Monday, December 21, 2009

A triumph for the bean counters

Evidently someone in Europe read my blog post a while ago about how our predecessors here failed to pay the bill for the music books and Missalletes we use at Catholic Mass, which meant that we had no Advent or Christmas music. Shortly thereafter, my boss received a note which mentioned that someone Down Range had wound up with more of exactly those books than could be used there. Would we like some?

That music arrived on Wednesday morning. Hooray!

Therefore, this past weekend we were able to sing Advent hymns, and this Thursday night and Friday we'll be able to sing Christmas hymns, as well -- though perhaps without any piano accompaniment.

My sincerest thanks to all who made this music possible, and especially to Fr. McD!

Saturday evening, as I was practicing "O Holy Night" with our accompanist, I learned that his contract expires this morning, because some bean counter is annoyed that he's being paid for two practices each week, in addition to the services he plays.

As a consequence, his contract renewal has been languishing in the abyss of red-tape for quite some time. A really LONG time.


One of the practices he's being paid to play is with the cantors for the Saturday and Sunday Catholic Masses. Lately, I've been trying to sing something as a Communion meditation at each Mass, so I've been practicing them with him after the cantors are finished.

Last week I sang "Bist Du Bei Mir" (once attributed, wrongly, to J.S. Bach); this week it was "O Holy Night," for example.

Neither of those pieces lends itself to being sung a cappella.

The other practice he conducts is for the Multicultural Gospel service. The keyboard is an important mainstay of the music program for that worship community.

The music he plays at that service has very little (read: zero) overlap with the music he plays at each of the Masses.

Evidently, this is hard to comprehend on the part of the people who approve contracts, so failing a miracle today, both the Catholic Community and the Gospel Community will be without a keyboardist starting tomorrow. Christmas Eve is Thursday evening... not that there's any rush, or anything.

We'll have sheet music, at least, and will forge ahead, no matter what.

After all, "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) was composed on-the-fly one Christmas when the organ wasn't working (though I doubt anything even narrowly approximating that stroke of genius will occur in an absence of keyboard music here!).

Happy Fourth Week of Advent!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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The Mendon Foodie said...

I'm sorry about your keyboardist. But I have to ask you, if JS Bach did not compose Bist du bei Mir, then who did? I am the former manager of a children's chorus and we taught it to all of the kids as their audition piece. It is the Bach Children's Chorus' signature piece! loarcu

cptdrfrtim said...

The most recent scholarship now recognizes that "Bist du bei mir" was almost certainly composed by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. I suspect that since so many composers so frequently and freely "borrowed" from each other, it's still appropriate that the Bach Children's Chorus have it as their signature piece. Thanks for encouraging youngsters to sing beautiful music, Ma'am! Blessings, Fr. Tim, SJ

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