Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Music at Perth CYM (Catholic Youth Ministry)

A friend wrote in to report what is happening in Perth with regard to the Wednesday night Holy Hours. Here's what he had to say:

Always interesting to read your blog(s)! Thought you might be interested in what I have a supporting role in - a friend of mine over here is the choir master for St John's Pro-Cathedral, Perth's Latin Mass HQ (where yours truly "executes" the chant as part of the schola cantorum - we try and do the full Gregorian propers), but furthermore he does stretch as far as providing music for the some of the Wed. 6.30 Holy Hours for Perth CYM... I get roped in to sing alongside him.

Since we have Adoration, obviously we sing the "O salutaris" at the moment of Exposition, "Tantum ergo" before the Benediction, and at Reposition "Adoremus" & Ps 116 as per usual. But my friend is adventurous - we began with a favourite hymn of his, "Be still my soul" (with the tune by Sibelius), which we've now used several times, and people seem to like it (I just checked and found it's an old Lutheran hymn, so I guess you know it), and later on sang a plainchant setting of the Litany of the Sacred Heart (another time, we did the Litany of Loreto). We use a data projector to (not perhaps exactly tastefully) throw the (English) words on the chapel wall, for the benefit of those present. We finished with "Hail Holy Queen" (sometimes we do the Salve instead), after Benediction and Reposition.

Very pleasantly, and unexpectedly, during a lull in proceedings, one of the CYM guys, sang a solo - "Into your hands", "Save us Lord" and the Nunc dimittis from Compline. Just as most "progressives" would be horrified to know, the many obviously rapt and prayerful young people - and how unusual for Catholics, as many men as women, if not slightly more of the former! - seem to really like such Latin and sacral English fare. How good, too, that we have Fr John Reilly, a Perth priest officially long retired - he's nearly 80 - but who is a gifted confessor and spiritual director, who exposes the Bl Sacrament, gives Benediction, yet spends most of the adoration time in hearing confessions of the young. As usual, the old and young are (a) glad to be together, (b) glad not to have Baby Boomers around - oops, sorry, David, I guess you're honorary Gen X! [No, I'm the real McCoy--born in 1966]

If I can persuade him, I think "Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour" would make a fine hymn for Eucharistic Adoration; I prefer to sing it to "St Helen".

BTW, this month at the "Pro" we've been concluding all Sunday Masses with that beaut hymn "Crown him with many crowns", which has proved unexpectedly popular with the congregation. it's such a nice hymn I'm going to presume to quote it to you, since doubtless you're humming the tune already!

Who would not be moved in that very holy evangelical way at such true exclamations as:

"Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee, / And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity." ...

"All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou hast died for me; / Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity."

Not to forget a good Catholic focus, Incarnation and Marian:

"Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born, Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn; Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem; The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem."

But perhaps most moving is the image of Christ's all-gloious wounds, outshining the sun, at whose dazzling effulgence the highest seraphim do veil their eyes:

"Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side, Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified. No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright."

Trusting that you enjoy the odd email,

In Christ, etc.

Here are my comments:

"Be still my soul" (with the tune Finlandia by Sibelius) is an excellent hymn and an excellent tune. There is a paraphrase of the Nunc Dimittis by Rae E. Whitney in Together In Song (733) to this which you might be interested in using on these occasions--very appropriate for that time of day:

Lord God, you now have set your servant free,
to go in peace as promised in your word;
my eyes have seen the Saviour, Christ the Lord,
prepared by you for all the world to see,
to shine on nations trapped in darkest night,
the glory of your people, and their light.

"That beaut hymn", "Crown him with many crowns" should be known much better by Catholics. It is a great Ascension hymn! Often I hear "Protestant Hymns" poo-pooed by Catholic traditionalists. If only they knew... Orthodox Protestant hymnody can sometimes be far more Catholic than the stuff that masquerades as "Catholic liturgical song" these days.

Please feel welcome to write to me with your musical experiences and advertising where good music can be found.