A meeting of the minds on the "closing hymn" and people walking out at Communion.
  • We are aware that priests are unhappy with people who receive communion and walk right out the door.

    We ourselves know that many people do not sing and leave when a hymn is sung after Mass.

    What does it take to get a meeting of the minds, a meeting with your priest to discuss these two problems, to get them to understand that people do not want to sing, that he and the servers can turn and leave the building, leaving all the readers cantors, and other people who may process in with him behind to find their own way out of the building...and why, also, are they included in the procession in? If they are members of the congregation let them come forward from where they are sitting for their "ceremonial" duties.

    People leave during Communion because they do not want to stay behind for announcements, pleas for more people to buy girl scout cookies, giving of merit badges to scouts...they are aware that they have not come to Mass for these non-religious actions and race out.

    Come to an understanding with the pastor and the people. When the NO Mass consistently ends in the simple, straightforward way that it is supposed to in the GIRM and no one is asked to sit through stuff that really does not belong there, and no one is asked to sing a hymn that does not belong there anyhow, then...and only then, people may actually stay after Communion.

    People who leave during Communion are voting with their feet. Instead of getting mad at them, it is time to understand them and take their thoughts and feelings into consideration. Isn't it better for them to come, receive communion and leave early than not come at all?
    Thanked by 1HeitorCaballero
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    People who leave during Communion are voting with their feet.

    FNJ, methinks thou hast extrapolated a mere decision by individuals as a literal referedum upon.....uh......something. If some are professional or family caregivers with time constraints, as you mention, that decision isn't a vote. If others are superstitious or otherwise callous, that isn't a vote, that is a resignation to their own spiritual peril. We have plenty of folks who'll stay beyond the nebulous end (depending upon parish pracitice) and then some will gab as loudly as possible above the hymn or the postlude, others will opt for personal devotions or ad hoc recitations (St. Michael Prayer) regardless of what other legitimate activity surrounds them (such as a postlude) and so forth. They're not liturgically dispossessed, IMHO.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Noel describes an all-too-common Catholic paradigm: the only Christians in the world who come to eucharist, eat and run, are Catholics. This is a cultural problem rooted in a fundamental failure to grasp that the mass is more than me getting mine and leaving. The mass is a communal act of a people who come to praise, hear the word of God, accept it, offer sacrifice, enjoy a sacred banquet made of that sacrifice, and, being blessed to go forth as, literally, the salt of the earth. Leaving before it is over betrays a lingering notion, enforced by centuries of the-mass-as-private-devotion syndrome, that going and 'seeing God' and getting my share of the sacrament is all there is to the mass. I once knew a monsignor who, after VII, literally had the doors locked so that people could not leave. After not too long a time, there was a change in people's attitude and their participation. Perhaps some pastors ought to try this technique. Priests are notorious for their love of giving orders and being obeyed. Perhaps they should put their foots down in this fundamental matter of catechesis.

    On the other hand, there are many notable exceptions. At UST's St Basil's Chapel this morning the people stayed for every stanza of Darwall's 148th (Rejoice, the Lord is King') and sang their hearts out, as they do every Sunday. None ever bolt for the doors. A few words of instruction and catechesis from the priests is all it takes. Too, we do not have this problem at Walsingham.
    Thanked by 2Gavin CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    Some folks leave early because that's the example others set for them.

    When my mother became a Catholic, she had the habit of leaving church during the distribution of Holy Communion, because her neighbor who took her to Mass did that. The first time I took her to church, she had no idea that there was anything else to wait for.

    May I suggest a possible historical cause? In some places, Communion was not distributed at most Masses; in some places, it was only given after Mass. In that situation, it made sense to leave shortly after receiving.
    Thanked by 2bonniebede Gavin
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    It sounds as though most of the responses so far have been exactly what Noel requested: giving reasons, thinking it through. Interesting question!
  • We had a priest at a local parish that put up this poster on the doors to get the point across:

  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,454
    People in my church like to leave early to avoid getting caught for half an hour in the parking lot.
    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I think leaving before the peace greeting is not a bad idea. I have certainly wanted to do just that. I know one individual who leaves before the greeting, then comes back in before communion.

    Locking the doors? The fire marshal would have some of you in this neck of the woods.

    Parking lot? Yeah, that can be a huge problem in some parishes, especially those with layout and poor exit designs.

