Darn That Dream

It’s been a long time since I perused ads for parish music positions. What do you make of this dream job I saw advertised at the Musica Sacra Forum:

(Church) is looking for an organist and assistant in sacred music. Applicants should have a working knowledge of Gregorian chant and polyphony. The position would include playing at the 5:00 Saturday Vigil Mass and the 11:00 Sunday morning Mass, and Monday night choir rehearsals. There is potential for training children in the parish to play the organ, and possibly forming an adult schola.

This could be a full-time position depending on whether the applicant can help fulfill other jobs in the parish such as bookkeeping, youth ministry, catechesis, or helping with the parish school of religion program. There is a possibility for free housing.

What, no groundskeeping, RCIA, or soccer coaching? What about personal chef or housekeeper at the rectory?

I confess I’m surprised that CMAA would publish this. It must be a truly desperate time for chant and polyphony to lower professional standards in such a way. I can’t imagine that the AGO or NPM would ever print an ad like this, even for pay.

In some ways, it continues a lamentable tradition in sacred music. Women religious housed at the parish convent might be browbeaten into performing any number of odd and assorted tasks for the pastor. I’m sure that somewhere, it went something like this:

6:00 pray
7:00 cook the pastor’s breakfast
8:00 traffic control in the school parking lot
9:00 music lessons
10:00 play the Requiem Mass
11:00 fix school lunches
12:00 lunch
12:05 recess duty
1:00 teach math
3:00 bookkeeping
4:00 cook the pastor’s dinner
5:55 dinner
6:00 do the pastor’s laundry
7:00 choir practice
9:00 darning socks when nobody’s there

And what would the pastor care?

Is reform2 so desperate for the publicity and placements that they will  promote to their readers a return to the days when it wasn’t enough to be a church musician? Is it too much to dream of a church where musicians could be free to offer their art without distraction? Or is the rest of this: bookkeeping, teaching, maintenance work so much a part of tradition that we have to hold on to it, and insist others do so as well?

We’re probably all in agreement that these multi-faceted positions are a bad idea. Is it a good idea for professional organizations to promote them? Or do we say, “Sorry, Father. The Church is against human trafficking.”


About catholicsensibility

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