Chant’s Latest Blue Notes

collar-and-noteYou only have to be in church music a few months before you’ll hear a horror story from a colleague, or you’ll be the subject of one yourself. The Recovering Choir Director sums up a story from the Musica Sacra forum.

I’m not sure I agree with Aristotle’s analysis 100%. False advertising from a parish advertising as “traditional and orthodox?” Contrary to what Catholic online Republicans think, those terms do not necessarily describe themselves and only themselves. We have a “catholic” Church, and those terms cover a lot of ground. The RCD is right to urge caution when we hear those two terms. But like it or not, this lingo is all relative.

Aristotle chooses as I would choose. Saturday morning once a month? I wouldn’t take a gig like that. The other curious thing in all this is you have a music teacher, presumably educated and prepared to teach kids. I wouldn’t assume this person has the skill set to play at liturgy. I’ve worked with many brilliant music teachers over the years. Some fit into accompanying liturgy very well. Some didn’t. Maybe this guy didn’t quite have what it takes to make things work on the organ and voice. That’s what the pastor said, according to the teacher, that more “experience with singing and Latin” is needed. Huh. Maybe the priest’s not such a big bad liberal wolf after all. Maybe the teacher’s music was just not up to standard.

My own comments:

Organ at a Saturday 6:30AM Mass? What’s with that? It reminds me of Ed Gutfreund’s song about the folk group getting assigned to 3AM.

The Musica Sacra forum just slays me, especially the comments about participation. Have these people never read the rubrics about who sings what? I’m glad I’m in my parish: gospel acclamation and Mass ordinary sung at every daily Mass. Liturgical priorities, people. And music at the service of the liturgy, not the other way around.

I don’t think I buy the notion of the TLM draining good musicians away from mainstream Catholicism. Pre-conciliar Catholicism had a hard enough time paying musicians as it was. Thanks to skinflint pastors, we have that national collection every December for religious retirement. Parishes with ample resources, the will for good liturgy, and the vision to implement will get the best musicians. An occasional Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning gig? Music teachers, True Believers, and the occasional desperate organist won’t find a very long line to apply.

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About catholicsensibility

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