Sunday 30 December 2012

Happy Wedding Anniversary

To my parents, married 45 years ago today.

Friday 28 December 2012

Sing like a Catholic by Jeffrey Tucker

here on Scribd.

A good read - I make that just shy of 2 hours.

Lots of common sense and no, I hadn't read it before, but if you have read some of my previous posts on music in church, you will think I have been plagiarising freely. Not so.

It got very spooky, when I got to the chapter entitled, 'Rip up the carpet.'

I kid you not...

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Melinda Gates edits The Today Programme

It is interesting to note in a programme devoted to providing artificial contraception in the developing world and how everyone should have two children, that Thought for the Day with an Ursuline sister lauded the Mizens, who of course have nine children.

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Wednesday 26 December 2012

Happy Crispmas

Monday 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Right back to the tricky task of wrapping that awkward shaped toy for my nephew. Mm...


Thursday 20 December 2012

Christmas Cake progress 2

Location:The kitchen, it's where it all happens

O Clavis David

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Christmas Cake progress

Location:The Kitchen

Wednesday 19 December 2012

O Radix Jesse

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Tuesday 18 December 2012

O Adonai

Monday 17 December 2012

A reply from my MP

Dear Miss Leutgeb

Thank you for contacting me about the Government’s proposals for same sex marriage. You will obviously be aware that the Government has now responded to the recent public consultation and has said that it will bring forward legislation in the New Year. I recognise the strength of feeling on this issue – particularly in respecting freedom of religious belief.

I believe that marriage is a hugely powerful institution underlining love, commitment and faithfulness. I also believe that a fundamental distinction should be drawn between civil marriage set out in law and statute and religious marriage forming part of a tenet of faith and religious observance. Provided this separation is properly observed, I struggle to see why the state should seek to exclude adults who are prepared to make vows of life-long fidelity and commitment simply because their partner is of the same sex. If we believe marriage is a good thing – which I do – then I believe that it will be strengthened, not weakened, by making it inclusive.

The Government has reflected carefully on the submissions it received during the public consultation and has made clear that in bringing proposals forward:

• The legislation will state explicitly that no religious organisation, or individual minister can be compelled to marry same sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises;

• The Equality Act will be amended to ensure that no discrimination claims can be brought for refusing to marry a same-sex couple;

• It will be unlawful for religious organisations to marry same-sex couples unless they have expressly opted to do so and it will be clear that no law requires any religious organisation to opt-in; and

• It will be illegal for the Church of England to marry same sex couples or to opt-in to doing so. Only though a change to both Canon Law and further primary legislation could the Church of England conduct same sex marriages.

Religious freedom is guaranteed under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and recent case law underlines that same sex marriage is a matter for individual member states which are under no obligation to allow same-sex couples to marry. The proposals will not lead to any change in the way in which children are taught. The syllabus will not change nor will procedures for resolving conflicts with personal beliefs.

On the basis of these safeguards, I support the proposals for same sex civil marriage. I believe that it would promote a more tolerant, fairer and more inclusive society more at ease with itself and more genuinely focussed on equality of opportunity – something which I believe to be profoundly Conservative.

That said, I fully respect the legitimate and sincerely held belief that marriage should only be between one man and one woman. There are differences of view – indeed there are differences of view within individual Christian denominations. Faith is personal and the product of an individual religious journey. Whilst we may not agree on this issue, I hope you will equally respect my own personal views and my own Christian faith in supporting this change.

Yours sincerely,

James Brokenshire MP

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O wisdom

I sang Arvo Pärt's setting recently.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Blackfen; a survey scientific like

After the Carol Service, the choir gave me some lovely flowers and a new fangled box of Ferrero Rochers. Thank you and yum and what what we do without the people who troop out every Sunday to practise and sing, not to mention the rarely seen or acknowledged armies of cleaners, flower arrangers and people who launder altar linens etc? You wanna see volunteering Coalition Government...? But I digress.

Anyway, I opened the box and offered them round. The random sample of people who were offered a chocolate ranged in age from 3, to, 'Don't you know it's rude to ask a gentleman or a lady their age?' male and female, married, engaged, single, lay and ordained. No religious. Tssh, should have done it after Mass.

On later inspection, there were only two dark chocolate ones and two white chocolate ones left. Most of the remaining chocs were original gold milk chocolate.

And what can we conclude from this?

People dressed as angels, kings and shepherds can easily embrace the new (and the old) with no special training.

Mm the experimental methods do need some refining since some people who refused a choc, were already well on into the other fun size chocs on offer and even aged 10, there are only so many you can take in one sitting.

Might have to have one, before pondering other refinements...

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Gaudete Sunday

Wednesday 12 December 2012

That amazing educational tool - YouTube

This got sung recently in a concert.

You Tube is great.

I have emailed my GCSE class a list of links to all the stuff we have listened to this term for revision, ( subject to parental approval.)

