Saturday, December 18, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy IX

We haven't had a lot of time to prepare, but: Yes, Virginia, there is a choir. We'll be singing at the "midnight mass", which is actually at 10:30pm on December 24th - prelude will start at 10pm. And we'll sing at the following two Sunday masses, 11am on the 26th, the Feast of the Holy Family, and 9am on January 2nd, the Feast of Epiphany. We'll be singing some old favorites, and some new songs too. We're also hoping to be able to do some caroling to the local senior homes, and perhaps with McRest as well.

I'd like to thank the choir members for their warm welcome and enthusiastic participation, and for helping me learn how to conduct a choir. I'm still struggling with the hand motions a bit, but it's getting better.

This will be a rebuilding year of sorts for the choir, but watch for us again around Holy Week and Easter season. If you'd like to join the choir, please call me at the parish office - there's always room for another voice!

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy VIII

Different churches use the term "cantor" differently. Sometimes it's a fundamental difference, as in the Lutheran Church, where the cantor was the director of music for the parish. J. S. Bach was the "Cantor of Leipzig", for example - but I don't really picture him standing at the ambo with his arm raised. The Jewish cantor is much more like ours, but cultural differences elevated the cantor of the synagogues into local stardom of sorts - in the first part of the 20th Century, it was common for cantors to hold concerts at Carnegie hall, for example.

Even with modern Catholic worship, the roles are different in different communities. Some parishes have no cantor at all, some have two cantors at each mass. Some have a cantor who leads responsorials and a songleader who leads everything else. And some have a separate post called a psalmist who only proclaims the psalm, along with a cantor and perhaps a songleader as well.

Here, our cantors are stretched pretty thin, so they will serve as psalmist, cantor, and songleader. If you attend a mass where there is no cantor, chances are someone got sick: and our bench isn't deep enough to pull out a replacement at the last minute.

So if you feel called to sing God's praises, and to help the assembly do the same, then you're one of us. And we'd love for you to join the cantors of St. Clement's. We have at least two openings, and the more, the merrier. Please call the parish office and let me know if you'd like to be a cantor.

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy VII

Kyrie Eleison,
Christe Eleison,
Kyrie Eleison.

There’s a wonderful, subtle difference between the Greek “Kyrie Eleison” and the Latin “Miserere Nobis.” They both translate, roughly, as “Lord have mercy”, but the Greek is a song of praise as well. “Lord, you ARE mercy.” The Roman rite retained this single piece of our Greek heritage in the Mass, because there was no way to convey the same sense with Latin text. Nor is there with English.

So this Advent season, while we must abstain from the Gloria, we can sing the Kyrie in its original Greek, so that we may yet give God the praise that he is due. “Lord, you are mercy.”

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, November 27, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy VI

And so another church year begins. Last week we announced the inevitable triumphant reign of God, this week we await the arrival of a savior. Similar themes, but far different tones. The Gloria is gone, a Kyrie in its place, and the big brassy hymns of triumph are replaced with pensive songs of expectation.

Our hymns of the month show this contrast: We leave behind the victorious, jubilant "Come Now, Almighty King", and replace it with "God of All People", a quiet prayer that ultimately asks the same thing: "Come, Lord Jesus, Come."

Such quiet prayerfulness can be hard to achieve in the bustling "last shopping days before Christmas", but perhaps the songs of the Advent season can help you find that solitude, that you might hear the still, small voice of God reassure you that he is, indeed, coming.

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Monday, November 22, 2004

Happy St. Cecilia's Day

In honor of St. Cecilia's Day, our blog photo seems to have gone MIA. Sigh...

Anyhow, actually threw my first St. Cecilia party Saturday, after the mass mentioned in the post below. Choir was great, Mass was great, party was great, though no locals made it: the St. E's crowd was enough to fill my house. Good food, good company - hope we do this again.

Off to find us a new photo!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy V

The Feast of Christ the King is not just the last Sunday mass in the church year, it is the culmination of the church year: we celebrate the eternal reign of Christ as King of heaven and earth.

It's really a big deal, though we sometimes lose track of it, with all those other feasts and seasons all over our calendars, and with Thanksgiving coming right behind it.

This year, we thought we'd give the feast its due, so this Saturday the Resurrection and Nova Gospel choirs, from St. Elizabeth's Church on Detroit's near east side, will be singing at our 5:00 mass. They've been working to learn some of our acclamations, and we've been working to learn some of theirs (whether you knew it or not, heh heh). I had the privilege of working with St. Elizabeth's for the past year, and they graciously agreed to bless us with their presence.

By the way, a quick read through the Book of Revelations makes it pretty clear what all of us will be doing when we reach heaven: we'll be singing in the choir. Mass is a great opportunity to get in some practice!

