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50-50… What Makes a Liturgy Bilingual?

50-50… What Makes a Liturgy Bilingual?

Welcome back! Bienvenidos de nuevo a ¡Cantemos Amén!

I saw a post awhile back on a pastoral musicians’ forum that caught my eye. Music directors were responding to a question posed by a colleague about how much English versus Spanish there should be in a bilingual liturgy. Several responded, rather matter-of-factly, that the obvious answer is that it should be “50-50” — that is, equal parts English and Spanish. This got me thinking…

What makes a liturgy bilingual?

I’ve attended, prepared, or ministered at dozens, possibly hundreds of bilingual liturgies over the years, including outside of eucharist. One thing that struck me was that the most successful and memorable celebrations, at least in my mind, were not necessarily “equal parts” Spanish and English. In fact, they didn’t even carry with them a sense of quantitative measure or ratio, but simply “felt” right. 

Perhaps this aspiration toward balance should be a question of “what does it feel like in prayer” more so than “what does it look like on paper.”

From my perspective both as a pew prayer-er and as a liturgy preparer, a bilingual mass cannot be measured in terms of percentage or quantity of texts at play, nor should it. Merely “dividing up” the liturgy to meet an arbitrary benchmark demotes the ritual to the level of a commodity, like something to be parceled off or “distributed” at the discretion of those who wield such power (the image of casting lots comes to mind). To put an artificial quantifier on the “degree of bilingualness” as the desired measure in itself misses the point. I would caution against framing our sacred mysteries in such simplistic terms. 

On the contrary, I’d suggest that a bilingual mass is any in which a good faith effort is made to draw the communities at hand into the sacred mysteries by virtue of not just the language employed, but the experience in real time — via the visuals, sincerity and warmth of expression, the sounds, melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythms, tempo, vocal style and delivery, etc. These all play a part in making one feel at home in prayerIn essence, we should be talking about facilitating a bicultural experience of prayer, not merely a linguistic fulfilling of the rite’s texts and rubrics.

Variation in Application

A bilingual mass might include (but is not limited to), mass texts and readings in varying languages, a homily skillfully rendered in a way that is seamlessly woven through intertwining narratives, music selections that are both bilingual and monolingual, musical arrangements and playing that touch the heart beyond lyrics, and visual elements such as worship aids or projection that play a practical role while lending a sensory counterweight to aural elements. Above all, a successful bilingual mass exudes a profound level of hospitality at every corner.

For some communities, a bilingual mass might see some of the spoken mass texts and preaching done bilingually, but the music entirely in Spanish. In other communities, you might find the spoken texts mostly in Spanish, but the music more bilingual-minded, even including English-only songs. Still other communities might incorporate some different blend of linguistic treatment as their norm. In communities with immigrant populations, the primary language of the community may be Spanish, but the presence of younger generations may introduce some openness to English throughout. Conversely, the desire among Latinos to want to connect with their heritage, including its “sound,” may drive English-speaking Latinos (even non-Spanish-speaking ones) to attend a mass that is Spanish-leaning in text and/or character.

Recall that the church already gifts us with vocabulary that transcends culture. The words “Alleluia” and “Amen,” preserved and handed down from their Hebrew origins, are inherently multicultural to begin with. Additionally, creative use of the original Latin (or sometimes Greek) language of our Roman rite in bilingual liturgies can also be a unifying means amidst our diversity.

Attention to Context

Context is also a factor. Attuned to the pastoral judgment in the document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, certain types of musical pieces and/or linguistic treatments might work better in some celebrations than in others. In a diocesan-level liturgy, for example, where the use of strophic hymns might be normally expected, singing some of those hymns’ stanzas in Spanish might be effective — that is, for “the actual community gathered to celebrate in a particular place at a particular time” (STL, 130). Especially since there now exists good, poetic translations of English-language hymns (thanks, in great part, to our protestant brothers and sisters), inclusion of such a translated hymn could be meaningful and appropriate to either language group. A tune like “Hymn to Joy” comes to mind, whose melody is recognized across English-speaking and Latin America. This same piece or treatment, however, might not be as applicable for a Sunday liturgy at a parish where hymnody is seldom used or whose communal expectation is for more recently-composed Spanish or bilingual selections.

Music planners must also be attentive to the linguistic treatment of the mass ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Alleluia, Sanctus, etc.) and responsorial psalm as central to the experience of bicultural prayer.

All Bilingual, All the Time?

