Sunday, April 28, 2013

“Love was our Lord’s Meaning”

From Chapter 86 (the final chapter) of Revelations of Divine Love, St. Julian of Norwich (1393).
“Love was our Lord’s Meaning”

Statue of Julian of Norwich,
west front, Norwich Cathedral
(thanks to
THIS book is begun by God’s gift and His grace, but it is not yet performed, as to my sight.

For Charity pray we all; [together] with God’s working, thanking, trusting, enjoying. For thus will our good Lord be prayed to, as by the understanding that I took of all His own meaning and of the sweet words where He saith full merrily: I am the Ground of thy beseeching. For truly I saw and understood in our Lord’s meaning that He shewed it for that He willeth to have it known more than it is: in which knowing He will give us grace to love Him and cleave to Him. For He beholdeth His heavenly treasure with so great love on earth that He willeth to give us more light and solace in heavenly joy, in drawing to Him of our hearts, for sorrow and darkness which we are in.

And from that time that it was shewed I desired oftentimes to learn what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after, and more, I was answered in ghostly understanding, saying thus: Wouldst thou learn thy Lord’s meaning in this thing? Learn it well: Love was His meaning. Who shewed it thee? Love. What shewed He thee? Love. Wherefore shewed it He? For Love. Hold thee therein and thou shalt learn and know more in the same. But thou shalt never know nor learn therein other thing without end. Thus was I learned that Love was our Lord’s meaning.

And I saw full surely that ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be. And in this love He hath done all His works; and in this love He hath made all things profitable to us; and in this love our life is everlasting. In our making we had beginning; but the love wherein He made us was in Him from without beginning: in which love we have our beginning. And all this shall we see in God, without end.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"A Cloistered Life" (AKA, Regina Laudis and "that simplest of happiness")

Here's a great piece - a 1993 article written by one Simon Sebag Montefiore and published in Psychology Today.   (I added the images.)
 I have two images of a monastery: one is a sinister place of dank corridors, icy cells, and cold stone; the other a kind of medieval, Monty-Pythonesque farce. The Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, where I stayed for several days as a guest of the Benedictine Order, is neither. Entering this world is like stepping back into a quaint, rustic paradise that existed long ago-- in the age of oxen-yoked plows and horse-drawn carriages.

I visited the abbey--working with the nuns as they brought in their harvest--because it was the home of a romantic and true story of Hollywood, God, and Elvis that has mystified America for 30 years. In 1962, Dolores Hart was a 24-year-old movie star with Grace Kelly looks and 11 films already to her credit, including Where the Boys Are, Loving You, and King Creole. In the latter two she costarred with Elvis Presley. There were rumors of a love affair and, later, of a child born of the couple's supposed tryst. Then, in 1963, she gave it all up to become a nun--joining a cloistered monastery and disappearing from celebrityhood forever.

Ever since, Hart's exquisite beauty and her friendship with Elvis Presley in the fresh dawn of his fame have made her the subject of lurid legends. In a society that regards Hollywood fame as Heaven, we presume that someone who gives it all up must be either crazy, ungrateful, or tainted by some terrible scandal.

Her religious vows have prevented Mother Dolores (as she is now known) from answering such questions as: Did she have a love affair with Elvis? Did she bear the King's child--a Dauphin of rock 'n' roll? What kind of life does she lead today and does she ever regret giving up her star's crown for a nun's halo? More generally, why give up the routines of the rat race for the rigors of the monastery?

When an ex-lion tamer named Philip Stanic from Gary, Indiana, changed his name to Elvis Presley, Jr., in 1990, began a career as an Elvis impersonator, and claimed he was the fruit of Elvis's passionate affair with Dolores Hart in 1961, the press leapt on the story. Mother Dolores, banned from formal interviews by the Archbishop of Hertford, could not answer the accusations against her. Despite the attempts of a series of investigative journalists, they could not speak with her, nor even confirm that it was her they had seen while attending services at the monastery's quaint chapel. But as it seemed to me that she would want the truth told, I began a personal quest to speak with her that was almost as weird but ultimately as satisfying as Hart's own spiritual journey.

A combination of talent and looks--that cherubic innocence mixed with feline sensuality--made Hart a star almost overnight. She survived her turbulent family (her parents were alcoholics) by converting to Catholicism at the age of 10. At 18, in 1956, Paramount signed her to a seven-year contract.

Thirty-seven years later I called the abbey for the first time and asked to speak to her. The nun at the gate took a message but warned me that Mother Dolores was unlikely to return the call. Minutes later, my phone rang. It was a woman named Barbara Simon, who said she was calling "on behalf of the abbey" to say that Dolores Hart would not speak but that the allegations of the young man calling himself Elvis Presley, Jr., were lies. When I asked her where she was calling from, the phone went dead.

Now fully intrigued, I set out to enlist the help of another classic character of the silver screen: Patricia Neal, the stunning, Oscar-winning star of Hud and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Once Roald Dahl's wife, once Gary Cooper's lover, she had been felled in her prime by a near-fatal stroke. She recovered, I knew, with the help of...the Abbey of Regina Laudis.

