ROADLY SPEAKING, most church musicians are paid very little. Some are not far from becoming destitute. But you know what? It turns out that’s okay. Fulton J. Sheen often spoke about how “God in the form of man shared the poverty of mankind.” In the Old Testament, the traditional offerings for purification were a lamb and a turtledove (if the parents were rich), and two doves or two pigeons (since they were poor). Our Lady had to use the POVERTY OPTION—although we don’t know whether she offered turtledoves or pigeons. Bishop Sheen adds: “Thus the mother who brought the Lamb of God into the world had no lamb to offer—except the Lamb of God.”
Sheen’s Favorite Hymnal? • If Fulton J. Sheen were alive today, I believe he would endorse the Brébeuf Hymnal. First of all, his whole life was dedicated to evangelization, and Father Brébeuf (and his companions) were among the Church’s greatest evangelizers. Moreover, Bishop Sheen drew his teachings from the exact same sources as the Brébeuf Hymnal. Consider Sheen’s teachings about the feast of the Epiphany. That was taken directly from a 4th-century hymn: O Sola Magnarum Urbium. [It would take too long to explain, so please see pages 288-289 in the Brébeuf Hymnal.]
During Rehearsal • Here’s an English translation of that 4th-century hymn. We recorded this during our rehearsal last Thursday night. The choir is 100% volunteers, and fewer than three (3) of them read music. However, because of the masterly way the Brébeuf Choral Supplement prints each verse, they can sing SATB parts very well. Notice how we alternate between unison and SATB:
M To access this hymn’s media in the Brébeuf Portal, click here.
Missing His Voice • If only our Church still had a powerful voice like that of Archbishop Sheen. When he was on television during the 1950s, he received 15,000 letters each day—can you imagine that? When Sheen was in good form, his way of speaking was hypnotic. Even the way he pronounced simple sentences was unforgettable. For instance, Sheen would say: “If you pour water in blue glass, it looks blue. If you pour it into a red glass, it looks red.” Whereas, if I were to say those words, nobody would listen.
Your Voice Can Be Louder • Thursday evening, I took the men outside so we could rehearse something. The ladies stayed behind and spent time learning the Introit for this coming Sunday, which is the Feast of the Holy Family. When I came back, I head the women singing this Introit, and its beauty almost knocked me off my feet. I’d never heard something so gorgeous, so powerful, so arresting. I realized that musicians can have a more powerful voice than even the legendary Fulton J. Sheen! The recording taken during that rehearsal doesn’t show how sublime it sounds in real life, because no microphone can accurately reproduce the complex and luscious choral sound:
“Cemeteries Are Full…” • By the way, at the last second, I asked one of my friends to accompany that Introit on the organ, using the NOH. She did an excellent job—as you can hear—and I am so proud of her! Church musicians must remember to let others “have a chance,” because before we know it our life on earth will end. As Father Alan Heet used to say: “The cemeteries are full of people who thought they were indispensable.”