Monthly Archives: September 2013

A baffling choral piece

Please explain, someone.

It’s a setting of Padre Pio’s prayer. Fine and dandy. What in the world is going on with the organ accompaniment? It, I suspect, is intended to give the idea of a mystical setting, but it sounds like Vegas slot machines, then an attack from a bunch of old Nintendos, with a perfectly reasonable choral setting over this mess. I honestly thought someone’s phone had gone off while they were performing this, but no, that’s the actual thing. I even listened to the iTunes original version, and it’s not any better. Yet this has been making the rounds with Padre Pio’s recent feast day.

Perhaps discordance is the new in thing in choral music, but this left me feeling miserable. Not my thing, in the least.

This is why churches do “On Eagle’s Wings”

People. Sing. It. That. Is. Why.

Now, liturgical grouches grouse about the song. It’s maudlin, they grumble. It’s overused. The second may still be true in some areas (and I’m willing to accept it was true when it first came out), but I hadn’t done it at a regular weekend Mass since I returned to the organ bench in late 2009. (I had done it at a few funerals, but that’s not a surprise, as it gets requested a lot.)

And then I did it at three straight Masses last weekend. And you know what happened? People sang it, with gusto, and fairly loudly. A few people shed tears, likely because it had been used at the funeral of a loved one.

There’s nothing wrong, content-wise, with the song. It’s a big chunk of scripture. And it seems, to me, that using the song every once in a while is the best way to handle it. Most people love it and know it — but overusing it is a risk. Better to just use it every once in a while and let everyone happily sing away.

Taking pride in the little things

I met the new neighbors on one side the other day. Kids are nice. Mom doesn’t speak English, though I spoke enough Spanish to more or less introduce myself adequately. I also told them I play the piano.

“I do too!” the one girl said. I talked with her sister as she ran into the house to get something.

Then the girl came out with her “piano.” Well, it wasn’t what you think of when you think “piano.” It was one of those very cheap, crappy two-octave battery-powered keyboards — basically a toy piano with an electronically created sound that was intentionally out of tune. She played a little of it and beamed, very proud of herself. I even leaned over and played a couple of notes.

This was a cheap, crappy object in my book, but to her, it was a treasured possession. Seems to me she has the right outlook on life. I suspect the family, though they have the house, may not have a whole lot else. But this girl, who can’t be older than 10, nonetheless is richer in perspective than she may realize.