Wednesday, July 31, 2013

More from NPM in Washington

Wednesday greetings from the NPM convention here in Washington, DC.

It was a busy day for us yesterday. Here's what the convention hall looked like during OCP's music showcase:

WLP sponsored a hymnfest last night, "This Is the Day: Hymns of Joy and Glory," guided by Alan Hommerding. It was held at National City Christian Church. This was one of those "just right" moments at an NPM Convention. Alan's crafting of this event was superb; for me just the right mix of full-throated hymn singing and moments of reflection. Kudos to Alan.

Here is a shot of the exterior of the National City Christian Church, just at dusk:

Their baptism font is one of the largest I have ever seen:

And here is Alan inspiring us all:

The conventioneers have been loading onto buses all morning and heading to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston will be the celebrant of Mass.

We WLPers have our showcase this evening. And I am presenting a workshop this afternoon focused on music and the RCIA.

Yesterday's workshop on the "continuing impact of the Roman Missal" was well attended. I would say that most in the room agreed that the implementation of the new translation has gone smoothly. But most were in agreement that this opportunity for a great renewal in liturgical catechesis that was supposed to accompany the implementation has been largely lost. I tried to help people in the workshop see that there is a difference between the catechesis that was done to help people know about and prepare for the changes in the texts and what liturgical catechesis really is. Not sure I was very successful in outlining the difference, but I hope I was able in some way to show people that much more is needed in the arena of liturgical catechesis.

Very busy afternoon and evening ahead of us. Looks like people are enjoying the convention overall.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Greetings from the NPM Convention

Tuesday greetings from our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. (obviously for those of us here in the United States!)

Arrived here on Sunday for the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM). A colleague and I decided awhile back to rent bikes at the Washington Mall and bike a 38-mile round trip to Mount Vernon on Sunday. Unfortunately the trip was christened with about an hour's worth of driving rain, thunder, and lightning. Your blogging friend here was absolutely soaked to the skin, but it was such a blast! The sun came out as we re-entered Washington and it was glorious. We stopped at the Jefferson Memorial and the setting sun gleamed across the monument. Here's a short video I took at the Memorial.

We set up our WLP booth yesterday morning and it went quite smoothly, four hours of set up in all. Check out our Facebook page for more coverage!

Yesterday afternoon I attended Rita Ferrone's opening keynote focused on full, conscious, and active participation. She is always so poised, humorous, and keenly focused. It was a blessing and a privilege to hear Rita.

Last night, WLP sponsored John Angotti and a talented group of musicians and several choirs from the area for an evening of song and praise. I loved every minute of it and sang my heart out. People seemed to really enjoy it; not a workshop, just an hour to sing praise and thanks to God. Here's a shot I took of John and WLP artists Lorraine Hess and Meredith Augustin on stage last night.

We held our WLP reception for employees and artists and composers last night. It was a very nice couple of hours of connecting, laughing, and sharing memories. Then it was the gala opening of the exhibit hall. The food and drink were enjoyed by all and people got a chance to visit the exhibit booths. Folks, it is always such a joy to share our resources with people ministering in the world of liturgy and music.And my hearts was very much back in Franklin Park with the rest of our staff members, whose work and dedication enables us to be here. So proud of WLP!

Well, that's about it for now. Just finishing breakfast at this point and headed to the exhibit hall. I give my first workshop this morning, focused on the implementation of the new translation of The Roman Missal. Should be a good discussion; I will be sure to give you a report of our discussion.

So, from Washington D.C., gotta sing, gotta pray!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Washington Bound

Friday greetings to you all. I promised earlier in the week to send you a photo of our WLP annual NPM kick-off lunch. Well, I forgot to take the photo. Instead, behold the aftermath:

So, many of us are making final preparations for the trip to Washington. I am presenting two workshops next week. The first is "Breaking Open the Continuing Impact of the Roman Missal."

I have two questions that we will be discussing as part of the workshop:

1. The advent of the new translation of The Roman Missal was touted by many Church leaders as signaling a new moment for liturgical catechesis. Has the implementation of the new translation been that kind of moment?
2. Liturgiam Authenticam has this to say about translating into the vernacular: “It should be borne in mind that a literal translation of terms which may initially sound odd in a vernacular language may for this very reason provoke inquisitiveness in the hearer and provide an occasion for catechesis” (LA, 43). Have you seen this play out in your own parish experience?

How would you apprach these questions?

Should be an interesting discussion.

I hope your weekend is a safe and good one.

