Saturday, June 29, 2002

In which Jay gives away more songs, further ensuring he'll never make any serious money doing this

Nice interchange with one of my teen choir grads - he wanted some of my songs to take back to his campus parish (Mich Tech), juice things up a little.

I was glad to oblige. He, one of my few readers, would hum through the songs 'til they came back to him, then he'd get this excited little smile, and say something like, "Ooh! I remember this one!".

There are few better ways to have your work reaffirmed than with youthful enthusiasm. I asked him to let me know if they decided to use anything.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Back to the Franklin
I've been trying for 6 years to make my life organized without using a Franklin - they're pricy and bulky - and have finally given up.

My most recent system involved using GIA's Worship Week planner - 2 pages per week, extra space on Sat/Sun. Worked well for church stuff, then used my Franklin back pages for extra notes, and carried a steno pad around work for notes there. Work was really suffering, though.

I think the deal is that Franklin's two pages per day gives the user a no-doubt-about-it place to write notes. With a smaller day's surface, I was always worried about WHERE to write stuff. Analysis paralysis, my life's story. We'll see if returning to the high-priced world of Franklin refills brings me back to my previous level of organization.

BTW, this previous level would still be "woefully disorganized" by other people's standards. It is probably the best I'll ever do. My 5th grade nickname was "Day Late and a Dollar Short". Thanks, Mr. Lund...

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Last Night's "Holy Hour":

Kids are on their way to Steubenville. We had Exposition and Benediction, peppered with lots of Praise-n-Worship songs. Gave the CCLI license a workout!

Here's the playlist.

Entrance: Awesome God (Mullins)
...O Salutaris (missalette translation, plus Latin)
...I Pledge This Song to You (Cowan)
...Open the Eyes of My Heart - one of my favorite P-n-W songs. I forget the composer.
...You Are My All in All (Jernigan)
Gospel Acclamation: Agnus Dei (Smith) - if you take the Third Day version, strip it down to bass & guitar, and then play those parts on piano, that's kind of what we do. It works better than you'd imagine.
More adoration:
...Come Into My Heart (Cowan)
...I Exalt Thee (???) - it's on the Time/Life Songs 4 Worship CD - composer escapes me.
...Refiner's Fire (Doerksen) - started midtempo, realized they're used to it faster, so I did a tempo change before v. 2. Sounded like we had planned it that way.
....Tantum Ergo (missalette translation, no Latin) - Fr. hates the translation in RitualSong.
Exit: Shout to the Lord (Zschech)

Nice level of participation from the kids. My cohort, Caroline, was on mic. This was our last mass together, kind of bittersweet. Also my last mass w/ Fr. - they'll both be in Steubenville with the kids this weekend.

Side note: I'm not a big fan of P-n-W. Fits my skill set well, though (WAY better than hymns or chant), and it IS cool to see kids sing this stuff so reverently and enthusiastically. But a whole service full of this stuff is like a meal that's 8 courses, all of 'em dessert. "Blehhh", as Charlie Brown used to say.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

With every new endeavor, such as this blog, comes a number of opportunities to define breadth and scope and boundaries. Here's one:

Do I post personal stuff? Not thoughts, opinions, or observations, but the REALLY personal stuff? I've seen blogs go both directions - the teen-angst blogs that are all personal divulgences, and the commentary blogs that rarely even hint at the personal life of the blogger.

In my opening blog, I gave some biographical details, but haven't talked about my family much since, if at all. Now that we've had something newsworthy happen, do I post it here? I'm low traffic now, but I do get hits, so I can't pretend no one will see it.

So I'm thinking it through now. I'll let you know.
Today's Quote:

I was blogsurfing when I saw this one. No I'm not posting her site, 'cos she doesn't have commenting or mail links posted, so I can't ask her permission. But the quote itself is to good to pass up. She's referring to her sudden ability to "pick up strays":

"They're flocking to me like the salmon at Capistrano!"

