Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chant update

This week has gone by very quickly. On Monday evening, we began working on chants in preparation for Advent. We started working on some new things:

Introit: Ad te levavi
Communion: Dominus dabit
Advent Hymn: Rorate

Our work continued with the ordinaries we will be using during Advent, as well as a solfege exercise. Turnout was a bit light, perhaps due to the holiday.

This evening, I was fortunate to be invited to give a short workshop to the choir members at St. Mary of the Assumption. They were very quick to pick it up. I am hoping I was able to help them in their future chant endeavors. We went over some basics of the chant notation, rhythmic groups, as well as singing three different ordinaries. They were: Sanctus XVIII, Agnus Dei XVIII and Agnus Dei XVII.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ACORN grants by USCCB detail for 2007

So... for any who are interested in just the ACORN grants given by the USCCB (not to mention some of the other very questionable sounding grantees on the list), here is a detailed listing.

I will definitely be giving my donations to the bishop's funds more thought next time around. I'm all for helping the needy. Paying individuals to commit fraud in our political process does not qualify in my opinion.

Interestingly, the "Program Area" listed for these various grants varied a fair amount. Most were related to "Community Organizing" and related to "Neighborhood Improvement" and "Civil Rights/Racism".

Geographical area served Amount

Nevada $40,000.00
Hawaii $30,000.00
San Francisco, CA $30,000.00
San Mateo, CA $35,000.00
San Bernardino, CA $30,000.00
Oakland, CA $30,000.00
Contra Costa, CA $35,000.00
Fresno, CA $30,000.00
Houston, TX $25,000.00
Ft. Worth, TX $25,000.00
El Paso, TX $25,000.00
Irving, TX $25,000.00
New Mexico $25,000.00
Pulaski, Arkansas $25,000.00
Tucson, AZ $20,000.00
Mesa, AZ $30,000.00
Phoenix, AZ $30,000.00
Northwestern Indiana $36,000.00
Indianapolis, IN $35,000.00
Raleigh, NC $25,000.00
Mississippi $30,000.00
Louisiana $30,000.00
Louisville, KY $25,000.00
Georgia $25,000.00
Central FL $30,000.00
Hialeah, FL $25,000.00
Broward County, FL $20,000.00
Alabama $25,000.00
Allegheny, PA $25,000.00
Harrisburg, PA $25,000.00
Lehigh, PA $20,000.00
Columbus, OH $25,000.00
Cleveland, OH $30,000.00
Cincinnati, OH $25,000.00
Paterson, NJ $40,000.00
Metuchen, NJ $25,000.00
Grand Rapids, MI $25,000.00
Delaware $25,000.00
Rhode Island $25,000.00
Boston, MA $25,000.00

For a Grand total of $1,111,000.00

Catholic Bishops Conference Donated to Acorn

HT Inside Catholic...

Did you know that the Catholic Bishops' Conference gave $1M to Acorn? I didn't... and it does not make me happy to know that money I have given in support of the bishops' programs has gone to this group. Obviously they are not just a non-partisan group just interested in getting more people registered to vote and exercise their rights. Their radical socialist agenda is unmistakable.

See the entire article and video by Deal Hudson here:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mass for Unbaptized children in Ft. Worth

I was invited by a friend, who is director at St. Mary of the Assumption in Ft. Worth, to sing some polyphony at a Mass for children who died before being baptized on Saturday. [Bishop Vann was to have celebrated the Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, but was unable to attend. Instead, Fr. Bristow of St. Mary's was the celebrant.] The music was lovely, including many lovely polyphony pieces, as well as two solo pieces, some traditional English hymns and chanted propers by the local men's schola.

Father Bristow has a wonderful singing voice... a very deep bass that found us searching out our lowest chest voice for responses! The men's schola sang the Requiem Introit, the Communion Proper for funerals and In Paradisum and did a very nice job. The polyphony was a treat. The singers were very talented (some college music majors among them) and easy to sing with. I'm hoping to get to hear recordings that were made of the day. For more information, check out Richard's blog at:

Thanks, Richard, for the corrections.

Hurray for local Bishops!

Our local bishops, Bishop Kevin Vann (Fort Worth) and Bishop Kevin Farrell (Dallas) have issued a joint letter to the faithful in the two dioceses regarding the sanctity of life in this Respect Life month. See the entire document here:

They very clearly lay out the information for the Catholics in their flocks with which they can inform their consciences in accordance with Church teaching. I was most pleased to see this and happy to know that they are speaking out in this crucial time in an election year.

Pray for an end to abortion!

HT to James at Opinionated Catholic.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Parish Book of Chant ordered again...

I just had to put in another order for more Parish Book of Chant books. At Monday's rehearsal I gave out all but the last one. We continue to have newcomers joining our group. It slows up the process of learning new things a bit, but I think it is worth it. My philosophy on this is still evolving as I go along... I think it has value to expose as many people as possible to the world of singing Gregorian chant. Whether they come and learn just the ordinaries for the Mass that we will be singing on Sunday, or whether they get totally committed to it as so many others have in recent years, we are building up the total chant-singing ability of the Church.

