Dear Partners in Ministry,
Lots to tell you today… read on!
COVID AND THE CHOIR…
We’ve been thrown a few curveballs in the last 24 hours or so! As you all know by now, we’ve had two choir spouses (mine included) tested positive for COVID.
While I won’t mandate them, I would ask that if you or anyone seated within five feet of you in the choir has identified as high-risk, please consider wearing a mask while singing. N95s are the best line of defense but are difficult to sing through; there are “singer’s masks” out there but be sure to do the homework as to whether they actually support good, healthy singing (for example, do they drop off the nose if you attempt a decent “ah” vowel?). I will return to regular mask wearing when in close contact with you in rehearsal and liturgy.
If you or someone in your household tests positive for COVID, please:
- stay home for at least one cycle of rehearsals and liturgy and until your entire household tests negative. This is now mandatory.
- contact me so I can communicate the presence of COVID in our ministry (I will not name names unless you request it)
- take care of yourselves and don't worry about us! I'll arrange for subs as cantors and pianists as needed.
- Keep yourself up to date on vaccines, boosters, and the latest reliable information on the virus.
For this weekend:
- Barring any further developments in my health, I will be present for Masses this weekend, wearing my mask at all times.
- I will play for all three Masses.
- If you are a high-risk individual, cannot sing with a mask, sick, or living with someone who is sick, please stay home this weekend.
AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS!
I am very happy to report that the St. Noel Endowment Fund has approved a request for new choral microphones, and what microphones they are!
We currently use eight mics (four hanging from the ceiling, four on mic stands). The ones on stands, while okay, were not designed to pick up groups as large as ours (they only really pick up a “cone” of about seven feet in front and 25° to each side) and create hotspots right in front of them (which is why our livestreams sound like five singers instead of 20). They can also be easily disconnected and stolen (we’ve been there before!) The hanging mics are more suited to choirs but are hung way too far back to be effective… not to mention they’re at weird angles which get more of the wall and organ than you.
We’re replacing all eight of these mics with three (yes, three) new ones… A small but mighty company called Earthworks makes a tiny mic built into a really thin carbon fiber wand… which is also built into its base (no one’s stealing that anytime soon). The mics pick up about 12 feet ahead and about 85° to each side, in a much more even pattern (no accidental soloists). These mics are world-class products used in some of the best concert venues in the world, and each one can cover up to forty singers. In our space and configuration, we’ll need two for the choir area; a third will become an ensemble microphone for those small groups who lead communion songs, etc.
I’ll order these today, and we should have them up and running by mid-May.
I am so grateful to the Endowment Fund for their generosity, and to Fr. Terry for his support.
Now that I’ve been here a bit and we’re heading toward summertime, I’d like to try a few adjustments to our seating order and placement, starting next week.
- As the not-perfectly accurate map shows above, we’re making some shifts to bring sections together in a more effective way. The goal is to have every section in a block of several rows rather than a single row, so that each member has a better chance of hearing their colleagues (and, therefore, blending better).
- BASSES (blue) are now to the choir’s right side in three rows.
- TENORS (green) will occupy the section to the choir’s left.
- ALTOS stay mostly where they are, except that we’ll shore up your distribution in the rows. SOPRANOS (red/pink)
- you’re in the center of each row, with Soprano 1’s in the back rows and Mezzos/Soprano 2’s in the front rows. (I had to use “M,” because “S2” didn’t fit.)
- On weekends and/or when we don’t have a lot of folks for a given liturgy, we’ll contract this formation towards the center, and not use the front or back rows except in cases of accessibility.
- I’m removing the five seats on the organ side of the risers. Sitting there is a bit of a self-imposed exile, and we’d be far better off in more organized sections. Instead, this is where our instrumentalists will be: guitars, bass, percussion, and other instruments will have a much better line of sight to me and will be mostly out of the flow of traffic to and from communion.
- CANTORS (purple) now have a “home seat” in the front row of the tenor section, and the cantor stand will be placed in front of that seat. Much like we did during the Vigil, I’d ask the cantor for each Mass to sit there from the Opening Song to the end of the Liturgy of the Word. This makes a shorter route to the ambo for the psalm, a WAY shorter route to the stand for the Gospel verse and petitions, and raises you up a step, making you more visible to the assembly.
- The piano will stay in its current position.
Let’s give this a shot at our May 5 rehearsal. I’ll mark seats and we’ll make adjustments as needed. And, though I want to give this arrangement a good run (to Pentecost at least) please let me know how this arrangement is working for you (or not).
THIS WEEK IN LITURGY
RITUAL AND SERVICE MUSIC FOR THE SEASON:
- Glory to God: Mass of Creation (Haugen) MI 884 [score]
- NEW Now on May 8! Dismissal: The Word of God (Ward) WA [score]
- Gospel Acclamation: Mass of Renewal (Stephan) MI 877 [JS 177]
- Prayer of the Faithful: O God, Hear Us (Hurd) WA [JS 268]
- Eucharistic Acclamations: Mass of Renewal (Stephan)
- Holy: MI 878 [JS 179]
- Mystery of Faith: MI 879 [JS 180]
- Amen: MI 882 [JS 183]
- Lamb of God, April 24 & May 1: Mass of Creation (Haugen) MI 888 [score]
- Lamb of God, May 8–June 5: Mass of Renewal (Stephan) MI 883 [JS 184]
MAY 1 · Third Sunday in Easter; First Communion at All Masses!
PLEASE READ THE COVID SECTION ABOVE CONCERNING MINISTRY THIS WEEKEND.
At each Mass, we’ll celebrate our young parishioners’ first experience of Christ present in the Eucharist! All this changes musically is that we’ll sing Paul Inwood’s “We Shall Draw Water” for the Rite of Sprinkling (just before the Glory to God).
- Gathering Song: Our God Is Here (Muglia) MI 305 [JS 771]
- Rite of Sprinkling: Is 12: We Shall Draw Water Joyfully (Inwood) MI 822 [JS 118]
- Responsorial Psalm: Ps 30: I Will Praise You, Lord (Inwood) WA [JS 33]
- Preparation of the Gifts: How Can I Keep from Singing (Lowry) MI 443 [JS 686]
- Communion: Bread of Life (Farrell) MI 354 [JS 788]
- Sending Forth: Glory and Praise to Our God (Schutte) MI 552 [JS 574]
MAY 8 · Fourth Sunday in Easter; Mother’s Day
- Gathering Song: Alleluia! Give the Glory (Canedo/Hurd) MI 899 [JS 245]
- NEW Now on May 8! Dismissal: The Word of God (Ward) WA [score]
- Responsorial Psalm: Ps 100: All the Earth (Deiss) MI 429 [JS 620]
- Preparation of the Gifts: The Summons (KELVINGROVE/Bell) MI 385 [TBD]
- NEW! Lamb of God: Mass of Renewal (Stephan) MI 883 [JS 184]
- Communion: Gift of Finest Wheat (Kreutz, arr. Keil) MI 329 [score]
- Sending Forth: God Is Here! As We His People (ABBOT’S LEIGH) WA [JS 764] (We’ll take this faster than the recording)
- Triduum and Easter (April 14–June 5, 2022)
- Ordinary Time II (June 12–Sep 11, 2022) coming soon
Peace (and health) be with you!