Monday, December 1, 2008

30 November - First Sunday of Advent

Happy Advent Everyone!

I have four lists for you this time around. I was the sub for the 5.30 pm Saturday Vigil Mass and my turn came up for cantoring the 7.45 am Mass at Immaculate Conception Church. I did that in addition to playing my usual 10.30 am service at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church. Since we just had Thanksgiving break, there was no service at the Episcopal Centre at Duke University. And then rounding out the list is the Compline service at Chapel of the Cross.

First, the 5.30 pm service at Immaculate Conception. As usual, the numbers come out of GIA's Gather Comprehensive 1994 (green cover):

Saturday 5.30 pm Vigil Mass: First Sunday of Advent
Prelude: Jesu, joy of Man's desiring (JS Bach)
Introductory Antiphon, Entrance Hymn, Greeting, Penitential Rite: Advent Entrance Rite (Hommerding/French)
Psalm: 75, Psalm 80 (Haugen)
Gospel Acclamation: 216 (Mass for the Life of the World)
Off: 331, God of all people (D Haas)
Sanctus, Mem. Accl., Amen, Fraction Rite: Missa Emmanuel
Comm: Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn (JG Walther); 638, Eye has not seen (M Haugen)
Song of Thanksgiving: Find us ready, Lord (T Booth)
Postlude: Wachet auf (Hymn 61 out of Hymnal 1982, followed by the Walther setting out of Achtzig Choralvorspiele)

For me, it was a frustrating afternoon. I would have wanted to have some time with the organ, but not surprisingly, the church was being used ... a wedding had just concluded, and I only had time enough to work out the Advent Entrance Rite. The choir trickled in as I worked it out, so there was the added benefit that they were able to work out their parts as I worked out registrations and the like. The abfab Fr Dan McLellan wandered in eventually, and we were all able to work out our bits (and Fr Dan has a wonderful singing voice). I didn't get a chance to practice my prelude piece, and not surprisingly, I messed it up. Big time. Even overestimated the time I needed to play it, so we had a full 2 minutes of silence before Mass started. Not a bad thing, IMHO.

I wish I thought to check on the soundboard. All levels were down to zero, so despite the fact the necessary mikes were unmuted, no sound was being transmitted. So the effect was that we all missed the solo voices that went along with the Entrance Rite. Sigh. What a way to introduce a new piece of music to a congregation! Add to that, me being unsure how to indicate music not included in Gather Comprehensive on the electronic hymnboard, and the general hilarity that came with pressing the wrong buttons on the thing, and the frustration was complete.

Oh even better - this was at the height of the sound problems. During the Psalm, because I couldn't hear the cantor very well, I completely lost track of what verse we were on. (Admittedly, I am so not enamoured of that Psalm setting anyway. I could have lived without it ... and admittedly, I faked my way through it; it had all those strange rhythms and such.) I ended the Psalm, and then I glanced up at one of the choir members and asked him, "Was that three verses?" He answered in the affirmative, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

During the Homily, I eventually figured everything out regarding the hymnboard, and the soundboard, and there were no more problems that came up. At least, from the point of view of the musician and sound engineer (and yes, I fulfilled that role as well ...)

At the last minute, I decided to play a Walther piece appropriate for Advent and ordered the choir to take Communion. I'm glad I did that; the Walther piece, combined with "Eye has not seen" filled up the time nicely, and we even had some moments for silence afterward as the altar servers were folding up the altar cloth, and before Fr Dan's invitation for the people to stand and join in singing the Song of Thanksgiving.

I will admit - I had never heard that song before ("Find us ready"). When I first tried playing it, it sounded like noise to me, so unmusical. I will admit - I don't really do jazzy pieces or gospelly pieces all that well. (I suspect that showed when I interviewed at a church last year when I was still looking for a part-time church music position.) It took doing a search on YouTube for me to have a feel for what the piece should sound like. From my vantage point, I couldn't really tell if the people were singing this well or not. But then again, I was just concentrating on getting through the piece.

To be honest, I was quite surprised that the DM did not program "Wachet auf" for this Mass. (It appears at #335 in Gather Comprehensive.) So I decided to play that, with the accompaniment out of Hymnal 1982, as my postlude, pulling out most stops, and then following that up with Walther's setting of that hymntune. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a lot of people seemed to stay for the hymn, and started stirring when I started on the Walther.

It was a relief to be done.

I blogged on the Mass settings used in this particular Mass earlier, and you may read my thoughts here. I also included my thoughts on how well I thought programming the Hommerding/French alongside the Proulx Missa Emmanuel worked together. I know, it's only one Sunday, but after having played this Mass, I stand by my opinion that it's completely overkill, and that IMHO, it effectively shuts out the possibility of programming "Creator of the Stars of Night" and "O come, o come, Emmanuel" during Advent.

Now that my thoughtspill is completed over this Mass, we can move on to the rest ... and yes, I don't have as much commentary over the following lists.

For the Mass I cantored, my friend Jane was the organist.

