Monday, December 27, 2010

Holy Family

26 December 2010

EntranceSee amid the winter snow
Penitential RiteSt Gabriel (mtgf)
GloriaChristmas Gloria (Paul Gibson)
Psalm 127O blest are those (Paul Inwood)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsGood King Wenceslaus
Eucharistic AcclamationsMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodChristmas (Ebeling arr. mtgf)
Communion Coventry Carol
FinalUnto us is born a Son

Opening and Closing Hymns both present images of Holy Mother and Child for the feast. Unto us is born a Son also makes reference to Herod who slew the little childer — verses which are omitted from the Gospel for this Sunday. This episode was also the inspiration for the Coventry Carol. Piae Cantiones was the source for the melody of Unto us and also for Good King Wenceslaus sung to mark the feast of Stephen.

Christmas: Mass during the Day

25 December 2010

EntranceOnce in royal David's city
Penitential RiteSt Gabriel (mtgf)
GloriaChristmas Gloria (Paul Gibson)
Psalm 97All the ends of the earth (mtgf)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsCarol at the Bethlehem Cave (Spanish, arr. Walker)
Eucharistic PrayerMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodChristmas (Ebeling arr. mtgf)
Communion Peace Child (Bernadette Farrell)
Away in manger
Night of Silence (Daniel Kantor)
FinalO little town of Bethlehem

Though it was still cold the weather was not adverse. Numbers on Christmas morning which seem to vary from year to year were high, it had been full at midnight as well. The numbers meant there was a scramble for a third piece at communion as people were still processing — and Night of Silence was on the top of the pile. Though I rarely comment on the logistics of our liturgy the simple rule of 2 chalices to 1 ciborium is a good starting point: 4 to 1 much less so, hence the length of the procession. I am not necessarily say that a lengthy procession is a problem just that it can have consequences.

Peace Child by Bernadette Farrell is a lovely gentle carol. The gentleness however doew not temper the strength of the text by Shirley Erena Murray.

Christmas: Mass during the Night

24/25 December 2010

Carols & Readings
Once in royal David's city
A boy was born (Gesius/JS Bach)
While shepherds watched
There is no rose (Medieval)
O little town of Bethlehem
On the lips of an angel (Bach/Gounod/Scott Soper
EntranceO come all ye faithful
Penitential RiteSt Gabriel (mtgf)
GloriaChristmas Gloria (Paul Gibson)
Psalm 95Today a Saviour has been born (Bernadette Farrell)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsWhat can we give (Catalan, arr. Dean)
Eucharistic PrayerMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodChristmas (Ebeling arr. mtgf)
Communion Night of Silence (Daniel Kantor)
Silent Night
FinalHark the herald angels

For the carols before midnight the slashes mean different things. A boy was born 4 verses were sung to the spirited harmonisation of Bartolomaus Gesius and the last verse, more steadily, to a more chromatic harmonisation of Bach's. On the lip of an angel always reminds of a recipe by Sophie Grigson fro a triple cream vanilla mousse written for the weekend before Ash Wednesday. She argued that if that you clearing the larder of foodstuffs before Lent and could only manage pancakes it was a sorry larder. The mousse piled excess on excess and so to Gounod's confection of Bach Scott Soper adds another layer. I m not sure it is necessarily more cream rather an additional ingredient that adds flavour and meaning. To some Gounod is already an iconoclast let us just say that Soper is as successful as Gounod.

The choir carols before Mass were the changes this year the rest, as usually the case with solemn occasions, was unchanged or at least changes slowly. But I was aware that this time next year we were likely to using the new translation. Some settings you hope the composer will revise. I have a fondness for Paul Gibson's Christmas Gloria. It might be thought slightly naff, with the Gloria in excelsis refrain but it's effective naff. The greater loss maybe having a sung Eucharistic Prayer or at least a change that would require careful preparation. It is obvious that people are especially attentive when the prayer is sung and singing it at Christmas heightens the solemnity. We shall see how we manage next year. My suspicion is that Missal tones are not an adequate replacement. My experience is that 2-3 notes of the chant do not have enough character to engage a celebrant who sings well but does not read well.

