Accompanying an Unenthusiastic Congregation
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    I have classified this discussion under "Hymnody," but it also applies to the chants of the Ordinary of the Mass. I know what sorts of organ registrations to use to accompany schola, choir, or full congregation, but I was never at any point taught how to select stops appropriately for accompanying only about 10–20% of the congregation, and I think that practice would have been utterly foreign to all of my teachers. My experience at other local parishes, even for big diocesan Masses with very familiar hymns, is that the norm is a small choir singing their guts out, bombastic organ playing (unenclosed upperwork and chorus reeds), and only a small minority of the congregation even opening their mouths, and they consider this "active participation." At the other extreme, you have guitar, piano, and soloists so heavily amplified you really can't tell if anyone else is singing; and again, they consider this "active participation." The clergy seem to have no interest in encouraging real congregational singing, and many of them (at other parishes, not mine) don't sing their own parts of the liturgy. At my church, even 8' and 4' foundations feels like too much when practically no one in the pews is singing, but I'm concerned that less than that could send the message, "We don't want you to sing; this is only for the choir!" What's the most sensible approach?
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • MarkB
    Posts: 865
    If I can't predict what the assembly's level of volume and participation will be on a song, I set the initial registration to what would be appropriate for accompanying just the choir. After hearing how loud the assembly is, I use the crescendo pedal as needed to bolster the organ's sound.
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    Wow! I generally use only 8' flute, string, or both for the men's schola, without doubling the melody, so just opening up the box wouldn't be enough of a difference, and I don't have a crescendo pedal.
  • Remember that they are the obtuse ones making this awkward, not you, whatever you do.

    Then, accompany your choir singers in a way that brings them to the top of their dynamic range, without overpowering them. Those who want to sing will “catch on” to the loud voices. Those who don’t will not feel that you are being pushy or drowning them out.

    Strings coupled and super coupled are great for this, as are chorus reeds under expression that you can adjust to fit based on in-the-moment assessments of choir and assembly balance.
  • davido
    Posts: 655
    Interesting topic which I have also been contemplating of late. I have been playing with less full registrations, partly because attendance hasn’t bounced back after Covid, partly because those that come don’t sing.

    Do you have a mic’d cantor? I have seen people using full congregational registrations for a mute congregation/empty church but it balances with the heavily amplified cantor. Not what the organ was built for, but it does fill up the room.
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • cesarfranck
    Posts: 140
    Flutes 8, 4, 2 2/3rd (a soft nazard) and a soft string or diapason 8 or 4 coupled from swell to a flute 8 on great often works for me with choir and a diminished congregation of singers. Add other stops and open expression more if singing improves.
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    Do you have a mic’d cantor?
    No, everything unamplified except the celebrant.
  • WGS
    Posts: 282
    It all depends on the style and participation of the celebrant. If he is singing vigorously and rhythmically and in tune, the congregation will follow. Of course, this begins with the greetings and responses, and a microphone does not help!
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,999
    Organ somewhere in the middle seems preferable in my experience. Too soft and people feel exposed and alone. Too loud, and they can’t hear themselves sing. I’m deadly serious, by the way. We normally have ok participation at 2/3 masses, but this weekend we were piano only. There was a notable drop in singing, and I think it was because the people felt too exposed. (I’ve literally had people tell me this before.)

