Parish Pastoral Council
  • HELP! I received this email from the pastor tonight. Nothing has come up with this in my private meetings with the pastor (during which he actually told me he thought new material was being introduced with sensitivity), and my cantors (who are up front) have said they have noticed an INCREASE in participation.
    Brendan, At the parish council this evening there was an extended discussion about music. There was widespread agreement that the selection of hymns at Mass needs to reflect more of the music that people know and can sing. Many people spoke of their appreciation of your talents and ability as a musician but felt very strongly that people are not singing and this is becoming increasingly frustrating. I would like to discuss this with you soon so we can look at responding positively to this concern.

    I'm wondering if any of you have had to deal with a PPC like this.
  • Yes, and it's the reason I stepped down as my parish's choir director last year. I had the same thing--"we can't sing what you're giving us, you're shoving chant down our throats (I had implemented the ICEL ordinary, except for the Agnus Dei, which was from the Mass of St Theodore) and we want the music we like"--and one woman's jaw visibly dropped when I said that church music isn't a matter of personal taste. The woman who took over the choir has gone back, more or less, to praise and worship music.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,487
    Why are they discussing the music without you there? Did you know this happens? Is this encouraged by the Pastor?

    At least the Pastor would like to be "positive" in his "discussion" with you.

    Can you tell us what exactly you have changed? For example, are you now omitting all hymns and singing only propers, so people can't sing because they don't have the text and music? Or have you left "On Eagle's Wings" and "Be Not Afraid" for "Faith of Our Fathers" and "Tantum Ergo".
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,041
    Why are they discussing the music without you there? Did you know this happens? Is this encouraged by the Pastor?

    What she said.

    You'd better read the book "When Sheep Attack" *now* and see if you can get your pastor's agreement that he'll include you in any discussion of music -- that is, any discussion of you.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,451
    This is what happens in these meetings.

    Whiner #1: I don't like the music we've been singing at the Mass lately. I'm sure everyone agrees with me.

    Non-whiners who are blindsided, who haven't even thought of the issue: silence.

    Whiner #2: We used to sing music EVERYBODY KNEW. Now, nobody knows the music!

    Non-whiners sort of waking up: silence.

    Pastor: Well, I can see we have a problem here. What do we propose to do about it?

    Whiner #1: Well, we didn't have this problem when Mr. Smith and Ms. Ida used to do the music.

    Pastor: Well, why don't I have a talk with the music director and see whether we can sing some MUSIC EVERYBODY KNOWS.

    Suddenly, based on two whiney people, in 30 seconds flat, the Music Director has been cast in the role of "problem." This is an outrageous occurrence.

    If you can trust your cantors--i.e. if you're sure none of them wants your job, or thinks they should have gotten it last time, etc.--it might be a good idea to let the pastor know that he can talk to them about their impressions of increased participation.

    If it were me, I would ask the pastor to have meetings with him, me, and the main whiners one on one. They won't be as bold in that meeting. Don't forget, you know a million times more about music than they do. You have encyclopedic knowledge of hymnody and chant. They have zero knowledge. Work that in the meeting. Politely but insistently make them acknowledge that you are an expert, not some sort of ecclesiastical jukebox.


    One of the times this sort of thing happened to me, I asked the whiners to give me a list, on paper, of SONGS EVERYBODY KNEW. So they had some sort of meeting over coffee--and nobody could agree on what the songs were, that EVERYBODY KNEW. The only exception surprised the heck out of me: O Lord, I Am Not Worthy. Can you believe it? I was sure it was going to be something "contemporary," but no, it was the most common Communion hymn of the Pre-Vatican II 4-hymn sandwich!

    That was it. That was the Common Core for that whole group of whiners who were sure they all knew exactly what everyone else wanted to sing.

    We had this parish survey done, and the music responses were all over the map. "I love the old style hymns." "All our hymns sound Protestant." "Why don't we have Traditional music like "Here I Am, Lord." "I love the hymn to our Patron and think we should sing it more." "Please, please, don't ever let us sing the hymn to our Patron anymore!"

    There is no consensus among the people. I bet you a million dollars the parish council did not talk about specific genres. They do not agree.

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Kathy is right on.

    On a related note, make sure that either a Google search for your name doesn't turn up any posts here at the forum (or elsewhere) or that nothing you have said online about your parish can be taken out of context and used against you.
  • Kathy and Adam are spot on!

