Did you know the Christmas season concludes tomorrow with the Baptism of the Lord? Hopefully, music has helped you spread the Christmas spirit joyfully.In her hymn book The Listening Heart, Benedictine Sister Genevieve Glen writes about the Epiphany of the Lord that “Quite likely, we have no material gold, frankincense or myrrh. All we can offer in our worship is the gift of our lives. It is the only gift asked of us at journey’s end.” Here is the text of a hymn she wrote…
The Star of Morning
The star of morning pierces night
Where clouds and darkness hide the light
From those who seek the one whose birth
Illumines all the shrouded earth.
The wise who journey from afar
Entrust their lives to hope’s bright star
To lead them to the promised One
Whose rising will outshine the sun.
We bring you gifts of simple praise,
The incense of our nights and days,
The gold of honor, myrrh of tears,
The journey of our days and years.
All praise be yours, O God, whose light
Still guides us through the world’s long night
Toward break of everlasting day:
All praise be yours, O God, we pray!
Second only to “Happy Birthday” as the most widely known song in the English speaking world; most people throughout the civilized world either sing it or hear every New Year's Eve. Yet few of us actually know what these three words are all about… Translated literally, the title means “old long since.” As it appears in the chorus of the song, For auld lang syne loosely translates to “For (the sake of) old times.” The song begins by posing two rhetorical questions as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten; since by remembering the past, we reaffirm the importance of our future, and those important to us. Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, “restored” the text around 1788 from fragments of old ballads dating as far back as 15th century Scotland, and set it to a traditional folk song. However, his lyrics were paired with the more famous melody we sing today by George Thompson in his 1799 publication A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs. Singing the song on New Year’s Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. And as people immigrated to the new world, they took the song with them. Beginning in 1929, just two months after the stock market crash and beginning of the Great Depression, Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is credited for cementing its popularity as an expression of hope though his annual New Year’s Eve broadcasts on radio and later, television. It’s been heard in many memorable film scenes: the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life; as a tidal wave capsizes a luxury ship in The Poseidon Adventure and the charming climax as two people finally declare their love for each other in When Harry Met Sally...
Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
The tradition of Las Posadas was brought to Mexico in the 1500's by Catholic Missionaries from Spain. Meaning "The Inns", the tradition re-enacts—with a twist, and a happy ending—the story of the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to the baby Jesus. As you know, when they were unable to find lodging, they were forced to seek shelter in a stable. But we learn from Las Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst.
Each evening for nine nights leading up to Christmas, a candle-lit procession carrying statues of Mary and Joseph visit designated homes singing the first half of a song asking for shelter. The people inside respond singing the second part, that of the innkeeper, saying there is no room. This repeats back and forth a few times at a few different houses until finally reaching the local church, where the inside "innkeepers" decide to let them in. Then the doors open and everyone comes inside for Mass, followed by a party.
Here in the U.S., a growing number of parishes (like ours) are adapting this tradition into a one-time procession which starts outside the church just before Midnight Mass, and the whole congregation participates. Some, (the pilgrims) gather outside or in the front lobby while others (the innkeepers) wait inside. The song is sung in both English and Spanish, and ends with the pilgrims entering the “inn” to a joyous welcome, processing with the figures of Mary and Joseph to place them in the crèche...
Entren santos peregrinos, reciban este rincón.
Aunque_es pobre la morada, os la doy de corazón.
Enter, holy pilgrims. Welcome to my humble home.
Though ‘tis little I can offer, all I have please call your own.
Our choir traditionally ends our last rehearsal of the calendar year sipping eggnog! And just like last year, we’re inviting you to join us! On Wednesday, December 21st, we’ll be in the Marian Center from 7:30 - 9:00 PM, and encourage you to come share some Christmas cheer as we sing carols. Bring friends, or homemade treats to share! And if you can’t join us, just send the friends! Or the treats!
A “carol” is a song with Christmas-themed lyrics. The word derives either from the French carole or the Latin carula, both of which mean a circular dance. The first known Christmas hymns were Latin chants traced to 4th century Rome. By the 13th century, vernacular Christmas songs were being performed outside the church, or as “wassailers” went from house to house. Then during the Reformation, Protestants began singing carols inside churches. In the 19th century, the publication of Christmas music books helped widen their popular appeal even more, as carols were sung in homes around the Christmas tree and hearth.
And if you’d like to sing something a little more challenging, join me Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall for Handel’s Messiah Sing-In. The Sing-In audience-chorus includes 3,000 singers of all backgrounds who sing in church, school or community choirs, and want to spend an evening singing this great choral masterpiece. To be clear, the audience is the chorus—there is no chorus on stage. Each participant brings their own Messiah vocal score, and the sound throughout the hall is glorious.
And as the audience arrives that night, I’ll be playing Christmas carols on the piano.
This Thursday, December 15th, award-winning Irish tenor Emmet Cahill presents a concert of seasonal favorites right here in Immaculate Heart of Mary Church! Recalling his many childhood Christmas memories from Ireland, his highlights include “Danny Boy”, “The Wexford Carol”, “I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, “O Holy Night” and much more. And his performance concludes with the 12th Annual Lighting of Trees & Angels! If you don’t have them yet, tickets are still available in the rectory or at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Emmet is best known as a principal singer with the popular Irish music show Celtic Thunder, but church music was a major influence in his musical upbringing. “It was in the cathedral in my little hometown of Mullingar that I first learned how to sing and perform in public,” he says. Growing up in a musical household, pursuing a career in music was a natural path for Cahill to take. At four years old, his father, an accomplished musician, began teaching Emmet his first music lessons, leading to a 5-year Schola Cantorum music scholarship at his local secondary school where he studied voice, organ, piano and violin. He then went on to receive his formal classical training in opera at the prestigious Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. He is a cantor at his home church, Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar.
