Thursday, December 4, 2014
WHEN CATHOLICS DO SING: A BRAGG
Then there are those who want contemporary sounding music (whatever that may be since contemporary is always and continually subject to change). Often this style of music mimics what is trendy in Protestantism's non-denominational churches and considered hip, whatever that means, since for me hip is the Beatles. Often this music is hard for the congregation to sing unless there is some kind of inane refrain they can sing over and over and over again.
I filled in at other parishes recently and found that I could not participate well in what was being sung because it was high and low and in the middle and the key used was not the normal key and the music was completely foreign to me and evidently to the congregation since few participated too.
My experience since becoming a pastor, first in Augusta and now here in Macon is that my parishioners do sing and sing well!
Why is it and what is common between the two parishes I have had since 1991?
1. We use a traditional hymnal (although there might be a few newer Catholic hymns in it and Protestant ones that Catholics now like). In Augusta it was the Worship Hymnal and it was in place almost 20 years until they purchased the newer Worship hymnal. They came to know the repertoire for hymns that are sung and they belt it out. No new hymns or hymnals are constantly being thrown at the congregation (retail run a muck in the Catholic music industry!) The same is true at St. Joseph, we only ask the congregation to sing what is in our hymnal. We now use the St. Michael Hymnal. There are some clunkers in the hymnal but the majority of hymns are singable and Catholic in theology.
2. The parts of the Mass that are sung are the same and newer ones are not instituted. The Gloria we sing is the Gloria Simplex by Proulx. This is the only Gloria we sing for the majority of the year and everyone knows it by heart and we do not need to follow the notes and everyone sings it. We also know (not by heart) the Jubilatio Deo version of the Gloria in Latin and for Easter and Christmas we know the Melodic Gloria which is a refrain version. I have come to dislike it and feel that the Congregation could actually sing the Melodic Gloria straight through without its refrains.
3. For the other parts of the Mass we know the Jubilatio Deo Mass parts in Latin and its English counterpart which is in the new Roman Missal. We sing the Latin version during Lent and the English version during Advent. We also use the Mass of the Great Prophet, The People's Mass and the Mass of Creation. On the organ (at least to me) what some might call more contemporary such as the Mass of Creation sound perfectly traditional to me and everyone joins in singing these parts.
4. We do chant the propers but in plain chant and normally the cantor does it--I would love to develop this more for the congregation.
So the key to Catholics singing is consistency and forming a strong repertoire and keeping the same hymnal, traditional, organ accompaniment for years and years and years!