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Tuesday 11 December 2012

An arrogant, privileged, liberal elite

OK well I struck that out of my email to my MP, along with the threat to spoil my ballot paper at the next General Election. That's not actually a threat, it was an action at the last local elections.

The Ballot paper

Tory nope
Lib Dem nope
Labour 1million people march against the war in Iraq, you lie to Parliament and go to war anyway, and then there's the Catholic Adoption Agencies. Nope.
UKIP too wacky for me.
BNP. This being SE London. Don't vote for fascists.
Loony parties. Loony. Nope.

Don't need to worry about the economy, NHS, taxation, Europe etc.

Instead, I ended, thus,

Rest assured, if your Government brings legislation before Parliament, to redefine marriage, I shall never vote Tory again, since your Party clearly holds the electorate in such contempt. No point reading a manifesto if once elected, the government can rip it up and impose whatever it likes.

Not great, but that's what happens when people rush legislation through.

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Sunday 9 December 2012

Second Sunday of Advent

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Saturday 8 December 2012

Thank you very much - Diolch yn fawr

Santa has come early! The Altar Servers have been in contact with Jones Crisps and now my parents will have crisps and crisps and crisps at Christmas.

thank you :-)
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Immaculate Conception

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Friday 7 December 2012

Monitoring Participation and Praying the Prayers

Another fascinating discussion over at Pray Tell, trying to work out just what people are really doing at Mass.

In my family, Grandma enforced an unbending rule which said that you were never allowed to comment on other people's behaviour at Mass. Ever. She spent 18 of the first 20 years of her life living in a convent after her mother died, attending daily Mass at school etc, so it's not like there wasn't a big religious input in her upbringing.

So my immediate response is, don't know because I was trained never to look or to see. Nope. Still don't know.

How can you tell anything by how loudly people say things or how loudly they sing?
Why do you need to tell anything anyway?

If it's decibels that matter, you might want to consider how people talk to each other at the most intimate and loving moments of their lives. Generally not loud. Maybe people who answer loudly are very fervent or very insensitive. Who could possibly say?

How about minding your own business and saying your own prayers?

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Ticking the boxes

Just done The Tablet survey again.

Bit of a hoot. Forget those bland surveys. The questions are very loaded.

It reminds me of Blackadder and The Flanders Pigeon Murderer trial.

I declined to give my email address.

It's just a pity it doesn't give you some sort of a paragraph of waffle at the end à la a woman's magazine.

Mostly a? You'd prefer to go to an EF Mass if there is one, but think the new translation is perfectly fine thanks.

Mostly e? You hardly ever go to Mass and will be getting a surprise on Christmas Day.

In other news, there is a shop by the station advertising Exmas Trees.
Were they once in a church?

Reminds me of the notice by the till in the butcher's shop.
' Due to a large number of forgeries, we no longer except Scottish bank notes.'

Which in turn reminds me of the ( Catholic) teacher from N Ireland arguing at the till with the dinner lady about how his Ulster Bank tenner was valid, because N Ireland is part of the UK.

I'll stop now.

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Sunday 2 December 2012

Turn to page one and the letter A

Yesterday at early o'clock (6.20am as it goes,) I wiped the ice off my bicycle seat and sped off in the dark to the station. Of course I knew that when I got to Ryde it would be sunny, because the weather is always good when we go to the IOW. Even when the fog descended as I approached Portsmouth.... all sunny on the seafront in Ryde.

This time we looked at the Introits for the four Sundays of Advent.

I reacquainted myself with the Triplex, which I am gradually covering in tiny pencil writing. Eventually, I will not only have written all over it, but I might have got a bit more of a hang of the squiggles as well as the squares.

From today's Introit, Ad te levavi we get the emphatic idea that those negatives are very important; 'let me NOT be put to shame; do NOT allow my enemies to laugh at me.

We also came away with an Advent shopping list of psalms to read; 24, 79, 84, for starters.

Sister, chanting all the psalms weekly, has only to sing a phrase to be transported into the whole psalm and a whole world of meaning.

The mix of modes, source notes, knowledge of the texts and the greater contexts of the texts is fantastic, so it's always a shame when the bell goes and it's time for her to disappear again.

In other news I was very pleased with Mass XVII and Rorate Caeli. People have been taking their books home to practise.

We also had a mighty sing of Adeste fidelis after Mass.

Puer natus in Bethlehem, here we come.

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Location:Ryde, Isle of Wight

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Thursday 29 November 2012

Saying what we really think

Some people are saying what they think about the EF Mass on Pray Tell and then being systematically demolished on the LMS Chairman Blog.

Some people seem determined to thwart other people's wish to ever get to one.

If it's only meant for people who have a pre-1970 attachment to it, who never got over it etc, then how come the FSSP et al are allowed to have seminaries, which are full of seminarians who were born well after 1970? Surely, that line of thinking would suggest that we certainly don't need priests who only offer the Old Mass. These young men shouldn't actually know about it...

That doesn't really add up, does it?

