Tag Archives: Chant

“Stay with me”

15 Jan

The “Invitation to Communion” has previously been the topic of a homily in church and a post on this blog. But its beauty astounded us again today, as we heard an extraordinary scripture passage at Mass. 

“Behold, the Lamb of God.”

“What are you looking for?”

“Where do you stay?

“Come, and you will see.” 

As Jesus walks by, there is an acclamation by John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus.  One is Andrew. The other is not named, which leaves room for you to be the other disciple.  

There is an acclamation: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Something stirs within them. They approach Jesus. He asks them a question. They ask their own, “Where do you stay?” In response Jesus offers them an invitation – “Come …” – and gives them a promise – “… and you will see.”  And they stay with him that day.  

Acclamation, question, invitation, promise – and communion. 

At Mass we hear the acclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God.”  When you hear that, something stirs within you. As you walk up the aisle toward the altar for communion, Jesus asks you what you are looking for. You approach him with your question or your wonderment, whatever question or wonderment you have about yourself or about life. Jesus gives you an invitation, “Come. Come to me in the consecrated bread and wine.” And he makes you a promise, “You will see.” You will get an answer. It might not be clear now. It may take some time. But he does promise, “Stay with me. You will see. There will come the time when all your questions are answered, when you will wonder no more. Stay with me. You will see.” Then the most extraordinary of things happens. We receive communion, or better, we are received into communion.  

He asks us to stay with him, and he asks to stay with us. It is communion – “holy” communion.

Preface I of Advent: November 27-December 16, 2011

26 Nov

Preface I of Advent

(The following Preface is said in Masses of Advent from the First Sunday of Advent to December 16.)

The Lord be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, as we sing the hymn of your glory without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion: Holy Communion

20 Nov

It is an invitation to communion.

We are Andrew. “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”

We are the bride. “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

We are the centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

As we approach the altar for communion, we are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. It is an invitation to communion – holy communion!

Click here for today’s homily, Andrew, the Bride and the Centurion.”

Most Inviting Invitation

18 Nov

You might find that the “Invitation to Communion” in the new Mass translation is the most attractive change, the most inviting moment: inviting us into communion, and inviting us to reflect on the meaning of the words that are chanted. Three references to the Bible are imbedded in “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Behold the Lamb of God The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) – As Jesus approached, John the Baptist pointed him out to two of his disciples as “the Lamb of God,” the one whom the people were waiting for, the one who would be sacrificed for their sake. Andrew, “our” Andrew, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. The other one is not named. Jesus invites them to come and see where he is staying. They went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. At communion we are that unnamed disciple, with our Andrew. Jesus is pointed out, held up as the “Lamb of God.” We choose to follow. Jesus gives us the same invitation he gave to Andrew, “Stay with me.” In the company of Andrew in the company of Jesus  – that is holy communion.

The supper of the Lamb – Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9) – In the last book of the Bible there is a description of the feast in heaven. It is a wedding feast. The Lamb of God is the groom. His bride, his beloved, is the Church, the believers, the baptized, all those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Mass is a taste of heaven. There is a taste of Cincinnati, a taste of Milford, a taste of Clermont County. The Mass is a taste of heaven. The Mass is a wedding feast. As we approach the altar for communion, we are the bride walking up the aisle. Jesus is the groom, at the altar, on the altar, waiting for his bride to come up the aisle, longing to be joined in intimate communion.

Under my roof The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8) – The centurion, as a military man with a hundred soldiers under his command, knew authority. As a Roman soldier, as an enforcer of the occupying foreign power, he was despised by the people. But his servant is sick at his house. Knowing he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his house, he asked Jesus just to say the word, knowing that Jesus had authority that he could never have, no matter how much he would ever be promoted. Jesus says the word, and his first long distance healing happens. In our unworthiness and sinfulness, we approach Jesus for communion and healing. We are flawed. We fret that we are not worthy to have Jesus enter our home. But Jesus says the word, and comes into our house, into our home, into us, into our lives.

We are Andrew. We are the bride. We are the centurion. Jesus invites us into his company, into a holy communion with him. Jesus makes an offer we can’t refuse.

“Ever So Slightly” Blessing

17 Nov

Thankfully, the Sign of the Cross and the Lord’s Prayer are the same. But almost all the other prayers we pray and the words we speak at Mass are changing ever so slightly, beginning next Sunday, November 27. In the “ever so slightly” changes there is a blessing for us. Priest and people will be jostled out of the familiar, and will focus anew on what we say and what we pray, paying closer attention to hearing things we have never heard before, even when they are the same words we have spoken for years.    

Monsignor Ken and I have been spending time together, looking over what will be sung and what will be spoken. Every prayer that we speak while standing at the altar and while standing at the chair will be slightly different from what we have used for years. We are making our lists and checking them twice. We want to do the best for you that we can do. Dovile, the choirs and the cantors are preparing their notes (of a different kind) as well, getting ready to do the best that they can for you. Deacon Tim is learning his parts, and watching over the priest’s parts, too, in order to help us all.

