Laurence for Christmas No.1

They’re singing it in the aisles (except at the new 9am Mass because it’s not in Latin – maybe that could be the B-side?), they’re reading about it on the front page of the national newspapers (see this week’s Catholic Herald), now we want to have it on our ipods, our MP3 players, we want it on 12″ vinyl, we want the Holy Father special edition picture disc, we want to hear it played on XFM.  It’s better than anything Simon Cowell could produce, it’s better than The Wurzels, it could even knock Cliff off the top spot. Come on everyone, let’s make Laurence the Christmas No.1…..

Altogether now, “Some more some more Summorum Pontificum….”

Hymns for 1st Sunday in Advent B

Advent is a terribly difficult time for selecting English hymns, there are lots of wonderful Latin office hymns though. Most congregations only know and want to sing one particular hymn which you know you shouldn’t sing until after the 17th December but by week two you are struggling to find anything that anyone will join in with. The shops have been playing Christmas Carols on a loop since the middle of November so why can you not give them at least one chorus of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Sound familiar?

Hymns for 1st sunday in Advent Year B:-

The hymns you have been waiting all year to sing…

  • Hark! A herald voice is calling
  • Lo ! He comes with clouds descending
  • Come Saviour, come like dew (Rorate Caeli)
  • Creator of the Stars of Night (Creator Alme Siderum)
  • Wait for the Lord (Taize)
  • Let all mortal flesh
  • O Jesus Christ remember
  • Guide me O thou Great Redeemer
  • Tell Out my Soul

The hymns you might have to wait a little longer to sing…

  • Awake, awake fling off the night
  • Wake, O wake with tidings thrilling
  • he King shall come when morning dawns (This can be sung as a round)
  • O heavenly word eternal light (Breslau)

The hymns you can wait all you like for but we will not being singing them in our parish:-

  • Abba, abba Father.
  • Our God reigns.   (Dangerous, people start singing about drains.)
  • City of God
  • Come to set us free (Farrell)
  • I rejoiced (Stephen Dean) – Not a good idea to get congregations singing a top E first thing on a Sunday morning. Really not fair on the celebrant.
  • Though the mountains may fall (Advent retro classic)
  • Stay awake (Chris O’Hara)
  • The servant King “From heaven you came…..” etc (Another Advent retro classic)
  • Out of darkness (Walker)
  • God beyond all names
  • Marantha (?!)

Did you know that during Advent the organ should not be used as a solo instrument? It should only be used to accompany singing. Perhaps there should be a rubric about guitars as well.


Any more hymn suggestions appreciated in the comments box.






Music resources for 1st Sunday in Advent


This Sunday we start singing the beautiful Ordinary for Advent (and Lent) Mass XVII. Videos courtesy of Antoine Daniel. Remember no Gloria in Advent.

Kyrie B


Agnus Dei


I had decided that with the advent (no pun intended) of the new 9.00 Latin Mass we would sing all the propers in English during Advent but last night the choir voted to continue to sing the Introit in Latin from the Graduale.

Introit – Ad Te Levavi


You will notice that the tendency in the music is for the notes to keep rising in great intervals. The notation mimics the neumes as we are encouraged to look up towards heaven and wait, the great theme of Advent. We must sing this piece with great joy, energy and anticipation as we wait for something truely great to happen.

Unto you have I lifted up my soul.  O my God, I trust in you, let me now be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed.”


Offertory and Communion Chants – Advent 1 Year B Proper (Seaford Propers)

 Offertory – Drop drop slow tears – Orlando Gibbons

Music Score

Communion – Creator Alme Siderum

This is the Vespers hymn weekdays and Sundays during Advent up to the 16th December. In some collections of the Divine Office, the text  is replaced with Conditor alme siderum, the original Ambrosian text from the 7th century.  The hymn perfectly presents the themes of the Advent season; “We beseech Thee, great Judge of the last day, defend us from our enemies with weapons of heavenly grace.”

Creator Music from the Parish Book of Chant. This PDF includes the translation.

The best recording I have found is by The Choir of the Carmelite Priory with John McCarthy

You can listen to it on Napster or you can purchase it in full on Itunes.  All of the recordings I have found on Youtube are ghastly simply because they all stop for a long break between each line. The best way to sing this hymn is to sing it at a good tempo, allowing the rhythm of the notes to be dictated by the rhythm of the words, and ideally to only break at the end of the second line and then a quick breath at the end of the verse and straight into the following verse. You do not want four long gaps in each verse or the flow of the chant is lost, as you will find with most of the free recordings on the internet.


