Strong opposition to incense, liturgies over 1 hour in length
  • I've seen threads before about this but none has answered any of my questions on how specifically I can address this.

    We've been using incense every Friday (adoration only) and Sunday (for Mass) for our livestreams. However, a few people (notably few people) have been complaining that the Mass feels too much like a "High Mass" (which in their minds we are to be moving away from), the extra time it takes for Mass (many in my choir believe that Mass must not exceed 1 hour in any circumstance except the Easter Vigil and that shorter is better), as well as allergy issues.

    I've been experimenting with various incenses. I haven't been able to find a good Orthodox supply house in Canada near where I am so Three Kings has been my main go-to. There's a Trinity Powder Blend box in our sacristy but it's absolutely disgusting, messes up the thurible, and doesn't last very long. It's marketed as hypo-allergenic, but I don't buy that - I've actually had a worse reaction to it than to the Three Kings stuff.

    What sort of intellectual-liturgical arguments can I make for people to know what I stand for? The Pastor is in agreement with me for the most part - I insist on singing all verses of the hymns but the cantor sometimes likes to cut me off. But other than that, have any of you (and I'm sure you have) had similar experiences?

    To give a little more background, as I've mentioned in previous posts from years ago, our previous pastor insisted in the summer the removal of the Gloria and Creed altogether, as well as speaking the Sanctus, etc., making the choir practically unnecessary. Mass was barely 50 minutes on these days. He argued that it was because he wanted people to "enjoy the summer". He didn't like Mass going over 1 hour for the rest of the year either. Not to mention the removal of bells, and any semblance of liturgy at all... thanks be to God that our new Pastor on his first weekend brought back the bells!
  • Casavant,

    If you're looking for positive arguments in favor of High Mass, try this one: each individual has the goal of making it to heaven, where each soul (who makes it) will worship God unceasingly for all eternity. He knows that we are little and weak, so he asks of us only our best effort, our whole self here on Earth to prepare us for Heaven.

    Here's another way of phrasing it: "What do you want to hear from God when you die? "'Come, ye blessed of my father', or ' I know you not.'"

    When someone says, "Thank you" or " I love you"..... should that be done in the most perfunctory manner possible, or in a sincere, unhurried manner?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    What Chris said.
    Thanked by 1Patricia Cecilia
  • Casavant,

    Since it sounds as if you're in an OF situation ( mention of hymns is my clue) try this: In some ways, the music at Mass is a proper counter-balance to all the priestly activity. It doesn't negate it, but complements it. If Father says, "The Lord be with you",.... and there is no answer to it, something is missing. To the extent that the active participation is measured in a kind of conversation, you shouldn't ramble, but you should finish your sentence, and he shouldn't abuse your patience but he should do as the Church requires. If he has any text whatsoever which isn't prescribed ( if he says, "Good morning") he's needlessly dragging the ceremony off its proper trajectory. If he preaches the sermon twice or thrice (through the intercessions or the announcements) he's lengthening the time you must endure that which isn't necessary. ON THE OTHER HAND, if the choir sings a beautiful setting of a beautiful text, it is showing the true nature of God's word.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    Why are people complaining about being allergic to incense on a livestreamed Mass? (I wish this were purple.)
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CCooze
  • They are complaining because apparently it unduly prolongs the liturgy past one hour in length - which, in fact, it doesn't, since there's no Communion of the faithful at these Masses.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    If you’re who I think you are, you’re in an important location and should at least have one Mass each Sunday as the High Mass with choir, with incense, etc.

    Have a few other Masses on the schedule that are shorter. Even the current Missal envisions there being a “Principal Mass” each Sunday.
  • Who do you think that I am?

    Our choir system is screwed up royally under the previous pastor and the other musicians who shouldn't be doing that sort of work - one of them believes that the only rubrics to be followed are the suggestions of hymns from the Glory and Praise and all other music is forbidden.
  • Casavant Organist,

    one of them believes that the only rubrics to be followed are the suggestions of hymns from the Glory and Praise and all other music is forbidden.

    So.... sometimes Fr. Rutler's comment is appropriate. Witnessing then Bishop Dolan, he said, in these or similar words, "If you have to tell the celebrant why he can't wear a cheese block on his head, for Mass, you've already lost the argument."

