Thinking of Resigning
  • What would you say to the following email from your Pastor?

    I wish you would have checked this with me prior to sending out. Couple of issues.

    1) We won’t have music on Nov 1 for All Saints Mass.
    2) Evening Mass for Nov. 1 is All Souls not All Saints. This should be clear with the musicians.
    3) I thought I made it clear I don’t want Latin music. This applies to meditation music as well. Our congregation does not know Latin and even if they don’t sing it they need to know the words. The meditation song is an excellent way to introduce the congregation to new music. I suggest an Advent hymn. Please change the meditation song for Advent.
    4) Please remind the choir that music books change Nov. 28. Your song numbers for First Sunday of Advent reflect the 2014 Music Issue. They should be from 2015.
    5) When introducing a new song to the congregation I want the cantor to be able to know it, sing it well and lead people strongly. This was not the case this weekend with ****. Also, the song was hard to keep up with if played at a upbeat tempo. I would like to discuss your choice of songs to introduce to the congregation. I don’t know your rationale. My concern is that it doesn’t seem to fit my number one priority – congregational singing.

    Thank you.

    Name removed to protect the innocent.

    I was completely blindsided by this. I had a meeting with him on Saturday and everything seemed ok, but then I send out the music list for November, and I get this in reply.

    Here's the list for November, so you can see what I've selected.

    Song List for November
    Solemnity of All Saints (1 November 2014)
    Entrance: Sing A New Song (567)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24 R/A p. 142
    Alleluia: NO V. R/A p. 143
    Offertory: Eye Has Not Seen (463)
    Communion: Blest Are They (631)
    Recessional: For All The Saints (729)
    NOTES: Teach Psalm 130: Out of the Depths (820)

    Commemoration of All Souls (2 November 2014)
    Entrance: I Sing The Mighty Power of God (424)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23 R/A p. 144
    Alleluia: NO V. R/A p. 145
    Offertory: Now We Remain (512)
    Communion: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (466)
    Recessional: Holy Holy Holy! (23)
    NOTES: Teach Psalm 130: Out of the Depths (820)

    Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome (9 November 2014)
    Entrance: Glory and Praise to Our God (542)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 46 R/A p. 146
    Alleluia: NO. VII R/A p. 147
    Offertory: God We Praise You (40)
    Communion: All People That On Earth Do Dwell (313)
    Recessional: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You (548)
    NOTES: Teach Psalm 130: Out of the Depths (820)

    33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (16 November 2014)
    Entrance: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (478)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128 R/A p.148
    Alleluia: NO. VI p. 149
    Offertory: Psalm 130: Out of the Depths (820)
    Communion: Take and Eat (630)
    Recessional: I Sing the Mighty Power of God (424)
    NOTES: Teach Psalm 25: To You O Lord (757)

    Christ the King (23 November 2014)
    Entrance: Crown Him With Many Crowns (740)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23 R/A p. 150
    Alleluia: NO. VI R/A p. 151
    Offertory: Seek Ye First (429)
    Communion: Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (741)
    Meditation: The King of Love My Shepherd Is (CP 468)
    Recessional: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You (548)
    NOTES: Choir begins again at this Mass. Teach Psalm 25: To You O Lord (757)

    1st Week of Advent (30 November 2014)
    Entrance: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (20)
    Kyrie: Mass of Renewal
    Responsorial Psalm:
    Offertory: Psalm 25: To You O Lord (757)
    Communion: Take and Eat (360)
    Meditation: Ad Te Levavi (SEP p. 1-2)
    Recessional: I Sing The Mighty Power of God (424)
    NOTES: Throughout Advent, the Gloria is omitted, and the Kyrie will be sung. We will continue to use the Mass of Renewal. Teach Psalm 25: To You, O Lord (757)

    Sorry for the length, but I wanted you guys to have the information. What are your thoughts?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    Does it pay well? Do you have a family? Can you easily relocate? Are there other openings in your area? Is he usually as abusive as that email sounds like, or was he just having a bad day?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,695
    Been there, done that. If you want to keep your job, just become the piano player (and the guitar player). It's hard to swallow your pride, but that's the way it goes. Intimidation and usurping your responsibilities is the first way that people will try to push you out. You can stay and do everything they say, or you can leave. The choice is yours. I would try to stay and actively look for another position under the radar.
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 333
    Just so I'm clear, out of all these Sundays you're doing exactly one thing in Latin, right?
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • daniel
    Posts: 75
    I don't know if you want to engage in a "fight", but I don't think the official Church documents on music state congregational singing as the first priority. If it's not the first priority for the Church, it shouldn't be for him, either. I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
  • Ignoto
    Posts: 126
    Meditation: Ad Te Levavi (SEP p. 1-2)

    If it's from SEP, it's in English, right? :-Þ It sounds like he noted the Latin title. Maybe if there is a next time, you could call it "Unto you have I lifted up my soul" since that is what would be sung. (Unless he considers SEP to be "Latin Music.")