    I am going through the very same thing. Basically insert Kathy's synopsis and that is what I have been going through. Why is it that it's always the music, and not say perhaps, the good Father's homily. Everyone is usually afraid to mention that, so the next best thing is taking pot shots at the music.
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 462
    No way to sugarcoat it; you are getting caballed and the pastor unfortunately seems to be taking it seriously, which limits what you can really do. Whatever you do, KEEP YOUR COOL. Blow up or get defensive, and you lose. Pray heavily.

    Why is it that it's always the music...

    There is a quote that goes, "Let me write the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws." Music is so powerful that it dictates the character of the worship. Fr. Z is known for his catch phrase, "Save the liturgy, save the world", but I always add an important step before that: "Save the music, save the liturgy". This means that even if you offer better translations, return to solemn homilies as opposed to MC clowning around and abolish abuses, it's all for nothing if the music is the same ol' mawkish crap.

    Thanked by 1Jahaza
  • There is no consensus among the people. I bet you a million dollars the parish council did not talk about specific genres. They do not agree.

    I strongly suggest that everyone read the most recent periodical that came out from NPM, which showed many responses to the survey questions about this year's convention. It's hard to believe they all even attended the same thing.
    Thanked by 2jpal CHGiffen
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,375
    Kathy is right on.

    Kathy and Adam are spot on!

    I'm not so sure. Kathy provided some wonderful advice, and Adam's reference to a Google search (which I did) makes me wonder

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    If the good father is simply pulling up info that is available to anyone who can do a Google search, he is simply proving Adam's point. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can be pretty honest, but not everyone is that lucky.
  • original poster can delete this thread if he or she so chooses.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    There should be no levity or "quarter given/quarter taken" in this discussion. I too, stand with Kathy on this one. This is deadly serious, with souls, for their decisions and actions, at stake and peril, trust me I know. NOW.
    There is no "I'll take the high road and you the low road and we'll meet later on."
    There is the Way, the Truth and the Life only, and those ordained or commissioned to lead our Church continue to, by and large, behave like magistrates by capitulating to ego and evid deeds out of fear that eat parishes alive from within. It is sickening.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Thank you admins, for removing identifying information from the above post.
    I am leaving the below in place, as I believe my thoughts on the matter may be helpful to other forum members.

    I am hoping this quickly becomes a moot point, and that the identifying information mentioned above will be removed- but in the mean time:

    Following my clear warning to make sure that a Google search doesn't return misconstruable evidence which can be used against the OP with clearly identified names and places is reckless endangerment of a young man's budding career.

    My decision to use my full name on this forum and other places, a decision motivated by a long-term desire to "make a name for myself" as a writer and composer, has created serious problems when disaffected parishioners (and there will ALWAYS be disaffected parishioners) decide to start snooping around for dismissal-worthy fodder. All it takes it one person with a foul agenda.

    That is a risk I take willingly- as do some others. Still other people are particularly careful to not do so. The Original Poster of this thread may or may not be willing to take such a risk. And, given his youth and newness to this career, he may not have even considered the ramifications.

    And the ramifications can be severe.

    Celibate priests with no families and volunteer parish councils (and apparently errant forum posters), often act as if hiring and firing decisions in parish music are essentially consequence-free. But these issues have lasting impacts on the musicians involved- not just for their careers, but for their own faith life and for the life of their families, who become a part of the communities they serve and then are sent into exile when the leadership turns against them.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,761
    The fact that the pastor emailed you this feedback speaks volumes about the failure to train pastors in proper interpersonal communication.

    One might ask to meet with Father Dearest and start by asking: well, Father, I would like to know how you interpreted this feedback and how you responded to it during the meeting?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    I follow the pastor's instructions to the letter, and am implementing the music program he wants. I never leave the pastor in the dark, and consult with him on nearly everything. I did have one objector some time back, who was upset over the revised missal changes, didn't like the new music the pastor instructed us to use, and didn't like the fact I didn't coddle and humor him like the previous director. I told him to take his concerns up with the pastor, and that was the last I ever heard from him.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    CharlesW - not everyone is so fortunate.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,155
    But these issues have lasting impacts on the musicians involved- not just for their careers, but for their own faith life and for the life of their families, who become a part of the communities they serve and then are sent into exile when the leadership turns against them.

