Candlemas, Colloquium, Change: Thanks CMAA
  • Dear Colleagues,

    This may seem a bit long. Still I wanted to share this story with you.

    Two summers ago I hesitantly waited to sign-up for the Chicago Colloquium at Loyola. To my great delight, a fellow colleague and dear friend, suggested that I should have no qualms about going. (I wasn’t sure this was for me. I have been ministering as a lay musician for over thirty years and I was looking for something more than a convention endorsed by marketing interest groups. I was looking for something that was Roman Catholic, with enough Sacred Music and Liturgy formation sessions, that would inspire me as a Director of Worship and Sacred Music, Organist.)

    I must say, that Colloquium was a spiritual high for me, a musical banquet of the best sacred music and the professionalism and fellowship was the right fit for me. From the first Mass, I knew this was the right choice for me. That first Mass, along with two trips to Rome recently – one with 30 choir members singing for masses at St. Peter’s, a concert in Rome, etc. and 50 parishioners, has changed my perspective of Sacred Music in the Mass. I have attended NPM Conventions since the first one in Scranton. I have gained a great deal from these conventions in my formative years as a liturgical musician. But in the last decade I did not find them helpful for my parish work. Actually, I considered my attending these convention, each with a real “convention” atmosphere, large exhibit halls selling all kinds of religious wares and Christian music of all types not helpful at all. In fact, I really came to the conviction that to attend another would not be a good stewardship on my part. I had longed for a spiritual conference that would challenge me musically, spiritually, liturgically and professionally.

    Well, needless to say, the 2008 Colloquium was it and last year's was just as good. I will not hesitate to go again. Since the first Colloquium, the music at our parish has soared like never before. It has been a joy each Mass. Never have I been as attentive to subtleties as I am now. And, even better, I can articulate these concepts to others and they “get it!” Two years ago I started a discussion with the University of Texas School of Music with its Institute of Sacred Music about having some of their performances at our parish. (Can you believe it – a State University with a Sacred Music Division in the same city that once was home to Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the icon of atheism for decades in the USA!!!)

    St Austin Catholic Church (Augustine of Canterbury: It could have been St. Gus) is located directly across the street from the campus. We have an excellent tracker organ and great acoustics. Our parish regularly schedules a sacred music concert series each year. Last summer the proposed. The pastor, staff and musicians of the parish thought this would be excellent. To each staff member they saw great benefit for the parish and Church in doing this. The pastor, who is a strong advocate of evangelizing anyone who walks into the church, saw this as a supreme opportunity to spread the Good News. The school of music, with Dr. James Morrow, head of the choral department, Dr. Chandler, director of the school of music, Dr. Gerre and Judith Hancock, both on the staff at the university fully supported the idea.

    To wrap up this … this is what was scheduled. (Maybe, if I can have some of our technical experts work on it, I can offer a sample taste of what we drank on this holy feast.) Over two hundred people came to the Mass. About 20% were non-Catholic and another 25% were folks from other parishes. The worship aid included the full text of the Mass with translations.

    Prelude: Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin, Dietrich Buxtehude
    Introit: Ecce advenit
    Kyrie: William Byrd – Mass for 4 Voices
    Gloria: Byrd
    Psalm: Psalm 84:1-4 w/ Gloria patria in English. Fauxbourdon setting by Donald Meineke
    Alleluia: Senex puerum
    Creed: Byrd
    Offertory: O Nata Lux, Thomas Tallis
    Sanctus: Byrd
    Benedictus: Byrd
    Agnus Dei: Byrd
    Communion Antiphon: Responsum accepit Simeon
    Communion Motet: O Sacrum Convivium, Kenneth Leighton
    Postlude: Praeludium in e, Nicolaus Bruhns

    Dr. James Morrow, Director
    Donald Meineke, TA, organist

    And if that wasn’t enough, the celebrant–priest The Rev. Dr. John E. Hurley, CSP (Pastor) gave this homily. (See below.)

    One parishioner, after mass said, “I came to see what this was about, and even though I did not participate like I normally do at other masses, I was fully exhausted after this mass – spiritually consumed by the presence of the divine. In the beauty of this mass, I heard, felt, touched, saw and celebrated with God truly present in this sacred place.” Who could ask for anything more?