An important piece of advice is not to presume that just because a celebration is labeled bilingual, all of the music selections must therefore be bilingual, too. Bear in mind that the bilingual repertoire published in the last few decades serves a valuable purpose, but these compositions are meant to supplement, not supplant, the vast treasury of sacred music each culture has to offer. An overall design to the “flow” of language elements, whether monolingual or bilingual, is more important to the effectiveness of the prayer than is a de facto application of newly-composed bilingual music. 

Bilingual liturgies could and should include a variety of genres and instrumentations, from classical to chant to folkloric and contemporary. A myriad of styles and musical forms exists within both the English-language and Spanish-language repertoire. These are to be explored and applied with the understanding that music speaks in a way that words alone cannot. The power of music on the ears of the faithful to uplift and transport them to a place of “at home” is difficult to define but cannot be denied. When extrapolated in creative ways, this thinking could invite a polyphonic motet in Spanish alongside a huapango in English! An open mind to this reality counters the misinformed but oft-prevalent thinking among well-intentioned planners that Hispanic music must always be mariachi style.

Key Resources

Many of these observations may resonate with your own experience or approach. Or not. The premises upon which these observations are based could be vastly different from what you see as your reality. That’s the nature of this ministry. We’re all still discovering, from the trenches on up through the hierarchy. Note that the U.S. Bishops now offer Guidelines for a Multilingual Celebration of Mass on their website. These are generally accepted as good starting points by liturgy planners, but, in the absence of official mandate, cannot viewed as definitive (nor should they be, given the ever-evolving nature of multicultural worship and perils of a one-size-fits-all approach). Of the little academic work that has been done in this field, special mention should be given to the resource Liturgy in a Culturally Diverse Community: A Guide by Rev. Mark Francis (published by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions), the successor to his earlier, pioneering Multicultural Celebrations: A Guide. This was the first resource in the U.S. to really frame the issues and offer practical solutions, laying the groundwork for practitioners such as you and me.

In closing, I contend that a bilingual liturgy is one that is planned and executed with good intentions, and that has the net effect of welcome. The point is not to subject the participants to some kind of forced, awkward linguistic handshake, but rather that the unity gained by partaking of another’s expression of prayer far surpasses that which is lost by giving up the momentary comfort of one’s native tongue.

¡Que cantemos Amén! Let the church sing Amen!

Organ Construction

Organ Construction

The Organ’s Tonal Design and its Building Blocks

The following article was written by John-Paul Buzard, President of Buzard Pipe Organ Builders. John-Paul is a colleague I have known since our student days at Northwestern University, and he is always willing to jump in and be helpful to a friend. Here John-Paul explains the basic sound classes of the pipe organ:

The pipe organ is a unique musical instrument.  It does not have a single tone color, but a wide variety of different tones which can be combined to produce the richest palate of sound known to humankind.  Even though Full Organ is harmonically complicated and sophisticated, its fundamental building blocks are fairly simple. 

There are two species of pipe construction: Flues and Reeds.  Flues are like whistles; a vibrating column of air produces the sound and the geometry of the pipe colors it; Reeds produce their tone by a vibrating brass tongue which is amplified and colored by the resonating tube connected to it.  Flue pipes make three groups or families of tone:  Principals, Flutes and Strings.  Reeds, being their own beast, produce a variety of imitative sounds. 

Once you become familiar with the four families and their pitch levels, you can combine them to create new sounds.  By using one’s ears and imagination the organ can be registered to text-paint hymns and anthem accompaniments.  All it takes is spending some good play-time in the musical sand box minding the basic premise that there’s no right or wrong.

Principals

The Principals (or Diapasons) produce sounds specific to the organ; they do not imitate anything.  These cylindrical pipes are made of metal.  Stops in this family may be called Principals, Diapasons, Octaves, Super Octaves, Twelfths, Fifteenths, Seventeenths and Mixtures.  Principals form the backbone of the organ’s tonal design, and they are found at a wide variety of pitches in both the manuals and pedal, to build up complete harmonic choruses.

Flutes

Flutes can be orchestral or organ-like with a wide range of tone colors.  Flutes can be played together or with any other stop in the organ to fatten the tone, color an ensemble or a solo stop.  The range of Flute Tones is limited only by the imagination of the organ builder.  The geometry of the pipe body and the mouth treatment creates a flute’s tone color. 

Flutes may be made of wood or metal, open or covered by a tuning stopper (or canister) inserted into or over their open ends.  Stoppered pipes have prominent fifth-sounding harmonics, rather than the full range of an open pipe.  These may be called Bourdons or Gedeckts.  Open pipes may be called Melodias, Claribel Flutes, Open Flutes, Nachthorns.  Some stoppered flutes have a “chimney” bored through their stoppers, or soldered onto their metal canisters.  These are called Rohrflutes, Chimney Flutes, Flûtes á Bibèron, Flûtes d’Amour.  Some flutes are tapered and are called Spire Flutes, Spitzflutes, Blockflutes, Recorders.  These hybrid constructions replace a wee bit of the octave harmonics missing from a completely stoppered pipe.

