Parish Pastoral Council
  • I don't think that he has said this about music. He has said this because of pressure from powerful people who have clout, enough that he has to listen to them. This should put the quandary he is in a different light, no? If this were not the case, he would have told them to stick it and not had to talk with you at all.

    Even more strangely, this may actually be complaints in some parishes from priests from other parishes who bitch when people visit your church and go back and complain that he's not doing what Fr. sos and so does - including permitting Latin to be sung at Mass by the choir or even worse, the people singing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin. HORRORS! I have observed this, too.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,424
    Even more strangely, this may actually be complaints in some parishes from priests from other parishes who bitch when people visit your church and go back and complain that he's not doing what Fr. sos and so does

    It happens people. No friggin joke.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,899
    Oh, yeah: a priest friend of mine got complaints from another priest across town when he went to the local meeting (deanery, vicariate, whatever it's called in the diocese). In parish A, they were doing some minimal bit of chant in Latin, like singing "Adoro te devote" or some such piece; and the other priest had heard it as "he's saying the Latin Mass" -- and kvetching as if *that* needed to be "coordinated" with the neighboring parishes.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,034
    and kvetching as if *that* needed to be "coordinated" with the neighboring parishes.

    Thank you "Team Ministry" for that one.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,644
    I know what my pastor would tell that complaining priest. LOL.
  • Hahaha. Good grief. Well, the city my Parish is in has another parish that says the EF every week and on Holydays so if they're complaining about my music..... Clearly their priorities are off. :P
  • You may defuse this by demonstrating that:
    1. The Church welcomes all types of music and you (and all at the parish ) strive to be in this camp. And we are open and at peace with new forms of music. Yet chant is not only welcomed but encouraged. Chant and the propers are an area that has been neglected for years; they may seem new and may be unfulfilling now but they are worth exploring. This genre, the propers is "cutting-edge." It is where the Church's creativity is alive.

    2. You should also demonstrate objections are routine but inflating their value turns the environment of the Mass into a tribal turf war. The pastor has responsibility here to maintain a climate of prayer and growth. You are not causing the hostility, ( you are tolerant) the complainer carries this burden. Complainers have the onus of proof that they are not instigating bad emotions or that they are not resistant
    to new growth and movement of the Spirit.

    3. The propers and chants are often understatements (compared to praise music or entrance overtures with trumpets and tymps) and defer to the Mass' power. The sacrificial nature of the Mass becomes apparent even in the music as it gives up its power and even sometimes we even give up our language.

    4. The Psalm verses of the propers are more relevant then a generic praise- song or a Taize refrain. They often point out specific worries, sins, and emotions, and survival anxieties, that we really bring to Mass.
    They acknowledge our interior climate, the real place of prayer. But these psalms always wrap themselves around a fulfillment in Christ and the Mass. They are after-all His prayer, now more fulfilled as they are now sung to the Father by his redeemed people.
    AN EXAMPLE. The Easter Entrance: "I am risen, Father you were right, your knowledge is more wonderful, you were with me in the dark. etc" which has a direct connection to Ash Wednesday's entrance: " When I call to you, you will save me." When we substitute this with "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today" or "I Am the Resurrection" the subject becomes us. But when we sing the proper we become Christ's mystical body praying as he actually prayed upon his resurrection.
    This Sunday will will sing Psalm 72 : about how our envy of the evil and the rich become an obstruction to prayer... until we enter his sanctuary.

    5. Objections that chant inhibits participation can be answered two ways;
    A. There is a false imperative still being taught by our local scholars that all of Vatican II must be read in light of "participation." Participation does not just mean singing; and when it does it does not mean everyone sings everything. The documents indicate that the people have "their part" the choir has a part, the cantor, and priest theirs. So it is licit for the choir to sing a proper or the Gloria alone; just as we know that the congregation would never sing the Eucharistic prayer.
    B. MS (or SC?) suggests a hope that the congregation even participate the singing of the propers. This is finally happening! And we need to be part of that. The congregation can be assigned a simple refrain to respond to the choir more complex antiphon. ( when we sing Nos Autem" the congregation responds with the refrain only from "Now We Remain" ... we hold the death of..." Haugen Hass." But it is not impossible for the congregation to chant the entire proper antiphon without notation once they are trained in the formulas and psalm tones that are modified to accept the English final accent (Meinrad tones).

