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December 26, 2005


Jimmy Mac

Here 'tis ....

Gaudete, Gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine, Gaudete!
Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus.
Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est,
A Christo regnante.
Ezecheelis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Undelux est orta
Salus invenitur.
Ergo nostra contio
Psallat jam in lustro,
Benedicat domino,
Salus Regi nostro.

Rejoice, Rejoice, Christ is born
of the Virgin Mary, Rejoice!
The hour of grace which we
seek is here.
We offer with devotion our
songs of gladness.
God is made man, a thing of
The world is renewed by
Christ's reign.
Light has arisen. Salvation
is come,
Bursting the gates of
Our congregation lustily
rejoices now,
Giving blessing to God,
our Saviour and King.


I agree, Amy, that we tend to sing the same Christmas carols over and over. I love going to my sister's church - St. Michael's Episcopal Church. Besides having an excellent choir, they sing things that are familiar, but not the same thing that I've been hearing on the radio all season long. My favorite is "Once in Royal David's City."

I should have gone to Midnight Mass because I heard the choir practicing "Of The Father's Love Begotten" earlier this week. Another favorite.

If I remember correctly, I think at the earlier Christmas Eve mass I did attend we sang O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night and Joy To The World. And a couple of contemporary pop-Christian things that were forgetable.

If anyone in that choir is reading this post, please forgive me. I enjoyed the music very much and y'all did a great job. I just wished for other songs.

Eileen R

I love 'Gaudete' but other family members are not so fond of my fondness for Steeleye Span's rendition, thick English accents and all. GOW-DIGH-TAY


Except that's at least 1/2 the problem with parish music. No one practices or at least shows any evidence of having practiced. Every parish around here sounds like a catfight in progress.


As my congregation's worship music goes farther into the Evangelical contemporary/praise music world, I find myself experimenting with Christian music going the OTHER direction in time. This advent I have been listening to a Gregorian Advent & Christmas CD, as well as an Anonymous4 CD "A Mass For The End of Time" -- both albums are gregorian chant. Gregorian Chant as a musical form is foreign to me, an acquired taste. I'm growing to enjoy it, although my family begs me to turn it off when they're around, or to put on a pair of headphones.

As an aside, I've been a mite concerned that Anonymous4's members might have New Agey motives in choosing to perform ancient church music. But I have no proof of that. It just seems odd for a group to perform this style without mentioning on the CD jacket anything that seems to indicate that the music means anthing else to them besides that it sounds nice. If anybody knows anthing about this group and wishes to share, I'd be open to hearing the info.

Old Zhou

We tend to combine chanted Lauds or Vespers with Mass at my little monastic community (yes, that is permitted), so that pretty much determines the music.

But on Christmas (only one Mass, 9am), we did sing "O Come All Ye Faithful" in place of the Gregorian-like hymn this year, and ended with "Joy to the World" in place of the Gregorian-like closing trope after the final blessing.

Other than that, it was only the Christmas antiphons and chanted psalms of Lauds that gave musical cues that it was Christmas.

Nobody ever does a solo in our monastery, except for maybe the person who intones alone the first line of a hymn, antiphon, psalm or response. But we do practice together periodically.

And we have, in the past month or so, become hooked on the Latin chanted "Agnus Dei."

But given that we were, perhaps 35 people in a monastery chapel (a bit crowded with almost all chairs full), we don't have a separate choir. Nobdy gets to sit and listen. Pretty much we all sing/chant (or try), or we all don't. We are the choir, humble as it is.



I think that Anonymous 4 sing (or sang because I think that the group has dissolved) ancient music because they are interested in it and wanted to see how it would sound with women's voices.

One CD of Gregorian chant that you should have as part of your collection is "Recordare" by Women in Chant. The last solo is by an old nun with cracking voice, that just gets me every time.

Will Duquette

Thanks for posting the link to the Christmas album with Gaudete on it. I've already got a couple of recordings of Gaudete (and I also favor the Steeleye Span version)--but the album you link to also appears to have a neat version of Riu Riu Chiu. I've got a recording of that was the best I could find on iTunes last year; but the version on this CD is clearly better, from the sample at Amazon.

Fr. Rob Johansen

We had some lovely music at my parishes:

Christmas Proclamation (chanted)
Puer Natus Est (Gregorian Introit)
"Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen" (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming): one ensemble did it in 4 parts, the other in a two-part setting.

The choir at my mission parish did a neat 4-part setting of a song called "In Old Judaea". Is anyone else out there familiar with it?

BTW, I have a cute story about penguins in Bethlehem posted on my blog, if anyone's interested...

Mary Jane

Thanks for reminding me of this piece. Now all I have to do is make a note of it somewhere that I'll stumble across in August 2006.


St.John Fisher Chapel University Parish, Auburn Hills, MI

"Midnight" Mass began at 9pm, though the choir began its prelude at 8:30. As usual it was the full choir for the Vigil, with everyone who typically sings on Saturdays joining those who typically sing on Sundays. They really do an incredible job each year. The Music Group (as it's called) always does an impressive array of songs from Gather and sundry sheet music (I suppose you'd have to like Gather in order to find their singing of it impressive-- I grew up with it, so I don't object as much as some of y'all). On a typical weekend mass, they have a cadre of men and women accompanied by guitar, flute, and piano. But for the Vigil, they bring in horns, clarinets, trumpets, bells, and an occasional timpani. Really stunning. And the Music Group director (who doubles as a high school music teacher in his day job...which is where he gets the instrumentalists) puts on the white gloves for this one! He conducts both the Music Group and the people.

