Pro Life Mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
  • henry
    Posts: 198
    Did anybody watch this Mass last night? Oh my gosh. The cantor kept waving her arms to invite people to sing. How could anyone sing that music?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    I know better than to watch anything from certain notorious places. Nothing would surprise me.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    Just watched a recording, focussing on the Resposorial Psalm. As a PiP I am curious to know why it is expected that the congregation can join in without prompting, but a choir needs someone standing before them waving their arms. Note that the cantors only raised an arm in a gesture commensurate with such a space, but the choir got full time shepherding.
    But then, ugh, ¿how could anyone sing that music?
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • Hawkins,

    I was wondering when someone would get round to asking the question the way you did: "Why it is expected that the congregation can join in without prompting, but a choir needs someone standing before them waving their arms"?

    I'm inclined to reply with the joke about how many choir directors it takes to change a lightbulb, but I think the answer must be sought elsewhere.

    1) If the melody is that difficult so as to require a cue from a cantor or cantrix, I think it's probably clear that the music isn't suited to singing by congregations. [I'll get to my caveat in a moment]

    2) Choirs are supposed to sing more complicated works. If a choir genuinely needs a director waving his arms around windmill-style, and if the work is a mere Responsorial psalm, either the accompaniment can't give the needed information clearly, the organist is incompetent, or the choir members need more practice.

    Thanked by 1JonathanLC
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    CGZ - most of those in this case. Certainly that accompaniment, on a simulacrum of a piano(?), gave no indication of anything, and neither did the tune.
    Not that I dislike the music of Steve Reich, but I would not want to sing along to it!
  • Oh! that was a Catholic mass? I thought it was some ugly horrid evangelical praise band musak clappy happy TV Copeland-Benny Hinn-TBN showtime special. Bishop Gomez should be ashamed of that so called cathedral, its music and that so called mass.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    For anyone wishing to see all or part of the event, a video recording of the Mass is on-line at

    The first few minutes of the video, before the Mass, included a dance performance at 11:35 into the video.
    The entrance procession starts around 13:30 into the video.
    The first words of the Mass are spoken at 24:30.
    It was immediately followed by introductions for representatives of non-Catholic churches attending the Mass.
    The penitential rite (spoken) began at 27:30.
    A sung "Glory to God" began at 28:33. (The Mass was celebrated on a Saturday evening.)
    The collect was read at 30:45.
    The first reading began at 31:45 (without "A reading from....")
    The psalm was sung at 33:25. The text of the verses appears to be a paraphrase, not taken from the Lectionary or another known approved source.
    The second reading began at 37:25.
    The gospel acclamation began at 39:30.
    The gospel reading began at 41:05.
    The homily began at 44:00 and was completed at 55:00.
    The creed was recited at 55:30.
    The intercessions began at 57:00 and ended at 1:01:50.
    Music for the offertory began at 1:02:30. The offertory ceremonies were lengthy.
    The bishop continued the text of the Mass at 1:11:25.
    The "Holy" began at 1:12:55.
    The Eucharistic Prayer (III) began at 1:14:10.
    The memorial acclamation was sung at 1:16:05.
    The "Amen" began at 1:19:03, and ended at 1:19:48.
    The Our Father was spoken next.
    The Peace began at 1:21:07.
    The "Lamb of God" was sung from 1:22:00 to 1:23:10.
    The Communion of the archbishop and concelebrants followed.
    Music for the communion began at 1:24:12.
    Distribution of Holy Communion ended at 1:37:38.
    There was a minute of silence before the Postcommunion prayer at 1:38:20.
    At 1:39:00, a laywoman made a short expression of thanks to the people present.
    Then the cathedral's lights were dimmed as processions of laypeople brought candles to the sanctuary, leaving them to form an arc around the altar. There was a period of silence for three minutes.
    The pastor of the cathedral parish expressed thanks to participants at 1:53:00.
    The pontifical blessing was at 1:55:00.
    A song began at 1:56:00.

