Two or three times a week I surf over to the NLM web page, scroll down through the antics on fussy vestments, EO and the like, and about two or three times a week I find an interesting post. Like Jeffrey Tucker’s “The Church Floor.”
A main drive for carpeting Churches is to reduce the noise level. Not that I find this point very compelling, but there is a sense that not everyone in the whole space should be fundamentally rattled by a dropped hymnal. Is there is a floor surface that minimizes that kind of sound while not absorbing music and the spoken word?
The quick answer is heck, no.
It’s not so much about a book hitting a cushy spot on the floor. And we can’t aim accidents at kneelers, really. If you have a live space, it will conduct sound and spread it well. If you deaden the floors around the pews, well-motivated people will still sing, but their praise production will pretty much die around them. The choir will sound great–if the director has trained them to hold on to their books. The priest will get the best mic in the house, usually. And the Mass as performance piece will be in full flower.
Let’s not forget the single greatest factor in keeping people in large groups relatively mute. They don’t want to be heard. I often hear people, even non-conservatives, bemoan the “loss of reverence” in churches by those chatting away before and after Mass. Hopefully not during.
If a pastor doesn’t want people talking, the best single thing he can do is to rip up the carpet and put in a nice, shiny wood or stone floor. You think previous generations didn’t have things to talk about? Of course they did. But they didn’t want their opinions broadcast through an acoustical gem so every other parishioner could hear.
Also, does anyone know of the best single article on the carpet-in-church question?
Sure, but those reform2 guys aren’t reading progressive liturgy and music journals. Our types were covering this point and advocating uncovering the floors two decades ago at least. Anyway, this is the best single small volume I’ve seen.