I had a nice conversation with Charles yesterday, welcoming me to the Pacific coast and all. I’m still trying to get a handle on the physical reality of being two and three time zones away from my family and old friends.
Anyway, speaking with my melofluent California friend brought to mind the CMAA forum. I don’t surf there regularly, but I did find an interesting thread-starter:
I am working with a couple on choosing music for their wedding. I have sent them the guidelines for choosing music and here is the response:I think we are confused about everything we need to choose… isn’t there something easier to follow that just lists the order of the mass by music- what is sung, by whom and what choice we need to make and what type of song it is? I feel like what is provided by the church is not clear at all. Of course we know in general, but having never had to plan the music in whole ourselves we are missing pieces and need guidance.
Now, before anyone accuses me of arrogance or any number of other sins, please be assured that this couple will receive clear guidance in getting the music right for their wedding (even in the vernacular if they so desire!) It won’t be from any book or encyclical or church document, but from yours truly, sitting with them, and patiently steering them through the mass confusion (pun intended). This is very telling, and amusing… but Very, Very, Very, Very sad that the Church is in this predicament.
I confess I don’t get the sad with repeated adverbs.
First, it would never be my practice to send or hand out guidelines in advance of a face-to-faces meeting (groom and bride together; mothers optional in the second row). Most parish guildeines are partly written in churchspeak, and I don’t assume that even a dedicated choir member would want to communicate in that language.
Second, I think the clear guidance offered by francis on his CMAA posting is great. It needs to be a personal walk-through–an accompaniment, if you will. A wedding musician needs to accompany more than the wedding singer. The first and more vital accompaniment is with the engaged couple. We church musicians can be well-prepared to offer a support just as artistic as that we give for our very favorite pieces.
When I meet with couples, I pray with them, and I offer every means of encouragement. But no handouts. I present that they have chosen a church wedding (for whatever reason) and that this implies an act of worship. Good guidance follows from there. Perhaps the impulse to choose a song about human love is good, but the particular repertoire is … unsteady. Where can I direct them to steady ground, I ask.
I certainly wouldn’t get into a diatribe:
It is the telling truth about the “diabolical disorientation” which the Roman Catholic Church finds herself to be in. We are in the ultimate predicament: Pandora’s box was opened with VII (well, at least with the results of those who spun it out!), and this is proof positive that we are spinning around in the tornado of confusion, one that will not end until we obey heaven.
This is just sillytalk. Vatican II and weddings mean planning can’t be passed on to a white list and a black list, check the right list, please. It means that musicians (who take themselves seriously as a minister of music) were going to need to enter into an accompaniment, and as a minister. And if a musician is unwilling to be a minister, I don’t get the concern about diabolics–stick to good music on your list, out of your mouth, or whatever.
Over the years, I’ve found couples much more willing to take my good advice. They seem receptive to the idea of a church wedding as an act of worship. Does their faith register a 1 or a 2 or even a 9? Who cares? They all deserve careful, patient guidance, with an eye on evangelization where needed.
My perspective: no tornado. Not even gray skies. Just three people walking together trying to get to a good place in one piece.