One other change has already been made and has so far gone by without remark. In previous years we have always sung John Bell's Behold the Lamb of God as a Lamb of God from the end of November until first couple of weeks of Ordinary Time. It did bind together the season from the Lamb on the throne to the Lamb so long expected through to the acclamation of John the Baptist. However its seems to me that the forthcoming translation is an opportunity to reflect on our practice and it ain't a Lamb of God, arguably an acclamation rather than an invocation, a text addressed to one another rather than to the Lamb. Hence an Advent Lamb of God referring to Rorate Caeli and Veni Emmanuel and a Christmas Lamb of God adapted from a hymn tune from Ebeling (cf. Carols for Choirs 2). The leaflets were printed before the Christmas was adapted and so a broad rubric of repeat have mercy on us etc. was included. We will use it for the coming two Sundays and maybe try a combination English and Latin response. I am thinking next year that the congregation might be invited to sing the whole thing through. Though it is not that long it is still longer than the Breaking of Bread - an action which contrary to some is rarely over emphasised.

There seems a certain expectation of O coime all ye faithful and Hark the herald angels at beginning and end. O come all ye faithful works well with a pause before the last verse as the crib blessed and baby placed in the manger. Over the years we have tried alternatives for the final hymn but Mendelssohn has returned. What I find interesting is the popularity of texts which speak in the language of late 18th/early 19th century piety/theology.

Friday, December 24, 2010

4th Sunday of Advent

19 December 2010

EntranceO come divine Messiah
Penitential RiteOrbis Factor (mtgf)
Psalm 23 Let the Lord enter (mtgf)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsAve maris stella (Monteverdi)
Eucharistic AcclamationsMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodAdvent (mtgf)
CommunionO holy Mary (Owen Alstott)
FinalO come, O come Emmanuel

Snow meant we were unaccompanied. We were also for unknown reasons leafletless. We considered doing 'Longing, trusting' and seeing if the congregation could participate from memory. My guess is that they might have done so but we were also aware that as there was no evening Mass there would be some for whom it would be completely unknown. I am not sure we have ever used O come divine Messiah as a congregational hymn - but it sung well - one of the benefits of being unaccompanied is that you are more aware of how things are. We often sing O come divine Messiah in a simple choir arrangement and we had to pay attention so that we did not divert into the arrangement version of the melody.

Snow meant pulling out things that would work with just voices - so though they are both written to be sung unaccompanied both Monteverdi and Alstott became a capella. The Alstott with its chant-like qualities worked well. Advent seems to be when we sing more chant that the rest the year. The version of the Monteverdi begins and ends with the chant for Ave maris stella which is used as the basis for the piece.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Carol Service

13 December 2010

Gathering ChantLong is our winter (German, 15th c.)
Opening HymnO come, O come Emmanuel
Reading May the Lord confirm your hearts in holiness (1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2)
ResponseYour words are spirit (Bernadette Farrell)
ReflectionWe are made to receive love (Pope Benedict outside Westminster Cathedral)
MotetAve maris stella (Elgar)
ReadingGrow strong so that Christ may live in your hearts (Ephesians 3:14–21)
ResponseYour words are spirit (Bernadette Farrell)
ReflectionGod loves us with a depth and an intensity (Pope Benedict at the Big Assembly)
SongGod has chosen me (Bernadette Farrell)
MeditationGod has created me to do him some definite service
ReflectionBe open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart
SongNo wind at the window (Irish trad./John Bell)
Gospel AcclamationGospel Greeting (Bernadette Farrell)
GospelJesus is born of Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, son of David (Matthew 1:18–24)
IntercessionsYour words are spirit (Bernadette Farrell)
Presentation of Cheques
SongFreedom is coming (South African)
Concluding Prayer
Final SongJoy to the World

Each year the Advent Carol Service tries to reflect something in the life of the College. The fixtures are that is Advent, not Christmas, it is an opportunity to present the cheques for monies raised for local and national children's charities and musical forces are brought together.