Recessional – Lo! He Comes with Clouds descending


Father Ray writes on his blog about the difference between Catholic and Protestant music. Sadly it is unavoidable at this time of year not to dip into the Protestant or Wesleyan music cupboards for a great rousing Advent hymn. This wonderful hymn about the Second Coming is sung to the Helmsley tune which was apparently a great favourite of Queen Victoria. Note there are different textual versions of the hymn. There is one particular version (thankfully not in our parish hymn book) which can have Bass sections collapsed in a corner in a fit of giggles but I shan’t elaborate on this any further.

‘Hail bright Cecilia’ Pray for Us

“But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
When to her Organ vocal breath was given
An Angel heard, and straight appeared –
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.”

                John Dryden “Song for St Cecilia’s Day”

To all parish musicians, composers, singers, poets, organ builders and to our friends at St.Cecilia’s Abbey  on the Isle of Wight, a very happy Feast Day to you all on this, St.Cecilia’s Day.

And please pray for our choir. It has been a very difficult couple of days.

Perhaps the best known of Purcell’s pieces written in honour of St Cecilia, ‘the mighty art,’ the beautiful poem by Nicholas Brady.

Singing The ‘Seaford Propers’ for Advent

If you do not normally sing the Propers at Mass (Introit, Offertory, Communion etc) then this Advent, with the arrival of the new Missal translation, this is the perfect time to begin. If you have not read them yet, then Ben up at Orkney Chant has written a brilliantly comprehensive series of articles on options for singing the Introit during Advent. Ben has found more to sing this Advent than the latest ‘Now That’s What I call Music 986.’  Closer to home, Tom Haggar, the choir director at St. Thomas More’s, Seaford, has kindly sent me his English propers which are set to psalm tones. I am sure you will agree that they are beautifully laid out and very easy to sing. Another advantage with Tom’s propers is that he always uses the approved English translation. For the Offertory Antiphons, he sticks to the Grail Psalter unless when the Latin version in the Graduale is from elsewhere in Scripture and then he uses the St Gregory Processional which has recently been endorsed  by the Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales, and Scotland.

Click on the links below to view the PDFs.

Advent 1 Year B Proper

Advent 2 Year B Proper

Advent 3 Year B Proper

Advent 4 Year B Proper

Incidentally, if you are not familiar with the St Gregory Processional, which I wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, a PDF is available to view HERE . If you want a copy of your own then e-mail the Society of St. Gregory HERE.

See the Three Minute Mass in WIDESCREEN

This Saturday at the ‘Towards Advent’ festival at Westminster Cathedral Hall (click HERE for details,) you will be able to watch ‘The Three Minute Mass’, viewed by almost 4,000 people from around the globe, now exclusively in widescreen. Just head to the Association of Latin Liturgy  stall, and while you are there, you could become a member of the Association of Latin Liturgy.

If you are unable to make it to the ‘Towards Advent’ day then you can the watch it here:

Brother Anselm, who was the sub-deacon (Deacon II) for the occasion of the Mass of St Theresa of Avila , will also be at the Towards Advent Festival representing St.Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough.


LMS Requiem Mass at Arundel Cathedral

Today our parish choir and our parish servers or ‘Team Brighton” as another MC called us, travelled down to the coast to the stately surroundings of Arundel, for the Latin Mass Society Requiem Mass.

With a roof that high, Wow! What an incredible acoustic. The last time I sang somewhere with such an astonishing echo was Worms Cathedral in Germany, as a teenager.

The celebrant was Fr Sean Finnegan, the deacon was Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, the sub-deacon was Rev. Seamus Mahon.

Our parish choir in a rather elevated position up in the organ loft.

There are more photos on FLICKR but being half a mile from the altar isn’t ideal for close ups.

Music resources for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Part II

Hymns for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Advent is almost upon us and this Sunday’s liturgy has a decidedly Advent feel to it. Remember Advent is traditionally the time when choir directors struggle to find any hymns that the congregation know, and no you can’t sing O Come O Come Emmanuel yet.

Hymns our congregation could sing in the dark without the aid of a lamp:

  • Love Divine all love’s excelling
  • Lo! He comes with clouds ascending
  • Be thou my vision
  • O Jesus Christ remember
  • Wait for the Lord (Taize)
  • The Lord’s my Shepherd
  • Lead Kindly light
  • Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
  • Come ye thankful people come
  • For all the saints


Hymns you may want to put some light on for:

  • Awake O wake
  • Awake awake fling off the night
  • As the deer longs for running streams
  • Lift up your heads Ye Mighty Gates
  • How brightly beams the morning star
  • O King of might and splendour
  • Rejoice! the Lord is King (Handel)
  • The King shall come when morning dawns


Hymns that will be staying in the dark in our parish:

  • Our God reigns
  • Give me joy in my heart
  • Rejoice rejoice – Marty Haugen
  • City of God – Daniel Schultz
  • Out of darkness – Christopher Walker
  • You are salt for the earth – Marty Haugen
  • The clapping Gloria