    If you're considering the "meditation" category to be post-Communion, your pastor might be referring to GIRM #88. GIRM #88 says, "If desired, a Psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole congregation."
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    He could bring that up to the pastor, but all that will do is hasten his exit.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • There are times
    (too many times, actually)
    when one scratches one's head
    to perceive certain priests as an alter Christus.
    This is one of them.

    (It is worthy of note that the Church in council, in documents, and through successive popes has stressed, insisted, commended and commanded that Latin be a living part of the liturgical praxis of the faithful thoughout the world. These are the highest authorities in the Church. Authority to contradict them and obstruct their intent does not exist. Priests (and bishops) such as this are not acting with any authority at all: they are acting with usurped, self delegated, power and imposing their personal agendas upon that of the Church. Their unfortunate flocks are the losers.)
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Gavin ryand
  • @Ignoto: he really doesn't want ANYTHING in the Meditation category. The only reason we even do choral songs at that time is because the practice predated him as Pastor (he's only been there three years). It feel that he doesn't want ANY music that's not sung by cantor/congregation.

    @Daniel: you're correct, as the congregational singing the Church documents refer to are the first level type: sung responses between priest and people. This, of course, doesn't happen at this church.

    Also, to be completely clear: we have congregational singing at this church. They sing like birds, especially on hymns they know, and the ordinary, hence the emphasis on teaching. My take is that if there are people singing the hymns and people singing the ordinary, you have congregational singing.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    This does sound bad. I hope you have some other options lined up.
  • I'm less concerned with what the priest said, content-wise, than with the tone he struck, which is unbecoming any priest. Really, that email has the feel of larger issues being expressed via less important issues (oh noes! you scheduled music for All Saints' Day! get me my fainting couch!). He may not have intended it that way, and maybe he just had a bad day, but he certainly communicated a lot more to you than the text of the email, and you're right to be wary.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    Low Mass on All Saints? Seems pretty stark..

    Some people just don't know how to send business emails though - if you had a good in person meeting with him over the weekend, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Ditto what Matthew said. Emails are not where everybody shines.

    Most of these suggestions can be taken as clarifications and legitimate supervision. I don't know why he is being so abrupt--that to me is the big issue here, and there may well be a non-threatening reason.
  • I am uncomfortable with this and other recent threads which share an ongoing conversation between priest and employee... although, ClergetK at least your name is disguised. I'm just not sure a national forum is the right place to air such discussions.

    That said, since 99% of your lineup is congregational in nature and the one "latin" piece is actually in English, it seems like a quick meeting could clear all this up. A ban on Latin is also not necessarily the kiss of death - I had that imposed on me at one parish, so I went with good English rep for a while, then gradually used "greatest hits" such as Mozart Ave Verum and Panis Angelicus. And then other settings of Ave Verum (Elgar, Gounod, Byrd), and my takeaway was that pastor didn't mind Latin at all as long as it was a beautiful choral setting sung well. What they might actually mean is a ban on chant, or a ban on music that is not immediately "pretty." Not saying I agree, but there are work-arounds. End of story at that parish - after 2 years, I assembled a diocesan choir and we sang the Durufle Requiem for All Souls' Mass. And the pastor came up to me with distinctly moist eyes and said "you can do that again anytime you want".

    Of course, this email you sent might just be the tip of the iceberg, but maybe a discussion could be fruitful, as he is asking.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I agree that the provincial mindset reflected in the email was ill-conceived. (Think before hitting "enter," advice I often fail to follow.)
    I hope many of us read Fritz's detailed review of visits to REBUILT Nativity Church in Baltimore over at PTB. Haven't we all been to a mega church, an NPM plenum, a LifeTeen or Youth Ministry Mass, or (argghh) LAREC where some Mahngrisanuban syncopa is performed by twenty electrified guitarists, keyboardists, singers and a caged fighterpercussionist, and no one, NOT A MUMBLIN' SOUL in the "assembly" had an open mouth evident?
    Is that meditation? A hymn of thanksgiving after Communion? A choir fulfilling its role as defined in the GIRM?
    CK, I still say give 'em the Byrd.
  • Low Mass on All Saints? Seems pretty stark..

