About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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"Since such is the nature of man that he cannot easily without external means be raised to meditation on divine things, on that account holy Mother Church has instituted certain rites, namely that certain things be pronounced in a subdued tone (canon and words of consecration) and others in a louder tone; she has likewise made use of ceremonies such as mystical blessings, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind in accordance with apostolic teaching and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be commended, and the minds of the faithful excited by these visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of the most sublime matters which are hidden in this sacrifice."
— Council of Trent (Session XXII)

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Mary was one of the strongest women to ever walk planet Earth.
published 31 December 2016 by Richard J. Clark

HE BLESSED VIRGIN Mary is often depicted in art and in song as “meek” and “mild.” “Humble” and “lowly” are perhaps even better descriptions. But those adjectives are mistaken for submission and weakness.

Rather, humility and accepting a lowly state is a display of unprecedented strength. Only a person filled with great strength could possess the qualities of meekness and lowliness. The Magnificat is a profound manifesto of praise for God, coming from a woman of great inner confidence, self-knowledge, and power. How bold it is to say:

“For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”

No, Mary was not simply unknowing and along for the ride. Consider, her strength was apparent from beginning until the end: from the visit of the Angel Gabriel in her “Yes!” to God, to pushing Jesus into his public ministry at the wedding feast at Cana, to enduring her own agony at the foot of the Cross. Such was the strength of Mary’s confidence in Jesus.

HILE RECENTLY REHEARSING the familiar Mode I “Ave Maria” with my choir, I reminded them of Mary’s extraordinary strength. I asked them to consider that very distinct opening melody of the chant. It is sturdy and purposeful. It is to be sung not only with conviction, but with energy. Such can be said of the familiar “Salve Regina” and “Ave Maris Stella.” These are melodies that are sturdy and enduring. They are not precious relics but bold foundations able and ready to nurture our faith.

In our prayer, song, architecture, and art, let us rely the strong intercession of our blessed Mother in Heaven.

I share with you a live recording at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of organist, Rosalind Mohnsen performing “Gaudens Gaudebo.” In this you will hear several Marian melodies including the final toccata on “Ave Maria.” This piece explores Mary’s “Yes!” Furthermore, the pipe organ is a particularly versatile instrument, able to to convey a wide range of color and emotion ranging from intimacy to towering strength.


Here is another work for organ. The quote of “Ave Maris Stella” is where the organ rises to its fullest: