• mjb
    Posts: 4
    Happy Monday, esteemed musicians, I would like to ask how you might respond to the following:

    Thank you sincerely and apologize for the late response, we just had our meeting with deacon and we reviewed music.

    We've hired the XYZ band for our wedding reception. Their guitar player will come and play acoustic guitar for the ceremony, as part of the package we purchased. No additional music will be needed.

    Thank you,


    I have many thoughts which come to mind, but I would also like to keep my job. My pastor tends to be "flexible" when it comes to weddings. Before I bring this to him, I would like to have a clear line of reasoning why this won't work. He's going to know all the liturgical reasons, but depending on the day, his response might change. The wedding is a ceremony only performed by a deacon. Deacon said he'd recite the psalm and intone the gospel acclamation, if necessary. Even if this approach to wedding music flies, our church has a rather complicated sound system (I know, I know), and an acoustic guitar will not cover the church without amplification, which will require a sound technician, etc. I don't really want people who don't know our system plugging into it and fooling around with settings.

    As background, I send out a complete wedding music guide with everything laid out - what music they need when, what readings are typically used, fees, etc.

    Thanks for any advice/comments -
    MJB
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  • Elmar
    Posts: 439
    Thanks for your question!
    It might be helpful to comment on it if you tell us what your official task for weddings in your church actually is according to your job description, and whether your usual role is (more or less) in line with your official one.
  • mjb
    Posts: 4
    I am a DM at a NO large parish in upstate NY. I either play or contract out every liturgical event - weekend Masses, funerals, weddings, services, etc., etc., etc. In theory I have the final say in all things musical. In practice, the pastor often lets things slide that I would not normally allow. I don't play for most weddings - I usually contract them out - but I do meet with the couples and help them plan their music. Most of them, anyway!
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  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 786
    If there is a written policy of the parish of which they are in violation, and the deacon has been misinforming them, then certainly note this to the pastor.

    In point of fact, though, it must be acknowledged that the couple's plan *will* work, or at least *can* work. It's a wedding outside of Mass, the Psalm can be read, the Gospel Acclamation can be omitted or intoned by a single singer, and that's all the singing needed for the ceremony. The guitarist can play instrumental music in and out, or maybe even sing a hymn or two to guitar accompaniment.

    I don't know what you can do at this point besides saying, "OK. I need the contact information for the guitarist, so that I can be clear he knows what our expectations are." Make him tell you what he will be singing / playing.

    Our parish "vets" pieces selected individually. We mandate a keyboardist (piano or organ) and at least a cantor for the ceremony. One of these has to be (without explicit exception) from the parish "stable," and outside musicians are with the consent of the "inside" musician that has to work with them.

    This is part of a written policy that I have attached. It is organized as a step-by-step guide for planning a wedding. A written policy allows pastoral flexibility within an understood framework of orderliness and clear expectations.
  • mjb
    Posts: 4
    I also have a written policy about outside musicians. They are not allowed unless I have met with them and OK'd their singing or playing. I know my cantors' abilities and am confident with most of them singing for weddings. (OK, I'm confident with most of them singing for any service, not so much with one or two.) I also know that the organists/pianists who cover for me are excellent musicians.

    Thank you for the document. I am going to compare it to mine and may pare mine down a bit. Maybe I offer too much info.
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 786
    Perfect. Then it should be open and shut with your pastor -- "This is not in line with our written protocol, and if they want this, I need to meet with this guitarist. Deacon has exceeded his authority, given me a headache, and, if this is not corrected, set a very bad precedent going forward that will cause both of us even more headaches than right now."

    One thing about the document -- I have found that the "sample list" at the end, which is agreeably middle-of-the-road, trending-conservative, is the best feature I've added. Rather than providing an extensive list of possible choices to agonize over, and inevitably pick the worst of, to most couples who just don't really care, it gives them an easy way out that is actually a cut above what is normal.

    I'd say 60-70% of weddings in recent memory use some variation on that theme.
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  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 436
    Either the written protocol is in force or it is not; either the pastor has your back and will bring his deacon to heel in the future, or he does not. I would find out what the case is there, and move along accordingly.

    I would not want to alienate the couple in this case, but I would expect the priest to have your back and to correct the deacon for future weddings, that the music is none of his business and it goes strictly through you alone, if that is indeed the written policy. If this does not happen, either you shut up and resign yourself to having no dependable income stream and no real control over the liturgical music in your parish, or you dust off the ol’ resume.

    Practically speaking – the guitar should not go through the house speakers. If the guitarist is a pro, no doubt he will have his own amp, which should have no difficulty filling the room. That keeps the volume under his control, keeps the sound at its point of origin, prevents damage to the church system (which no doubt is designed for speech, anyway), and keeps you and the sound tech at home, instead of at church when you aren’t being paid.
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,569
    This.
    285 x 160 - 6K
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  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    You've received good advice above. I would echo @Gamba and say that if this guitar-ified ceremony is to take place that absolutely no one should plug any instruments into the system. That is a recipe for certain disaster.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,646
    i never found a way to win on weddings. I had to battle wretched music selections on the part of the bride and her family. Often they had an untalented family member they wanted to perform in the ceremony. Been there, done that with the microphones and guitars. I knew an accomplished lady organist who loved to play for weddings so I contracted all of them with her.
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 220
    If you need to be there for a sound system- even to plug in the deacon, you get paid for your time coming in. That's a minimum.
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  • [Off topic]

    Does your deacon run on electrical power, and is it renewably sourced electrical power?
    Thanked by 3Liam CharlesW Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,646
    Most of the deacons I have known were either priest wannabes or Protestant converts who brought their obnoxiousness with them. There were a few rare exceptions. Applying electrical power to the bad ones is not such a bad idea.
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,569
    Combining ideas the above two ideas:

    526 x 617 - 88K
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,910
    I got a charge out of that toon!
  • Since the siding is my fault, here's a set of points to get us back on the main line:

    Can you establish what level of authority the deacon has, before trying to lay down the law or kick up a fuss? That is, if the pastor has modified the written text and not told you, your problem isn't with the deacon. If the pastor hasn't modified the text, and the deacon circumvented it, then the priest's problem is with the deacon, and so is yours.

    If, on the other hand, the problem is that a bossy bride arrived and said, "So it is!", and no one has recovered from the shock quickly enough to say, "So it is not!".... there's a manhood issue, perhaps, but not any malfeasance in the hierarchy.
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  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 305
    Most of the deacons I have known were either priest wannabes or Protestant converts who brought their obnoxiousness with them.


    Without questioning your experience, I would say that mine has been different (as in, "a small few, not most").
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,646
    I was in a parish that never had deacons in over 100 years and didn't want them, either. The chancery foisted them on us and they were awful. One tried to interfere in music and I ended up raking him over the coals severely. Church music was a subject he knew nothing about.
  • Carol
    Posts: 738
    I guess we are blessed in that our parish has several deacons who have made a nice contribution to our parish life. They have strengths and weaknesses, just as priests do. Overall they are humble and holy and an asset to our parish. They are also helpful to our pastor, who has no associate priest, by doing funeral home prayer services and graveside services if the pastor is not able to.
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