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The sacrificial nature of the Mass becomes apparent even in the music as it gives up its power and even sometimes we even give up our language.

    Ralph, I don't think I've ever read a more beautiful and succinct defense of the true sacred treasury of music on this forum, ever! Thank you.
  • YES. I agree. Consider that stolen, or copyright it before Saturday if you want royalties. :)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,899
    Can you check the bit about "the Church welcomes all types of music"?
  • ^What he said. :)
  • quilisma
    Posts: 135
    Actually, having an EF parish nearby might one of the problems. It could mean that all those that appreciate Latin/solemn liturgy simply gravitate there and so there are no 'voices' in your parish to support you.

    I would like to have an EF Sunday Mass in my parish but, given there's an EF parish not far away, interested parties are already there.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,365
    Having been in this situation so many times, I have a few words, which you should feel
    Free to reject.
    As I understand it, you are trying to improve and reform the quality
    Of the music at the parish. Understand that you will always have
    Opposition to this. There will always be people upset that there is chant, or that there are better hymns that they don't know.
    I believe you can slightly alter your rate if change - keep including some of the poor hymnody - you may have to for awhile while still implementing your program of improvement. Remember, most folks come to church because the church does nNOT change, they want something constant in their lives and look to the church to provide this. So, don't take their "here I am lord" away just yet, but beside it introduce better hymnody or chant. It will take a awhile, and patience is needed.
    And with this strategy, you can tell the pastor and pc that you are recognizing their need to have music they know, but you wish to gradually improve and introduce new tunes (yes use words like tunes ) so you ask their patience and understanding in this. So you want to keep to your strategy of reform, but in such a way that is is actually per urged as " pastoral".
    I have seen this work, the thing is to do it gradually. Eventually the people get to know and love the better repertoire.
  • Which saint was it who said "Henceforth burn what thou hast worshipped, and worship what thou hast burned"?

  • Which saint? One, who like many musicians, was burnt while being employed at a Catholic church.
  • when we sing Nos Autem" the congregation responds with the refrain only from "Now We Remain" ... we hold the death of..." Haugen Hass."

    This is the sort of infelicitous syncretism which makes rigid purists (yes, there is another kind) out of otherwise gentle-minded people.
  • I have to laugh at the problem people have with Latin, saying it's "achaic", "unsingable", and "nobody understands it". Yet, these same people, almost 100% of the time request "Ave Maria" for funerals and weddings. Am I missing something here?
    Thanked by 3bkenney27 Kathy Jani
  • I realized that I had programmed Hurd's Ubi Caritas for communion this week months ago. (I didn't know it. I found it in our hymnal. The first week I used it, the congregation belted it much to my surprise. It was apparently a staple with a previous director.). I told the Pastor "I don't want you to think I'm ignoring the moratorium, but this was programmed months ago." I got "Oh, yeah. That's fine. That's been around for ages." Oh.
    Thanked by 2Andrew Motyka Gavin
  • "Oh, yeah. That's fine. That's been around for ages."

    I laughed disproportionately hard at this.
  • BKenney,

    Hurd's is ok., but I don't think you should try either the gregorian melody or Durufle's setting of it. That should tell you that it's not a question of Latin, per se.

    It leads me to ask three questions: 1) is it the music of Bob Hurd which makes a Latin text ok? 2) Is it the fact that the parish already knows this piece which makes it acceptable? 3) Does the text which Hurd uses accurately render the Latin, where it doesn't use the Latin itself -- or is it another example of wish-fulfillment theology?

