Archive for the ‘Triduum – Easter’ Category

Is there a certain song that defines your Easter season?  For about the last 12 years or so, my congregation has been singing In the Breaking of the Bread by Michael Ward (WLP) as our recessional song for the Easter vigil and Easter morning.  The words are based on Luke 24 and Acts 2.  I’ve heard a recording of the song from the CD.  The tempo marking says a quarter note = 72 but we sing it at a faster tempo.  The song is included in the Celebremos / Let Us Celebrate hymnal by WLP and I’m sure other WLP hymnals.  I believe the Franciscan parish in downtown Sacramento also uses this song at their Easter vigil.  As with many other songs we sing at critical parts of the liturgical year, it passes the goose bump test.  There is something about the words and pace of the song–and the melody that defines the meaning of Easter for me.

I had a young lady come up to me after mass this morning in tears (of joy).  She was so moved by the music.  She told me she has contemplated many times leaving our parish and going elsewhere (for various reasons) but it was the music that always brings her back. 

I feel so blessed to be a liturgical musician.   God has given me a wonderful gift! I get to do something that I love (music) but I also get to share it with so many other people.  I have been told time and time again how the music we do in church touches so many lives. 

In the walking on the road, we we saw him.
In the telling of our hopes, we saw him.
In the burning of our hearts, we saw the Lord.
At the meal he took the bread and then he blessed it,
broke it, offered it.  In the breaking of the bread, We saw him!
Suddenly our eyes were opened, And we knew he was alive!

Sherrity and Lee's Reception Cruise 3_29_08 Last weekend I had the honor of being the “best man” at the wedding of a very dear friend of mine.  We have been singing together in our church choir for 25 years now.  Lee has been the “bass” section leader and I have been the “tenor” section leader until I became the choir director.  Lee is one of the few “Anglo” men I know who can belt out gospel music like he was—ah…you know…born do sing it.   The wedding was at our church in Sacramento but He wanted the reception to be memorable so he booked a cruise of the San Francisco bay (4 hour trip).  We started the cruise from the port in Alameda, sailed around Angel Island, went under the Golden Gate Bridge and then back again.  It was beautiful and will be a cherished memory.  And of course, it was a beautiful sunset!


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Triduum Worship Aid Cover_2006_Ted Sanders

Holy Week has come and gone.  It’s been so long since I was part of the congregation (and not the choir director) that I almost feel like I want to take one Triduum off and just enjoy the Three Days without feeling the pressure of being there with the music—no, as I think more about it, that would only work if I actually attended the Triduum at at another church.  I would even be more nervous at my church if I was there and not leading the music!

It has been the tradition at my church to create a worship aid for the Triduum and extend it on into the whole of the Easter season.  It has also been our tradition to acquire beautiful artwork to use for the worship aid cover.  This has served us well in the past, but as the price to use copyrighted art work goes up, I have taken to using artist in my own parish.  The worship aid cover in this post is actually from our 2006 Triduum.  It was created by Ted Sanders who has been in our choir for over 30 years.  Ted is a teacher, an accomplished artist and a fine tenor.  He also is a percussionist in our choir.  When I first saw this piece of art work, I fell in love with it.  I don’t really know that much about art, but it is one of those paintings (I believe it was done in chalk) that I can just get lost in—lost in prayer.

Back to this years Triduum — What really stands out in my mind?  What memories will I cherish the most?  I think the most beautiful moment was the dressing of the altar at the Easter Vigil.  I believe this liturgical movement was brought back from the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles.  I have a friend who was taking pictures during the liturgy, so hopefully I’ll be able to eventually post a picture of the table.  For now I’ll just describe it—at the “Presentation of Gifts” we sang We Come To Your Feast by Fr. Michael Joncas (GIA Publications, Inc.)

Verse 1 from “We Come To Your Feast”

We place upon your table a gleaming cloth of white.
The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives;
the dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries,
the promise of our future: our needing and our nurture
lie here before our eyes.

As we sang the hymn, two people dressed in native clothing from their country of birth processed to the altar with a small altar cloth made from their home country.  There were altar cloths from the Philippines, Guam, Vietnam, Mexico and Africa.  As they processed, they held up the cloth for all to see—and as each pair came up, they laid their cloth on the altar.  The last pair that came up laid the white altar cloth on top, but you could still see the brilliant fabric from the other cloths hanging down in front of the altar.  It really choked me up.  So many rich cultures coming together as one to pray and sing and celebrate our risen Lord.

Verse 2 from “We Come To Your Feast”

We place upon your table a humble loaf of bread:
The gift of field and hillside, the grain by which we’re fed;
We come to taste the presence of him on whom we feed,
to strengthen and connect us, to challenge and correct us
to love and word and deed.

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Holy Thursday begins March 20th this year.  I read that this is the earliest date for the beginning of Triduum since 1885!  Being the forgetful person that I am, I’ve made it my goal this season to be way ahead of schedule so there is no last minute choir practice or any other choir director duties needed that will take away from the beauty of the most holy week of the liturgical year.  Although, I do have about 15 cello parts I need to write for some of the new bi-lingual music we’ll be doing during Holy Week.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could just go on line and order the parts I need?  The Catholic music publishers are getting better at writing instrumental parts, but it is still hit and miss, especially for an instrument like the cell.

