Diocesan Clergy Convocation Liturgy report, day one
  • Well Friends, one Mass down, two to go.
    Basically, for the diocesan convocation of priests/deacons I assembled an ad hoc schola of men (5) and all three liturgies more or less look like this:
    Introit antiphons are Propers of each specific day. Tomorrow's will be chanted in Spanish, both antiphon and psalm versicles.
    Ordinaries used: Today: Jubilate Deo; Wednesday: De Angelis; Thursday: Orbis Factor
    Proper Psalms: Psalm tones, today/Thursday in English; Weds.-Spanish.
    Offertory antiphon: all three days- "Dextera Domine" from last Sunday.
    Communio antiphon: all three days- "Venite post me" from last Sunday. (The rationale being that participation might increase for these two via successive use.)
    Dismissal: Salve Regina (Tues/Weds/Thus) and Jesu Dulcis Memoria added Thursday closing.

    General participation was very good on all but the offertory and communion antiphons, to be expected.

    Informal conversations indicated that the "appreciation" factor varied. Some of our high profile boomer guys expressed apathy, claiming that we've crossed the linguistic Rubicon and they're not going back. I did receive a greater number of appreciative compliments from the bishop, vicar general and many priests, some of which commented expressly positive thanks for using Latin in both Ordinaries and Propers.
    All of the guys I've known for 20 years "get" why I've chosen to go the "all Roman" route; the writing's on the wall and we're showing it doesn't take a big gun parish and budget to effect some of these needed, mandated decisions to re-orient the liturgy of any given parish to what Andrew (from RPInet Board/London) has called the "native culture" for years. Thanks, Andrew, very much.
    I must say that I've had some serious stress over all this over the last couple of weeks. But all that was ameliorated as soon as we chanted the first introit.
    I don't see how most of our collared guys can remain so entrenched after they, themselves, join in the communion of the chant. But, out here, in a very "Anaheim RE mode" diocese, this is a hopeful first step in turning the heads of the primary liturgists in all of our parishes.
    Pray for us for Weds./Thus.
  • For your consideration, the overall account of the whole convocation experience:
    I would like to share my experience of planning and leading the music ministry for our diocese’s recent clergy convocation. There were approximately 180 priests and/or deacons convened for three days, during which daily Mass was celebrated.
    When I was asked by the nominal priest who “staffs” the Office of Worship to lead music for these daily Masses, I specifically asked if he would support and approve my decision that the use of chanted proper antiphons and ordinaries would be the only form of music employed. He agreed to that condition and principle.
    In short, all three daily Masses utilized the Introit set to psalm tones, with two of the Masses using the antiphon in English, the other in Spanish. I used the English antiphons from BY FLOWING WATERS, and utilized the same psalm tones for the Spanish, setting them in Finale for the schola of four other singers. I used the same approach for the responsorial psalms, not the graduals for the days, with two in English, one in Spanish. We did not use the proper Gospel acclamations, opting for the “sequitor” Alleluia generally known to all. For the ordinaries we had scheduled the Jubilate Deo compilation for the first day in modern notation, the De Angelis for the second day, and the Orbis Factor for the third. The De Angelis was the only setting in Gregorian neumes. For the Offertorio and Communio antiphons we used those from 2nd Sunday, Ordered: Dextera Domine, and Venite post me for all three days. These were printed in the order of worship pamphlet in modern notation, and the repetition was intended to encourage participation as familiarity increased over the three days among the clergy. We also included modern notated versions of Salve Regina and Jesu Dulcis Memoria as concluding hymns, if need. Salve Regina was sung all three days. As mentioned, everyone was provided an 8 page order of music aide in large format. All singing was unaccompanied.
    During the first day’s Mass (in a hotel ballroom) it seemed that most of the men joined in fully in the singing of everything but the Offertorio and Communio. That was anticipated, of course. The singing of the ordinary movements in Greek and Latin, as well as the Latin hymn, and the English antiphons and responsorial was full and fluid. After the dismissal a modest stream of priests and deacons whom I didn’t know or recognize walked by our little schola and all thanked us, making particular mention of the chanting in general, and the use of the Gregorian Mass setting in particular. The bishop (uncharacteristically) made positive remarks and thanked me by name, and the Vicar General was very positive with his appreciation. However in some brief encounters I had with pastors (whom I also consider friends) of some very prominent parishes who are my age or somewhat older ( 55-62), they were less than enthusiastic about having sung the service according to the natural Roman Rite, which was the stated objective. A sort of nebulous consensus remark was “It doesn’t do anything for me,” along with “We’re so far removed from that type of music, it seems like a step backwards.” All of these priests are excellent singers who regularly chant the collects, prayers and fulfill their singing roles as celebrants. It seemed, with one fellow who hired me at our cathedral 20 years ago, that he enjoyed chanting when he was the one chanting; I didn’t get the disconnect he expressed by saying that corporate chanting of the entire Mass didn’t suit his taste.
    The second day our little schola of men were quietly rehearsing the introit (Spanish) when another prominent monsignor approached me and brusquely asked “Who chose the music for these Masses?” I stepped away with the priest and calmly responded “I did, monsignor, with the full approval of Father _____ of the Office of Worship. He then said “Well then, I’ll have to talk to him because we don’t need three days of this kind of music. It doesn’t uplift me.” I responded to him “Monsignor, the intent of using these forms, besides simple worship, is to provide priests with a model of how Roman Rite worship can be simply implemented in nearly any parish with at least one musical leader or singer with competent abilities, as well as the priest/celebrant himself.”
    That didn’t register with this monsignor who countered with “I don’t understand. I know your work. I would hire you any day to be my director. Why would you choose all this chant. IT DOESN’T UPLIFT ME AT ALL.” Then the second day’s Morning Prayer and Mass commenced and we stuck to our guns. Again, the singing of the Introit and Responsorial in Spanish was taken up well, the De Angelis sung with familiarity and fullness, though notated in neumes. At the conclusion of Mass I approached the Bishop and mentioned that there were some priests who expressed dissatisfaction with the musical choices and did he want me to alter anything.
    He said that we should “keep the propers, you know, the Kyrie and Sanctus….” To which I gently reminded him those were the ordinaries. He said “Oh yes, those. But you can do some hymns or songs instead of the antiphons tomorrow.
    So, early the next morning I ran a supplemental half sheet, words only and included Bob Hurd’s “Gather Your People,” “The Summons (Kelvingrove)” and the Lambilotte “Panis Angelicus” which replaced the propers for the third day. We also sang Jubilate Deo again, rather than Orbis Factor. I had less singers the third day, which compelled me to revert to Jubilate Deo instead of Orbis Factor. And, of course, I accompanied the singing of the songs and hymns only. Before the Mass began I had a chance encounter with the monsignor who made the direct complaint to me, so I simply mentioned to him “Monsignor, the music selections have been adjusted.” I think this took him aback somewhat. I observed him soon after having a discussion with the Vicar General that seemed somewhat, ahem, “animated.”
    The third Mass proceeded without a hitch, and thankfully ended with “Salve Regina.” Again, many more priests, young and old, Anglo and Latino, offered grateful thanks for chanting over the three days. None of the “Boomer” age monsignors/pastors made mention of any appreciation for the adjustments made.
    I did want to stay with the game plan; but I felt it necessary to inquire as to our bishop’s preferences, as he would be the celebrant for the third Mass, and he requested the “compromise.”
    So, I offer this account for your consideration and to give a series of snapshots of how such an effort, done with great care, preparation and in charity, was received by those who are the “liturgists” of their congregations.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I don't know how you do it, Charles. I think I'd have some choice words for the monsignor. Still, it sounds like it was received rather well. One of these days I'll have to just print up a lot of CMAA tracts and, instead of responding, just hand them to complainers :P
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    I wonder if those who thought liturgical music was supposed to be a sort of OTC spiritual Zoloft were uplifted by the Yoo-yoo song.
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    Hmm a familar line "It doesn't up lift ME" Why is it always about ME? Did the Msgr. every bother to think the chant uplifted other priests? If I was a priest an there I would certainly have felt uplifted. What would the msgr. thought of then?
  • You know, Joe, the one thing about that particular encounter that screamed "me, me, me" more than that complaint, was that it would never occur to this priest (and most priests I know, and that's a lot) how offensive he would find it were I, a lifelong, post-grad degreed professional DM, to ask him: "Are you going to preach like that every Sunday? Your homiletic style doesn't uplift me." How long would it take for him to compel my boss to dismiss me for such insolence towards his authority?
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
    Another good point!
  • This is so fascinating. I do hope you plan to write up a more detailed account of your experience for SACRED MUSIC
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Great entry Charles! Sounds like trying the change course on the Titanic. Hope it's not too late for a slow wide turn.
    Keep the faith. You give us hope.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    Baby steps, baby steps, as a sympathetic, musically astute priest keeps reminding me.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Ha, ha, Jeffrey. I've got a two letter response to your invitation to share that in print:
    As much as I'm regarded by most folks as a sort of John the Baptist, impolitic and blustery fellow in these parts, it doesn't mean I want to cut off my own head and hand it to Herod II! That wouldn't be career martyrdom, but suicide. And I can't do much good from Gehenna, now can I?
    G- your "baby steps" quote reminds me of Carl Sagan's version in CONTACT: "Small moves, Ellie, small moves."
  • Or, as Fr. Z says, "brick by brick."