THE FORMIDABLE MISS NEAL--charming, gravelly, and outrageous, met me in a New York City diner and told me that it was Maria Cooper, daughter of Gary Cooper, who introduced both her and Dolores Hart to Regina Laudis. She and Dolores spoke often and perhaps, if I was a good boy, she purred, she would mention me to Mother Dolores. "If you're lucky," the old screen siren added raffishly.

Days passed without a word. Just when it seemed my quest was over, the phone call came. I recognized the voice on the telephone the moment I picked it up. Even if I did not remember its distinctive trill from all those films, it was possibly the softest and most graceful voice I had ever heard:

"My name is Mother Dolores. I know that you called for me."

At once I asked if we could meet, but she reminded me that they were a closed order at the abbey: "The only reason I am talking to you is out of courtesy to your relationship with Patricia." Afraid that our conversation might end as abruptly as the mysterious Ms. Simon's, I wasted no time in asking her about Elvis Presley. Mother Dolores denied she ever had any love affair with him, quaintly calling him "Mr. Presley."

"I had a very good and sound and clean relationship with Mr. Presley; we were good friends. Mr. Presley was one of the finest persons I ever worked with in Hollywood. So no one can spoil our association. During the time we worked on it, we were good friends on the set and we had a good working relationship. We liked each other but we were not...we were never romantically linked. I was never in that kind of association with him."

I asked about the ex-lion tamer who claimed to be her son.

"There is no truth in what that young man has said," she answered. "He has abused both my name and Mr. Presley's. My name is not nearly as interesting to the press, but it does make a good story. So it is not right for this young man to try to create such an atmosphere in order to further his career."

There was no reason to disbelieve her, since many of the nuns happily admit love affairs before taking holy orders--as well as temptations afterward. I asked her what kind of life she led there? Did she work or just pray?

"I do all sorts of work here. In fact, I would like to invite you to visit and stay at the abbey because you have certainly been gracious and kind to me. I would like to extend our hospitality. Monastic life is very simple. You'd have to come up and see. But I cannot promise you we would ever meet. Would you like to stay?"

THE FOLLOWING WEEKEND THE CROTCHETY, BESPECTACLED SISTER Mary Elisabeth picked me up at the bus station in a big, scarred station wagon and drove me toward the aptly named Bethlehem. Only seven of the 47 nuns ever leave the estate to do chores--such as collecting me. The rest spend the remainder of their lives there.

"I hope your cell's not too hot," said the sister. "We have no air-conditioning, and it's almost 100 degrees today. Hot for haymaking."

I stayed at a cottage for male visitors. My cell was tiny, hot, austere: exactly like the nuns' cells in their quarters. As I stood peering at the "enclosure"--a wall surrounding the sisters' living area--I heard the roar of a tractor as it whizzed by, just missing me by a hair--a determined and somewhat ancient nun at the wheel, driving at top speed.

Later, I heard bells ringing and saw a nun driving a chariot pulled by two oxen--my introduction to the bucolic pleasures of Mother Dolores' life after Hollywood.

WANDERING around the 400 acres, I found the most active nuns I could have imagined: Mother Stephen, head of the farm (she bears one of the abbey's splendid array of medieval titles: Land Master), was feeding cows, supervising strawberry picking, haymaking, and milking. She called each cow by its nickname and fed it by hand. When I asked her about Mother Dolores, she shrugged as she poured out the hay: "Everyone here is blessed with some special gift."

In between all this muscular activity, the nuns have a praying routine that fills up most of their days. They must also rise at 1:15 A.M. to sing Matins for an hour and then again at 6:15 A.M. for Lauds. Bells ring to summon them to prayer.

At 8 the next morning I attended Mass. The nuns were huddled on the other side of the altar, behind a wooden grille, singing like celestial canaries in incomprehensible Latin. I could not see whether Mother Dolores was there or not--the grille was too dense, the curtain too opaque.

By a rather bizarre coincidence that Mother Dolores would most likely call the "Will of God," Father-Abbot Matthew Stark's "early morning homily" (as the nuns call his sermon) began: "in a time when the word 'awesome' is used to describe a slice of pizza and it is said that Elvis lives while God is dead, it is easy to see how out of touch we are with the glory of the Lord."

After Mass I was summoned by the Guest Master (another medieval title), Mother Placid, who has been at the abbey since 1949. I walked to the edge of the enclosure wall and around the back of it to a little door. I knocked. A voice said "Enter.' There was another door on which a sign read SAINT PLACID. I knocked again and entered. The jolly and energetic nun sat on the other side of a wooden grill to enlighten me about the lives of the saints. It was so hot that both Mother Placid, who was 66 and of course wearing her full habit, and I were sweating profusely in the little parlor of Saint Placid.

She asked if I would like to work that day, and I told her I would like to help with the harvest. "Mother Stephen will be delighted," she smiled.

"And will I able to meet Mother Dolores?" I asked.

Mother Placid shrugged gaily. "She's very busy, but maybe you'll be lucky...."

THE SUN WAS BEATING down on the rich, golden fields. It was the hottest day of a record-breaking heat wave. Mother Stephen was driving a bale-making machine behind her tractor while I worked with some nuns and volunteers piling up the bales, throwing them onto trucks, and then unloading them into bales near the dairy cows. It was hard work. Mother Stephen insisted we drink every five minutes, and the nuns prepared huge vats of iced lemon juice to prevent us from getting heat stroke.

