Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Miscellaneous Catch-up

So many things to do... so little time! Here is a quick update from my corner of the world:

Chant: Ft. Worth Schola Gregoriana continues to work on preparing for Advent. We will begin singing at the 10 am Mass every week at San Mateo beginning on Nov. 30th. The pastor there, Fr. Bob Stritmatter, is a wonderful pastor, spiritual director and an inspiration. In this rather small mission parish we have a true jewel. On his recommendation, I recently obtained and read a book called Why Catholics Can't Sing, by Thomas Day. I know the book is not a new resource, but found so many parts of it to be very informative to me (as well as a bit humorous). I particularly loved the part where he mentioned that he had noticed a very definite resemblance in the melody used for the well-known contemporary piece I Have Loved You and the Theme Song for the Brady Bunch. The author's point about the loss of holiness and reverence in the Mass in many places was well-made. Fr. Bob is already doing his part to make the Mass holy and reverent. We shall try our best to be a small part of it with our schola.

San Mateo Children's Choir: At the request of one of the parishioners (who donates a huge amount of his time to various parish work, including teaching the students for Confirmation, assisting in training altar servers... and a whole long list of other things), I have begun directing a children's choir for the parish. I have about 14 children who stay after their regular catechism classes to sing with me. I am getting my reward immediately working with these beautiful children. They are wonderful. We are working now toward learning music that will be part of a Christmas "posada", or enactment of the Christmas story. We plan to sing the following well-known pieces:

O Come, All Ye Faithful,
Angels We Have Heard On High
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Away in a Manger

In addition to those, we are also working on three pieces from the Story of Redemption in Chant that is available on the Musicasacra site. With those three pieces, the children will become familiar with three traditional chant hymn melodies (which have been used to tell a portion of the story of Christmas in English).

I am also using a bit of the Ward method in teaching the children the beginnings of solfege. We are using the arm signals for the different notes so far. They do a wonderful job of singing on pitch especially when we are singing solfege.

This past week I also taught them the very simple Kyrie that we have been using at Mass, the Kyrie from Mass XV. They picked it up very quickly!

Other stuff: The weather has been wonderful here in North Texas the past few weeks... crisp and clear and perfect. This is my favorite time of year. I've been inspired to pull out my knitting needles and have finished four pairs of socks in the past few weeks, as well as new knitted hats for the boys, two tea cozies, and two sweaters. I also just finished sewing a quilt-top that is intended to be a wedding gift for a German cousin of my husband's. My mother-in-law will do the hand-quilting for it, so it will be a team effort. The boys are doing well with their schoolwork, learning well and getting their schoolwork done with a minimum of fuss. I wish I could say it is going quickly each day, but many days it has been lasting much longer than I would hope (thus the many knitting projects).

Book Club: I joined the local Catholic Women's Book Club and have been greatly enjoying it. We had a book this month that was a real treat: Humility, by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Although it is small in size, I can't say that it is an easy or quick read. It inspired a lot of reflection by me and the other members of the group. At the same time, I also picked up a book called Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. That one I have especially enjoyed. It gave me an entirely new perspective on Divine Providence and the things that happen to us in life.

My reading otherwise is far behind. The First Things magazines are piled up for me to read... I got through the most recent issue today... as I said... so much to do, so little time.


Matt S said...

Will you be able to join us for practice Tuesday evening?

Mary Jane said...

I got tired just reading about everything you're doing. Happy Thanksgiving!