The Armchair Liturgist: Choir Summer Vacations

armchair1.jpgIn some parishes, it is a custom to give the choir the summer off. I had one choir that was chased from the church because the pastor didn’t want to use AC, and we had no rehearsal room. It was determined we could practice in people’s homes over the summer. The choir enjoyed it so much, they never went back to church … except on weekends.

So … have a seat in the purple chair and assume your singers and musicians want the summer off. Do you slot cantors to replace the group? Do you recruit a summer choir, even though that might be significant recruiting and some rehearsal? Talk your singers into a once-a-month thing and try the carrot approach of a cookout or a softball game or something?

Any good ideas out there?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Choir Summer Vacations

  1. Gavin says:

    I prefer to give the choir the summer off. If there’s a big Mass (Ascension, I think) in the summer, I will arrange an occasional group. I also tend to use organ voluntaries at offertory and communion much more often in the summer.

    I’ve SUGGESTED to priests that they could make summer less of a “down time” by keeping a minimum level of chanting in the Mass (preface dialog, Pater, dismissal) but that usually falls on deaf ears.

  2. Liam says:

    Well, in New England, many big old brick or stone churches are not air conditioned (that, btw, could be considered environmentally thrifty by some), and some have their windows sealed to save on heating oil in the colder half of the year.

    In those situations, singing can present a health risk for anyone on a medication combo that makes them sweat easily – medications that did not exist in former ages. Both in choirs and in the congregation.

    So, it is much more common around here for choirs to have the summer off, with cantors scheduled for one or two of the Masses.

  3. Well, we’re in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Normative average temps 90-110F June-Sept.
    We cease rehearsals after Corpus Christi. However, schola and ensemble still “show up” on Sundays, including when my wife and I are on Vacation (next Sunday, yay.) Both groups have been together 15+ years, so we have plenty of repertoire accumulated over the years that we can call up with a brief pre-Mass run through. For example, we’ll use Proulx’s THAXTED today.
    Keeping a choir going on Summer Sundays also can be a “homecoming” situation for college kids who’ve sung with us prior to their going away; or a welcoming for visitors who sing or new, potential volunteer members.

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    Our summers never get very hot in the SF Bay Area, but we still give our choir 3 months off. The return on the first Sunday of September. Let’s be practical: with vacations and all, fielding an adequate choir might be difficult. Ours is a small parish with not much “bench strength” to draw from. We use soloists and, because our parish is so used to singing and singing well, we almost don’t miss the choir.

  5. “Jimmy Mac, when are you coming back…”
    Couldn’ resist, sorry.

    Hey, where ya from up north? I spent about 18 years doing music in Oakland Diocese before moving south in ’87.

  6. Tony says:

    In our parish, summers off were the idea of the Choir Director / Organist. Her summers were busy with weddings (in addition to the unplanned funerals, etc.

    It was more for her benefit than ours. We would have been happy to sing year round.

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