Some open pipes are double their normal length, and have a hole drilled in the center of the pipe to stabilize the pitch.  These are called harmonic pipes and their intense tone is imitative of a modern orchestral flute.  Harmonic Flutes can be found at all pitches.  These may be called Harmonic Flutes, Orchestral Flutes, Flûtes Octaviante, Octavins.

Strings

Organ strings are the warmest, keenest sounds in the organ, but sound least like their orchestral counterparts.  They are called “strings” because they produce a harmonic series similar to a bowed string instrument.  They may be soft or loud, and appear at many pitches.  Typically a string-toned stop in the Swell division of an organ will have a partner rank, tuned slightly sharp, called a Celeste.  The resulting undulation is warm and shimmering.  Strings may be called Salicionals, Viola da Gambas, Gambes, Violes, Gemshorns, and Voix Celestes.

Reeds

Reeds produce the greatest variety of tones within a single family.  They imitate medieval or modern orchestral instruments.  Wind pressure, geometry of the resonating tube and the treatment of the reed itself determines the tone color and volume which the pipe will produce.  Conical resonators produce a blaze of the entire harmonic series.  These are called Trompettes, Trumpets, Cornopeans, Clarions, Trombones, Tubas.  Cylindrical resonators produce a fifth-sounding harmonic series and may be called Krummhorns, Cromornes, Clarinets, Basset Horns.  Hybrid-shaped resonators produce orchestral tone colors as English Horns, French Horns, Oboes and Bassoons in addition to the antique sounds of Bombardes and Zinks.  Short-length resonators, often with creative resonator shapes, produce unusual tone colors like the Vox Humana, Rankett, Regal, Baarpfeife.

Mixtures

Mixtures are stops in which multiple ranks of pipes sound on a single note.  These are nearly always made of Principal pipes.  Mixtures are typically composed of unison and fifth-sounding ranks, repeating themselves at points in the musical scale which the tonal designer determines, given the desired result.  If appropriately composed, scaled and voiced, a low-pitched mixture can be used to create a complicated full sound, but without adding brilliance to the ensemble; a medium-pitched mixture can add brightness to a chorus in the bass and reinforce the unison in the treble; a high-pitched mixture can add brilliance to a chorus or an individual unison stop for special effects.  Mixtures are easy to spot as their stop controls indicate how many ranks each note plays by a Roman numeral.  Common names you might see on your console might be: Mixture, Fourniture, Plein Jeu, Full Mixture.  Scharf, Sharp Mixture and Cymbale are high pitched mixtures. 

By artfully combining stops one can create a sound for any situation.  By varying registrations for each verse of a hymn, the organ can add interest and, if the right stops are combined at the right time, highlight the texts being sung.

If one were to analyze the harmonic structure of Full Organ, the resulting graph would be almost impossible to read.  With a majestic, full sound the organ can support hundreds of people in their singing.  It can create a “Festal Shout” in one breath, and weep for the passing of a child in another.  It significantly energizes the acoustics of the building, and routinely elicits emotional responses. 

Have fun and take the time to listen to every stop in your organ, and combinations of others.  You’ll find hundreds of possible combinations which you might use for just the right moment in an upcoming service.  Enjoy your time in the musical sand box!

John-Paul Buzard is president and artistic director of Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, based in Champaign, Illinois and founded in 1985. He was appointed Curator of Organs for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign following graduate school, and began to lay the groundwork for his company through organ-building and restoration projects in the Champaign area. Mr. Buzard continues as Curator of Organs for the University of Illinois, and also serves as Curator of Organs for MacMurray College, Illinois College, Indiana University, and DePauw University. He earned a Master’s degree in organ and church music from Northwestern University, studying organ with Richard Enright and Wolfgang Rübsam, and also spent two years in the organ performance program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying organ with Jerald Hamilton. Mr. Buzard is a certified Master Organbuilder with the American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO), a member of the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA), and a member of the Worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London.

Welcome • Bienvenidos a ¡Cantemos Amén!

Welcome • Bienvenidos a ¡Cantemos Amén!

Musings in Hispanic Music Ministry

Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos! These days, there’s many excellent forums to be found on the topic of Hispanic music ministry. There’s also many wonderful minds contributing to the important dialogue on liturgical music and bilingual liturgy. What a privilege to add my voice to theirs… though it is only one among many who are collectively trying to find our way in this new reality. 

