Friday, February 16, 2007

Catholic Herald

In this weekend`s Catholic Herald, there is an inspiring article about the development of liturgical music at the parish of St Wulstan’s in Wolstanton, Staffordshire under the direction of the husband-and-wife musical team, David and April West. They now have children singing Gregorian chant and polyphony. It shows what can be done with enthusiasm and knowledge. The parish priest is Fr Anthony Dykes, to whom I once spoke on the phone as we were both working on Phd`s on Prudentius at the same time. I`ll be going into our primary schools after half-term armed with the music of Mass XVIII!


Alnwickian said...

I wish you luck, Father, with Mass XVIII.

My own attempts to introduce, very gently, some Chant into the Sunday Mass in a local Novus Ordo Parish by using Mass XVIII were met with immediate criticism from the Parish Priest: 'this Kyrie is far too difficult, I can't even sing it myself'.

Hebdomadary said...

alnwickian: The withering replies latent in the straight-line provided you by your unwitting (and I really, really mean that!) priest are manifold! Those are the kind of lines that great fall-guys are born for. And coming from a priest it gives new dimension to the notion of ABBOT and Costello! Lets imagine ourselves in a music-hall comedy routine ca. 1940:

Fr. Fall-Guy: "...I can't even sing it myself."
Br. Alnwickian: "You can't sing period."

Fr. Fall-Guy: "...I can't even sing it myself."
Br. Alnwickian: "Can you sing over the hills and far away?"

Fr. Fall-Guy: "...I can't even sing it myself."
Br. Alnwickian: "Can you sing on a slow boat to china?"

All it takes is for a priest to make an assignment and let his charges know that he has expectations of them, and that they'd better live up to them. It's only fair, they certainly have expectations of their priest. They expect him to be there for their every need from cradle to grave. Turn about is fair play. And you should, Father.

I just played and sang a N.O. funeral mass today, into which was inserted the Requiem introit, the In Paradisum, the Franck "Panis Angelicus," and the gregorian Ave Maria. Tonight I'm teaching our formative handbell choir the Ave Regina caelorum. There's a new wind blowing and I'm fanning it...and I'm not alone!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Alnwickian, did I say I`d be teaching it?

Anonymous said...

And if I can't sing it, no one's going to sing it ... mwaa-ha-ha!! (boos and hisses from the bairns in the front row).

Similar pantomime performance from my PP. After he had (very grudgingly) allowed me to sing the Veni Creator at my wife's reception into the Church, and a large part of the congregation had joined in, I tentatively suggested that chant might be used more often. 'Oh no,' he said, 'I prefer to stick with something more participatory.'

Monica said...

Father - Mass XVIII is not difficult for any congregation willing to listen and try (most of the older ones will know it anyway - even though some will say they don't). However, you might want to try it with the Kyrie from Mass XVI - it's just that bit simpler.

We do that combination during Advent and Lent ('De Angelis' makes an appearance at Christmas and Easter) and the die-hards don't yet realise that they are singing it - and singing it well! We introduced it without any fanfare. We now also sing 'Attende Domine' as the entrance chant at every Sunday Mass in Lent.

What's important is getting them singing the chant - the particular setting is of far less significance in my experience.

Every blessing in your endeavours.

Anonymous said...

I used to sing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Mass XVIII in the early 70s, before I could read. When I could read I found that I had garbled the words a bit, but the tunes are easy enough for infants to sing.

Fast forward to 2007 and the same were sung at Westminster Cathedral on Ash wednesday by a packed Cathedral. No bother and no organ. (Brilliant Choir of course, but a huge acoustic.)

How exciting to be able to teach children these great chants. Imagine all the people (ie Saints) who have sung them in the past.