    Announcements? Isn't that what bulletins are for?
  • Hmm - I'm thinking accusing people of being like Judas probably won't work . . .

    People leave early at my parish even though the announcements are made before mass. I suspect they do it for the same reason they come late - "getting it over with" (and the parking lot thing). I don't think no closing hymn will change much - plenty of people leave as soon as it starts anyway.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • People are not motivated by spiritual reasons, but by their trite and worldly reasons. Most likely because they aren't truly cognizent of what is going on nor what they are doing: they're on autopilot.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,370
    It's even more strange (or maybe not?) when a sizable fraction of the people who bolt after receiving communion head straight for the fellowship hall (or whatever place it is called) for the donuts, cookies, coffee, tea and fruit juice, or, in the case of some other churches, hurry across the street or down the block so as not to have to wait for a table at the local restaurant which does a brisk Sunday morning business of feeding breakfast to their Sunday morning patrons.
  • Good discussion. Could discussing this with your pastor - both issues, his concern about people leaving during communion, yours - people not singing the final hymn - create a bridge of understanding that would improve your relationship with the pastor.

    30 years ago at parishes with three or more parishes, they would discuss these problems among themselves - as the housekeeper prepared their meals. Today they are often alone, not even someone to cook for them...it's a different dynamic.

    Can we, through working with them like this, grant ourselves a stronger position in the parish instead of just being another person who does music.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,641
    Very few people leave after receiving Communion at the Cathedral. I would guess no more than 1 or 2 per Mass. Some will start leaving during the recessional hymn if we go more than 3 verses unless it's a favorite (everyone stayed for 5 verses of We Three Kings on Epiphany). Lots of people stay after Mass to socialize in the courtyard, especially the younger families. The doors nearest the courtyard typically get congested with people leaving through them to greet/socialize with the Bishop or priest(s) and deacon(s)... So a lot of people aren't in a hurry.
  • I'm glad that we don't deal with this in our parish. Not only do people not usually leave after Communion, they stay for the hymn until the procession is out. Once the procession is out, a sizable number will begin to leave, while more than half will remain until the hymn is concluded.

    We omit the final hymn during the summer; one or two people always complain, but most are ok with it, if for no other reason than the church gets very hot without air conditioning.

    If people made it a habit to leave after communion or before the hymn, I would probably push to get rid of the hymn altogether all year long, but as I noted above, enough seem to appreciate it to stay and sing it.

    I will note that we AVOID all of the post-communion "stuff" for the most part, like this speaker, or that speaker, or the announcements.
  • I am considering what to do with my parish after Mass. I don't think we'll change the hymn to a postlude (though I might try it out). However, no one is obliged to sing the hymn. I am considering, in addition to inviting everyone to join, simply asking that they remain respectfully quiet (if not silent), as they leave. I don't mind their not singing, but it's ridiculous to try to talk over an all-stops-pulled organ.
  • RomanticStrings, you bring up a good point.

    No one is obliged to sing the hymn.

    Based on that, why should there be something at Mass that a person can choose to participate in or ignore? Aside from not going to communion when not in a state of grace, that is?

    I can't see a Protestant church printing in a bulletin:

    "Stand, Sit or Leave" before the singing of the final hymn.

    Having optional postures confuses visitors.

    As PGA says, half the people eventually leave. So why, once again, have something at Mass that half the people do not embrace?

    [I can hear the moderators muttering, "well at least he's not attacking the responsorial psalm again....]
  • Progressive liturgists have used that argument to remove Latin from parishes of years.
  • Reval
    Posts: 150
    A couple of things:
    At my local cathedral, they sing a "Hymn of Thanksgiving" after communion, but no singing for a recessional. Organ postlude only for the recessional. They usually sing all verses of the "Hymn of Thanksgiving". This seems to work well.

    Also, at a couple of parishes I go to, the priests will make a point of waiting during the recessional hymn, until the 3rd or 4th verse, so everyone will stay and sing. The priests will sing along until they are ready to go. I think the disrespectful people have already left, so pretty much everyone else stays (although they don't all sing). FWIW.
  • It will vary week to week it seems. Majority stay all of the Masses I have been to (maybe 1/4 leave at most). However, when our young adult/adult choir sings... most stay to listen to the beauty. Some of the time, one of the young men (has to be younger than me) in that choir will play the organ.. and do so with great fanfare and utter heavenly-ness (is that a word?). And this choir isn't one that you would think "young adult" would play... but the best I can describe is like a bunch of angels singing to the heavens, and an organ sounding our praises for Him.