Sunday 7.45 am Mass: First Sunday of Advent
Prelude: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 645; JS Bach)
Opening Hymn: 335, Wake, O wake and sleep no longer (WACHET AUF)
Psalm: Psalm 80 (Guimont)
Gospel Acclamation: 187 (Mass of Light)
Off: 323, Come, O long expected Jesus (STUTTGART)
Sanctus, Mem. Accl., Amen: 300, 301, 302; Land of Rest Mass
Agnus Dei: 312, Agnus Dei XVIII
Comm: Organist's voluntary; sounds like Langlais, but I could be wrong.
Postlude: Improvisation on Veni veni Emmanuel

My voice was still a little rough, but I survived it. Three guesses as to which setting of Psalm 80 that was sung at IC I prefer. :-) Also too - I would love to have what Jane played as prelude in my repertoire, but alas. It's not. Maybe next year. In the meantime, click here for a really nice interpretation of that piece as played by Ton Koopman on a 1714 Silbermann organ, Dom St. Marien, Saxony, Germany.

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church where I played my usual 10.30 am service. As usual, numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982 unless otherwise noted.

First Sunday of Advent: Rite II
Prelude: Jesu, joy of Man's desiring (JS Bach)
Pro: 57, Lo! he comes, with clouds descending (HELMSLEY)
Trisagion: Enriching Our Music I 54 (Missa Oecumenica; R Proulx)
Psalm: Psalm 80 (Ford, plainsong Mode 1)
Seq: 61, "Sleepers, wake!" A voice astounds us (WACHET AUF)
Off: 596, Judge eternal, throned in splendor (KOMM, O KOMM DU GEIST DES LEBENS); Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn (JG Walther)
Sanctus: Enriching Our Music I 56 (Missa Oecumenica; R Proulx)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Agnus Dei: Enriching Our Music I 57 (Missa Oecumenica; R Proulx)
Comm: Wachet auf! (F Mendelssohn), followed by an improvisation on the theme when I noticed people were still at the Communion Rail after the choir sang this piece.
Re: 68, Rejoice! rejoice, believers (LLANGLOFFAN)
Postlude: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (JG Walther)

Yes, it was overkill on Wachet auf, but people were humming the tune as they were leaving the church, and some were humming it during the Coffee and Fellowship hour afterward.

This was the first Sunday in at least 2+ years that the choir vested, and I received overwhelmingly positive feedback concerning that. In addition, with regards to the service music, a few people approached me and told me that they thought they heard it somewhere, and that it wasn't completely "new" to them. I smiled and thought, oh goodie, my little subliminal messages over the past month have worked. This week, the choir was accompanied by organ and bass guitar; next week, they're on their own as they'll be singing the whole of it a cappella.

Speaking of which - they did a wonderful job with the Mendelssohn, and my Psalmist, Joel M., did wonderfully on the Psalm. He's got a very good sense of pitch, and a very pleasant singing voice on top of that. I feel blessed to have such talented people as part of the Music Ministry at St. Joseph's.

As I mentioned earlier, there was no service at the Episcopal Centre at Duke University. The next time we come together, which will be on the Second Sunday of Advent, December 7, we will be celebrating Advent Lessons and Carols. Speaking of which - if you're in the area, and if you're not planning to go to the Duke Chapel Choir's third performance of Handel's Messiah at Duke Chapel, please consider coming to the Episcopal Centre, located right next to Campus Police, and across the street from the Ronald McDonald House on Alexander St. It will start at 5.00 pm, and we eventually end with a hymn sing. There should be enough merriment to send the students off into their final exams and the Christmas hols.

Compline at Chapel of the Cross.

We've been using the Order for Compline, as set by David Hurd.

Here are our little additions:

Ecce concipiens (Jacob Gallus (Handl))
Psalms 31 and 134 (chanted to Tone 8)
Hymn: 60, Creator of the stars of night (CREATOR ALME SIDERUM)
Nunc Dimittis from Short Service (O. Gibbons)
Alma Redemptoris Mater (Marian antiphon right after the Dismissal)
Ave Maria (Robert Parsons)
Organ Voluntary by the abfab David Arcus.

David improvised on themes from Alma Redemptoris Mater. It was a very simple, very elegant improv. I feel like I'm learning something new every time I listen to David improvise. Of course, we were teasing each other all throughout - I had tripped over his feet as we were processing in last Sunday, and this Sunday, he managed to trip over mine ... also too, last Sunday, we were both coughing and hacking during the course of the service, leaving the alto section 50% depleted. So this Sunday, in greeting, I thrust a handful of cough drops into his hands. He took it with good humour.

Next Sunday will be the last Compline service of the Fall Semester. If you're in the area, please drop on by; the service is at 9.30 pm. I know I'll be dashing from Duke to make the choir call ... I have no way of knowing how long the Advent Lessons and Carols will take place ... well, rather, how long I'll be subjected to the Hymn Sing, but I'll have to be sure to put an end to it so I can at least get to Chapel Hill by the early 9.00 pm hour ...

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