I’ll confess upfront I’ve accompanied or overseen the accompaniment of the Exsultet a number of times. I have no hesitation doing it. Last year, two singers shared it, accompanied slightly. It was better that way, given the resources and abilities I had at hand.
I’ve also had fine singers who can carry the piece unaccompanied. Usually, such a singer is experienced with plainsong, and is aware that such a performance is demanding on a musician. If priests or deacons who are otherwise not regular singers wish to attempt it, my hat is off to them.
It is better to do it well than to do it poorly, and if organ or even piano or guitar help, there is nothing substantive in the Roman Missal that forbids it. The huffing and puffing is decidedly unhelpful, because the point of the piece is to communicate the text as an act of worship.
Experienced music directors know that when they wander off the book, so to speak, they will likely be thrust on their own resources. The original poster would have done better to go to NPM rather than CMAA.
More entertaining than the idea of putting chords or notes under a singer is the predictable reaction of folks on the thread. And the reaction of the original poster, Charles W:
Now back to the normal forum tongue-clucking and finger wagging about 19th-century Russia. No wonder newbies who ask questions here never come back.
And one sympathetic and helpful ear:
If anyone doesn’t like the idea that this is happening, perhaps Charles can furnish them with a rectory address to which they can mail their arguments. Otherwise they would be better off not visiting the thread, to avoid getting their knickers in a twist. Personally I don’t intend to return to it, to avoid getting drawn into a neverending argument with others equally as stubborn as I am.
I shared with my wife a few days ago that I’m winding down my efforts on blogging. She seemed surprised. And surprisingly, sad on my behalf.
Last night she probed a bit on the point before we went to sleep. She asked why I began blogging–was it to follow the crowd in what was then a “popular” endeavor? I think my delay was in thinking two things: one, that it had already jumped the shark in 2003 and two, I was already way late to the game.
I was also thinking about that cartoon, linked above. On the other hand, the internet provides a communications medium for many people who otherwise would find themselves adrift professionally or socially. Twenty years ago, somebody wrestling with the idea of accompanying the Exsultet would pick up the phone and call a mentor or nearby veteran music director. The meme “that shouldn’t be done” would likely be minimized or avoided because of courtesy or a knowing nod about the priest’s abilities as a singer.
That this kind of thing happens less often online is another example of something being “wrong” on the internet. Persistence isn’t likely to help. But shining a bright light on it might mean the next smackdown will be slightly more gentle.