Congregational singing and an ameteur musician pastor
  • MarkB
    Posts: 345
    Sheer incompetence. He's going to make people hate singing and drive them away from the parish. If he keeps up the misguided strategy of forcing people to sing again when the first time wasn't up to his standards then the bishop is probably going to get some letters about him. The fact that he gave attitude instead of taking to heart valid constructive criticism is not a good sign.

    Maybe have someone in the congregation stand up after he finishes a homily, tell him it wasn't good enough, and tell him to repeat it and do it better the second time.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,142
    I love that, MarkB
    Thanked by 2tomjaw cesarfranck
  • His dissatisfaction with the singing is a subject for the weekly bulletin, not during Mass.
  • We had a priest that would do something like that when it was an old hymn that he thought everyone should know. He also stood at the altar until all the verses of the entrance hymn were sung and until the last verse of the recessional hymn had started.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 338
    In my parish, if the congregation where to sing a hymn with the same commitment and fervor as the "Our Father", who would complain? I like what your priest did even if it is a bit unusual. Could he have addressed it in his homily, sure, in a bulletin, of course, but by then they may have forgotten why they were being taken to task over it. To quote Barney Fife, "you got to nip it in the bud". I'm sure I'll take some flack over this: I think when MD and choir directors become accustom to minimalist singing that they don't expect or ask for anything better from the congregation.

    In my many years of singing in choirs, schola's, cantor, etc., I have observed that you have three groups of people in the church: those who sing, those who will not and those who pick up the hymnal and want to sing but quickly put the hymnal away. I ask myself the question: Why do those who pick up the hymnal and want to sing! put it down. Why do they do that? In my parish this group represents the majority.

    Is the music to high? Is it too hard to sing? Does it have a melody conducive to promoting congregational singing? Does it teach us about our faith or doctrines? Does it have suitable text? Is it too jazzy or too folksy? Is it too sentimental or too dispassionate?

    Stop bantering the priest for what he did and follow his lead and look to see where you can make improvements in hymn singing. I know this may sound undo-able but maybe have a "hymn" singing class for anyone in the parish. This could help promote congregational singing, it might garner you a few extra choir members; or start teaching hymn singing in your religion classes. If the children are having trouble singing the hymns from an ordinary Sunday then maybe that speaks too itself, but hymn singing in religion class could lead to better congregational singing down the road. It promotes togetherness, listening to each other and many other benefits. Probably not what you wanted to hear, I know. But, consider it.

  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Singing of the laity, while encouraged, is not mandatory for a valid Mass.

    HOWEVER: Using one’s cell phone in the sanctuary (to check scores of a secular war-game, no less), is, if I am not mistaken, strictly forbidden.

    My suggestion: run.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw cmb CCooze
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,837
    What has hymn singing to do with the Mass?

    If I am in the pews I always hand hymn books straight back to the person who gave it to me, although I did this in Zurich once... and shortly afterwards while still being scowled at by the lady, a member of the choir dashed down to invite (compel) me to come up and join the choir (Mainly to sing the Propers).
    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,974
    Don9of11 - Three weeks ago, I eventually closed the hymn book, because after two verses, I still had no idea what the tune was! I recognized the words in the hymn book as something I have sung before. I could make nothing of the muddy registration, and could hear nobody else from whom to take a cue.
    This is rare, but I have suffered it in a variety of Catholic churches, including a cathedral.
    argentarius - A very bland 'gabble' text, I always sing if I can, but I could not muster enthusisasm for this.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 338
    argentarius, I agree, reading the football scores from the Sanctuary is unacceptable before the final blessing. Our parish has in large part an older congregation. I sing in our choir and most of the members are 10 to 15 years older than me, so I understand how hard it is to sing full voice, I am haviing the same problem the older I get. I hope everything works out for you.
  • Argentarius,

    You could ask Father if he's trying to make you unpopular. When he gives you a quizzical look, point out to him two things: 1) regardless of the reason for their not singing, to get him to stop whining the parishioners will blame you because you're in charge of music; 2) God respects our free will, so unless he considers himself more important to please than God, perhaps it would be better to find out why they don't sing "loudly enough" before badgering them into meeting an amorphous standard.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,298
    I don't know if it makes much difference in practice, but there are two versions of "We Gather Together".