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy IV

Here’s what we share with every singing Christian community out there: the opportunity for “engaged worship” – worship that draws the believer in and resonates throughout his or her being. That means that “alleluia” doesn’t come just from my voice box, it comes from my heart. Such engagement is elusive, and ultimately a very personal thing, different for each worshiper.

There are a variety of tastes and opinions and moods in the assembly these days, and music can divide as easily as it can cause us to come together. Some churches have taken to offering different masses or services in different styles: I hope WE never come to that. Part of our calling as Christians is to encourage each other in faith – perhaps best accomplished by helping the other guy sing his song. So here at St. Clement’s, I will strive for enough diversity in the mass that, by the time each mass is over, we will have sung something that touches everyone.

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy III

Last week, I mentioned my Presbyterian upbringing. The most positive aspect of worshiping there was the joyful energetic song from the pews. Those folks knew how to sing hymns, and their love for worship in song was unmistakable.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has, in recent history anyhow, only looked to the pews for musical participation for the past 40 years or so. As faith traditions survive by being handed down among families, more than any other way, there’s really no way to graft the Protestant hymn-singing tradition on to the collective Catholic experience. Nor is it necessarily desirable.

What Catholic worship offers us is the opportunity to fully open the Word of Christ, and to tie it to His true Body and Blood, which we experience so profoundly in the Eucharist. By lifting our voices in unison in the Gloria, Eucharistic chants, and hymns, we act as the voice of the Body of Christ. In the dialog of the Psalms, the Alleluia, and the Kyrie, we engage in dialog with The Word itself, and draw not only on our Catholic heritage, but the heritage of our forebears in Faith, the Hebrew people, who first instituted the role of cantor in Temple and Synagogue rites thousands of years ago.

Next week – “What we share with every singing Christian community”

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy II

As promised, here’s part two of my introduction:

I grew up Presbyterian, and hymn singing was a large part of my family life. Every Sunday night, before we went to bed, the whole family would sing hymns together: Dad had a gorgeous baritone voice, and Mom sang and played piano.

In the Presbyterian Church, there was a tradition of singing whatever the organist threw at us – in four-part harmony. Of course, the old favorites got more participation, but the joy of lifting our voices to the Lord got us all on board. On the other hand, we always read the Psalm – singing it was out of the question.

From time to time, I tried to find a way to use my musical talent as a Presbyterian – in general, it didn’t work out. My pop music background didn’t really lend itself to a foursquare hymn singing tradition. I was thrilled when my wife’s Catholic West Virginia parish invited me to play with their choir: they had just bought the same blue Gather hymnals that we have here now at St. Clement’s – THIS was some music that fit my skill set! And singing the Psalm was just so much better. After all, the Psalms were songs in the first place. They were meant to be sung.

Since West Virginia, I’ve had a number of opportunities to participate in different Catholic music programs. What I’ve found, consistently, is that where the voice of the assembly is cherished, it will thrive. The talent of the music ministers is really pretty far down the list of needs for engaged worship. What is most important? First, “love God” – use songs that connect to and honor the Word of God. Second (and like unto it), “love thy neighbor” – use songs that the assembly knows and appreciates, or that they will WANT to learn, and are within their grasp.

Diversity within the assembly makes the second point a challenge, but it’s a noble one, and worth pursuing. Nobody ever said ministry was easy…

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Notes from the Music Guy I
(my first parish bulletin article)

Since this is my first article, I should tell you something about myself:

My name is Jay Ricketts, I live in Emmett with my wife Kim. We're both long-time Michiganders - I went to Eisenhower High School - but we've moved around a bit. We have two kids, both grown, and three grandkids, ranging in age from 1 to 4. I've been a musician all my adult life, but except for a few years in the late 70's, it's been a sideline rather than a career. I played in rock, pop, and country bands in and around Detroit, Washington DC, and Winchester VA, as well as a little bit of regional touring. One of my bands even played at the Blue Banjo a few times. I've also done some solo piano - jazz isn't my strong suit, but I can do it in a pinch.

Music became a ministry for me in about 1992, in West Virginia, when I "accompanied" the singer at the blessing of our wedding by recording some MIDI tracks of piano and organ parts. Fr. Brian watched the little MIDI box and flashing lights, and then approached me afterwards about joining the music ministry. I did, and got more and more involved in the church, eventually taking a directorship at St. Cornelius in Dryden in 1997. I learned a lot over the next five years from the great folks there.

I stayed in Dryden until 2002, when I returned to school to work toward a Church Music degree at Madonna University in Livonia. After about a year of that, I had to return to church work for financial reasons, working as the organist for the gospel choirs at St. Elizabeth's in Detroit, and as an accompanist at St. Blase in Sterling Heights and Ss. John & Paul in Washington Twp. I'm continuing my studies at Madonna, but am not taking courses this semester. The degree should come in about two years, if I stick to it.