    Also, if a church really has no culture of singing, it’s incredibly difficult to get people to participate. Some congregations sing their guts out; others, barely a peep. It’s weird, and I’ve never been able to figure out why this is. My playing hasn’t changed, at any rate. Just the venue and the PiPs.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    The priest can hardly concern himself with doubling as cantor while he's praying at the altar, but I do understand your point. We just had a parish mission last week. I was present all three nights but didn't play the organ at all. The priest started singing some of the old standard hymns before and after the talks and the congregation joined in enthusiastically: Immaculate Mary; Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above; Salve Regina; Holy God, We Praise Thy Name; Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty. I can almost guarantee that I or any other organist could have given the clearest possible introduction, but without the priest's leadership, participation would have been lacking. That's just the mentality of the people, unfortunately. I don't really understand why priests want congregational singing at Mass but aren't willing to implement it in common-sense ways. "Please open your hymnal to number ### and join in singing..." goes a long way when uttered by a priest, but when I request that, they make an announcement 20 or 30 minutes beforehand instead of when it's actually time to sing, which does no good whatsoever. Sigh.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    We actually had respectable congregational singing of both English hymns and Gregorian chant at our High Masses before COVID, but since then we had a year of absolutely no congregational singing, and a huge influx of new parishioners who don't know the chants and have no memory of what was customary here three years ago. The other "traditional" Catholic music programs in town are as I described: small choral ensemble singing loudly in unison, bombastic organ, mostly silence in the pews. It's neither fish nor fowl, as the saying goes, and neither beautiful nor reverent in my opinion. Not a fan of tepidity or vicarious pseudo-participation!
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 488
    In my experience, Catholics are used to following/joining in with other singing voices. Lutherans, on the other hand, commence loud singing immediately upon hearing 30 ranks of 60s mixtures on top of a gedeckt. Old-time Baptists hear a piano and do the same. But it seems to me that Catholics prefer to hang on to other voices, which may be why the Snow “Our Father” and the preface dialogue are often sung the loudest. Getting that initial vocal ball rolling is the challenge.

    I find that most of the time I have the best success using just a few unenclosed stops (some Great 8s and 4s, to taste), and coupling in the Swell and Choir. That way I have the ability to produce all kinds of colourful and encouraging registrations no matter how strong the singing. Building a chorus in a neoclassical way (Great 8+4+2 2/3’+2+IV) gives you only 5 different sounds, of which 3 are likely to be too much for a timid group. But if you instead use the Sw and Ch, then you have a few hundred possible combination of the stops in those divisions, plus probably 32 different degrees to which the shutters can be opened/closed. So you can have very majestic, thrilling registrations (e.g. full swell to reeds and mixtures), but by keeping the swellboxes tightly shut, it still won’t be as loud as Great 8-4-2 alone.

    This is de rigeur in Anglican/British choral accompaniment, but it works for hymnsinging too.
  • Bingo, Gamba! Glad I am not the only one to notice how Catholics follow voices best.
  • My training was to register for congregational song at about the volume that the congregant singing doesn't think he can be heard by other people. There is obviously a lot of nuance based on the instrument available, the acoustics of the room, the strength of the choir. However, the foundational principle of congregational accompaniment is that the congregant must not feel exposed when he sings.

    Choral accompaniment is completely different, because in a choral dynamic you have an audience trying to hear the voice over the accompaniment. In congregational song everyone is singing and there is no audience.

    In my experience, if I accompany a hymn as is it is a choral anthem, anyone singing in the pews will put up the hymnal and listen to the choir sing

    There should almost always be a 4' principal or loud 4' string present in the chorus as this provides the singing tone.

    Playing quieter because only a few are singing will just put you in a one way downward spiral towards no congregational singing at all.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    In congregational song everyone is singing and there is no audience.
    In theory... in reality, it's about 80-90% functioning as audience.
    towards no congregational singing at all.
    I think that would honestly be preferable in every way to what we have now. Maybe let them have the short responses and a Marian antiphon, which they actually do sing, and let everything else be just the cantors. I am seriously considering proposing this to my pastor. One of the other priests is the one pushing for congregational singing but also not doing anything to encourage it. Things are better at the principal Mass, but the earlier Mass is a real problem, with no more than thirty out of 300 people singing, and I'm not sure it's even that many. If I really play loudly enough that a congregant feels covered up, the cantors will be inaudible. If 8' foundations with a 4' flute already sound too loud, I can't fathom how adding to that would help the situation. I'm essentially trying to accompany two voices next to the organ singing f and a few others scattered about the church singing mp. It seems very, very off to me, especially in contrast to the later Mass.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,999
    Lutherans, on the other hand, commence loud singing immediately upon hearing 30 ranks of 60s mixtures on top of a gedeckt.
    this made me chuckle.

