Some Choir Questions


Somebody from my hometown got the published question of the week in Zenit’s Liturgy Q&A feature. I’m curious about which parish this might be, but here’s the query:

It is my understanding that the choir should be located where visible to the congregation, but not so as to distract from the Mass itself. In our church the organ, organist (and music director) along with the entire choir are up in the sanctuary with the main altar at which Mass is celebrated.

Sounds like a church too narrow and long. You can read Fr McNamara’s reply on the first link, but in a traditionally-shaped church, one of the two long ends, preferably elevated, is the best acoustical location. If this choir uses microphones, this is a doubly bad situation.

The choir dresses in white-cassock style robes with a cloth accessory which is similar to the stole a priest wears when celebrating the liturgy.

Fr McNamara didn’t seem to catch it, but liturgy geeks know the priest’s stole is meant to be worn inside the chasuble, not out. These people don’t look anything like proper presiders.

Second question: What is the proper position for the choir in the entrance procession for Mass, especially on solemn feast days such as Easter and Christmas? Our choir processes in, leading the procession ahead of even the cross bearer, thurifer, acolytes, lectors and celebrants/concelebrants. Is this correct?


How many parishes have choir processions?

I’m not a big fan of choir robes, processions (except for Palm Sunday, Stations, or maybe Corpus Christi), or a music location on this line of sight. But maybe others have different experiences of it.

Oh … and just a note on choir dress. Our parish children’s choir does have a dress code. For most Sunday Masses, the expectation is white top, black pants or skirt. This year’s first practice saw 63 choristers, plus sixteen others signed up, but excused. (One of the choir moms runs the volleyball team and decided to move practice to accommodate her daughter, plus a handful of others.) Sometime soon, I think we’ll break last year’s record of 82.

But I must confess that the only way to accommodate them in our nave is to spread them out from the front-right music area behind the altar. The choir loft is way too small for any group approaching sixty, and our church building, though only twenty years old, isn’t designed for this level of success.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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