    (I don't remember the piece well enough to be able to answer the third question).
  • There are ideological latin haters for sure, but usually when everyday folks complain about the Latin they don't have an axe to grind because of ideals. Rather, I think it's usually more about CHANGE. People like to feel firm anchors in life especially at church. So usually changing the praxis means change and they don't like that. That's why the Hurd is probably ok, as would the latin Adeste Fidelis in all likelihood. They are comfortable and familiar.
  • And if we do have to change, then at least don't let's change back.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,034
    And if we do have to change, then at least don't let's change back.

    Back to 1970 or 1570?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,644
    Change? What's all this talk about change? We don't like change in the east!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,424
    Was it change in 19th Century Russia?


    Oh. I guess it was...
  • Learning new music/hymns: (This happened to me in my former parish.)

    We usually sang ALL of the verses to ALL hymns. The Pastor loved the hymns and was involved in picking them. He didn't mind singing in place before continuing with his next ministerial function. I was asked by one of the ladies, "Why do we always sing all those verse?" My response was, "There are two reasons. 1) It's not only a poem but also a prayer. You wouldn't start reading a Shakespeare sonnet, and stop after one or two verses, close the book, and go into the kitchen to cook dinner. Neither would you say only the first half of the Hail Mary, and skip the last half. 2) The hymns have been picked according to both the season AND the Reading - the 3-year Lectionary. These sets of Readings only come along once every three years. It might have been quite a long time since you sang this hymn - or you've never sung it. You might not sing along on the first verse, and stumble through the second, and still be timid on the third. But by the fourth, you know the hymn, AND you have another coule of verses to enjoy it. If you were to learn this hymn (or try to) in another church, you would be given the same two verses for the Entrance hymn every Sunday for a month - and STILL NOT KNOW IT!"

    She nodded her head in agreement.

    One year later, we had visitors from out of town. One lady asked the above lady, "Why do you all sing all the verses of the hymns?". Standing on the other side of the room I heard my prior responses almost word for word from her!
  • Very interesting points. Thanks! I actually forwarded this on to my Pastor for consideration. He doesn't like singing all the verses, but it is definitely worth adding an extra one or two for exactly the reasons you pointed out.
  • Hurd's is ok., but I don't think you should try either the gregorian melody or Durufle's setting of it. That should tell you that it's not a question of Latin, per se.

    Haha I know. I'm just being a sarcastic jerk. It's all about change.
  • Isn't it all about fear?
    Thanked by 1bkenney27
  • Fear of change?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,424
    Fear of change?

    Some people will say that change itself is scary.
    It can be, but I don't think that's usually the issue at work with church music changes.

    The problem isn't that change is scary, it's simply that change is STRONGLY DISLIKED.

    And once you change something, fear kicks in:
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,899
    Isn't it politically incorrect for people to acknowledge that they don't like change? There seems to be an assumption in current society that such an attitude is weak, immature, practically shameful. I think unscrupulous agents of change use this assumption to pressure people against opposing change, and it's rather a bad way to operate.

    And yet when the liturgy has been presented with mediocre or improper music, things really should be improved according to the Church's teaching, so we need to look for legitimate ways of gaining acceptance for the needed reform.
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 462
    I have to laugh at the problem people have with Latin, saying it's "achaic", "unsingable", and "nobody understands it". Yet, these same people, almost 100% of the time request "Ave Maria" for funerals and weddings. Am I missing something here?

    There's plenty of wisdom in that question. I maintain that all of the Hagan/Haas/etc ditties had the good intention of making God seem more approachable and less scary, but had the material effect of making Him appear trivial and not to be taken seriously (especially when it comes to hard teachings).

