Sunday, January 31, 2010

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

31 January 2010

Entrance He comes to us as one unknown (Dudley Smith)
Penitential Rite Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Gloria St Augustine's (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 70 My lips will tell of your help. (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts Faith, hope and love (Christopher Walker)
Eucharistic Acclamations Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Love bears all things (Collegeville Composers Group)
Final He who would valiant be

These opening Sundays of Year C are very rich fare. Striking first readings: Ezra reading the word, the call of Jeremiah and Isaiah's vision of God next week; some of Paul's most familiar passages from 1 Corinthians and then foundational Gospels from Luke. It is interesting that today's first reading is not one of the two OT stories mentioned in the Gospel about Elijah and Elisha. I would suggest that the Lectionary compilers placed more weight on the task of a prophet than his reception and the necessity of speaking the word of the Lord. The relationship of the 2nd reading to the rest of the liturgy I think is complex - or at least not as simple as saying 'any coincidence is purely fictional'. Firstly all are viewed through the lens of the Paschal Mystery, secondly our understanding of that mystery is shaped by Paul, thirdly the Lectionary compilers did not put the epistles in any order but placed them. This is a long way of saying how do you understand what is probably most famous passage in this context? As a rule the more convoluted the connections the less certain the relationship. I offer two phrases in connection: 'If… I speak without love' and 'now I am a man'.

The music choices today divided equally between those directly with Paul's letter and those derived from the Gospel. A Sunday like this there seems to be a wide variety of possible choices and those who know my penchant for Huijber's Song of God among us might have expected an outing today. So choices can be about dismissal. Christopher Walker's Faith, hope and love with the verses based on Ubi Caritas I chose because I don't we sing it outside Maundy Thursday and it is nice to give an 'airing'. I wonder if anyone made a connection with our Advent Carol Service which used St Paul's texts a core? Love bears all things is one of the most simple and lovely chants in Psallite which I suspect could have a life of its own if people could see it in the density of the collections. Though the text of the verses fit the refrain well I wonder if there might not have been a choice that made connections with the Gospel — Psalm 32 (33) The Lord fills the earth with his love perhaps?

The opening hymn, He comes to us as one unknown, is found in Veni Emmanuel and sung to Repton (Dear Lord and Father of mankind). It struck me as 'well-made hymn' crafted to fit the tune and had a development of ideas. I am sure I may have used the phrase 'well-made hymn' pejoratively in the past — there are a number of contemporary US hymn writers whose texts I find well crafted, beautifully written with striking image and scriptural allusion but their very competence and polish means a density of thought which I find does not work in the Mass. The Dudley Smith text was not simplistic but had a clarity of thought which meant you could engage in text rather than admire it.

I have to confess to an uncertainty to the Mass of Remembrance Kyrie. We are singing it because we sing the Penitential Rite, it has an attractive melody and we have the music. But I am less certain of settings which jumble up Kyrie and Christe in the one text and where it is only sung once by all rather than in dialogue. You might say, 'Physician, heal yourself'.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

24 January 2010

Entrance Your words are spirit and life (Bernadette Farrell)
Penitential Rite Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Gloria St Augustine's (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 18 Your words are spirit (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts God has chosen me (Bernadette Farrell)
Eucharistic Acclamations Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Jesus, you are the bread (Bernadette Farrell)
Final The voice of God (Connaughton)

When preparing the liturgy and reflecting on the readings I am often struck by the need for an opening text which 'sets the scene'. A text which is not specific to these particular readings. For this Sunday it was text about the word. It is not that such texts exist but they always seem either to be to melodies I doubt people know and/or a metre where there seem to be few alternatives. In the end today we sang a version of the psalm — so we began with an antiphon and psalm. I am not sure how often we have sung this setting . I would guess less than 5 times but people sang. We were also unaccompanied which is often a encouragement for people to sing out.

While writing this I have thought of another text which might have worked, and would have kept our Farrell quota, Praise to you, O Christ our Saviour. A text which I think works better as a hymn than as a Gospel Acclamation. It has a connection with St Augustine's Gloria as both were written for St Augustine's Abbey parish, Ramsgate.

! Corinthians is read for the first few weeks of each year of the liturgical cycle. The latter chapters read in year C contains some of the most well know passages of Paul's writing but they 'fight' to be heard against the other strong readings — an embarrassment of riches! Again, after the event God has chosen me might be seen to bring the texts together.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

17 January 2010

We come as guests invited (Dudley Smith)
Penitential Rite
Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
St Augustine's (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 95
Proclaim the wonders of the Lord (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation
Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts
Many are the lightbeams (Ole Widestrand)
Eucharistic Acclamations
Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God
Behold the Lamb (Iona)
One in body, heart and mind (Christopher Walker)
Songs of thankfulness and praise (C Wordsworth)

Today was a little bit 'one hymn to the tune of another'. We come as guests invited was sung to the Passion Chorale - which seems to fit it well. As a passing note I was unconvinced about texts which focussed on marriage today and intrigued by 'saving the best wine until now'. Christopher Wordsworth, the writer of the final hymn, was a liturgical scholar and so was presumably aware of the Eastern tradition of linking Epiphany - Baptism - Cana as also found in the Magnificat antiphon for the Epiphany:

Three wonders mark this day we celebrate:
today the star led the Magi to the manger;
today the water was changed into wine at the wedding feast;
today Christ desire to be baptised by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation,

It also reflects my understanding that the borders of the liturgical seasons are often more than rigid.