    THIS. And these "people in charge" need to wake up and smell the Darjeeling.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    Darjeeling always smells wonderful, but that's another subject.

    I agree, Adam, I am more fortunate than some. But as I advised, don't leave the pastor in the dark, consult with him often, and get his approval on what you do before the fact. It does make a difference. He is more likely to support you if he knows you are supporting his vision.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,451
    Besides When Sheep Attack, I would recommend a book called Pastors in Transition. Full disclosure, I was a research assistant on the project that led to the book. One of my jobs was phone interviews with pastors (UM, Assemblies of God, PCUSA, and 2 kinds of Lutherans) about why they'd left parish ministry. Quite interesting stories.

    At some point, I felt I'd heard every possible story--or at least I've stopped hearing new ones!
  • I'll provide a more detailed response later, but just wanted to be clear that what I post here, I do with full understanding that it could be found. My intent when it comes my specific parish is to post a neutral request for feedback so that when you examine only what I have posted, and not what others respond, you find little objectionable material.

    I also think my Pastor knows well enough that I enjoy working with him and doubt that he would find anything here that would lead him to believe otherwise. And, if he did, that certainly was not the intent.

    Anyway, thanks for the input. It is helpful I'm not alone in this. I forwarded the pastor's email to a few people that were at the meeting and asked for clarification so I could go into MY meeting informed, and to get a few different viewpoints from people I trust. Turns out, there was more than hymn selection discussed.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • To second Adam,
    My advice to the OP is to be very careful with posting about your particular job and "current issues". Even if you post in a respectful way that you wouldn't mind your boss reading, you have no control over what other posters write. The impression for a pastor stumbling across the thread could easily be that you are having an insubordinate conversation about him behind his back...and at the same time on a national forum...
    Alternately, disguise your username so that you cannot be found. I think that's the wisest thing these days.
    Thanked by 1bkenney27
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 462
    I forwarded the pastor's email to a few people that were at the meeting and asked for clarification so I could go into MY meeting informed, and to get a few different viewpoints from people I trust. Turns out, there was more than hymn selection discussed.

    If you haven't done so already, perhaps forward it to people you know are on board with your direction whether they are council people or not. Why should only all the malcontents be heard?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Why should only all the malcontents be heard?

    People hardly ever mention being happy.

    Make a new habit:
    Whenever anyone compliments you or the direction music is going, look them squarely in the eye and say, "Thank you. Please tell the pastor."
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,685
    Yes, negative comments are always louder than positive ones - and they usually go to the Pastor or to other parishioners and not to you.

    Positive comments are usually more meek and humble - and they usually go to you, and not the Pastor or other parishioners.
    Thanked by 2Jani Liam
  • Jani
    Posts: 435
    bkenney, are the parish councils open to all parishioners? If so, I'd be at every single one of them. If you think your pastor is generally supportive of you, then it would be helpful for you to be supportive of him when the women -yes folks, been there, been one of them- start flexing their muscles. It's a singularly strong-minded pastor who won't just give in to quiet the fussing.
    Thanked by 2ContraBombarde Liam
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,451
    It's not always women.
  • Jani
    Posts: 435
    I'm sure that's true, Kathy, but in my experience, men are almost always more amenable to live and let live.
    Thanked by 1dad29
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    No, it isn't always women, but women do outnumber men in many parishes. With the Church Militant having become the church touchy-feely, many of the guys have left for something less wussie-fied.
  • Keep in mind also that pastoral councils are only (supposed to be) advisory and are not canonically required like finance councils are. My current parish does not have a PPC, only the required finance council.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,761
    It's true PPCs are not required. I am a skeptic about their institutional value because they tend to become echo chambers over time: pastors will over time tend to attract the like-thinking (plus some people who enjoy playing gadfly - and, annoying as they can be, you need those people in order to prevent the culture that Church People Are Nice from embalming things in the formaldehyde of Niceness) and repel those who have serious questions.

    That said, while pastors on canonical paper have lots of power, wise pastors understand that they actually have to earn much of their authority. And, as monarchical as the Roman church is, this necessitates *lots* of curious consultation. (Being a pastor is not a job for introverts.) The model of monarchy is *not* Louis XIV but a wise Benedictine abbot who understands that he will have to eat his own cooking and thus exercises an immense amount of . . . . collegiality (as did most of the most successful medieval monarchs). (One virtue of the 1983 code of canon law is that parishes are not necessarily stuck with bad pastors until they get buried, but the underside to that is that pastors can screw up parishes safe in the knowledge that they are not condemned to a life sentence there.) I personally think the PPCs as incarnated in many (not all) US parishes allows pastors to create the illusion of necessary consultation without the substance.

