To Accompany Or Not to Accompany
  • This is regarding a N.O. Parish:

    During our daily Masses, the kyrie is spoken, but we always sing (in English) the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. On Feast or Solemnities of the week, all of the ordinary is sung with organ and cantor.

    During the weekends, we use a variety of Mass settings (though only ever singing one through-composed set at a time) including:

    Roman Missal Chants (Jubilate Deo)
    Heritage Mass
    Mass if St. Frances Cabrini
    Mass of Wisdom
    German Mass (Schubert)
    Mass of the Immaculate Conception (Latona)

    During Paschaltide and Christmastide, to highlight the solemnity of the season, we use the composed Memorial acclamation of the given set, whichever Mass we are singing. During Advent and Lent/Passiontide, we sing the Roman Missal Chants, typically acapella.

    During Sundays of the year, we use whatever Mass setting we have rotated into, but use the Roman Missal Chant Memorial Acclamations. We sing these acapella During the year, but I Accompany them on Feasts and Solemnities as a part of how we observe progressive solemnity.

    This practice of unaccompanied Memorial Acclamations has called into question by the Pastor out of curiosity.
    I explained the progressive Solemnity aspect of my reasoning, allowing for growth of the congregation yo learn to respond on their own and continue to find there voice.

    Question: (Finally)

    Does my reasoning of progressive Solemnity hold water in your estimation? Does it seem like a strange practice as I have explained it?

    I welcome other thoughts, comments, and questions regarding our practices, as I have laid them out.
  • davido
    Posts: 893
    I would either accompany the memorial acclamation all the time, or not accompany it all the time. Congregations (and priests) like the familiar and the predictable. They will not intuit your contributions toward progressive solemnity. They sing best when they know the music cold, and they rarely get bored with mass settings.You already have a huge amount of variety in the number of your mass settings.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,992
    The issue for the memorial acclamation is that its text can vary, and people who are not following worship aids get caught surprised by which one is chosen and no incipit is provided to clue them in. I suspect that's what's lurking behind the pastor's feedback.
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • I find that accompanying the memorial acclamation is actually a bit onerous. You have to give the priests pitches or just launch in and hope for the best. It also draws you out of your own ability to pray at that moment. We’ve been doing the missal’s “mortem tuam…” and increasingly I am refraining from accompanying it. I don’t think accompaniment is what decides whether or not something is solemn. Rather, it’s whether the thing is done or not.
  • Davidoff, I do agree that we have a great many settings of the ordinary... I'm hoping to cut it back, in time, to only 4 settings....

    Roman Missal Chants (Latin and English; Advent, Lent, and all 7am Masses throughout the whole of the year.)
    Heritage (Ordinary Time)
    German Mass (Ordinary Time)
    Latona (Christmastide and Eastertide)

    The one "wrinkle" I have is that our Diocesan Liturgical Commission somehow decided that the best Diocesan Mass settings that should be regularly used are the Missal Chants, Mass of Creation, and Mass of St. Frances Cabrini- as such, I might have to keep Cabrini in the mix to continue to be an example to other parishes in the area...
  • Sorry to hear that your diocesan liturgical commission picked two mediocre Mass settings- the Haugen and Keil. Liturgical commissions are just another name for opportunities for progressives with agendas.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW tomjaw
  • our Diocesan Liturgical Commission somehow decided that the best Diocesan Mass settings that should be regularly used are the Missal Chants

    Since you're doing these during Advent and Lent, as well as throughout the year at one of your Masses, you should be fine as an example to other parishes...right?
  • I like your rationale, but honestly, I don’t expect it to persuade the pastor. While those of us totally understand your rationale on this forum, I think the pastor will eventually tell you, “It’s too confusing to the people, either accompany or don’t.” This might just be my own experience speaking, but I know that if we tried something like this at my N.O., we’d be told exactly what I wrote. I’ll fight many a battle, but this one I wouldn’t.
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    I’ve only ever not accompanied:

    -Dialogues (e.g. Gospel, Preface, Sign of Peace)
    -Amens at the end of the collects/orations
    -Rare inner verses of hymns when the singing is truly strong
    -Penitential Act C when a visiting deacon decides to sing it, much to everyone’s surprise

    So, except during the Triduum, if the people are to sing something, the organ plays. It provokes a Pavlovian response, instantly clarifies whether something is intended to be sung by the choir alone or by all, and keeps everyone together in a big church.

    I have been in a situation where the DoM suddenly decreed one week that the memorial acclamation should be sung a cap. Half the choir didn’t come in, none of the people did, and he changed his mind real quick.

    To me, progressive solemnity lies in how a thing is done, not whether or not it is done. That is to say, not be a question of “incense or no incense”, but “10 grams of incense, or a kilo?” Not “sung collect or said”, but “solemn or ferial tone”. And in the case of the MA, solemnity might lie in not whether it is accompanied or not, but whether it is accompanied with 8’ flutes, foundations, principal chorus, or tutti with brass and timp. Perhaps the most solemn of all and the real outlier, though, would be Holy Thursday, when it is unaccompanied.
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • I don't think I'd buy the 'progressive solemnity' rationale. We always sing "We proclaim your death" (always A) & great "Amen" unaccompanied, and "Our Father" if intoned. One exception (as happened this morning with a visiting celebrant) is when the intonation is, um, ambiguous: then the organ will play the melodic cue for people to respond to.
    The sursum corda is rarely sung to the very discrete organ pitch, but this doesn't matter too much when the preface is spoken. Another exception though is when this is cued with unrecognizable melody: if a soft pitch is played in time the cantor/choir can get the congregation on track, though sometimes decisive accompaniment will save the day.

    In Lutheran churches "Lift up your hearts" seems to be always accompanied, as indeed it is printed in the LBW.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    My choir had a gift for singing in keys not known to man nor beast when unaccompanied. I always accompanied for my own sanity.
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 334
    -Dialogues (e.g. Gospel, Preface, Sign of Peace)
    -Amens at the end of the collects/orations
    -Rare inner verses of hymns when the singing is truly strong
    -Penitential Act C when a visiting deacon decides to sing it, much to everyone’s surprise

    So do you accompany the Lord's Prayer? My experience is that this is generally unaccompanied, but that's just my experience.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542

    Unaccompanied, Deacon. Sorry it slipped my mind.