    I hope this story will help inspire others to come to the Colloquium, take what you have learned and incorporate it in your parish masses, and, if possible, invite a local university or college choir to come sing some of the great treasures of our Church at a parish mass.

    Blessings to y’all.

    Dr. John J. Hoffman
    Director of Worship and Sacred Music, Organist
    St. Austin Catholic Church
    2026 Guadalupe Street
    Austin, Texas 78705

    Homily for the Eve of Candlemas + The Presentation of the Lord
    This eve of Candlemas offers all of us an opportunity to joyfully anticipate God’s coming more intimately into our lives.
    Yes, this vigil of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple challenges each of us to prepare for the coming of the Lord into our lives at times and in ways we least expect.
    A little over a month ago, we celebrated throughout Christianity and the world, the birth of the messiah, the Word made flesh. That celebration for us is part historical and part prophetic. Historical in the sense that Jesus was born in time and place; prophetic in the sense that we are to prepare to acknowledge Christ when he comes again. Are we ready in joyful anticipation?
    Our first reading this holy night from Malachi shares the prophecy that a messenger will prepare the way and “suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.” It is one thing for us as Christians to hear a prophecy. It is another for us to have the faith to acknowledge its fulfillment.
    On this eve of Candlemas day, a day we recognize as a faith community the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophesy, we hear the words of Luke tell us that Simeon who longed in joyful anticipation for the coming of the Lord experienced the fulfillment of the prophesy.
    He rose on his feet and entered the temple for this was going to be no ordinary day. It was the day he longed for knowing he would not die until it came. It was no ordinary day for all in the temple and Simeon proclaimed this when he said “now master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your Word…for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
    Yes, this was no ordinary day in the temple. And, this evening is no ordinary day in this temple…for Word and song has come together in joyful praise. Like Simeon, we too gather in joyful anticipation to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in Word and song.
    We come together to listen to “A Mass for 4 Voices” and we remember the difficult time in which this music was written, a dangerous time for Catholics in Elizabethan England…a time when it was difficult to even celebrate mass let alone write music for a Catholic liturgy. And, in the midst of this emptiness, William Bryd dared to sore with eagles wings in the “Agnus Dei” where he builds the number of voices to achieve a searing climax a the words, “dona nobis pacem—grant us your peace.” Maybe this was a political statement as well for it is peace among his fellow persecuted Catholics who long for an end to persecution. It is a similar joyfulness in Simeon’s heart and mind that he longed for peace…a peace of mind knowing that salvation had come.
    Tonight in this temple to the Lord, the same Spirit of the Lord is upon us as it was upon Simeon and William Bryd. A Spirit that calls us to acknowledge the sacred presence of God in our midst. And, even for some of us we must remember that this is not just great music but it came to us in the midst of darkness. It brought much light and beauty to our Catholic brothers and sisters in the late 16th century and now it does the same for us today and it touches each of our lives as we gather.
    In our times of growing secularization, Simeon and William Bryd have a message for all of us, never abandon hope and if we persevere salvation from God will come. In music, community, Word and Sacrament, we do indeed do that in this temple tonight.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,039
    Wow . . .

    Thank you for your moving testimony. I congratulate you.

    And a wonderful homily - incorporating reflections on the music for the mass.

    Indeed, who could ask for anything more.

    Sam Schmitt
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Wonderful !
  • That is so extraordinary. REally really lifts the spirits.

    This is indeed the most most most important work we all can do. What a privilege. What an honor.
  • It's so wonderful to hear about something musical AND liturgical coming out of Austin! I used to drive by the church every time I came to town to work on the U.T. organs - having been with Visser-Rowland at the time, and helped build the recital hall organ. Maybe the campus library should donate their spare Gutenberg Bible to your parish!
  • Very moving indeed.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

    I'm a UT music grad and a former parishioner and choir member at St. Austin's (1988 - 1993, under Bill Davis). I can vividly picture what you describe, and it makes me miss that place all that much more.

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