I think the malaprop was on purpose. But funny either way - intended or no...

Monday, June 24, 2002

The Power of Prayer
or: "What would've happened if Mark hadn't jumped on the mic?"

From Mark, at the Contemporary Catholic Music group over at


After the baptism I played on Saturday, and before the Mass was going to get
its late start, I started playing my before-Mass songs. Dan Schutte's "What
You Hear in the Dark" went without incident. I was then playing Carlos
Rosas' "Santo, Santo, Santo/Holy, Holy, Holy" -- and was not pleased with
how it was going -- when a woman approached me and appealed to me to ask the
assembly if there was a doctor in the house; the baptismal recipient's
great-aunt (maybe great-great aunt) needed medical attention. I asked for a
doctor or a nurse or anybody who know something about medicine; I saw no

Not knowing the nature of the problem, I went into my next song, Taize's
"Jubilate Deo." I figured the woman was old enough to remember Latin and at
least might be comforted by hearing that old language in church. But a big
squeak and a couple of squawks from the front pew indicated she had taken a
turn for the worse. I stopped playing, checked to see whether anyone had
called 911 (they had), and stood stupefied for a couple of minutes. I heard
one of the woman's relatives say to her. "Keep breathing. Keep breathing."

Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be a scandal if everybody just stays in their
seats gawking at the front pew and this woman dies?" So I got up to my
micrphone and said, "Church, let's pray." I went through five Our Fathers,
Hail Marys and Glory Bes -- pretty darn fast, my wife told me later -- and
as I was wrapping up the fifth Glory Be, D.C. emergency medical personnel
came into the church and attended to the woman. She revived, with the same
kind of squeak and squawk and a couple of "Jesus, Jesus"es. The pastor came
out, vested for Mass, and gave the woman the Sacrament of the Sick and
prounced blessings on her and on us. We started Mass a half-hour late,
without an entrance procession. I think everyone was off their stride during
the Liturgy of the Word, but got it back again by the offertory.

Thanks, Mark. I'll know what to do when it happens on my watch now.

The "Party"

Last weekend, the parish had a "Goodbye, Jay" reception after each mass. It was really nice to see folks turn out, even if the lure was more the free food than the chance to pat me on the back.

Coolest part was a big piece of posterboard that was my "card" from the parish. 100+ signatures, most with comment. All nice, some deep and clearly heartfelt.

Also got a note (and a plate full of date bars) from the mom of one of my teen choir grads. In it, she quoted a neighbor as saying that, although she doesn't like to sing in church, she often couldn't help joining in, because the songs were so infectious and joyful.

If there's a common thread here, it's that I've helped the parish find its voice. I have two big concerns - (1) will they continue to sing for the next DM?, and (2) I seem to have developed a rep as "the fun organist". The latter concerns me because that was really not what I was trying to do - sounds too much like pandering.

I recall my first year there, after I had them singing all this upbeat stuff, I pulled way back for Advent, and we jumped in using chant-based acclamations and low-key hymns. A number of folks complained bitterly - "We want to sing those fun songs again...". I explained the liturgical cycle, the ebb & flow, some of them got it, I think. But the struggle began way back then to be more than just, "the party guy". I know some of the pullback I got from Fr. was along the same lines - as I got more liturgical in my orientation, he wanted to know "what happened to that guy I hired?" Sigh...

Ann, the new DM, camped out with me at the bench all day yesterday. I think she's up to the task, I just hope the parish gives her a chance. I'll do my best to support her from the pews.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Today (2) - afternoon wedding

I spent 4-5 hours between masses cleaning out my office - MAN, I had a lot of stuff. Couldn't get it all in one trip.

Here's the mass - visiting priest from Ohio, family member. A few new wrinkles...