    But now the modern wedding and funeral have become completely anthropocentric, and the first thing to do when planning them is get serious because this is real. Granted, the Schubert "Ave" is pretty darn schmaltzy, but comparatively after the wedding, if the couple bothers to show up at church at all, then it is time to go back to the "I'm Ok, You're Ok" liturgy that will never offend anyone or suggest the need for conversion.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • As I mentioned, the pastor asked the PPC to gather a list of hymns they find familiar. Here is one I just received:

    On Eagle’s Wings – this might be #1 for me!
    O God Beyond all Praising
    On that Holy Mountain – not sure who did this one, but it’s a great long song
    Blest Are They
    City of God
    Gift of Finest Wheat
    We Remember
    Hail Mary, Gentle Woman
    You are Mine
    You are Near
    I Know That My Redeemer Lives (I'm assuming this is the Soper song, not Duke Street.)
    I am the Bread of Life
    How Great Thou Art
    Amazing Grace
    Prayer of St. Francis
    Table of Plenty
    Be Not Afraid
    The Cry of the Poor
    Here I am, Lord
    One Bready One Body
    Glory and Praise to our God
    O God You Search Me
    Holy Darkness – Dan Schutte
    The Summons
    How Can I Keep from Singing?
    Holy God We Praise Thy Name
    Just a Closer Walk With Thee
    Lift High the Cross

    David Haas (Who gets his own category because he is a favorite of this individual.)
    Now We Remain
    The Name of God – I believe this is actually a responsorial psalm, but it is beautiful
    Send Us Your Spirit
    We are Called – great one!
    Without Seeing You – another great one!
    All the End of the Earth – responsorial psalm
    You Are My Shepherd – another great long song
    Jesus be With Us Now
    You are the Voice – another awesome Haas song
    We Give You Thanks – done at Thanksgiving
    They Who Do Justice – this is a responsorial psalm I believe
    Deep Within
    We Have Been Told
    We Will Rise Again
    Song of the Body of Christ

    If Ye Love Me – good a cappella song, but requires a pretty large chorus for all the parts

    So, the usual suspects. The problem is, people don't understand that the hymns you "know" represent a FRACTION of the hymns necessary to plan a liturgical year. So, mathematically, there are bound to be a few hymns you DON'T know, unless you want to hear the SAME HYMNS EVERY WEEK which I'm starting to think is what the music was like before I started.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    Usual suspects. I haven't received a list like this before, but I don't need to. I know that I need to pick the best from this list and sprinkle them throughout the liturgical year to avoid complaints, and it's what I recommend you do, too. One of these "touchy-feely" songs at offertory every now and then has enabled me to get away with doing largely traditional hymnody with occasional chants for the most part. YMMV.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen canadash
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,419
    I fully agree with Irish Tenor. At a certain point the question becomes, "Are they better off here in the parish if I stay?" And if the answer is yes, and you want to stay, make the compromises. But I also agree that items from a list like this can be sort of gently sprinkled in rather than taking over.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Here is the annoying rub about these sanitized and homogenized "white list" beauty pageants:
    In no way can they reflect the full spectrum of revealed scripture and mysteries as we move the feasts and seasons, as well as the fullness of ordered Sundays. Such attempts, whether by BK's PPC, the Snowbirds, NPM polls, etc. will fail, they are doomed to fail and fall short of the glory of the treasury, with or without chant and polyphony
    I about hit the roof when I heard that someone under my "aegis" as DM programmed and led "Lord of the Dance" on Christ the King. The parishioner's complaint was about tempo. Mine wasn't.
    Sing the fullness of the Lord, and only the best.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,419
    The parishioner's complaint was about tempo. Mine wasn't.

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,424
    unless you want to hear the SAME HYMNS EVERY WEEK

    A surprisingly high number of people would be just fine with that.

    which I'm starting to think is what the music was like before I started

    And is the case in a surprisingly high number of parishes.


    44 songs. That's 11 weeks without repeat.
    OR, only repeating any one song 5 times throughout the year.

    I'm not sure the problem is specifically one of QUANTITY.

    I haven't done the math, but I would be willing to bet that, NOT COUNTING CHORAL PIECES, I've done fewer than that many hymns/songs at my church over the last 3 years.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I'm not sure the problem is specifically one of QUANTITY.