    My training was to register for congregational song at about the volume that the congregant singing doesn't think he can be heard by other people. There is obviously a lot of nuance based on the instrument available, the acoustics of the room, the strength of the choir. However, the foundational principle of congregational accompaniment is that the congregant must not feel exposed when he sings.
    Liam had put it more elegantly than I, but I agree. Most people fall into one of two categories: 1—they let it rip and don’t care (could be bravado, could be they have little true sense of their own voice) or 2—surprisingly self-conscious about their singing. I suspect that many (most?) people slip into this latter category by default. People don’t like being the only one singing, and people don’t like to THINK that they are the only one singing —whether it is true or not— and that everyone can hear them, hence the organ cannot be too chintzy.

    There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule. As mentioned above, Marian hymns almost always elicit bravado on the part of the congregation. (Immaculate Mary probably being the most infamous here; every single congregation I’ve ever played for will belt this out if you leas them with the organ.) And no one wants to hear much organ (if any at all) by the time you make it to Silent Night during midnight Mass. (Christmas carols, writ large, tend to excite people to sing, but that is probably because they have a whole life of their own outside of Mass, so people are more familiar with them.)

    ——
    One thing I’ve always found curious is the fact that just one or two people singing strongly in the pews can be enough to really kickstart a response by everyone around them. Granted, you can end up with that one person being obnoxious about it, singing their Wagnerian solos and fighting you for tempo dominance, but really, just a few people singing full-voice can get the rest of the church to start singing too.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • davido
    Posts: 655
    In my experience, lack of singing is connected to lack of musical knowledge. Those few strong voices in a congregation are the people who read music.

    The only really strong singing I get is on mass parts, standards like Immaculate Mary, and Christmas carols, i.e. things done so much they are practically memorized. I think that familiarity is the key. Much as I don’t want to play the same 4 hymns every week, I think participation would increase week by week…
    Thanked by 2Carol LauraKaz
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,671
    This is why it's important to encourage people with good voices to sit amid the congregation, about halfway to 2/3rds of the way back into the main space, and sing from such a location, rather than poach them for the choir/schola. And, even more importantly perhaps, to encourage your choristers to do so when they are not singing in choir on a given occasion.
    Thanked by 2Carol LauraKaz
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,852
    Liam, I was just about to ask if anyone else had tried the "strategically placed chorister" method, and how effective it was! Anyone else tried this?
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,106
    We tried that at my parish when I was in High School (back in the 1970s). I was one of the choristers in the pews. I really couldn't tell a difference. But, then, I was singing and not listening to the rest of the congregation.

    Back to the idea of having the priest lead the hymns - Once at Mass for the recessional, the music director chose one of the classic, well-known hymns. The priest didn't think enough people were singing, stopped everything and told everyone to open their books and sing, that this was 'One of the great, moldy, oldies of the Church'!
  • You could also try doing without the cantor. In my experience, having a cantor sing during congregational song suppresses singing. It creates a dynamic of "He'll play, I'll sing, and you listen or sing." This is much less inviting and not as philosophically intuitive as "I'll play, you sing."

    If I really play loudly enough that a congregant feels covered up, the cantors will be inaudible.

    This demonstrates a difference in beliefs. I would argue that the organ leads congregational song, not the choir or the cantor, so whether or not the cantor/choir can be heard during congregational song is of little importance or consequence.

    In fact, this scenario is quite common. Most Catholic parishes lack a choir that can hold it's own against congregational singing, so it doesn't make sense to me to register so that the choir can be heard

    since then we had a year of absolutely no congregational singing, and a huge influx of new parishioners who don't know the chants and have no memory of what was customary here three years ago.

    They will pick it up! It sounds like they need more time. People sing the Ordinary and Immaculate Mary because of repetition and familiarity.
    My parish experienced a huge influx of parishioners during covidtide who were unfamiliar with the hymnody and the expectation of congregational song. I paired down our hymnal to the 50 best processional/recessional hymns and 8 best communion hymns and used exclusively these for 2 years. I continued to play as if I expected people to sing--and two years in, people have started to sing.
    Thanked by 2Carol LauraKaz
  • I feel more inclined to sing when the organ is loud enough for me to feel like I’m not singing louder than the organ and I can blend with the foot pedal. I noticed more men sing when there’s a strong bass voice in the organ.

