Music Selections for Mass

For the past 10 years, I have played an active role in music selection for the masses which I have led or co-led for Sunday liturgies, feast days, and retreats. During that time, I have done a lot of research and self-teaching to train myself on how to be better at selecting appropriate songs, hymns and psalms that connect to the readings for each mass. Many parishes include a section devoted to their music ministry and, sometimes, songs are listed there for each Sunday. There are also a multitude of bloggers who have shared their own song selections. Then there are more official documents from organizations like Lifeteen and the CCCB (for the Catholic Book of Worship) with song suggestions for each week and each liturgical season. Many times, I have immersed myself amongst these resources, spending hours at a time planning for a  month or 6-week block of masses. Many times, however, I have been frustrated because I can’t easily find a resource that has a combination of hymnal/traditional and contemporary selections. They are often separated, in the same way that I see music leaders arguing about which is better: traditional and Gregorian Chant or contemporary Catholic & praise & worship music. So, I would return to the readings of the day and try to make the best connection I could to my own personal songbook and the hymnal my parish used the most. While I am not a scholar of church liturgy, my quest to marry traditional and contemporary styles in a way that finds best practice for antiphon/song selections for each part of the mass is one...

One In The Spirit

Back in 2011, I wrote a theme song for the 128th Men’s Cursillo weekend in Ottawa. Selected to be the music leader for the retreat and learning that the theme was about unity in the Lord, I immediately thought how fitting it would be to write a song that represented exactly that. With inspiration and influence from the scripture passages that rector Tom Lane chose to support his theme, I penned the song “One In The Spirit”. I’m thankful for how it turned out and thankful for the opportunity to have written the song. I still play it a few times a year at mass, when it fits the readings, and people seem to enjoy it. The lyrics are below the recording… http://seejoesmile.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2011-11-09-one_in_the_spirit.mp3 Refrain: We are one spirit, we are one spirit, we are one body united in the Lord, we are one spirit, we are one spirit, we are one body united in Jesus Christ Verse 1: We aim to be holy, to be with the Father and Son The Spirit guides our hearts and calls us to be one Lord, we reach to know Your ways we offer our everyday, for… Refrain Verse 2: All things are possible, through Christ who gives us grace All good things come from You so we lift our voice in praise Lord, we long to reside in mercy’s overflowing tides, for…...

A Special Year

2016 was a special year. My wife gave birth to our firstborn daughter. She has been an amazing mother and it has been a privilege seeing her grow into this role over the past 10 months. We are slowly getting the hang of this parenting thing and are thankful for the blessing of good health that our baby has had. As for music, well, I had good intentions to keep up but the days aren’t getting any longer! My free time has decreased significantly and I’ve had a tough time adjusting to that. I’m still leading music at mass at St. Augustine’s every Sunday though, and I recently formed a praise & worship group that plays monthly, every 3rd Friday, for our REFUGE adoration evenings. They’re off to a good start and will hopefully continue to grow in the new year. This fall, I began working about 6-7 days a week between two jobs, and that has also been a factor in how much time I have for my hobbies. Some days it’s a challenge just to spend quality time with my wife and daughter! So, when people ask me how my music is going or if I’m playing any gigs these days…I usually answer that it’s just not that high on the priority list. Being the best father and husband I can be is something I’ve realized I need to put more effort into and hopefully that is visible to my family. Still, I can’t deny my musical desires and interests and I’m often inspired or thinking of new song topics, cover song ideas, arrangements, etc. I’m trying...

Parodies, EPs and TV

Here we are, at summer’s end (#foofighters), and it’s about time for an update. It was an absolute joy to be a part of two weddings last month, leading music for both of the wedding masses. Weddings are always a good time and it is a true honour to sing and play for a momentous occasion, especially when it’s for people I know. Prayers of blessing upon the couples who wed and may your love burn bright for many decades. Things on the forefront of my mind these days, besides work and family life, include: That time where I said I’d record another EP for the Folk Series I’ve started. I need to get on that. A reminder to those who might have missed the announcement earlier in the year, it’s going to be a collection of Taylor Swift songs. I was on a real Taylor kick last year when 1989 was released. Not so much at the moment but I did prepare some arrangements that deserve to be recorded. So that’ll happen soon. Parodies! One of my favourite things to write is a parody or alternate version of an existing song. Working at the restaurant has provided me with plenty of gems of inspiration. One, in particular, really caught my attention and the attention of others…which is a spoof of Drake’s “Hotline Bling”. I’ve turned it into “Headset Ring” and it’s about a girl who won’t come through the guy’s drive thru anymore. It’s literally about restaurant life and I intend to put a few sneak peeks of it on Instagram before I share the full thing. TV!...

Checking In

Hey. Just checking in with an official blog update. Although I update the social media platforms on a semi-regular basis, this space is something I haven’t gotten around to much this year. I’m hoping to amend that by updating with some musical thoughts, album suggestions, video updates and cover/demo sharing over the next few months. More recently, my wife and I had the pleasure of playing a set, opening for Kosmo’s Factory’s 20th anniversary concert. It was good to get out on stage again and sing some of our favourite songs. Tis a little trickier now that we have a little baby in the house! We also enjoyed the Ottawa Bluesfest lineup this year. We had the pleasure of standing second row for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. We danced in the rain to The Lumineers. We swayed and sweated on a humid evening to the new alt rock of Half Moon Run. All acts we hadn’t seen before and all acts we enjoyed for different reasons. Noel Gallagher because he’s a legend and his newest album, as we reviewed some months ago, is fantastic. The Lumineers because they’re delightful and harmonious and folky. Half Moon Run because they’re energetic and fun and quite talented musicians. Taking time for live music is something that’s still important to us and makes for a pretty great date night. Date nights are essential for couples with new babies because, hey, parents need time to connect with one another, too! So there’s my piece of advice for the month…date nights are good. Schedule them regularly. More to come later this...