Friday, December 15, 2006

My Parish Music Director Has a Blog!

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been working to make our liturgical life at my parish more fully and authentically Catholic, and to make our liturgies more solemn and beautiful. So I began introducing Gregorian Chant into our liturgies, have been trying to encourage the development of the musical resources of the parish.

One big part of making that happen was the hiring of St. Stanislaus' new music director last summer. His name is Gavin: he's a young guy, just 22 years old. He's already a gifted organist and, I think, is rapidly becoming a talented choir director. He takes the Church's musical tradition seriously and wants to bring excellence to our liturgical celebrations. He's a little bit lacking in experience, but more than makes up for that in zeal and energy.

I'm also very pleased that he has taken the time to actually read church documents on liturgy and music that I've suggested, and even some others of his own accord!

Gavin, being young and full of opinions, has a blog, called Laudamus Te. One of his recent posts is the text of a memo he recently distributed to the members of our parish choir. Among other things, he writes:
In my time as music director for your parish, I have made many changes to the music done at Mass both for the congregation and the choir. Be assured, these are no trite novelties. The introduction of quality choral music and the giving of a higher place to the choir in the Mass has doubtlessly been beneficial to the worship of the congregation we serve. The use of “traditional” hymnody has broadened the horizons of many in the parish beyond the “top 50” of most parishes. These changes have not simply been a matter of the personal taste of myself or Fr. Johansen, these have been to restore reverence to the Mass and to bring the celebration of Mass at St. Stanislaus Parish closer to what the Church desires. Starting next year, I endeavor to enact another round of changes at the late Mass which will be a large step in fidelity for the music ministry.

It is my intention to begin making use of what are known as “the Mass propers” on the Sunday after Epiphany. Although I have spoken on these before, I will define them once more. The Mass carries with it readings. We do not use the same readings every week, as that would be tedious and imprudent. Rather, we use the readings which are appointed to the day by the Church. The Church also appoints songs for the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion. These are known as the proper antiphons, and typically consist of a verse of psalmody. The most well-known settings of these are the chants found in the corpus of Gregorian chant...We have been honing our skills at the Gregorian chants with great success.

Please go read the whole thing - it's quite well thought out and written.

While Gavin's opinions are his own, and I don't agree with all of them, nonetheless he and I are very much "on the same wavelength". His understanding of sacred music, and what the Church asks of us in the liturgy, are quite sound. Which, of course, is why I hired him.