See the previous post if you think chant is not where it's at and yes, I am biased because we spent a lot of last summer rehearsing stuff and I am on the recording.

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Rorate Caeli

Clare has put up the recording that we made in October here..

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Sunday 25 November 2012

Christmas Food

Yes it's time to start writing shopping lists.
I have taken instruction from the master cook on which birdie to get, how big, which butchers and when.

Then I mentioned the particularly yummy crisps I got in Wales over half-term and what do I find? My parents have eaten them. Two big bags! They were supposed to be for Christmas Day. For reasons of serious illness one of them has not been able to eat very much at all, so actually this is great news. TWO BAGS!

How will I source replacements without a 500 mile round trip? This is England, after all.

So if you see these, I want two big bags of ready salted - red, v patriotic. Sheep not included, though my nephew might like them...

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Location:Castell Leutgeb family residence

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Happy St Cecilia's Day

( Must be 22nd somewhere by now.)

Tuesday 20 November 2012

For the first time

In a very long while, I had cause to confiscate something today.
A packet of quavers.
I kid you not, as Zephy would say.
( Note to American readers, that's eighth notes, I teach Music and quavers are also a brand of crisps= chips.)
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Sunday 11 November 2012

The Requiem Mass...again

Today being Remembrance Sunday it was time to sing the Requiem Mass for the third time since September. Last Autumn we had a session on it with Sister Bernadette and Clare wrote down what she said here and here.

Since then I've sung it quite a few times with various combinations of people and on occasion bits of it on my own. The Institute for Christ the King have produced the best sheets to sing from here, which are as big and clear as clear can be and they even think to include the ferial tone for the preface dialogue, just in case anyone was going to forget. They couldn't really make it much easier, free downloads and all.

The present format is that the Choir sing the Introit, Kyrie, Sequence, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion and the responses at the end and then myself plus potentially others sing the Gradual, Tract, Offertory and Libera me. Everyone has lots to do and no-one has to get stressed. We have our easy to read booklets and as anyone who is involved in organising music for others knows, being able to reach into a cupboard and bring out all the music in one swift move is a great thing. I have to do the same at work all the time as I am in effect the librarian to my orchestras and I will tomorrow be checking that I have everything in order for a concert this week.

Anyway, having got the organisational aspects sorted as far as possible, the great thing is all that work is paid off in spades because it's always going to be the same. No time spent practising plainchant is ever wasted. No-one can come up to you afterwards and say it was a pity you didn't sing their favourite hymn. No-one can say it's a pity more people weren't singing, because actually they were and if they weren't, well that's entirely their choice; this is not an infants' assembly these are adults. You know you have just sung the music that all the composers of the great polyphonic Requiem Masses knew. You know that the children in the congregation will know the Dies Irae before they hear it in Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique and won't have to do everything backwards like I had to. You know that the fact that you have to sing the Gradual, Tract and Sequence one after the other means that you can't wimp out or think it's too much etc. The thought cannot enter your head because it just has to be so.

Having been more or less tortured for most of the time I have been involved in doing music in church, either by other people's freely given comments or by the fact that it was never even slightly clear exactly what you were really supposed to be aiming for - everyone singing very loudly seemed to be many people's unattainable goal - or by the fact that the music was rubbish, having all the music in the Liber Usualis and precise rules as to when and what to sing is bliss. And what music..

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Monday 5 November 2012

On a Sunday morning

Lots of people get up really early and multiple times in the night because they have small children, alas I don't, but I get up pretty early most of the time. How else would I have discovered the dodgy plumbing at 6.30am on Saturday had I not been making a coffee and unloading the dishwasher, whilst considering what to put in the washing-machine first this weekend? Quite.

Sunday mornings I am frequently cooking stuff, gardening and cleaning the house during the Sunday Prog and Morning Service.

So it comes as no surprise that someone's done the math on where they get their contributors from. If you keep an eye on the broadsheets and note what documentaries are on the TV and R4, you notice a remarkable correlation in subject matter. Yes, the media really is controlled by a very small number of people. It's just that though the radio may be on, maybe we aren't being taken in. Once you've noted how rubbish the info is on Catholicism, do you trust the MSM on anything?

Trouble is this small world seems to extend to politicians too. My brothers were very het up on Sunday about the A&E provision locally. One of them can tell you precisely how long it takes to drive an ambulance from my parent's house to the nearest trauma unit, blue lights flashing and sirens going- KCH - 25 minutes if in his words you 'boot it.' As he prides himself on driving extremely fast he said that it's 30 minutes with anyone else behind the wheel. If I lived in relatively empty NorthWales, I might expect that it would take a long time to get across the mountains or round the coast to Bangor, but I live in Greater London and the population density is extremely high, so you wonder just how safe it is to be closing A&E Departments and Maternity Units. I don't remember being asked to vote on that.

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Location:in the kitchen

Sunday 4 November 2012


A weekend with the washing up bowl and a roasting tin ( goodly amount of surface area, ) strategically placed with towels to catch the splashes.

Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law have a friend who is a plumber and thanks to him I have about a foot of new copper piping leading to the stop cock.

Never have the sound of dishwasher and washing machine sounded so pleasing!

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Location:Chez moi

Saturday 3 November 2012

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Thursday 1 November 2012

All Saints

On the side of a van in the church car park.

Well it is the day for all of them, the well known and the unknown.

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Friday 26 October 2012

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Where I've been

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Wednesday 24 October 2012

Bara brith in action

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Location:Caffi Gwynant, Nant Gwynant


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Location:Portmeirion, Gwynedd

Monday 22 October 2012

land of my father

They even have crisps with our surname. Actually, not so surprising, because every other person round here has our surname and most of the blokes look like my Dad. Great to be in the place where you know you come from.

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Location:Prenteg, Gwynedd

Friday 19 October 2012

Casting aside the nonsense of the last forty years.

When are Fr Tim's talks on Vatican II?

Mm Plenary indulgence too.

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Location:The Eternal City

Monday 15 October 2012

Sunday 14 October 2012


To Stand up for Vatican II for these great You tube clips of the opening of the Council here. in Latin, but with a handy Italian VoiceOver.

The first one has a sound track of Vivaldi's Gloria and Mozart Ave Verum.

Great stuff.

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Tuesday 9 October 2012

Time for a break

Too many competing demands for this blogging lark for the moment.

Time to withdraw.

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Monday 8 October 2012

Mahler symphonies

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Saturday 6 October 2012

Brandenburg 3

Having a lot of fun rehearsing this at the mo. Every now and then I listen to a few recordings to check that what I think is OK and see what speeds, gestures might work with my players.

This is quite attractive in many ways, though with teenage boys we will do it faster and with a bit of an edge in places. This lot are very free with the tempo.

It's all about the Trinity of course- three each of violins, violas and cellos and a motif with three notes.

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Location:At work

Another one for the list

Spotted at 7.30am this morning enroute to the IOW.

Won't be going to that production then.

You can see why when I'm teaching OCR A2 Music and the set works that we do are under the heading 'Music for the stage,' I spend almost no time considering staging.

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Location:Waterloo Station

Thursday 4 October 2012

Very late September

Stefan Dohr, horn playing hero.

Monday 1 October 2012

Seeing Snowdon

After frightening everybody by mentioning hymns (AAAAGH!) time for something apparently less scary.

An on-running joke amongst myself and my brothers is my parents' vagueness about important matters like, NAMING MOUNTAINS.

My mother contends that you can't see Snowdon, it's always in cloud. ALWAYS.

My route to their place up there, is along the A5 to Capel Curig, turn left past Plas y Brenin and through the Nant Gwynant Pass, past the famous Pen y Gwryd Hotel, of PYG Track fame and then if the weather is fine, the passing place that is a big viewing point. It has a diagram hewn in the rock outlining the mountains. I can therefore confidently assert that the pointy one is Snowdon.

Last time the weather was fine and so Mr Ice cream man was in attendance too. There is also a handy bus stop there. All mod cons and a magnificent view.

That's not to be confused with the pointy one round the corner which is of course, Cnicht.

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Location:Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd

Friday 28 September 2012

Keeping it local

As described here.

'Cos you aren't going to change the world, but you can change a little bit of it.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Doing an Enda II

Ok, so imagine the scene, you are the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, that's the RoI that used to ( still does?) give a special place to the Catholic Church in the life of the country in its all written down constitution and you are visiting the Vatican.

Who and what are you texting as everyone rises for a Blessing at the end of a Papal discourse?

Just how ignorant are you trying to look?

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Location:Città del Vaticano

Doing an Enda

I name this the phrase to denote ignoring Papal pronouncements.

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Location:All over the place

Tuesday 25 September 2012

When did you last sing an Introit?

Quick answer: Sunday, see below and next will be tomorrow in English and to Psalm Tone 8g according to the CMAA cut out and keep guide to psalm tones in the Liber Usualis.

If however, as an unsuspecting layperson in the Archdiocese of Southwark, I was seeking ideas about what I should be doing at an OF Mass, of a Sunday, I might well go here go here.

This would lead me to think that I should be choosing lots of hymns and carefully fitting the words to the readings. Big problem. There are all these other proper texts called PROPERS. They have been chosen by the Church. You can sing them in Latin to chant. You can sing them to any number of different English settings, but PROPER they are.

Choosing hymns is not good. First of all choosing. Who chooses? I have done that lots of times. The Roman Rite lays down all the words, all the gestures of the priest, in the GIRM, I believe, when the congregation stands, sits and kneels etc. Then some random person who may be a priest, but who is probably a layperson chooses some hymns. Doesn't that strike you as a bit odd? One person gets to impose their choices on everyone else? Maybe they spend ages doing it. Maybe they chuck some hymn numbers up just before the bell rings. Maybe they always do some stuff because the guitar chords are easier. Maybe there's a whole committee charged with the choosing. Whatever. The very fact that some people get to choose is bad. We don't make up the liturgy, it is given.