Fr. Doc called me a few months ago when the parish found itself without a music director, and I accompanied the Saturday masses until he and Fr. Steve offered me the directorship. This looks to be an excellent parish, how could I say no? Thanks to everyone who's been so kind and welcoming to me in my first weeks here. It means more than you can imagine. I'd also like to thank Mary Love, Sarah Schultz, Anne Roszczewski, and Caroline Muylaert, who are all from St. Cornelius, for pitching in and canting at Saturday masses, and especially Chris Swoish, who has agreed to continue accompanying and canting here on a regular basis.

Watch this space! This will be a more or less weekly column, with information and musings about ministry, music, and worship. Next week: part two of the introduction, where I'll talk a bit about worship and ministry. Meanwhile, anyone who's interested in being part of the cantor ministry, please call the parish office and leave me a message. With any luck, I'll have the phone system figured out by then...

May Christ be the song in your heart,


Friday, October 08, 2004

No, He's Not
An open letter to

Some background: Sojourners, an organization trying to serve as a voice for (politically) liberal Christianity, has been running a "God is Not a Republican... or a Democrat" campaign, with some success. I signed on, and have been getting their newsletters. Their latest letter quotes a retort from a Mrs. Brough, who insists that she is sure that God is a Republican, because he's pro-life. End of story. Hence my response below:

I'd agree with Ms. Brough that God must be appalled at Mr. Kerry's stance on abortion. I certainly am, and it's enough to cause me to withhold my vote.

But surely God must be equally appalled at the constant lies and deceit from our Republican leaders as they struggle to justify an unjustifiable war in Iraq. And at Mr. Bush's gleeful run as the "hangin' governor" of Texas. And at the Republican party's awful treatment of the poor, especially with regard to world hunger, and access to medical care.

Bush had the gall to announce a "National Sanctity of Life" day last year, as if the question of "life" begins and ends with abortion. It most certainly does not. To believe in its "sanctity", one must believe that it is God's alone to take away, except in the lawful defense of life (Bush's creative attempts to redefine defense a la Vince Lombardi do nothing to change the true offensive nature of his actions in Iraq). Bush and the Republican party have proven time and time again that they believe that it's good to kill "bad people", or send our kids to their deaths in a war with little or no connection to our national security, or accept death and mistreatment of Iraqi non-combatants as necessary collateral damage, or withhold needed medical services from poor people. And the Democrats, long the voice of the vulnerable and voiceless, has completely dropped the ball with regard to these most vulnerable and voiceless humans, the unborn.

Jesus told us there are two great laws: Love God, and love your neighbor. Both parties have fallen far short of the Glory of God, in both respects.

I don't pretend to know the mind of God well enough to say how or if He would vote, but THIS Christian will be waiting for a candidate who believes in the TRUE sanctity of life in all its forms before he casts another vote for president.
In Christ,

Jay Ricketts
Emmett, Michigan, USA

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

All Things Must Pass, Part II

This past Sunday was my last at St. Elizabeth's. I've accepted the job as Music Director at St. Clement of Rome, in Romeo MI, a northern suburb of Detroit.

The worship space is beautiful, especially the panorama: you get the sense of being surrounded by nature. This may be different when the greenery is gone, of course.

Nice small 2-manual Casavant - 14 stops? - and a Kawai grand, which sounds a little jangly, but still nice. Worship II and Gather I in the pews.

The workload is light, the pay is good, the politics may be treacherous: time will tell. I have a sub, which always makes things better. And Romeo is only a 20-mile drive, compared to 40 for Sterling Heights and 50 for Detroit. No choir at first, but there is a dormant cantor program which I'm expected to resurrect.

I haven't severed ties with the other churches, but will continue at St. Elizabeth's on a volunteer when-I-can-make-it basis, and at St. Blase as a scheduled accompanist through December only.

And, I'll need to rename the blog again, as I am no longer "Once and Future", as of October 1. I can't remember what I used to call it. Maybe this time we'll go with "Confessions of a One-Eared Music Director". Whaddya think?

Hello? *thump* Is this thing on?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

So, Last Summer...

...I swore I wouldn't take any more summer classes - just can't concentrate, need time off, bla bla blah. But then summer rolled around, and I got overconfident. So here's the report card:

Chorale: A
Organ: C+

IOW, it happened again. Some people just refuse to learn from history. :(

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

New Life for St. Josaphat's

Maida's decision to allow it at St. Josaphat seems in keeping with the spirit of Vatican rules, Reese (of America magazine) said. But, "It would be counterproductive if too many people turn this into a marketing strategy to fill churches. The idea behind allowing this mass was that it could help older people in the later stages of their lives. The hope is that this mass eventually will fade away."

I really don't think that's the point, and I think Reese knows that all too well. I'm guessing a lot of the massgoers will be Gen-X'ers. Read the article.

