A handful of major feasts (pardon, solemnities) can bump a green Sunday from the liturgical calendar. Some are non-obligatory when they fall on (most) weekdays. In the US, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin occurs on a Sunday. Next weekend’s Sunday, in fact.
Is this an occasion for a little something extra? Something that makes it stand out from an ordinary Sunday other than color or Scriptures?
Sit in the purple chair–or even the pastor’s spot, and ponder:
- If the choir takes the summer off, should they get a call back?
- If they get a call back, how about special music and not just the usual Mary fare?
- Nicer foods, maybe something beyond the usual box of donuts and stale coffee?
- Maybe a Saturday night dinner?
Image: Orthodox depiction of the Dormition of Mary. Note: Jesus holding the soul of his mother.
Treating this as if the pandemic didn’t exist ….
If the choir takes the summer off, should they get a call back?
-Only if the church is climate-controlled, but even so not if it’s the last week before school sessions resume (the timing of which varies by several weeks around the USA). In my experience, choirs having summers off was more typically a function of whether church/rehearsal spaces have air-conditioning and, if chorister numbers are thin, also a concession to vacation schedules.
If they get a call back, how about special music and not just the usual Mary fare?
-Well, special music means rehearsals well before Sunday, and that depends on the whether people are around in sufficient quantity and if the rehearsal space is climate controlled. On the other hand, if the choir has a repertoire of festal settings of the Ordinary that are used during the course of the year, that might require less rehearsal if they are used with enough frequency. As for non-Ordinary items, the Magnificat is always suitable at Communion, and a choir cannot have enough settings at its disposal. (For a long choral prelude, an ambitious choir that doesn’t take the summer off could try its hand at Palestrina’s 6-voice Assumpta Est Maria…choirs always sound better after signing Palestrina, even somewhat poorly – the effort nearly always firms them up into a cohesive ensemble, something almost magical about Palestrina, even if I more often personally prefer Byrd.)
Nicer foods, maybe something beyond the usual box of donuts and stale coffee?
-Food/coffee? You do hospitality? The mind reels. (Humor alert.) Be grateful for doughnuts and coffee. It can be difficult logistically in older churches.
Maybe a Saturday night dinner?
-Again, can be tough in older churches that don’t have kitchens and space for serving/seating…yes, they still exist.
For a long time, I have imagine Mary singing her Magnificat in response to her reunion with her Son. Long after I came to this contemplative imagination bit, I discovered contemplatives of yore also came to that place in imagination. Anyway, I developed scriptural meditations for the Rosary, and if they are fruitful for anyone else, here they are for the last two Glorious Mysteries, with the Magnificat in the second half of the last Mystery, a pivot from the lovely verse from Psalm 149 – “The Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.”:
Fourth Glorious Mystery – The Assumption of the BVM [Grace or Fruit of the Mystery: Eternal Happiness]
1 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away.” [Song of Songs 2]
2 “For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.”’
3 “Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely.”
4 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you. [Zechariah 9:9]
5 Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst. [Zephaniah 3:14, 15]
6 “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth.” [Judith 13:18]
7 “Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God.” [Judith 13:19]
8 “You are the glory of Jerusalem, the surpassing joy of Israel; you are the splendid boast of our people.” [Judith 15:9]
9 “Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun?” [Song of Songs 6:10]
10 For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice. Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. [Isaiah 61:10]
Fifth Glorious Mystery – The Crowning of the BVM as Queen of Heaven [Grace or Fruit of the Mystery: Devotion to the BVM]
1 All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with gold; in embroidered apparel she is led to the king. [Psalm 45:14-15]
2 The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. [1 Kings 2:19]
3 And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. [Revelation 12]
4 The Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. [Psalm 149:4]
5 “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” [Luke 2]
6 “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.”
7 “He has shown strength with his arm, and has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
8 “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.”
9 “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”
10 “I am the mother of beautiful love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope.” [Sirach 24:18]
My advise would vary depending on the parish:
1) The choice of EP. If the parish has been on a steady diet of EPII, then I would advise EPIII. Otherwise, the Roman Canon/EPI.
2) Incense. Very important in biblical and patristic thinking. Most people get the it backwards when they say incense represents our prayers rising to God. But Scripture said our prayers represent incense rising to God. Sin leaves taint and incense helps to purify the altar. The amount of incense would depend on the ventilation of the building. But generally:
a) not use cheap incense (which often uses filler substances like wood chippings) and preferably hypoallergenic and not over do it.
b) I would not have the censer leave the sanctuary.
c) if the parish hasn’t used much incense before, I would save it for the presentation of the gifts and the EP. Really the Gospel should be incensed during the reading and altar after the priests kisses it, but baby steps.
Meanwhile, unrelated, OCP today announced it has begun the process of winnowing out the music of Rev. Cesáreo Gabaráin (d.1981), composer of “Pescador de Hombres”, from its stable of materials, as it were….
Some “secret” offense by a man dead for 30 years? Not that I’m encouraging gossip. Just hoping it’s not because he wrote something about women priests or wanting to sing about iglesia nueva
Link to OCP’s statement: https://www.ocp.org/en-us/blog/entry/statement-regarding-father-cesareo-gabarain
CNA piece based on news from Spain: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/248634/fr-cesareo-gabarain-deceased-hymn-composer-credibly-accused-of-abuse
I’ve supplied links for additional context….
So, an investigation and a prudent decision. I certainly agree. I’m aware of one other high profile composer who has been sidelined, supposedly, but his publisher continues to advertise his works. And of course, bishops have cancelled lay Catholics often enough for the most vain or trifling of reasons. Thanks for the links.