Then hymns. Hymns are not part of the Mass they are plonked in, usually to cover walking around bits. Priest enters and leaves. Offertory procession. People receiving Holy Communion. It's all about walking. They are just killing time music.

Hymns come from Low Mass usage in the Catholic Church, presumably because people didn't like all that silence - ding, genuflect, rustle, crash as kneelers go down, 'In nomine Patre...' Mutter, 'Orate, fratres...'
Brilliant stuff.

Hymns are often Protestant. Our hymn books are full of musical clangers and words that have seemingly never been checked for doctrinal fidelity. If you are a musician, it is clear they are written by idiots who do not understand the difference between an organ and a piano. Personally, I like my family to be treated by really well-qualified experienced doctors. In the Catholic Church we entrust music to people who do things which make other people deride the Church. (They don't even need to start on tricky moral stuff. The music, hah!)

Some people think music doesn't matter, it's just a frothy diversion. Lots of people freely tell you how they won't attend a certain Mass because they cannot stand the music. Did you ever hear anyone say that about the flower arrangements? The other people in the church? The quality of votive candles?

Where was I? Oh yes, hymns are often Protestant. Vernacular hymns in England were, it seems, a Methodist invention. Luther was there in Germany ages before selling sola scriptura via metrical ditties. We have the Wesleys. It ain't Catholic. Ben W said on Sat that the Anglicans pondered deeply, as Anglicans do and then introduced them anyway in the 19thC, also as Anglicans tend to do with tricky things. Cf any moral dilemma, you can think of. (That's my take on Anglicanism, btw, certainly not his, he is a true gent and far too polite for that sort of thing.)

As Joseph Cullen pointed out being metrical is not all that Catholic. He described setting the responsorial psalm and how he kept having to change the time sig all the time. Whenever I write them I just seem to go up and down a scale, basically. May as well, oo, use a psalm tone, not that they fit English terribly well.

Modern hymns frequently do not manage to be strophic. That causes untold problems. Note to the publishers of Hymns O&N, if every verse has to be written out separately and the hymn involves a page turn, it's rubbish for congregational use.

Now people often point at Catholics and gleefully go on about how we don't sing. There are lots of reasons for this. I believe, contrary it seems to many important people, that Mr and Mrs Catholic there on a Sunday, maybe with small children in tow, maybe old and frail, maybe on their own, whatever, all know that hymns are not part of the Mass and are just some arbitrary selection. Compare this to other parts of the Mass then, they are of no worth at all. So they don't sing. They try to block them out. They are a distraction. You don'y need this racket if something very serious is going on in your life and most modern hymns are not serious. Look outside, unfortunately many people's lives are touched by tragedy. Modern hymns are not robust enough to take it. Suffering never happens it seems.

Enthusiatic cantor people beware. We don't appreciate you. You distract visually from the liturgical action on the altar. You sing through a microphone lending your sweet voice a harshness and volume that is stressful to listen to. In a Cathedral you are lost in the echo. If you are a woman, why are you wearing something that looks a bit like a cassock? That's just dodgy. very well-meaning, but dodgy. If you like doing solos, get involved in secular music. Seriously. Performing, tis a great thing. Not at Mass.

Mr and Mrs Catholic may not have English as their first language or may not speak English at all. They are now further culturally dislocated from that which they should hold in common with everyone else.

Mr and Mrs Catholic are musical. They are grinding their teeth. Maybe they sing to be helpful. Maybe they stay silent. Maybe they drift away and find a church with helpful music or no music or just drift away. The Church seemingly not caring about its tradition or about really beautiful things.
You have favourite hymns and think they are all being rubbished and I am advocating banning them? No. We can sing them on extra liturgical type dos. Processions. Benediction. Maybe we need hymn singing dos for people who need that sort of thing. Then there's the car, iPod route. They might be really helpful for some people. But we don't all need to hear everyone else's favourites.

We need to hear the music that is proper to this Mass. We can then get on with singing the Ordinary. You know that's the real deal because it's part of the Mass. How often do we get 4 random hymns and muttered ordinary. What does that say about the priority given to the texts?
An autobiographical note. After spending 14 years being educated in Catholic schools, I spent 12 years teaching in them, 8 as a Head of Music. I'm now in my 20th year as a full-time in the class-room Music Teacher. All those hymns you hate. I have played them. I have sung them. I have attempted to get 14 year old boys to sing them. I've tried. I've gone against my better judgement. I am the empirical research.

The end.

PS This was me six years ago.
Never been to an EF Mass then....
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Sunday 23 September 2012

High Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

More details here.
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Location:Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen

The Blessed John Henry Newman Liturgical Institute Conference

Having only ever been to B'Ham New Street to change trains it was great to be there, if only briefly.