    If dealing with a difficult DM and what may be a complaining congregation is the situation, the priest has a right to make these decisions.

    Really, those of us who insist on High Mass all the time can be viewed as "It's all about me." people by others. The importance is the Mass. Music merely adorns it. When it is a hindrance, it is and should be easily discarded.

    We sleep in the beds we make...and are given. There was no way that I could stay at the last job, same complaints...singing Latin was banned during Mass but he told me to sing all the Latin I liked before and after mass - he was responding to complaints and himself did not care.
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    I must disagree... Music is an integral part of the Mass, and low Masses are simply a stripped down version of the High Mass, for use when music is not available or possible. Obviously, the important part is the Mass itself, but music does not merely adorn it, but an important part. The ideal is for the Mass itself to be sung.
  • Where is the place to fund a project that would develop a medicine for Latin allergy? Clearly this priest or those who influence him suffer greatly from the disease.
    A Latin allergy pill, that's where my money will go. It could be part of an "all things Catholic" line of meds to assist those who get inexplicably twitchy over overtly Catholic things like Latin, chant, beautiful and doctrinally rich hymns, incense, vestments with less than 50% polyester, tabernacles where you can see 'em, stained glass windows, statuary, etc.

    My advice is to meet with the pastor, truly listen, see what can be done in good faith, and quietly look for another job. Never hurts to have options. You've got my prayers, and I can sympathize, having been in a very similar situation.

    I'm wondering why there wasn't a calendar meeting about All Saints Day. Without one, I think any MD would assume music would be required.

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Kathy
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    I wonder what the fuss is about for All Saints Day. It is not a day of "obligation" - hate that Latin mindset. We are having only the two morning OF masses like we would have any other weekday. I agree it is still a holy day, but not binding or requiring a major celebration. With All Souls on Sunday, our efforts will go there this year.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,167
    If the Ordo for your diocese says that the Saturday evening Mass is for All Souls this year, he's just correct, so we can give him credit for that.

    A lot of MDs do give their pastor advance notice of the selections you want to make, so there's an opportunity for him to exercise any vetoes or make requests. Would doing that help ClergetK smooth over this bump in the relationship?

  • Chonak, I used to do that, but there were so many objections that he told me it was taking up too much of his time, and told me to get a mentor.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    Seriously? My earlier advice stands...although I'll add that you should feel a sense of urgency about it.
  • Music is an integral part of the Mass,

    We've differed on this before. I don't see any support for this view in the documents...but I could have missed something, Ben. What are your supporting documents?

    told me to get a mentor.

    And did you? This does show an element of concern.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,167
    I'm not surprised that the All Saints Day Mass (presumably on Saturday morning) is to be spoken. Without the Holy Day obligation, it's just one more Solemnity, and most parishes do nothing special for weekday Solemnities like St Joseph, or Annunciation, or Peter 'n' Paul. That's not the liturgical ideal, but it's very common practice.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    Without the Holy Day obligation, it's just one more Solemnity, and most parishes do nothing special for weekday Solemnities like St Joseph, or Annunciation, or Peter 'n' Paul. That's not the liturgical ideal, but it's very common practice.

    Also, in many parishes it's the spread-thin and over-committed musicians with not enough resources to cover everything at the high mass level.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,472
    Most of us have been in this position. I think what most are saying is: 1. Don't resign now. Work for peace and understanding while you actively look for other positions. The worst position to be in, is to resign and then go to the next interview having to explain why you resigned. It's MUCH MUCH better to interview for a job while you are still employed. 2. It often does not help to try and reason with someone like this - they do not want to be confused by the facts. But be patient, listen and cooperate, because that's what you have to do right now.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,472
    Oh, and I might add, TELL NO ONE at your parish that you are looking. Do not commiserate with the choir or anyone.
  • Noel, I asked around and received no solid commitments to being a mentor. People are always willing to help me solve problems, but I have to know they exist so I can seek advice in a timely manner. Nobody can sit and look over my shoulder as I plan. Even if they did, what would they be looking for? Liturgical appropriateness? Meeting Sunday/feast day themes? Finding songs that meet that ever used "singable" criteria? Does my degree in music education and three years experience teaching children to sing, and planning music programs not count for anything at all? They would ask as I would "what does Fr want?" I could easily ask him this and do as he asks without all the trouble of securing a mentor and wasting someone else's time. Before its suggested, I have had this discussion, hence he mentions that he clearly stated "no Latin" which he has. Since then, I have complied and not done any Latin, even for just the choir. The congregation is exposed to absolutely no Latin. All this with no explanation, other than "they can't understand it" which I would only be argumentative if I pressed the issue, such as they can be taught. I've worked very hard to give Fr what he says he wants and also incorporate as much good music as I can, but emails such as the above happen every other month or so when I send out the music planner, and always immediately after I send the planner. I even have a list of songs that the congregation can sing well, so that I can always put something in the list that they can sing, which complies with his priority of congregational singing, even though we already have robust cong singing anyway. I'm frustrated because I feel like he doesn't trust me to do the job, he doesn't support my decisions, and he doesn't communicate what he wants very well.

