Lessons I have learned... and lessons you have learned?
  • Some of mine:

    -The world is full of irrelevant noise that has nothing to do with Christ and the Gospel. The temptation is to fight the noise as it were a windmill. Ignore it, instead and make better noise.

    -The principles of tradition, familiarity, and home apply to a local parish as much as to the universal Church. Respecting these to the extent possible in any given place is a must for establishing goodwill.

    -Be firm, direct, concise, and gentle in dealing with negativity in or against your program.

    -Write for your ensembles and congregations often, if you have the gift. As David Cherwien taught me, it is one of the best means available to you of loving your assembly. Watching my high-schoolers light up at a Psalm I composed for them with their abilities, ranges, and favorite sounds in mind, is truly one of life’s most fulfilling moments.

    -Come, Holy Ghost is the Veni Creator in English. Holy God, We Praise Thy Name is the Te Deum. Hail, Holy Queen is the Salve. All Glory, Laud, and Honor is the better version of Gloria, Laus, et Honor. The originals are superb. Teach them as you can. Never forget, tho, that your people know and already have a beloved way of singing those prayers.

    -Even a psalm tone is chant. Doing even it well opens doors.

    -What people will like to sing is often a surprise. Try your favorites out and get ready to be surprised. Your passion will help.

    -Instruments bring the organ out in a great way and help it shine.

    -Each liturgy May be a step towards a Zielpunkt der Musik, but it is also a Perfect Act of divine worship in itself and must have its integrity respected. It is an end in itself, not a means to some musical goal.

    -Pray the Masses you play and direct — and not just, “my work is my prayer.”

    -Choir recruitment is the job of the choir members, not you.

    What have you learned?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,612
    What have I learned? That if you want a decent salary, work for the Protestants.
  • sesm_srjsesm_srj
    Posts: 9
    It's hard to keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree! My sadness at your departure is very deep. Remember, grief can, at times, look like anger. All last year, grief consumed me. I was beginning to come out of it. Now I have to grieve losing you. You've barely gotten settled in. . .
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I’ve learned that no matter how many nay sayers there are, there are always a few precious souls who are absolutely yearning for beauty and truth. You have to focus on those souls.

    I’ve also learned that you can lead a horse to water… (but just because they don’t drink doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep doing what is good, right and just).

    I’ve learned that there is always an acclimation period with new congregations. They have to get used to your style and you have to learn their whims and traditions.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,777
    Signs of the Times

    You can lead a horse to water, however sometimes unbeknownst to you the water is rancid and it winds up killing him. Always check the water first.

    The water may be fine when you arrive but an ignorant or malicious party may have poisoned it overnight. Always check the water again.

    Stubborn horses won’t even drink the good water you give to them and will die anyway.

    Beware of wolves.

    Sing your heart out and the good horses will join in!
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I’ve also learned that a single person in any number of key positions (pastor, sacristan, parish office manager) can make or break a job. It’s amazing how one super person can change a whole dynamic for the better (and how one particularly unpleasant person can poison the water for everyone, as Francis says.)
  • Elmar
    Posts: 424
    I've also learned that after a period of 1-2 years (+2 for covid-19) with relative freedom for (experimental) improvements, the 'old sheep' expect you to have finally understood what this parish really wants... and start to behave like a boss, although you don't even have employee status.
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,804
    As Chinua Achebe said, Things Fall Apart.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,612
    What have I learned?

    The sermon expands to fill the time available for it.
    The collection is never enough and more is needed.
    The altos secretly hate the sopranos.
    The sopranos hate everyone.
    The church will be half full at the beginning of mass.
    It will be overflowing by communion.
    The reader will mumble and be unintelligible.
    If you accidentally pull the chamade on during communion, they will notice.

  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    (They will if you do a wrong page turn during the Gloria and repeat a whole section when you flip back in a panic, having lost your spot, and jumping in at the wrong point, too…. That totally didn’t happen last week.)
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I’ve also learned how dependent the music ministry is on the pastor. Assuming a traditionally oriented power structure, a pastor can cause a music ministry to vanish overnight if he’s not keen on it.

    And it takes substantially more effort to build a program than to dismantle it. *sighs*
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,044
    The Lady's Guild is the most powerful organization in the parish.
    Thanked by 3CharlesW Jani PaxTecum
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I have keys to every nook and cranny in the church EXCEPT the flower room. Lol
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 419
    As an organist, I’ve learned how important it is to track each and every word of the Mass if you want to play well, by reading the lessons and the prayers in advance and paying close attention on the bench. I think sometimes there is the attitude of “I play this song, then I wait around and get ready for the next song while the priest does his thing, then I play some more, then I scroll Facebook during the sermon, and then there’s another song…..”

