Tuesday, December 30, 2008

poco a poco

The construction fund now stands at 132,000 dollars.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the Feast of Stephen

I spent a couple of Christmases in Switzerland and was charmed by the observance of St. Stephen's Day (December 26). In England they keep Boxing Day on the same date. In America, what do we do? Hit the malls for post-Christmas sales? You may do what you like but at our little parish of St. Stephen the Martyr, we have an evening Mass followed by potluck supper. During the meal several people noted that, if you are a member of this parish and if you play your cards right,you will never have to cook. There is also a meal on somewhere.
video

Thursday, December 25, 2008

They Really Do Sing That!

Here is actual proof. And it was not my idea. video

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's almost Christmas, and that means trains

The forces of Political Correctness have nativity scenes in their crosshairs. But they have not yet targeted model train displays. Deo Gratias. video

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lessons and Carols Practice

I think that tomorrow's celebration of Lessons and Carols at St. Patrick Church is going to be wonderful. The choir sounds exceptionally good. During practice last Wednesday I took this photo which seems to indicateheavenly assistance. See you there!

This is your parish at 5:00 a.m.


We began our celebration of the Feast (in Mexico: Solemnity) of Our Lady of Guadalupe with Mañanitas at 5:00 in the morning. There were about 150 devoted souls present and 4 different bands (we only knew about 3 of them in advance). For me, this year's highlight was the Dance of the Old Men (viejitos), several young men dressed as old men, complete with papier-mache masks. Curiously, when they spoke to each other, it was not in Spanish, but in an Indian dialect. This is another sign of how much immigration is taking place -- it's not just people from border towns anymore. Many are coming from rather remote areas in search of work or a better life in the USA.

video

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quoadusque, Domine?

The construction fund is up to 119,000 dollars. Only 81,000 to go!

Lessons and Carols

Almost every year for the the past eleven years (is it that long?) I have played the organ for the annual service of Lessons and Carols at Saint Patrick Church in downtown Columbus. This devout community of souls is under the care of the Dominican Fathers, who dedicate themselves fully to the spiritual welfare of their flock. For the past decade, the music life of the parish has been cared for by Kathleen Tully, who has quietly created one of the finest parish music programs that you will find anywhere. The choir, which has grown from 4 to 40 voices under her cheerful leadership, give their very best out of love for the Lord. It is a joy to make a joyful noice with them.
This year's service of lessons and carols begins Sunday, December 14 (Gaudete Sunday) at 6pm. Due to illness of some choir members rehearsals were curtailed and some more ambitious pieces had to be postponed until next year. So, here is this year's lineup:

Prelude
Excerpt from Horn-lokk Sigurd Berge
(This is a piece for solo horn. The hornist is a parishioner and member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.)

I. The Fall Reading: Genesis 3:8-19
The Race that Long in Darkness Pined William Billings

II. The Prophecy of Emmanuel Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Processional Hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel Collegeville Hymnal 179 (Stand)

Opening Prayer Stand

III. The Rod of Jesse Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen Johannes Brahms (arr for string quartet)

IV. The Restoration Reading: Jeremiah 31:10-14
Hymn: O Come, Divine Messiah Collegeville Hymnal 173 (Stand)
arr by Thomas Buffer. Organ and Brass Quartet

V. The Fulfillment of the Prophecies Reading: Matthew 1:18-25 (Stand)
Pastorale Arcangelo Corelli
Organ and strings

VI. The Annunciation Reading: Luke 1:26-28 (Stand)
Ave Maria Franz Biebl
double choir!

VII. The Nativity Reading: Luke 2:1-7 (Stand)
Hymn: See Amid the Winter’s Snow Collegeville Hymnal 221
Verses 1-2: ALL Verse 3: Women Only Verse 4: Men only Verse 5: Solo Verse 6: ALL
Organ, Brass, strings, whatever else we have sitting around

Choir: Riu, Riu, Chiu Traditional Spanish Carol

VIII. The New Creation Reading: Revelation 21:1-5

Hymn: Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending
Organ and Brass

IX. The Incarnation Reading: John 1:1-14 (Stand)
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Gustav Holst
Organ, strings, brass, etc.

Closing Prayer and Blessing Stand

Recessional Hymn: Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth Stand
arr. Thomas Buffer
Organ and Brass

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Novena, Day Two

This is the second night of the novena in preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every evening families gather in the Church to pray the Rosary. Tonight they are praying the Luminous Mysteries. Mass will be celebrated at 6:30 pm followed by my adult education class. Tonight I will be leading them through the Annunciation scene in St. Luke's Gospel. I have learned some new Spanish words for the purpose. On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Friday, December 12, we will have a full church at 5 am for the celebration of Mañanitas. Mass will be celebrated at 6 am in Spanish and 8 am in English.
video

Friday, November 28, 2008

Feliz día del pavo

We tried something new in the parish yesterday: a Thanksgiving Dinner for all the Latinos who had the day off but weren't sure how to cook turkey and pumpkin pie. Food service began at 4pm, dancing at 8 pm. We had about 400 people come. The all-you-can-eat buffet included turkey (with homemade stuffing), ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn bread, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. Entertainment was provided by a DJ and a folkloric dance troop (see video). Volunteers worked very hard the day before Thanksgiving, preparing all the food from scratch, and getting the hall ready. In fact, they finished painting the cafeteria walls about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday!
The event was a great success which means, of course, that we will have to repeat it next year...

video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deus, qui caeli lumen es

Another hymn translation made at the request of Father Samuel Weber, OSB, who asked that the translation be in rhyming couplets in the same meter as the original. He got the latter but not the former. I opted for an ABAB rhyme scheme, partly out of sprezzatura.
Deus, qui caeli lumen es
satorque lucis, qui polum
paterno fultum bracchio
praeclara pandis dextera.