The museum approach At St. J's is interesting, because it's always been my contention that falling back to the Tridentine mass belies a museum approach to liturgy. I know there are those who disagree passionately. Maybe I'll hear from one or two of ya...

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Long Awaited Review

Okay, I promised a review, here it is...

I'd like to say that this book changed my life. That's not exactly true, but it's changed my paradigm. Which, I believe, will ultimately change my life.

"This book" is Randall Sullivan's The Miracle Detective. Sullivan started his journey as a jaded but curious Rolling Stone reporter investigating a Mary sighting in a trailer in Oregon. When none of the claims were neatly explained away by his preconceived biases against such things, or by the Catholic hierarchy that (sadly) downplays these things as embarrassing signs of superstition, he dug further.

His digging ultimately took him to Medugorje, and Rome. And Scottsdale, Arizona. And elsewhere. What he encountered forced him to cast off his world view... and me, mine. He tried to reconcile his old lifestyle with his new outlook - it didn't work very well. But for 10 years or so, he followed the story of Mary wherever it would take him, and we're left with a sometimes breathtaking encounter of his meetings with the Medugorje visionaries, their American equivalents, Vatican officals, and, finally, Fr. Bernard Groeschel himself.

Sadly, it seems everyone, except maybe the visionaries themselves, has some kind of agenda to go with this. So ubertraditionalists are disparaging of the Medugorje statements urging us to love our Muslim brethren. Liberals are dismayed by the lack of attention that social justice gets in Mary's messages. And, it seems, Vatican apologists are scared to death that they'll officially embrace a Marian vision now, only to be debunked 50 years later as science turns another corner. The lesson of Galileo Galilei burns bright in their collective memory.

Sullivan's writing is occasionally problematic, and consistently inconsistent. I think the inconsistency can be forgiven - the whole point of the book seemed to be about his own metamorphosizing from sophist world traveler to engaged pilgrim. That he speaks sometimes with one voice, sometimes with the other makes a certain sense.

The problematic part of his writing is that there are some asides that either need to be expanded or dropped. In particular, an unchallenged slam on the Masons, their "secret" levels, and the sex rites practiced there. Sheesh, either follow it up or leave it out. But as I was reading a pre-release proof, it's possible the editor will insist on the same.

The language in this is occasionally coarse, as one might expect from a sometimes frank and objective report that includes encounters with the demon-possessed, with disbelievers, and with anti-believers. So don't give this to your 6th grader to read. But YOU oughtta read it. So should your friends.

I recommend it. Highly.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Chorale group goes to France - 06/16/04

Sigh... they're going without me...

My choice though - short on $$ and vacation time.

I'm the tall guy in the back. We had a recordist there at St. Ambrose, so some audio clips may follow.

Bon voyage, my homies.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

They're playing my song!

Got to do a wedding today with the cantor from my old church, at another church. Of course, we did a couple of my songs, cos we always do. But she told me that my replacement at St. C's scheduled my Pentecost Sequence for today/ tomorrow.

What was odd, was that I didn't remember writing one. I wrote a song based on the Easter Sequence, but the Pentecost Sequence wasn't ringing a bell.

I went home and checked my files - sure enough, I had deconstructed Divinum Mysterium, borrowed some existing lyrics, and assembled a nice little piece of music. COMPLETELY forgot about it!

Also, this could probably only happen in small towns:
The cantor and I ran the music program together in Dryden from 1997-2002;
She was secretary at the church (where we had the wedding) in Allenton until recently;
The pastor in Allenton is also pastor of the church in Capac, where my wife and mother-in-law now attend; and
My wife is waitressing for the wedding reception at the banquet hall in Imlay City tonight.

One more piece of news - Happy Silver Jubilee to my pastor, Fr. John Markham. He's been at St. Elizabeth's for 38 years!!! A bishop is coming tomorrow, not sure which one. Hope he's not expecting a Pentecost Sequence from us - apparently, if it ain't Gospel, we don't touch it...

Monday, May 10, 2004

I know, it's been forever.

Here's something. Report card finally showed up:

Class Voice: A
Chorale: A
Organ: B+

Definitely a mercy B+, there. I played terribly at juries and master class. Prof said I'd overcome so much that semester - meaning my hearing loss and vertigo - that he thought the grade was appropriate. Still sounds like a pity grade to me.

In other news, the newly reported abuse of Iraqi prisoners should help dispel any thoughts that humans are innately good. Wonder what kind of support the war would have had if we had announced ahead of time that we'd be humiliating naked prisoners on camera. Nope - we always pretend we're above evil, and always act surprised when we get caught, and pass it off as a few bad apples. Remember My Lai? Awful hard to hold the moral high ground when there's photographic evidence to the contrary.

