Jeffrey Tucker asks a good question:
Should people confront musicians who wreck the Mass, however inadvertently they do this?
If you ask me, I’m inclined to hold my tongue, unless I think I can make a difference.
When I was much younger, my inclination was to be more confronting. When a good music director I knew and respected was unjustly fired, I suggested we (the local gathering of musicians) blacklist the pastor and his parish. Calmer heads prevailed. Fortunately.
When a diocese I worked in slashed the liturgy budget by two-thirds and expected the diocesan commission to pick up the slack, I told the vicar general it would be a better use of the remaining funding to just give it to the poor, dispensing with the illusion that liturgy was any sort of priority in the diocese.
When I’m on the road these days, I usually offer a word to the musicians. I thank them, at minimum. If there’s something good to say, I try to be specific.
The musicians in my own parish are my responsibility, more or less, via our five music directors. Giving good example and emphasizing certain principles (minimal announcements, taking time between readings and psalms) and carefully explaining liturgical law and custom seem to work.
Getting back to the question, I see it as a classic reaction or action dilemma. One might react to particularly bad liturgy when it annoys or infuriates. And usually, one cannot be sure of the result. It might be that the pastor has insisted on something, so criticism could be seen as undermining his authority. If you’re hundreds of miles from home, you might hand out a business card, but otherwise people won’t have any idea who you are.
This is why I’ve chosen the action route: the hermeneutic of addition, if you will. For the past twenty-five years I’ve volunteered in my diocese of residence to do workshops. I’ve been part of the active membership in the local NPM chapter, or its equivalent. I play for diocesan events, and people in other parishes know who I am. Occasionally, they come to me for input.
This was the example I noted from church musicians when I was first getting involved in liturgy back in my twenties: dedicated parish musicians who did workshops at my parishes, who played and sang for the Chrism Mass and other diocesan events, and who were mentors and guides for others. Be like them, was the message I got.
The question about church music is not only about not-wrecking the Mass, but building up the Church one bit at a time. That sort of work is just as important (I would say more so) than critiquing one’s worship hosts about over-amplifying voices or substituting words in the Gloria or other offenses. Once people know who you are, they are willing to accept not only yours words of praise, but suggestions for improvement.
The prime example of what not to do to expect results is to imitate my exchanges on traditionalist-leaning sites.