The talks were all informative and interesting. I particularly enjoyed Ben Whitworth's one on the place of vernacular hymns in 19thC Anglican liturgy; there weren't any til pretty late on and it was the cause of much angst. Details of Blessed JHN's own work in an Anglican parish, were very illuminating, especially given the location of the conference. Always a pleasure to listen to someone who has read everything available, can synthesise it all together and quote dates people said stuff from memory. The CTS Booklet's a good read too. Buy it immediately.

It was also great to meet Msgr Burnham of the Ordinariate having met him in Brighton when our schola provided the chant for the ALL conference last year; he had some pertinent points make over lunch.

I suppose such a conference was always going to dwell on the mess and provide some pointers for progress, but it was a shame that more was not heard from people who are working in parishes, supported only by friends and the internet. I can't really see how there is going to be wholesale change, until the hierarchy take charge of the liturgy, put some priest-musicians in charge of music, get some stuff together, provide training in singing the correct music at diocesan level and then impose it. Or they could enthusiastically endorse what Fr Guy Nichols is doing in getting speakers together and providing education, The thing is, it is not my role as a lay person to have to read the documents, buy books, go on conferences and find my own tuition in chant - thanks to the generosity of St Cecilia's - when this is all supposed to be so important in the Church.

Mention must be made of The Oratory Primary School whose staff and delightful pupils provided the venue for much of yesterday. Marvellous, hospitable, polite, lovely folks all. When can I visit again?

Saturday ended with The Sixteen singing in The Oratory, which must have been great. I don't have the stamina of the young man from Glasgow who was going to go to the concert, get a National Express bus at 10.30, arriving in Glasgow at 6.30am and then play at Mass this morning, so knocked off early.

To the speaker, who said, 'When was the last time you heard an Introit?' I'll just say I'm reaching for my Corpus Christ Watershed sheet for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost Introit, 'Justus es Domine,' which I'll start singing in about 90 minutes. Mode I, my favourite.

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Thursday 20 September 2012

The £63 000

Mentioned here, where exactly does that come from?

If it comes from any collection taken in Catholic Churches on a Sunday, which one? There are lots of other charities to give money to, after all.

Which bit about marriage do they need reminding about?

I wish I had a job where you could 'forget' things. That would be nice. Might forget deadlines for exam entries or UCAS references or concerts.

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Tuesday 18 September 2012

HF's Travels

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Location:The Lebanon

Salve mater misericordiae

A quick revision here.

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To Birmingham

On Friday, with my usual partners in crime from St James's Spanish Place and St Mary Mags Brighton.

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Location:The Birmingham Oratory

Sunday 16 September 2012

Hiding behind the pay wall

Fr Z and Protect the Pope flag up The Tablet's latest attack on blogs and blogging. unfortunately, when you follow the link from wdtprs, you have to log in, which is quite funny really. I think I've got the gist.

I'm a blogger and I come from generations of Irish Catholics who have paid and prayed in the pews. Some were woman religious, most were lay people, all were pretty ordinary.

I've pointed out before that if you are my age, which is getting ever older, but I'm a child of the 1970s and you disagree with the Church or just can't be bothered, you get up late on Sundays and mooch around a bit with the papers or maybe you play Sunday morning footie or your children do and there's always the shops, but you don't bother with Mass.

If you go to Mass, you want to be there, so don't bother with people who rubbish the Church, so wouldn't bother with The Tablet. The MSM are so much better at slating the Church anyway.

The Tablet niche market it people older than me who are disappointed that what they thought was going to happen in the 70s never did.

I think they need to get the marketing people in cos that's not a very large pool of people. Probably better than saying in this week's editorial that the CDF has some explaining to do. The CDF are really good at explaining.... Catholicism. I wonder which bit The Tablet would like explained?

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Location:Tablet land

Ave verum corpus

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Location:Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen

Saturday 15 September 2012

Autumn pickings

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Location:Le jardin

Friday 14 September 2012

More chuckles

Where else but here.

It does challenge the CDF directly and if a kid did that in a classroom or a corridor, or the lunch's back down or get out in the world of Miss Leutgeb, that's the kid not me, but entirely different rules apply in the Catholic Church. Anyone can say or do whatever they like. Plainly. Out in the world of work, that's not in Catholic schools obviously, there are rules regarding roles, deference, manners, graciousness etc. Hilarious stuff.

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Keeping it simple

One of my brothers and his family are in the land of our father..

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Wednesday 12 September 2012


One shouldn't mock the afflicted, but when the afflicted appear to be in power, satire and chuckles may be your only weapons.

Politicians take zip notice of people like me. That's people who have been paying income tax for 20 years and always vote - other people doing such beneficial things as bringing up children and providing 24/7 care to the dying don't get a look in either- so the Chancellor should not be surprised when he gets booed and the athletes that he's giving medals to get cheered, all in quick succession.

