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.

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