Hey all!  I’m sure so many of you are putting the finishing touches on your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day music selections, preparing folders, choosing verses, printing programs, etc, etc, etc.  There are always a few things that pop up every year where I say, “Oh yeah, I meant to fix that for this year!” or, “I wish I’d thought of that sooner.” So, I thought I’d throw a few things out there and see if they might be helpful.

Do you know what we know?

Singing mass parts at Christmas (and Easter) is always a little problematic because there are a lot of people visiting who, perhaps, won’t know them. I’ve shared with you how I’ve used familiar melodies for the Gospel Acclamation, Holy, and Lamb of God to try and make it a bit easier to involve everyone. When it comes to the “Glory to God,” especially now that there are so many NEW versions available, there might be SO MUCH of the song that people won’t know. For us, I’ve chosen to use the “Gloria in excelsis Deo” from “Angels We Have Heard on High” as the Refrain for Mass of Saint Ann.  The hymn version is in 4/4, so I adapted it for 6/8 so it would flow well with the ‘Glory to God’ from that setting.  Here it is if you care to use it for Christmas Eve and/or Day. It’s just a two-part vocal that goes into three part at the end. Simple. People will know it and can at least sing the Refrain with you!

Too many chords!

Often times, for guitars, Christmas hymn arrangements have so many chord symbols listed above the staff. They usually follow the 4-part vocal arrangement. It’s ok, however, to let the vocals ‘change’ around some static chords, too. This is especially effective for bass guitars.  Pedal tones are wonderful!  Consider simplifying the chord changes a bit to make it easier for everyone, especially ‘hired musicians’ who might be sitting in for the night or day.  ‘Too many notes!!!  Just…cut a few!’ 
Listen to Paul Baloche’s new arrangement of ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.‘ He does a fabulous job of simplifying the chord changes. The whole first line is now one chord, 4 bars of F.  Then he plays 2 bars of Dm, followed by 2 bars of C.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Compare that to the typical hymn arrangement with chord symbols listed above.  For bands/contemporary groups, it works great!  If you’re just playing piano or organ, the hymn versions are awesome, of course.

Walk…don’t run.

As director or coordinator, try to plan ahead so when you show up on Christmas Eve, you can just walk from place to place, not rushing around. This is some of the best advice I can offer. Take a breath! You will be able to think more clearly, and you will perform your music much better!  Make sure you get extra batteries for the mics now. Make sure there is a backup wireless headset for when it starts to crackle like crazy right before Mass. Think of anything that would cause you to rush around and try and take it off the table. Often times people will be glad to handle a situation for you if you just ask them to be ready beforehand. 

Making’ copies…

Post the copier code for all to see…just in case! 

It’s too hot in here!

Make sure your facilities manager sets the A/C or heat early enough before the crowds show up!

Those pesky music stands…

Borrow music stands now if you need them.  School will be out next week!
So…there are lots of little things, and I’m sure you all know what they are.  I just wanted to suggest that we not put them all off until the last minute. Not next Monday, and certainly not next Tuesday!
If you have some suggestions, please feel free to comment and I will post them.