Stookey Song (no guitar - Caroline's CFS really acted up the last time she played)
Beloved (moi)
Ave Maria (Schubert) - had to keep going around while we waited for the moms to get around to lighting the candle - did the Bach/Gounod for awhile, too, but sans music, and I didn't know it well. So what they really got was some inventions inspired by Bach - and, eventually some Schubert.

Processional - Christ, Bless This Marriage (TRUMPET VOLUNTARY, my text) - got a raised eyebrow from guest Fr. describing this one, but he pitched right in. Bridesmaids process to TVol in C, bride processes in D, then we mod to F and sing responsorially, using the A melody from TVol: "Christ, bless this marriage as you blessed the wedding at Cana; Lord, change our lives as you once changed water into wine" **. Verses use the part B melody from TVol.
Psalm - 128 (Haugen)
Gospel Acc - Lawton
Unity Candle - Make Us One (Cymbala)
Table Prep - Ps. 116, The Name of God (Haas) Fr. rushed through prep, but we made him wait through all 3 verses - he kept singing with us, though.
Mass - Creation (Haugen) Fr. intones the preface to the Anamnesis and the Doxology using the Haugen melody. I love that. Our pastor was never up to the challenge.
Communion - One Bread, One Body (Foley) From the missalette - a no-hymnal-mass.
Recessional - THE ASH GROVE - interminable - a few verses on piano, then switched to organ. I seem to be much freer with organ improv than piano, despite my general clumsiness on the organ and comparative pianistic fluency. Go figger.

There was a very nice homily from Fr. who's a chaplain at a Catholic university (I'm guessing he's SJ, but the folks I asked didn't know), but I missed most of it, as the heat was really getting to me!

The big controversy came when some of the wedding party (no one fessed up) hauled our VBS display off the altar and tossed it in the back room. It WAS big and ugly, but it was also fragile, and they really screwed it up. Our pastor was pretty PO'd, though he was genteel about it. The guys wound up putting it back together before they left, but it's pretty messed up. Think I overheard something about a wedding policy change in the works.

** Copyright Jay Ricketts, 2001. All rights reserved.
Today (1) - morning funeral
Not exactly a funeral - Gladys died a few months ago, in Florida. Her family got together to pay their respects today.

Included in their family is Katie - a now-21-y/o I worked with a few years ago when I was doing LifeTeen at a neighboring parish. She planned the mass (with a little input from moi), and canted. Mostly went very well.

Prelude -
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (Thomerson) - she wanted this as recessional, but our parish doesn't know it, so we moved it to prelude)
Softly & Tenderly (Amy Grant arrangement, but with all 4 verses - A only did 2, so Vince could take a guitar solo)
and something she put together - seemed nice, no accompaniment, but couldn't get the lyrics. Pretty melody, sounded Irish

Processional - Eye Has Not Seen (Haugen) - skipped v. 4, alternate melody always throws everyone
Psalm - 23 (Haugen)
Gospel Acc - adapted from Joncas' Come to Me - we take lines 1 & 4 of the refrain, replace the lyrics with alleluiae, and sing the verse intact. THE most effective alleluia I've heard at a funeral (IIDSSM).
Table Prep - You Are Mine (Haas) light participation throughout mass - participation was a little better on this one
Mass - Creation (Haugen) except Danish Amen
Lord's Prayer - Snow
Lamb - Creation (Haugen) apparently I forgot to warn Katie we're 3 and out - she kept going for a sec
Communion - You Satisfy the Hungry Heart (BICENTENNIAL, Westendorf/Kreutz) one of the great communion hymns - good choice, kid!
Recessional - How Great Thou Art (O STORE GUD) FINALLY - they belted this one out. Katie had been trying to avoid the "funeral faves", I think this shows the strength of using them, though. Good thing I swapped this and the Thomerson.

Katie told me, when we were rehearsing last week, that in a way I'm responsible for the success of the music ministry at her college - the DM couldn't get anyone to help do music at the masses, so she stepped forward... something she said she couldn't have done without my prior work with her (I threw her to the wolves a lot) in LifeTeen. Now she's recruited 3 of her friends, and things are going nicely.

