Exaudi Domine, V Sunday after Pentecost

A great prayer exercise for those involved in sacred music is to meditate on the texts of the propers (the changing prayers of the Mass) using the chant.

The western chant repertoire of the Church is an amalgamation of chants belonging to the different western rites, the final corpus being delineated by Pope Gregory the Great in the late 9th Century- giving it the nickname ‘Gregorian Chant.’ It would be a mistake to think that this is the beginning of the chant repertoire- the same mistake as thinking that the Tridentine Mass originates from the Council of Trent which simply codified and standardised the Latin Rite which can be traced back to the Apostles. Continue reading “Exaudi Domine, V Sunday after Pentecost”

How to sing and accompany Gregorian Chant

Where to start when wishing to learn to sing or accompany Gregorian Chant?

I would love to get back to helping in person once lockdown ends but in the meantime here is a one-stop-shop to get you started!

How to read and sing chant– an introduction given by the great Jeff Ostrowski at Corpus Christi Watershed.

If unsure about how to sing Solfa- get the basics here and with the subsequent videos.

Chant Accompaniment

1. Although every organist should aim to accompany chant directly from the neuems, the following link contains full Nova Organi Harmonia harmonisations of the Gregorian Ordinaries and Propers and more!

2. Chant Talk– Patrick Torsell, is Director of Music at Mater Dei FSSP Parish, Harrisburg, PA. He has some useful video tutorials on effective chant accompaniment in different modes.

3. I suggest that they immerse themselves in listening to excellent chant accompaniment. I recommend Fontgombault and Westminster Cathedral.

In terms of chant books and resources, see my post about top tools for TLM musicians!

Fairness for Places of Worship?

We have gone through a very difficult few months. In addition to the physical and emotional suffering caused by Covid 19, many people of faith have suffered the spiritual pain of the closure of places of worship for the common good. We have all made sacrifices.

As the situation is developing, however, many people of faith are questioning whether or not the place of churches is appropriate in relation to non- essential leisure activities in the plans of the Scottish Government. See below the communication which I have put out as Chairman of Una Voce Scotland and please take action if you are able.

Resumption of Public Masses: Contact Your MSP

Long time, no speak

It has been an extraordinary few months for all of us and while many parts of life have moved online, my musical life as moved offline for a while as other things have taken priority. I am sure, however, that as life returns to normality, I will once again have the chance to continue my own study and practice as well as sharing what I learn with anyone who stumbles across this blog.

There have been a number of developments in my professional life. I have completed and Additional Teacher Qualification on Religious Education at the University of Glasgow and achieved full registration with the GTCS as an RE specialist in addition to registration as a music teacher. I have also been appointed Principal Teacher of Religious Education at Turnbull High School after 18 months acting in the job. This brings a new emphasis to my teaching career which I am very excited about but I have no intention at all of hanging up my organ shoes and baton! I will be continuing my work as a liturgical musician with Schola Una Voce and the Schola of Immaculate Heart Parish, Glasgow and will continue to be one of the organists of Kelivngrove Art Gallery.

In the meantime, the Pearce family are preparing for the arrival of our second child in the next few weeks and so the divine craftsman of  life’s rich tapestry continues to weave new and vibrant patterns before my eyes.

I’ll end with something fun from one of my recitals at Kelvingrove!

Home Liturgy- Easter Sunday

For Easter Sunday, follow the ideas for a dry Mass as described in my Palm Sunday Post.

Holy water can be sprinkled during the Vidi Aquam.

Find the text here by selecting the correct date and the rubrics from before 1955.

Here is a playlist of all of the chant I have included organ music for before and after as well as the I filli et filliae as an opening hymn and motets for the Offertory and Communion. For the ordinary- Kyrie etc- I have included both the chant Mass for paschaltide and a more festive choral setting so that you can choose which one to use.

The home altar should be decorated in white and gold, candles lit and incense burned if you have some.

 

Tenebrae, Spy Wednesday

Tenebrae on the evening of Spy Wednesday is the anticipated Matins and Lauds of Holy Thursday. A perfect way to take advantage of a lockdown Holy Week.

Or live-stream at 7.30pm here

Booklet available here

The music may not be the same as the recording but you can follow the text if you wish.

The following notes are those of preeminent liturgist, Fr Adrian Fortescue.

Home Liturgy- Holy Saturday

Following my series on how to celebrate the pre-1955 Holy Week liturgy at home, here are some ideas for Holy Thursday.

Booklet

Playlist

Chant

The ceremonies of Holy Saturday are performed on Holy Saturday Morning. Because these are long and because many baptisms were performed after the blessing of the font, I suggest splitting the liturgy in two

  1. In the morning- The Easter Fire-The prayers of the blessing of the font ending with inserting a renewal of baptismal promises and sprinkling of holy water.
  2. After dinner-The Litany of Saints to the end, in the manner of a Dry Mass as explained in previous posts. The prayers of the Mass begin to talk about ‘this sacred night’ and so it makes sense to delay this half until evening- as well as pacing things for your family.

We plan to spend the time in the afternoon making Easter decorations.

Some pointers for adapting the liturgy in the booklet.

