Vater Unser!

We don’t require a lot in life to be happy, that blessed minimalism that defines true felicity either situational or in the terms of a long, well lived life. We see this in the penitential lives of friars and brothers, sisters and nuns all over the world that have devoted themselves to monetary poverty and yet are so rich in faith that happiness exudes from their beings. I hear it in the music of Arvo Part, whose sacred minimalistic style has become popular in recent musical and liturgical history.

It only takes a drop of water to know the refreshment it gives and you only need a penny to understand the value of the pound or dollar. Of more value to us is kneeling down and receiving the precious Body of the Lord, and it only takes one communion to increase our piety and for God to work His grace that we can only receive through that sacrament alone. Ironic to that minimalism is that we should receive Communion regularly, and drink water regularly. Our graces will multiply and so will our health, bodily and spiritually.


I leave you now, with a great example of Mr Part’s work, the Vater Unser.

We plough the fields and scatter…

During this synod, I’d find it appropriate that you and myself should offer up a prayer for the clergy involved, all the bishops, and most of all for the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis.

Blessed be the mind, the heart, the hand,
That drew this icon fair,
Of beauty unsurpassable, yet sweet,
God’s Mother, rapt in prayer.
All pure her face, her hands, her heart unseen,
Chaste, white rapture, as morning glow:
She ponders deep. Her sorrow shows,
She bears the weight of souls on earth below!
Awesone, yet so love-filled and so warm!
Immaculate! her praise shall never cease,
In hearts that love and cherish her; God’s Mother!
Totus tuus! Mary’s littlest ones,
in the valley of Saint Therese.

Now, with that most important deed done, keep in mind it’s never a good time to cease prayer.

The past few days have been unparticularly busy, as things always are busy, and I’m crowded with sheets of music for the two churches I am organist for. One, my own parish, plus the other I fill in for sometimes on Saturday, and then the secondary Anglican church I play at, which pays the best money (I didn’t say that).

Through my small experience as an (amateur, unequipped, uncertified) organist, or, if you’re the much better and dignified collection of higher statute and honour, one of those who refuse to believe the title organist should be applied to anyone not a member of the Royal College of Organists, an organ player, I can truly say that I’ve learnt more than I’ve played.

Accompanying a choir, or an entire parish that is, is often times difficult. My opinion is that a choir should sing as it’s written, any improvisations should be noted on both their papers and on my papers, so that I know how to appropriately play along. There is the Daniel O’Donnell and Aretha Franklin of every parish, or he/she that believes they are. They’ll go off key in an octave you never knew could exist, or they’ll sing along to “We Plough the Fields and Scatter” like it were Lily Allen’s creation.

They’re well meaning, and I like Danny O’Dee so I don’t want anyone to think I’ve taken him in vain.

But you’re the organist for the parish, and these are included. It is my job to make sure I play along to what suits them, or play loud enough with as much flourish as I can so to cover them up.

I would love some advice from more experienced organists and organ players, because right now I have very little influence and no role model to imitate.

Sacred music is for the glory of God in the context of liturgy, of the Most Holy Sacrifice, and the Daily Offices so offered, and all within. I don’t know what I’d do or where I’d be if I didn’t have Corpus Christi Watershed, their accompaniment sheets, or the public-domain hymn settings from the Church Music Association of America. Even though Americans sometimes have different words to their hymns, so long as the tune is the same, I’m happy with it.

I’ve been inspired to start a collection. Soon on top this blog, you’ll see a new tab called “Resources.” It will contain links to websites that have free sheet music, instructions for singers, choirs, instrumentalists, and how to appropriately provide company to the human voice during the Mass. To be fair, I’ll even include a few links to Anglican resources which I find can be helpful for those in the Ordinariate.

I’m not an expert, nor do I claim to be, but I hope it could be a good spot for the last minute “the priest wants to change the hymn” panic.

Song and Poetry

Having been alone all day, I decided to travel out to town for the 5:15 Low Mass offered by a particularly well-known parish priest in the archdiocese, well into his eighties. It was beautiful however emotionless my face was throughout the whole thing.

Beforehand was a Rosary for vocations to the Priesthood, and whilst I wasn’t fortunate enough to arrive on time for that, I did get in on the last few decades. The entrance hymn was one of my favourites: Lead Kindly Light.

These days in particular, it’s important that those responsible for liturgical music and planning certain hymns understand that beauty is not found only in contemporary Catholic song and poetry. The ageless hymns that seem to be less common, in my opinion, is always more interesting than the likes of “Eye Has not Seen” and so on.

Bl John Henry Cardinal Newman’s words do not just allow us to praise and glorify: they also comfort the soul. Picture the boat tied at dock. It’s a cold night, the waters are rough, the wind is high, the waves crash and the hollow thing is almost drowned. Yet the tranquillity of night is restored. The wind dies down to a gentle breeze and the rain ceases. “Order” is restored. Now the boat simply sways and rocks. It’s neither disturbed nor discontent. In this way, so has the beauty of sacred music an effect on our souls and the atmosphere for the Most Holy Sacrifice.

I might be gone foolish, to me that’s how I picture it.