My own ministerial journey, which began over three decades ago, has taken me from suburban Detroit “folk” masses to inner-city Spanish masses in Chicago, from diocesan liturgies in borderland Texas to impressive large-scale gatherings in cathedrals, arenas, stadiums, and conference ballrooms across the country. This blessed adventure even includes unexpected involvement in papal visits and saintly celebrations. I’ve seen so much along the way, not to mention the unique perspective I’m afforded by the editor’s desk where I sit. But in the scheme of things, I also realize I’ve seen very little. There’s so much more “out there.” 

LEFT: Holy Cross Church in Chicago, IL, where I led music for years in a predominantly Mexican-American community. • RIGHT: The El Paso Diocesan Choir at the Sun Bowl Stadium during the 2016 papal visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.

For that reason, I’m the first to admit I don’t have all the answers. There’s a part of me that questions regularly if I really know what I’m doing at all. In all honestly, I don’t. I can’t. And I would venture that none of us in this field could legitimately call ourselves “experts.” Bilingual music and liturgy as we know it in this country is a relatively new phenomenon. We are still foraying unknown waters, making new discoveries, and trying new approaches. Years ahead, we’ll look back on this period and, with the benefit of hindsight, affirm what we got right and reject or revise that which we didn’t. When it comes to bilingual music and liturgy, we still find ourselves in a time of trial and error, with the latter expectedly in abundance. 

As I always preface in my workshops, there does not yet exist a higher institution of learning doctorate degree in bilingual liturgy or multilingual liturgical music; there are no individuals out there with a Ph.D. in this field (that I know of) to serve as authoritative experts on such things. I, like many of my colleagues doing this work, am simply a practitioner who has amassed some wisdom in pastoral experience, but who is also very much still learning and open to new discoveries and discourse. 

There’s astoundingly so much to explore when it comes to bilingual Spanish-English liturgy. For some communities, the very notion of attempting to meld languages in a liturgical context is a source of anxiety and trepidation. For others, it’s simply second nature. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of parish bilingualism, know that in ¡Cantemos Amén!you have a page that seeks to equip you with pastoral insights to help you better engage in this ministry. 

For my part, every time I see what’s being done in a different corner of this ministerial world, it keeps me yearning for more. I relish the opportunity to reflect on it all within these pages. So when it comes to matters concerning this exciting world of Hispanic music ministry, I look forward to journeying this path with you, my fellow ministers, filled with wonder and fervor for God’s amazing works.

Hasta pronto…  till next time… 

¡Que cantemos Amén! Let the church sing Amen!

Body Mapping: with Bridget Jankowski (Sing Amen! The Podcast, episode 19)

Body Mapping: with Bridget Jankowski (Sing Amen! The Podcast, episode 19)

When I look back over the past few decades, it feels as though I have spent a huge portion of my life as a professional musician dealing with tension, pain, stiff shoulders, tendinitis, and all kinds of bodily aches. Most of my colleagues would say the same, I expect. It never occurred to me to wonder if they were optional; I thought that was just part of being a musician.

            I had heard of Body Mapping, but I never seemed to find the opportunity to dig in and learn about it, or find out if it could help me. (I was too busy working, and practicing, and taking Advil for my aching joints and tension headaches.) Until last summer, when Bridget Jankowski, author of Body Mapping for Music Ministers, sat down with me one day during the 2018 NPM Convention in Baltimore, and taught me more about this remarkable practice.

            This podcast episode is essentially a distillation of that conversation. Bridget’s work, and her book, talks not only about Body Mapping as a vehicle to increased clarity and efficiency (and decreased pain!) for the musician’s body as we make music, but also about how this practice can help deepen our awareness and focus as we perform our work as ministers. Our conversation quite literally changed almost everything for me about the way I conduct, the way I sing, the way I teach, and the way I work with my own choruses; it is truly amazing—and I’ll leave it there and let you listen, since Bridget explains it all far better than I can!

            (And if this intrigues you even a little—Bridget herself will be speaking at the Raleigh NPM convention in a little over a week, giving one of the Mega-Breakouts. Please come see her in person and learn from a truly remarkable teacher!)

Music heard in today’s podcast:

One Is, G-3968

As recorded on Vision, CD-295

 

Sing Amen! the Podcast, with Jennifer Kerr Budziak
Sound by Jim Bogdanich

Sing Amen! opening music: Promenade, by Bob Moore (from Let Every Instrument Be Tuned for Praise, CD-491, from Liturgical Suite #4, G-4789 ©GIA Publications, Inc).
Sing Amen! closing music: Amen, (from More Sublime Chant, CD-459, The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx, conductor. ©GIA Publications, Inc.)