This year we took the Papal Visit as a key theme and used extracts from when Pope Benedict spoke to young people as a way of structuring the liturgy. What he said fitted in well with the themes of Advent. The Farrell response harked back to the Prayer with the Religious in the College Chapel. Otherwise the music did not reflect the visit. Mary proved, appropriately, an underlying - someone for whom God had a definite purpose.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

3rd Sunday of Advent

12 December 2010

EntranceLonging, trusting (mtgf)
Penitential RiteOrbis Factor
Psalm 145Come, Lord, and save us (mtgf)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsSong of God among us (Huijbers)
Eucharistic AcclamationsMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodAdvent (mtgf)
CommunionBe patient, Beloved (Collegeville Composers Group)
FinalTell out my soul

Rejoice for the Lord is near began the verse of the opening song, marking Gaudete Sunday. Tell out my soul at the end was also chosen because it is 'upbeat'. I think it also picked up in 'the hungry fed, the humble lifted high' the words of Jesus in the Gospel to the followers of John the Baptist - tell, John, what you have seen. And that is the fulfilment of Isaiah (particularly in the Gospel Acclamation verse).

A long time ago I remember someone suggesting that singing 'Wait for the Lord' at Communion was abit for short-sighted as Christ was present. You might suggest the same about 'Be patient, Beloved' but in someways it is an expression of that special Advent time of present but not yet, long expected but God with us.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Immaculate Conception

8 December 2010

EntranceThe Angel Gabriel
GloriaSt Gabriels (mtgf)
Psalm 97The Lord has shown (mtgf)
Gospel AcclamationGospel Greeting (Bernadette Farrell)
Preparation of GiftsAve Maris Stella (Elgar)
Eucharistic AcclamationsMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodRemembrance (Marty Haugen)
CommunionNo Wind at the Window (Irish melody/Bell)
FinalLong ago prophets knew

The College's patronal feast and coming together of our musical forces. These include the College Choir who contributed to the liturgy for the first time. They sang Elgar's Ave Maris Stella, the text from which the College's motto is drawn: Monstra t'esse matrem. I presume that Elgar's setting was written for his parish choir and has melodies and singable parts. I appreciate his dabbling in modality and his skilful use of musical material which makes it a tightly written work. I am pleased to say the College Choir sang it with a pleasant tone and good line - well done.

The psalm setting is an adaptation of one I have written for Christmas day and to my mind this is a good example where the use of the same setting - with different responses - can be effective, making a connection between the two feasts.

For gatherings such as this it is always hard to guess what hymns that people would know and are also appropriate. The final hymn is sung to Theodoric (or God is love; his the care) and so was a tune that most people seem to know. I am not sure about the words. Though they suitably joyful for a patronal feast, were of Advent and capture Mary's role I found some of the rhymes a bit harsh and the refrain with its 'sings' and 'rings' a little twee.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2nd Sunday of Advent

5 December 2010

EntranceLonging, trusting (mtgf)
Penitential RiteOrbis Factor
Psalm 71In his days (mtgf)
Gospel AcclamationSalisbury (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of GiftsO comfort my people (arr. mtgf)
Eucharistic AcclamationsMass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of GodAdvent (mtgf)
CommunionRorate caeli
FinalBenedictus (Alstott/Farrell)

Advent is a time of preparation.This morning reminded that preparation has a number of layers. There is what you prepare to sing and what becomes impossible when circumstances change — so no accompaniment and fewer singers. Then there is the preparation that is longer term. This is analogous to those recipes beloved of cookery writers - the store cupboard standby.

Being unaccompanied means that you can hear the congregation sing. So whatever my worries about the Kyrie last week there was no confusion evident this week. In a similar way I was not sure how well the final hymn would work - though we have sung it in Advent for the last few years, but the congregation sang out. A reminder once again that pieces can be remembered from year to year.