    The classic text, a translation from a 1625 original, begins:
    We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
    he chastens and hastens his will to make known;
    the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
    sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own.

    Many recent Catholic hymnals have the 1970 song by Omer Westendorf (the founder of WLP, as it happens):
    We gather together to sing the Lord's praises,
    To worship the Father through Jesus his Son,
    Our priest is presiding, in Christ we are abiding;
    We are his holy people whose freedom he won.

    Which one were you working with? I hope you weren't stuck with the latter version, since it's hard to get enthusiastic about singing it. It replaces a hymn about divine Providence, a sober, grateful recollection of deliverance from trials, with a self-referential, self-congratulatory song about the process of celebrating the liturgy. Since it contains liturgical jargon like "presiding" and "assembly", it's like singing the rubrics in the GIRM.

    [UPDATE: I see from another source on the net that I've conflated lines from two verses of Westendorf's version.]
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • God, that hymn is awful. I never thought Westendorf could stoop to such a level.

    As the hymns are just as unnecessary to the rite as Father's football announcements, I don't see an issue with the situation. If they're not singing the Ordinary, that's a bigger problem.
    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • for not singing like they are at a football game.
    What exactly does this mean anyway? I recall another post about congregational singing on this forum where someone was shocked that anyone would expect a congregation to sing hymns with the same fervor as if they were singing the national anthem, even though it's been decades since Americans sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" with fervor—nowadays you're lucky if they even know the words. I would prefer rather more robust singing for God. But when you have soloists with microphones, what can be expected?
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • You could also ask the pastor if the reason they won't sing is that they want to sing Propers, not hymns?
  • .
    Thanked by 2Don9of11 Carol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,974
    argentarius - I am 81, I don't know about your 70+ year-olds, but round here we sang traditional Catholic hymns every day in school. Some were syrupy or insipid concoctions, but some were good tunes we sang with gusto. Find some of those, in a pre 1960 hymn book, and see how they/we react, appeal to nostalgia which is also called Tradition. Of course I don't know whether there are any of these left in Breaking Bread. [I don't think that 1625 Dutch Reformed folk hymn celebrating their freedom from the Catholic yoke was in our repertoire, but you are probably right they don't think deeply about the words, still less about the origins]
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,298
    Best wishes, argentarius; I hope the pastor can learn to calibrate his expectations to the situation!
  • Even if the pastor has delegated total responsibility for the music programme to you (which seems unlikely in the circumstance) he is still ultimately responsible while you are the help (either hired or voluntary).

    It's totally inappropriate to complain to an employee (you) about their bosses behaviour, because the employee cannot change that behaviour.

    So - if people complain to you about the pastor, politely tell them to complain directly to either the pastor, or to his boss the bishop.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 338
    argentarius, The 1918 St. Basil's Hymnal or the 1920 St. Gregory Hymnal would be a good start for the hymns. These can be found in PDF format at the website and hard copies at AbeBooks or eBay. Both hymnals were in use and very popular up until the 1960's.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,298
    Re-reading this thread, I notice that the pastor entered seminary 35 years ago, that is, in the mid-1980s; and he was an active parish musician in the years prior to that. Perhaps he is just following the attitudes imparted by his formation.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    he stood at the altar of sacrifice after Communion and read the College Football scores aloud from his cellphone, then said Sorry God, but penn state was my alma mater." So perhaps the bigger issue here is reverence in the sacred liturgy

    Ya think??
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,809
    God does not require singing. He just wants our heart.
  • God does not require singing. He just wants our heart.
    Why do you say that?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • He wants us to sing with all our heart. Singing shouldn’t be forced, it should be a natural outpouring of our devotion to God. Music should be our « cup running over ».
    Thanked by 2madorganist Carol
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902

    He wants us to conform ourselves to Christ in self-sacrifice. If singing is self-sacrifice, then go to it.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 865
    ...before the final blessing.

