The focus of this year’s workshop was Easter and Eastertide, perhaps a slightly neglected season, coming as it does after the intensity of Holy Week. Previous years’ workshops had tended to focus on Lent in its various aspects.
Over 40 musicians – choir directors, organists, singers and instrumentalists – gathered in the Ogilvie Hall on 23 February to look at music for the Easter liturgy, in workshops led by members of the Committee. After tea, coffee and snacks, the workshop began with sung Morning Prayer which brought the community present together and set a prayerful atmosphere for the sessions.
The first session covered a wide range of music and material for the Easter Vigil and the Sundays of Easter; the Missal chants for the Blessing of the Fire, the Exsultet, and the Blessing of the font; a setting of the Blessing of the Easter Candle; settings of the Psalms of the Vigil (32, 103, 15,18, 29 41/42, 50 and 117) from various Scottish liturgical composers (Dickie, Donnelly, Fitzpatrick, Morran) and from Psallite; a setting of the Baptismal Creed and a Baptism Song; gospel verses, entrance songs and Introits, Communion Antiphons (including several which use a short response and verses from familiar psalms) and suitable hymns such as the lovely Taizé pieces Surrexit Dominus Vere, Gloria and Surrexit Christus, Marty Haugen’s Glory to God who does Wondrous Things, and Sean Bowman and Geoffrey Nobes “I am the Vine” from Mayhew’s new publication The Complete Book of Prayer Chants.
The session ended with music for the Ascension and Pentecost, including a children’s song for the Ascension (Men of Galilee), Marty Haugen’s We Walk by Faith, a setting of Psalm 46 by Gerry Fitzpatrick, a Psallite chant, and Introits for Pentecost. The participants were clearly enjoying the opportunity to try out the new material – indeed it was hard to persuade them to stop singing the Taizé canon.
After a break for much needed tea and coffee, Fr. John Carroll and Gerry Devlin took a session on music used by them in their parishes, with instrumentalists in particular in mind. Fr. Carroll invited participants to email him for specific instrumental parts if required. He explained that in St. Mary’s, instrumentalists played at a Mass which was attended by families and the music was deliberately chosen to be a mix of gentle and lively, and people responded. At Christmas and Easter, instrumentalists and organist come together to provide the music and it works well. The important thing was to remember that it was public liturgy and to use resources accordingly.
Gerry Devlin explained that in his parish, the aim was to have broadly the same music used at each of the parish Masses each Sunday, whether supported by organ or instruments. He followed this by demonstrating some of the new Easter Antiphons which they are preparing to use this year. This session was rounded off by Andrew Barrie who introduced people to the Glendalough Mass written by Liam Lawton, to give them a taste of another style of music.
Fr. Gerry Fitzpatrick then took the opportunity to highlight material – sung and spoken – available for the 1450th Anniversary of the landing of St. Columba on Iona which will be celebrated this year, before Frank Stewart introduced the participants to the joys of YouTube and what it could do for musicians and for parishioners.
The day ended with a short final service, and thanks to all who had taken part.