Musical Introductions

When in a new parish, watch and learn. One thing I watch, especially when I’m not accompanying, is the people in the pews. How long do they take to find the music? Many church musicians play intros that are way too brief. In my new parish, I think the intros are generally too short, but they’re not too far off. It’s easy to be robotic about it: never think about the issue and do as one has always done.

For communicating music for the people to sing, there are really four choices, unless the community is somehow clairvoyant. Most places have a music minister announce page or number and title. People then pick up hymnals or missals, page through the book, and get ready to sing. How long does it take? My guess is between eight and fifteen seconds. If your parish has more than one worship book in the pews, add a few seconds.

We’ve had some discussions about omitting that verbal announcement. That was the plan in my Kansas City parish, with new hymn boards built for us. It would be my preference. In those cases, the musicians would simply start playing the music. Accompanists should add another few seconds to give people the opportunity to check the board.

Some places print a weekly worship bulletin. A superior choice in many ways. Still, add an extra second to put down or juggle the sheet and pick up the book.

Some few parishes provide the music and text, either through a projection device or by purchasing the right to duplicate music. Shorter intros here are fine, obviously.

What happens in your parish? Why?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Musical Introductions

  1. Fran says:

    Greetings – just found your blog and very happily so.

    I have been in my parish intermittently (due to a move from one city to another)for about 4 years, involved for 18 months and finally living here full time for 10 months.

    When I first came here I was astounded… People sang! Where I was before, nary a sound passed through the lips of anyone save the cantor or the choir.

    The parish was using Glory and Praise II at that point.

    We have migrated over to a worship aid of published music for each week. Some folks like that, others do not. (I do.)

    As a non-musician I never thought about the impact of the intro length. Interesting.

    Anyway, thanks for this thought provoking post.


  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    In my parish, all music that the congregation is expected to sing (in mine that is a lot!) the words, and in many cases the melody line, are printed on an insert in the bulletin. We don’t resort to hymnals, jumbotrons or notice boards.

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