Chez moi is in such a safe seat that no-one ever bothers to come round canvassing. It's such a shame. Grandma was accosted in the street by a nice young man enquiring as to whether he could rely on her vote. She said that politicians think that the elderly are only interested in the NHS and pensions. Recent experience would back up the former. Her repost? She pointed out the abortion rate. He was taken aback- she did come with 40 years of teaching, a very quick wit and a formidable personality - he stuttered that he'd never really thought about it.

I'm lucky if the Jehovah's Witnesses pay me the occasional visit.
Next time I'll point out that my birthday is on Christmas Day and see what happens.

Anyway, one of the other groups of people who take no notice of me are what one might call the middle management of the Church. I wrote to a Bishop in December 2008 and I'm still awaiting an acknowledgement and a back dated Happy Christmas. If he could throw in a Happy Birthday, I'll call it quits.

this will give you a chuckle.

And I was in Westminster Cathedral today and there was quite a big pile of that thing, considering it's Wednesday and presumably if you are going to buy one, you pick it up at Mass over the weekend. How many remaindered copies are there and do they get counted in the circulation figures?

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Location:Chez moi

Tuesday 11 September 2012

In a muddle

Over here in the not always cosy world of hastily packed school bags, slowly ripening tomatoes and days spent with teenage boys, I thought that the idea with Catholic Theology was that you kinda believed it, attempted to live by it and studied it to understand it better.

It's a bit like me doing my sonata form lesson this afternoon for the Sixth Form. I do how the thematic material fits together, how the key centres go and then how that all actually could work in the ebb and flow of you listening or conducting the first movement of a symphony or playing a piano sonata.

What I don't do is suggest that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven should have done it differently. I accept the output and seek to use the theories available that are suitable for the boys in front of me. So no Schenkerian analysis today.

Over in the very clever world of very clever Catholic Theology, some people take what's given and try to use bits and bobs to justify doing things that have never been OK. Saying things have changed, just does not work. We live in time. Other folks in the Church live in eternity. We live now, by the same rules they did and the same rules that will pertain to future generations.

Stuff to do with how we treat other people is not governed by fashion or new technology. My great great grandmother born in1860 and teaching away in West Clare in 1880, could not Skype her 12 younger siblings who emigrated to the States, but the way she brought up my grandmother in the 1920s and 30s has had a direct effect on me born over a century later.

I had an Internet rummage recently and turned up the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland returns for both my grandmother and grandfather's families very easily and for free. Well worth a look if you are interested. The originals are all scanned in and it was quite something to see the signatures of a great grandfather and great great grandfather. I don't think they had it wrong. They are all listed as, Roman Catholic, literate and speaking Irish and English. I don't speak Irish, but I'm very happy to emulate the rest.

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Location:Chez moi

Monday 10 September 2012

Ave Maris Stella

I've had a soft spot for Dufay since once of his songs popped up on an exam paper as a gobbit and I leafed through the complete works of his the next day to find it and breath a sigh of relief that I got the right guy.

Anyway this is rather lovely. It's a pity to have to learn the chants and fill in the musical DNA backwards, but better than nothing in an effort to reconnect the all the fragments of the Church's musical tradition.

It's just a great tune and as music, chant is all tune. It is no accident that musical modernism represents an attack on every aspect of melody.

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Location:The Middle Ages

Sunday 9 September 2012

Just a notion

There do seem to have been more people round and about in wheelchairs during the Paralympics and more people around with learning disabilities.

The amputee high jumpers will remain a very good memory, especially as the crowd got really into it.

For people seriously injured in accidents or wars, hopefully the Paralympics will provide a boost when progress is slow or non-existent or some nasty setback occurs.

For people in wheelchairs because they have been struck down with one of the seemingly endless number of nasty illnesses from which you don't get better, maybe it might be made a bit easier to get out and about. Maybe the guardians of the Blue Badges will be slightly less fascist in the way they administer the scheme and maybe local authorities will provide wheelchairs that slightly elderly 24/7 full-time carers won't have to blink back the tears when they find they can't actually lift the thing into the boot of a car, necessitating them spending about £300 for one which is safe for the pushee and light enough to lift for the pusher. A friend of the family was told shewould have to wait several months for a wheelchair when her husband, who was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, needed one. Not terribly good when you will be dead in about a year. That's why the MND Soc have them available immediately. All problems can be sorted, but does it have to be made so bloody awful on top of everything else?

And George aka Gideon Osborne wondered why 80 000 people booed him.

And yes, on the subject of Down's Syndrome, if that character in The Archers does the typical British thing and does the wrong thing having agonised for a long time, which seems to be how British pragmatism works, I shall be writing one of my stiff emails.

Still having listened to the Bishop of A&B on The Sunday Prog this am- cos some of us have roasted and carved a chicken, done a whole pile of gardening and delivered said lunch to another member of the family before doing the music for a Missa Cantata and then doing a choir practice and that's just the start of the day - apparently, the 'body language' of the Church is a bit iffy and Cardinal Martini's final interview should be pondered. 'I think he had a point.' Presumably that's the closest you can get to dissent on Radio 4 if you are a Catholic Bishop.