    So, while a pastor has power on paper, one must always consider how he will earn the authority to use it.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    It's not always women.

    Without going all CSI on these profiles, no it's not. OTOH, power, influence and innuendo seems to be directed towards more women than men in my life's casual observation, sigh.
    And I can't agree with my Byzantine namesake that most parishes have gone wussified. Men, women, men and women.....all can perpetrate like Attack Sheep. So, we can make an observation from a "Criminal Minds" POV; aka "evil" perpetrated blatantly or stealthily upon targets who are unknowingly being injured with intent. As I said, this I know in this moment as I type.I would commend to all the reading of Sirach 2 and our colleague Dr. Kwasniewski's essay at CCWatershed today on "The fear of the Lord."

    Back in my teaching HS days, a popular brand was "No fear."
    This is an example of true "No fear"
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen

    The difficulty of trying to maintain participation, which relies very heavily on singing only songs that they already know while also trying to "improve" by selecting new music is sometimes almost an impossible situation.

    You cannot please all the people all the time BUT YOU MUST PLEASE THE PASTOR.

    By him giving you an immediate heads up by email outlining what had been said he was able to avoid somebody accosting you personally before he could get to you (the schadenfreude people) who can torment, many times unknowingly, people like you and the pastor who are on good terms with each other.


    One good way to handle this is a presentation at the PPC meeting without you there. If the cantors are saying more people are singing, have one of them get up and tell the people that - get yourself out of the firing line. The cantors are often "the old guard" and people will tend to respect them...and the cantor can also explain how the cantors feel about the music that you want to do...if they are in support that will sway people too. There is no reason for you to be on the "hot seat" justifying what you are doing...if this cantor is a popular person it's even better.

    YOUR PASTOR IS NOT AGAINST YOUR PROGRAM. He's very clear that he supports it. He is also aware, I am sure, that ANYTIME YOU HIRE A NEW PERSON HE'S GOING TO HEAR COMPLAINTS.

    If there were no complaints, this would indicate that he's hired the exact same person he had before. (I was in a job for 11 months, had them pull out the resumes from when I was interviewed, pointed at one and said, "This guy is EXACTLY like the guy who was here for 18 years. Hire him." and moved on, knowing that once again they were in good, competent hands.

    This pastor hired you to do what he wanted done. He heard/saw/sensed that together with him you would be the person for the job.

    Notice that he did not say that you are going to have to deal with the PPC, but that you are going to work with him so that it can be presented in a positive manner...and not that you had to go this one on your own.

    The people HAVE to take their medicine, you do not have to be the person to justify it to them...
  • I agree. My Pastor is excellent with communicating needs and does so straightaway. He and I are *almost* on the same page when it comes to music so I know he is supportive.

    I spoke with our Deacon who is on the PPC and he gave me a bit more insight to what was said. Apparently, the majority of the conversation centered around this "decline" in congregational participation. However, he also mentioned the need to engage the youth and feels that the music last week at our 5PM was not attainable for the middle schoolers in attendance and didn't give them a reason to come back. (He indicated that he agreed with this but that others had said it in the meeting as well. Incidentally, our DRE is now also on the PPC.) He also said he knows that it is my goal to increase participation but that it is difficult without a visible cantor up front.

    To elaborate, this Parish has a "volunteer" cantor program, and I was able to convince the Pastor that we should pay someone (a minimal amount) dedicated specifically to recruiting, training, and scheduling cantors that was not me so I could focus on bringing the broken pieces of the music ministry back together. However, it is difficult to get people to volunteer to fill cantor positions when we are having a hard time reviving the choir. Our Cantor Coordinator covers as many Masses as she can, but oftentimes, especially for the 5PM Mass, I cover from the organ/piano. As far as I can tell, the congregation has adjusted well to this and sings. The only downside is that I prefer the psalm to be proclaimed from the lectern.

    Deacon also mentioned that although he loves Gregorian Chant and Latin as much as I do, he feels that having been a Catholic for 80 years allows him to appreciate it moreso than would a 14 year old that is probably at mass under "duress of some kind" and "would not gravitate to these renditions at all."

