Paul Inwood writes up nine “healthy” pre-liturgy practices he has noticed. I’d like to peel out number 2, the warm-up.
Three minutes before the starting time, the cantor does a brief (one-minute) warm-up, preparing the assembly to celebrate, followed by silence for reflection.
This is one practice I wish I could avoid totally. I don’t know why. Yes, I’m an introvert, but that’s less a public persona and more a realization of where I draw energy and have it drained. I suppose I wish new music would arise organically from an assembly of music-reading people.
And yet it is an act of courtesy to the assembly. 99% of the time we fail to prepare the assembly to celebrate. This means we are treating them as passive spectators instead of active participants. To participate actively, you need to know what is going on. The brief “warm-up” (a better expression than “rehearsal”, which can imply an overemphasis on performance or a “teaching” environment”) tries to give people a simple way-in to the celebration by running through one or more of the items that will be sung during the liturgy, ensuring that there will be some familiarity when they actually encounter that singing later on.
I do think the “warm-up” is necessary for the five to ten times a year when new music has been prepared. On the other hand, I think Mr Inwood exaggerates the 99%. “We” don’t always need to prepare the assembly. Many people come already prepared to celebrate the liturgy.
The other thing: we can call it a warm-up, but I don’t mind “rehearsal” as a term. The main thing is that this whatchamacallit be rehearsed by the cantor and the choir as well. In my recent adventures with teaching a new Mass setting, I prepared the music ministry and did exactly what I planned at the end of the pre-Mass warm-up with them. They knew to be prepared to sing along with the other people.
Let me reiterate that point: any rehearsal with the assembly really must be planned and choreographed to make maximum use of a minimum of time.