What sort of vestments should Priests be wearing? Hard to tell on Radio 4. Perhaps they could illustrate in their website.

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Location:Up London

Sibelius 7 the end of the line

Sibelius 7, as we know is the last extant symphony of the great Jean, Sibelius 8 having gone up in flames on his fire. If you visit his home, you can see the very hearth he chucked it into. Can't beat a bit of vodka-fuelled self-descruction.

Sibelius, the computer programme, is now out as Sibelius 7 and I 'm not yet convinced I like it. I don't even like the bit of music they play which is apparently Sibelius (from where? ) and if you have the pleasure of asking a class of 24 to log onto it, believe me, it's not going to be your favourite start to the lesson. Sibelius was never blessed with the best sound card and the latest one in words of my GCSE class, 'sounds like a computer game.' Fortunately, we have the gadgets to export it elsewhere and use better ones.

Given what I have read elsewhere along the lines of hostile takeovers, asset-stripping and redundancy, it remains to be seen if there is a Sibelius 8, or whether it will go the same way as its symphonic namesake.

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Location:At work

Thursday 6 September 2012

Music in the Liturgy

Thank you to Ben, for a signed copy, no less.

A first edition CTS pamphlet. Oo.

I have just started it and I haven't seen mention of the Cardinal Kung sings 'Tu es Petrus,' story for ages. Good stuff.

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Location:Down south

Tuesday 4 September 2012

I'm going

The details here.

Location:The Birmingham Oratory


Before it kicked off. 'twas full by 7pm yesterday.

We had a Mexican wave practice before it started too.

A very enjoyable evening indeed. We were very taken by amputee high jump. The competitors hop and then forward roll over the bar.

The medal ceremonies are great. Loving the Polish National Anthem. Definitely a touch of a mazurka in there. Got to sing God save the Queen too.

And um, yes we we there for the George Osborne ( the Rt Hon MP, Chancellor of the Exwhatsit one, )incident and it was a great deal louder than any of the clips I've watched.

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Location:Olympic Park, Stratford

Friday 31 August 2012

Popping in

So, did that yesterday.

Not sure why really as I had a pretty good clear out at the end of last term, wrote the letter to new boys inviting them into my orchestras, sorted out the music, booked the concert venue for later on in term and that was that.

Still found some pieces of paper to chuck, connected myself to the new wifi and typed up some A level notes, emptied my pigeon hole, made a mental list of what I'll need to do next week and left.

Today, I celebrate the last weekday holiday day, by having my fence replaced. As a special treat the especially hideous overgrown box hedge tree thing is being removed, roots and all. It's going now. I fear the pumpkin may be a casualty. Fencer steps backwards, crunch. Fencer drags branch of hideous shrub through pumpkin. Ah well.

Hopefully scary George the elderly guy on the end who 'protects' the alley round the back will not 'have words' with the fencers. I did consider going round to let him know last night, but that does imply I need his permission to use MY RIGHT OF WAY. Four years of friendly waves may be about to end. Or maybe he's still having his breakfast.

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Wednesday 29 August 2012

Pumpkin update

The big one.

The little one.

Now having to mow the lawn round the plant as it rampages in a southerly direction across the garden.

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Location:Le jardin

Tuesday 28 August 2012

La Rentrée

A friend put this on Facebook.

I'm celebrating the first day back with a trip to see athletics in the evening. It's all track stuff and being the Paralympics has the added interest that presumably the events will have different types of athletes - blind, wheelchair and so on. I love watching athletics. May have to have a McDonalds too.

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Location:A shop

Monday 27 August 2012

Brick walls

Tomorrow, first thing, I have to get through one of these on behalf of some members of my family.
The first of many, so better get used to it now.

UPDATE. Job done, by 9.05 am.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Five years of blogging

Bara brith celebrates by making tomato sauce from home grown tomatoes.

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Tuesday 21 August 2012

Saying no

So, you've at work chatting over lunch about this and that and someone gets onto have you read that book. That's the one with the boring colour, which assails you when you walk into bookshops and is read openly on trains.

If you are me, you say 'no' in as light a way as possible in such a fashion that it's clearly a matter far from your thoughts, you are not going into details as to why and the conversation is going to change topic immediately. Or something.

Others may take a more robust approach.

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Location:Out in the world

Saturday 18 August 2012

Vegetable Matter

After a rubbish growing season, the weather has gone summery big time.

The pumpkin plant given to me by another parishioner - we have a a bit of a thing going with jam and plants n stuff - has finally got going and is surging across the garden. Pumpkins need to get a move on now.

The beans have beans on them.

And most amazingly, the tomatoes are finally beginning to turn red. By this stage I should be eating tomatoes from the garden with my lunch each day and squirrelling away pasta sauce into the freezer. It may yet happen.

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Location:Le jardin