Holy Thursday – Our music tonight

Tonight for Holy Thursday Mass (at 7.30pm)  l am very blessed to have a good number of people coming to sing, seven men and seven women to be precise, and some fine singers amongst that group so our music will be varied, a blend of English, Latin, chant and polyphony. Remember that the organ should be silent (if you have to, it should only be used to support the singing) from the end of the Gloria.


GLORIA VIII with organ fanfare and plenty of bell ringing

GRADUAL – Oculi Omnium (Charles Wood)  SATB

TRACT – From the place where the sun rises (Aristotle Esguerra psalm tone setting)


FEET WASHING – Mandatum Novum with Psalm 118 verses (I have notated the psalm verses fully. See below)

Mandatum notation

OFFERTORY – Ubi Caritas et amor (plainsong)


COMMUNION MOTET- Ave Verum Corpus (Byrd)

COMMUNION PROPER – This is my body – Adam Bartlett Simple English Propers with Psalm 23 verses

TRANSFERENCE – Pange Lingua (Plainsong)

Click on the link below for an exclusive new recording from Schola Santae Scholasticae (including Bara Brith who most definitely there….)

Pange Lingua

Laughing in Holy Week

I was singing the Lauds hymn for Holy Week this morning which begins from the sixth verse of Fortunatus’ Pange Lingua Gloriosi ‘En acetum‘ and it suddenly struck me how marked the difference is between the beautiful melody l was singing (Crux Fidelis is one of my favourite hymns) with the horrific graphic prose l was reciting.

En acetum, fel, arundo,
sputa, clavi, lancea:
mite corpus perforatur,
Sanguis, unda profluit7
terra, pontus, astra, mundus,
quo lavantur flumine!
Lo, with gall His thirst He quenches!
see the thorns upon His brow!
nails His tender flesh are rending!
see His side is opened now!
whence, to cleanse the whole creation,
streams of blood and water flow.

How could l be enjoying singing this most glorious of tunes while reeling off a list of the most ghastly things done to Christ? ‘Acetum‘, vinegar, ‘fel’, Gall, ‘Arundo‘ Reed or the shaft of an arrow, Sputa, phlegm, Clavi, Club, ‘Lancea,’ spear.

This got me thinking about the mixed emotions that we have to wrestle with during Holy Week, that blend of pain and then pleasure. We know that Christ is going to be crucified, we are prepared for that bitter silence in the hours after his death, but at the same time we know the outcome –  we know what happens in the end.

Two years ago, my friends Candy and Martina from St. James’, Spanish Place, had come to sing with us at the Good Friday liturgy. This was the first time we had sung all the propers from the Graduale Romanum, and as those who have sung at Good Friday will know, that Tract is a killer. At the ‘Veneration of the Cross’ we had sung some of the Improperium but then had moved onto singing the Crux Fidelis because we were not sure how long the Veneration would take.

As we got towards the end of the hymn, countless verses later, it became apparent that the veneration was taking much longer than anticipated. I knew that the final verse, the doxology ‘Aequa Patri Filioque’ had to be the last verse sung so l hastily pointed to the top verse of that page and we began the last few verses again. As we reached the end of those flipping back and forth between the ‘Crux Fidelis’ and the ‘Dulce’ refrain, the veneration was still nowhere near finishing, and then l got the giggles –  which verse would we sing next? –  and when one starts it’s infectious. So there we were at one of the most dramatic points of the Good Friday liturgy, where the faithful are called to kiss the feet of the crucified as an act of sorrow, and l shamefully could not stop laughing.

So why am l telling you about my irreverent behaviour during a solemn liturgy  (and l have to tell you it was not the first time l have been in fits…) ? Because this is what Holy Week and the Triduum is all about. Whilst we know that Jesus was crucified in a vicious, brutal, horrific manner, we also know that he died for us and on the third day he rose again to save us from our sins. And for that, we can’t help but smile.

Incidentally, below is an exclusive recording of us singing the Crux Fidelis last summer along with Bara Brith of Blackfen. When you listen to the music l wonder if you find yourself feeling sorrowful or full of joy?

Crux Fidelis

Please pray that l manage to maintain a straight face throughout the Triduum.

