Sunday, June 08, 2008

Our Own Parish Book of Chant

After nearly a year of work and struggle, the Parish Book of Chant is now being delivered and is available, and I held my first copy on Friday evening. What struck me immediately is that the design works. It is a bit odd in publishing these days (or maybe it has always been this way) that you see things only in the abstract along the way: the contents, images of the cover, the data about margins and pages and the rest. But none of it is real in any way until it finally comes off the press, and here is where you can make your evaluation. It either works or it doesn't. And there is no question that this one works. The look and feel are better than I ever anticipated. Elegant, and the right combination of old and new.

As for the contents, I taught a workshop yesterday using it exclusively. It was such luxury. Instead of big packets of papers and translations and booklets and photocopies and all the rest--and me with a suitcase full of books--we all used only one book. It is all here: every chant hymn you want, 11 Mass settings, the Ordos of the ordinary and extraordinary form, and everything I said in teaching was already reinforced in the tutorial and pronunciation guide at the back. One book for the entire session, and we used this book during liturgy too. I still can hardly believe it. It is the book we always wished existed but never has.

The workshop was an enormous success in every way, and I have to give credit to the PBC more than anything else. It meant that we could spend time singing rather than searching and looking. We had loads of fun just singing and singing all this great music, song after song after song, most of which was unknown to these eager participants. I was most happy that I sense that they left with the capacity to sing on their own rather than just mimic the teaching.

Headed to yet another Mass now so more later. Oh and after a few hours, the EF will follow this morning's OF at this lovely parish in Kalamazoo.

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