    Once, even... Parishioners ended up clapping for them and looking towards the choir loft after the last hymn... which I am against and dislike, but even I felt mixed... because the music was indeed some of the most beautiful I have heard...and seriously heavenly. I guess I rather have that, than clapping for the Mass band that was rocking out at some Parishes....
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • Progressive liturgists have used that argument to remove Latin from parishes of years.

    Sorry, but you are in the wrong century. There was no argument, Latin was forcibly removed in the 1970's. Statues were thrown out, tabernacles were moved. And people were not given a choice.

    People listened and respected their priest, even if they could not stand him personally.

    Possibly some of those today walking out suffered through that. Or are still upset to be standing when they used to kneel out of reverence.

    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • A couple things: I really didn't mean to MAKE your point, Noel. When I said "about half leave," I meant in the case that we are still singing after the procession gets out of the church. For context, our priest(s) will typically stay at the altar for at least 2-3 verses, during which time pretty much everyone remains in place and sings. So we can easily get through 4 verses with everyone in their places, singing, or pretending to sing.

    It's on the rare occasions that the procession gets out quickly, OR I keep going in the case of a hymn with more than 3-4 verses that we get some people leaving, and I don't totally blame them in that case.

    No one is obliged to sing the hymn.

    As for this, you are quite correct - but if you want to speak in terms of the law or rubrics, I suppose you aren't obliged to even politely acknowledge other people at mass either. But I think most consider it bad manners not to; Same with leaving during the singing of a hymn, particularly when the priest is still at the altar.

    Like I said, we ditch the final hymn from after Corpus Christi until the beginning of October. But for the rest of the year, I think people expect it, and I know some would complain if we permanently did away with it. And personally, I've never seen the virtue in people trying to do away with it out of some sense that doing so makes the mass more "perfect," as with the argument "It's not part of the mass officially!" But it IS an old custom going back pre-Vatican II, and I just see no need to fight over it, which is probably what it'd come to in most places.
  • I remember a time when a lot of people left Mass after communion. Mostly nowadays they don't seem to be around before communion either. In our new shrinking congregation, most people stay, thank God.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • I was trying to state that turnabout is fair play.
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 209
    I would propose that leaving Mass early is a symptom, and the main problem here is one of catechesis at home and school, where few people in our time are actually learning to pray at all, much less pray the Mass. At least those who leave early are being somewhat true to themselves, since many of them have barely been truly present the entire time. If they had been, they would be more than overjoyed to sing their praise and thanksgiving to God (by way of the Blessed Virgin in my parish, since we end every Mass with the seasonal Marian antiphon), having just performed the highest act possible in this life by receiving the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of his Son into their hearts.

    The solution is works of mercy: let the priests admonish the sinner, let the catechists instruct the ignorant, let the musicians bear wrongs patiently and forgive offenses willingly, let all of us pray for the living and the dead. Be not discouraged, but let the joyful prayers of the fervent few rise above the din of laughter, greetings, and idle conversation, and though the latter may drown us out to earthly ears, the former sing to One who has just taken up residence within.

    If anyone is offended by noise during the postlude, I say this is a defect of manners rather than morals, and no additional action need to be taken other than to continue to do one's part in providing a prayerful atmosphere for those who wish to pray. Again, let the priest admonish, the catechists instruct, and we shall bear and forgive. If you intend your postlude to shut people up and get them out the door more quickly, I suggest you dispense with it altogether and instead use the fire alarm or, if this is not feasible, a bagpipe drone.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think a lot of this is deviating from a rather important point at the core of this thread: the necessity of open, constant conversation with your employer. Does he know what your issues, your priorities, your concerns are? If he doesn't, he should.

    As JonLaird says, we only have certain options available to us to licitly improve our programs. If your concern is not enough people singing the hymns, you can either play softly to match the murmuring of your congregation, or you can play loudly and with pep in an attempt to inspire lusty singing. You cannot exhort and cajole the congregation during the sermon on the spiritual benefits of vocal participation in the Mass - but the pastor can! If people are leaving during communion, that is no doubt a disappointment to both the pastor and to you. Bring those concerns to him, and see if there is anything you both can do. Even if there is no solution, at least he knows that you care for the spiritual well-being of his congregation, which is in your favor if he's the one who cuts the checks.

