19 January 2019

Prayer request

In your charity please pray for a  friend of my wife.  The friend is dying.

UPDATE: She died this morning.  May she rest in peace.

11 January 2019

Didn't make the cut again

The list for the 'Top 100 blogs to follow in 2019" is out (they actually list 115) and I am not on it.

Now, if they were to list the top 1000.... I probably still wouldn't be on it.

6 January 2019

Today at Mass.

I went to church today, still coming off a cold. The organist waved me up to the loft because the cantor scheduled for today did not show up (possibly due to going into labour). No prep, prone to going into coughing fits and my voice is still rough from the cold. I still got some compliments from my 'fans'. It's things like this that make me think either 1. they don't really mean it/ they're secretly laughing at me or 2. they're tone deaf/ have no clue what they're talking about.

At least I managed to sing for one day of the Christmas season.  Have a blessed Epiphany everyone.

31 December 2018

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to you all, such as it is.  With the new year I face the rather terrifying prospect that within a short time we shall all be almost certainly reminiscing about the good old days that were 2018.

30 December 2018

Editing- It's practically a penance or, My Kingdom For An Ending!

I enjoy doing research.  I also enjoy writing.  What I really, really don't enjoy is editing.  It is a head ache and, very often, a nightmare.  I'm also generally stuck doing it myself.  In that respect, it's a little like the old saying about a lawyer who goes to court pro se:  A lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. 

I bring this up because I have been going over my writing on the Jubilee Riot again.  There are parts of it I thought were well done, if I do say so myself, but experience has taught me that whenever I think I have done something particularly well, I am almost invariably the only one.  It is also very difficult for me to improve my clarity, because I already know what it was I was trying to say, and therefore my words are the very image of clear and concise writing.  So cleaning up my long and sometimes bizarre sentence structures is taking a wee bit of time and also requires a lot of second guessing, which in my experience is also not a good thing.

But what bothers me the most about this piece is the ending.  When I first wrote a short little essay on the riots I came up with a conclusion that this was a tremendous turning point in the history of Catholics within the city of Toronto- they fought for and won the right to be full citizens within the city, and the right to visibly and publicly Catholic in a very Protestant city.  When I revisited the subject and did more research, I discovered it was really a bit more ambiguous than that.  They won the right, it is true, but less than three years later they surrendered that right and retreated.  They abandoned the St Patrick's Day Parade, their single most visible day in the city, and abandoned it for over a hundred years.  When it returned it was a thoroughly secular event.  When Bishop Walsh arrived to take his seat as Archbishop of Toronto his carriage was stoned by the Orangemen, as though nothing had changed.  The Riots ultimately did not result in the Catholics becoming more visible, or taking their rights. 

That all makes for a very unsatisfying ending to the story- it is scarcely and ending at all- and a story, even a history, needs to have an ending.  If I could even say why it happened, that would be something.  But I cannot find the reasons why.  In 1876 the St Patrick's Day Parade was a fiery event, with Archbishop Walsh thundering from the pulpit at the Mass preceding the parade about Catholic Ireland, and demanding every man in the congregation stand, and raise their hand and swear an oath to not rest until Ireland achieved its home rule.  Patrick Boyle, editor of The Irish Canadian published at great length about the St Patrick's Day in Ontario for weeks after the day itself, and then, suddenly, wondered why they were bothering with the banners and ribbons and the ridiculous accouterments of the parade.  In 1878, the parade was cancelled, ostensibly due to a time of mourning over the death of Pius IX.  Patrick Boyle again thundered from his paper that this was but an excuse, and all true Irishmen knew the real reason it was cancelled.  Unfortunately, he never articulated that reason why.  Nor would his enemies in the Orange Press. 

And the ban on St Patrick's parades continued for years.  My mother told me a story from the time of Neil McNeil, and how he was approached by a group of Irishmen who wanted to revive the parade in response to the Orangemen constantly marching through the Catholic parts of town on the Glorious Twelfth with their banners and ribbons, but McNeil refused to allow it.  His reasons aren't obvious.  Perhaps he did not wish to stir up trouble.  Perhaps he felt their desire to use a holy day to strike a blow at their enemies was an abuse of the holy day itself.  Perhaps a little of both, and something else as well.  Once again, I don't know.