The scene was surreal if idyllic--something from another century. But the strangest part was that the nuns were harvesting in their black habits as if they were in chapel. Yet they worked very hard, sweating and laboring in the dust and heat as if they were farmers.

But there was still no sign of Mother Dolores.

I must admit that I had expected long, cold, stone corridors and nuns lamenting in Latin behind iron grilles--not this sort of rural paradise. These nuns were so muscular that they could throw bales of hay 10 feet in the air, to the very top of the stack. When I tried the same feat, I almost dislocated my arm. The nuns, their habits covered in hay stubble and earth, hooted with laughter at my lack of strength.

When I was summoned by Mother Placid a second time, it was the end of the day. I was tanned and aching from the work, and I was becoming anxious: Would I ever meet the enigmatic Mother Dolores? I knew it was unlikely but still, I hoped....

THE CELIBATE LIFE OF THE NUNS IS THE source of the most misunderstandings and humor about monastic life. I asked Mother Placid about the Benedictine Order's attitude toward female sexuality.

"Is that your favorite subject?" she chuckled. I blushed. It was the third time I had asked her about it.

"For us in the outside world, the celibacy is the most inexplicable part of your life. I mean, what's wrong with pleasure?"

"Outsiders think we're shocked by sex," she said. "We're not opposed to sexuality here, except when it is soulless and empty. Don't you ever feel empty inside if you have sex without the community of love and creation?"

Strangely enough, I admitted this had sometimes happened to me.

"There you are," she answered.

"But I'm not about to give it up. Don't you ever feel sexual desire here?"

"Of course. We are human. We also see the animals on the farm. We know temptation and sometimes it is a good test. But we have given up all selfish personal appetites. We have no property of our own. We don't say anyone else should live this life. Just that we have been selected to do so. Our vocation is to serve the Lord and devote all our energy to Him."

"What happens if you join and then feel you're missing out on sex?"

"That has happened. We've had nuns leave. Of course, it is hurtful and difficult. It is a great challenge and discipline. That is why we prefer our recruits to be at least 25, because we like them to know enough about life to make the decision to join us."

"Do you want them to be virgins? Can they know about love?" I was only partly thinking about Dolores.

"Of course they can. I was in love several times as a young girl. Why not? Besides, a couple of the nuns here are widows who joined when their husbands died. That's fine, too."

Then she smiled and asked: "Have you ever been in love?"

Since she had been honest, I saw no reason to lie. "No. I thought I was a couple of times, but when I look back, I'm not so sure I ever was."

Now she was asking the questions.

"You are an intelligent young man and I feel you have a lot of love to give. Do you have a girlfriend?"

"Not exactly a girlfriend. She's more like a lover," I answered.

"Never been in love," she muttered, almost to herself.


Then there was a knock at the door on her side of the grille. Was it Dolores Hart at last? Was this the end of the quest? The door opened....

MOTHER DOLORES'S full-lipped face with its high cheekbones and retrousse nose is unchanged by her 54 years. She also possesses an extraordinary calmness in her cherubic expression and that most lilting of voices. Certainly the face was redder than it bad been 30 years ago--she has worked out on the farm, haying and baling as I had that afternoon--but it is still a face of undeniable beauty. Her hair is covered by her wimple, but other nuns told me later that it is still a luscious blonde. Thirty years on, this is still undeniably the face to launch a thousand ships.

We shook hands through the old wooden grille as Mother Placid looked on beneficently.

"Welcome," Dolores said angelically, her face close to the grille. "I hope you are enjoying your stay and seeing how we live."

"I hope the trouble with the young man called Elvis Presley, Jr., is over," I said.

They both looked rather shocked at the mention of Elvis and the son he never had.

"It's gone quiet now, mercifully. The young man's real mother is looking for him and actually called here. It's unfortunate, but the mother said he won't respond to her because she knows Elvis was not the father. I feel sorry for him."

Our meeting, said Mother Placid, was almost over. Dolores said she was sorry we could not meet face-to-face, or for longer. She is busy. It is harvest. There is also the ban of the Archbishop.

"Obedience and stability," explained Mother Placid, "are the foundations of our Order."

Mother Dolores bowed to me again; when I peered through the grille that divided us, she was already gone.

She had only stayed a minute or two. But it reminded me of our earlier phone conversation, when I asked if she had enjoyed her fame.

"Oh, by all means," she'd replied without any hint of regret.

"But how and why did you decide to leave Hollywood?"

"Only soul-searching brings a knowledge of what your life will be. It only sounds sudden when you announce it because people don't know what has gone on before."

"Don't you ever want to go back to being an actress?"

"There's always continuity. In the dimension of monastic life, there is a role in prayer that certainly keeps me very much a part of it. You see for me being a nun is being an actress."

That was when I understood that the answer to the riddle of Mother Dolores is as simple as this: You only have to experience the richness of the austere life at the abbey to understand how Dolores Hart gave up Hollywood to come here.

THAT NIGHT was my last at the abbey. I felt absolutely rejuvenated and sorry to leave after so short a stay. I retired to bed early after dinner as is the way there. My prickly, driven tension had been massaged into a generous goodwill towards the world that surprised me more than any one. I felt an intense calm.