    I suppose you could try an argument based on context. A poetic text is an integral whole (at least, it is until some well-meaning modernizer gets his scissors and white-out near it) and should be sung as such. There are sometimes abbreviated versions (pericopes), but these should still maintain their integrity. (When Our Lord said, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me"... if we conclude that Christ despaired, we've not got enough context for understanding what actually took place.)

    You might try observing that incense can't be transmitted across Zoom or Skype or some other similar platform.

    As a last resort, you might ask "Why do you think we're supposed to be moving away from all these things?"
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,696
    Who do you think that I am?

    Did you watch/listen to me badly improvise on your hundred year old Casavant a few years ago?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 690
    My anecdotal research suggests that there are only incense allergies in congregations that are not accustomed to the use of incense and are terrified of potential toxins. This MAY be because people who are terrified of smoke have since left the parishes where incense is used regularly and moved to those where it is never used.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    The Pope is 83 and his weekday Masses take 49 minutes start to finish, so I hope no one will suggest that Sunday Masses should take less than that.
  • Grinches, no matter what they are complaining about, always make a lot of noise. Their noise seems all the more loud, and elicits far more attention and concern, simply because that majority who like or are indifferent to the subject at hand are silent. These people should be told that they speak only for themselves.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    We routinely finish in 1 hour. It's called organization. We don't sing all verses of the entrance hymn but we do sing all verses of the closing hymn. We dropped the Offertory (Preparation) hymn some years ago and either/or the organ is played or a piece is sung. Incense: use the good stuff. You may have to do some online shopping with supply houses in the larger cities. Do you have any Orthodox or eastern rite churches in your area? Ask them where they get their incense. Cantor overruling you? Are you in charge?
    If so, don't put up with it and meet with the pastor and both of you demand the cantor straighten up or she/he is out. Sometimes you have to state, "this is what the pastor wants and this is the way it is." Show them the door if they won't cooperate.
  • Charles,

    Our High Mass (back before the present unpleasantness) routinely took 75 - 90 minutes, and no one was in a hurry.

    Would you agree that there is a difference between the number of minutes expended and the amount of worthy work accomplished?


    Charles can take the approach he recommends ("Sometimes you have to state...") because he is both an institution in his parish and is not bent by the need to earn a living. It's possible that he also old and crotchety enough (or mistaken to be senile?) that he gets his way "just because".

    Now, I highly recommend the first two: become an institution and be non-dependent. If you get to be old (although, as I recall, you're not 21) age has its benefits. Crotchety isn't necessarily a good thing.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,176
    32. The power of sacred music increases the honor given to God by the Church in union with Christ, its Head. Sacred music likewise helps to increase the fruits which the faithful, moved by the sacred harmonies, derive from the holy liturgy. These fruits, as daily experience and many ancient and modern literary sources show, manifest themselves in a life and conduct worthy of a Christian. -- Pope Pius XII, "Musicae Sacrae"

    Vatican II praises the fully sung liturgy:

    113. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people. -- Second Vatican Council, "Sacrosanctum Concilium"

    But I would advise against singing all verses of all the hymns. If the hymn is standing in place of an entrance chant, it should stop when the procession and incensation are complete, as would be done with an introit. Similarly with hymns sung in place of offertory and communion chants.

    On the other hand, the use of a hymn after communion as recommended in the OF is an opportunity to sing a hymn in full, since here the hymn is being sung as an act of worship in its own right, and not as a substitute for something else.
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,060
    I read a story recently (which I can't find right now) about the anti-viral activity of frankincense.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw hilluminar
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    as would be done with an introit.
    The stopping places in an Introit are ones that make sense with that form. I would say the same applies to Entrance Hymns, and that one doesn't simply end at the nearest verse. Please swallow your coffee before I tell you about the priest who cued an end to A Mighty Fortress at the first verse: "The old satanic foe … on earth is not his equal." Thank God, at least the Catholic Community Hymnal doesn't include Amens.
    Thanked by 2chonak tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    While I can be cranky, the masses are scheduled too close together. There are now 5 on Sundays. I have also learned the sermon expands to fill the time available. It is sometimes an effort but I keep things moving along being always conscious of the time.

    I'm hardly senile and don't always get my way. With some individuals who won't do as they are supposed to do, you sometimes just have to tell them to get with the program or get out. It is the program that is essential, not the difficult individuals.

