Me & Trinity

Here is a video that a friend of mine took when I went to practice at Trinity.  I’m just fooling around, playing a few things.  Please pardon the wrong notes.  On the final piece I pull the 32′ Bombarde stop, unfortunately the recording doesn’t really capture the true power of it, as it is a stop you feel more than you hear.  Hope you enjoy it!


Gustav Holst & Mars

Here is a video I just ran across that is really quite fantastic.  It features Peter Sykes on the Skinner organ at Girard College playing “Mars” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”.  Enjoy.

Planning & Directing

So I had a lovely meeting with Fr. Chris Nerreau, pastor of St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church (Western Rite), today in Worcester and I can honestly say I am more excited about starting now than ever. It will be a lot of work but I think it will be most definitely worth it. I will be their organist, sometime cantor, and choir director (once I form a choir), as well as their seminarian, bulletin putter-togetherer, and subdeacon. I shall wear many hats, and all of them shall be grand.

My first Sunday I will start by introducing the sung Our Father, which up till now has been recited. The Kyrie, Gloria, and Sanctus shall be from the Missa de Angelis (a classic, beautiful setting of the Mass). The Agnus Dei, however, will be the one we use in Lawrence when Fr. Edward says Mass for us. Everything will be in English, minus the Kyrie which will be in Greek.

Then there are the hymns. 4 hymns for each Mass; Processional, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional. And I’ve even already planned them out. For those of you hymn buffs they are listed below as well as each prelude and postlude:

Aug. 30th

Prelude: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645 by J.S. Bach

Processional: #270 Be Thou My Vision

Offertory: #339 The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Communion: #152 Come With Us, O Blessed Jesus

Recessional: #267 All Praise to Thee

Postlude: Variations I, II, IV, & V on the Chorale, “Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig” BWV 768 by J.S. Bach

Sept. 6th

Prelude: Prelude on Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughn Williams

Processional: #320 O Praise Ye the Lord

Offertory: #341 Thine Arm, O Lord, in Days of Old

Communion: #149 Author of Love Divine

Recessional: #267 Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

Postlude: Fantasia in G BWV 572 by J.S. Bach

Sept. 13th

Prelude: Prelude in G Minor BWV 558 by J.S. Bach

Processional: #322 O Worship the King

Offertory: #296 I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Communion: #167 Thou, Who At Thy First Eucharist Didst Pray

Recessional: The Royal Banners Forward Go (to the tune “Deo Gracias”)

Postlude: Fugue in G Minor BWV 558 by J.S. Bach

Sept. 20th

Prelude: Adagio in G Minor by Remo Giazotto

Processional: #312 Now Thank We All Our God

Offertory: #247 Come, Pure Hearts, in Sweetest Measure

Communion: #159 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Recessional: #328 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Postlude: Prelude du Te Deum by Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Sept. 27th

Prelude: Berceuse by Louis Vierne

Processional: 268 As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams

Offertory: 286 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

Communion: 167 Thou, Who At Thy First Eucharist Didst Pray

Recessional: 326 Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Postlude: Fugue in B-flat Major BWV 560 by J.S. Bach

Hymn numbers correspond to the numbering in the St. Ambrose Hymnal.

Pray for me.

Hymnals & Choirs

Yours truly playing the organ at Harvard's Memorial Church

Yours truly playing the organ at Harvard’s Memorial Church

So those of you who know me know that I’ve gotten a new position as organist at the lovely mission of St. Stephen’s in Springfield Massachusetts. I haven’t held a position as organist since high school so I’ve been frantically assembling necessary supplies, planning preludes & postludes, and consulting with the priest, Fr. Chris Nerreau, about service music and the instrument there. It has been giving me something to be busy about and break up the monotony of summer, which is very welcome. Of course, this also means that I will no longer be assigned to my home parish, St. George in Lawrence, come the fall semester, so that is a bit sad. However I cannot wait to start at St. Stephen’s. It is a growing and vibrant Western Rite Orthodox mission and it is full of people that are enthusiastic about the Faith and willing to work with me as I attempt to start a music program there. Not only will I be the organist but I’ll also be forming their first choir.

This position also means that I have had to change some things up as well.  For the past year I have sung in the 6 o’clock choir at Trinity Church in Boston, whooping it up with the wonderful people in it and giving our directors a hard time about music and liturgy.  I’ve had a really great time in it and I especially have loved the music we’ve sung.  The 6 o’clock concentrates on Renaissance polyphony and other goodies, some of my favorites.  But because St. Stephen’s is a mission parish and they are currently worshiping in someone else’s building the services are in the afternoon.  Mass doesn’t start till 3 p.m. and gets over around 4:30 p.m. so it’d be impossible for me to get from Springfield to Boston by 5 p.m. for the pre-service rehearsal.  So instead of the 6 o’clock I will be singing the 9:00 a.m. service at Trinity with the Choristers and Schola, whom I have mentioned before on this blog.  I think it will be a great experience and I look forward to working with them.  I will miss you, my 6 o’clock brethren.

The pastor of my home parish in Lawrence and the Vicar-General of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, said that this parish was growing fast, and it certainly is. On my first Sunday at St. Stephen’s there will be two baptisms and six more chrismations! God bless this parish and the priest who is laboring in His vineyard. I can only hope that I will be able to contribute to this parish by helping them with the music portion.

