Early Music

My old parish has hired my replacement and he’s off to a good start, from what I can tell by the parish web page.

Before I arrived in ’02, this parish agonized over music at the early 7:30 Mass. The pastor who hired me said Christ the King through Baptism of the Lord and the Ninety Days was to be musical. Quietude for the ordinary Sundays.

When new priests and musicians arrive in a parish, there’s the inevitable negotiation from the parishioners who think they can wedge in on something. The new guy’s not buying:

As we journey through this Advent season of change and new beginnings, I thought I would address a question which I have received here at STM, “Why are we singing at 7:30am Mass? The people that go to that Mass just want to get in and get out.”

First of all, let me say that people just “get in and get out” at Starbucks. Mass is a place where we gather together to be with God. The Saint Thomas More parish family is a prayerful and worshiping community. In keeping with that spirit and the new liturgical documents on music in catholic worship “Sing to the Lord” (issued by the USCCB) I would like to share with you directly from the documents why we are singing at 7:30am Mass:

In the Celebration of the Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people whom God has made his own, a royal priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the spotless Victim not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, and so that they may learn to offer themselves.” This is the basis for “full, conscious and active participation“ of the faithful demanded by the very nature of Liturgy.

Singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the Liturgy. The people are encouraged “to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalms antiphons and hymns.” The musical formation of the assembly must be a continuing concern in order to foster full, conscious, and active participation. Sing to the Lord 24, 25, 26

As we continue our Advent journey through song, I will continue to share excerpts from these documents with you.

Go get ’em, Joe.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Early Music

  1. Gavin says:

    That’s is a difficult issue. And be honest: did you really want to provide music at 7:30? I don’t, and I’ll make it a point to never work at a parish that expects me to.

    I’m curious what the new guy’s approach is to introducing singing. I fear he might just dump “the sandwich” on the congregation and then complain endlessly because they don’t sing. I think it would be best to actually FOLLOW THE DOCUMENTS on this one, and start with the sung responses, then the ordinary, then some hymnody. Well, in America one rarely encounters sung responses, but a regularly sung ordinary would be a good place to start, and then have a cantor sing the propers in English. Perhaps have one hymn after Mass, and then when that’s well-embraced, add a hymn at the Entrance and/or offertory.

    The transition from a silent perpetually kneeling congregation to a singing one is the biggest disaster of the liturgical reform. It was so very ham-handedly done, and we’re all paying for it. If only it would have been gradually built up instead of forced on people through guilt and brow-beating!! Best of luck to your replacement.

  2. Todd says:

    If he’s following the pattern I inherited and left, it will be psalm, alleluia, and Eucharistic acclamations with entrance hymn. What’s funny about this is that in my six years, they had twenty-some weeks of singing, and they’re trying to pull the wool over his eyes this is something novel.

    In my new parish the frontier is singing the psalm at daily Mass: already have the EP acclamations, gospel acclamation and opening hymn there. What a relief!

  3. Gavin says:

    That sounds like a winner to me, Todd! What did/would you do about ensembles at an early Mass? Worth it? Don’t want to hold choir rehearsal at 6:45 so people come unprepared? Let someone else handle it? I had this pop up a few times at a former job, where people wanted a choir at the early Mass but I didn’t want people singing without preparation nor frankly did I want to come in at 7:00.

  4. Todd says:

    My last parish had cantor & organ or piano.

    My very first parish had a rotating system: once a month a quartet of songers from the big choir, twice a month a husband and wife team with a pianist, and the other Sunday or two, the only time cantors ever led weekend music at the parish.

    My new parish only has 8:30 and 10:30, and both have small choirs with instruments. It seems to have been a non-issue for years here.

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