Mother Dolores had neither said much nor stayed long, yet the riddle of why she left Hollywood was suddenly selfevident: The happiness of the nuns speaks for itself.

Like many others, I could not imagine how anyone could give up the pleasures of being a movie star to live and work in a monastery. Yet when Mother Placid talked to me about love, which she said she felt all around her, I could see that she experienced it in its most austere yet warmest sense. And she could see that while I was bathed in sensualism, I had quite forgotten about love.

I HAD GONE TO THE ABBEY TO SEARCH FOR Dolores Hart. But I did not discover any lurid secret about Hollywood or Elvis Presley. Instead, I discovered a warm and neglected part of myself.

I did not become religious. No one tried to convert me to anything. Looking back, I realized that when I left I took something with me and left something behind. Somewhere amongst the golden fields and the flying bales, the giggling nuns and the relentless embrace of the sun, I had left a bit of myself that will always be there. And when the reservoir of that simplest of happiness gets low again, I might go back and visit them.

If I ever do return, I am sure I will find it there again, untouched, just where I left it.

It is late at night. My tiny cell in the cottage called "Saint Joseph's" is stiflingly hot. I cannot sleep. I wait for the bell to ring for Matins.

The old-fashioned telephone begins to ring in the very still night. It makes an archaic "dring-dring" sound like a phone in an old Dolores Hart film from the Fifties.

I pick it up.

It is Mother Placid.

"You touched my heart when you said you had never been in love," she says. "Please could you tell me what is the name of the girl who is your lover. I know your name already. All I need is her first name."

"Her name is Nicola. Why do you ask?"

"So I can pray for you both," she says. "Good night."

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Why Gregorian Chant Rocks"

Just for the sake of pure enjoyment, here's a nice article by Judy Keane, in The Catholic Exchange:

Today we can scarcely go to a clothing store, a health club or even a gas station without being besieged by a variety of thumping, agitating and jarring music blasting from speakers above. While I appreciate a variety of music, I have found that Gregorian chant stands in stark contrast to the fatigue of today’s popular tunes which tends to dominate music charts across the globe. By its very nature, Gregorian chant supersedes the entertainment value of music by allowing us to step out of our fast-paced world and instead focus on the sacred. Standing the test of time, this early Christian song continues to enrich our Catholic culture and rouse the soul with holy inspirations. Originating as a form of plainchant, this great treasure of the Church began under the auspices of Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) who referred to it as “the song of Angels.” Early art depicts Pope Gregory as a music loving saint who received the gift of chant from a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, who came to sit upon his shoulder and began to sing in his ear. Born in the Church, its lyrics come from the Latin Vulgate, Mass ordinaries, divine office hymns, antiphons, and responsories. For centuries it has been sung in Latin as pure melody in unison without musical accompaniment, meter or time signature. It is music composed for the soul in which the words of God are lovingly sung back to him.

Gregorian chant continues to be kept alive in monasteries, convents, and some cathedrals while also remaining a subject of study among a small group of dedicated academics. Over the past few decades, the world has seen a resurgence of chant. In the 1990’s, an album aptly named Chant, performed by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos (Spain) became the best-selling record of Gregorian chant ever. Emerging in 1994 as an antidote to the stress of modern life, Chant peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart. Similarly, the Cistercian Viennese Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, also shot to the top of classical music charts with their #1 selling album which also hit number nine on the pop charts!

So why does Gregorian chant rock? One reason is that it conveys the sacred to the secular. Contrary to the agitating sounds of hip hop, hard rock and heavy metal, Gregorian chant is instead a soothing balm for weary souls and a source of comfort for unsettled hearts. Inspiring and edifying, simple and poignant, this music of paradise slows our racing minds, renews our vigor, and eases the tensions of a harried world. It ethereal quality elevates us from the temporal and transports us to the spiritual.

Dr. Alan Watkins, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London noted that “the musical structure of chant can have a significant and positive physiological impact,” and that chanting has actually been shown to “lower blood pressure, increase levels of DHEA and also reduce anxiety and depression.” Similar studies also suggest that Gregorian chant can aid in communications between the right and left hemispheres of the brain more effectively, therefore creating new neural brain pathways.

Benedictine nun, Ruth Stanley, head of the complementary medicine program at Minnesota’s St. Cloud Hospitals also says she’s had great success in easing the chronic pain of patients by having them listen to chant. “The body can move to a deeper level of its own inherent, innate healing ability when you play chant. It’s quite remarkable.” In a 1978 documentary called “Chant,” French audiologist, Dr. Alfred Tomatis, related how he was called upon to help the monks of a Benedictine monastery who suffered from fatigue, depression, and physical illness. He found that they usually took part in six to eight hours of chanting per day but due to a new edict, their chanting was halted. When Tomatis succeeded in re-establishing their daily chanting, the monks regained their well-being and were again full of life. His conclusion was that Gregorian chant is capable of charging the central nervous system along with the cortex of the brain thus having a direct effect on the monk’s overall happiness and health.