    I assume this comment came from the fact that, as I have been doing since September, I chanted the Adoro te (in latin, unaccompanied for the first verse; accompanied in English for the rest) after communion.

    I understand and respect the comments being made... but I now wonder if there is a BIGGER disconnect between what I am doing now and what was done before me. I have forced myself to include a contemporary piece of some sort at communion and have succeeded for all weeks but one in the past two months. Apparently, what I think is familiar and what is actually familiar are very different indeed.

    For the curious, I have done the brave thing and attached my planner for OT through CTK which we are currently using. (CTK is going to be revised, and Sing a New Church did NOT happen.) If you have feedback, feel free to message me or respond here.

    I am very grateful for everyone's support and insight. As always.
  • Jani
    Posts: 435
    People are complaining about that?
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen bkenney27
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    People are complaining about that?

    4 reelz.

    That is one of the most SINGABLE and balanced programs I've ever seen.


    You clearly made a MAJOR ERROR in your All Saints programming, one that is nearly unforgivable.

    For All the Saints should be at the top, and Ye Watchers at the bottom.
    I'm pretty sure that's specified in the GIRM or Canon Law or something.
    Thanked by 1bkenney27
  • I agree with Jani: that looks pretty middle-of-the-road to me. They're probably just remembering one Mass: the SEP on All Saints. It's a good idea to incorporate that, but it's a decent departure from your other Communion music.

    I'd take some advice from another thread. When people complain about your selections, ask them which pieces, specifically, they would like.
    Thanked by 1bkenney27
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,451
    The only other thing I wonder about is the consistent use of Adoro Te Devote. I gather you are introducing it? Might be a bit too much for some.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,266
    Well, you never did Be Not Afraid, On Eagle's Wings, Here I Am Lord, City of God, or whatever other "contemporary" piece of music they wanted. As Kathy has said before, they probably want THAT PIECE OF MUSIC THEY LIKE. Find out what it is and try to placate them.
  • I agree with Jani: that looks pretty middle-of-the-road to me. They're probably just remembering one Mass: the SEP on All Saints. It's a good idea to incorporate that, but it's a decent departure from your other Communion music.

    We get all of 30 people at our Holyday Masses so I thought that a good place to have some fun. :) The Choir did WONDERFULLY with the SEP.

    The only other thing I wonder about is the consistent use of Adoro Te Devote. I gather you are introducing it? Might be a bit too much for some.

    Yup! I did that to introduce it. I didn't vary it because we don't always get to the Post-Communion chant so I wanted it to be consistent over a long period of time. Cantor intones in Latin and then we chant the rest in English (Godhead here...). It seemed to be working, but yes, I think for some people it might be a bit much.

    I just got out of a meeting with the Pastor. Yikes.

    I was told NO LATIN ...for now. Apparently, the people aren't ready to even listen to it and so we cannot use it until they are ready. But how am I supposed to get them ready for it if they don't hear it? Ideas there? No? Didn't think so. Really, really disappointed about this. He said that when we DO use it, it ought to be done very, very, very judiciously. We typically use the Graduale Simplex Introit for Lent in place of the hymn. NOT NO MORE, according to him.

    Overall, though, he seems to feel the main issue is familiar repertoire. He, wisely, asked the PPC to compile a list of hymns that they know. He also, rather eloquently, explained that I am trying to incorporate hymns focused on God... not "me." He frequently uses "Let There Be Peace on Earth" as the prime example. "'Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.' Well, I think God ought to have something to do with that!" And they seemed to understand that.

    Really feel like I'm drowning here. Very happy about his response to the council. Not so happy about the results (so far.)
  • I think your pastor may be right about Latin, sad to say. I am certain that the vast majority of middle-schoolers would rather hear/sing Adoro Te Devote at mass than a lot else. Good thing there is a fine English translation of it available. I don't quite know why, but Latin seems to scare contemporary Catholics.

    Case in point: A couple of years ago I was in a Eucharistic procession at a Catholic family conference in my hugely devout diocese (we have about as many seminarians per capita as Lincoln, Nebraska). They passed out a hymn sheet with text and notation, and started an obscure 19th-century English hymn that I had never heard in my life. Hundreds of us just figured it out and sang along lustily.