It's great to hear stuff like that. Kind of reminds me of Easter Vigil - I light your candle, you light somebody else's, pretty soon we're all lit up! Which is the point, of course - it's just so cool to see real life bear out our symbolism.
Check out this artistic and poetic blog from Canadian poet Erin Bow. Thx for the note, Erin!

Friday, June 21, 2002

I added commenting to the site, courtesy of weblog commenting - leave me a note!
Quote for the day:

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.

- Frank Zappa

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Another recycled post - Someone at npmusers was looking for English language adaptations of the Graduale Romanum...

There's an "American Gradual" of sorts, available from St. James Press. I believe it's based on the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and the NRSV. The review I saw last year found it a bit prosaic (or maybe the word was "artless"?), but if you're going to paraphrase anyhow, this would be a good jumping off point. And I think the gripes had more to do with pointing the chant than with the text itself.

Episcopal/Anglican resources are generally pretty good for this kind of thing - theologically and liturgically very close to RCs, but they switched to English 400 years before we did. So the old prayerbooks (1928) and hymnals (1940) are good sources too, though you'd likely want to fix the Aulde Englifh...

Dr. Paul Ford's "By Flowing Waters", available from Liturgical Press, puts the Graduale Simplex into English. It is also based on the NRSV, but shares none of the criticisms accorded the American Gradual. It is an excellent work. BFW is also about 1/5 the price of the AG. I'd start there.
Followup: My Blogger difficulties:

Turns out changing IE5's "Encoding" to "Auto-Select" defeated the triggering on the Pyra toolbar. Seems to work okay with Windows ISO, so I reset it. Not sure why I changed it - probably one of those "Hey, what does this button do?" moments...
Quote for the day:

Thanks to Bari at OCP for sharing. not a new one, but always brings a smile:

Optimist: an accordionist with a pager.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Let's Try This Again!
Wedding tomorrow - mixed faith, sorta. Bride's RC, but her dad and much of her extended family is Baptist. No info on the groom, but the dynamics, on the face of it. look similar to last week's ugly mess...

...except that I KNOW these folks. They sing. Dad comes to mass every Sunday, while retaining his Baptist ties. And, wisely, no communion this time.

Some extra goodies too: Bride's sister, former teen choir member, is singing a song at prelude. Mary Chapin Carpenter's version of John Lennon's "Grow Old With Me", not one we usually encourage, but it has that needed "Nod to God" in it, and Debbie has a gorgeous voice. Probably the best voice I ever had in teen choir, too bad I couldn't get her more involved.

Other extra goody: Bride's uncle is a Baptist music minister on New Jersey. He'll lead us in Amazing Grace (gathering, right after processional), and sing Joncas' On Eagle's Wings for Unity Candle. He was surprised to find this was a congregational song in the RC church - Baptists in his neck of the woods use it as a choral piece. Anyhow, nice voice and delivery.

Interestingly, the bride wanted our first-string soprano to sing too - something about "showing the family they're not the only people with talent"? Kids...

So here's the line-up:

Covenant Hymn (cooney/Daigle, arr. Petrunak)
Beloved (mine)
Grow Old With Me (Lennon)

Gesu, Joy (Bach)

Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN)

Ps. 128, Blest Are Those Who Love You (Haugen)

Gospel Acclamation:
Alleluia from Ps. 96, Sing a Song (Lawton)

Unity Candle:
On Eagle's Wings (Joncas)

ODE TO JOY (They liked my "tribute to Keith" approach, so we're going with that)

All piano except the Ode. I do NOT expect a repeat of that last wedding. Need to remember to remind Fr. to dump the chanted Lord's Prayer, though.
Thanks to Amy Welborn for linking me! Her blog site is one of the best things I've seen.

Before I found that, I was ready to take Springsteen a few steps further - 57 million channels, and nothing's on.