    I'm amazed at how many musicians, even in protestant circles, see ourselves as the "hired help" who cannot talk to the pastor about our concerns and objectives. We can do so much more in collaboration with the pastor than in a vacuum in which we just try to "stay out of his way."
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Comment withdrawn.
  • Withdrawall noted.
  • My understanding is that people are not SUPPOSED to stay after Mass. There should be a post communion period of silence and reflection and they should stay for the final blessing and dismissal but the final dismissal is just that - a dismissal. "The mass is ENDED, GO and serve the Lord and one another." There's no need to participate in the (non-required) final song. The choir can sing the final hymn - but you can go now, or at least after the ministers have left. If people want, they can hang around and talk, preferably in the narthex, or on the front steps or in the churh hall (if there is one) but after the dismissal there is really no reason to hang around except personal piety.
  • 17. The faithful are to be recommended not to omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion. They may do this during the celebration with a period of silence, with a hymn, psalm or other song of praise,[26] or also after the celebration, if possible by staying behind to pray for a suitable time. Inaestimabile Donum 17

    YMMV, but in our church we don't have even a minutes silent thanksgiving, so staying after mass should be the norm.
  • Maybe people don't want to stay when they've already been expected to sing three hymns during Mass. Hymn overkill, so to speak. I do wonder what would happen if the only hymn was the recessional (or if there were only two hymns), and all verses were sung, with bells and whistles and interesting organ accompaniment. In other words, if the hymn were actually treated as important rather than just one part of the four-hymn-sandwich. I think the irony of the push for vernacular hymnody after the council is that we've actually de-valued the hymn repertoire, with all its textual and musical richness. Hymns are so ubiquitous that they don't seem important anymore.

    We do a recessional hymn where I am, because that's the tradition, but with a few exceptions (Christmas carols, Holy God we Praise Thy Name) people start walking out after two verses, creating a domino effect. I can't say that I blame them at all...
  • I have observed in my parish that people leave during the recessional hymn (now postlude at our priest's behest) during our NO Masses. No one stays, and there is usually a lot of loud talking (to be heard over the organ). During our TLM (where I am the very insufficient organist and schola master) people still leave after the priest processes out, but the atmosphere is completely different. There are quite a few people who stay and listen to the postlude or practice their own personal quiet devotions. Many people meet outside the church to socialize, but are still reserved in their volume. The schola receives communion after Mass, so anyone that remains in the church immediately kneels in silence once the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and Communion is distributed. We have a regular attendance of between 40 and 60 souls.

    The TLM is a different animal due to the Last Gospel that is read after the final blessing. People could leave after the blessing, but no one does.

    I wonder if it is because of the smaller numbers in attendance, that our priest is able to catechize from the ambo more effectively, or if it is because of the quiet and contemplative atmosphere of the Mass (it is a Missa Cantata), or if it has something to do with the type of people that we attract to that Mass. It may be a combination of all of them. I have heard my schola members complain about the lack of respect they feel is given when they attend another weekend Mass during the postlude. I suspect that this habit of loud talking is due to habit from people who have done it for years without any correction from their priest, but I can't confirm nor deny that. It does strike me as odd though, that people react very differently to the TLM than the NO. I don't know if that is typical of all parishes, or just native to my own.

    While my personal preference is a postlude, I wonder if some regular instruction in this method of exit from the priest would be sufficient to correct the issue. I honestly don't know what to do about people leaving immediately after Communion, but if everyone left the church in a reverent manner, I wish to think it would begin to nourish souls, and possibly help them to consider forgoing the head start out of the parking lot to remain with our Lord for a moment more.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    We sing the Ordinary along with three hymns. I cut out the fourth one (offertory) some years ago. One of my parishioners said 12 or so years ago, "You are singing us to death!" Not everyone is enchanted with singing and some are so weary of it they don't even want to hear any singing. I have encountered that, as well. Maybe singing is more important to musicians than to many members of the congregation.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I honestly don't know what to do about people leaving immediately after Communion