    Please, oh please, Msgr., show me in any document regarding music where words like "uplifting" or "upbeat" appear!

    The next time someone says to me, "The music you use sounds so 'churchy'", I'll reply, "Why, thank you! We ARE after all, in CHURCH you know!"

    (Well, maybe I'll say that in my head.)
  • Better yet... "Oh, I thought pop music was banned." Actually it was at the Council of Trent!
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    How is JP doing , anyway?
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    What a shame none of the clergy participants of the Diocesan Clergy Convocation have joined the conversation. When they do, I guess that'll be another step ...
  • What a funny notion, Ian- clergy in my bailywick whose cybersurfing would include any liturgical blog, particularly this one! And surf they do. See it everyday. One of my former pastors of late memory gleefully regaled me with his daily, multiple visits to the website of Our Lady of the Angels from its conceptual stages through to completion (one could now visit Oakland's site for the same experience, I suppose.) I would listen and "hmm" now and then, just as I do when my current pastor verbally unveils the next "great idea." The point is- very little of what, in my experience, clergy looks for or gains in their quests on the web has anything to do with the reformation of their mindset as principle liturgists for their own congregations. Political intrigue in the Vatican via Rocco? Ooh la la. Whose up for the next bishoprics in Nome, Alaska and Nacadoces, Texas? Ya gotta hear this!
    I miss hearing from JP, too. His last post in CV was, for me, heartbreaking, though I know he'll come up smelling like mint julips.
    Meanwhile, back at my rancho, we'll keep a beeswax candle lit in the window for hope.