Master of Ceremonies: hand clicker/clacker?
  • rogue63
    Posts: 403
    We're offering our first TLM in 53 years on Sunday---yay! Servers are rehearsing, choir is all set, priest is doing great. But Master of Ceremonies and priest are interested in a small hand clicker for signalling to servers (for genuflecting, coordinated movement, etc). Any suggestions on resources for this? We have a few days yet and a willing donor.

    I've heard of this sort of thing before but have not actually seen it. Suggestions?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 144
    What's wrong with snapping fingers softly? That way the volume of the finger snap can be adjusted for the space too. With a mechanical clicker, the volume is usually too loud, IMO, and intrusive and distracting.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574
    The clickers I have seen were children's toys. I guess they still make them.
  • I don't see why clickers are necessary. I've read all about such signals, but wherever I've served (admittedly, in few places), we get by with the MC calling various actions, such as "genuflection". That way, nothing can be mistaken. Although, it does depend on how large your sanctuary is. Will the TLM be a Missa Cantata or Missa Solemnis?
  • The MCs at the Institute parish I attended for a while usually gave a series of slaps to the back of their hand to signal the altar servers - one meant "genuflect", two meant "kneel", and so on.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574
    If you had a soft chime on the organ, that could be a signal.
  • The Organ wouldn’t work because it has to be done by the MC. It’s done to facilitate moving together.

    At the Seminary the FSSP just have the MC snap his fingers. Our MC just does a single clap with his hands.
  • quilisma
    Posts: 123
    Sorry, but nothing annoys me more than these clackers.
    I appreciate you are just starting out and need to find your way, but they use them at my ICKSP parish which is well established with fully trained servers. It's really unnecessary.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,092
    Was it Clackers in 19th century Russia?! Is outrage!. I don't remember them from mid-20th century England either.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574
    It was not in 19th century Russia. Even angels who guard the altar do not have clackers. Angels be annoying when hands be idle.

    There was a movie, title not remembered, some years ago where the sister in charge of the students at a mass used a clacker. As a prank, one boy passed out clackers to all the students and chaos reigned.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Heaven Help Us (1985) - said scene readily available on the Tyoob of Yew.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CharlesW
  • rogue63
    Posts: 403
    .

    Apologies to MJO
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 464
    But no. Crickets. And complainers.

    Well, as an experienced EF (and OF) MC, this is like the MC version of asking an organist where to buy a Sony keyboard. A clicker is unnecessary and somewhat gauche.

    Even snapping fingers is objected to by many folks (both practitioners and authors).

    Your MC should either (softly) clap or strike his leg/book/what have you. Or in my opinion better, just say softly "genuflect," "stand," "kneel" at appropriate times.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    Or something like:

    1. Stand: both palms upward.
    2. Sit: both palms downward. (Bowing could be indicated by indicative sign of right hand only)
    3. Genuflect: Right hand fisted gently.
    3. Kneel: Both hands fisted gently.

    I would be very surprised if others well before me have not already worked out elegant visual hand signals....
    Thanked by 2MarkB jchthys
  • In the interest of helping OP out, you might try looking at a local pet store or Amazon for a handheld dog training clicker. Not sure it’s all that endearing to your altar servers to be compared to literal dogs, but it sounds the closest to what you’re looking for if you want something more elegant than finger snapping.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,552
    just call it a cat training clicker.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,092
    Here is 4-pack, giving you a choice of colours for different feasts, "The Clicker can not only train the dog but also the cat, bird, chicken, sheep and even mouse." I guess the blurb writers are not aware of the TLM.
  • Rogue63,

    I've served Mass only a very limited number of times, and didn't have an MC because I believe each time was a Low Mass, or, better, a Missa Privata, that is, a Mass with something taken away. Most of the time, I'm either singing or playing the Organ, and am therefore as far away from the servers as one can be and still be within sight of the altar.

    Once you've got everyone through your first Mass (congratulations, by the way) you'll probably want to try to work without a noisy device to signal the servers. In the meantime, one solution could be the clapper which replaces the Sanctus bells in the Sacred Triduum.