    Fermatas in hymns stress me out with over analyzing the length since I don’t have a director (in which case they’re played/sung for double the note length, but the choir does have a director, s who knows how long he’ll hold it for. I don’t want a Mr. Bean moment.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    My predecessor chose new hymns nearly every week and they were many of the "greats" of the enlightened seventies. One week, it would be "Up the Creek in Yahweh's Canoe," then the next something like "Around the Outhouse with Mary." The congregation, for the most part, hated those songs - I won't dignify them by calling them hymns - and wouldn't sing them. With the constant new music, the congregation never had the chance to learn anything.

    I chose 30 hymns that were mostly traditional and that they all knew. No problems any more and most of them sang. When I introduced a new hymn, I would play it during offertory or communion for a couple of weeks. The next week, the choir would sing it. After three or four weeks of this, when it came time for the congregation to sing it, they could say, "Oh yeah, I have heard that one before." The melody was in their minds by then and the hymn was familiar to them.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    You could also try doing without the cantor.
    That would surely result in an organ solo! I know about French alternatim practice, but that's really not what we're going for here.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    Regarding a organ versus vocal leading, I have attached a good example of when the latter goes wrong. One wrong chord from the organist was able to throw off thousands of people (Cologne Cathedral, Epiphany 2015). But, congregational singing so confident that the cantors/choir could sing every other phrase of the chant and drop out on the congregational parts would be a dream. At the Vatican, they have the coro guida that is responsible for leading the congregational singing. In former times, German Lutheran churches had a cantor or chorus choralis in the midst of the congregation fulfilling the same role, totally separate from the gallery choir. Does this differ essentially from the "strategically placed chorister" method mentioned above?
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    Sorry for three consecutive comments on my own post, but I keep thinking of more things! I'm certain that embarrassing people into singing isn't going to work. Crowd psychology is a thing. The more people there are, the less likely anyone is to take any personal responsibility. The bystander effect, where people witness a crime and nobody does anything to help, is an extreme but well-known example—and the larger the crowd, the less likely anyone is to intervene. A majority of the people in the pews do sing the Salve Regina at the end of the Mass in question. If, for whatever reason they come to the later Mass on a given Sunday, I imagine many of them participate in the other chants as well. But at the earlier Mass, they're waiting for somebody else in the pews to take the initiative. At a weekday Mass with 30 or 40 people, if the priest decides to intone a hymn after Communion, they sing, without the assistance of organ, choir, or cantor. I have been to Masses where it was unclear whether the congregation was supposed to be singing or not, but we have numbers posted on the hymn board and organ accompaniment that is too loud for just the unamplified cantors, who chant a cappella otherwise. For reference, here is a recording from three years ago. It's not as robust as Methodist or Lutheran singing, but there's clearly an admirable effort. How do we get back to that?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,671
    Stimson

    It was used very effectively in a former church of mine that had a large music ministry divided into thirds being on duty for most non-major Sundays/feasts year-round, so the off-duty choristers were directly encouraged to do this, and it *really* helped.

    I encourage all musicians to do this when visiting other parishes/churches, too.
  • Carol
    Posts: 773
    I agree that repetition is key to encouraging singing at Mass. Organists who play the same hymns at several Masses on the same weekend, may get sick of hymns quickly, but remember the congregation only sings once per weekend, typically. Good clear introductions that set the tempo and really orient the congregation to the key are also an encouragement to the congregation. Hymns with accompaniments that are fuzzy or don't support the singing are also likely to discourage congregational singing. Good composition and lyrics with good theology are recognized by the congregation, even if they may not realize the appeal of a hymn.

