Sunday, December 30, 2012


Sacred Heart Church has a fairly unique habit of ensuring that the music for Mass that actually conforms to the liturgical guidelines of the Catholic Church.  This not only goes for Sunday and Holyday Masses, but for weddings and funerals as well.  Therefore, you often hear bits of music that aren't heard in too many parishes.  In fact, some parishes haven't gotten to enjoy such a sense of the sacred since Vatican II.  For those who have been to a funeral at Sacred Heart Church, and have been wondering "what's that stuff the organist (and the pastor) is singing???", here is a little primer.

A good chunk of the music, particularly the Gregorian Chant that we sing in Latin, is proper to the funeral liturgy, and has been proper to the funeral liturgy as long as there have been funeral liturgies.

The first bit of singing heard is when the celebrant (I never use the word "presider") and servers process to the casket is Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.  That is, Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  This is the antiphon to what is the proper Introit (Entrance chant) to the funeral Mass.

After the celebrant blesses the casket, the procession, with casket, proceeds to the altar, at which point a hymn is sung.  This is almost always something from one of our two hymnals.  Some titles often used are:
- Lift high the cross (Worship, #704)
- Crown him with many crowns (Maroon, #352)
- Jesus, lover of my soul (Maroon, #415, first tune)
- Amazing grace (Worship, #583) (if requested)

Following the first reading is the responsorial Psalm, which is always sung.  Even though this is sung in English, it is still a proper of the Mass, and its translation is taken from either the Lectionary for Mass or from the Grail, both translations approved for use here in the United States.  Options include:
- Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd, settings by Owen Alstott or by yours truly, - OR - My shepherd is the Lord, as found in the Worship hymnal, #32)
- Psalm 25 (To you, O Lord, I lift my soul, setting in the Worship hymnal, #768).  I use this mainly during Advent Season.
- Psalm 27 (The Lord is my light and my salvation, setting by Richard Rice, or the setting in the Worship hymnal, #792 during Lent or #871 during Ordinary Time)
- Psalm 63 (My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God, setting by Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB)
- Psalm 122 (Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord, setting by yours truly).  This one is intended for use in the Last Weeks of Ordinary Time (November).

The music for the Alleluia (or Gospel Acclamation if during Lent) is selected according to season.  The accompanying verse is appointed for funerals.  Again, in English, but still a proper.

During the offertory, I usually sing a setting of the Ave Maria.  The most popular setting is probably that of Franz Schubert.  However, I do vary to settings by other composers as well, namely Jacob Arcadelt, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Lorenzo Perosi, and the Mode I Gregorian Chant.  There is also a melody written by Charles Gounod set over J.S. Bach's Prelude in C from his well-known collection, The Well-Tempered Clavier.  I often do this one during Advent and Christmas seasons.
If there is a setting you would like, please specify to the undertaker, Kathy, Father, or myself.  If you will say "the famous Ave Maria", or "the one I heard on TV", I will assume the Schubert setting.

Following is the sung Ordinary of the Mass (Sanctus through Agnus Dei).  The setting we use most is the Gregorian Missa Pro Defunctis (Mass XVIII, for the Dead).  You could call it a "proper", as the Church assigns this setting for funerals, but it's not a "proper".  It's the Ordinary.  The text does not vary.  In this particular setting of the Mass, the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is a bit different.  In the first two repetitions, the line "miserere nobis" (have mercy on us) is replaced by "dona eis requiem" (grant them rest), and the final ending "dona nobis pacem" (grant us peace) is replaced by "dona eis requiem sempiternam" (grant them eternal rest).

The Memorial Acclamation ("Mysterium Fidei", or "The Mystery of Faith") is the same one we've been using the last few weeks, and you can find more information on it here.

As Father begins to distribute Holy Communion to the faithful, you hear yet another a capella chant.  The text is Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum quia pius est.  Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum quia pius est.  The translation is May eternal light shine upon them O Lord, with your saints forever, for you are gracious.  Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, with your saints forever, for you are gracious.