Score one for the USCCB, who could easily say "told you so" right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A draft translation of the new Mass in English

Well, here it is. Still preliminary. These are all jpegs, about 60kb per page, so for those of you on dialup looking for song texts:

Page 4: Kyrie (only the priest's part is changed)
Page 5: Gloria (significant changes)
Page 14: Sanctus (the hosts are back!)
Page 17: Anamnesis (only 3 instead of 4)
Page 25: Doxology/Amen (largely unchanged)
Page 37: Pater Noster (unchanged)
Page 39: Agnus Dei (grammar alert!!!)

Creed's somewhere between 8 and 13.

I'm reserving comment, though I spoke to this before. Maybe after I've had time to chew them over for a while...

Monday, April 05, 2004


Last year I gave up the web for my last week of Lent - I tried a progressive fast, and "progress" eventually took me there.

THIS year I had no intention of doing that again - giving up meat and sweets instead, that's aplenty. But due to my change in work locale, I've got NO web access, except when I'm home. There (uh, here, I mean), it's dialup, and I'm pretty darn busy. So you won't see much of me while I'm gigging in the glass house that Pete built. But it's not my health this time, just my circumstance.

Happy Holy Week, everyone!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

All Things Must Pass

Six and one half years on my current project. Today's the last day.

When I interviewed, they warned me it might last more than a year. I grudgingly accepted. Now that I've been here roughly quintuple my intended stay, I wish it were continuing.

Actually, it is continuing, but only at about 1/4 - 1/3 its prior levels, and I'm one of the "casualties". It's not really as negative as that, because assignments are supposed to be of a finite duration. But these are uncertain economic times, and you never know where the next gig is coming from. And I got real comfy here. I'll especially miss the friends I made here. But many of them are leaving too, or have left already.

So starting tomorrow, I'll be reporting here:
Compuware Headquarters, Detroit, MICompuware At Night>
rather than that nondescript set of office buildings behind the Speedway Station in South Lansing where i've been showing up for the last eighty months, more or less. 52 mile drive instead of 107 (one way!!!). Still about an hour and a half, but maybe less wear-n-tear on the Alero --- a 2001, already up to 108,000 miles.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Man Confesses After Seeing 'The Passion'

Huh. God moves in mysterious ways.

Works for me.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Humble bishop inspired others:

"'I'm Ken, and I'll be your servant.' "

Requiescat In Pacem, Bishop Untener. Your influence went far beyond the borders of your diocese. Without seeing you, we love you.

May the angels welcome you to paradise.

Monday, March 22, 2004

The Trouble With Catholic Social Teaching by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

The salutary process by which the free market leads to an ever-higher standard of living occurs without having to threaten violence against anyone or to confiscate anyone’s wealth by force. It certainly occurs very much in spite of destructive and ill-considered campaigns for a "living wage" – carried out, all too often, in the name of Catholic social teaching – which utterly fail to understand how this process occurs and which only make it more expensive to hire people in the first place.

I mostly disagree - Woods is battling a few straw men of his own making here - but an interesting read nonetheless. Thanks to Mark Owen for the link.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Happy Birthday, J. S. Bach!

319 today. You rock my world, man.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

RIP, Sydney Carter:

"Lord of the Dance" composer dies at 88.

"I did not think the churches would like it at all. I thought many people would find it pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian. But in fact people did sing it and, unknown to me, it touched a chord. . ."

My late sister's favorite hymn - we sang it through choked-back tears at her funeral - and one of mine as well. St. Cornelius parish also took to it fondly. It was an Easter season staple there. Old Fr. Dunn remarked more than once, "You sang that like a bunch of Protestants!" It was meant as a compliment, he explained. Good thing, I'm not sure the pew choir was exactly pleased, at least until they got the explanation.

BTW, this has virtually nothing to do with Michael Flatley or clogging. He just borrowed the song title for his revue, and set a dance to its tune (Shaker Song). Sad that generations of non-churchgoers won't know the hymn, but only the show.

Friday, March 19, 2004

MATINS OF THE RESURRECTION - The Schola Cantorum of Saint Peter the Apostle, J. Michael Thompson, director.

A CD of Byzantine Chant for Easter from my pal JMT and his choir.

Troparion, Tone 2,6;
Invocation and Troparion with Verses;
Tone 5 podoben (Christos Voskrese);
Litany of Peace;
Resurrection Canon, Ode 1, Ode 3;
Hypakoje (Tone 4 samopodoben 'Predvarivsija';
Resurrection Canon, Ode 4, Ode 5, Ode 6;
Kontakion and Oikos, Tone 8;
Sticheron, Tone 6;
Resurrection Canon, Ode 7, Ode 8, Ode 9;
Exapostilarion, (samopodoben, 'Plotiju');
The Praises, Tone 1;
The Paschal Stichera;
Litany of Supplication;
Litany of Fervent Supplication;
Paschal Dismissal

And watch for his new CD, now released, but not on the web page yet - "Annunciation of the Theotokos: Vespers and Matins"

Also recorded by the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle, this gives the moveable parts of the services of Vespers and Matins for Mar. 25, sung in harmonized prostopinije, including the entire Canon of the feast. This is a dialogue between the Archangel Gabriel and the Theotokos (i.e., Mary). The services contain many melodies which would only be heard on this feast.