So that is where my conclusion stands: the Catholics won, then they retreated, and I don't know why.  Not a satisfying ending in the slightest.

28 December 2018

I keep trying to get out....

A few years back, a couple of cousins of mine were having dinner with one of their nephews, who works in the government.  They complained about how local school boards at the time were trying to get rid of the word 'Christmas' from the holiday pageants, and they also vented mightily on how disappointed they were in the trustees.  Their nephew spoke up and told them that it was an election year for the trustees, so why don't they use their vote to try and elect trustees who will support their stance?  He gave them a simple, practical suggestion:  Write to the candidates and say 'What is your stance on the wording of the midwinter holidays?' or words to that effect.  Ask the question but give them no hint as to the answer you want to hear.  Make them make a choice, take a stance in their answer (assuming they sent one) and then you will know which one to vote for.

But the Uncles hummed and hawed and found reasons not to do so.  It infuriated the nephew.  They'd rather complain than to try and do something, even something trivial, to fix the situation they were complaining about.

The other day someone invited me to join a group on Facebook entitled "Keep Your Hands Off Our Beloved Carols and Hymns."  Against my better judgement, I agreed to join.  I have been in the group for less than twenty four hours, and I have already annoyed people.  I want to do something about the situation, but they, like my cousins, just want to complain.

My problem is that I have joined such groups before, and they very quickly go down a rabbit hole. Just endless complaints, no sense of building something new, and a constant invocation of no one in particular who should do something, as in "They ought to do something."  But this is the Church.  There is no they, only us.  This blog started out as an effort to discuss Church music and to try and find ways to improve it.  In that, this blog was an unmitigated failure. I have by now largely abandoned it, posting only every month or so, and seldom discuss music any longer.  Why?  Simply put, there doesn't seem to be much point.  I continue my efforts at my church, but discussing the matter with people who'd rather just complain is a waste.

I put in a suggestion or two at this new FB group that perhaps we may wish to discuss practical measures that may be taken.  I posted links to several websites such as CPDL and IMSLP and Musica Sacra that publish traditional music and make it available for download free of charge.  I mention that there have been times when I, as a cantor, had no desire to sing anything in the hymnbooks, or I found nothing suitable in the parish hymnal, so I would photocopy some public domain hymns from older hymnals or simply print something off the web and hand those out to the congregation.  I got a pat on the back from someone, but no further suggestions.

And no one here seems to be interested in coming up with practical and workable suggestions as to how the issues in church music may be improved.  They are there to vent- and to vent stupidly, I might add- with people of a like mind.  That never ends well.  Negativity feeds negativity.  it crowds out hope and any other positive feelings.  We end up pouring nothing but hate on the works we don't like and even more hate on the strawmen we see behind these changes.

It might be useful if we could construct some arguments capable of persuading those who are in the middle, but they don't seem to be terribly interested in that.  Arguing in an echo chamber has that effect as well.  I pointed out to someone on the site that her statement of 'I don't like the new stuff, we should get rid of it,' is no more or less valid than ' I like it, we should keep it.'  As an argument it will get you nowhere in a hurry, but they accused me of being an infiltrator or someting to their little group..  I tried mentioning some authorities and authoritative documents such as Tra La Solicitudine but that sell on deaf ears, as seemingly none of them had ever heard of it, and I doubt they would like what the document has to say about congregational singing in general.

There are resources out there that can allow you to expand the music program at the parishes, but no one is interested in that.  There are ways to argue that your point is the right one, and to practice how to persaude others, but no one is interested in that.  Complaining is easy, requires little effort, costs nothing.  Trying to do something about it- well, that's another matter entirely.

25 December 2018


The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Twenty-fifth Day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course
from the creation of the world,
when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;
when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;
in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;
around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;
in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
in the year seven hundred and fifty-two
since the foundation of the City of Rome;
in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
the whole world being at peace,
JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and when nine months had passed since his conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.