Immediately following that brief chant (less than a half minute) is a hymn or anthem that will accompany the rest of the Communion Rite.  Such titles often used here include:
- Panis Angelicus (settings by Cesar Franck or Louis Lambillotte, or the Hungarian tune found in the Pius X Hymnal)
- Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All (Worship, #488)
- Jesus, Son of Mary (Maroon, #223)
- Let thy Blood in mercy poured (Maroon, #190)
- Pie Jesu (setting by Gabriel Faure)

Following the Post-Communion Prayer, the celebrant approaches the casket for the Final Commendation.  At this point, there is a brief piece, again, proper to the rites.  The one we use most often is "I believe that my Redeemer lives", using a setting written by a local composer, Henri St. Louis.  The other option for the Final Commendation music is "Saints of God, come to his/her aid", or its paraphrase, "Come to his/her aid, O Saints of God", which is sung to the same tune as the famous "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow".

Finally is the recessional.  One of the unique things about a funeral Mass is that it's the only Mass that actually has a proper recessional.  That recessional is "In Paradisum", and you can find that in the Worship hymnal at #178.  It is sung in Latin, but a translation is provided there.  Although this is the proper, sometimes a requested piece may take its place, e.g. "How Great Thou Art", or for military funerals, a patriotic hymn.  However, when not specified, the proper is sung by default.

Any questions, feel free to contact me.


Those getting married at Sacred Heart Church in 2013 should contact me, Brian Michael Page, the parish organist, at least a month or two in advance 1) to book the date, and 2) to select music for your wedding Mass.  You may meet with me in the choir loft after any Mass, but for the music planning, which sometimes takes some time (I've met with couples for as long as an hour sometimes), it is best to see me after the 5:00 Mass on a Saturday or after the 11:15 Mass on a Sunday.  You may also get my phone number from either Fr. Bucci or from Kathy in the rectory.  (I don't leave my family phone number on an open blog, sorry.)


Thursday, December 27, 2012


of our Lord Jesus Christ

6 January 2013

SIDE NOTE: I love it when the Sunday of Epiphany falls on the traditional date of January 6.  If we were to celebrate Mass according to the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal), January 6 would be the fixed date of the Epiphany regardless of what day of the week it falls on.  In that form, the Sunday that falls on January 2-5 would be the Holy Name of Jesus.  The Sunday that falls after January 6 would be the Holy Family (which, in our current Ordinary Form, is celebrated the Sunday after Christmas, unless Christmas falls on a Sunday).


Today's hymn numbers will be from the Maroon hymnal (simply marked "The Hymnal").  We will be joined by our brass trio (trumpet, flugelhorn, and French horn) at the 5:00 Saturday Mass and the 9:00 and 11:15 Sunday Masses.

Entrance hymn: 12 O come, all ye faithful (verses 1, 2, 3, and 6, arranged by David Willcocks)
- This is the arrangement we used at Christmas!

Gloria: same as Holy Family

Responsorial Psalm: Lord, every nation on earth will adore you, music by yours truly (Listen)

Alleluia: same as Holy Family

Offertory hymn: 51 We three kings of Orient are

Sanctus through Agnus Dei: same as Holy Family.  In addition, the brass and organ will play John Ferguson's Fanfare in B-flat during the elevations (at Masses celebrated by the Pastor)

Communion anthem: Laudamus Te (from the Gloria in D by Antonio Vivaldi) (duet)

Meditation hymn: 52 As with gladness men of old  (Listen)

Recessional hymn: 47 What star is this with beams so bright (Listen)



The Mother of God

1 January 2013


A good chunk of what is sung today is a repeat of what we are singing the Sunday before (Holy Family).  We will, however, be switching books.  We'll be using the Maroon hymnals for this Solemnity.  Masses will be at 6 PM on Monday December 31, 2012, and 9 and 11:15 AM on Tuesday January 1, 2013.
Cantor: Elaine

Entrance hymn: 13 (First tune) While shepherds watched their flocks by night

Gloria: Mass VIII

Responsorial Psalm: May God bless us in his mercy, music as found in the missalette ("Today's Missal") along with the readings of the day.