    Thanked by 1JonathanLC
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    Most of the music appears to be from a set of thematic compositions that have been used for this event at the LA cathedral for ten years or more. No wonder they are unfamiliar.
  • Chonak,

    Very helpful break down you've provided. Thank you for saving me the trouble of watching any portion of it.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    Sure, why not avoid unnecessary suffering if you can? The unavoidable stuff provides enough spiritual opportunities.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Was that a quasi Wiccan or Druidic interpretive dance at the begin? Maybe I misunderstood and the music was suppose to be quasi black Gospel via Motown? Were there Catholic women clergy/priestesses? Where was the replica of Stonehenge? Somehow I got a hint of New Age Shamanism perhaps?

    Seriously though, in my humble opinion, the American Roman Catholic church has lost its mind and the schism has already taken place. People who have bought into this kind of ceremony, thinking it is Catholic, have been demonically and intentionally deceived and brainwashed.

    I am all for praying for and remembering the slaughter and murder of the innocent and unborn and we should all be storming the gates of heaven and earth. However, we should also be praying for the restoration and Holy Spirit enlightenment of the Church - its people and clergy!

    (Luke 13:13-14)

    13Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. 14How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    Seriously though, in my humble opinion, the American Roman Catholic church has lost its mind and the schism has already taken place.

    That thought has also crossed my mind from time to time. American Catholics do a heck of a lot of whistling past the graveyard pretending there are no problems. Differences are there and with enough time, they can become so entrenched they will be irreconcilable differences.

    At a practical level, I will never visit or go to anything at the Taj Mahony - a colossal monument to one man's ego.
  • I thought I saw some promotional posters for this event - to be fair, they promised "dinner and a show". On that level, I thought they delivered.
    Thanked by 2Carol mattebery
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 705
    Curiouser and curiouser. The music webpage of the church where the composer John Bonaduce is the director has a link "What is Sacred Music" which takes you to an article by. . . Msgr. Richard Schuler!
  • Out of curiosity, are there ANY situations in which cantors bringing the congregation in with a gesture is okay? It stresses me out every time I read a thread about it here because we do it at my church, but my church is the National Shrine in DC and I feel like it might be warranted in a space that large. (That said I would love to stop doing it because it makes me feel like an idiot every time.) I'm worried that whatever else we do here is eclipsed by our gauche cantor cues.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    I believe a visual cue to a congregation can sometimes be warranted. The cues we give in conversation include intonation but also gesture. You know when somebody is inviting you to speak generally by a glance as well as cadence. The US National Shrine is a place where people may well not be familiar with the music, or the precise details of liturgical practice, and is certainly large enough that most cannot read the facial expression of the cantor. In my opinion, with those cues missing a visible gesture of invitation is often needed. Where the music is familiar, as standard Latin Ordinaries should be, a good organ accompaniment may be sufficient, and would then be preferable. I get to a Westminster Cathedral Mass 'with cantor and organ' several times a year, where the surplice and cassock of the cantor ensures visiblity of a discreetly half raised arm. [The splitting of their order of service between three documents (Missal, this weeks music, tunes of ordinaries) is, however, distinctly unhelpful.]
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • Josquin, do they do what you are thinking of at Westminster Cathedral in London? I doubt it, but I would be interested to know for certain. If they don't, then all I can think of is, "if its good enough for the goose, its good enough for the gander."

    The evangelicals and Baptists think its jolly ok. However, I believe their view comes from an orchestral / stage perception. Liturgical churches are suppose to be on a higher spiritual awareness within their liturgies. Again, although I am Anglican Catholic, may I suggest an indepth study of the Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgies. They have perfected the ability and art of responsorial call and answer; of antiphonally correct singing.

    As a side note, to me personally, the DC National Shrine is unusual. Perhaps there is some degree of influence on them from the Washington Episcopal National Cathedral; which is by no means sane!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    I see I partially answered Ken's question before his post arrived. At the vernacular Morning or Evening Prayer in the Lady Chapel, where the order of service is complete, no gestures are provided or needed. But then most participants will be familiar with the routine.
  • Josquin,

    Let me turn the question around on you: if you do make this gesture -- whatever it is -- between the people who can't see you (sight-line, distance, head in book, whatever) and the people who don't care what you're doing, who is your gesture serving or pleasing?

    Thanked by 1JosquinGetEnough
  • A F Hawkins - if I understand you correctly, I am disappointed at what you say about Westminster Cathedral.

