Skip to comments.A model for revitalizing Catholic parish life
Posted on 09/23/2004 5:56:29 PM PDT by AskStPhilomena
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Our organist and our Director of Music take their duties seriously. They have elevated the level of music in our Parish tremendously; especially the organist. He's been at the Parish for about 10 years now, and had pushed the former Director into some better music. That Director died suddenly last year and the new one truly cares about the quality of the music she chooses. She had been the Director of the Festival Choir, so I was familiar with her tastes in music. Every now she and the organist pick a schmaltzy new piece and I give em grief about it! I don't like schmaltz.
I have a wealth of music by Singenberger and others of his ilk. A few churches were throwing away....."that old crap"......and I "caught it" before it went to the dumpster!
The only "sung" Sunday Masses I ever attended were at the Newman Hall at the University of California -- Berkeley. It was beautiful, but definitely not the norm in the Parishes. The liturgy was called the Congregational High Mass.
I lived quite a distance from the Newman Club and we had to walk. If you arrived a wee bit late, they were already singing and the sounds of the voices wafted out the windows and down the stairs. The stairs were heavily carpeted and that sort of muted the sound of the singing as you tiptoed upstairs to take your place in a back pew. It was almost magical.
The worship space was paneled in dark wood -- walnut or dark oak. And the massive boxed beams holding up the roof were done in a trinity design with 3 holes constructed in the center of each beam where they met the peack of the roof and a similar design at the ends where the beams flared to meet the walls. The exterior was dark brick with burned and twisted bricks added every so often, protruding from the walls. It was the most beautiful building.
They demolished it in 1963 and replaced it with an ugly engineering building. I would have given anything to have salvaged a brick from the rubble -- but such was not my luck. Newman Hall moved across campus and they built a poured concrete semi-circular very sterile appearing building. The altar became a mound, and the altar accoutrements -- crucifix, priest's chair, altar table -- look like something out of Stonehenge, or Barney Rubble.
The building is semi-circular because one neighboring property owner refused to sell because he hated the Catholic Church and he added a provision to his deed that the land could never be sold to them. So, the Paulists had to change the design of the new church and it became 3/4 of a circle instead of a full circle.
In any case, I never attended a Parish anywhere else with music at Sunday Mass until after Vatican II. And I can count at least 6 parishes in two states. At first it seemed very odd to have regular parishioners standing up front leading the singing. And the day a visiting priest assigned to our parish from Malta played the violin for Easter services was simply amazing. He also composed an original Our Father (music) for our parish and gave it to us to use forever after -- copyright free. (St. Leo's in Oakland, CA.)
Later I moved to Texas, and we didn't have any music there either. It took my daughter hauling an old organ out of the closet (she was 14) and teaching herself to play before we had music at regular masses. Later the parish bought a beautiful organ and hired an organist after my daughter left for college, but my daughter played for all the traditional masses and weddings until that time. We did have a folk choir with guitars for one Mass a week, but that was the only music.
See #103. It should have been addressed to you too.
I forgot "the rest of the story."
Singenberger taught the man who taught my uncle (who then taught me) about musica sacra...
And Singenberger was educated at Regensburg--remember? So was Cdl Ratzinger's brother, who last was Kappellmeister at the Domspatzen/Koln.
That's why Ratzinger has a good understanding of music--in fact, a VERY good understanding of music.
Ya shoulda gone to Stanford, where there is a TERRIFIC choir which sings Chant and 16/17 century stuff.
One is not surprised to hear that Texas was rather dry...
Psssst........Bach was Lutheran!!!!
But, that in no way diminishes the quality or spirituality of his music.
Palestrina...yes! And of course we must add Pergelosi, Gabrieli, Handel, Hayden.......and of a later era, Mozart.
As ninenot has alleuded to, in 19th century America we had magnificent compoers like Singenberger, and others of German descent,who brought a wonderful tradition to our shores.
An interesting side note: a formerly prominant (and now notorious) Jesuit church in NYC - St. Francis Xavier - had a string of famous musicians: Fr. John Young, SJ (largely responsible for importing "Silent Night to the US), Bruno Oscar Klein, Gaston Detheir (founded the organ department of the Julliard School), Pietro Alessio Yon.
Now they gather faithfully around a broken piano to sing Barney songs.
Good question. Ninenot and I were simply pointing out what we thought might have caused the abberation; Perhaps the source that he used was Polish.
Stanford!!! Arrrrrrrrgh! The skewl that invented grade inflation!
The engineering and math profs sued the academic senate 20 years ago over it and were put down big time by the other departments. It seems that if you have the money and the pull to go there, you are not supposed to have your ego wounded by anything less than a B.
I remember when a PhD student got mad at his prof because the prof would never approve his thesis. He'd been enrolled in the program about 12 years. The student shot the prof dead in his office. Big scandal. Ever since then, Stanford has been very generous with the As and Bs.
So, when a job applicant says he has a 3.5 grade point from Stanford, you can equate it with a 2.0 from Cal.
To be fair about Texas, it was still considered mission Territory when we lived there. It wasn't so bad around Houston where we had ample south of the border and Italian influence, but my daughter went to college at Baylor U in Waco where most of the student body had never met a Catholic. All they knew was that you weren't supposed to date them!
And for chant? There was nothing more beautiful than to sit on the lawn at St. Mary's College in Moraga at 6 PM and listen to the Christian Brothers sing Gregorian Chant.
Huels is a good canonist...despite his serious personal flaws. He was responsible for the canonical reasoning behind making ALL SEVEN sacraments available in the Old Rite--expanding the scope of the Indult way beyond what Rome thought was authorized.
So there is some good there, eh?
And Pietro, eh? Good stuff.
But WE can top that.
Fr. Gruber's great-nephew and great-niece live(d) here in Milwaukee. "Mamie" Gruber was a spinster and the choirmaster at an East Side parish for a zillion years. Her brother became a VERY wealthy spice-maker. The other grand-niece, also a spinster, was choirmaster in the Twin Cities area for a zillion years....
Isn't that neat? That stuff just FLOATS out there. Even neater when you realize that what they are doing has been done, just that way, for 800+ years. All those sung prayers, out there in the Universe, from millions of monks.
And Pietro, eh? Good stuff.
Yes, Pietro Yon was organist at St. Francis Xavier for about 12 years before he went to St. Patrick's Cathedral. While at Xavier, he composed "Gesu Bambino". Of course he wrote reams of both choral and organ music (and very tricky stuff too!) which is now largely gathering dust.
His brother, Constantino, was organist across town at St. Vincent Ferrer. He composed too - though output was less, and lesser known.
We still use some of Pietro's stuff here. Yes, the organ parts can be a challenge...
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