Alleluia: see Holy Family post

Offertory hymn: 30 The first Nowell

Sanctus: Mass XVIII

Mysterium Fidei: Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias.  (See Holy Family post for translation, etc.)

AmenDresden Amen

Agnus Dei: Mass XVIII (if I'm alone)

Communion anthem: Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)

Meditation hymn: 44 In the bleak midwinter (Listen)

Recessional hymn: 42 Angels we have heard on high



of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

30 December 2012


All selections with numbers can be found in the Red "Worship" hymnal.

Entrance hymn: 382 While shepherds watched their flocks by night (Listen)

Gloria: Mass of the Shepherds by Pietro A. Yon (except 7:30) / Mass VIII, chant (7:30 only)
- Mass of the Shepherds is the sung Mass setting many at Sacred Heart heard at our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses.  The composer, Italian-born Pietro A. Yon, is best known for his Christmas composition Gesu Bambino, and was also organist at New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral during the early part of the 20th century.  Intended mainly for choral singing, the congregation may also join in singing if they wish.

Responsorial Psalm: Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord, music by yours truly.  The people's response:

Alleluia: adapted by yours truly from a Mode V chant usually heard at Christmas called Divinum Mysterium, often found with the hymn Of the Father's Love Begotten (Worship hymnal, #398).  Those who came to Mass for Christmas will recognize this tune.

Offertory hymn: 408 The first Nowell

Sanctus: Mass of the Shepherds by Pietro A. Yon (except 7:30) / Mass XVIII, chant (7:30 only)
- Mass XVIII is the simple chant setting we use most often at Sacred Heart.  This, along with the Gloria from Mass VIII, the Mortem Tuam (see below), and other very commonly-used simpler Mass chants in Latin come from a collection called Jubilate Deo, which Pope Paul VI gave to all the parishes in 1974, in hopes that their flocks would get to know and sing readily certain simple Latin Mass chants.

Mysterium Fidei (the Mystery of Faith): Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, chant
- The full text is as follows: Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias.  The translation is: We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again.  Those who watch the Mass on EWTN may hear this often. (Listen)

Amen: At all Masses except 7:30, the triple Amen that ends the Gloria from Mass of the Shepherds.  At the 7:30 Mass, the Dresden Amen (the short double Amen we used during Advent), as arranged by the late Theodore Marier (founder of the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School at St. Paul's Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Agnus DeiMass of the Shepherds by Pietro A. Yon (except 7:30) / Mass XVIII, chant (7:30 only)

Communion anthem: Of the Father's Love Begotten, chant (Listen)
- Though intended for choral singing, the congregation may follow in the Worship hymnal, #398

Meditation hymn: 375 See, amid the winter's snow (Listen)

Recessional hymn: 376 Angels we have heard on high



Music is an important part to the liturgical life of Catholics.  The Mass, as we know it today, as we knew it in 1962, and even as it was known centuries ago, is not without some form of song.  We sing from the rich treasury of hymns, anthems, and motets in English and in Latin (and for those who were able to catch our prelude before the Christmas Masses, we even did a couple in Italian).  This is a practice some of us musicians like to simply call "singing at Mass".

We also do something even more important that simply "singing at Mass", and that is "singing the Mass".  We sing the Gloria during Easter and Christmas seasons, and on other high occasions.  We sing the Kyrie during Lent.  We sing the Sanctus, the Mystery of Faith, the Amen (which concludes the Eucharistic Prayer), and the Agnus Dei at all our weekend Masses, and any other Masses at which the organ is played.

The purpose of this blog is multi-fold.  Not only will I post the music list for Sunday's Masses at Sacred Heart Church, but we will also give some descriptions and other helps to those who are trying to familiarize themselves with the music at our parish.  It is my hope that many, especially the parishioners of Sacred Heart, will benefit from these postings that will follow.

Brian Michael Page
Sacred Heart Church, West Warwick, RI