TVs at Mass - to screen or not to screen
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    Well the day of horror has arrived.

    My church now has TVs in it. They were installed this past week.

    I pushed hard against them, for the past few months, but my vote lost out in the long run.

    A little background:
    In my church we have 6 different Masses all lead by different "music leaders" - and I am the so called Director or liaison or mouth piece between the "music leaders" and the office.

    We are the only Catholic church for many, many miles and the other several I could drive to are not much better.

    Now What?:
    If I plan to stay....
    Should I refuse to participate and not provide my music for the projected show, or should I use the unfortunate new tool to promote sacred music, put up the square notation with the Latin text and an English translation?

    I have already lost this battle, now do I pull up my big boy pants and just get the volunteer job done, or stick to my fight and refuse to participate.

    Your thoughts are much appreciated.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    Use it as a tool:


    I have come around to thinking that projection screens offer possibilities for educating the congregation about sacred music and helping them sing it and understand it.

    Your parish gains nothing by you either leaving or going on strike. Try to turn it into a tool to promote sacred music.
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  • I would try to bring good out of a bad situation. I would hate having TVs installed in a church, but if they are there, might as well use them to promote sacred music.
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  • GerardH
    Posts: 168
    The new platform being developed (currently in Early Access phase) by Adam Bartlett at Source & Summit (formerly Illuminare publications) is very compatible with screen projection. Maybe check it out!
    Thanked by 1PolskaPiano
  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    I don't recall reading nor seeing in my own testing of Source and Summit's new product that it is formatted for large screen projection. It's a platform for creating printable or digital scripts of Masses with text and music. If you attempted to project those as-is onto a large screen instead of displaying on a personal device, they would be extremely difficult or impossible to read. You cannot simply project a pdf or jpeg of a hymn from a publisher's file or a lengthy script; it won't display well on screen for group viewing from a distance even though it might display well on a phone or tablet screen for individual use. There's no getting around the labor-intensive work of creating your own slides for projection, and making slides with music on them instead of just lyrics is ten times more time consuming to create and requires skill with a music notation application, which is why 99/100 parishes only project lyrics. It will take a bit of experimentation to figure out how to size all the content on slides so that it is easily readable from everywhere in the church and how to format and sequence it so that transitions between slides are smooth.

    OCP posted an article with VERY basic considerations to keep in mind when designing your own slides:

    The information in OCP's article is for absolute beginners, and it won't help you do anything more than create lyric slides.

    In this sample from the Heritage Mass Glory to God, the slide displays no more than two musical phrases and ends on a long, sustained note to make it easier to transition to the next slide:


    If musical phrases extend over to the next slide or if you end the slide on a quarter or eighth note, people in the congregation will find it frustrating to follow the music no matter how skillfully the operator advances the slides.
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  • I’m not a big fan of TVs installed in a church, particularly older, more ornate churches where they seem so “out of place” because they truly are in such a type of building.

    I just always have had bad experiences with music being projected on a screen at Mass. I’ve only been to a handful of such Masses, but nine times out of ten, the technology would either go wonky at the worst time, or the slides operator would not move to the next slide fast enough, or as previously stated, the slides were divided in such a manner that didn’t make sense, such as ending the slide on an eighth note.

    In this area of COVID-19, I’ve seen various forms of encouraging active participation by the faithful without hymnals/missals and paper worship aids. I would prefer to have a downloadable worship aid that someone could pull up on his or her phone before installing and having TVs in a church.

    As someone else mentioned, no one really gets anywhere if you protest. Might as well try to make the most of it.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,382
    It might be worthwhile to talk a little about making up graphics for display screens.

    The conventional wisdom about computer displays is that, unlike on paper, sans-serif fonts are more readable than serif fonts, so that could be a good starting point for choosing TV display fonts.

