Advice for that "Young Turk" parochial vicar on working well with liturgical musicians
  • Chrism
    Posts: 809
    I think we have all met this sort of young man, fresh out of seminary (which he entered after high school), biretta on the shelf but dusted regularly, still cries at the name "Benedict", hits refresh on NLM seven times a day. OK, we love this man. And we hear his visions of a bright Catholic liturgical future, and we give him our number. Just in case he ever gets the chance to do what his heart desires...

    ...and he does! The stars are aligned! He has a free day off in three weeks, and the pastor is "not fully opposed"! Here comes the Latin Mass! Who had ever imagined it? The Latin Mass! Coming here! To St. Modernist's! Tell everyone!

    But grace builds on nature, and the good young Father is not only new to working in a church environment, but he has never actually worked a single day in a job in the "real world"...and so we are called upon to prayerfully excuse the following behavior (feel free to add your own):

    * Asking four separate musicians to provide music for a Mass and not telling them about the others he's called...nor giving them clear roles and responsibilities...nor telling them the same message about what he wants for music at the Mass...
    * Not telling the actual Director of Music anything...
    * Switching the Proper of the Mass at the last minute, after we've photocopied and rehearsed all the chants from the Gradual, and the appropriate incidental polyphony, for weeks and weeks and weeks...not to mention the beautiful worship aids we published...
    * Switching from Low to High Mass, and vice versa, again at the last minute, after heavy advertising, without understandable reason (e.g., insecurity about singing, or sudden enthusiasm, rather than sore throat or hot weather)...
    * Cancelling. (Daily) Mass. After heavy advertising. For no good reason. At the last minute. Depriving the faithful (including musicians) of a chance to receive Holy Communion on that day.
    * Asking us to bend a rule...you know, for him...
    * Special requests, at the last minute, for which the choir needs a lot of rehearsal...
    * Scheduling Masses at the last minute, and calling musicians at the last minute...
    * Insatiable demands for liturgy, not noticing the fatigue of the (mostly volunteer) musicians and others...
    * That insecurity about singing...
    * Not thinking about other Latin Mass parishes, thus "dividing forces" unintentionally...
    * Not getting the appropriate permission, in spite of his certainty about how canon law is supposed to work, thus getting Mass cancelled at the last minute...
    * Screwing up, pastorally or politically, and getting reassigned with an air of bad feelings about Latin, thus killing off the program just when it was getting good...

    But the above is pretty negative. (And certainly, much is the fault of the musicians, in not setting expectations, enabling behavior, etc.) But how would you phrase it positively? Because Father Turk just might be lurking here...

  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    Father Dearest needs to learn that, just because he wants something, doesn't mean he's entitled to get what he wants, in the way he wants it. In other words, his ordination didn't change the fact that, with regard to entitlement, he's the same as layfolk.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,454
    We've been fortunate that one of our admirable young Fr. Turks was an organist who was very considerate of the musicians and all involved with special TLM's. Furthermore, he was never too busy to smile and say thank you to the choir after every Mass, which makes such a difference. It's very disheartening if a young priest treats the choir like they're part of the woodwork. One expects better from him somehow, after all he's the *new kid on the block* and ought to realize that a little *networking* and *solidarity-building* could be a useful thing.
  • Father (Turk):

    This is brand new territory for all of us. We'll happily do everything we can to accommodate what you ask -- but some things take more time to accomplish than others. We can't have the organ tuned without calling an organ tuner, who usually isn't sitting on his thumbs. We can't sing in the choir loft until it has been built. To do our best with the music, we need time to learn it.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    Nothing changes quickly in the Catholic church.

    Music programs need to be prepared up to 3 months in advance. Requests should be given with at least 4 weeks notice. Music needs to be properly rehearsed at least 2 weeks in advance.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 987
    What???!!!??? You mean every singer in your choir isn't able to sight sing perfectly and doesn't have perfect pitch???!!!??? I'm shocked! Simply shocked! I tell you! :-)
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,380
    "What are we paying you for then?"

    But seriously, Fr. Turk might be interested to learn that in metropolitan areas like London, Vienna or Boston professionals can be had at a price: I have fond memories of my Anglocatholic apprenticeship at Church of the Advent, where it was usual to learn Dvorak in D, 3 propers, 2 anthems and a 5-hymn sandwich (and sometimes a sequence and/or Te Deum) at a single 45' warmup rehearsal. He should bear in mind that this presumes the choir has none of the additional pastoral goals inherent in semiprofessional ensembles, such as nurturing singers from the parish and training another generation.
    Thanked by 1Chrism