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