    I hate that anything and everything can happen right before the final blessing in the NO Mass.
    Why is this the case? Why can't we receive our final blessing before Susan from the Parish Council wants to get up and talk about the rice bowl or about giving awards to parishoners or whatever other speeches and announcements happen? We deserve to receive our final blessing and be allowed to leave, rather than hear sappy things that require applause.
    Maybe football scores are considered by this priest to be "appropriate" announcements before the final blessing. Goodness knows it's a free-for-all. Our bishop likes to remind parishes he visits that he's a fan of the Cardinals... yay?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    It speaks to the modern attention span that we cannot have the final blessing, announce “please hang around for announcements,” sing a hymn, and then hear from Susan. An hour for God is a doable thing. 65 minutes is asking too much.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,298
    Well, I can understand pastors wanting to end Mass with something pleasant.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,508
    We hear the announcements after the dismissal then we pray the St. Michael prayer.
  • 'God does not require singing. He just wants our heart.'
    No, he 'doesn't require singing'. But most who are 'joyful in the Lord' will, naturally, sing. God does not, in fact, require (or need) anything from us; but, if we know what is good for us or really do love him, we will be at mass, do good works, repent of our sins, love one another, worship him in our daily lives, cultivate Faith, Hope, and Charity, and sing - among other things. My observations have been that there are several reasons that some people have for not singing or wishing not to sing at mass: 1) a grumpy heart that just will not sing, thank you very much, 2) depression, 3) genuine contemplation 4) false contemplation, 5) a sore throat or very bad cold, 6) having that very rare congenital inability to match or distinguish pitches, and 7) shyness, or fear of being heard. There may be others, but these, I think, are the most prevalent, and chief among them (by far) is no. 1. Song flows freely and naturally from the heart that is in love.

    Many thanks to Madorganist for the link to singing to the Lord in the Bible. Those who do sing should take inspiration from it. Those who don't should take it to their hearts - you know: those 'hearts' that God 'just wants'.

    O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: *
    serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
    - Jubilate Deo - Ps. C

    O come, let us sing unto the Lord; *
    let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
    - Venite, exultemus Domino - Ps. VC

    And he hath put a new song in my mouth, *
    even a thanksgiving unto our God.
    - Expectans expectavi - Ps. XL

    See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise...
    Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
    singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
    - Videte itaque fratres - Eph. 5.15, 19

    Etc., etc., etc.

  • he stood at the altar of sacrifice after Communion and read the College Football scores aloud from his cellphone, then said Sorry God, but penn state was my alma mater." So perhaps the bigger issue here is reverence in the sacred liturgy

    When I was in college, the Catholic Student Center had a 6:00 P.M. Sunday Mass. During football season, if the Dallas Cowboys had an evening game, the priest would let us know how the Cowboys were doing after he got to the altar. Several times Mass started late. (Well, later than normal for a Catholic Mass)
  • Bhcordova,

    Are you citing this example to support what the priest did in the quoted section, or merely to say that such lunacy has been around for a long time?
  • Just sharing my experience of something similar happening. And yes, this lunacy has been around for a long time (I graduated college in 1983)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,809
    Let me qualify. God does not require singing that is inappropriate. Much of the music today is, and God does not expect us to join that song. (He also does not require us to play the piano or guitar for the Mass if you get my drift.) When I was the DoM a few years back I was finally able to sing the 'Song of the Lamb', authentic music to the worship of God (and not the rubbish that was shoved into my face in decades past, and I had to conform because it was my 'job'. It was simple coercion.) When rubbish is presented, I remain silent. You all should remain silent in that case. Only sing the 'Song of the Lamb'.

    This also applies to participating in the worship that is not Catholic.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber