Lord Send Out Your Spirit

Lord%20Send%20Out%20Your%20Spirit.mp3

There’s a bit of a story about this one. There was a seminarian I knew almost twenty years ago who was in a spiritual support group with me. I’ve since lost touch with him, but we had a very challenging year. I was dealing with multiple issues: the usual young adult family-of-origin junk, and the very, very bitter end of a once-promising and intense relationship. It was a year through which I felt I was sleepwalking. But amazing things happen at times like that–if one is open.

Anyway, my friend asked me to set Psalm 104, Grail text, to music for the ordination Mass. As I recall he was specific about wanting simplicity: no choir parts; just psalmist and piano. Unlike many requests like this, the composing came very easy as I remember. Since then, I haven’t used this setting much. Most parishes seem to have their favorite Pentecost psalm. My wife mutters about that sometimes; she likes this setting. Too bad she was feeling under the weather when I recorded it last month. The young woman who intones the refrain and sings verse three is just a marvel, don’t you think?

If this piece is of interest to you, I can send you the score on a pdf file. Years later, I included a flute/violin part not heard on the recording. Just contact me through my parish e-mail which you can find here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Lord Send Out Your Spirit

  1. Saint Pius X hated the piano and so do I.
    May all pianos burn in the fires of Gehenna.

  2. Todd says:

    An interesting observation. The present pope seems to favor Mozart and piano was more or less his thing.

  3. Chase says:

    Excellent piece! Thanks for sharing and keep it coming!

  4. Gavin says:

    Music for congregational singing must, in addition to other criteria, be judged in light of its ease of singing. Furthermore, responsorial music must be judged by its ease of repetition (and the “test of time”, does it stand up to repetition, which this ably passes). Although it’s mostly enjoyable, I find this psalm lacking in those two criteria.

    First, ease of repetition. The introduction suggested little of the response. When I use these responses, albeit infrequently, I play the melody in octaves for an introduction. You might do something different, but it’s clarity I’m after. As for the melody, I listened to the recording once and can find the starting pitch, and have some idea of the melodic shape. However, after the cantor sang the response, I found myself unable to repeat it. Same thing until the third time it was sung. And I’m a 3rd year university music student, not Joe the Indifferent Pewsitter.

    What would help? Make the response shorter, and less pauses in it. The repetition (renew, renew, renew…) doesn’t help much, it only serves to confuse the listener. Furthermore, the accompaniment should have more of the melody. I’m not saying chorale-style writing or melody in octaves, but the congregation should be able to sing it WITHOUT the cantor (which is how I perform psalms – alternatim, rather than sing-along).

    As for ease of singing, again the long notes don’t help. I think you have some real challenges for a cantor, but good for you for not dumbing that down. I wouldn’t drop the large interval on “renew” on a congregation not used to good singing, but one which is could handle it well. And the long pauses will confuse people as to when to place consonants. I think you have a lot to learn from Haugen about writing a good piano-style psalm refrain.

    All in all, it’s a good piece and very pleasant to listen to. I really like the modal feel it has in some places. My main beef is that it doesn’t pass the “responsorial music” test that I would put it through for a typical Catholic congregation. Other than that, a fine work!

  5. Gavin says:

    Might I add, I think this is a perfect example of what needs to happen in dialog between “progressive” and “traditional” views of liturgy. Principles are all well and good, but show me exactly what you do in the course of a liturgy. Both pieces used non-classical instrumentation in a solemn and excellent way. We have much common ground in our music, even if the styles are different, and we can find that common ground and move from there in discussion.

  6. Todd says:

    Gavin, thanks for the input. I do appreciate it. Your comments in #4 are most helpful.

    I will say that over the years, people in my choirs and even in the congregation are willing to tolerate the occasional composition from me, but not necessarily because the music was easy for them. So this sort of critique is invaluable. I welcome it from others, and as I continue to post these audio clips. More to come.

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