the task of composing chant... not adapting Gregorian melodies to English (although that is being done also), but composing original chant melodies for English texts, mostly as a result of the new translation.

As a composer and arranger, the challenge fascinates me. As a pastoral musician, I bring to the task a few personal observations as well. One critique of much "contemporary" liturgical music is that it isn't "text centered", meaning that the melodic forms are driven more by harmonic/ rhythmic factors than by the characteristics of the text. This is a valid critique of music that is derivative from popular and theatrical forms, where melodies are often written with no specific text in mind, and words are fit to the notes rather than the other way around. While this is a successful way to write beautiful melodies, it is less successful in expressing the unique accents and meaning of specific texts.

A few months back, I began composing a setting of the new Mass Ordinary with the intention of having it "match the savour of the Gregorian melodic form" in it's expression of the text. But following my usual compositional method (composing the vocal parts simultaneous with the accompaniment), I found myself "leaning on the accompaniment" to support the melody at times, and at other times found myself shaping the melody to conform to the harmonic structure of the accompaniment. Both led to a decay of the relationship of the melody to the text, and I scrapped the project and restarted several times.

I have decided that contemporary composers, whether amateur or very skilled have to "re-learn" this type of composition. It isn't part of the musical vocabulary of our time, but it seems that may be changing, at least in the realm of sacred music. I remember when I began composition lessons (9th grade at the All-Newton Music School), I had to compose a series of compositional exercises beginning with a single line (monophonic) composition for one instrument, and gradually working my way through 2-part, 3-part, 4-part (different instruments), 4-part (quartet of like instruments) an so on up to small ensemble composition. The point was to discover the characteristics of composition in each of these situations, forcing me to get away from hiding behind heavy textures, as most of what I had written up to that time resembled something of a cross between Stravinsky and Debussy.

I can at least speak for myself in saying that it might be useful to do just such a "return to basics" in learning to compose sacred music that has the "savour of the Gregorian melodic form" and yet is thoroughly of this time. Before composing "chant-based" composition, I find myself needing to understand how to compose chant first.

And so I am doing just that... composing chant. No accompaniments or choral parts. Just single -line chant. I don't intend to actually use any of these compositions, although I think there may be a place for unaccompanied English chant in coming years. But so far, I've found the effort to be incredibly enlightening, and at the very least it develops a great sense of respect for those composers who composed the great chants of the Church.

I will post these "exercises" as I complete them, and I invite comment and criticism of them. I understand that there is an incredibly "high bar" for chant composition, but I think there is much to be gained from the effort.

Here is my first attempt:

EXERCISE I - (Mass I )