The only place you can purchase it is the Byzantine Seminary Press.

Byzantine Seminary Press
3643 Perrysville Avenue
P.O. Box 7626
Pittsburgh, PA 15214

If you haven't heard the St. Peter Schola before, you're missing a real treat. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

"Abraham", by Bruce Feiler - Harper Collins Publishers

I had the privilege of singing at the 30th annual Livonia (MI) Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast with my college chorale this morning. We sang twice, four songs all together:

Kyrie - Hassler
Alleluia - Thomson
Abide With Me - arr. Hogan
Ain't That Good News - trad (Tuskegee arrangement)

Plans for a fifth tune, Moses Hogan's arrangement of "I Can Tell the World", were scrapped - probably for time considerations, but there's been some question about the way we're performing it - we ignore the score's "swing all 16th notes" directive up front, ostensibly because Mr. Hogan has anecdotally instructed that it be sung straight - but a fellow chorale member has sung this song WITH Hogan - and they swung it. In fact, he quoted Hogan as specifically chewing out a member who wasn't swinging the beat properly - "What are you, a robot?" LOL.

Whatever - I have this, perhaps unfair, perception of conservatory types as just not getting it. Our director commented that Hogan was very precise, and "would have written in triple time if he wanted triplets." NO NO NO NO!!!! Swing is not triplets, at least not in its best form. A "shuffle", a specialized form of swing used in blues, particularly blues rock, DOES use triplets. But most forms of swing stop short of a full triplet, where the first (16th, in this case) note gets 66 2/3 % of the beat it subdivides, and the second note gets the remaining 33 1/3 %. Most true swing ranges from ~ 60/40 to ~ 65/35 --- later versions (Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal) being less pronounced than earlier versions (Duke Ellington, and Count Basie in particular).

So you don't write it in triple time because it's NOT in triple time, unless the conductor (or rhythm section in a combo setting) chooses to do a shuffle. But nobody in choral music circles seems to understand this. Can you feel my frustration? Anyhow, kind of glad we skipped it.

I linked our guest speaker above. He's been actively working for a meeting of the minds among the various "Children of Abraham" - Christians, Moslems, and Jews, and offered some great insights into how we got ourselves into the mess we did. His "Abraham Initiative", a ground level program designed to institute interfaith dialog, is an inspiration. I bought a few copies of his book, I'm hoping my Pakistani Moslem friend and I will get a chance to both read it before we part ways at the end of the month, as our work project draws to a close and our respective companies send us both elsewhere.
The Rising Tide of Uncollected Wisdom

Everyone welcome Jerry to the blogosphere! It's always a kick to see my non-blogging compadres fire up their weblogs for the first time. Jerry's an organist from Southern Cali, with a serious technical bent, and strong on RC theology and liturgy issues as well - I've learned a lot from him.

Not sure what's up with the formatting - his code looks okay. Maybe a Radio Userland thing?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Gather Comprehensive Hymnal, Second Edition

The Short of It:

If you liked the green book, you'll like the red book. If you didn't, you won't.

Seems like a bit more hymnody than before, but nothing approaching the (optimal, IMO) blend found in RitualSong. It also appears to be lighter on OCP content this time, and I was surprised to find that psalm paraphrases still abound in the psalm section. Given the anticipated directives of Liturgiam Authenticam, I was expecting to see the paraphrases moved in with the hymns, and only exact NAB text remaining in this section.

My new parish uses nothing in the pews, and only "Lead Me Guide Me" for the choir. That's unlikely to change. I will soon begin subbing at a second parish - this one uses the green hymnals. Not sure yet if they're planning a change.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Yahoo! News - Church Nixes Good Friday Fenway Hot Dogs

Maybe Fenway oughta serve fishsticks??? Just a thought...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Helen Hull Hitchcock - Roman Missal Translation Update - Bishops Receive ICEL Missal

Ignoring the usual Adoremus spin, this is pretty interesting. My first read of the acclamations found little to which I would object. I'll read it through a few more times before commenting. As to Adoremus' comments - they're nothing if not predictable.

The most valid criticism I've seen of Vox Clara / Liturgiam Authenticam is that it seems to confuse translation with transliteration. But I understand the concern that anything less than transliteration allows the translator to add his own view. Holy Spirit, Guide Us!!!
The Virgil Fox Legacy:

Virgil Fox Masterclass Series!!! Wowy wow wow wow!