    Then the leader moved on to the next hymn on the sheet -- Pange Lingua -- and just about everyone went dead silent. It was astonishing. And clearly not a case of a noisy few complaining about what everyone else embraced gladly. Most of the people in this procession were Catholic-T-shirt wearing homeschooling families -- people who will drive several hours and put all seven of their children up in a hotel in order to hear Tim Staples give a keynote.

    Perhaps it's necessary to start with something very, very simple, like the Sanctus. In my own parish we sing the simplest settings of the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei in Advent and Lent -- and also Mortem Tuam and Pater Noster.

    The parish, which does like its Gather hymns, shakes the rafters for the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. We even spontaneously do the flourish in the final Kyrie, even though it's not actually notated on the pew cards. It just seems to be burned into the collective memory.

    But hardly any one sings Mortem Tuam, and the Pater Noster is a bit weak. I wonder if this just boils down to linguistic complexity.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,266
    You are just going to have to focus on English chant for now, if you want to get it by the powers that be. You could do a lot worse. You can use By Flowing Waters instead of the Graduale Simplex, and it'll be bearable. I've been where you are now, and it can be hugely frustrating, especially since your music selections haven't been way out of the mainstream.

    Take a deep breath, remember that you can do a lot of good in your position, and don't allow a few malcontents to force you out. Compromise for now, and you'll A) keep your job and salary B) keep making progress toward the ideal in your little corner of the world. This is what most of us wind up doing, and it all adds up. Sounds like you're doing a good job, and that you haven't been imprudent. Continue doing a good job and being prudent. If you get all riled up, you're letting *them* win.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,041
    What's important is that the music be liturgically appropriate and beautiful. Whether it's in Latin is secondary.

    If you have a few squeaky-wheel parishioners who break out in a rash when they hear Latin, it is no surprise at all.
  • We had that problem a few years ago. We would sing a hymn, such as Adoro te completely in English, then a verse in Latin. We also used the Agnus XVIII in Latin on Holy Days of Obligation. After about a year and a half, we started using the SEP, then a "popular hymn". We then used the Communion from the Graduale Simplex for another year before adding anything else. Our pace was maddening, but the "allergic to Latin" folks have not complained since.
    Thanked by 1Andrew_Malton
  • I think your pastor may be right about Latin, sad to say. I am certain that the vast majority of middle-schoolers would rather hear/sing Adoro Te Devote at mass than a lot else. Good thing there is a fine English translation of it available. I don't quite know why, but Latin seems to scare contemporary Catholics.

    I would say he were right if we overused Latin. Outside of Lent, the most Latin they hear is the intoned verse of the Adoro te. The people are not asked to sing the Latin verse (though some do, even at the "contemporary" Mass) and we then sing as many of the English verses as we can.

    During Lent, we use(d) the Mass XVIII Agnus Dei in Latin (which they sing more than anything else and our Children's choir has been begging for since last Lent) and the Graduale Simplex for the Introit (translations were provided for the congregation and which they began to sing with the choir). Last year, I also tried using a few communion antiphons from the SEP and alternated Attende Domine and Parce Domine (in English) for the Offertory. THAT drove people over the edge because there weren't any hymns, save for the Recessional. The previous year, I used the Simplex Introits with normal hymns and fewer people complained. The issue with this congregation ISN'T Latin.... it's inhibited participation.

    The choir has been working so hard on chant and Latin, and they are really doing it incredibly we'll. We've spent the past two months preparing Palestrina's Jesu Rex for CTK and now I need to tell them "Oops. Sorry. All that was for nothing because we're not allowed to use Latin anymore." I don't understand how anyone who has ever read the GIRM and other binding documents of the church can actually request that Latin be REMOVED from the liturgy when I am incorporating so little of it to begin with. It's driving me mad, especially because I'm certain this is NOT what HE (the pastor) wants.

    I realize I am departing from my online diplomacy here, but that meeting nearly knocked me over and I plan on telling him anyway.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Palestrina's Jesu Rex for CTK and now I need to tell them "Oops. Sorry. All that was for nothing because we're not allowed to use Latin anymore."