Singing the Hosannah filio David for Palm Sunday with new recording


Palm Sunday begins with the triumphant processional chant ‘Hosannah filio David.’ I am told by my learned friend Stan, this chant has its roots in a second  century Greek chant.

Have a listen to a brand new recording of Hosannah Filio sung by Scholae Scholasticae.

Hosanna filio David

Written in Mode 7 with its trademark opening fifths, this mode Juan de Espinoza tells us is the mode where both pleasure and sadness meet. We hear the triumphant leap of joy at the beginning and then repeated on the second Hosannah only to hear the melody fall on the final ‘in excélsis’ forewarming of the events to come.

I would recommend starting this chant on D or Eb.

The liquescent on the opening fifth points to the importance of singing the fifth deliberately. The notes on Ray should be strong. This happens again on the ‘ra’ of Is – ra – el. In that melismatic group the first two notes on ‘ra’ are light moving up to the strong ray.

Be careful not to sing ‘qui’ to quickly, give this word it’s full length. The same goes for ‘Rex.’

Sing the final ‘Hosannah’ with more energy than the first and then lean into the ‘in’ as the mood dramatically changes.

The Music of the Papal Inauguration Mass


I have just watched the Papal Inauguration Mass on Sky News. Sky has the added advantage that you can watch Holy Mass and keep an eye on the FTSE at the same time.  Always useful.

I was thrilled when l saw the Mass booklet the other day for the Inauguration. There has been a great deal of speculation on the direction the liturgy could take under Pope Francis. Some had feared we could see a return to the ‘low church’ days of the 1970s with ghastly hymns and South American dancing. Today, was a liturgy perfect in its simplicity, just choir and organ and plenty of Gregorian Chant. Chant was sung that could be heard in parishes around the world – the Missa de Angelis, Credo III, Te Deum, Christus Vincit, Ave Verum Corpus, Salve Regina; music that should be sung so regularly we should all know it off-by-heart.

The cermonial details for today’s Mass described the music as:

 When the Pope enters the Basilica silver trumpets will ring out the “Tu es Petrus”. The Laudes Regiae will be chanted during the procession from St. Peter’s tomb to the “Sagrato”. A 14 piece brass ensemble will play at various moments of the celebration. During the Offertory the “Tu es pastor ovium” (You Are the Shepherd of the Sheep) motet composed by Pierluigi da Palestrina precisely for the Inauguration of the Pontificate will be sung. At the conclusion, the “Te Deum” will be sung with verses alternating between Gregorian chant and a melody by Tomas Luis de Victoria. As it will not be held on a Sunday, there will be no Angelus after the Mass.

It is abundantly clear that our new Pope does not sing; a cantor intoned both the Gloria and Credo. This should not be seen as a criticism, not all are blessed with the gift of song. What the Holy Father didn’t sing, the choir certainly made up for. The music were quite operatic at times; dramatic flourishes of polyphony from Mgr Massimo Palombella only served to highlight that the simplicity of the chant is always the finest music that can be sung in the liturgy. When they were not singing Fr Palombella’s epic musical touches then we did hear some of our Renaissance greats –  Palestrina, Victoria et al. The chanting of the Gospel in Greek was a poignant moment, something that has never been done before at a Papal Mass (or so they kept saying on Sky News.)

These are exciting times. Pray for our new Pope, Pope Francis I.


Ann Furse – Requiescat in pace.


Ann died in the early hours of this morning. Ann was the life and soul of our parish. She was formerly the sacristan and always sat at the front at every Mass telling the servers off if they had laid something out incorrectly on the altar. If it was a Solemnity she would always nip over the road to the hairdressers first before Mass. An hour before Mass you would hear the keys in the side door and in came Ann in her motorised buggy or her ‘wheeliebin’ as she liked to call it. I would try and give her Mass sheet and she would always say ‘”Now Clare you know l don’t sing.” That is except for O Bread of heaven or one of the more popular Marian hymns. At every parish party she would always bring her trademark dish of ‘slightly squashed’ smoked salmon on brown bread.  She adored St Anthony and used to pray to him fervently if she mislaid anything. She loved reading Fr Ray’s blog but she had terrible problems using a computer so she would ask the printers down the hill to print off all the pages for her, which she neatly arranged in a folder. She knew everyone in the shops near the church.  Invariably they weren’t Catholic but she would always try and get them along to Mass.  I used to tease her terribly but l adored her, we all did. She will be greatly missed. Requiescat in pace.