I got my copy of the Hymnal 1940 in the mail yesterday which will be helpful in supplementing the St. Ambrose Hymnal that they are using. And I will be getting a really spectacular hymnal in the mail soon as well called “Songs of Syon.” It was first published in 1906 by the famous Rev. George Ratcliffe Woodward and instantly shot up the church charts to become a very popular hymnal indeed. The edition I ordered was printed in 1923 and hopefully will arrive soon. The coolest part about the hymnal is that not only does it have 4-part hymns but the plain chant that originally inspired many of those hymns, in Gregorian neumes, no less. It is a very exciting, and surprisingly cheap, find and I am indebted to our Benevolent Overlord and Choir Director, Michael Kleinschmidt (of Trinity Church fame), for suggesting it to me. I’ll also be ordering my organist’s surplice in the next week or so once I scrape together a few bucks.

It is a somewhat daunting task I am faced with and it is only with God’s help and the support of the parish that I’ll be able to pull it off. I also need to find somewhere to practice during the week as there is no organ at HC/HC and my old and somewhat sad electronic organ is stuck in storage in Westminster MA. It’s been in storage for 2 years now, no idea if it even works still so I’m concentrating on finding somewhere close to the seminary to practice during the week.

All (7) of you will be happy to know that I have already selected my preludes and postludes for September (subject to change) and I will share them with you. I suggest you check them out as they are some of my favorite pieces for solo organ.

September 6th
Prelude: Prelude on Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughn Williams
Postlude: Fantasia in G BWV 572 by J.S. Bach

September 13th
Prelude: Prelude in G Minor BWV 558 by J.S. Bach
Postlude: Fugue in G Minor BWV 558 by J.S. Bach

September 20th
Prelude: Adagio in G Minor by Remo Giazotto (erroneously known as “Albinoni’s Adagio”)
Postlude: Prelude du Te Deum by Marc-Antoine Charpentier

September 27th
Prelude: Berceuse by Louis Vierne
Postlude: Fugue in B-flat Major BWV 560 by J.S. Bach

Please keep me in your prayers.

Birettas & Poison: The Novel III


Here is the third installment of Birettas & Poison: The Novel.  This section was written by the Rt. Hon. Mr. Christopher McQueeny.  Sorry for the delay in posting, I know all 12 of you who read this blog have been sitting on the edge of your seats.

Mr Reginald Bates, the Sexton of the Cathedral, and a well-spring of ecclesiastical gossip in Mercia. To look at he was the perfect image of a kindly old man, as he hobbled over to greet the Monsignor; but as any Bergensian clergyman knew, this old man could destroy a man’s career with a few well-placed words. Indeed, it was precisely the Sexton that the Monsignor had most feared would be on the premises. No-one was more likely to upset his plans. Remembering the excuse he had prepared just in time, he forced a look of grave sorrow onto his face, even as he beamed inside at his triumph. After years of practice, the false tears came easily.

“Ah… Bates. The fact is that I was here to return the Reserved Sacrament… I’ve just been… Well, I’ve just given an old friend of mine the Last Rites.”

“Oh, I see. Begging your pardon for the disturbance, Sir, I really had no idea.

“No, you couldn’t have known. Now, I really must be going… my private grief aside, work goes on, and I must do my duty. Goodbye, Bates.”

Giving a perfunctory nod, the Monsignor darted out of the door, and into the haven of Ellicott Square, where he beheld the first light of the new day. Already the night’s drunks and prostitutes were being displaced by the rushing merchants and carters of dawn, as the city prepared itself for business. Ignoring all of this, the Monsignor made his way across the Square, where a narrow lane led him to another church. This one was no match for the grand Cathedral he had just rushed through; after a century of inadequate funds and small congregations, it was in veritable disrepair. Above a squat wooden door of the old-fashioned sort was a tarnished stone engraved with the legend, The Church of Saint Sebastian.

Opening the door quietly, St Sebastian’s was never locked, he entered the cold, silent church, lit only by a few votive candles and the light of the new sun creeping through high windows of stained glass. It was here that he was to bear his precious letter, and deposit it where only the Brotherhood would expect to find it. Striding down the familiar aisle and past the old stone altar rail with its threadbare kneelers, he stepped up to the High Altar and opened the tabernacle. Inside of this holy sanctuary, he knew, had been precious artifacts, stolen relics, documents in cypher, and at least one death warrant. He knew all of this, because he had put them there. What happened to them afterwards was not his concern; the Brotherhood required them, and it was his duty to find them.

In the small compartment, which lay carefully concealed in the otherwise dilapidated tabernacle, he placed the letter, quickly making the sign of the cross in thanks for a difficult job now completed. Here, he knew, there was no pesky Sexton to interrupt his business. Until the daily Mass in a few hours, the church would be empty. Secure in this knowledge, he re-sealed the compartment, closed the tabernacle with care, and walked away at a leisurely pace. Espying a collection box on his way out of the church, he pulled out a crisp 100-Talen note, and dropped it in, murmuring, “let that be some small measure of my thanks.”

Now, he realized, he must start hurrying again. By this time, he knew, the candle he had lit in the Cathedral would have been noticed by the right people… or rather by the wrong people. It was from a bundle which had mysteriously appeared in his vestment room some years ago; the moment he lit one, and saw the distinct effect of a thin copper wire wrapped into the wick, he knew immediately what they were for. This candle was a signal to the Brotherhood, a way at last of contacting it directly, for hitherto it had never condescended to allow two-way communication. Within a few minutes he was back in the Cathedral, and back in the confessional, although on the other side of the screen this time. Knowing that time was of the essence, he began the ritual of identifying himself, speaking the familiar code-phrases from memory.

“Though much is taken, much abides,” he whispered. Immediately, a smooth voice replied, “and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.” But it was not as simple as that. The Monsignor continued: “One equal temper of heroic hearts, make weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” finished the voice. After a moment seemingly lost in contemplation, it continued, “Old words, but a spirit which alone can save the Church. Good morning, Monsignor McGrady.”