This past Sunday morning I was having coffee at Starbucks with a couple of the way i see it_Starbucks_267the  ladies in the choir and I noticed this wonderful quote on the side of the Starbucks cup.  I am a big Starbucks fan, but I normally don’t even look at the quotes.  But this one really hit me.  When I read it to my friends, that all asked for me to e-mail them a copy of the quote below.  It says so much about why music is so important to our liturgy…why it moves us not only to tears, but also to prayer and reflection…maybe even conversion?

In case your interested, you can find all the Starbucks coffee cup quotes at the Starbucks web site

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Oliver Sacks
Neurologist and author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

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cartoon mariachi About a year ago, my parish started offering a mass in Spanish.  This was probably a good idea, as there are many Spanish speaking people in the surrounding area.  Our parish has been around since the mid sixties, so this is quite a change for our community.

As the choir director, I’ve been asked to submit a bi-lingual Triduum worship aid to our pastor for review.  Last year, we actually incorporated a few bi-lingual hymns that were used for Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  I thought it worked out well.  But—I’ve been asked to step it up a notch and add more music, including the service music for Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. 

This doesn’t pose to much of of a problem since I’ve made it a point during my tenure as choir director to occasionally use some bi-lingual music and even service music at different points in the liturgical year.

But what about the “English only” hymns that have become a part of the communities history?  At the beginning of Holy Thursday, it has been a tradition for as long as I’ve been a member of my parish, to sing All That Is Hidden by Bernadette Farrell.  When the first chords are played to introduce the hymn, I always get chills.  This “IS” the beginning of Triduum for our parish community.  No other song will do!  How can I change that tradition?

I’ve heard much grumbling from our community, “We didn’t ask for a bilingual liturgy, so why is it being shoved down our throats?”  “Why are we singing in Spanish—we can’t even get the Latin right!”

I’m going to post some of the more beautiful bi-lingual hymns I’ve found over the last few weeks.  These are not compromise tunes that I don’t really care for.  They are bi-lingual hymns that really move me. 

We live in a very special time.  There are so many wonderful and talented Catholic liturgical composers out there.  I’ll post some of my favorite bi-lingual hymns soon. 

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A note about the lack of post in this blog: If you have visited this blog and have found that it looked abandoned since the first couple of entries, you are basically correct. I’ve been very busy caring for my son-in-law and keeping up with his blog, so please excuse my absence—things have calmed down a bit, so hopefully I will have more time to dedicate to liturgical music which is one of my passions.

Octavos and more octavos: I have the pleasure of receiving quarterly octavo music packets from three different publishers. Actually the three biggest Catholic music publishers, GIA Publications, Inc., Oregon Catholic Press (OCP), and World Library Publications (WLP). My church is also fortunate in that we have a music license from all three previously mentioned publishers. Each publisher not only sends full octavos, they also send CD’s of the music in the octavos. As I review each packet, I’d like to take a few standouts from each music packet and discuss them in this blog.

I recently received OCP’s quarterly octavo music packet #58 and would like to review a few of the stand outs in upcoming post. Obviously this is a subjective review, but hopefully, over the last 35 or so years as a pastoral musician, I’ve gained some good sense in picking out music that is both interesting, liturgically sound, and musically pleasing. Oh, and most importantly—does the music and words speak to the assembly and make them want to pray and sing? Keep in mind that I tend to lean more toward octavos that are less “cathedral” in style and geared more towards the average Catholic church music group. In my choir, I have about 15-20 singers, a keyboard player/organist, (one) guitar, bass guitar, cello, flute, drum kit, conga and percussionist who plays miscellaneous instruments.
one with the risen lord_hurd_assembly

The one octavo from the latest OCP packet (#58) that really caught my attention is “One with the Risen Lord” by Bob Hurd (edition # 20587, Assembly, SATB Choir, Descant, Keyboard, Guitar, Cello, and Trumpet in B-flat (or Trumpet in C), Compact Disc #20354. The song is based on John 14:15-21, 23-29.

The refrain has a very Taize like feel to it. It also has sort of a meditative, hypnotic feel to it. I found myself singing the melody in my head later on in the day after only spending a few minutes singing the refrain and verses. I wouldn’t be surprised if this piece of music didn’t make it into one of OCP’s excellent hymnals within the next few years.

Another plus for choir directors like myself is the inclusion of the instrumental parts! I am blessed with having an excellent cellist and I so appreciate being able to hand her a cello part; especially one that looks to be very well written. To view the complete PDF of this octavo, go to OCP’s web site, or click here. You can either look at the full PDF of the octavo (printing of of the PFD has been disabled) or you can also listen to a snippet of the music.

In the “Composers Notes” section of the octavo (which I also really like about OCP), Bob Hurd mentions that the song “summarizes the entire Easter season”. He also mentions “One with the Risen Lord” can be used as a gathering or communion song throughout the entire Easter season. I for one, will be using this octavo for our communion song this coming Easter season.

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