Aside from noted physical, spiritual and metal benefits, Gregorian chant may even aid in the conversion of hearts. It is believed that well-known author and philosophy professor, Peter Kreeft listed the angelic chant music of Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina as one of the reasons he is Catholic today. Beyond this, Gregorian chant inspires and instructs. It allows us to regain our strength, our clarity and our focus on what is truly important in life. In his letter read at the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Emeritus Pope Benedict spoke about the vital role Gregorian chant has played in Church history along with countering the argument that Chant is a thing of the past. Instead he praised Gregorian chant as being “of huge value to the great ecclesial heritage of universal sacred music,” and that “Mass must convey a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty.” The Second Vatican Council also noted that Gregorian chant should be given “pride of place” in liturgical music. Unfortunately, finding a church where chant is still sung is a daunting task.

On a personal level, I listen to Gregorian chant regularly at home, at work and while driving. I’ve found the more I listen to it, the more I recognize its spiritual and mental benefits. It calms me and lifts my mind from the challenges of the day to what is above. I even noticed my pets are calmer and more relaxed when chant fills my home! A friend of mine says it peacefully lulls her baby to sleep. Still others find playing it at home creates a tranquil family atmosphere in which to converse, eat, pray and live. Like the rhythm of a calm heartbeat, Gregorian chant fosters peace within ourselves and those around us. It is not music for the sake of music – but rather prayer that inspires prayer.

If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of Gregorian chant, there are some great CD’s and downloads available including those mentioned in this article. Why not give it a try! In comparison to much of today’s music, Gregorian chant is music that aims for heaven, the greatest goal of all! And because of that – it rocks!

Not to toot our own horns, but we've talked about the health benefits of chant and the psychological benefits of worship before!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The "Weekday Propers Sung," according to the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood

I've taken an entire page from the LLPB site, and cut-and-pasted it here, for now; the links open audio files housed on the LLPB site.    Apparently the LLPB idea is to sing these responsories, versicles, hymns, canticles, and etc. each feria of the year outside of the seasonal listings they provide.  I'll see if I can find out more about this on the LLPB site.  

I've labeled each hymn with its name below (in green, so you can tell which are my additions).   With only a couple of exceptions, these "ordinary time" hymns match up exactly with the Sarum hymns prescribed for the period "From the Octave of the Epiphany until the 1st Sunday in Lent."  Sarum, apparently, saw a difference between that stretch of the Great Church Year (which I'll call "Ordinary Time Period I") and The Sarum Office Hymns "From the Octave of Corpus Christi until Advent" (AKA "Ordinary Time II").   The Roman Catholic Church, and, I'm assuming, the Lutherans, do not make such a division; the set of hymns below are used, as far as I can tell, in both periods.

(At the moment, I can't find a list of the hymns currently used in the RCC Divine Office for Ordinary Time - but I have seen such a list, and as I remember, they use the same hymns during both periods of "Ordinary Time."  I'll come back, once I find the list, and edit this post.)

I haven't listened to all the Responsories and Versicles linked below, but it does seem these are different for each day of the week.  I'll be back to talk more about these and the other items as well.  Meantime, you can explore these items - and learn and sing them in your own daily prayer practice, if you like.

Many thanks as always to the LLPB!  They are really doing some great things for the Daily Office tradition and those who practice it - and they offer it all, as they note below, free for all of us.

These free high-quality MP3 recordings may take a few minutes to download, or you may contact us for the purchase of a CD.

Sunday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("Father, We Praise Thee" (Noc­te sur­gent­es))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VII

Sunday: Daytime Prayer


Sunday: Vespers

Hymn - ("O Blest Creator of the Light" (Lu­cis Cre­at­or op­ti­me))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone IX

Monday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("O Splendor of God's Glory Bright" (Splen­dor pa­ter­nae glor­i­ae))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VI

Monday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For the Church

Monday: Vespers

Hymn - ("O Boundless Wisdom, God Most High" (Immense caeli Conditor))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone VIII

Tuesday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("The winged herald of the day" (Al­es diei nun­ti­us))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VII

Tuesday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For pastors and theologians

Tuesday: Vespers

Hymn - ("Earth's Mighty Maker" (Telluris ingens Conditor))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone I

Wednesday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("Ye Clouds and Darkness" (Nox et ten­e­brae et nu­bi­la))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone I

Wednesday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For Rulers

Wednesday: Vespers

Hymn - ("Most Holy Lord and God of Heaven" (Coeli Deus sanctissime))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone V

Thursday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("Lo Golden Light rekindles day" (Lux ecce surgit aurea))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VII

Thursday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For our Enemies

Thursday: Vespers

Hymn - ("Almighty God who from the flood" (Magnae Deus potentiae))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone VII

Friday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("Eternal Glory of the Sky" (Aeterna coeli gloria))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VIII

Friday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For Prisoners

Friday: Vespers

Hymn - ("Maker of Man" (Plasmator hominis, Deus))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone IV

Saturday: Morning Prayer

Hymn - ("The Dawn is Sprinkling in the East" (Au­ro­ra jam spar­git po­lum))
Benedictus with Antiphon Tone VIII

Saturday: Daytime Prayer

Da Pacem
Antiphon For the Word and Faith

Saturday: Vespers

Hymn - ("O Trinity of Blessed Light" (O Lux Beata Trinitas))
Magnificat with Antiphon Tone VII

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest (Sursum Corda)

Another wonderful hymn we had the privilege of singing today - and the tune, "Sursum corda," is beautifully played in the video below.   [EDIT:  The video is now gone, but here's an audio file of the melody from

How splendid the first stanza especially - and how lovely the Easter season!