Washington Bound!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


What follows is an excerpt from Pope Francis' remarks to the people of the Varginha shantytown in Brazil. I remember well visiting the shantytowns outside of Lima when I was there as a seminarian in 1981. So I pictured what this visit must have been like for the poor of Varginha.

"From the moment I first set foot on Brazilian soil, right up to this meeting here with you, I have been made to feel welcome. And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration. I say this because when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them – some food, a place in our homes, our time – not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always “add more water to the beans”! And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!"

There is as much wisdom here as in an entire encyclical, don't you think?

WLP artists Danielle Rose and the Jacob and Matthew Band are in Rio with the pope right now. How blessed are they!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gearing Up for NPM Convention

Tuesday greetings from an extremely busy music publishing house here in Illinois.

As most of you know, the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians will be held next week in Washington, D.C. There is always a flurry of activity in the months leading up to the convention, but it is the last week that sees so much more activity and last minute preparations. Our staff and the clinicians we sponsor are all looking forward to the event, which for us begins on Monday morning with the set-up of our exhibit space at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, pictured here.

Then it is five days of music-making, exhibiting our resources and music, hosting various sponsored events, and general merriment. Frankly, it is one of the most exhilarating and exhausting weeks, all at the same time. As a publisher that is dedicated to serving the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church, it is so wonderful to have so many musicians in one place, musicians who are at the convention to hone their skills and discover new music and techniques for building up their ministry.

So, as the frenetic week continues here, our excitement here at WLP will continue to grow. We have an annual NPM Convention kick-off lunch for our staff here to send those of us who are going to the convention on our merry way and to celebrate the publishing achievements of the past year. That will take place on Friday; I will take some snapshots and share them with you then.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back from Maine

Monday greetings to all.

I am back from a relaxing vacation along the Maine coast. The weather was ideal for an ocean-side vacation; mid-90's each day with breezes to help cool things down a little. Ogunquit Beach is one of the nicest in New England. The ocean water, of course, was quite cold; somewhere around 65 degrees each day. But I "took the plunge" on several occasions and really enjoyed the ocean.

The house that all of us stayed in was right across the street from All Saints Catholic Church, pictured here:

At Mass on "Good Samaritan Sunday," the priest was an older man and he had a reverent presiding style. The congregation was a mix of locals and tourists from around the world. The music was led by a capable keyboard player and an excellent cantor. I didn't know much of the music. Family around me tried to sing some of it, but found it a bit challenging melodically. The eucharistic acclamations were from a Mass setting I had never heard. Apparently not too many people knew it either, since there was very little singing of the acclamations. The homily was focused on the Lord and was engaging and moving.

On Monday morning, several of us got up very early and walked down to the beach to watch the sun rise. Here is a short video I took as the sun rose.

And here's a shot taken with the "panorama" function of my iPhone's camera.

The sunrise was breathtaking.

A few more photos for you, then it's sifting through e-mails time for me.

Flowers are abundant this time of year along the Maine coast:

Perkin's Cove just sparkled:

We all went on an early evening cruise to Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick. A few photos:

I am feeling refreshed after this beautiful week in Maine. And just think, one week from today, many of us will be in Washington, DC for the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Feeling quite energized about the weeks ahead.

Thanks for sharing in my little travelogue.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dancing on the Seashore

Friday greetings. It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Chicago; low humidity, abundant sunshine, with a temperature in the low 80's.

I am looking forward to my vacation, which begins in a few short hours. I will be spending the week with family and friends in Ogunquit, Maine, a small town on the coast of southern Maine, pictured here.

Ogunquit is the home of the famous "Marginal Way," a walkway along the dramatic coast line:

As well as Perkin's Cover, pictured here:

Here's a shot of the Ogunquit Lobster Pound:

As I look forward to the week away, I have become a bit down. My life in recent months has been in some turmoil. I've lost two friends who died very suddenly. Too many friends and family members are living through very serious illnesses. My Catholic worship life has been in upheaval and I am at a loss as to where this will lead.

This vacation along the coast couldn't come at a better time.

I remember once, in a place not too far north of Ogunquit, actually dancing with God. I was on retreat at this retreat house, along the coast in Biddeford, Maine.

I was in my early twenties, a seminarian with high hopes for a future in the ordained priesthood. I didn't have family members that were ill. There were no friends who died very suddenly. I remember standing on that beach you see above late one night during the retreat. There was no one around. And I just started to dance on the sand. If there is one gift I have not been given, it is the gift of dance. Ask anyone who has seen me on a dance floor at a family wedding! At any rate, there I stood, dancing on that seashore, just praising God and feeling like I was invincible, without a care in the world.