 

 

Keyboard to Keyboard

Keyboard to Keyboard

Welcome to my first edition of Keyboard to Keyboard! This article appeared in the GIA Quarterly, Volume 30, No 4. The beauty of a blog is that I can add links to the information included in that print article, and give you a bit more information. I am very excited and honored to be sharing my love of the organ with you, and I hope that you are inspired to jump in with both feet (or, if you don’t want to use your feet, just jump in anyway).

As a child I wanted to fly airplanes. (I also thought I wanted to jump out of them.) Then I discovered the organ and transferred my fascination with gadgets, knobs, buttons, lights, power, out-of-body excitement and massive sounds to a safer yet just as demanding career. As the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and as an organist, I’ve spent most of my life in churches. When I was ten years old the organist at my father’s church asked me to turn pages for her, knowing that I was taking piano lessons. Seeing my rapt attention, she offered to teach me for free (she was finishing an undergraduate degree in organ at Northern Illinois University and wanted a student…here’s a shout-out to Norma Washburn Kentner). Since then my love for the instrument and its repertoire has grown and deepened, and it is my hope to encourage others to discover for themselves what fun, satisfaction and downright excitement can be had by playing the organ. My focus is to help pianists who play in any church or synagogue where they are occasionally expected to play the organ and have not had any formal training on the instrument, pianists who have already taken some organ lessons and would like to find more resources, or anyone who has keyboard proficiency and would like to work on their service-playing and church-repertoire skills at the organ.

What’s stopping you?

Thinking back to my first organ lessons, I am remembering what was fascinating and what was intimidating. The array of pipes in varying shapes and materials in the chancel of my dad’s church was the first draw, even before I had seen a historic, large organ…also those wooden shades that opened and closed. Why did they do that? I wasn’t very attentive to my dad’s sermons (he knew that!) but instead was paying attention to the organ, the graded choirs, the choir directors and the organist.

What was intimidating to me was learning what the stop tabs were and how to use them, as well as what to do with my feet. I do remember that the first question I asked my teacher was how the pedals were arranged. It didn’t occur to me that they would be in the same order as the black and white keys of the piano—they were so big (to my ten-year-old eyes). I was afraid it was a completely different order of pitches. Believe me, I was very relieved.

The Klais organ pedals at Grosse Pointe Memorial, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI

Having a teacher meant that learning the stops and how to use them wasn’t an issue, because she drew them for me. Such help is not available to the pianist without a teacher who wants to experiment and play occasionally, and it’s the question most people ask me first. What do I do with the stops? So, is that what’s stopping you? If so, there’s a lot of help out there.

Thankfully, much newly-published organ music has registration suggestions for each piece, which is helpful. The names and spelling of the stops may vary from organ to organ, but one can google the stop name to look for alternatives, explanations and even sound examples. For example, flutes on the organ can be called Rohrflote, Harmonic Flute, Bourdon, Gedeckt, etc.

Where to look for help, both in print and online

GIA is publishing a book on the organ from past Quarterly issues, edited by Jennifer Kerr Budziak, available in the summer of 2019. The Organist’s Craft contains articles on organ-playing and registration from a variety of authors. There are also books and online articles on organ construction and registration available from a variety of sources.

Easily-accessed videos make such learning and knowledge accessible to those who have internet access. These two resources combined can empower a curious and dedicated person with the techniques necessary to develop their abilities at the organ.

The American Guild of Organists has a wealth of information online. Lessons for the New Organist can be found on their YouTube channel.   There are thirty videos intended to assist pianists in learning to play the organ, starting from A Pianist’s First Steps in Transitioning to the Organ through the topics that concern all of us as organists, such as organ stops and design, technique, pedaling, and other subjects. The length of the videos ranges from less than five minutes to fifteen. Also at that site are many other videos of masterclasses and performances that the AGO has posted for all enthusiasts of the organ to view. Take a look!

In addition to the AGO videos, numerous instructional videos are available on YouTube, so start by searching for “organ registration.” Here’s one from Dublin, Ireland.

Most organists are delighted to give tours and basic information to anyone who expresses interest. Contact an organist nearby and ask for a tour or demo. Those of us who have spent our lives loving this instrument are happy to share our knowledge with you, and offer the occasional lesson if you want it, to help ensure that our craft continues into the future.

Get started!