    I am always so heartened and uplifted when I hear the congregation singing the N.O. Mass parts with (appropriate) gusto.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,124
    As a PiP, what I need is, as Carol says, a clear indication of pitch and tempo. The most encouraging organist we have had showed a gift for making the 'organ'‡ sing just as she would with her voice. You heard identical timing of phrases, all the commas in the text, even the rhythm of a congregation breathing. Skilled musicians can bring disaster just by trying to impose their musicianship on the average crowd.
    And a catholic congregation will usually only sing in unison, trying too hard to supply the harmony can confuse them, particularly in the lead in.
    ‡ an elderly simulacrum, and a small building with good acoustic, simple box with high barrel roof seating 150 crammed in.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    The congregation in question has now had fifteen consecutive Sundays with Credo I. My playing hasn't changed from the three-year old recording I shared in my previous reply. I think it's pretty unambiguous in terms of pitch and tempo, and not "fuzzy" (nor fussy!) at all, but I shared it above for your feedback and suggestions. I am not in any sense sick of or bored with the Gregorian Credo in and of itself, only the lack of participation by the faithful. I would be very happy to make it "officially schola only" if the people really just don't want to sing during the Mass and the priests are unwilling to encourage them to do so. It would be a lot more beautiful and reverent than the situation we currently have. Again, the recording is from three years ago, with a congregation that sang respectably, in my estimation. There are no recordings of what we have now, thank God.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,124
    madorganist - my comment was not a criticism of you. More a general comment on some of the other posts above. I find your anguished plea for help and advice very clear & helpful for my thinking.
    Credo III is the one 'everybody' knew in days of yore. If you have had a large influx of newcomers, would they sing that?
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    We'll find out on Christ the King Sunday ;)
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,179
    It is noteworthy that some commenters discerned a bright line: pre-Covid vs. post-Covid singing, with the latter being less robust or almost non-existent. That's what I've noted as a pip.

    There is another variable: a new hymnbook (St Michael's) is in the pews. But the 6.5"x8" 8-page programs are still being distributed at the entrances to the church and roughly the same number of people are present. Since the people playing the organ are not organists, we hear 8' and 4' geigen diapason, manual-only, and a song-leader who is in the choir loft, miked. Perhaps that's too dispiriting a combination.....
  • Are you sure the balance that you are hearing is the balance that the congregation is hearing? Sometimes what sounds "overbearing" at the console is the right balance out in the nave, particularly if the nave has a long axis, of if the organ speaks perpendicular to the main axis of the church towards the console.

    The example of playing in 2019 is, in my opinion, too soft to promote learning a tune, especially if that is a recording from the console next to the pipes themselves. I would beef up the accompaniment a little bit. If anything more swallows your unamplified cantor, then try putting the right hand on the Great with super coupled strings, a cornet, or stops with a brighter harmonic tone and amplifying the melody.
    When the congregation has sung more loudly, the registration could then be reduced.

    It may muddy the waters to sing antiphonally with the choir/cantor as occurs in your recording. I, at least, find it much easier to remember tunes intact and not piecemeal.

    Amplifying the bass as SponsaChristi suggests is another way to fill the room without overcrowding it

    Sometimes in extended congregational chants I will intersperse harmonized lines with monophonic lines of the melody and pedal in octaves, which I find helps to keep the tempo up and emphasizes and clarifies the melody. A variation of this is to play the soprano and pedal at octaves with other voices supplying the harmony. This is anathema to good voice leading but can clarify the melody in difficult sections if you identify particular areas of difficulty Sunday to Sunday.

    You may consider not varying the ordinary for other feasts of the year or changes in season until the congregation sings your chosen ordinary lustily.

    Time may be your friend here. I don't think 15 Sundays is actually a reasonable time frame to expect congregational familiarity with an extended Credo. In my experience It has always taken 1-1.5 years of every Sunday repetition to get that level of familiarity.