Join us for an unforgettable evening of songs and stories that is sure to enrich us all in the festive spirit.
This hymn was written by Msgr. Martin B. Hellriegel, who was born in Germany but immigrated to the U.S. with his family. In 1940 he was assigned to Our Lady of the Holy Cross Church in St. Louis; serving a mostly German-American community. He wrote this in 1941 as a direct response to sentiments expressed by the Third Reich and to remind his parishioners who actually reigns eternally. In 1943 he built a new side altar to the Blessed Mother in the church which includes a panel listing the names of all parishioners who fought in World War II.
The solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, as a reaction to the nationalism and Fascism lingering after World War I. He wanted to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly supremacy. Pope Benedict XVI remarked in 2006 that Christ's kingship is not based on "human power" but on loving and serving others.
On Thursday, December 15th, award-winning Irish tenor Emmet Cahill will present a concert of seasonal favorites right here in Immaculate Heart of Mary Church! Recalling his many childhood Christmas memories from Ireland, his highlights include “Danny Boy”, “The Wexford Carol”, “I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, “O Holy Night” and much more.
Originally from Mullingar, County Westmeath, and considered one of Ireland's most exciting young tenors, Emmet is best known as a principal singer with the popular Irish music show Celtic Thunder. He has toured North America and Australia numerous times, singing to thousand of fans, and is set to release his official debut album next February. You can learn more about him and his Christmas tour at www.emmetcahill.com.
Join him as he presents an unforgettable evening of songs and stories that is sure to enrich us all in the festive spirit. And his performance concludes with the 12th Annual Lighting of Trees & Angels! Anyone sponsoring a tree or angel receives a complimentary General seating ticket behind the center break in the back half of the church. Additional tickets may be purchased, or upgraded to Preferred seating in the front, or a VIP ticket in the first two pews, which includes a post-concert reception with Emmet and a complimentary CD! Tickets are available in the rectory or at BrownPaperTickets.com.
This summer, pilgrims in Poland heard Pope Francis’s encouraging words during the World Youth Day concluding Mass as he outlined three modern challenges of faith that Zacchaeus also encountered in today’s Gospel story: self-doubt, shame, and public opposition.
Zacchaeus didn’t believe he was worthy of receiving God’s mercy and love. Pope Francis explains “God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind.” Zacchaeus ignored his pride and risked his reputation by climbing a tree to encounter Jesus. “When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life. We can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words.” Lastly, Pope Francis advocated when faced with opposition, we must not become discouraged. “Don’t stop at the surface of things. Instead, ‘download’ the best ‘link’ of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary.”
Are these the three obstacles preventing us from participating more in music ministry, or even hindering our singing at Mass? I constantly hear people tell me their voice isn’t “good enough” to sing out. Pope Francis explains that failing to recognize our worth “is like walking away when God wants to look at me" or hear me! Be like Zacchaeus! “He mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful.” Take a risk and make the time to join our choir, or our bell choir — cuori BELLissimi!, or our Resurrection Choir! Don’t be afraid or put it off! God has unfailing hope in our potential and is always “cheering us on.”
Since 1996, Good Shepherd Catholic Church has opened its doors to hundreds of New York's most talented musicians, giving them the opportunity to perform before live and appreciative audiences. "Music from Good Shepherd" has now entered its 20th season of free Sunday evening recitals!
The series began on October 2nd and continues today with the voice and guitar ensemble Duo Cantabile. Next week, 8 Strings & a Whistle features the unique combination of flute, viola and cello.
November brings a roster of diverse styles, including guitarist Daniel Lippel; the Tanguera Tango Ensemble; and 9 Horses, a chamber jazz supergroup. (Musically, a supergroup consists of members who are already successful as solo artists, such as The Three Tenors.) The month concludes with Jonathan Cohler on clarinet and Rasa Vitkauskaite at the piano.
December opens with soprano Emilia Cedriana Donato. The Chancel Choir and the Orchestra of Good Shepherd Church then culminate the series on December 11th with their annual presentation of G. F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah.
All the recitals begin at 6:00 PM. You’re invited to become a part of this wonderful tradition of music-making in the community of Marine Park. While admission is free and open to the public, voluntary donations for the performers are encouraged. “This series has become a cultural treasure for the southern end of Brooklyn,” said Michael Fontana, the music director. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear some outstanding solo musicians and ensembles in a beautiful setting.”
Did you know I’m one of the very few musicians who have been hired to perform as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts? I feel truly blessed...
This Friday, October 21st, I’ll be singing with the National Chorale in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall as we present A Gershwin Celebration. The program will include a medley of Gershwin’s most memorable songs, including “Embraceable You” and “I Got Rhythm”; an arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue for chorus; and Porgy and Bess, A Concert of Songs. Gershwin composed this folk opera in 1934 for an all-black cast; a daring artistic choice at the time. Some of the opera’s songs, such as “Summertime”, have become his most popular, and have been frequently recorded.
I’ll also play the piano on the same program, accompanying the Professional Performing Arts School Choir as they sing several Gershwin songs such as “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Strike Up the Band”.
For more information, or to order tickets, call (212) 333-5333 or visit NationalChorale.org.