Two Spirituals for Keyboard (G-6239) arr. Richard Proulx.
These arrangements are moderately easy, and suitable for preludes or interludes. Here are my registration suggestions: In Christ There Is No East or West: Swell: Flute 8 and Gambe 8, Swell to Great; Great: Any of the 8’ principal, flute or string sounds combined, your preference.Begin on the Swell, at the “Slower,” take off the Flute and add the Celeste. At the mf take off the celeste, add any Principal or Flute sound on the Swell and move to the Great.  Over My Head: Swell: Principal 8, 4, 2, Oboe 8’, Swell to Great; Great: Principal 8, 4, 2. Play the Forte sections on the Great, At the mp section, play on the Swell, using the Swell pedal to adjust the volume, and playing the mf phrases on the Great, first moving the left hand, later moving the right hand. Add the Mixture to the Great for the D.S. Experiment a little, and trust your judgment.

Available for free download from GIA is one of my favorite go-to pieces when I want something fun, flashy, and not too difficult. The Jig Fugue is a short piece (about four minutes) by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/39-1707), a Danish-German organist of the Baroque period who was a strong influence on the young J.S. Bach. I use it most often as a postlude, or for a wedding postlude if the recessional isn’t long enough. I have done an arrangement of the fugue, which has minimal pedal (DOWNLOAD HERE), as well as for keyboard alone, which can be played convincingly either on an organ or a piano: (DOWNLOAD HERE). In a few weeks I will give some more extensive comments on how to learn, register and play the fugue, in hopes that you will enjoy playing it as much as I do.

Don’t let anything stop you!

Show By Your Life: A Conversation with Lori True (Sing Amen! The Podcast: Episode 18)

Show By Your Life: A Conversation with Lori True (Sing Amen! The Podcast: Episode 18)

Okay, it’s been a while since our last podcast! It’s good to be back.

Part of the learning curve for me with this site has been realizing when the crunch times come, so I can be ready for them…I’m just coming out of one of those crunch times, because in Publisher World, there is a big push about 6 weeks before all the big conferences, when all the projects need to go to press for printing. NPM is next month in Raleigh, July 16-19—and if you haven’t registered to go yet, please do consider it, because it’s going to be a great week.

(By the way: I will be one of the retreat leaders during the Pre-Convention events, for a retreat day for women on Monday July 15, working with Lorraine Hess, ValLimar Jansen, Meredith Augustin, and Sarah Hart. It will be a day of music and prayer and reflection, and you won’t want to miss it—I know it’s filling up fast, so while they will take onsite registration if there is still space, I’d recommend registering early.)

Anyway, a lot of stuff has gone to press in the last few weeks! New collections, books, Revival 2, new wedding music, Volume 8 of Paul Tate’s “Seasons of Grace” collection, The Organist’s Craft (the newest volume of the “As Found in the GIA Quarterly” series, which I edit), and of course Lori True’s new collection Show By Your Life, inspired in great part by the writings and words of Pope Francis.

That edition is in fact hot off the presses as I write this, and so it seemed like the perfect moment to release this podcast episode of a conversation I had with Lori last fall at the GIA Fall Institute, when this collection was in its early stages of development. Lori had just given a workshop addressing the importance of singing about social justice and letting the words we sing as a community address the very real concerns of our world today. She was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about her writing process and how she got here. It was a wonderful conversation, and here it is interspersed with excerpts from some of the songs from the new collection, as well as a few old favorites.

Enjoy!

Music heard in today’s podcast:

Show By Your Life, G-9980

As recorded on Show By Your Life, CD-1054

I Send You with the Grace of my Spirit, G-9985

As recorded on Show By Your Life, CD-1054

Who is the Alien? G-6711

As recorded on There is Room for Us All, CD-639

Prayers of the Faithful—Advent (from Cry Out With Joy, Year A, G-8481)

As recorded on Cry Out With Joy, Year A, CD-931

What Have We Done for the Poor Ones? G-6709

As recorded on There is Room for Us All, CD-639

My Favor Rests on You, G-9983

As recorded on Show By Your Life, CD-1054

 

Sing Amen! the Podcast, with Jennifer Kerr Budziak
Sound by Jim Bogdanich

Sing Amen! opening music: Promenade, by Bob Moore (from Let Every Instrument Be Tuned for Praise, CD-491, from Liturgical Suite #4, G-4789 ©GIA Publications, Inc).
Sing Amen! closing music: Amen, (from More Sublime Chant, CD-459, The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx, conductor. ©GIA Publications, Inc.)

 

 

___

The Left Menu

The Left Menu

One other piece of the whole thing you should begin to get used to is the menu bar on the left. The most important thing you’ll need over there, aside from the Media tab I showed you in the Featured Image post, is the “posts” item (with the thumbtack). If you click on “all posts,” it will show you everything on all the various pages, including unfinished “drafts” (You can do this too–create a post and “save draft,” without publishing it yet.)