    None of us do, Barnabus. And in blatantly real terms, the problem is above our pay grade. Keep up the good work! Cheers.
  • vogelkwvogelkw
    Posts: 51
    I find it rather frustrating to see so many leave during Communion. I am sure our parking problems exacerbate the issue. When I come over to to the church to greet people after a Mass that I didn't celebrate, it is quite uncomfortable if I come over a little too early and Communion is still going on. How do I greet people that are leaving early? To say nothing feels like appeasement. I have mentioned leaving early as an example among others when giving a homily on sloth. It is easy to think of passive aggressive things that I would never actually say. "Is Mass over already?" "I'm sorry you have leave early, do you have work or get to an ill family member? Can I pray for you?"

    Or toying with the idea to stop individuals here and there: "Good morning. Before you go, can I pray a short prayer of thanksgiving with you and give you a final blessing?" And then pray with them, modeling in the most charitable way what they miss by leaving early. I don't know if this would be a good thing to do, if it would have any affect, or if I would have the courage to do it.

    God bless,
    Fr. Vogel
  • If it was something that priests really wanted changed, it would be changed.
  • I feel that way about a lot of things MJO.
    Thanked by 2melofluent CHGiffen
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 823
    In one article I saw (cant' remember where), it was stated that the recessional hymn was to be played until all the congregation left!!! I don't know if they were describing the rubrics or were stating an opinion.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,221
    Not to be judgmental, but I recall a pastor commenting on this problem by recounting the story of a family in Sudan. This family arose before dawn to walk for four hours to church for Mass. On the way, they had to dive bullets from al-quida snipers who would take pot shots at Christians coming to church. Mass and church was an all-day affair, then after Mass, another four hour walk home.
    It makes you think a bit.
  • There are no rubrics so it had to have been an opinion.

    It's not covered in the GIRM because it does not exist.

  • @fr vogel. I have no idea if this would help, but I know it would have a profound effect on me. Try unvesting quickly and come out in choir dress and kneeling in a pew make your own thanksgiving. sometimes good example is a better teacher than exhortation. you might put out some prayer cards or leaflets with prayers after communion, simply remarking 'here are some things I find helpful when making my thanksgiving, so I thought I would share them'
    god bless your work
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • Now that we have reached comment 40, please take a moment and respond with only one of three answers to the original question:

    Do you think and feel that trying to talk with your pastor about an issue like this will improve your communication with him?


  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Thanked by 1dad29
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 823
    Now that we have reached comment 40, please take a moment and respond with only one of three answers to the original question:

    Do you think and feel that trying to talk with your pastor about an issue like this will improve your communication with him?


    Why? We don't do that on any other thread. The original topic usually gets lost rather quickly.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    i think I should start a new category on the forum for posts like this one (and also forr another recent thread).it would be called "Let's complain".
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 209
    In all sincerity: God bless you, chonak! We trolls are grateful for a patient overseer.
  • I was accosted by a teenager working at the local Buddy's Barbecue who wanted help writing a song and he was trying to explain that he needed help with writing...saying, "I'm not sure how to Look at the neat car..." and he was gone to look at the car.

    Focus...little interest in solutions.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Does the forum software support polls? I've seen that on other forums.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    For those who said that discussing an issue like people leaving after communion will not help your communication with the pastor, why not?

    For my own part, I already have excellent communication with my boss. We share the same goals, and are open about our concerns in those. And you can't say "it's above my pay grade" to at least DISCUSS his concerns. Just the other day, I met with my boss to discuss attendance patterns at the Christmas services. He sought out my advice, not only as the person arranging for music, but as a creative and thoughtful person with the best interests of the parish at heart. It baffles me that there are musicians out there who will not communicate with their pastor.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I usually don't respond to polls because it is difficult to determine the objective of the poll. What will the info collected prove, change, or ever be used for? Does anyone even care?

    I said "no" because it isn't a problem and there is nothing to discuss. The pastor generally stays in front of the altar with servers for up to 4 verses. If the hymn is longer, he will leave during the 4th verse. I haven't seen over 2 people leave early.

  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Gavin, mon ami,
    The vagaries of all relationships prevent cogent, coherent and comprehensive answers to your query. Congratulations on your situation. But do remember the likelihood of both your parties remaining in your current tenures may change that equation rather quickly.