Aurora stellas iam tegit
rubrum sustollens gurgitem,
umectis atque flatibus
terram baptizans roribus.

Iam noctis umbra linquitur,
polum caligo deserit,
typusque Christi, lucifer
diem sopitum suscitat.

Dies dierum tu, Deus,
lucisque lumen ipse es,
Unum potens per omnia,
potens in unum Trinitas.

Te nunc, Salvator, quaesumus
tibique genu flectimus
Patrem cum Sancto Spiritu
totis laudantes vocibus.
Amen.
O God, the lamp of heaven high
And source of light: your shining hand
Unrolls the banner of the sky,
Upholding it above the land.

Dawn, casting up a crimson tide,
Has veiled the stars that saw its rise;
The morning breezes, far and wide,
With dewy breath the earth baptize.

The darkness from the sky has gone
As nightly shadows pass away;
The morning star, sign of the Son,
Arising, wakes the sleepy day.

O God, O radiance wonderful,
Most glorious day and fairest light:
One God, in all things powerful,
Three Persons, matchless in one might!

To you, Our Savior, brightest, best,
On bended knee our prayer we raise;
To Father and to Spirit blest,
With all our power, we offer praise.
Amen.

Translation copyright 2005 Fr. Thomas Buffer

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ashley's Second Birthday Party

videoAfter the noon Mass today, we celebrated six baptisms (there were supposed to be seven but one had to re-schedule). Then we went upstairs into one of the classrooms to celebrate Ashley's second birthday. You can see Ashley at the tail end of the video. She is the little girl in the grey skirt who laughs with delight, then starts crying. We have all had days like that. We have lots of little kids at the parish which means that there is no shortage of excuses to have a party.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Temperamental Artistes



Like most of you, I have always wanted a pipe organ in my house. And now I have one. It was sitting in the barn for a couple of years while I settled into the parish and now it is in my house. There's just one thing. One solitary note (tenor "A' of the 8" Gedeckt) would not play. I diagnosed a failed pouch (leather disk that opens and closes the valve beneath the pipe). Getting at the peccant part required much dismantling. To fix the one pouch I ended up releathering 30 of them. Due to the demands of my real job, the pouchboard repair had to be accomplished in fits and starts during snippets of borrowed time. I think I started two weeks ago. The photos show the finished pouchboard and the current appearance of the organ, which seems to bear a resentful expression. After testing, the pouchboard will be reinstalled and the pipes put back in the organ. Before I close I ought to mention that the organ was manufactured by the M.P. Möller company of Hagerstown, Maryland, around 1939. That firm called it the "Möller Portable Pipe Organ"; those who have had to move one will smile at this designation. Everyone else calls it an "Artiste" model. This organ has lived in different places including St. Jean Baptiste Church in New York City (I believe it was a practice or choir accompaniment instrument).
P.S. The alert reader will have understood why this message was posted today.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Everybody keeps asking when we are going to start the church beautification project. Simple. We need 200,000 dollars. To date we have 117,000 dollars in our construction fund. When we have 200,000 dollars -- we start. Our architect, William Heyer, has given us a great gift in his design, which will turn our "temporary" church into a beautiful and dignified chapel in which to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries. Until the day, comrade, just keep looking at this beautiful picture.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nox atra rerum

A few years ago, Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, asked me to translate some Latin breviary hymns into rhyming English. Here is one example. Others may be found in The Mundelein Psalter.







Nox atra rerum contegit
terrae colores omnium:
nos confitentes poscimus
te, iuste iudex cordium,

Ut auferas piacula
sordesque mentis abluas,
donesque, Christe, gratiam
ut arceantur crimina.

Mens, ecce, torpet impia,
quam culpa mordet noxia;
obscura gestit tollere
et te, Redemptor, quaerere.

Repelle tu caliginem
intrinsecus quam maxime,
ut in beato gaudeat
se collocari lumine.

Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Sancto Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
As earth and all its colors bright
Are covered by the black of night,
We make our prayer and offer praise
To you, just Judge of all our ways:

That you would take away our sin,
And wash us clean from stain within,
And give, O Christ, the grace we need
To hold off every harmful deed.

Redeemer, see, the mind beset
By wickedness grows dull; and yet
It longs to put dark works away,
To seek you by the light of day.

Drive out the darkness from our heart,
From every corner let it part;
Then shall the heart be truly blessed
Within your light to find its rest.

To you, O Christ, most kindly King,
And to the Father praise we sing;
The Spirit, too, we glorify,
In songs that never fade or die. Amen.

Copyright 2005 Fr. Thomas Buffer