Hymns to St Francis

Celebrate the election of our Holy Father, Francis I with a hymn or two to St.Francis.

UPDATE SCROLL DOWN FOR A NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the LAUDS HYMN to ST FRANCIS. Thanks to Stan Metheny(who said he could do a better job if he had more time!)

1. There is obviously Make Me a Channel of your peace which is normally attributed to St Francis, but it may have only been written a hundred years.

There are other musical settings than the one we all familiar with.

2. Most High Omnipotent Lord or ‘The Canticle of the Sun’ –  The Meter is 887 88.  Melody ASSISSI

Melody is available in Common Praise hymnal. Nothing in the regular hymnbooks with that meter.

1 Most High, omnipotent, good Lord,
to thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,
and blessing without measure.
From thee alone all creatures came;
no one is worthy thee to name.

2 My Lord be praised by brother sun
who through the skies his course doth run,
and shines in brilliant splendour;
with brightness he doth fill the day,
and signifies thy boundless sway.

3 My Lord be praised by sister moon
and all the stars, that with her soon
will point the glittering heavens.
Let wind and air and cloud and calm
and weathers all, repeat the psalm.

4 By sister water be thou blessed,
most humble, useful, precious, chaste;
be praised by brother fire;
jocund is he, robust and bright,
and strong to lighten all the night.

5 By mother earth my Lord be praised;
governed by thee she hath upraised
what for our life is needful.
Sustained by thee, through every hour,
she bringeth forth fruit, herb, and flower.

6 My Lord be praised by those who prove
in free forgivingness their love,
nor shrink from tribulation.
Happy, who peaceably endure;
with thee, Lord, their reward is sure.

7 For death our sister, praised be,
from whom no one alive can free.
Woe to the unprepared!
But blest be they who do thy will
and follow thy commandments still.

8 Most high, omnipotent, good Lord,
to thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,
and blessing without measure.
Let creatures all give thanks to thee,
and serve in great humility.

3. In Caelesti collegio Franciscus  –  Lauds Hymn for his feast day on 4th October

This is taken from the Liber Hymnarius :

In Caelesti collegio

English Translation:-

In the heavenly company,

Francis shines in glory,

Bearing the marks of Christ

By a distinguished privilege.

This brother of the poor

Announcing the cross of the Lord,

the sign of the covenant

Has become companion of the apostles.

This martyr by desire

Carries the cross after Jesus

Christ unites him with the

Gathering of martyrs in heaven.

Francis was always bearing

The cross through abstinence

Now he has happily obtained

The glory of the Confessors.

Shining with sparkling splendour

Following the Lord who suffered

Now by way of reward of his chastity

He rejoices in the choir of virgins.

May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Through the wounds of Francis

Make us shine with divine light

And give us the gifts without end. Amen.

4. Appropriate Vespers hymns are found from the Common of a Confessor not a bishop :

– Iste confessor Domini (P.1196 in the Liber Usualis)

My talk tonight

Tonight l’m talking at All Saints church in Oxted (RH8 0AA) at 7.30pm on the music of the liturgy. If you are in the area, come along.  Amongst the usual of my favourite documents of the church like Sacrosanctum Concilium, Tra la Tra le Sollecitudini, Spirit of the liturgy l will be looking at selections of music for this coming Sunday, the music sung in the Vatican today at the Mass for the election of a Pope, and Bishop Egan’s latest pastoral letter.

To start the talk, l am going to compare two lenten hymns from two quite different eras. In one of these hymns we ask for God’s forgiveness, in the other it’s a given that he’s going to forgive you. infact by the time you start singing this song, you are forgiven – easy! One feels penitential and the other is supposed to be penitential but really it feels like you are being fast-tracked through the whole penitential process. One of the hymns has the Lord at the centre of our supplication, the other it’s really all all about us. One of these hymns l unfortunately grew up with, one of these hymns l unfortunately didn’t…

I wonder if you guess which hymn is which


04 attende domine


Come Together