These sound files are the only available audio presentations of Virgil Fox Masterclasses, to our knowledge. They were recorded on a consumer reel-to-reel tape recorder of 1969 vintage, and so exhibit the quality expected from this era. The most important aspect of these tapes is being able to hear Virgil talking to a group assembled in his parlor, and hearing his anecdotes, performing tips, and other timeless — and educational — comments.

The recordings — about twenty-eight, in 45-minute installments — will be added to this website, one each month.

Man, do I want to hear these!!!
eBay item 3902169115 (Ends Mar-14-04 20:30:00 PST) - IM SO TOUGH I VACATION IN DETROIT T-shirt

Only three days, folks, no bids yet, hurry up!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Graytail Adventures

Updated my other site. It needed it. Not so sure about this one, so it keeps its admittedly generic look and feel for now.

I really SHOULD find another Cecilia pic, though - the card pic is pretty widely traveled.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Bernardin's "Seamless Garment of Life" revisited

“Despite its contribution, the consistent ethic manifests several major weaknesses,” said Father Conley. “I think that a certain theoretical haziness has blunted its political effectiveness” in that the consistent ethic of life does not clarify what actions, such as the welfare of a child, are the responsibility of the state and government, and what actions should be left up to the Church and families.

In the contrary, I don't believe that seamlessness rules out prioritization, or different approaches. The political problems faced by seamlessness come from the pro-life movement's uneasy alliance with the fundamentalist right-wing, whose ONLY interest in life is babies - hence their indifference to capital punishment and war and medical access and hunger. If we believe in the SANCTITY of life, then we must believe that it is God's property, not ours. But in our alliance with the right wing, we shy away from seamlessness, because it endangers our meeting-of-the-minds on the key issue of abortion.

The reason nobody's buying seamlessness these days is because no one is selling. Just try to find an anti-abortion anti-war anti-hunger pro-medical access politician out there. They're few and far between, and the dialogue that needs to happen, the one that will turn hearts and minds, is not happening. Sad.

Thanks to Gen X Revert for the link.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Meniere's Disease Information Center -- The Start Page

Dunno if this is what I have, but the symptoms sound close. They don't offer much hope for improvement, but do seem to offer some support. I like this thought:

As a rule of thumb, you should spend at least as much time learning about Meniere's Disease as you do complaining about it.

Heh heh. I've got a 7-day intense steroid treatment program, then my docs are out of ideas. St. Cecilia, St. Jude, pray for me!!!
Massachusetts - Chamber Recital

My good friend, Karl Henning, invites you to a concert event. I've heard a few of these pieces. Three Things that Begin with 'C' is especially charming - light but not "cutesy". Highly recommended, tell him Jay sent you...

First Congregational Church
322 Main St, Woburn, Massachusetts
Sunday, 7 March 2004

Karl Henning (1960): Meditation (2003) & Small Ricercar (1994)

Mark Engelhardt, organ

Henning: Prelude on "Kremser" (2002)
Henning: Three Things that Begin with 'C' (2002)
i. Cats
ii. Clouds
iii. Canaries
Henning: Fantasy on a Tallis Hymn (1997)

Karl Henning, clarinet
Mark Engelhardt, organ


David Bohn (1965): Bagatelles & Epigrams for clarinet solo* (2002)
Henning: Blue Shamrock for clarinet solo (2003)
Henning: Night of the Weeping Crocodiles** (1992/2003)
Henning: Fragments of "Morning Has Broken" (2002)

Karl Henning, clarinet
Stephen Symchych, violin
Mark Engelhardt, piano

* World Premiere
** Massachusetts Premiere


Mark T. Engelhardt is Organist and Director of Music for the
Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Paul, Boston, and Music Consultant for
the Diocese of Massachusetts.

As organist, he has won several competitions, and has been heard in
concert throughout the United States, including Trinity Church, Wall
Street, and Columbia University in New York City; Methuen Music Hall
and Old North Church in Boston; and Bristol Cathedral (England); and
in master classes with Arthur Poister, Marie-Claire Alain, Joan
Lippincott, and Gillian Weir.

He appears as solo organist and choral director on the
recording "Author of Light" of the professional choir and unique
double organ of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. He has been heard
on the American Guild of Organists Sunday morning radio broadcast,
and is heard regularly on the "Sunday at St. Paul's" broadcast every
Sunday on Boston's Classical station WCRB, 102.5 FM.

Mark has served as Dean of the Boston Chapter of the American Guild
of Organists.


Stephen Symchych's violin teachers include Carol Stein Amado and
Arturo Delmoni. He also holds degrees from Haverford College
(History), and the Yale School of Management (Strategy, Finance).

Stephen is a violinist in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, which
organization he also serves as Treasurer. When he is not playing
music, he works as an investment consultant at Cambridge Associates,
where he is a Managing Director. He lives in Newton with his wife and
two children.


Karl Henning fell in love with the sound of the clarinet at age 10
and has been learning, practicing and creating music ever since.