Near you in the pew is a red booklet that will have everything you need for your parts. During Advent, the Gloria is not sung, but we will sing the other parts of the “Mass of Redemption.” As you know already, it is in the red booklet. As we begin Mass next Sunday, we will use the Confiteor, with its new words, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” No need to worry. It is in the red booklet. Yes, in the Profession of Faith (Nicene Creed), we will now be saying, “… consubstantial with the Father,” and “… incarnate of the Virgin Mary.” Not to worry. It’s in the red booklet.

You might hear someone sigh, “I miss that book that used to be in the pews. It had the readings in it.” There is a stack of the “Liturgy of the Word 2012” books at each of the doors. Surprise them by getting out of your pew, going to the nearest door and bringing back a book and a smile for them. And after Mass, you can quietly and without fanfare return their book to the same door.

In the new translation of the Mass prayers you will find or hear a “new word from God” that speaks to something deep within you. As the year progresses, you will add another and another and another to your list of favorites. Perhaps the Invitation to Communion will be one. It comes almost right from the Bible: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9). “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” (Luke 7:6-7).

We will be falling in love with the Mass all over again.

We Remember Who We Are

15 Nov

On November 13, two weeks before we are to begin using the new words given to us in the Roman Missal, Deacon Tim Schutte spoke at all the Masses about reminders and being reminded, focussing on the four times in the Mass when we chant, “The Lord be with you … And with your spirit.” He said, “We are reminded four times that Jesus is fully present to us right now.” In that simple,  spiritual exchange, “we remember who we are, in relation to each other and to Christ.”

Listen to his words, as spoken at the 9:30 a.m. Mass, by clicking here: “The Lord be with you … And with your spirit.

Get Ready. Get Set. Praise!

29 Aug

God calls us, and we answer. We get ourselves ready by coming together and singing.  

We set ourselves in right position before God, noting our need for God’s mercy and God’s divine desire to save us.

And then, with a renewed appreciation of God’s greatness, raising our bowed heads, as if in a rush to praise God, we sing with excitement the song that the angels sang in Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” We fall all over ourselves and one another, stumbling and fumbling and searching for adequate words, five times trying to find the right words to praise God, translating the original, melodic and dramatic Latin text – Laudámus te, benedícimus te, adorámus te, glorificámus te, grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam – with our new English translation of praise: We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.

Our breath taken away in awe before God, and out of breath from praising, we sit down to allow the Spirit of God to fill us with new breath in the proclamation of the Scriptures. Sunday Mass has begun.

Here at St. Andrew our first step in welcoming the new English translation of the Roman Missal is becoming comfortable with singing the Gloria in a Mass setting composed by Steven R. Janco. Listen here to the Gloria from the Mass of Redemption.

Get ready. Get set. Praise!


Can You Come Out and Pray?

25 Aug


When I was a kid, in the days before cell phones, we got on our feet or on our bikes, and went in person to the home of our friends. Instead of ringing the doorbell, we stood outside and sang, without musical accompaniment, using just two notes, the higher note only for the name of the person and for the last word before the question mark, “O Steve, can you come out and play?” I do not know why we did it that way. We just did.  And it worked. If the kid didn’t come out himself, his mother appeared at the door, and told us why he was not coming out to play.  

That distraction came to me when I was at a chant workshop for priests. We were learning the chants of the Roman Missal. When we begin to use the new English translation of the Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, we will be singing more than we have been. The new Missal, we are told, will have music printed all through the text. The music will not be tucked away in the back of the book in an appendix, as if singing were an afterthought or is an option. It is the Church’s way of saying, “Sing.” So, we priests have begun to learn how to chant the prayers and the dialogues of the Mass.

Chanting is singing a single line of music, that is, without any harmony line being sung at the same time by someone else, just one single line of music. It is usually just two, three or four notes repeated in rather predictable patterns. It is usually without any musical accompaniment. All that is heard is the human voice. It is simple and straightforward, not complex. Yet when a dialogue or a prayer is chanted, not just spoken, the words are raised to a new level and reach a deeper place in us. Listen to this prayer from Epiphany Sunday as it is chanted: Prayer over the Offerings.  

Here at St. Andrew, come November 27, we will begin slowly and gently, for the sake of the priests and the people. We will begin with the dialogues, those places in the Mass when the priest and the people are responding back and forth. Maybe the priest will also chant the prayers at the beginning and at the end of Mass, the ones he prays at his chair by himself, as the server holds “the big red book” (the Missal) for him.

So, soon we will have not only some new words, but also more singing, oops, I mean, chanting. It will be simple. And it will help us raise our minds and hearts to God, as we fall in love with the Mass all over again.  

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