"Sursum corda" was written by Alfred Morton Smith; the words below are by George Wallace Briggs (both 20th C.). Sing, sing!
Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest;
nay, let us be thy guests; the feast is thine;
thyself at thine own board make manifest
in thine own Sacrament of Bread and Wine.

We meet, as in that upper room they met;
thou at the table, blessing, yet dost stand:
"This is my Body"; so thou givest yet:
faith still receives the cup as from thy hand.

One body, we, one Body who partake,
one Church united in communion blest;
one Name we bear, one Bread of life we break,
with all thy saints on earth and saints at rest.

One with each other, Lord, for one in thee,
who art one Savior and one living Head;
then open thou our eyes, that we may see;
be known to us in breaking of the Bread.

"Gelobt sei Gott im höchsten Thron"

This video comes from Cologne Cathedral's Easter Vigil in 2010; the title in English is "Praise God on his most high throne."  We sing it as "Good Christians all, rejoice and sing"; the words in German and English are below. (They are really two  completely different texts, though.)   The music is by Melchior Vulpius (~1560-1615); English words by Cyril A. Alington (1872-1955).

It's a great set of words in English!  Was very happy to sing this today....


Gelobt sei Gott im höchsten Thron
samt seinem eingebornen Sohn,
der für uns hat genug getan.
Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja.

Des Morgens früh am dritten Tag,
da noch der Stein am Grabe lag,
erstand er frei ohn alle Klag.
Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja.

Der Engel sprach: "Ei fürcht? euch nicht;
denn ich weiß wohl, was euch gebricht.
Ihr sucht Jesum, den findt ihr nicht.
"Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja."

Er ist erstanden von dem Tod,
hat überwunden alle Not;
kommt, seht wo er gelegen hat.
"Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja.

Nun bitten wir dich, Jesu Christ,
weil du vom Tod erstanden bist,
verleihe, was uns selig ist,
Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja.

O mache unser Herz bereit,
damit von Sünden wir befreit
dir mögen singen allezeit:
Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja.

Good Christians all, rejoice and sing!
Now is the triumph of our King!
To all the world glad news we bring:
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord of life is risen today!
Sing songs of praise along his way;
let all the earth rejoice and say:
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Praise we in songs of victory
that love, that life which cannot die,
and sing with hearts uplifted high:
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Your name we bless, O risen Lord,
and sing today with one accord
the life laid down, the life restored:
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

"Requiem Mass in Honor of Mary Berry"

From The Chant Café:
A Solemn Requiem Mass (in the Extraordinary Form) will be Offered for Dr. Mary Berry (Mother Thomas More, C.N.D.) on May 3, 2013 at 12.15 pm, and sung by the Choir & Choristers of St Stephen the First Martyr, Sacramento, California on the fifth anniversary of her death.

Dr. Mary Berry was an English Augustinian nun - and a musicologist and prominent scholar of chant.  Here's her Wikipedia entry:
Mary Berry, CBE (in religion Sister Thomas More 29 June 1917 – 1 May 2008) was an Augustinian canoness and noted choral conductor and musicologist. She was an authority on the performance of Gregorian chant.

Berry studied at Girton College, Cambridge with Thurston Dart as well going to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. In 1970 she received her doctorate from Cambridge after submitting a thesis on the performance of plainsong in the late Middle Ages and the 16th century, and afterwards became a Fellow at Newnham College.

In 1975 Berry founded the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge for the study and performance of Gregorian chant. The Cantors of the Schola are a group of young, largely professional singers and have performed and recorded extensively under her direction, often working from primary sources. The Schola was one of the first ensembles to perform (and certainly the first to record) music from the Winchester troper after research by Mary Berry and others made the music accessible from the manuscripts.

Berry travelled widely to promote the teaching and singing of Gregorian chant, and organised and participated in many workshops and courses, including Spode Music Week, of which she was a patron. She was a particularly keen advocate for the use of Gregorian chant in its proper liturgical context. Her two introductory books, Plainchant for everyone and Cantors: A collection of Gregorian chants, encourage people to learn the chant, and are often recommended to beginners in the field.

In 2000 she was awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, and in the 2002 New Year Honours she was appointed CBE.

New Liturgical Movement posted about her funeral five years ago, here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New York Polyphony: Devices & Desires

The outcome of a highly successful online Gregorian chant remix competition sponsored by Indaba MusicDevices & Desires puts a modern spin on the Medieval. Newly expanded for 2013, this experimental 11-song digital-only EP features groundbreaking remixes of ’Victimae paschali laudes’, ’Gaudeamus in omnes Domino’, and ’Beati mundo corde’, three of plainchant’s most celebrated melodies.

From the pointillistic explorations of David Minnick to the halo of Eileen Carpio’s vocal harmonies, the remixes chart new creative ground. And when paired with the original chants—recorded exclusively for this collection by New York Polyphony—they combine to create a fascinating juxtaposition of ancient and modern music.

For more information on Devices & Desires and to go behind-the-scenes with the remix creators, follow this link. (And if you really want a treat, check out the music video for Alex B’s remix of ‘Victimae paschali laudes’!)