If you want to see just your own, look at the top of the page and you’ll see some choices of filters. Go to “all categories,” and then use the dropdown to change it to “blog: keyboard to keyboard” and then click “filter.” Then it will only show you your own.

What’s important here too–if you ever create a post and forget to categorize it, here is where you’ll find it! You can go back to “all categories” and pore through that, or just filter for “uncategorized,” and you’ll be able to locate it.

Here’s a video of that too if it helps:

Most of the rest of what is over there you can ignore. The Posts menu and the Media Library are important, but not much else. Comments are always filtered, and we get a lot of spam, and I go in regularly to get rid of as much spam as I can. If you see a specific comment that you want to approve, you can do that, but I try to stay on it pretty well, and if the comment looks and sounds like a real person and not a bot, I’ll generally let it through.

Everything else I don’t touch–that’s Jim and Paul’s (our IT guy) domain. 🙂

Setting a Featured Image

Setting a Featured Image

Part of the way we have this site laid out sort of demands a “featured image” for each post–a sort of header thing for every blog entry that in some way relates to what it’s about.

Since we’re dealing in publication here, the copyright of the image does begin to matter. You may have a pile of jpg images from your work, pictures you’ve taken of organs or keyboards or whatever (or you could in the next few weeks take your phone/camera to different instruments and catch different shots of them–something I’d recommend actually!)–these are ideal, since they’d be yours (or Jim’s) and no issues with their use. If you have friends and colleagues with photos to share that’s great too; we usually just give them a little photo credit at the bottom of the post.

There are also a lot of sites where you can get free stock photography, something I pretty much depend on these days. The best ones IMO are pexels.com, unsplash.com, and pixabay.com, but a google search for “best free stock photos” will give you a lot of options. You can download photos for free from these.

Here’s a super-quick video of how it works (It would be quicker if my computer weren’t so slow):

Broken down, here’s what happens (I had already uploaded the photo I wanted to use for this header, so I just did an additional random upload to show you how that works, which you probably didn’t even need):

Go to the “document” menu in the right hand sidebar. (Again, if you don’t see it, click the little “gear” icon above, next to “publish.”) Scroll down till you see “Set featured image.”

If you click on this, it will take you to the “media library,” where you can upload a new photo or choose one you already have up there. (You should edit your photos to the size you want before you do this, though.)

By the way, regarding the Media Library–you can also get to that on the left-hand menu bar any time. You can add a bunch of photos at once if you want, independently of writing a post, just to have ’em up there. Click the “upload” tab and you can go crazy. :-)) Note though that if you are mid-post when you want to do this, make sure you click “save draft” before you leave what you’ve typed, or you’ll lose it. The site should warn you that you’re trying to leave without saving, so you’ll want to watch out for that.

Re sizing the photos: Header photos honestly don’t have to be too specifically sized, but Jim will want me to give you this information about their proper dimensional proportions–Dimensions should be something like the following (in multiples going up to bigger photos)–essentially, a little less than twice as wide as they are high:
795 X 448
1590 x 896
3180 x 1792
3975 x 2240
4770 x 2688

The reality is that if you have something more or less the right rectangular shape, and it’s not too specific, you’ll be fine; you only need to mess with these dimensions if you run into stuff that looks funny once it’s up there.

Once you’ve got a post and a featured image, you’ll want to click “preview” to the top right, and it will take you to a new page so you can see what it will look like.

Then you can schedule your post, or just publish it, or whatever.

I think that’s it for now! Let me know if you have any questions; otherwise, have fun playing!

Creating a Post on WordPress

Creating a Post on WordPress

It’s pretty easy and fairly intuitive, actually, once you get past all the VAST amounts of data they feel compelled to plop all over your page, and figure out what to show and where the stuff you need is.

I made a little video of the process if you’re that kind of learner (and it was fun for me to learn how to do a screen video–but sorry I type so slowly)…but in a nutshell:

First, make sure you’ve created your new account and can access the “admin” bar…the site you’ll log into will be something like singamen.giamusic.com/admin. Then you’ll click “new” at the top, then dropdown to “post” and off you go.

They have this new system called “blocks” instead of normal word processing; it apparently has something to do with viewing the site on a mobile device. If you look to the top right of the page, you might see a sidebar down the side…if you don’t see it, click on the “settings” gear icon thing in the upper right, and it should appear.

It gives you two choices: Document and Block. Block is the one you see whenever you type, and Document is the one that gives you control over pretty much anything else.

If you click “Document” you can scroll down to “categories.” For you, you’ll want to always check both “blog” and “blog: Keyboard to Keyboard”–that’s how the site knows to send that post to YOUR page. (All of mine have the “ministering through music” category tagged, so they go to mine.)