    The Taj Mahony! I get it and can't stop laughing!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    AFAIK there is no gesturing for the choral liturgies at Westminster Cathedral.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,955
    Seriously though, in my humble opinion, the American Roman Catholic church has lost its mind and the schism has already taken place. People who have bought into this kind of ceremony, thinking it is Catholic, have been demonically and intentionally deceived and brainwashed.
    I am glad I didn't say this, cause I would have been banned for a week. However, I sadly agree.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    are there ANY situations in which cantors bringing the congregation in with a gesture is okay?

    At funerals, when most of the congregation seems unfamiliar with the rite of Mass.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    At funerals, when most of the congregation seems unfamiliar with the rite of Mass.

    You can do that, since it seems many of the children of the deceased long ago left the church and have no clue what is going on. I keep the cantors in the loft and the congregation responds to what they hear, if they respond at all. Beyond that, it is out of my control.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 342
    It is the custom in my church to do raise an arm for the responsorial psalm phrase. I also feel silly when I do it, however I just raise my arm and lower it with as little "to do" as possible. I think this practice was started in my church because someone was copying what they had seen in a televised Mass. Now I would hesitate to stop doing the arm raising because I wouldn't want the congregation to think I was discouraging them from singing. On the other hand if this is the biggest controversy we had, we would be most fortunate!
    Thanked by 1JosquinGetEnough
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,555
    Our cantors did a slight arm raise at the Psalm response at the Cathedral... until 2013 when I took over.
  • ...and then you put a stop to the participation of the people, who now sit like mute spectators just as they did in the Dark Ages when dogs climbed over communion rails and the priests did their thing with their backs facing the people. You're probably a restorationist who hates Vatican II?

    [too lazy to remember how to put purple on]
    Thanked by 1Blaise
  • Carol
    Posts: 342
    I think, like most things, it is possible to do the "arm raise" subtly. Much worse are those who sing with great dramatics or rhythmic leeway which make it impossible to participate even if one wants to. We once had a song leader who phrased the way George Burns, the old comedian, did and following him was impossible and sometimes hilarious. In the larger city churches it may be possible to be choosy, but in little local churches it is much more difficult to deal with personnel issues when everyone but the organist is a volunteer. It all comes down to whether the music is for the benefit of the "performer" or for the furtherance of the worship of all in attendance.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    I think the abilities of the "people" are greatly underrated. Three Sundays ago, the cantor for my early morning mass was ill. Sick to the point he could barely talk. I couldn't get a replacement that late. The pastor started the hymns and when we did the Ordinary, the "people" came in and sang just as well as they would have with a cantor. It wasn't a problem.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,013
    "I think the abilities of the "people" are greatly underrated." Yes, people can do what they usually do, without direction - it is never neccessary to wave an arm to elicit a response to a spoken 'the Lord be with you'. On the other hand, when a celebrant chooses one of the triple Solemn Blessings at the end of Mass, there may well not be a firm congregational Amen to each prayer, because it is insufficiently expected. In this case if the celebrant lowers his arms at the end of each prayer, the first response will probably be much stronger. (Despite the fact that the congregation is supposed to have heads bowed).
    Surely the key is - adequate, clear, accessible information.
  • I am feeling embarrassed, as a Catholic, that this liturgy is what those non-Catholic folks up front experienced as an example of the Catholic Mass. Not to boast, but I think I could have managed something superior with the small choir at my parish in the backwoods of Wyoming.

    Regarding hand gestures by the cantor, I intensely dislike them. I use them, as chonak mentioned, at funerals for the benefit of the non-Catholics, but in the least dramatic way possible. I used them very sparingly this last Sunday since we were introducing the Lalemant Propers to our parish, and I wanted to ensure that it was understood how they were to work and when the congregation was supposed to sing. However, the people picked it up pretty easily (we have that rare phenomenon at our parish of a Catholic congregation that actually sings) and seemed to “get it” so I will no longer be using them for that.
  • Carol
    Posts: 342
    I think congregations are trained to participate or not. It takes a long time to change behavior, but it can happen if one is patient and kind. No brow beating, etc. but a quiet belief that most of the congregation wants to participate, but no one wants to look foolish or stand out by making a mistake. Give a subtle cue when there is something new seems like a good idea and a kindness.