    Applying that to the example above with "Adoro Te", the slide might work better if the lyric were in sans-serif, while the title and the translation could be in the attractive serif font. Italics are usually less readable than roman type, so I'd avoid them.
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  • Wouldn't the wisdom about serif vs. sans-serif only apply to a display with a finite number of square pixels, rather than a projection onto a surface where the scattering of light will prevent any such effect?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    Chonak, I use your Gregorio engraving website to create my projection slides that have neumes. If I recall correctly, I don't believe any of your font options are sans-serif.

    When I have slides with text only, I use a sans-serif font.

    Slides with music, as above, I have used serif fonts mostly due to lack of options. Nobody has complained about unreadability.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,382
    Now I gotta figure out what sans font to put in as an option!
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  • I will fold and lay out worship aids until Kingdom come if it means no screens...
  • Sorry, that was unnecessarily cranky. Never mind.
  • Something about worship aids still strikes me as more dignified than screens. Perhaps it's because they are essentially mini versions of the other forms of "worship aids" (missals & hymnals) that are already well-entrenched. I also take great pains to make my worship aids look really nice with calligraphic headers and careful typsetting; you can't get the same effect on a TV. And, worship aids are certainly good for music, even if they aren't necessary for readings and the ordinary.

    I agree though: it's amazing how simple it is to memorize the Mass when it's the same thing over and over again. I utterly fail to understand why people put up such a fuss. Same goes for Latin too. I have a hard time believing people are incapable of memorizing the Pater Noster. but can sing "On Eagle's Wings" by wrote including all the alternate rhythms for each verse.

    In fact, our parish is bilingual, and I think it would be a great benefit and would harmonize our liturgies if we used a latin ordinary at both masses; this would encourage more cross-pollination between the two camps. As it is now, any combined liturgy (Easter Vigil, for instance) requires awkward back-and-forth between English and Spanish. It's painful. Let's just do latin! (and I do not say that as a pithy quip. I mean it—and so does most of my choir.)
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  • donr
    Posts: 949
    CatherineS and ServianScores

    I too was and am very cranky and willing to fold worship aids. I strongly voiced my opinions against them, but I lost the fight.
    So now I need to figure out if I am going to be a brat and keep fighting even though they are there or if I am going to make lemonade from the lemons I've been given.

    I am leaning toward using them to further sacred music even though it goes my better judgment to put chant on a screen.
  • Donr, I certainly don't disagree that you should make lemonade. I hope I didn't imply otherwise. There was mention of this happening at our church at the beginning of covidtide, however the crisis was averted for now. If I was forced to prep projector/tv screens, I would do so. (At least until I broke... not sure how long that would be.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,000
    As it is now, any combined liturgy (Easter Vigil, for instance) requires awkward back-and-forth between English and Spanish. It's painful. Let's just do latin! (and I do not say that as a pithy quip. I mean it—and so does most of my choir.)
    Been there, done that, DONE with that.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • What happened when prayed about the question?
  • GerardH
    Posts: 168
    I don't recall reading nor seeing in my own testing of Source and Summit's new product that it is formatted for large screen projection.

    @MarkB I must have misunderstood the "prepare" layout. It's still in development phase though, so perhaps that's something which should be suggested for inclusion!
  • I do believe Mark is correct in that it is not currently formatted for screens. The confusion perhaps stems from the licensing model which is very straightforward:
    If you subscribe to their service, you have printing, broadcasting, projecting, & posting rights. It's very flexible, as I understand it. You can generate a worship aid and share a link that people can view from home or on any device, or you can print them, or you can export graphics for arranging in another program of your choice, etc. Credits are generated automatically for you.

    You could, ultimately, generate a worship aid, pull it up on a computer connected to a TV or projector and have someone scroll through it. It wouldn't be specifically formatted (although eventually they will implement options to export at specific sizes, but it would be too much for them to try and format everything for a non-existent projector/tv standard that will invariably suit some and not others).
  • no one really gets anywhere if you protest. Might as well try to make the most of it.

    Not so sure that no one gets anywhere - witness can be more powerful than you think. And don't forget your own soul.