    Ghmus, that is sound advice.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    he doesn't trust me to do the job, he doesn't support my decisions, and he doesn't communicate what he wants very well.

    Yep, sounds like a priest to me! LOL.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,298
    told me to get a mentor.

    Be careful what you wish for -- your mentor might actually like and appreciate the musical tradition of the Catholic Church.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    Your mentor can like and appreciate the musical tradition of the Catholic Church, but should also realize your desires/needs (like paying rent, feeding your family, dancing in the street, etc). He/she can give you advice that tries to help you keep your job, your ethics/professional desires, and reach your dreams.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,298
    Agreed, @matthewj.

    Snark aside, it is profoundly important to keep a roof over your family's heads. Don't quit until you find another job. @ghmus7 is correct when he says that it is much better to interview for a job while you still have one. It's an unfortunate truth, but it's the way the world works.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,218
    Noel, SC has the following in Chapter 6:

    112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

    The Latin is " integralis..."
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    worry not, do pray,

  • But you must first define Solemn Liturgy...which is not an umbrella term for "saying Mass".
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,159
    ... it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

    The Latin is " integralis..."

    Good grief, integration by parts? ... ∫u dv = uv - ∫ v du. Try making (musical or liturgical) sense out of that!
    Thanked by 1Arthur Connick
  • It makes this church musician profoundly sad when we are asked to avoid that which we know to be beautiful and sustaining, and that which the wider church embraces. It starts to feel like a conflict of loyalty- who do I obey??? Is there a mini pope in every parish?

    I know, it's just the most recent ecclesiastical identity crisis playing out, and very few people are of ill will. I've had to remind myself of that often to keep my sanity.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • In the light of several who took exception to it, I must offer reinforcement to Ben's spot on assertion of the inegrality of music to the mass. Nor can I do so strongly enough.
    Music is integral to the mass. It always was until the multitude of mediaeval monk-priests who had to have (each and every last one of them) their own private masses at a plethora of side altars and shrines, which led to the so-called low mass in parishes. Simeon of Thessolonika, writing in the XIIIth century as the Muslim hordes were besieging his city, was one of many who recorded that 'the sung service has been observed from the beginning: nothing [nothing!] has been said in the spoken voice, but all has been sung'. It takes a clever and facetious imagination to deny that the totally sung mass was what the recent council envisioned as normative. It needs to be said yet again that singing the mass is not adding something to it. Saying the mass, or any part of it, is taking something away from it, denuding it. Our Orthodox brethren to this day know nothing but of totally sung liturgy, and we in the west knew nothing but that until the mediaeval private mass practice unfortunately infected the whole Church. Spoken liturgy is, in the light of all human worship, a bizarre aberration peculiar to western Christianity, Protestant and Catholic alike. Jesus, our Lord, would never have known anything other than chanted and cantillated temple worship. Even when, at the age of twelve, he himself read the scriptures and expounded on them to the assembled rabbis, he would have delivered it in some manner of sung speech, or chant-cantillation, because of the profound holiness of the scriptures to Jews of that time. No one would have dared the blasphemy of merely speaking holy writ. Ditto the worship of God. Spoken liturgy is weird. I am amazed that there are people who don't seem to be embarrassed by practicing it.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,167
    Noel was right on target in his opening line:
    Really, those of us who insist on High Mass all the time can be viewed as "It's all about me." people by others.

    Even though we know that the liturgical ideal is the fully sung Mass, many people have the attitude he cites.