In working with folks where we lived before, I found that many had no idea what they would be doing when they said they would like to learn Gregorian chant. They had no idea of just how different the music is in the singing style, notation, solfege, rhythmic markings, etc (neither did I, for that matter). As we went along, many found that either the time commitment required was too great, or that it just wasn't their thing. Many who started out with us didn't continue over time.

So... I am gathering a very large group of beginners here... we'll throw a lot of mud on the wall and see what sticks! I ordered 10 more copies of the Parish Book of Chant (PBC). I am thinking I will be getting the new edition this time around, because the availability date was November. With this new batch of books, it will make 25 copies that I will have either distributed or will distribute here. I'll be giving one copy to the local pastor out of this next batch and one to the director of the schola in Louisiana... Let's just think... if each of the 45 or so Chant Intensive attendees distributed 10-20 copies each year and taught that many people the rudiments of singing the ordinaries and a few hymns... in only a few years we'll have our Catholic community growing and learning right along with us...

What if every Colloquium attendee did this?

While I am making copies of certain pieces and marking them with the rhythmic markings and notes in advance of rehearsals now, my plan is to move more and more to using the PBC and teaching them how to mark their own music (in pencil) in the books and to make them their own. Perhaps in the future we'll only need to make copies of propers and a few other pieces that aren't in the book.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Heroic Chanters

Check out this great article on the New Liturgical Movement by Jeffrey Tucker. He has a gift of sharing the feeling of how it is to try to regain our musical heritage in this piece. I may seem a bit odd to those who are newcomers to the world of Gregorian chant when I get excited over little bits of history. Yesterday evening during our chant rehearsal I mentioned how, when the first Spanish ships arrived in the New World, they chanted the Te Deum when they got ashore. It just doesn't seem fair that, for about 40 years, Catholics haven't learned even the rudiments of this music.

This is our heritage... we have to regain it for ourselves and our children!

Fort Worth Schola Gregoriana update

Well, the boys have finished another quarter of their school year, and they get a couple of days off before we start the next quarter, so I have taken the opportunity to get a bunch of things done. Yesterday we ran errands... today I've been working on the plan of action for the schola. Since we are to begin singing at the Sunday morning Mass starting in Advent at San Mateo, there is much to do. We will begin by using a very simple Mass setting of ordinaries, in order to encourage the parishioners to sing with us on them. While I plan to have Mass booklets available, the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei are all in modern notation in the backs of the missalettes in the pews.

The schola will also be working on a very few propers and some traditional Latin Advent hymns. They are:

Introits: Ad te levavi -- 1st Sunday of Advent

Gaudete -- 3rd Sunday of Advent

Communion: Dominus dabit -- Proper for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Note: We will use this communion proper for the entire Advent season, more as a seasonal choice.

Hymns: Veni Emmanuel

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Creator alme Siderum


I think this will give us plenty to work on for the coming weeks. Next year, we can build on it and expand it. With Christmas close on our heels, we'll also begin working on things to prepare for it. So much wonderful music... so little time...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The future looks bright...

I had the great opportunity to sit in with a men's schola rehearsal last night. They are all young Catholic men working together to sing chant in the liturgy. They currently sing the Communion proper each week at a local parish here in the diocese. They are all very strong note-readers and have a very nice sound. They have a very nice group.

I shared a little information that I gleaned from Scott Turkington's course this past summer. I showed them the method he used in teaching us new propers...

... proper Latin pronunciation
... Ictus marking (we went over the main four rules that are also in the back of the Parish book of Chant -- p. 175)
... Singing the chant using solfege
... Singing the chant with rhythmic counting -- groups of 2's and 3's.
... Putting it all together... Latin and notes.

I may have changed the order a bit, but I think all the steps are there. They picked it up very quickly and I think it will help them in the future more as they get used to it.

I was so very impressed with these men and can see that the future of Sacred Music in the parishes will be improved by their participation and the spreading of the chant by them in the years to come. I was so happy to get to see them in action! For more information about this group and their singing schedule, check out their blogsite here: .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nova Organi Harmonia

Thanks to a very generous donation, the entire set of (seven or eight) volumes of the Nova Organi Harmonia will be made available for free download on the CMAA website very soon. I have three volumes myself that I purchased awhile back from a German bookseller. The entire set is almost impossible to find these days.

The main reason this would be of interest would be for those who like accompanied chant (organ accompaniment). With this set of volumes, very nice settings of the organ accompaniment will be available for virtually all propers for the liturgical church year.

That being said, I personally prefer the chant to be sung without accompaniment, which I believe to be ideal. Plus, without a very well-trained organist (and one who is especially well-versed in how the chant is sung), trying to use accompaniment can be disastrous. But... for those who are in the know about organ accompaniment of the chant, this is the best arrangement out there. It is amazing that it is now to be made available for free TO THE WORLD at the CMAA website. Check out the samples that are available now:

Please consider making a donation to support this and other worthy projects to the Church Music Association here. To donate to the Chabanel Psalm project, you can make an easy donation (even small amounts are helpful) here.