    See if you can make an exception for this.
    Otherwise- let me see if I can put together an Englished version so the work doesn't go to waste.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,266
    Agreeing with Adam--you HAVE to find a way to avoid that work going to waste. I would encourage you not to make a big deal of this with your choir. They don't need to know that there has been any rancor over this issue. Just figure out a solution and go with that; you don't have to give them a big, long explanation.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    Isn't the text for Jesu Rex just a LM text? Should be able to put any number of texts there instead...I've actually thought about using it in alternatim with Jesu dulcis memoria for office hymns, which is how initially found out.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,451
    Now that the choir can sing polyphony, why not start on English? Tallis' If You Love Me could be next.

    I brought my choir from SATB hymnody, which they did well already, through English oratorio, to polyphony.

    On the other hand, it's important not to be against the pastor. Ultimately you're his staff, and he's accountable to God for what goes on in a way that you are not. He doesn't have to obey the parish council, and he doesn't have to obey the music director.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    For a musician, the primary objective is music that is sacred and beautiful. It's not about Latin. Some folks get sidetracked on the language issue. What Kathy says above is good advice. Use English music.
  • Here's a poetic translation, in case you need it:

    O Jesus, King of wondrous might,
    O Victor, glorious from the fight,
    Sweetness that may not be expressed,
    And altogether loveliest!

    Abide with us, O Lord, today,
    Fulfill us with thy grace, we pray;
    And with thine own true sweetness feed
    Our souls from sin and darkness freed.

    (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

    I agree with most of what has been said above. Your pastor should have postponed discussion of the music program until you were present, and those complaining about the music should be willing to offer concrete suggestions for what they would consider to be improvement, not just the vague demand of "songs everyone knows." Let them put up or shut up! That is not to say you should feel any obligation whatsoever to utilize their suggestions unless directed to do so by the pastor.

    IMHO, a reply along the following lines would not be out of order:

    Dear Father:

    Thank you for letting me know about the parish council's discussion of congregational singing. I would have offered to be present if I had known music would be on the agenda. Perhaps I can attend the next meeting to discuss these concerns. It might be helpful to have feedback from the council members about which specific hymns a majority of our parishioners would rather sing.

    Here is a list of the hymns I have selected for the remainder of the month: [include congregational hymns only, not Ordinary Mass parts or choral numbers]. I believe all these hymns are fairly easy to sing and will be appropriate for the liturgical and pastoral needs of our parish. Please advise me if any changes need to be made to any of these selections before I have the opportunity to speak with the parish council.


    As for the "songs everyone knows," I think the following belong on the list:

    All Creatures of Our God and King/Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
    Faith of Our Fathers
    The Church’s One Foundation
    The King of Love My Shepherd Is
    Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest
    I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
    Lift High the Cross
    There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy
    O God, Our Help in Ages Past
    Shepherd of Souls
    Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
    At That First Eucharist
    Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All
    Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
    Soul of My Savior
    O salutaris/O Saving Victim
    Now Thank We All Our God
    Jesus Shall Reign
    Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
    All People That on Earth Do Dwell
    O God, Almighty Father/God, Father, Praise and Glory
    Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
    Immaculate Mary
    Haily, Holy Queen

    As for Latin, it’s my experience that the majority of Catholics everywhere (not only in the U.S.) are still able not only to sing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Mass XVIII but to do so from memory.

    Also to be included on the list are "O Lord, I Am Not Worthy," all the familiar Christmas carols and other seasonal hymns such as "Lord, Who throughout These Forty Days" and "At the Lamb's High Feast," as well as less commendable selections like "Amazing Grace," "On Eagle's Wings," and "Here I Am, Lord."

    My practice has been to allow inferior hymns at funerals, school Masses (when music selection is largely beyond my control), and at weekend Masses only when there is a specific correspondence with a scripture reading. This way, lousy hymns are phased out of regular use but still sung occasionally—at least enough to avoid charges of elitism!

    Finally, if your pastor does insist on putting a cantor in the front of the church, make a clear distinction between congregational hymns and cantor solos. It is not enough simply to invite the congregation to sing; they must get the message that they are expected to do so. Your organ registrations should always indicate whether you are accompanying the cantor (or choir) alone or the congregation; this means a difference in fullness and volume noticeable even to the least musically-inclined person in the church. If you find that people sing, for instance, at the offertory but not during Communion, try having a cantor solo instead of a congregational hymn, which means don't announce it and don't put the number on the hymn board if you use one. It's hard to say which is worse: accompanying a cantor solo with a full congregational hymn registration, or barely supporting what is supposed to be congregational singing with an 8' flute.