    No, I don't need to earn a living, which seems to bother Chris greatly, and I am not an institution. I am now 72 and have worked since the age of 18. I didn't squander my money but used it wisely. I discovered during my years of government service that anyone can be replaced and any job filled in rapid order. No one is indispensable.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    Hymns stand as complete poetic compositions and should not be unduly shortened for the purpose of "speeding things along". This stands in contrast to most of the Propers which may be lengthened as required with psalm verses that are separate from the main textual composition, and whose form is expressly permissive and accommodating of this.

    If a shorter selection is desired, then choose a shorter hymn.
  • Charles, and others,

    I am not at all bothered by your lack of need to earn a living. What I meant was that anyone who doesn't need the income actually has greater job security.

    Cranky and crotchety aren't necessarily bad things. As a card carrying member of the Curmudgeon Club of the Middle Ages, I'm persuaded that much of the veneer of modernity could use a rough edge being taken to it. Some of the teachers I admired the most were the ones who didn't pretend something was good when it wasn't.

    mistaken for senile. I expressly rejected that you are senile.

    Just for the sake of clarity, being an "institution" is a compliment. Think Mr. Chipping.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • @matthewj We don't even have an organ, so I'm not who you're thinking of.

    Some people are complaining about the "feel" of our Masses - they seem to think that all our Masses should be like the 70s and 80s and all lifeteen style Masses. I've tried to push far away from it.

    I can tell you that once the choir returns, I will have a very serious chat with them about the liturgy... if they don't like it they can leave.

    I do my best to choose good quality hymns but they still seem to complain about them - apparently, they're not in style. Someone also said that we "aren't supposed to use Latin anymore at all" - which is absolutely ridiculous. I'm honestly getting really frustrated with this - the last thing I need right now as a student is a choir that won't put up with my leadership.

    At least the pastor has my back... that's my final recourse. If this keeps going, though, I will head out and leave, and then the "Choral Choir" (bad name, I know, I inherited it) will have no leader.

    I've been working very hard to make this choir what it is. I had them singing in four parts at Christmas, which was absolutely wonderful, but when I tried to introduce Gloria VIII they all complained and convinced me not to introduce it "for the sake of the congregation".
  • RevAMG
    Posts: 162
    Regarding incense, the Russian Orthodox Holy Cross Monastery (Wayne, West Virginia) ships abroad and has a nice selection of incense (link).

    Istok Church Supplies Corp. also ships to Canada from its European warehouse and has a good selection of incense (link).

    Orthodox Incense from Williamsport, Pennsylvania also ships to Canada (link).

    Legacy Icons from Zealand, Michigan also ships to Canada (link).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    Casavant, have you considered having the pastor visit rehearsal and share his vision for parish music. That takes you out of the middle.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    Schönbergian "choose a shorter hymn"- or, better, don't sing any hymn not prescribed by the rubrics. (eg a sequence, the Gloria)
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    @a_f_hawkins: If they're balking at Gloria VIII and incense, removal of ACA hymns would probably lead to an aneurysm epidemic.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,152
    Casavant, if only a few are complaining, then most of the congregation is OK with what is happening. Unless these complainers are Important People, just thank them for their opinion and keep doing what you are doing. Some people will complain about anything. These same people will probably complain to the next pastor for him not doing something they are complaining about now.
  • ...unless they are Important People...
    What a shame that this is, indeed, most of the time, the 'way it is'. I would like to be a fly on the wall when a pastor told them, 'sorry, most people are not upset by this' - even better, when they threatened to withhold their big tithe to be told 'fine! take your money and go'.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 406
    1. Try using the incense mixture as found in the Old Testament as prescribed by GOD. HE warns of not using "strange incense." Yes, the OT blend is very expensive and hard to find but well worth it.

    2. I use to do the following: a. if a person(s) complained about the length or quality of the music, I increased it and offered more, not less. b. if they complain about incense or length of a service or complained about anything that I knew to be unjustified, I increased it and smiled while doing it. Of course always being kind, caring and loving.

    I made sure they got the point that I would never back down or give in to inappropriate and wrong headed complaints. "You're here to worship GOD, not to focus on incense, your watch / clock or the music or anything but GOD only! As the left is constantly screaming, "shut up, sit down and know your place!" BTW - Padre Pio was also known to say as much too!