No longer true, you just gotta know where to look.

BTW, I haven't been able to use blogger's templates/ settings/ archives interface for a few days. They used to work. I'll need to try from home - NT4 at the office makes a lot of things act strangely anymore. I, OTOH, have always been strange...

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Post-mortem, last night's prayer service:

Let's start with the errata and clarifications:
Ps. 104 was the source for the refrain only - verses were taken from psalms 70, 77, 86, 88, and 109)
No Kogut - decided to use only two responsorials.
Added Fishel's "Alleluia Alleluia Give Thanks", Cowan's "Come Into My Heart", my "Even the Rocks Will Cry Out", and "Praise to the Lord" (LOBE DEN HERREN).

The short of it:
Eleven people. Eleven. Subtract the 2 musicians, 2 altar servers, and 1 deacon, and you got SIX. Sheesh.

But it was good. I hope the prayers of the eleven faithful (hmm - where have I heard THAT before?) helped tip the scales. And it may be the closest we ever get to 100% participation!

Musical high points were Ps. 104, which, with 10 verses, became this Taizèesque sort of prayer (though much more gospel-influenced than anything I've heard from them), and "Softly and Tenderly", which was goosebump city. Very minimalist. Added verse 4, missing from Amy's version, which talked about salvation. Skipped 3 which talked about death - didn't seem quite on topic, though it DID help set up verse 4.

I posted this rhetorical question over at npmusers:

Does this low turnout reflect:

1 - the primacy of the personal schedule?
2 - the doesn't-hit-close-to-home factor (never a case of reported abuse in Lapeer County)?
3 - absence of the priest meant people didn't take it seriously?
4 - Deacon's presiding meant we'd have to listen to another one of his lousy homilies (we did, it was. At least it was short)?
5 - people just don't believe corporate prayer makes a difference?

I'm guessing all the above.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Tonight's prayer service:

We're billing it as a "Holy Hour". Fr. is out of town this week, so one of the deacons will run the service. We'll be doing a lot of music prior to reading of the Gospel (apparently NOT doing a Liturgy of the Word, as no lead-in readings). Exposition and Benediction (I think - can we have that without a priest?) too.

We plan to do a mix of participatory and contemplative stuff, with a lot of responsorials. Here's what we KNOW we will use, barring the unforeseen:

Ps. 104, Send Out Your Spirit (mine, with 10 verses collected from many of the wailing psalms - thanks to J. Michael Thompson for doing the legwork!!!);
Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling (Amy Grant arrangement);
Deep Within (Haas);
Ps. 63, I Will Lift up My Eyes (Conry) - esp. v. 4;
Ps. 51, Create in Me (Kogut) - we often drop the verse a fourth, modulating back for the refrain. Doesn't sound bad, ultimately the singer's call;
O Salutaris (DUGUET);
Tantum Ergo (ST THOMAS);
Take Up Your Cross (ERHALT UNS HERR).

Monday, June 10, 2002

Guess I have to get some links added here. I'll work on that over the next few days. Meantime, go visit In Between Naps, Amy Welborn's awesome commentary site. Also check out Mark Shea, Andrew Sullivan, and Commonweal.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

And now, that denouement I was talking about:
Last year we hit on a pretty neat concept (hope Madonna's not reading this, she hates it when someone uses "neat") - cantors get the summer off, assembly sings everything. No responsorials - psalms are sung by all, alleluia is verseless. Certainly not by-the-books liturgy, but it REALLY helped our assembly find its voice - my obsession, remember.

So I figured every 3 - 4 years, we'd do this, make it all fresh. But the cantors dug it so much, that I decided to give them a break this summer, too - with the caveat that the next DM might call them all back in.

So here's the playlist:

St. Cornelius, Dryden MI - Jun, 2002

Gathering - O God Our Help (ST ANNE)
Psalm - (common) Ps. 100, All People That On Earth Do Dwell (OLD 100TH)
GospAcc - Halle Halle Halle (Bell)
Mass - Mass of Rejoicing (REJOICE REJOICE, Haugen)
Lamb - Mass For the Life of the World (Haas)
Communion - Ps. 23, Shepherd Me, O God (Haugen)
- Ps. 34, Cry of the Poor (Foley)
Recess - How Can I Keep From Singing (Lowry)

Present (OT X) - Somebody's Knocking At Your Door (spiritual)
(OT XI) - The Summons (Bell)
(OT XII) - Be Not Afraid (Dufford)
(OT XIII) - Lord, You Give the Great Commission (ABBOTT'S LEIGH, Rowthorn)

IOW, only the presentation song gets rotated. This week, there was a quick soloist line (x4) in "Somebody's Knocking", and, luckily, a cantor at each mass who could cover it.

The Lowry had gotten a bit dusty - evident at the 5pm, lately my best singing bunch, just mumbling their way through. Much better today, when I retaught it before each mass.

Otherwise, assembly's recollection was pretty good - they jumped on my Haugen mass adaptation (his melody, ICEL text, my "approach"). I named it before Agrisano published his mass of the same name. Swapped the Danish Amen in - good segue from the plainchant Doxology. Haas' MFLOW Lamb was apparently in the recesses of their mind somewhere, 'cos they were up to speed pretty quickly. Ditto Halle Halle, but we revisit that one a lot.

What's the point of all this? We have no A/C, we hit 80 degrees today, we don't want anyone dropping dead on us. Now if I could just get Fr. to drop the "boy-are-we-ever-folksy" meet-n-greet after the opening hymn, and rein the gladhanding sign-o'-peace back in, we'd get outta there in 35-40 minutes. Bugs me a bit that we're dropping key parts of the liturgy (Confiteor, Gloria. Credo) but keeping the add-ons. But I'm leaving - just let go, Jay...
I meant to say something here about Corpus Christi...
...but never got around to it. So instead, here's what I posted out on npmusers (nonlistees- you may sign up at NPM's web site):

This past Sunday was our last choir mass before summer vacation, ergo my last mass with the choir.

Corpus Christi gave us a chance to sing some of our best-executed and best-loved pieces:

Moore's Taste and See,
Haugen's Easter Alleluia,
Joncas' Lamb from Sing Praise and Thanksgiing,
Berthier's Eat This Bread,
Haas' Name of God, and
Toolan's I Am the Bread of Life.

It was magical. On a whim, I got Kenny, a teen choir grad, now part of the choir at U-M's student parish, to sit in the tenor section, which is usually just me. Everything was gorgeous! They also nailed my "No Longer Bread" (hymntune MARYTON, but my text and harmonization) - Kenny had never seen it before. And his presence allowed me to go up and receive communion at the end of the Taizè piece. I was nearly in tears as I received the precious Body and Blood of Christ, they sounded so beautiful (I'm getting verklempt now, just writing about it). They kept going a capella until I got back, and I finished on the Hammond (started on piano) - Then kicked into the Moore, had the guest tenor take a verse. We could do no wrong, despite a missing bass and a missing descant soprano.

I jumped on a slow spot after the announcements to make a quick mention that it was the choir's last mass before the summer, my voice started to crack, all of a sudden my co-director was bawling, the assembly was standing and applauding, the choir was pointing to me while I was pointing to them... It was a moment of pure love - THAT mass was truly a foretaste of heaven (okay, now I AM crying - hope my boss is gone already). Fr. got on mic to reassure Caroline it was okay to cry, which set her off again. The rest of us were pretty close to it... Then we recessed with Toolan, and the tears vanished.

Near the end of the mass, I kept finding myself needing to "take it higher" particularly in the Moore and Toolan, and I found myself doing accompaniment things I'd never done before - syncopated chord cluster stabs, a completely revamped gospelly approach to Toolan... I just asked the Holy Spirit to guide me hands, 'cos I was way past the bleeding edge of my abilities there - and everything seemed to work. It was a wonderful way to leave things...

...except I still had the 11:00 mass to do. As luck would have it, it was the third of my "three sopranos", AND the missing bass from the choir mass showed up, and Kathryn our bookkeeper, who is an excellent alto. And we did the choir magic, this time as a quartet, all over again! We swapped in Gift of Finest Wheat in place of MARYTON, and didn't quite scale all the soaring heights we hit at the choir mass, but it was gratifying to see a pick-up choir pull together like that.

And at the end of this one, Debbie was in tears. She'a a young mom, had been wanting so much to do this ministry (she joined up a year and a half ago), and was convinced that I was the only one she could work with. I cooled her out, and I think I half-convinced her that any DM worth his/her salt can and will bring out the best in the musicians they work with - it's part of our job. She DOES have a gorgeous voice, she just needs some melodic reinforcement to stay in tune - and this is mentioned in the set of notes I've prepared for my (as yet unnamed) successor.

I spent a good part of that morning encased in gooseflesh, as our choir(s) sounded the best they ever had, and I basked in the love of my friends. I'll be playing for another month, but at cantorless/choirless masses. I think everything from here on out will be denouement, but I will always cherish THIS week (also the teen choir's last week - they sang the Baccalaureate Service) as the time it all came together. Eye may not have seen what God has ready, but if it's anything like this, TAKE ME HOME JESUS!

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Walking toward Emmaus

Still rough, but more commentary than art, so I'll post as is:

I traveled today, down an old country road,
and, there, met a man who was going my way;
We talked for a while, unburdened our loads,
And both shared our stories - we had lots to say.

And I found that he was a musician too,
And a Catholic to boot, what an unlikely chance:
That two servants of God, who had so much in common,
Would also be sharing this unlikely dance.

"Let's sing," he suggested, "to brighten our journey,"
"Good idea", said I, "it will help pass the time;
He suggest a plainchant, I said, "I don't do that,
But some St. Louis Jesuits sure would sound fine."

"Never touch 'em", he quipped, as he eyed me with caution,
and we both felt a strangeness, unease in the air,
"Pick a hymn", he suggested, "Don't use 'em," I countered,
But perhaps a nice chorus of, say, "Were You There?"

"You jest", he opined, "Then some Haas?" I replied,
"Or Cooney or Haugen or Hurd?' - "You mean David?"
He brightened. "No, Bob", his face fell, so did mine,
As we struggled to find songs the other church guy did.

We were saddened, and torn, by this unlikely silence,
One Bread, and one Body, but two disparate songlists,
With no song in common to lighten our trudging,
A glimmer, a thought, came to us both, and it was this:

"I'll learn one of yours, if you'll learn one of mine",
We both said simultaneously, thrilled at the thought
That the other would learn the great song we had in us,
And we figured we'd put up with singing HIS rot.

So I taught him some Joncas, Psalm 130, he LIKED it!
He taught me the Te Deum - it was deep and profound!
I asked for another, and he did likewise,
And the countryside 'round us was filled with our sound.

When the road forked, we parted, but glad for the time shared,
We'd each grown a bit in our travels that day,
And one day we'll both meet in that heavenly choir,
I'll strum my guitar, and the organ he'll play,
On the one other song we BOTH knew on that day:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

copyright Jay Ricketts, 2002. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Well, THAT didn't work!

On the wedding:
Let's start with errata:
(a) No modulation in Gesu Joy
(b) Haas' Ps. 116, "The Name of God" for Table Prep, rather than the Cooney/Daigle/Petrunak thing
(c) The Ash Grove for recessional rather than Ode - and I haven't figured out how to do Emerson tricks with AG. Yet. I'll have to listen to "She Belongs to Me" a few dozen more times.

