The story of Pentecost where everyone was able to speak different languages and share the message of the Gospel demonstrates clearly for me that from the beginning of the church, the Gospel was not meant to be proclaimed in only one way, but in a multitude of ways so that it can reach and be understood by a large diverse group of people. Music is a language of communication, and just as the spoken word exists in multiple languages, so does music. While we recognize French, Spanish, and Chinese (for example) as foreign languages, it is possible to learn to communicate using these languages (so that they no longer are foreign). Musical languages are called styles and include classical, romantic, contemporary and a whole host of other classifications depending upon how refined you wish to be.
Liturgical music today must reflect the multicultural diversity and intercultural relationships of the members of the gathered liturgical assembly. … Liturgical leaders and musicians should encourage not only the use of traditional music of other languages and peoples, but also the incorporation of newly composed liturgical music appropriate to various cultural expressions in harmony with the theological meaning of the rites. (Sing to the Lord, #60)
I know from my experience learning French that when we try to speak or understand a new language, we may encounter some difficulties, but it is also an opportunity to expand and grow. Changing our language requires us to shift perspectives. When we have to think about our words, we become more aware of our choices and can learn more about our own perspective.
In the next few weeks, we will be learning a new musical setting of the Eucharistic acclamations. The words will be familiar, but where the music we have been singing was adapted from music for the previous translation or for other sets of words, this music was written specifically for the most recent translation. As we learn the new music, trust in the Holy Spirit to give you the voice to proclaim God’s praise in a different tongue just as on the Feast of Pentecost.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, May 24, 2015
Multi-tasking is a very difficult skill, and at least according to some studies something that we never really can do. Regardless of how much it may appear that we are doing at the same time, researchers have found that our brains can only focus on one task at a time. To multi-task, our minds simply switch between tasks very quickly. Compared to our busy lives, attending Mass may not seem like multi-tasking, but there is at least one moment I’d like to mention today when the norms given for celebrating Eucharist expect us to do different things at the same time: receiving communion.
The General Instructions of the Roman Missal indicate:
“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.” (GIRM, no. 86)
The implication of this instruction is that we have to walk and sing at the same time. Further help is provided in Sing to the Lord: “In order to foster participation of the faithful with ‘unity of voices,’ it is recommended that psalms sung in the responsorial style, or songs with easily memorized refrains, be used.” (STL, no. 192) By using music with refrains, we are less dependent on a book where we have to read every word of the song. We will have some time where we can focus simply of walking and receiving Eucharist while the cantor or choir sings verses. Because the song is expected to continue “for as long as the Sacrament is being administered,” there will also be a chance to sing while you do not have to walk.
Reading the words to a song while walking around definitely qualifies as difficult multi-tasking, which is why every song I plan for us to sing during Communion has a refrain. I hope these refrains are simple enough and become familiar enough that even if it seems a daunting task, you will be able to meet the challenge and become a successful multi-tasker.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, May 3, 2015
The Liturgy of the Hours is the means of sanctifying the day, and though primarily practiced by religious communities and clergy, it may be prayed by anyone and has an office appropriate for any part of the day. By the sixth century, the eight offices of the day were established as Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. After the Second Vatican Council, Prime was abolished and Lauds as Morning Prayer and Vespers as Evening Prayer became the primary celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The structure of the Liturgy of the Hours includes hymns, psalms, canticles and a reading from Scripture. Over the course of four weeks, all 150 psalms will be recited during the celebration of Morning and Evening prayer. In Laudis Canticum, the document that promulgated the revised book of the Liturgy of the Hours, Pope Paul VI remarks, “The very celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially when a community is gathered for this purpose, expresses the genuine nature of the praying Church, and stands as a wonderful sign of that Church.”
This Sunday afternoon we have the opportunity to celebrate Evening Prayer here at the Cathedral in a service where most all of the music was composed by Charles Villiers Stanford. Stanford was an Irish composer born in 1852 in Dublin. In 1882 at the age of 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. In 1887, he also became Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, and Herbert Howells. Stanford died on March of 1924 and is buried in Westminster Abbey near the graves of Henry Purcell and John Blow.
I hope you will come this afternoon to experience both the music of Charles Stanford and the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, April 26, 2015
Everyone has heard the expression that to sing is to pray twice. Music provides an additional dimension to our prayers that can add meanings beyond what the words alone can say. Instrumental music therefore can express thoughts and feelings that we may not have found the words to express.
The pipe organ with its variety of musical colors (especially the large instrument here at the Cathedral) has the capacity to convey a wide range of emotions. The US bishops make this clear in Sing to the Lord:
Among all other instruments which are suitable for divine worship, the organ is “accorded pride of place” because of its capacity to sustain the singing of a large gathered assembly, due to both its size and its ability to give “resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation.” Likewise, “the manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.” (STL, #87)
While we rejoice the triumph of Jesus Christ over death, there are many stories of pain and suffering also in the Bible: the slavery of the Israelites, the trials of Job, and even the crucifixion of our Lord. The concert this afternoon will explore how different composers have chosen to paint in music these songs of lament. Beginning with settings of Psalm 130 (Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord), continuing through the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and concluding with the death of Jesus on the cross, the program offers a wide palette of musical styles and emotions that I hope will bring you not into the depths of despair but into a deeper relationship with God. If you are able to be here, please come.
More information about the event including a complete program listing may be found here.
The complete list of music for Holy Week at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen is available here. The program booklet is available here (cover) and here (pages).
Links to rehearsal or other performance videos are listed below for reference.
Anthem: Solus Ad Victimam – Leighton (NCA 79)
Mon, Mar 30, 7:30 pm – 6:00 call
1. Listen now
Apr 2, 7:30 pm – 6:30 call
Washing of feet: Mandatum Novum – Berthier (W812)
Ubi caritas – Duruflé (58)
Ave Verum – Byrd (36 or NCA8)
Apr 3, 3:00 pm -1:30 call
Timor et Tremor – Poulenc (189.1)
The Reproaches – Victoria
Ecce Quomodo Moritur – Handl
Apr 4, 8:00 pm -6:30 call
Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem – Stanford
Hallelujah Chorus (Messiah) – Handel
Psalm 118 from the Audubon Park Psalter
2. Listen now
(Live recording from 10am Easter Mass in 2014 at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church)
Haec est dies – Gallus
Hallelujah Chorus (Messiah) – Handel