Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long overdue update...

I can't believe how time has flown! I haven't dropped off the earth over here, but have found myself very busy with day to day life. I do have some very good news to report about our little budding schola, however.

First bit of good news: as of today, we have a very good centrally-located rehearsal location at one of the Ft. Worth parishes. The pastor spoke with me for quite a long while about our hopes for the future of the schola and was very supportive and helpful. I think we could potentially sing at the parish quite often once we are up to it. He even gave me a name of a potential schola member and suggested I call her. Now that folks wouldn't have to trek out to the hinterland for a rehearsal, we can really focus on recruiting. The stealth flyer recruiting effort will now be underway at the back of any church I can visit.

Second good news: I also spoke with another pastor in the area about the possibility of singing for an occasional Mass. He was very nice and suggested a follow-up meeting with the music director of the parish and the director of the EF Mass schola. I look forward to seeing what may come of it.

Thirdly... I attended the first fall meeting for the local Catholic Women's Book Club. During the meeting I had the chance to put in a little plug for our group. I was amazed... I had three different women talk to me about being interested in it. One of them may also bring her musical husband along.

In my discussions about the possibilities for our little group, I have been trying to work with the pastors to begin the integration of Gregorian chant into the liturgy starting where the parishioners are, so to speak. I remember how we began in Shreveport, using much of the music that folks are already somewhat familiar with from the Jubilate Deo booklet. While I much prefer other Mass settings at this point, I think we should again start out with the ordinaries that people know and gradually add to their repertoire. As so many in CMAA have pointed out, it takes time to really build a music program that will last. Going in and insisting on everything being changed all at once at the beginning... and ignoring the fact that the parishioners should be a part of it all... can cause a plan to fail. Since we are hoping this will have a long-term impact on the Sacred Music here, we will try our best to take things slowly and gradually...

Next I need to begin building a Mass program handout for the people to use when our schola sings for Mass. I plan to put together a simple program for a Novus Ordo Mass that will include the music and translations for all the ordinaries that we'll begin using. It will include:

Kyrie IX (Orbis Factor) -- This will be the new chant we'll teach folks before Mass begins
Gloria VIII -- unless the pastor prefers that it be in English, in which case we'll use Kurt Poterack's English Gloria setting
Sanctus XVIII (yes, I know it is supposed to be for Weekdays in Advent and Lent -- they know this one, so we'll start there)
Agnus Dei XVIII (ditto)
Anima Christi (to be sung by all after Communion - another new chant for them to learn... but it is so very simple and perfect to sing after reception of Holy Communion)

In addition, I plan to add Latin chant hymns (and their translations) and translations for whatever propers we can add as a separate insert for the particular Sunday. My thought is to begin with nice traditional English hymns from the hymnals or missalettes for opening and closing of each Mass in order to ease the people into it... We'll probably sneak a few Introits in as preludes whenever possible.

Aside from working with any new recruits to learn the basic ordinaries... I am thinking I'd like to also start working with them on a couple of seasonal Communion propers. Those are typically more simple to learn and could have a great deal of flexibility for use over a greater time period. We have the month of November approaching, when we can offer prayers for the souls in Purgatory, so I'd like to teach the schola In Paradisum... then I think we should begin working on Advent chants...

So much to do... such a great opportunity!