Sunday, February 28, 2010

2nd Sunday of Lent

28 February 2010

Entrance For God so loved the world (mtgf)
Penitential Rite Ubi Caritas (Bib Hurd)
Psalm 26 The Lord is my light and my help (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Lenten (mtgf)
Preparation of Gifts Eye has not seen (Marty Haugen)
Eucharistic Acclamations Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Lamb of God Mass of Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Transfigure us, O Lord (Bob Hurd)
Final Be thou my vision

The Transfiguration seems to me to be a complex text. The use today is similar to the 4th Sunday of Advent when we hear the gospel of the Annunciation and the Visitation and there are also separate feasts for both events. It is big enough that we need to come at it twice. This year's readings suggest that the Transfiguration is a covenant - a pledge of future glory. The refrain of the Opening Song - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that everyone who believes in him shall have eternal life - can be understood as illuminating the Transfiguration. It is a key aspect of the Catholic use of scripture in the liturgy the juxtaposition of texts to provoke new understandings.

The Kyrie from the Ubi Caritas Mass to some extent challenges one of my 'blackspots' — can/should a Congregation respond with a different musical phrase rather than repeat what they have heard. To some extent as essentially the setting is repetitious A (sentence) B (cantor Kyrie); AB (all). It strikes me that a dialogue can have distinct musical phrases. A litany can more be one phrase sung by two different voices.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

1st Sunday of Lent

21 February 2010

Entrance For God so loved the world (mtgf)
Penitential Rite Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Psalm 91 Be with me Lord (Marty Haugen)
Gospel Acclamation Lenten (mtgf)
Preparation of Gifts Out of the Depths (Scott Soper)
Eucharistic Acclamations Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Lamb of God Mass of Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Out into the wilderness (Bob Hurd)
Final Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

The beginning of Lent sees one of the more dramatic changes in music for the Mass. For much the rest of year the changes are often staggered as one season connects with the next. With Lent change is starker. The Eucharistic Acclamations change for the first time since September. The Kyrie and, of course, the Gospel Acclamation are also different. It was noticeable as I animated the Holy, holy that people reached for their Mass sheet — that I was animating was also a sign that we were embarking on something new. Or at least give a refresher.

It is worth reflecting on what makes a piece memorable. Repetition is obviously one element. The memorability and distinctiveness of the melody will be another. It is also true to say that the more solemn (or unique) the occasion the more likely people are to remember settings — my experience is that people remember music from the Easter Triduum from year to year even if it is not used in between. The text can also play a part — the association of a melody with particular words.

This was the second time that we have used the Entrance Song For God so loved the world for the Sundays of Lent. Last year we sang it 5 times so I hope that there was a foundation to build on this morning. Though I think the refrain has a strong melody it does require a certain amount of conviction in its wide leaps — you can't sing it half heartedly.

For Communion the plan is to use for most of the Sundays settings from Bob Hurd's collection Lenten Journey. This skilfully recalls the readings from the context of Communion. My one quibble with collection is that it provides common settings for the first two Sundays because they share the same Gospel stories. My hunch is that each year is different and is shaped by the overarching themes of the Lectionary for that year. In year C we hear of the Temptations and the Transfiguration in the context of Covenant and Reconciliation. i.e. though there may be correspondences 'vertically' across the Sundays 1 and 2 the main thrust is horizontal through the season towards Easter.

Out of the Depths is a fine setting of Psalm 129 by Scott Soper. It is worth getting the octavo (rather than just the version in Laudate) for the, not difficult, choral parts.

Monday, February 15, 2010

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 February 2010

Entrance God at creation's dawn (Denis Hurley)
Gloria St Augustine's (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 1 Happy are those (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts Blest are you who weep (Collegeville Composers Group)
Eucharistic Acclamations Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God Mass of Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Happy are those (Russian)
Final All creatures of our God and king

Baptisms at Sunday Mass always seem to come as a surprise. This is not the time to discuss the pros and cons of celebrating baptism in this context. It was noticeable that with two infants being baptised the combined size of the baptismal parties seemed to meet the critical mass needed to discourage the congregation from taking a lead role in the singing. As usual when there is a baptism we sang God at creation's dawn which I hope by articulating something what is about to happen helps both to catechise and realise the assembly.

We had reduced numbers again which meant a little juggling of the music. I had originally planned SS Wesley's Lead me, Lord we used the Psallite setting at the Preparation instead. We sang the verses from Psalm 102 rather than the Beatitudes which we saved for Communion.

Though Psalm 1 is often used as an example of christological psalm - one which the tradition of the Church understands as referring to Christ - it is interesting that at least in the Sunday Lectionary the pairing is far more generic. It is the one who chooses the right path, the happy/blest person of the Gospel.

We ended the Mass as we usually do on this Sunday with a burst of Alleluias. In honour of the baptism we praised the flowing water and ended with a doxology in praise of the Trinity.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

7 February 2010

Entrance Hoiy! Holy! Holy!
Penitential Rite Mass of Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Gloria St Augustines (Christopher Walker)
Psalm 137 Before the angels, O Lord (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts Lord, you have come to the Lakeside (Gabarain)
Eucharistic Acclamations Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God Mass of Remembrance (Marty Haugen)
Communion Cast out into the deep (Collegeville Composers Group)
Final Forth in thy name (Charles Wesley)

The number of singers were low this morning so we didn't attempt Stainer's I saw the Lord but turn to the music of another stalwart Victorian composer — John Bacchus Dykes, for the first hymn. We were unaccompanied but proved a fine sing. I had never noted before the irregular number of syllables on the first line before and a quick survey of hymnbooks on my shelves suggest that only US books with the text of all the verses underneath the music note this.

Further to comment about the Kyrie last week, we sang the Kyrie just once after I confess and absolution. I was struck my strictures about the text would also apply to the Byrd 3-part Mass which we use. So perhaps Marty Haugen has tradition on his side!

It is often worth reflecting why this psalm; trying to see the connections with the first reading and gospel. This can sometimes give rise to a further question: why not this one instead? The first reading ends 'Here I am, send me'. I wondered what would be the effect of we then sang Psalm 39 Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will. As it also occurs at the beginning of Years A & B it would make an interesting link across the cycles. The first reading and gospel share two elements: awe and wonder, and response to God's call. I would suggest that Psalm 137 points towards the former, Psalm 39 to the latter. (interestingly the same two elements can also be seen in Paul.) It would suggest that both elements should have been present in the textual/musical choices.