Here's that video:  

Apparently many interesting things have come out of this project!   From NYP's Facebook page:
Last year, with the help of Indaba Music, we sponsored the FIRST-EVER online Gregorian chant competition. It was a huge success. We received hundreds of remixes in a dizzying array of styles from musicians all over the world!

The winning remixes (alongside our original chant recordings) are available on DEVICES & DESIRES, an 11-track digital-only release. More details on our website.

One of the winners, Alex B, produced a music video for his remix of Victimae paschali laudes. (WARNING: his guitar solo at 4:48 will blow your face off.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sanctus XI from Mass XI

Via Antoine Daniel; Mass XI is "Orbis Factor" ("Creator of the world").

Get audio files and chant scores for all the mass ordinary settings here.)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"The Power of Gregorian Chant"

By Richard J. Clark at CCWatershed:

OME STYLES OF MUSIC do certain things better than others. I work in a parish that utilizes many styles from chant and polyphony to Gospel and contemporary. This is a product of three merged parishes, the preferences of the pastor, and the pastoral realities of an inner city parish. However, chant and polyphony are normative. They are present in some way at every liturgy.

While we do not process to the Introit propers from the Graduale Romanum, we often sing them as a prelude before mass in lieu of an organ prelude. This allows the congregation to enter into a prayerful state and meditate on the text which is provided on the worship aid.

Keep in mind, I am an organist who studied for many years with James David Christie, organist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I have a wonderful four manual, fifty rank pipe organ to play in an extraordinary acoustic. As I did not play any preludes or postludes during Lent (save Laetare Sunday), I am certainly itching to get back to letting the organ roar again!

However, I LOVE singing the Gregorian Introits as does my schola. They get EXCITED when we sing them. To forego an organ prelude on Easter Sunday speaks to the power of the Mode IV Introit, Resurrexi.

So this morning, something very blessed happened. Easter Sunday is filled with many people who are not regular churchgoers. Instead of griping about it, this is an opportunity to reach out and evangelize to those who do not attend church with any frequency.

As such, there was a standing room only overflow crowd of close to 1,000 people. There was a LOT of noise and talking before mass. It was certainly not a prayerful or reverent environment.

But then, amidst the cacophony the schola began to sing Resurrexi. By the time we got to the first “alleluia” there was a hush… The crowd slowly quieted down to a still silence. They listened through the antiphon, and the extraordinarily intimate verse from Psalm 139: “O Lord, you have searched me, and know me; you know when I sit and when I rise up.”  At the end of the last antiphon one could hear nothing—nothing at all. A crowd of nearly 1,000 people, many who don’t come to mass, many who may not prefer Gregorian Chant, many who know nothing about chant—fell silent.

I don’t know what was in their hearts and minds, but intuitively, a sense of reverence and awe prevailed. Perhaps for many it was a rare moment of stillness in a busy, noisy world. Perhaps it was an opportunity for interior prayer. Perhaps it was a moment to revel in presence of the Risen Christ—the Salvation of the World. My hope is that the ineffable mystery of the Resurrection shone forth in these words:
I am risen, and am always with you, alleluia; you have placed your hand upon me, alleluia; your wisdom has been shown to be most wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. v. O Lord, you have searched me and know me; you know when I sit down and when I rise up. Psalm 139: 18, 5, 6 and 1-2
Happy Easter!

Sarum Compline from Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension has posted English Compline for several seasons:
We are pleased to host on this site beautifully prepared editions of the Sarum Office of Compline in contemporary English.  Thanks go to Emil Salim for assembling these booklets, which cover the following seasons:
   Compline 1: Advent.
   Compline 5: The Octave of Epiphany.
   Compline 6: Ordinary Time.
   Compline 7: The Third Sunday of Lent.
   Compline 9: Ferias in Passion Week.
   Compline 14: From Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension.
Here's a PDF file of "Compline from Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension."   (Linked from the "Annex" page.)  The painting on the cover is Mazzolino's "The Incredulity of St. Thomas," from around 1522.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Office of Compline for March 31, 2013

Here's an mp3 of a really lovely Easter service of Compline, sung last Sunday evening by  the Compline Choir of St. Mark's Cathedral
Sunday of the Resurrection
Easter Day

Conductor: Jason Anderson
Reader: Jeremy Matheis Cantor: Kenneth Peterson
PROCESSIONAL: Easter Canticle (Peter Hallock [b. 1924])

PSALM: 114 (plainsong, Tonus peregrinus)

HYMN: “Come ye faithful, raise the strain” (tune: Gaudeamus pariter, melody from Johann Horn [1490 - 1547] - Gesangbuch, [1544])

NUNC DIMITTIS: (setting by William Byrd [ca. 1539/40 - 1623], Tonus peregrinus)

ANTHEM: “Haec est dies” (Jakob (Handl) Gallus [1550 - 1591])

Here's Duccio's "Road to Emmaus," from about 1310:

Friday, April 05, 2013

New York Polyphony: Sicut cervus

Palestrina's gorgeous setting of the Easter Vigil Psalm textNY Polyphony at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin:  exquisite as always.

Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum, ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

"Dominican Friars Growing in Number"

By Doreen Carvajal at today:
For Friars, Finding Renewal by Sticking to Tradition

Andrew Testa for the International Herald Tribune
Rev. Gerard Dunne, second from left, and new priests talked to members of the public interested in joining the order.

