Progressive Steps - Updates on 14 Ways to Improve the Liturgy
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Jeffrey and Arlene posted a nice little article in 2004, Fourteen Easy Ways to Improve the Liturgy. Boiled down, they are:

    1. Turn down the volume.
    2. Chant for a prelude.
    3. Curb the announcements.
    4. Choose plain, traditional hymns for the processional.
    5. Sing the Kyrie.
    6. Choose a plainer Gloria.
    7. Fix the psalm.
    8. The Offertory should be a time of preparation.
    9. Reduce and simplify the 'Mystery of Faith' and the 'Great Amen.'
    10. Shorten the Sign of Peace.
    11. Begin the communion chant (a simple Latin hymn will do) after the priest receives.
    12. Don't force people to sing during communion.
    13. Allow for silence after communion.
    14. Don't attempt a rousing good-bye.

    At my urban working-class cathedral parish in the upper American midwest, here is my update:

    1. The cantor is still miked too loud.
    2. There are chants sometimes for prelude, with organ, but they are often too disconnected in time from the actual procession.
    3. There is very little ad-libbing before/after the Sign of the Cross.
    4. We do sing plain, traditional hymns at the processional.
    5. We sing the Kyrie, often in Greek!
    6. We often sing a chant-like Gloria, or the fine one by Carroll Andrews. I was relieved when the trite responsorial Gloria fad subsided.
    7. The psalm is still the weakest link -- the music is never in the hymnal, it's often saccharine, and the verses are through-composed. Not good.
    8. The Offertory is "a time for the choir and organ to sing something they've been working on," and it really could be anything, in any style. The words are always hard to understand.
    9. We actually sang the Mortem tuum in Latin last week. I about fell over. The Amen was the two-note, but the organ cued the congregation on a different tenor than the celebrant's!
    10. The Sign of Peace is short and silent.
    11. The Communion is again "a time for the choir or cantor and organ to sing something they've been working on." No title, words hard to understand.
    12. We are often urged to sing a hymn after communion, during clean-up.
    13. Not much silence after communion.
    14. The dismissal sometimes has lengthy announcements -- what is a bulletin for?

    So, progress is being made. I think the next step would be to use Chabanel Psalms. After that, time to begin using the propers, preferably starting with introit and communion.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    In our parish, we sing Kyrie in resposorial style (two times each back and forth between the cantor and the congregation). I guess this is usually done in most parishes (OF). When the children's schola sings, I have them sing 9 fold Kyrie. I explained to them why with my best knowledge and to the congregation when we started doing it. It's a simple one, and most times people don't complain when the children sing.
    I feel it is much more prayerful than routinely sung Kyrie in a responsorial manner. It's not just the number, but it's so beautiful when we take time to meditate as we sing and ask for God's mercy together. I believe my children's schola really feels it, that this is our prayer. I don't know whether asking the modern congregation to sing 9 fold Kyrie is too much. It would be so nice.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I find it remarkable how this once-radical article seems so mainstream now. Most of this material finds support, if weak, in the pages of OCP's Today's Liturgy.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    That's great. What I like about them is that they constitute metrics. We often talk about "moving toward the ideal," and the danger in that is the undistributed middle, the amorphous mix of things that makes it hard to discern direction. Here, we have 14 concrete indicators of progress toward fullness.