That’s the basic gist of it…I’ll add more as we go, since Jim would like to have a few posts already up there before we send it to you so you’ll get a sense of what it’s going to look like.

First Communion Liturgies, Part I: Mission and Vision

First Communion Liturgies, Part I: Mission and Vision

When my daughter was born in early May about 14 years ago, I remember a brief moment of feeling a little luxurious that I suddenly, for the first time in decades, found myself not at church on that first Saturday in May. (It was a very small feeling of luxury; on that first Saturday in May had probably not gotten more than an hour of sleep at a stretch in days, and if you’ve never done it, let me make you aware that those first days and weeks after childbirth are no walk in the park for the human body. I’m not sure I could have gone for a walk in the park at that point anyway.) Of course, it was not long before I realized that this also meant that every year on the Saturday nearest my daughter’s birthday I would be spending a large amount of the day at church—celebrating multiple First Communion services, rather than staying home making pancakes or going on day trips to fun places or planning elaborate birthday parties at home.

(Birthday parties at home with a bunch of small children—also not a walk in the park, in case you were wondering.)

Even so, First Communion season is a part of my work as a music minister that I really enjoy. The joy, the festivity, the bright shining faces, the pride and teary eyes of the parents—it’s a beautiful thing.

Still…like all of our work and ministry, our shaping of these liturgies will enable them to be stronger and more effective if we are able to step back a little from time to time, try to shed our assumptions, and see what’s really happening. If we remember to peel back the layers of “we’ve always done it this way” and see what of those “always” things are helpful and life-giving, and whether perhaps some of them are in some way hindering the larger vision and mission.

And what is that larger vision and mission?

We are here to form disciples.

I’m going to say that again: Our mission is to form disciples. Our vision must focus on forming disciples.

At least, we hope that’s the vision and mission. If it doesn’t boil down in some way to this, then I’m not sure what we’re about. If we do not keep that in mind, at the forefront of our ministry and catechesis and planning and prayer and music, then we lose the heart of what we are there for.

I would submit that, where First Communion is concerned, we may sometimes lose sight of that mission and vision, perhaps replacing it with one that looks more like “to give the children a special day they will never forget.” Peeling back more layers, we may come to, “to give the children and their families a day they will never forget,” or even “to give the children and their families a day like the one their parents remember, that they will never forget just like their parents remember theirs.”

This is a perilous direction to go in. Not that we don’t want to make this day special and wonderful, and never to be forgotten, for children and adults alike, but that cannot be the core value we hold when we plan and prepare for the liturgies of this day.

For example, let’s look at the process of music selection for liturgies where First Communion is celebrated. Many places where I have ministered and worshiped have the tendency to select for this liturgy music drawn primarily from the school and religious education programs—essentially, music written expressly for small children. It’s an understandable choice, especially from the “make this a special day” perspective, to choose music that speaks expressly to those who are the focus of the day…

Except that the children are not the focus of the First Communion liturgy. Jesus is the focus, the Body of Christ is the focus, the children taking their place at the table is the focus.

Choose music from the parish repertoire, music they will hear on Sunday when they come back to church. Choose music they will connect with the wider community, and with their place in it in the years to come. Choose the music they have sung or heard sung during the Communion procession since they were old enough to hum along with familiar tunes even before they could read, and when the hymnal was too heavy to hold. Choose music their parents can sing with them, music their families visiting from other churches are likely to know as well, so that the sound of the adults’ voices around them can surround them with love and warmth and welcome.

This does not mean, of course, being oblivious in the planning process that this liturgy will have large numbers of children present and taking part, as well as guests and family members who may or may not all be active and practicing Catholics. This would not be a time when I would program “Lord, you give the great commission” or other of the wonderful but wordier strophic hymns that form such a rich part of our musical heritage. I would suggest looking to music with fairly contained tessitura and range, and leaning to more refrain-based songs and hymns. I can tell you that my own kids rarely went around the house during the week singing songs from their catechetical programs, but the regular songs from the Sunday liturgy would be discernable under their breath fairly frequently.

Remember too that this intermingled repertoire can work both ways. If there is a favorite song that has been used at First Communion for many years, even if it may be a little more child-like than the Sunday community would normally sing, consider using it on a few Sundays during the year in the months leading up to the First Communion celebration.

Obviously this whole line of reasoning is heading right back to that topic dearest to my heart, which I espouse over and over again whenever I have the opportunity: Plan your year’s liturgical music early, look at the year as a whole, and know what’s coming up.

It’s all connected.

(Part 2 of this series will look at some specific strategies and repertoire ideas…because no matter how well you plan, getting the assembly at First Communion liturgies can be a challenge…)