Published: April 3, 2013

CORK, Ireland — The Rev. Gerard Dunne has worked for 12 years essentially as a human-resources recruiter — albeit one in a habit cinched with a dangling wooden rosary — for the ancient order of the Dominican friars. Once, his medieval robes may have deterred some. But today he is convinced that the garment is his greatest selling point for enlisting new priests.

A view of the city of Cork in Ireland
Andrew Testa for the International Herald Tribune
Other religious orders largely stopped wearing their traditional garb in recent years, as they tried to attract new followers in secularizing societies. But the friars deliberately went on wearing the robes and promoting the spiritual benefits of shared prayer and a communal lifestyle — with a little help, too, from a chatty blog.

“We made a conscious decision a few years ago to wear the habit because we had no vocations and we were in a bad way,” said Father Dunne, 46, who estimates that he has traveled nearly a half-million miles along Ireland’s country lanes and highways in search of recruits. “If we didn’t present ourselves in an authentic manner, who would join us? And that meant going back to the fundamentals.”

Those fundamentals — which include the signature white tunic and black capuce of the Dominican friars, fashioned almost 800 years ago — have helped lead to an improbable revival of the Dominican order of preachers. Even as other orders close houses and parish priests in Ireland are vanishing at a time of clerical sexual abuse scandals, the Dominican order is growing, and not just in Ireland.

The friars are something of a hybrid between monks and diocesan priests. They live together in a priory, sharing prayers and meals. But unlike monks, they work in the broader community in preaching and teaching roles in churches, universities and secondary schools. It is a way of life that Pope Francis himself has chosen, shunning the papal palace for a guesthouse to “live in community” with bishops and priests at the Vatican.

In the United States, the largest northeastern branch is expecting 18 novices to enter its theology school in Washington, which was expanded three years ago. In the smaller southern region based in New Orleans, the Dominicans are scrambling to finance an influx of novices — six this year — with annual expenses of $30,000 for lodging and theology education over seven years.

“People see the habit in a much more positive light then clerical clothing, the black shirt, white collar and suit,” said Martin Ganeri, who is a Dominican vocations promoter for England, where five people entered the order this year. “The habit doesn’t have the negative image of the clergy, the child abuse issue.”

In fact the Dominicans have faced child abuse accusations in Ireland. But perhaps because of a garb that harks back to the more austere and disciplined traditions of the church, the Dominican friars have managed to flourish even in the Irish Republic, where surveys show Catholics are deserting the church pews faster than in almost any other country.

In tough economic times, the stability of community may also be appealing, and the resurgence for the Dominicans has coincided with Ireland’s economic crisis. But Father Dunne and others said most potential candidates were already prospering in existing jobs in professional fields, and came to the order because of a yearning for greater spirituality.

The revival of the order has been particularly striking in a country where diocesan parish priests have been disappearing. Just 12 men started theology studies for all of Ireland’s 26 dioceses last fall — a record low.

In contrast, in January a Dominican vocations retreat in Cork was oversubscribed at St. Mary’s Priory and two more were added in March and April. The early events drew a total of 20 men to whom the idea of a simple lifestyle and a clear identity appealed at a time of uncertainty in the lives of many.

In the fall, the Dublin-based order enrolled five men, joining 20 other Dominican theology students. They will become part of a community of 175 priests in 18 priories or communal houses across Ireland.

Their rising numbers in Ireland have made the Dominicans the envy of other orders, which have sought to copy their recruitment methods.

“They’re the most successful to the degree that they were online and on the Internet at an early age, and had a blog before the other orders were catching up,” said Terence Harrington, a vocations director for the Capuchin order in Ireland, which has taken to Facebook and Twitter. The Irish diocese now has an iPad app for people considering the priesthood.

Typically, it takes eight months to two years for prospective candidates to decide whether to join the order while working with a Dominican mentor, like Father Dunne. With that period to reflect, the attrition rate for new entrants has dropped to 15 percent, Father Dunne said.

Maurice Colgan, 41, a former social worker for drug addicts who was ordained as a Dominican priest in 2011, said he was still adopting to his lifestyle.

“My hat goes off to diocesan priests, but I don’t know how they do it without community life,” he said. “Today, you need the support of your brothers. Now, of course they may annoy you and you annoy them, but that’s natural in a community.”

At one recent retreat, prospective recruits were invited to imagine themselves as black friars, as the Dominicans are nicknamed, gathering for evening prayer at the 19th-century St. Mary’s Church in Cork, where the order first arrived in 1229.

The guests included a university student, a government lawyer and a schoolteacher drawn by the order’s Web site, which is stocked with videos, among them one of a friar snowball fight set to the song “Eye of the Tiger.” Later, the group crowded at a long wooden table for a traditional Irish fry dinner of potatoes and sausages.

Some of the Irish candidates said they were impressed by the order’s rising numbers and openness to newcomers.

Matthew Farrell, 38, a former bartender from County Offaly and a novice, said he had sampled other orders, like the Carmelites. “I’ve been searching a long time for a vocation,” he said. “I wanted to get married or wanted to do something else. I tried to visualize myself as a priest.”

But in the end, he said, the Dominicans won out. “The Dominicans have a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” he said, “and I liked the fact that they wore habits.”


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