This week, on that same shore, I know that I will not be moved to dance. Folks, it's just that I am not finding much to dance about these days. Perhaps this is just some kind of maudlin pre-vacation feeling. I do hope to re-discover some of the joy that seems to have seeped out of my heart in these difficult months. That is what I am praying for as I prepare to fly to Boston later today. Please keep me in your prayers as the week unfolds. Not to worry, I am fine, just need some time to find the center again.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One in Faith

Thursday greetings from Chicago.

Thanks to all of you who "liked" Gotta Sing Gotta Pray on Facebook. We have reached 516! I am very grateful.

Our work here at WLP continues on the repertoire selection for our new hard-bound hymnal and we have named it: One in Faith.

I will be posting here tomorrow and then I begin a vacation on the coast of Maine beginning on Saturday and I am in need of an "unplugged" vacation. So, barring anything dramatic happening in the Church world, this blogger will be silent for a week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Will You Help Get Us to 500?

Small request. If you are a Facebook user, please consider searching for the Gotta Sing Gotta Pray Facebook page and "liking" it. We are at 499; would love to reach 500. Thanks!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Join WLP in "Singing the Seasons"

Tuesday greetings from a very warm and muggy Franklin Park, Illinois.

When I first arrived here at WLP in 1999, I remember well our weekly music review sessions, held on Thursday mornings. A group of about ten of us gathered each week (and continue to do so) in our music room to review new music submissions. I have to admit that some of what WLP had published in the past in our choral library was really lacking. And even in 1999, I felt that some of what we published could use improvement. As the years unfolded, I noticed that the quality of the submissions (and quantity) was steadily improving. It became a real joy to gather on Thursday mornings to sing through or listen to recordings of better and better choral music for the Church. I know I am the head of this publishing house and my opinion has a certain bias, but I have to say that I truly believe that WLP is publishing the finest choral music for the singing and praying Church today.

The way we get our choral music into the hands of music directors has been evolving. It is really wonderful that musicians can now view sample pages of our choral music and listen to clips of a recording of the piece on WLP's web site. If you've never taken the time to do so, click here and be sure to "view sample pages" and "listen" to Brian Childer's beautiful Ubi Caritas. Another way that musicians can sample our newest choral music is through our choral subscription, a three-times-per-year mailing of the latest music from WLP, as well as a peppering of some of the gems in our choral treasury. One of the most exciting ways we share our music is through our music showcases at conventions and conferences, especially at the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. There is nothing like hearing our music sung by hundreds and sometimes thousands of pastoral musicians.

This year, we are re-vamping our WLP "Sing the Seasons" choral reading sessions, which will take place in select cities in the United States. Check this out and find the session nearest you. I know that we haven't quite covered the entire country yet, but please be patient with us. Even if you are not a music director, why not sign up for one of these sessions, then bring the music back to your parish musician!

Obviously I am very proud of our composers and editors for the fine work they have done for the singing and praying Church.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday at Holy Family in Chicago

Monday morning greetings from a very warm and sticky city of Chicago.

Yesterday I attended Mass at Holy Family parish here in Chicago, not too far from where I live. Here's a shot of the exterior:

As I was walking along the street from the church's parking lot, there was a family in front of me. One of the teenage sons suddenly said, "Mom, give me the car keys, I forgot my phone." She said, "Why do you need your phone?" He replied, "So that I don't fall asleep." Made me wonder what I was in for once inside.

Here are a few shots of the interior:

This church is mammoth and has an interesting history.

I was seated up front and found myself amid a large Latino family. I would say there were at least two hundred people at Mass. This is a very ethnically diverse parish. A lively and engaging spirit among the community members was quite evident.

I believe that there is usually a large choir at this 9:45 A.M. Mass, but they were not present yesterday. There was a person playing the piano, which was located on the top level of the sanctuary. The pianist announced the hymns and led the singing from the piano. There was only one other person sitting near me who had a hymnal open and was singing. This is one of those church spaces where one's voice just seems to get lost in the sheer volume of the space.

The readings were proclaimed well and with care. The homily was engaging. All in all, I really felt nourished at the celebration of Mass. Even though this is a wonderful looking church building, I really felt that the enormity of the space really fights against good liturgy. Just a first impression. I will be returning to Holy Family, perhaps sitting in other locations to get a sense of the singing and the other responses of the assembly. As part of the announcements, the pastor asked all visitors to rise, which I did. I felt a genuine sense of welcome. And let me tell you, the coffee after Mass in the hall behind the sanctuary was wonderful!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Along the Lakefront

Saturday morning greetings from Chicago. 27-mile bike ride along the lakefront this morning. Lots of folks out enjoying the city.