    Maybe I should try "forgetting" to raise my arm and see if the response would be as strong.

    In response to afHawkins, I stopped keeping my head bowed when the Triple Final Blessing is used. I also realized after a while that the 3 blessing prayers usually have two phrases with a little pause for the comma in between, which is what mixes people up.
  • henry
    Posts: 198
    I think the original purpose of this post was to lament the kind of music that was used at that Mass, so stylized that participation was almost impossible, cued or not.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    so stylized that participation was almost impossible, cued or not.

    Sounds like pre-Vatican II.
  • I was actually surprised when we did Vespers and Mass at my parish for the first time, with alternating congregational responses, and a majority of the congregation was engaged and singing. But maybe that was because of the printed program where everything was clearly laid out.

    Congregations are able and willing to participate--but perhaps they need more guidance, or at least a roadmap for what they should do, before they can begin.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • Schönbergian,
    Interesting you say that. We at St. Michael's Cathedral tried to do a carol service on only one announcement, but of course the programme only listed titles/hymn numbers given. We didn't get very much participation. One can't assume that the congregation is smart enough to follow along just by titles.
  • redsox1
    Posts: 184
    I really don't think there was enough "scooping" by the cantors. ; -)
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Maureen
    Posts: 641
    St. Isidore of Seville recommends that all lectors should chant "not with a movement of the body, but only with the appearance of seriousness. The lector ought to pay attention to the ears and the heart -- not to the eyes, lest he make it more important that we be his spectators than his listeners."

    - De Ecclesiasticis Officiis, lib. 2, c. 11.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • Blaise
    Posts: 413
    I didn't sit through the introductions and only watched portions of the responsorial psalm and entrance, but looking at the style of cassocks and attire, I am guessing the ecumenical observers were a mix of Anglican and Eastern Orthodox.

    If so, why weren't they treated to the best the Catholic Church's Latin Church sui juris had to offer?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    One might want to view "The Silence of the Lambs" after the video (though it might better be dubbed "The Straining of the Gnats.") For all the gesticulations and vocal gyrations, the various compositional couchings (ala lounge lizard-style) are unsurprisingly impotent.
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 762
    Here is more fully Isidore.

    Porro vox lectoris simplex erit, clara, ad omne pronuntiationis genus accommodata, plena virili succo, agrestem et subrusticum effugiens sonum, non humilis, nec adeo sublimis, non fracta vel tenera, nihilque femineum sonans, neque cum motu corporis, sed tantum cum gravitatis specie. Auribus enim et cordi consulere debet lector, non oculis, ne potius ex seipso eos spectatores magis, quam auditores faciat.

    Species here means something good: "in appearance only dignified", rather than "with only the appearance of seriousness".

    Evidently Isidore was not keen on coarse, unrefined, country accents, and not on women lectors either. A rich (" juicy") male voice with no hint of femininity, for him.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 600
    As far as getting the congregation to sing without cues from a cantor, I remember once at another church I worked at the batteries in the microphone went dead right during the entrance hymn. The cantor couldn't be heard very well (but could still be heard) after that. The congregation sang louder than I had ever heard them before. After that, I asked the pastor if we could just get rid of the microphone since it seemed the congregation preferred to sing without a solo voice booming at them. He wouldn't permit my suggestion, so we went back to the solo voice and a quiet congregation.
    Thanked by 1WGS
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,620
    I asked the pastor
    Rookie mistake ;-) Who's responsible for the batteries, anyway?
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • TCJ
    Posts: 600
    Haha. Actually, I intentionally didn't put any in when it went out because I had already suggested something of like kind to the pastor before the batteries went out. Actually providing evidence that my idea would work ... didn't work. Ah well.
  • Those of you who were at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica for Vespers and Lecture with Cardinal Sarah would know that the congregation (a full Cathedral) was the heartiest congregation I've ever heard.

    For the psalm, if the choir needs to sing the verses, can they be in harmony and the refrain be very clearly in unison? It's confusing where I am because someone decided that it would be an excellent idea that the choir should sing the second half of the psalm verse in unison (thus confusing everyone as to what the response actually is). It doesn't exactly foster the singing of the refrain. No cantor cues at all.