Over the years I have put more weight on learning music for the liturgy rather than hymns but we may have see if people do know Salzburg (At the Lamb's high feast). General ignorance was suggested this morning and so we sang Songs of thankfulness and praise to Hail Redeemer which actually fitted quite well.

One in Body is the reverse of this in that it takes quite a well known hymn tune (Greystones or Gartan? — Christ be near at either hand) and gives it new words. As a rule with hymn tunes I am always surprised by what people do not know.

As suggested above I think the bridge between seasons can be fluid in particular Ordinary Time – Advent and Christmas – Ordinary Time. This is reflected in how the Mass parts change gradually rather than all at once. This Sunday is the last until next November for Behold the Lamb of God.

In the past we have used a distinct set of Eucharistic Acclamations but none of them have 'stuck'. This is probably more due to the number of Sundays before Lent rather than the settings (Walker: Celtic Liturgy, Macmillan: St Annes were both tried for a couple of years). That said it has in the past been worth reviewing what Mass setting we use when — for example, we did previously use our 'lushest' Mass setting in Lent which was odd to say the least.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Baptism of the Lord

10 January 2010

Entrance We shall draw water (Paul Inwood)
Penitential Rite St Gabriels (mtgf)
Gloria St Augustines (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 103 Bless the Lord my soul (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts O child of promise (Quinn/Maries)
Eucharistic Acclamations Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God Behold the Lamb (Iona)
Communion There is one Lord (Owen Alstott)
Final O praise ye the Lord ( )

The General Norms on the Liturgical Year states:

The Christmas season runs from Evening Prayer I of Christmas until the Sunday after Epiphany or after 6 January, inclusive. (33)

Ordinary Time starts tomorrow. Musically we seem already to have put our decorations away — something maybe to think about next year. I do think today has a certain Janus like quality. Looking back and looking forward. I understand the Advent–Christmas season as one season centred on an event - the Birth of our Lord. So the looking back is to Advent, the looking forward to Christ's ministry and eventually passion, death and resurrection. In part this is a reflection on O child of promise which might otherwise seem an odd choice for today.

We use the melody by Andrew Maries in Veni Emmanuel which is very singable. There is an error in VE - in verse 2 the words of lines 3 & 4 are omitted and replaced by 'pre-repeat' (if that makes sense) of 7 & 8:

O come, anointed One,
to show blind eyes your face!
Good tidings to the poor announce;
proclaim God's year of grace!
O man of sorrows, come,
despised and cast aside!
O bear our griefs, and by your wounds
redeem us from our pride.
(James Quinn)

Today's psalm - yes like Holy Family leaflet and psalm were for year C - was adaptation of the psalm used at the Easter Vigil and Pentecost with a different response and a further set of verses. Rather than lyrical verses as on the other two occasions the verses were sung to a psalm tone. I was struck by something that is probably obvious. Not every psalm tone that is suitable for a solo cantor would work as an antiphonal tone for a larger group in the Office, for example. The psalm accompaniment references Veni Creator Spiritus and in the fuller version Veni Sancte Spiritus as well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Epiphany of the Lord

3 January 2010

What child is this (Dix)
Penitential Rite
St Gabriels (mtgf)
Christmas Gloria (Paul Gibson)
Psalm 71
O Lord, all the earth (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation

Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts
Carol at Bethelehem Cave (Spanish arr. Christopher Walker)
Eucharistic Acclamations
Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God
Behold the Lamb (Iona)
He became poor (John Bell)
We three kings (Hopkins)

Whatever preparation one does real life intrudes. So though the Christmas season was planned a while ago being an accompaniment and a voice down this morning meant some adjustments. Out went the Cornelius 'Three Kings' — so out went any musing about appreciating the use of 'Wie schön leuchtet' intellectually rather than more instinctively if the hymn were part of your regular sung repertoire. In came 'He became poor'. As noted previously we pair the chant with verses from Philippians (His state was divine). This with the two carols gave a Paschal slant to the sung texts which is not there in the Lectionary or Missal. It did strike me that we might - with a little more forethought - have used the Canticle from 1 Timothy 3:16 which is used at Evening Prayer 1 of the Epiphany. Are there any (decent) settings of the Timothy text?

Though scripture scholars are keen to remind us that there are not 3 kings in Matthew's account the texts of liturgy point otherwise. Both first reading (Isaiah 60:1-6) and psalm speak of kings coming to do homage. It is worth pointing out that the first reading was one of the very few (less than 5?) readings from the Old Testament found in the Tridentine Missal. Indeed, the conceit of the Entrance Antiphon relies on the idea — the child the kings do homage is revealed as a king.

The psalm response given in the Lectionary: All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord, is one I have always found clunky. I am not sure that prostrate is a very musical word. In my own setting I have tried two possible paraphrases: O Lord, all the earth shall bow down and worship you and All nations, O Lord, shall…. The published version (in Veni Emmanuel and wrongly attributed to Fintan O'Carroll) has the latter which I think I prefer — that it is political entities rather just 'people' seems to be an important nuance. However the version on the Mass leaflet was the former. If this blog has no other purpose it has at least reminded me now to make amends. (The word setting in the verses in the published version could do with some polishing too.)

A final thought is to note how many Christmas carol texts are written in the present tense. They are not about a past event but Hodie Christus natus est — today Christ is born.