    Using means which directly undermine the goal you're trying to reach (using things which are ugly and distracting for a the goal of beauty and prayer) is self-defeating in my book.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • 1) Source and Summit is made for projection, IIRC. We project onto the back wall while our hymnals are being stored during COVID, and I asked this specific question with someone from SandS

    2) You are serving the people. I think that pleases God. Ask him for humility and direction. I am going through similar frustrated feelings. I really quite dislike participating in things I don't believe in. I felt very frustrated. It was a non catholic of all people that helped me reframe it as serving the people and perspective re-orients me.

    3) I have been doing projections since our diocese reopened (such an odd thing to say) on Pentecost. Would you like me to attach the power point slide I made for this weekend to give you an example of how to work with this tool? I do my best to make the slides simple without bells and whistles so people can see and sing.
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  • I feel that there is a psychological difference between projection onto a wall and display on a screen. What would McLuhan say? I have tried but so far failed to engage with McLuhan on the Liturgy.
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  • MarkB
    Posts: 409
    Agree. There's an aesthetic difference too: projecting onto a blank wall means TVs aren't a permanent, obtrusive fixture in the space.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • My gripe with screens is largely... well, there can be, in some churches and at some Masses, a sense of focus - that is, we are all looking together towards Jesus. This is less true in some churches due to layout, liturgical style and so on. In some cases, there is nothing to look at that points to the sacred besides your brothers and sisters (bare walls, bad lighting, unattractive furniture...). Which is probably the point. But adding a screen somewhere in front just provides yet one more non-sacred (and not even human, at least) object at which to stare.

    One of the reasons I stopped watching livestreamed Masses after Holy Week was that I was revolted by kneeling in front of my laptop. There was something deeply wrong with the meaning of the posture. Whatever good anybody intends, things have meaning in and of themselves.

    I know, in many cases, that staring at one more piece of non-sacred furniture is hardly the most pressing problem facing the congregation or parish. But the fact that one can think that way is in itself, I think, symptomatic of some very pressing problems, such as a near utter lack of the sense of sacredness - something that is to be expected, perhaps, outside of the Church, but horrifying to find inside the Church.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • Rood screens? Sounds good to me.
  • "The only screens in church should be rood screens!"
    lol (but I totally agree; bring back the rood screen!)
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    I also learned, the hard way, that the person managing the projection MUST be a musician. Normally people think that you just advance the screen when you've read/sung all the words, but that's not how it works. You have to advance just a bit faster, but not too fast, so that people can read ahead.

    You also have to understand how to interrupt the verses at any time so you can go back to an antiphon or final verse.

    Also be wary of anything that introduces lag or uncertainty into the situation. We had a setup once where the controlling computer was attached via wifi to another display computer, and it wasn't uncommon for it to just .................. hang. Then the person would frantically hit the "next slide" button a few more times, at which point the wifi would catch up and you'd have to go backwards until you found the right screen. It's an absolute disaster.

    And leave the screen BLANK when you're not singing. No pretty artwork or "theme of the day." That kind of distraction should be OUTSIDE Mass.
  • KARU27
    Posts: 120
    Why does this sound so awful? I'm not sure I could participate in this. Call me a Luddite.
    In fact I'm thinking of changing my parish membership to the one parish in town whose church survived the 1960s and 70s unscathed. It's literally like heaven to go there and see the artwork, hear the organ and bells, and smell the incense.
    When I step in there I almost cry to see what the Church lost in the last fifty-some years.
    Screens seem like one more step in the wrong direction.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Our parish was built in a neocolonial style (read: it looks very old-world methodist with no stained glass, precious little statuary, white corinthian columns, etc.) and we actually had a visitor innocently ask one time, "so what was this before it was a catholic church?"

    Your honor, I rest my case. (At least our church actually looks like a church, even if it looks like the wrong kind of church...)

    I feel the exact same way as Karu27 whenever I visit the historic parish two towns over. It's a neogothic wonder that has retained most of its frescoes, its statuary, high altar and altar rail, elevated pulpit... the whole bit. It too, is like entering into heaven when you visit. It makes my heart sing whenever I'm there and makes me weep every time I drive away. I feel absolutely robbed of my own heritage.