Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Ash Wednesday at St Patrick's Cathedral

There will be singing at St Pat's at the 1pm mass tomorrow. I am just planning it out at the moment.

The Psalm is the easy bit. Chris Willcock SJ's Psalm 51 is mandatory (cf. Psalms for Feasts and Seasons or TIS 32.)

We will use the entrance antiphon as it is in the missal, set to "Make me a channel of your peace", with the people using "You are the Lord our God" as a refrain.

During the signing with the ashes, I think I will use Michael Herry's "Give us hearts renewed" (from "Song of the Pilgrim"), which is short and repetitive. I have been looking at the "antiphons" that are suggested in the missal for singing during the signing, but I have no idea (at this point) how to sing them. Some work and research needed there. There is also a "responsory" listed, but again, no suggestion of how to use it. Mons Elliot, in his Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, simply says that "during the imposition the antiphons or appropriate penitential hymns are sung."

I think we will use "O Lord throughout these forty days" as the communion hymn. It is possible that you do not know this hymn. It is probably more current among Lutherans than among Catholics, but there is no reason why Catholics should not sing it. And it has a common metre so it can be sung to a whole range of tunes. Lutherans use "Caithness", but you could use "Amazing Grace" or "Crimond"--though probably not advisable. Better would be "Belair" or "Tallis' Ordinal". In fact, I think I will use the latter (TIS 397). Here is the text based on an original by Claudia F. Hernaman (d. 1898) and Gilbert E. Doan.

1. O Lord, throughout these forty days
You prayed and kept the fast;
Inspire repentance for our sin,
And free us from our past.

2. You strove with Satan, and you won;
Your faithfulness endured;
give us your strength, your skill and trust
In God's eternal Word.

3. Though parched and hungry, yet you prayed
And fixed your mind above;
So teach us to deny ourselves
Since we have known God's love.

4. Be with us through this season, Lord,
And all our earthly days,
That when the final Easter dawns,
We join in heaven's praise.

1 comment:

Schütz said...

Yes, you are allowed to comment on your own blogs!

The Ash Wednesday service in the Cathedral did not go as well as it could have from a singing point of view.

I got lots of positive feedback, and there were about five hundred people there (my guesstimate).

But the positive feedback was for "your singing", whereas what I was looking for was "their singing"! In this respect I found "Give us hearts renewed" a bit of a flop. I had visions of everyone taking up the chant as we processed to receive the ashes. What happened was that I was singing it solo for the whole ceremony.

Actually, I am told that people were singing it "softly" to themselves, but that wasn't quite what I was looking for. From my perspective it was like singing to a brick wall covered in carpet.

I think the difficulty was that the Herry piece was not the most familiar. Perhaps I should have taken a well known Taize piece.

The other thing is that the crowd there was not our usual Friday crowd who have gotten into the singing a bit. Many were surprised that there was any singing at all.

Still, it wasn't as if they couldn't sing. The parts of the liturgy were sung very well indeed, especially the Lord's Prayer, which was sung with gusto by all present. That sort of thing always stirs the soul. That's what gives me hope!