    And that works both ways. Whatever your methodology/rationales/criteria are, don't deprive congregations of the unveiling and regular consumption of beautiful new text/melody/harmony compositions.
  • I am being particularly careful with this situation and would like your input on a proper response to the following email (whether it be in person or over email).

    First I would like to express to Brendan how talented you are. I appreciate all the hard work and effort you put into your music ministry. I do not want anything I say or anyone else says to take away from that. Having just returned from retreat I am feeling very spiritually regenerated and excited. Thinking of the time I spent away and what impacted me the most, i have to say it was the Music. [St. Soandso] in [ContemporaryLand] music ministry program is amazing. I can't help but reflect on how they lead and involved the whole church. We attended Mass there on Sunday and the congregation was so connected and present. This is what I wish for our parish.

    The music leads the parishioners. It is not just about choosing songs that people may know, but about leading them in prayer via song. It needs to complement the liturgy and the sermon. I know some weeks this is a very difficult task, however, if you teach the people they will sing. If you lead the people and sing them a few choruses so they can get an ear and feeling for how the song should go, they will sing. You are the expert. Most parishioners are not music experts or critiques. I would bet most people do not even notice if there is ever a mistake. I could go through the hymn book and provide a suggested list of songs, however I truly feel it is not about choosing songs that people know. It is about choosing songs that are easy to sing or you can teach people to sing easily. I can count many times that I heard a song that I did not know but I sang it anyway. On retreat I heard many songs that I did not know but found myself singing them.

    Our mission for our parish is to grow our congregation. I believe music ministry is a key part in this. Latin while beautiful, is not what young people or even some older want to hear. In order to grow our church we need to attract parishioners. I often hear in mass people complaining that they would like to sing but can not follow the songs easily. Sometimes in mass there is no board pated. This past Sunday it was difficult to hear the contour and therefore you could not sing as there was no board posted with the song numbers. This causes confusion in the parishioners and frustration because they can not feel part of the mass by singing, I found myself flipping through the hymn book trying to find the sing to no avail. It made me frustrated.

    I would also like to mention cantors. I know Brendan that you are not in charge, however i hope you or Fr. John can pass this on. When I attended the Family dinners last year, there was a teenage girl sitting at my table. She thought Brendan was the cats meow. She ran up to him and gave her her phone number. She was so excited because she sang in her school chorus and stated " My mom can not get me to church, but if I sing I will go every week," Now I have no idea what events took place after that, I do know I have never seen her sing at mass. I also know of another older parishioner who is passionate about singing and enjoys it a lot. We need to attract new talent and continue to grow as a parish community. We can do that many ways and music is one of those ways. Music can empower and enlighten people. It is a key part in prayer and reflection. I think if we all work together we can accomplish our goals as a parish to evangelize through words, prayer and music.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

    I want to maximize the potential effect my response can have on this individual. She is open-minded and very even-tempered. In a sense, she has done quite a bit of my blabbing for me. (What with the points about picking up a hymn she didn't previously know.)

    A bit of background - The parish about which she is speaking that has a "fantastic" music program is a very contemporary parish. I attended one of these "Welcome Back" Masses and was appalled at how the liturgy was distorted, music aside. Then, when I came to the music, it was all contemporary, complete with hand motions and the "cantor" pointing and leaning back in a concert call-and-response sort of way when it was time for the congregation to sing.

    The hymn boards are not posted when we use worship aids so there is an easy response to that.

    And, unfortunately, people feel as though I am not maximizing the potential coming forth in the parish much in the way this letter says. They always see the eagerness to participate, but they do not see the email chain or voicemails that happen when it comes time for these individuals to actually step up to the plate. "Oh, I'm too busy. Maybe next time..." etc.

    Thanks for your help. There is a lot of good that can be done with the proper response to this letter and I just want to make sure I maximize that by falling back on the innumerable years of experience on this forum of dealing with this exact issue.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,673
    I think you should do exactly what she asks you to do.

    Begin teaching the congregation to sing short choruses that perfectly reflect the readings of that day and/or that season or Mass.

