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To God through music: it’s a FESTivity!

Providence Associate, Jane Fischer, highlights a special activity to occur at the FEST!

Sisters’ hands are raised.  See? A pitch-pipe sounds. Hear it? Breaths are drawn, she signals, and we begin:  “Holy God, we praise thy name!” Or how about  … “Bless us, guard us, ever keep us…”  You know it, don’t you?  Get ready …”An Army of Youth flying the standards of truth…” keep going now … ”Bless this house, Oh Lord we pray!”  Wait a minute!  “Mother Beloved!”  “Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above…!”       

godtmusic2_forwebI don’t remember which came first, but I love lyrics and I love music.  As a Providence Associate, I was thrilled to be asked to help plan activities for the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin FEST this year. While brainstorming on the way to the first planning meeting, I was listening to my Sisters of Providence music CD and it came to me … a phrase from my childhood –“To God through Music.”  That’s it! It’s an activity that celebrates music and the good Sisters of Providence who composed and taught it!  Let’s have a Providential Sing-A-Long!  Let’s celebrate their work, their books, and their music! What a perfect fit as we celebrate the 175th year at this year’s FEST.

Here’s a sample:  Walk, walk, rest, rest.  Quar-ter, quar-ter, Half Note.  We often clapped with each syllable. Now try this one: WALK-hold, WALK-hold, WALK, walk, WALK-hold.  I thought you’d remember. This is how we learned to count music: “Johnny had a little dog and Bingo was his name, sir.”  Sister would help us first by clapping out the rhythm. I’ll bet you can still do it. If you made some claps louder than others, you also remembered the lesson on accenting a note! I pulled that from a recently acquired a copy of  “To God through Music” (book three), which is just a little marked up from St. Mary’s School in Storm Lake, Iowa. During the sing-along at the FEST, we will also be featuring selections from this series and talking about the history of music with the Sisters of Providence.

When Saint Mother Theodore said, “No piano, no school” it was because she knew the value of the arts in a well-rounded education leading to a better life.  We’re going to celebrate that legacy at this year’s FEST.  “All creatures of our God and King!  Lift up your voices, let us sing!” Or just sit and listen. Someone once said, “Those who sing pray twice.”  Come join us in St. Joseph’s Chapel of Owens Hall, for a song fest, a memory fest, and a prayer fest.  Bring your memories and your voice along.  Let us all rejoice in song.

Please feel free to post a reply here and share your SP musical memory.

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Jane Fischer

Jane Fischer is a Providence Associate. She is a member of the Miracle Place Providence Circle and volunteers at Craine House in Indianapolis. She and husband Chuck are both retired and are members of St. Monica Church in Indianapolis. Jane grew up in Southern Indiana and was taught by the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph's Elementary School where the sisters also taught her to play piano.

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8 Comments

  1. Marilyn Kofler, SP on September 1, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for the memories….(remember Bob Hope?)….I remember being missioned to Cathedral School in Fort Wayne….my third year of teaching…..I was told that I was to demonstrate the series “To God Through Music” at the October 12th diocesan teachers meeting. I had not been in the SP choir as a novice, had not taken the music courses with my band members, and was a perfect example of “anyone can teach TGTM!” I ended up losing my voice one week before the event; Sister Anne Marita gave me a very strong hot toddy every night to ensure I had a voice by the 12th. By the time of the demonstration, all was well and we had the time of our young lives! The children were truly wonderful and sang their hearts out!

  2. Jeanette Mader Hall on September 1, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Remember singing “Tell Me Why” in harmony on our walks with classmates in 1957 Aspirancy/Juniorette.

    Also thanks to Sister Marilyn (above) for mentioning “hot toddy”. That was my dad’s miracle cure when I had a sore throat – back in the day!

  3. Margaret Ann Mathews ONeill on September 1, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Brings back memories of singing with Sister Laurette at Ladywood School and of Chorale at SMWC and road trips with Sister Marie Brendan. I teach elementary school and have always used songs for math, phonics, science and social studies.