    Why might you want (eventually) to do away with a noisy device? I could think of several reasons. The best reason, though, is that you should be able to work out a noise-less way of accomplishing the same result. (2 hand-taps= genuflect; 1 hand-tap = stand up) and extraneous noises distract from the worship which is supposed to be in progress. Think of it as distinct from (but related to) intonations given by cantors or organists. One doesn't intone with an organ (generally) on a 32' reed if an 8' flute will do the task well.
  • I strongly prefer verbal and visual commands from the MC rather than clapping, snapping, or other noises. I've participated in many TLMs where the latter were audible throughout the church, even in the choir loft, which is not only overkill but can be distracting to the worshipers. The signal should be audible only to those in the sanctuary. The word now along with a discreet hand gesture can be useful: bow NOW, genuflect NOW, kneel NOW, stand NOW, etc. Clapping, if absolutely necessary, should be limited to two fingers against the opposite palm.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,574
    I’m disappointed at how this thread turned out.


    Noel posted the Amazon page where you can buy a clicker/clacker. The only ones I have seen were children's toys that looked like an alligator with the clicking mechanism inside. They were certainly cheaper than the one on Amazon.

    Fortescue memorized? You jest, I am sure. I haven't "done" an EF mass since 1964. I would be in the same position as you if I were asked to coordinate or play for one.
  • Everyone here uses a clap of the hands or finger snap if the group of servers is new or still in training and need to be reminded of the timing of things; or during feasts when more boys show up who don't serve every week. It's not that offensive or distracting, surely. It's a joy to have new people learning!! The more the merrier! Better that they learn what to do than wander aimlessly around. I find watching the servers endlessly fascinating. [Favorite moment - when the new guy knows he has to go fetch item X, but then can't remember where he's supposed to deliver it, so he wanders very slowly around, with one eye on the MC, waiting for an (impatient) gesture to re-direct him.] It's really something holy and beautiful to see young men making the effort when so little in daily life supports piety, religious life, or even going to Church at all, and when many congregations no longer use altar servers.
  • Rogue 63 -

    To ask your questions (and add one) -

    Will the propers be plainchant or choral?
    What interesting organ repertory will be heard?
    I actually do wish that I were near you so that I could come and sing.
    Will there be any interesting choral works such as motets or anthems?

    As far as any sort of 'clackers' go, I can only imagine them being a tacky distraction.
    If all the acolytes, servers, etc., are well rehearsed they should be keeping their eyes on the MC lest they forget something. The MC can very well give any needed instructions during the mass with facial gestures, hand gestures, mouthed or sotto voce instructions as needed. (There should be one, if not two, rehearsals for all concerned on one if not two evenings or afternoons before the mass itself, thus insuring that all are well rehearsed and can follow any needed reminders by the MC during mass.)

    I'm not meaning to be bragging, but at Walsingham the high masses run smoothly and without blemish by the method I have described above. We have a well trained servers' guild and a number of instituted acolytes.
    I've never heard of any sort of clackers for such use. I'm sure that if they existed there would be a Latin name for them - such as clacerorum horribili.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,482
    Perhaps the noises could be used in early training, and phased out ASAP.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 725
    In a pontifical Mass I watched, with Cdl Burke as celebrant, the MC simply seemed to do a light clap of his hands, since they were already together.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 403
    Ok, sorry for the rant. Was having a bad day. Thanks for the helpful suggestions. Maybe a clicker won't be needed soon. But do please keep us in your prayers.

    MJO: We're pressed for time--only two rehearsals!---so only one full chant Introit (myself and another singer), the others to the Rossini psalm tones. Not ideal, but with preparation, they can be declaimed expertly and with clarity. In fact, the Rossini combination of Gradual/Alleluia is quite elegant and ingenious. The Ordinary will be Missa VIII.

    I'm doing part of the Tournemire suite for the day. It's fascinating music, indeed. A few simple motets (Ingegneri/O Bone Jesu; Josquin/O Salutaris; Mozart/Ave Verum). Although many of us know these simple pieces, they will be completely unknown to those in attendance and will be quite a smash, I'm sure. I'm a competent improviser, so I'll add music as needed to cover the liturgical action. An added bonus is that my two sons are serving, along with 6 other boys from our parish. My oldest will be the thurifer, so I'm quite proud.
  • Or in my opinion better, just say softly "genuflect," "stand," "kneel" at appropriate times.


    Not in Latin?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,482
    I remember from Good Friday that "Flectamus genua" is "let us kneel", but an MC will want a briefer way to signal it.