    Beyond “the Gospel today is the Christmas story, so I should play something cheery”, I prefer to know precisely what the Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion say, and what the propers are, even if they are not going to be sung (as at a low Mass or if something else will replace them). They give all the clarity one could ever want when planning music ahead, and in the moment when improvising. This allows the organist to actively align their playing to what the Church is trying to teach through the day’s liturgy, rather than meandering in a vaguely happy vein at the offertory and communion, when the following prayer is about to strike a note of penance or humility. Listening to the homily is also important, if you actually believe in your pastor and want to reinforce what he is saying to the faithful.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I’ve also learned that it is incredibly difficult and delicate to change funeral habits. There are stupid pieces of music that have buried themselves deeply in the Catholic psyche now, and people are particularly emotional, which makes taking a hardline approach tremendously difficult. You will be forced to make “exceptions” (a lot).

    And you can provide a beautiful list of pre approved music that has fourteen selections for each moment of the mass and people will ignore every single one and just write whatever the heck they want and expect to get it. You may force the issue (at times) but you will face this battle for almost every funeral.
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  • TCJ
    Posts: 803
    I’ve also learned that it is incredibly difficult and delicate to change funeral habits. There are stupid pieces of music that have buried themselves deeply in the Catholic psyche now, and people are particularly emotional, which makes taking a hardline approach tremendously difficult. You will be forced to make “exceptions” (a lot).


    My pastor and I agreed to eliminate choices for funerals. No more selection sheet, no more dad's favorite hymn. The church selects the music and that's it. You'd be surprised how many people are actually relieved at not having to choose music. So far we've had one complaint about it in three years. We had constant complaints when we tried to compromise.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,293
    @TCJ
    At another parish, a priest I know would give them a choice for Funerals, the TLM (with the option of Chant or Polyphony) or the N.O. and hand them a long list of options... Most chose the TLM.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 71
    eliminate choices for funerals

    if that were the case here, there simply would be no music at all, because people wont pay for it
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 419
    @TCJ That sounds truly right and just, and something fantastic for the musicians, and also for the people.

    I’m curious how you guys managed to make the switch; I have always thought such a setup would be fine after 5 years, but at the beginning, didn’t the conversations with family go like this?

    (Music change to “church picks” effective June 1)
    Family: And what about the music?
    Father: Oh, don’t worry; here at St. X the church takes care of that for you
    Family: But our friend Bill’s funeral here was May 29, and I remember they had all his favorite songs. Dad liked other songs.
    Father: It’s ok, we’ll take care of it.
    Family: But there were a bunch of other songs at this funeral last summer, and Dad really loved “We are called”, can we do that?
    …..
  • TCJ
    Posts: 803
    We went with the "pick from this list" style at first. There were a couple of concession pieces (not on the list) which we would use if asked, but it was always limited to one of them. After four years of that, going to no list at all was not much of a change (aside from fewer complaints). It also helps that one of the funeral homes is very cooperative with us.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,002
    When making worship aids, the SAVE button is your best friend. (Especially if you have a cat.)
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 243
    Some people in Catholic Churches have a deep-rooted hatred for authentic Catholicism and authentic Catholic music.

    Edit: clergy too
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 236
    An important lesson I have learned: laypeople will tolerate anything their clergy is doing at Mass.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    I think the problem with that is twofold:
    1.) people don't know the faith (or liturgy, at a bare minimum) well enough to call the priests on their crap, and
    2.) priests are (quite rightly) authority figures, so people presume that if he authorizes it, it's "ok".
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 243
    Serviam- there is a big difference between ignorance (not knowing) and blatant hate.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,542
    Pax, I agree with you. My previous reply was an affirmation of Jehan’s observation which immediately preceded it. I’ve met plenty of people who claims to be “Catholic” whilst simultaneously despising everything the church teaches and stands for.
    Thanked by 2PaxTecum CharlesW
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,777
    My pastor and I agreed to eliminate choices for funerals. No more selection sheet, no more dad's favorite hymn. The church selects the music and that's it. You'd be surprised how many people are actually relieved at not having to choose music. So far we've had one complaint about it in three years. We had constant complaints when we tried to compromise.

    was my policy... it is best for church and family, and yes, the family is relieved to not have to make choices.