The first session I attended this year at NPM was a brief preview of The Lyric Psalter
with compositions of Marty Haugen and Tony Alonso. They've set the new revised Grail translation of the psalms to metric settings. I found the music for the antiphons to mostly be very beautiful, despite several unnecessary difficult intervals. However, setting the verses metrically seems forced to me. The Church values more than ever singing the exact psalm translation, so composers really don't have as much latitude to massage the texts to fit them into a metric melody. As someone who's tried to do this myself, one usually ends up "stuck" and the only solution is awkward. More and more, it seems to me that a psalm tone setting for the verses, such as the beautiful ones we use here at Blessed Sacrament by Michel Guimont, is the best way to set these texts.
Next, the entire convention (probably around 2500 people from all around the country and beyond) gathered, and after some wonderful singing (including a rousing rendition of the Parry "O Praise Ye the Lord"
), praying, and introductions, Fr. Ronald Raub delivered a powerful keynote address.
Fr. Raub serves in an inner-city parish in Portland, OR, ministering to those on the very margins of society. He introduced us to several of his parishioners, who are afflicted daily with all types of suffering. For them, the celebration of the liturgy is literally the only time they are fed, the only part of their lives where they encounter peace, where their suffering is alleved. He surmised that all of us come to the Mass because of our suffering, as much as we may try to hide it. So Fr. Raub challenged us to seek out the suffering in all of our communities, and speak to it directly in our liturgies. A moving talk, and so much to consider.
Finally, I was blessed to attend a breakout session with Fr. Michael Joncas on the development of our liturgical texts in the Roman Rite. A lot of the "facts" I knew, but Fr. Joncas has actually seen the manuscripts, and inserts so many beautiful details. He's such a wonderful teacher. I'll probably do several posts in the near future on the specific topics he addressed, like the construction of a Collect prayer or a Preface, and how the new chant tones in the Missal help the listener delineate the structure.
Oh yeah, a former Oriole, Eric Bedard, struck out 11 Cubs, allowing one run in seven innings, but still managed to take the loss, as the Pirates were shut out 2-0. They really need to trade for a bat in the next few days if they want to stay legit in the NL central. BTW, PNC Park is one of the best to take in a game. Plus they race pierogies, so you can't go wrong there.