Friday, July 8, 2011

Christmas in July at WLP

Friday greetings from back at the home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois. Many thanks to the staff and students at Notre Dame's SummerSong program; it was such a delight to be on campus with you.

I checked my mailbox this morning and found several new and revised pieces of music that just returned from the printer.

Alan Hommerding has teamed up with Howard Hughes to re-arrange the Gloria for Christmastime (this will be posted on our web site soon). If you are looking for an instant Gloria for the Christmas Season, this is a great piece. It utilizes the "refrain" from Angels We Have Heard on High. I am not a big fan of the settings that are out there that do this, mainly because I find the "verses" of the Gloria too forced. Gloria for Christmastime sets the verses to chant, which can be sung by a cantor, ensemble, small schola, or choir. The final measure of the verses picks up the 4/4 rhythm and leads quite naturally back into the refrain. Folks, this is very worth looking at. The product's number is 005310 (in case you want to call us and order your copy!).

Another wonderful piece I found in my mailbox is The Christmas Martyrology (005747), arranged by J. Michael Thompson. This is a re-issue. A new recording will appear on our web site within a few weeks. This handling of the martyrology is haunting and will be well worth a choir's time to learn it.

Well, I guess it's Christmas in July around here.

I hope that you have a blessed weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Oh, how innovated. A refrain from a song you probably just sang as the Gathering hymn, and then a bunch of slow, boring, verses chanted out. Nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like that!

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Assuming you meant "innovative." I happen to disagree about this Gloria (obviously). I also disagree with your view that music sung at Christmas needs to say "Merry Christmas." I go to the mall to hear that particular genre, not to church. That having been said, I do respect your opinion and thanks for reading the blog.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I meant "innovative"

I did not mean Christmas in terms of gimmicky holiday music at the mall, but in terms of energy.

Vatican II called for the "Music of the People" at liturgical celebrations. I think when we fall into the "when I go to Church I expect_____ (fill in something unique to Church)" I think we lose the participation of the faithful.

Christmas is one of the most uplifting times at Church when many come out and are excited to sing the hymns they all know. I feel this Respond and Acclaim - type chant where the objective is to hit all liturgical requirements at the expensive of life is overall damaging to liturgy and turns people away at celebrations such as Christmas.

All that said - I love your blog and look forward to seeing you speak at NPM.

(Yeah, I'm anonymous right now because I don't want controversy)

Anonymous said...

Our parish used to use Paul Gibson's "A Christmas Gloria" which was in the tune of "Angels We Have Heard on High," which was written with the current ("old") translation and everyone seemed to like it and sing along. I remember that there was one time for which the opening hymn was "Angels We Have Heard on High" and it almost felt funny to have the Gloria in the same tune shortly afterward. However, I thought that it was a neat idea to use that refrain and tune in a Gloria.

I have two concerns about the versus being in chant in the arrangement that you mentioned. The first is something which I have spoken to you about before, which is that I have a preference for the entire congregation singing all of the Gloria. As you had mentioned, it is a hymn for the people to sing. While it can be beautiful to listen to a choir, music ensemble, etc. sing the verses, it does not result in the same level of participation as everyone singing the entire Gloria.

This concern could be mitigated if the chant is easy to sing and the entire parish is encouraged to learn the verses for this Gloria, instead of just the choir or music ensemble.

My second concern comes about in some situations but results from the Gloria that the parish used before the new translation came into affect. If the parish is used to something such as Gibson's "A Christmas Gloria," switching from that to only having the congregation singing the refrain takes away participation, which in my opinion brings about a feeling of moving away from Vatican II. Additionally, switching from a familiar tune that everyone likes to sing along with to a chant could bring about a similar feeling.

There are many people for whom the translation changes are already going to be difficult. Changing the style of the mass to a chant style which allows for less participation only seems to amplify this feeling. This is one reason that I am thankful that there are many new settings which could be described as "contemporary."

Additionally, there are going to be many Catholics for whom mass at Christmas is going to be their first experience with the new translation, and likely the first time that they have ever heard of the new translation (some people know these as Christmas and Easter Catholics). These people are already going to likely be caught off guard at the start of the mass when everyone says "and with your spirit." I could see complete shock coming about when the tune of the versus for the Gloria is replaced with chant.

While Catholics should be attending mass regularly, Christmas and Eater Catholics are also part of God's people and I am actually curious about what is going to happen when they hear the revised mass settings for the first time this December.