    They can be found for this weekend by going here:

    And every other weekend by going here:

    Use only the "simple" antiphons for each weekend and print them on a worship aid so she doesn't have to worry about finding a hymn in a hymnal. You could fit all of the antiphons from the Lumen Christi on 1/2 a 8.5/11 size paper. If you need 500 copies, that's only 250 pieces of paper each weekend. If you need 1000 copies, it's only 500. You can also print, on the worship aid, the hymn numbers of any other songs you might happen to use during the Mass, the names of any preludes and postludes (obviously only on the Third Sunday of Advent), etc.

    This is clearly what people want. You have the letter. :)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,424
    Latin while beautiful, is not what young people...want to hear

  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 462
    There is no IMAX theater in the world large enough to encompass the amount of projection going on in that letter. However, instead of pushing back, or even respectfully countering with your most dispassionate Mr. Spock logic, which is sorely tempting, be diplomatic, thank her (?) for her input, latch on to the one good point and tell her great idea (that is, getting more young people involved), be as non-committal as possible about the rest and continue to do what is right, which is providing the worship music most worthy of Our Lord.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,644
    First and most importantly, find out exactly where your pastor is on all this and to what degree he will support you. Do this before responding.
  • Jani
    Posts: 429
    By all means, Brendan. Sacrifice the Sacrifice of the Mass so we can all just sing along. You poor kid.
  • If you're using a hymnal, why NOT put the numbers up?

    We use a printed worship aid - and I still put the numbers up for hymns in the hymnal. That way they have TWO visual ways to get the number and participate.

    It seems like that's a good way to disarm one of her biggest complaints.

    As for latin - find and point out some of the very contemporary music settings beginning to incorporate latin. Latin is actually the FUTURE, and the direction in which the church is moving. Point out Taize, and the incredible success they've had with participation of millions using simple latin refrains.

    As for the young cantor, be honest and point out what you said: unfortunately, when push comes to shove, a lot of people who seem really excited to participate actually back away when it comes down to it. Tell her "If you have any ideas on combatting that syndrome, I'd sure love to hear them!"
  • With regard to the request for a hymn board, well, that is an easy fix. Perhaps someone in your parish with woodworking skills would be happy to provide them. Also, remember that some parishes aren't big enough to have huge collections in which to print worship aids, so the hymn board would certainly help.

    I do have one concern regarding the young singer who feels she would return to mass if she were allowed to sing. Does she want solo work, or to just be a part of the choir? If only solo work, I would very gently remind her that the mass is not the place to show off a beautiful voice and that her attendance in the choir would be a mutual blessing to both her and the parish.

    When it comes to people not liking Latin, is it because they truly don't like it or are intimidated by it because they have trouble with pronunciations and/or translations? It took me quite a while in my own parish to realize that the main complaint about the Latin chants was not in the Latin itself, but rather in no explanation of it nor a translation guide. Also, I've learned that we musicians should not assume that people know what they are doing. My new Schola went along with my flow but weren't improving and I asked them what they needed to improve. One member said she needed to hear me sing the phrases first while they followed along with the neumes. Once I started doing that, they improved rapidly and are now on to more difficult chants.

    I think as DOMs all of us have had the frustration of having people be very excited in theory, but hearing all the excuses for not joining the ministry in practice. Unfortunately, when the run of the mill PIP hears the excitement and then does not see the result, they assume it was because of something the DOM did or did not do. The reality of the situation is that in today's world people (including children) are exposed to so many things and have initial excitement about them all, but later realize that they cannot fit it into their schedule (or whatever excuse is given).

    The bottom line is that we are called to ministry and to evangelization through the music, but we cannot enter people's hearts and expect them to respond. We can lead the chorister horse to water, but cannot make him drink it.

    God bless you as you contemplate the proper response to this letter.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,419
    I have been looking for a great video by Lutheran seminary professor and church musician Paul Westermeyer, but am unable to find it.

    I think this article is helpful too. In any case I offer it in case it might be useful.

    Thanked by 1bkenney27