Part 1- Morning

  • The liturgical colour is violet
  • We plan to light a fire in a small barbecue that we have in the garden. While we cannot command a blessing in the way a priest can, in the manner I explained for the blessing of palms, we can still ask God to bless things so the Father of the house can pray these prayers without making the sign of the cross etc, simply asking God to bless the fire.
  • For the triple candle I intend to use three blessed dinner candles that we had blessed at Candlemas and will place them in a candelabra that we have on the dining room table, leaving the additional candle holders empty.
  • My wife has made a paschal candle from a pillar candle (also blessed at Candlemas) and we already have incense that has been blessed so that I can insert grains into the Paschal Candle. (Tip- use a pointed tool to make the little holes beforehand!)
  • All chants are in the play list or can be sung using the cant linked above. The exultet is difficult so just listen to it. If you are keen to do it, miss out the bit about being in the order of levites- this is for priests.
  • For the 12 prophesies, you could decide which ones to include. We have a two year old so we will read a few and then finish reading them in our own prayer time later. If you have older children, you can adapt to what you think is best.
  • For the blessing of the font, you could read the prayers and catechise the family on this or simply give an explanation of what would be performed, reminding the family of their baptism and the significance of that sacrament. A simple renewal of baptismal promises can be found here as a way to finish this portion of the liturgy. The liturgy so far is not considered to be in Paschaltide so if you wanted to sing an antiphon, it would be best to stick with Asperges Me for now. Or, you could listen to Palestrina’s setting of the baptism antiphon Sicut Cervus in the playlist.

Part 2- Evening

  • The home altar is dressed in white and the candles are lit
  • Begin at the litany of the saints. This takes the place of the Introit and Kyrie.
  • The Gloria is sung with the ringing of bells. During the Gloria, the purple veils are removed from the sacred images. The character of this liturgy is still one of anticipation as shown by the alleluia mixed with the lenten-style tract.
  • Continue the dry Mass as described before, with a spiritual Communion made.
  • After the spiritual Communion, the shortened form of vespers is prayed as in the booklet.
  • If singing the Ite Missa Est Alleluia, sing Benedicamus Domino Alleluia instead.
  • The last gospel is read as usual.

Once the children are in bed, it is time to decorate the house, prepare the Easter lunch and hide the eggs for the Easter egg hunt!

Home Liturgy-Good Friday

The next in my series on how to observe the pre-1955 Holy Week liturgies at home is the Good Friday ceremonies.

Resources

  • A booklet can be downloaded here
  • I have put together another playlist of the sacred music that can be found here (after the liturgical music of the day, I have included some other pieces that might be used for the stations of the cross or just in the home to aid recollection throughout the day.)

Ideas for celebrating the liturgy at home

The traditional Good Friday Liturgy is celebrated in the morning.

  • If you followed the instructions in my Maundy Thursday post, you will have stripped your prayer space of any altar frontals/linens/cloths. The candles are not lit. No incense is used. A single crucifix (used for veneration later) is placed standing upright on the altar or table and is covered with a purple or black veil. 
  • The father of the house leads the family in the opening reading, in English or Latin and the accompanying tract can be listened to using the playlist. Then the prayer is said.
  • The mother of the family could then read the next reading and the accompanying tract can be listened to and followed in the booklet.
  • The Passion is then read. C- Mother, S- All, + – Father
  • The Great intercessions are prayed by the father. The mother may wish to say the “Flectamus genua, Levate”as these instructions are usually said by the deacon and subdeacon. 

The Adoration of the Cross

  • The father takes the veiled crucifix and holds it facing the family. He removes the top of the veil to reveal the top of the crucifix. He says or sings the Ecce lignum Crucis and the family respond with the Venite Adoremus. This could be done in English. All kneel.
  • He then reveals the right arm and repeats the chant, beginning on a higher note. 
  • The process is repeated a third time, now revealing the whole crucifix.
  • The crucifix is placed on a cushion covered with a purple or other dark cloth, on the ground in front of the altar/table 
  • The father imitates what the priest would do at this time by removing his shoes, kneeling several times in approaching the cross before venerating it with a kiss. The family follow as the playlist resumes at the Reproaches- Popule Meus. When not venerating the cross, the family meditate on the translation of the chants being sung. These are some of the most moving in the whole liturgical year.
  • The candles are lit towards the end of the Crux Fidelis

The Mass of the Presanctified 

  • The Vexilla Regis is listened to or sung. The priest would usually be retrieving the Blessed Sacrament from the altar of repose in procession at this time and so the family at home begin to prepare to make a fervent spiritual communion. 
  • In the absence of the Blessed Sacrament and given the liturgical character of the day, it might be best not to use incense at home at this point, although the Blessed Sacrament would usually be reverenced thus in the church.
  • The Pater Noster is said with the other prayer in the booklet and the family make an act of spiritual communion. 

The liturgy ends abruptly after the prayer “Quod ore sumpsimus”

It would be good if the house could remain in silence (or close to it depending on the age of the children) until Stations of the Cross are prayed at 3pm.

Remember my perpetual disclaimer, it is better to do less and do it well than to push small children beyond what they can handle. All or part of this can be used to enable the family to worthily observe the Passion of the Lord while we are not able to attend church.

Tenebrae

Once the children are in bed, the adults could pray the office of Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds of Holy Saturday anticipated).

Live-streamed from the Birmingham Oratory at 7.30pm here