My mother finds him obtrusive. But I (being a choir student since my voice changed) always appreciate being signaled for the cut-off at precisely the same instant as the people in the choir (or, "Music Group", in this case).

If I could remember the names of the songs, I would post them. One of the more beautiful is a rendition of Silent Night in which the choir sings verses of a different melody overlaid in harmony with the congregation as it sings the carol.

The liturgical planning committee (already I can hear the groans of some readers) decided this year to keep the Advent candles in place and merely add the lighting of the white candle as the indication that we had entered the Christmas season. Through Advent, a partial banner was upheld to represent the passage of each week (along with the candle). With Christmas commencing, the image that the banners were collectively revealing was finally manifest as a flame...or perhaps a womb...or a tear...or maybe a seed. I'm not really certain, but it was multi-colored like a rainbow.

At the reading of the Gospel, the priest told us all to take our seats. Instead of going right into the Gospel reading, he stopped and took a few moments to explain what Isiah's prophecy reveals to us about the Nativity Narrative. He said we hear this Gospel every single year but so rarely is its impact felt. Having expounded, he then completed the Gospel reading, pausing for explanation of each line of text as he did so.

That wasn't the part that threw me-- in fact what surprised me most was that this priest did something he's never done: preached. He actually preached a sermon! Unfortunately he had to violate the rubrics of the mass in order to do so, but at leat he was trying to work into people's heads that the Incarnation means we have to change the way we live our daily lives.

Then the mass proceeded as normal with all the typical abuses I grew up being told were acceptable-- pausing for Friendly Time after the homily (during collection), saying "We are ready to receive you" instead of "I am not worthy", standing in the Orans position throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and receiving communion through self-intinction. You know, the usual.

Sr. Judith Miryam, O.P.

Our monastery featured "Gaudete" in our Christmas carols before Midnight Mass (which is, YES, at Midnight!). I played the closed tambourine at the second and fourth verses. A lovely and lilting hymn! I actually find the Latin chant easier to sing than the English stuff! Blessed Christmastide!


My recommendation for a great Christmas CD is Christmas at Saint Olaf, Volume VI, "What Wondrous Love". It's mostly choral with some instrumental accompaniment and/or strictly instrumental pieces. This MN college is well-known for their appearances on public television at Christmas time.

This CD is best listened to with headphones because at some points the choir sings so softly (but always right on pitch!) that you can't hear it without headphones. Great songs and great arrangements! I'm not sure what the website it - do a Google search on "St. Olaf Records".


Every year I seem to find a new favorite CD. This year it was James Galway's A Christmas Carol, which is filled with beautiful carols and liturgical music, some of which I'd never heard before.

My favorite is a haunting a capella piece called "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," which (according to the liner notes) is based on a 19th century poem written in New England.

Samples here:


Maclin Horton

Another cheer for Steeleye Span's "Gaudete," which actually charted as a hit single in England.

I have to add, compulsively, a plug for Maddy Prior (Ms. Steeleye) and the Carnival Band's Christmas album, A Tapestry of Carols. I feel pretty safe in saying that anyone who likes Steeleye's "Gaudete" will like this album. Hard to find in stores but Amazon has it.

Patricia Gonzalez

Once again this year our choir did O Holy Night as an entrance hymn (!)-- as requested by the PP (so the choir directors tell us). As an added "treat", our resident gay male couple passed out pieces of home-made fudge before Mass (!). No bowing (Apostles' Creed), no incense that I was aware of, Eucharistic Prayer II, don't remember bells (maybe they were there at the Consecration). Additionally, I got the sense that some of our male singers had been at the wassail bowl before Mass (which began at Midnight). Singing as a whole somewhat sloppy -- not enough rehearsal. This is my 19th year as organist at our parish near Montreal, and it may well be the last. It gets harder all the time to put up with stuff that happens. We sing the same hymns every year, although this year no Adeste or Silent Night or Hark the Herald -- and the acclamations are by Haugen, in a MINOR KEY!!!...Found it tough to focus on playing, to shut out the socializing (people chatting in the middle of a song, for God's sake) and to ignore the lack of reverence at Communion time -- everything was rushed through like an assembly line, though to be fair the PP was celebrating his 4th Mass of the night and was exhausted. Hardly an ideal situation, but somewhere in all this the Lord is present. And yes, I did enjoy a delicious piece of fudge -- after Mass!


Re: The Anonymous 4

It's pretty darned easy to find albums of medieval and Renaissance Catholic music. Much harder to find it done by Catholics.

So if you are suspicious of music scholars, buskers, and J. Random Secular Choirs doing Catholic music... well, the solution is to do it yourself.


"(I suppose you'd have to like Gather in order to find their singing of it impressive-- I grew up with it, so I don't object as much as some of y'all)."

Met a singer at Midnight Mass who referred to it as "The Moon Book."
Our quizzical looks received the retort -- "Well, it's green and it's full of cheese."

That said, there is much wonderful stuff in Gather. Just not the stuff OUR parish is addicted to.
It's kind of like poetry anthologies -- chekc out the names of the people on the editorial staff and the names of those thanked in the preface or acknowledgement for their "invaluable advice" and judgement -- and then excise all of their contributions (and those of their spouses and lovers,) and what you have left may be of some value.

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