Biking is centering for me and I get to not think about so many things!

Some photos along the way. I hope your weekend is a grand one. Such a diverse city Chicago is.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lumen Fidei: The "I" and the "We" of Faith

Today, Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, was released. I am spending time with the document now and wanted to share an interesting paragraph with you:

39. It is impossible to believe on our own. Faith is not simply an individual decision which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart, nor a completely private relationship between the "I" of the believer and the divine "Thou", between an autonomous subject and God. By its very nature, faith is open to the "We" of the Church; it always takes place within her communion. We are reminded of this by the dialogical format of the creed used in the baptismal liturgy. Our belief is expressed in response to an invitation, to a word which must be heard and which is not my own; it exists as part of a dialogue and cannot be merely a profession originating in an individual. We can respond in the singular — "I believe" — only because we are part of a greater fellowship, only because we also say "We believe". This openness to the ecclesial "We" reflects the openness of God’s own love, which is not only a relationship between the Father and the Son, between an "I" and a "Thou", but is also, in the Spirit, a "We", a communion of persons. Here we see why those who believe are never alone, and why faith tends to spread, as it invites others to share in its joy. Those who receive faith discover that their horizons expand as new and enriching relationships come to life. Tertullian puts this well when he describes the catechumens who, "after the cleansing which gives new birth" are welcomed into the house of their mother and, as part of a new family, pray the Our Father together with their brothers and sisters.

I must admit that praying the Nicene Creed in the English translation each week using the singular pronoun has always rubbed me as odd. I know that at my own baptism, the dialogical format of the creed, as part of the renunciation of sin and the profession of faith, was done for me by those gathered in the singular, who responded "I do" to the credal questions. Francis, of course, is telling us that the "I" cannot stand on its own; it must be in relationship to the "We." "We can respond in the singular — 'I believe' — only because we are part of a greater fellowship, only because we also say 'We believe'." Seems to me that we may be losing the sense of the "We" with the new literal translation of credo into "I believe." Where else in the official liturgical texts do we firmly state the "We"?

I have come to appreciate this concept (the "I" and "We") during the years that I worshipped in a predominantly African-American parish. Oftentimes, the lyrics to African-American spirituals use the singular, "I." Think of I Believe This is Jesus. When I sing that song with Catholic believers, all of whom may be singing with their eyes closed, very intently singing the lyrics, I have always been caught up in the "We" of the moment. To echo Francis, I can only sing in the singular—"I believe" because I am in relationship to the "We," with the others singing with me.

Does any of this make sense to you?

You can fine the entire text of the encyclical here.

More later as I read more.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day Greetings

Greetings to all who cherish the United States of America as home on this Independence Day.

Great day to relax here in Chicago on my balcony here in the West Loop.

A veritable urban jungle of beautiful flowers!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pope Francis and Lampedusa

Many folks have asked me what I think about our new pope, Pope Francis.

Today, I found information on the Vatican Radio web site about a visit the pope will make in a few days. He will travel to a tiny island, Lampedusa, part of the Archdiocese of Agrigento, which is in southern Sicily.

You can see from this map that Lampedusa is actually closer to Tunisia in North Africa than it is to Sicily. Here are excerpts from the Vatican Radio site regarding the upcoming papal visit to the island:

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father will visit the Italian island Lampedusa - which has become a destination for African refugees fleeing war, violence and poverty- on Monday, July 8th.

Lampedusa is less than 115 kilometres from the Tunisian coast, closer than it is to Sicily, the Italian province of which it is a part. Tens of thousands of immigrants have arrived on the island since the Arab Spring began two years ago.

“Lampedusa … is a bridge to the African continent that we cannot pretend it does not exist,” said Archbishop Francesco Montenegro, of the Sicilian Archdiocese of Agrigento. He asked Pope Francis to visit the island during his recent “ad limina” visit to Rome.

“I saw the Pope paid close attention to the news I gave him and I said it would be good if he wanted to come,” Archbishop Montenegro said. He told Vatican Radio the Pope is not only visiting the refugees, but also the people of the island, whose small population has been “giving everything” to help the migrants, who often come with nothing on perilous, flimsy boats.