    Maybe that's another aspect of the distinction between "Benedictine" and "Jesuit" attitudes toward the liturgy, so much discussed recently by Dom Mark Kirby, by Peter Kwasniewski, by Fr. Christopher Smith, etc., in articles on Chant Café, on NLM, and elsewhere.
    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    That low mass development was an aberration, to begin with. The model in both East and West was concelebration, not individual masses, even in the monasteries. What the logic behind it was is beyond me. I usually blame the Scholastics for anything odd, but I don't know if they were behind low masses or not. The sung mass was and is the historical norm with all else being a more recent deviation. I have heard the argument that if one mass is good, then five thousand are better. That really does sound like something those worried about how many angels could dance on a pinhead would come up with.
  • Here is my intended point-by-point reply to his email. Question 5 was particularly difficult to come up with a tactful, professional response to, but I think I did ok. Let me know what you think. I have not sent this yet, and probably won't until I edit it significantly. Again, names removed to protect the innocent.

    1. I can inform the musicians that for All Saints we will not have music for that Mass. I have already informed the cantors that it is only the weekday Mass on Saturday. My apologies, but after our conversation I thought it was still ok to have music, and that I would be finding musicians to cover.

    2. I have already discussed that with ****, and a subsequent email is going to go out when I can compose it.

    3. The song only has a Latin title. It will be sung in English. The abbreviation SEP stands for "Simple English Propers" and is the Proper of the Mass set in chant style to English words. The congregation will be able to understand what is being sung.

    4. My apologies as I was unaware of when the music issues would be changed out in the pews. I will correct the list.

    5. When I choose hymns for Mass, I consider the message and/or theme of each Sunday. The Proper of the Mass has many insights to this, as they were intended to be sung at the same times that we currently sing our hymns, and the texts are always appropriate to the day because they were provided by the Church for each given Sunday and Feast Day. For Entrance and Recessional, I generally don't worry too much about it, because it's technically outside of Mass, and the Recessional was never part of the Proper of the Mass to begin with. I always consult the list of hymns that I created using resources provided by ****, consultations with **** and other cantors/musicians, conversations/questions answered by **** regarding previous practice, and my own experience of what this congregation has sung before. As for selecting new songs to teach, sometimes we do not have a hymn that the congregation already knows that will work for a given Sunday, as the themes are not always something commonly covered in congregational hymnody, especially the more popular ones that many people already know from the past. As I am planning far enough ahead, I can foresee when we will need to learn a new hymn for this reason, and I put it on the schedule well enough in advance to teach it to the congregation so that when the time comes to sing it at Mass, they can participate. As for who teaches the music, this may have to be a separate discussion on who is permitted to fill the role of cantor at our church.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,218
    "Pars" is the singular and "integralis" is its modifier.

    It must be a challenge to dance on the head of that 'what's a solemn liturgy?' pin, by the way. We call it 'the Mass.' (It may also include LOH.)
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    It sounds like he's the type who would like you to say you first consider if the people know it well/enjoy it (the hymns). You might want to consider saying that first just to defuse tension.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Is there a mini pope Moses with tablets (most likely iPads) in every parish?

    Answer: Why, yes, of course. Silly wabbit.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    Sometimes less is more when it comes to emails... or just have this conversation in person.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood BruceL
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Emails are much less forgiving, therefore more satisfying to the typing perp.
    Conversations just delay the inevitable and require more smiling.
    Plus I can wear my white suit when I email.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    Emailing in a white suit is a great way to spend a day.
  • Jani
    Posts: 441
    Perhaps not a mini pope,, but certainly there is a mini tyrant in every parish.
  • I still say give 'em the Byrd.

    As a musician, I feel like I should have heard this before.

    Nonetheless, HIL. AR. I. OUS.
    Thanked by 2melofluent CHGiffen
  • If I were working as a mentor I would suggest these revisions:

    1. I'll let the musicians know about All Saints/All Souls.

    2. I will work harder to prepare the cantors and, if they are not prepared - have someone else fill in.

    3. I mistakenly listed the Latin title for something that we are singing in English.

    4. I did not realize that the missals began on that day and have passed the word along.

    5. It is sometimes hard for me and other musicians to keep a balance between wanting to teach new hymns that match the theme of the Mass and singing hymns that the people know and sing that are more general.

    Could we meet say, every two months, and go through any new hymns that I think should be taught and sung at Mass? I want you and the people to know and be comfortable singing the hymns and will work with you to choose and use what is suitable.

    Thank you, Father, for taking time to let me know your concerns.