  4. Rosemary Schmid '63 on September 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Please post the program and the songs that were written by Sisters of Providence!
    At St. Lawrence, in Lawrenceburg, IN, we were the only Catholic church in a town of 5,000 or so, and there were 35 churches! The seventh and eighth grade girls (I think only girls – probably had something to do with behavior???) were asked to “sing all the funerals.” Sister Linus, a Franciscan from Oldenburg, IN, started choir practice nearly every time with the same message: Remember, everyone, sing once and pray twice. So, lifting up our voices in song meant we were getting double “credit.” That was in the 1950’s when people still talked about gaining indulgences and so on. (I just Googled the phrase, and an Australian page attributes the phrase to St. Augustine!)
    As a Girl Scout from age 7 – 19, we sang on many occasions – some “holy” including Spirituals, some nonsense, some tragic – like “The Titanic.”
    At the Woods, we sang every night after dinner, it seemed. I can close my eyes and hear us singing in The Big Church (I know – but we called it that). Some of the theater majors’ productions were musicals. Theater and Music majors presented Benjamin Britton’s The Carols. The Madrigal Singers spun off from the Chorale. Music everywhere.
    So, I’ll enjoy the thought of the Fest singing. You Tube videos, anyone?!

  5. Brother James Reiter, OFM Conv on September 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    What wonderful memories. Singing class was one of my favorites throughout grammar school with the SPs. Is it possible to get a copy of the “Memorare” that was set to plain chant? I don’t remember in which grade we learned it but I still remember it after 50+ years. I would like to teach it to our postulants to use as one of our Marian hymns for Night Prayers.

  6. Ann Clem on September 12, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Wow! What wonderful responses to these music books (To God Through Music)! Thank God, that when I entered the Sisters of Providence for six years, somebody decided that I should be a music major. I always loved music (started at age 7) and even the Benedictines I had from grades 1-8 impressed us with “To Sing is to Pray Twice”. Actually, I do better praying by singing (not that I’m a good singer) and/or playing the piano, as my prayer.

    I still, as a piano instructor, teach counting at the beginning level with quar-ter, half note, half note dot, whole note 4 beats. Not only does the student learn the value of the notes, based on the syllables, but it reinforces the names of the notes.

    I agree with Rosemary Schmid. It would be nice for us at a long distance to be able to view some of the Fest on YouTube.

  7. Carol Nolan, S.P. on October 10, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Jane you are such a gift! Everyone is very excited about this presentation. At St. Joseph Academy in Galesburg, Illinois, I was fortunate to have classroom music every year of elementary school. Sr. Gertrude Louise (SP) especially took us through syllable singing every day. We had her for two years, so in fifth grade we sang in two parts, and in sixth we sang in three parts.
    Sr. Mary Huberta performed miracles with us at Corpus Christi High School. In this little school of 180 boys and girls, we had a Glee Club and Choral Club, as well as a small orchestra. The Choral Club put on programs all over town!
    I was still young in the Community when Sr. Mary Lourdes began To God through Music. The pedagogy was unbeatable. A small group of us made the records at night, sometimes on the Conservatory state, sometimes in the recording studio on the third floor (which did not block out the sounds of passing trains.
    One of my favorite songs is in Book One: Zippity Zip Goes My Snowsuit. I hear it will be performed. What a fun way to get across the concept of up and down in music.
    Early on in my teaching life I taught second grade at St. Andrew’s in Indianapolis. One day we were singing The Circus Has Come to Town. We were winging our hearts out, when I saw a fireman’s hat at the door. Turns out the fire drill had rung and we had not heard it. I think a head or two rolled that day.
    Thank you again, Jane, for arranging this presentation!

  8. Thomas Golden on March 20, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I somehow acquired the “To God Through Music” textbooks for grades four through eight, probably because in some years we did not sell them to younger students at All Saints School in Hammond, IN. I remember the “counting” of notes, and learning to count notes with your elbow on the desk and your hand raised, and lowering your hand to the desk, saying, “quarter, quarter, half note two count, whole note four counts” as well as learning and then being required to state and explain the time signature (remember 3/4 and 4/4 and 6/8 time?) as well as the key signature. I always thought we had superior musical training even though not everyone in the school took music lessons from the Sisters. I remember in seventh and eight grades that Sister Elizabeth (Brady) came into the room to teach the music lessons. Our regular classroom teacher must have covered her classes for her.

    I also remember learning about chants, and the four-line staff, with the “dotted punctum” note and the small key in the line to find the note on the next line. The Sisters were also very good at dividing the classroom by rows to arrange for two part or three part singing as well as singing in rounds.

    Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane some 50 years after graduation from All Saints.

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