And on to the real fiasco. The mass. Scott Hahn says every mass, no matter how badly executed, is perfect. Scott didn't see this one.
Prelude was fine. Caroline, guitarless for the past 3 months while she fought CFS, brought her Ovation today. Added a lot to the Stookey, Haas, and Mass of Creation.
Entrance - I practiced and practiced (and even practised, British style), got the whole thing down - and then my hand cramped. and I lost my place. And the QS-8 wasn't responding when I spanked it (gentle reader, this is a musical term. Shame on you), so it all sounded bland and mushy (another musical term).
Gathering Song: Unfreakingbelievable. They didn't sing. Not only the (visiting, remember) RCs, but the protestants either. EVERYBODY knows Amazing Grace. I knew then that we were in for a long, long wedding - bride picked all this stuff for the assembly to sing.
Psalm - Lovely to listen to, so listen they did.
Gospel Acc - see Psalm
Homily - not his best. Our pastor was a stand-in for the scheduled priest, the bride's uncle, who had a sextuple (!!!) bypass a couple of weeks ago.
Prayers of the Faithful - OH COME ON. A number of protestants didn't even join this. Stood there, jaws clamped shut. Even prayers for blessing the couple. Grrr.
Table Prep - See Psalm and Gospel Acc above. At least we sounded good on all three. Except I got a frog once, and hit some note not found in nature. But then it dawned on me - this was how weddings were in my old parish! Put together our best musicians, put our best crafted songs out there, if they wanted to join in, fine, if not, we still sounded good (and still got paid). I just felt stupid HERE, doing all this cheerleading trying to get people to sing, and I was dreading the hymn of praise coming up. If you haven't figured out why, I'll clue you in below.
Mass - huh. Heard a couple of voices. Protestants stood (defiantly?), RCs kneeled eventually.
Our Father - I'm standing there, sending a mental vibe, "Not the chant! Not the chant!" - Fr. started the Snow chant. I've spoken with him before - he once thought, maybe still does, that the whole universe knows the Snow chant. He is, of course, WRONG. so we could have finally had our nice, unifying moment, except for that trespasses/debtors thing, where we all spoke the Lord's Prayer. But NO. The RCs joined in, anyhow.
Lamb - several distinct voices from the RC side.
Communion - THIS was the low point. Bride received, groom did not. After I announce the hymn (instrumerntal music going already), Fr. announces that communion is for Catholics only, though others can come up and get a blessing - or stay and pray (C'mon Father, they could SING!), and after that, we launch into "One Bread, One Body". It was the worst! This incredible, horrible moment of disunion, and here we are singing about us being one. Aaagh! "One cup of blessing, which we bless" - but we won't share it with you, you heathen. Puhleaze. THIS was not the foretaste of heaven that Scott promised us. Damned near the opposite. And singing THAT song just made it worse.
Hymn of Praise - Bad choice. Doing it at all was a bad choice. But beyond that, The RCs from the neighboring parish don't know it, though it's one of OUR parish's staples. I was really banking on the protestants, but after Amazing Grace, I didn't hold out much hope. If they did know NETTLETON, they didn't let on. Most didn't even crack their hymnals.
Recessional - whatever.

Afterwards, found out that, in this case, "protestant" meant "Baptist". Don't know which flavor, there are so many, but there are some Baptist churches that do not sing, and object to singing. And maybe some that only do Praise and Worship. And a far greater number that object to all things Catholic.

I think I could have done a better job counseling the bride. But I did ask if they were a "singing bunch", and she thought so. And I explained why it was important - because these "community building moments" can fall flat on their faces. Like this time.

[rant]One more thing - at MY kids' weddings, I will recommend with all my might that they skip communion. The sacrament here is the marriage. It's valid with or without the presence of communion. To bring this element of disunity into the picture (my Mom is Presbyterian, hence not welcome at the Catholic table) is just wrong. I'd like to see the American Bishops relax their stance on sharing the table at weddings and funerals - they DO have the authority, but have chosen to close the table at this point.[/rant]