“[My people] have emptied cupboards, have provided showers, luncheons, goods, clothes ,” he said.

The Archbishop also spoke about those who never reach Lampedusa, those untold numbers who have died trying to make the journey.

“The number of deaths does not seem to be of interest because they have black skin. There is so much indifference,” Archbishop Montenegro said.

“Immigration is not an ‘emergency’, we must have the courage to stop using this word: It is the way things are,” he said. “Today, 10 will arrive, 100 will arrive, 1000 will arrive; but the problem is not because they arrive in the thousands. The problem is also there if only 10 arrive, because they are 10 men who want to live.”

The official programme of the Papal Visit was released on Monday, and Archbishop Montenegro said Pope Francis wants the visit to be low-key.

“Today we are giving the official news, but the good thing is that the Pope has said he wants to be a private visit, with nothing sensational,” he said. “That he wants to come [in a very quiet manner], with the simplicity of a bishop who watches over his people and watches over them with the eyes of the heart, I think this is a great lesson.”

Thousands have fled North Africa to avoid the violence and danger that have erupted there.

Too often, when we hear about the plight of people in a far away place, we can become indifferent. It seems that Pope Francis is anything but indifferent. Re-read the last line of the Archbishop in the story above. I am filled with hope for the Catholic Church when I look at these simple and humble gestures and actions by a simple and humble man.

Enough said.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A New Hard-bound Hymnal on the Horizon for WLP

Tuesday greetings to all.

Well, let me tell you, these are exciting times here at World Library Publications. Several years ago, when discussing our publishing plans with respect to the new English translation of The Roman Missal, we made some key decisions. One of those decisions had to do with whether or not WLP would publish a new hard-bound hymnal to coincide with the release of the new translation.

We debated this for many months. Our decision was not to publish a new hardbound hymnal. We decided that we would wait for the new translation to settle in for a bit. We didn't want to publish musical settings of the Mass until we knew which settings people really liked and were working well in parishes. In other words, we didn't want a parish to purchase a hymnal with settings that had not yet been tried and proven to be excellent in the parish.  In other, other words, we didn't want people paying for a hymnal that had settings that would never be used; that would have been an unwise move in our estimation.

Well, I am here to tell you that we have made the decision to publish a hard-bound hymnal. It will not be a new edition of the People's Mass Book. It will be a larger hymnal, with close to nine hundred titles, many of which (of course) are the hymns, songs, Mass settings, and acclamations that people have grown to known and love from the World Library treasury that has been building over the years. Of course, there will be lots of other wonderful hymns and songs (of many musical styles and genres) from other publishers and from the public domain as well.

To say that we are excited is an understatement. I don't want to sound like we are patting ourselves on the back here, but we have award-winning (Annual Paul Revere Awards from the Music Publishers Association) music engravers on our staff. We have designers and artists who have won numerous awards from The Catholic Press Association and the Association of Catholic Publishers, to name a few. And, of course WLP's edition of The Roman Missal won top awards from all three of the organizations just mentioned. Add to that a wonderful group of dedicated composers and you can see why we are so excited.

We are heavily into the repertoire selection process right now and with every meeting, the excitement grows.

Soon we will have a title and a design for the hymnal; and you will be among the first to know about it!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Travel, a LATE Ride, and the Upcoming NPM Convention

Monday greetings from the sunny Midwest.

My apologies (once again) for neglecting to post most of last week. I was in Houston on Thursday and Friday for a Memorial Mass for a colleague here at J.S. Paluch, who died a few weeks ago. Peter Browne, may you rest in God's eternal peace.

So, what does a 55 year-old Vice President and Chief Publishing Officer do when in Chicago on a lovely weekend? Join two colleagues at midnight on Saturday, bike two and a half miles to Buckingham Fountain on the Chicago lakefront, then, at 1:15 A.M. proceed to bike another twenty-five miles through the city at the Chicago Park District's annual L.A.T.E. ride along with 6000 other folks on bicycles! Here we are before the start of the ride. (Thanks to Mike Novak and Keith Kalemba for a wonderful time!)

The ride ends along the lakefront just before sunrise. Here's a shot at the finish.

We are in full swing here at WLP with preparations for the annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, to be held at the end of the month in Washington, DC. Our choral music showcase looks like it will be a highlight of the convention.

One of the pieces that will be sung is a new setting of Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life by Steven Warner, arranged by Carolyn Pirtle. Have a listen. Simply hit "listen" on this page.
I'll be giving you previews of these WLP choral pieces as we move closer toward the convention.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.