Formally, Karl holds a B.Mus. with double major in composition and
clarinet performance from the College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio)
where he studied with Jack Gallagher, Paul Schwartz and Nancy
Garlick; a M.A. in composition from the University of Virginia
(Charlottesville, VA) where he studied with Judith Shatin, Walter
Ross and Douglas Hargrave; and a Ph.D. in composition from the
University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY) where he studied with Charles
Wuorinen and Louis Andriessen.

After his doctoral work, Karl lived for four years in and near St
Petersburg, Russia. There he studied the canals, bridges, cathedrals,
white nights and starry winter skies of St Petersburg. This was a
period of informal arts study, which in many ways he considers of
equal importance to his years of formal training.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Happy Birthday, Alison

You would have been 44 today. We still miss you.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Honku: The Zen Alternative to Road Rage

These are great. Anyone who drives a lot should get a kick out of them. Here's a sample:

What keeps me from just
pelting your honking auto
with rotting garbage?
Psycho behind me
what do you want me to do-
hit the crossing child?
Together again
at the stoplight-was it worth
all of the speeding?
Natural rhythms
moons and tides supplanted by
yellow, red, green
April signs of spring-
nesting doves, blossoming trees,
blood-spattered roadkill
The evening sun sets
white moon journeys up the sky
I'm still in traffic

Friday, February 20, 2004

A book deal!

No, nobody's publishing me (though I had an article in AIM Magazine a couple of years ago). But, on the basis of writing this blog, I've been sent an advance reading copy of Randall Sullivan's new book about mracles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Watch this space for a review...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Just In Time For Lent

Not for the weak of heart - a hard rock version of Psalm 130. This one's not so much designed for church as for shouting from the mountaintop - we did use it a few years back in LifeTeen, but a much less aggressive arrangement. Just click the link above, "Song 130" is right on top. The "Dafduc" thing? Long boring story - just turned into a nickname...

Here's the radio link, bunch of my stuff in rotation now (cos RPMedia is new and I'm one of their beta testers).

Monday, February 09, 2004

New News Update

The Sunday after my 1/14 post, I got a killer case of vertigo - at church, in the middle of playing, with the new bishop there. Sheesh.

I threw up 7 times that day, finally went to ER. Been around with about 4 doctors since then, see a fifth day after tomorrow about some stuff they found on the MRI. Still no hearing in left ear, either.

Prayers will be cheerfully accepted!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The Journal of Charles Wesley

Ah, serendipity! Found this looking for a text of his.

Sorta like reading a blog, but he came along a bit before hyperlinking...

Monday, January 12, 2004

Old News

Forgot to post my grades from Fall:

Chorale A
Church Music A
Organ B+

Organ was a nice surprise - was expecting another lackluster grade.

New News

My left ear has been swollen shut since last Thursday - missing work, church, school - can't listen to nothin'! Had to skip the Bowie concert on Friday, two church gigs over the weekend. Zithromax therapy has been to no avail so far. Grumble.

Still was able to get some music work done - assembled some sheet music to submit to OCP for their new Spirit and Song 2.0 hymnal, a teen / young adult oriented collection. I used to buy S&S 1.0 for the graduating HS seniors from my teen choir. Nice little book, and the only OCP resource using much of any Praise & Worship stuff.

If they don't get published, at least I'll finally get a rejection slip! Some composer friends have been ribbing me about my lack of those (I'm 1 for 1 so far).

Saturday, January 10, 2004 - O'Neill: Bush planned Iraq invasion before 9/11 - Jan. 10, 2004


White House spokesman Scott McClellan brushed off O'Neill's criticism.

"We appreciate his service, but we are not in the business of doing book reviews," he told reporters. "It appears that the world according to Mr. O'Neill is more about trying to justify his own opinion than looking at the reality of the results we are achieving on behalf of the American people. The president will continue to be forward-looking, focusing on building upon the results we are achieving to strengthen the economy and making the world a safer and better place."

Notice the lack of a denial in there. I smell an impeachment campaign. Stay tuned, I guess...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Yahoo! Groups : IKEatraz

Someone has started a mail list for Eisenhower HS (Shelby Twp., MI) grads. Still tiny, but a mighty oak grows from a tiny acorn.

Wow, is that corny.

Anyhow, for anyone from Ike who also finds's holding your friends hostage until you pay the "premium membership" ransom to be objectionable, it's a free alternative.

I thought the name "IkeAtraz" was pretty darn clever. It's a large windowless building, all it's missing is the barbed wire...

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Choral Subscription Service

The new songlist is here! The new songlist is here!

It appears my composition "Joy!" has been included in GIA's 2004 Choral Subscription Series. It was a surprise to me - a friend just dropped me a line today to let me know. I understand there's a recording --- I hope I can find a copy...