    I do not wish to be rude, but to make some suggestions that I have found effective in my own practice.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 866
    Thank you for the feedback! To clarify some points: I cannot gauge exactly what it sounds like at the altar, but I do have a sense that the congregational participation for the Credo is not more than 20% what it is for the Salve Regina (and that is being generous) and considerably less than on the responses, and I also have a view from the console of the faces of perhaps 40 people, none of whom participate in singing the Credo or even open their hymnals. The few voices in the pews sing their parts throughout, as far as I can tell. I can't identity particular problem phrases. The rest of the Ordinary at that Mass is cantors only, a cappella, no congregational singing. The 2019 recording is from the front of the church. All singing is aimed toward the microphone, and the organ is at the opposite end of the church, behind everyone.
  • There is a fundamental misunderstanding here - the organ does not 'accompany' the congregation, but leads it. Carefully chosen registrations for each stanza and very firm and unyielding rhythmic drive, regardless of tempo, are essential. The moment one starts following the congregation is the moment of descent into chaos. That said, there just happens to be days when even the most gifted congregations will not sing at their best.

    Sometimes the weather can play havoc with a congregation's inspiration - hot weather, cold weather, rain, ... (I have noticed, for instance, that people sing better when it's cold whilst hot weather can put a damper on people's zeal. These are not universal truths, but can and do at times influence people's mood for singing.)
  • MJO - with greatest respect - I agree that the organ leads the people (and indeed, the choir) in processional and recessional hymns, with very firm rhythmic drive and all that; but surely it only accompanies the chant, and does not lead it. yes?

    unrelated - it is a rare organist whose fingers can sing and breathe as a schola does! It's really something to behold. I've known only one who could do it, and when complimented, he said that for many years he had been organist at a traditional seminary.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    I agree, organs can lead but they are subject to weather, as well. Mine would go sharp when it rained and then the complaints about the organ being too shrill would start. There were also days when the temperature and humidity seemed to conspire to make the instrument sound dull and flat. Voices and instruments don't operate in a vacuum where all things stay constant.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,671
    Organs...lead...accompany...follow...depending on the situation.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    Organs...lead...accompany...follow...depending on the situation.


    And on the organist.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,999
    but surely it only accompanies the chant, and does not lead it. yes?
    Depends on the chanting going on. Trained schola? Accompanies. Congregation singing a credo? Leads.
  • sorry, IMO the organ should never lead chant. what is it, 3/4? 4/4? chant is unmetered, like human speech.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • davido
    Posts: 655
    Congregational chant is like congregational hymns and other service music. The organ leads leads the congregation.
    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • My concept of what an organ ought to do to chant ordinaries is this: it ought to behave as if it were several voices in a polyphonic setting, speaking its own part(s), rather than behaving as Gladys Knight and the Pips, but I haven't found any such settings (and so, I'm trying to develop them).

    Although it's an unpopular opinion, I generally think that Propers should not have organs and voices together.
  • <>
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,999
    chant is unmetered, like human speech.
    …which is precisely why many PiPs need strong cues to stay on. There is no meter, so the music itself can’t provide those cues upon which they might otherwise rely. Our congregation sings Credo III every Sunday (my own transcription into English) and they do pretty well, but they definitely sing more confidently and full voice when they have the organ to keep everyone together. I find the organ is most useful for indicating breaths between phrases and providing a strong start for each new phrase. It’s not that I’m trying to beat people over the head with the organ, but rather the organ turns into a sort of arbiter and equalizer, just like a conductor for the orchestra. The people of the orchestra are the primary concern, but someone (me/the organ) needs to make sure we all stay on the same page. There are also people who are easy to derail, and the organ helps guide them to sing more confidently. I typically use a simply registration like a smaller-scale principal for the accompaniment and a cornet for the melody. No reeds or anything particularly loud.
  • Jackson,

    That "<>" is a new one on me. What does it intend to convey?
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,743
    …which is precisely why many PiPs need strong cues to stay on.


    Exactly. We have come a long way since the popular sentiment that, "man, that Gesualdo really rocks." In earlier times, chant was more the accepted norm and it was familiar. I have found it sounds a bit strange to modern ears. We are used to meter and when it isn't there, it can throw the congregation off.
    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • Maybe <> is a graphic for a dropped jaw? Just sayin
  • <> = .
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,000
    In some (mostly romantic) musical notation <> over a note (called a "nuance") informs the singer to swell into the note and then immediately ease off the volume.