Shine Jesus Shine liturgy problem
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,036
    Ladies and gents,

    A little problem here: I have taken over a midwestern music program this summer. The parish has a generally good music program, with an emphasis on quality, and not bad substance (although we're stuck with OCP stuff, supplemented by a printed worship aid.) One of the responsibilities, however, is to play/direct/plan music for four school masses a week. So far as I can tell, there is not really any relation (functionally speaking) of the school mass music to that of the regular parish masses (even the more praise-and-worship style one on Sunday evening.) Rather, the pool is of mediocre "kids" music (even for the 6-8th graders.) This is compounded by the OCP kids hymnal which has everything in a ridiculously low key (which sort of subverts the school's Kodaly-trained music teacher's purpose!) The kids are not pleased, either, by being treated to music more appropriate for preschoolers.

    Let me name a specific problem: teachers have picked the music for the first two weeks of school masses to represent what the kids already know. Invariably, "Shine, Jesus, Shine" shows up on picks almost every day. I have substantial reservations about using it at all for mass, even accepting that these masses have a long way to go before they are even remotely acceptable musically. The larger picture is that I hope next year, or the year after, that we will have a fairly good blend of nice hymns, simple chants, and appropriate recent compositions. I also want to move the psalm to something like we do at the Sunday masses (a la Chabanel, etc.) I am especially concerned about the theology that kids are getting through the poor music now, but am wondering if "Shine, Jesus, Shine" is where I should draw the line.

    The question in my mind isn't "is Shine, Jesus, Shine okay", but rather, is it one I should "take for the team". Add to this picture that I am considered by staff, some parishioners, and even musicians as being "conservative" to "borderline reactionary", although many in the parish like the direction we are taking. I am interested in staying for quite a while in this job so that I can really get things where they ought to be, and get a solid "reform-of-the-reform" liturgy, at least musically.

  • Bruce,

    I'm right there with you.

    There has always and forever will be what one of my favorite professors in University referred to as "tectonic plates" that grind against each other and cause tremors and earthquakes in our lives and in our work. This one is classic.

    I am proud to say, and do often without shame or equivocation, that I am orthodox (a term which we should use in charitably correcting people who wish to paint us up as "conservative"), and seek only to preserve and promote the received teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith. I'm really exhausted (as my colleagues on this board will attest, for better or worse) with the fights I face in my daily work, this being one of them. The solution that I'm currently being presented with by my pastor is to be released from any responsibilities with the school (without impacting my salary, etc).

    The reality is it won't make the problem of orthopraxis in the music at the school Masses change or improve, but it will at least keep it away from me as a source of aggravation.

    But, more to the point, why are the teachers picking anything regarding the Masses? By what miracle of training in the field of elementary education have they been endowed with wisdom, knowledge or ability to make these choices? The Ordo specifies the readings, and the liturgical music director of the parish is the one delegated (one would hope) by the pastor, and possessing the requisite skills, knowledge and experience (as called for in every document on liturgy and music I've ever read) to oversee the matter of selecting and assisting in the preparation of appropriate music for the liturgical celebrations of the parish, regardless who makes up the instant congregation. . . in an ideal world, at any rate.

    What you may have going in your favor is what you describe regarding the kids themselves not being pleased. If nothing else, it confirms that once again adults are telling other adults what kids "like" or "want," while those with experience and considered opinion in these matters who know otherwise are being ignored or dismissed as "borderline reactionary."

    Hang in there, and don't forget to ask St. Cecilia (patroness of musicians, singers and students as well as protectoress of the Holy Canticles)and Our Lady to intercede for your aid and comfort in these times of struggle!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623

    Your students probably all know the theme to SpongeBob. Should students sing it at Mass because they "know" it? Of course not. Knowing a tune and its words isn't a sufficient standard.

    So what would happen if you said, "I think the kids are up for singing different music. Let's challenge them a little." If teachers object to that, then ask why, as teachers, they object to challenging their students.

    You could also survey the students. I bet you'd get some interesting responses.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I thinbk it's better to go slowly. If you can change just one part of the Mass at a time (and stay with it at least for a few months), you will get less resistent. Do they have school choir? Maybe you can start with them. Our parish school has a music teacher who handles the school Mass. I guess it's all different from parish to parish.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I apologize in advance for the negativity. Is it just me or can NOTHING change without the full and proactive support of the priest? I mean let's examine the best Mass possible in one of these parishes: Following a grand organ prelude, the Introit is sung flawlessly in Latin, perhaps with alternatim. After the last repetition of the antiphon, an overamplified voice rings out "Good mooooorning everyone!" "Good morning, Father." "How about this weather today! I hope everyone made it here safely!" (muffled chuckles) "Before we begin liturgy today, we have a few announcements. Copies of NCR are available in the Narthex..." See the problem? I once went to a parish with a perfectly orthodox and musically supportive (but ignorant) priest - but the fact that he shouted the prayers in a VERY fast voice dulled the beauty of the music. One really needs a good priest - like that guy who did the ad orientem Requiem Mass ;) - to make good music works. My rubric is that if you don't even have the chanted collect, you might as well not even bother with having any music.

    And liturgy's not even the half of it. So many posters here get nothing more than a wink for support from their priests who wouldn't dare tarnish their image over something like chant. I don't think we can make any progress except with a priest excellently trained and talented in liturgy and music.
  • paul
    Posts: 60
    amen to both of the above. Get the pastor's blessing to move s-l-o-w-l-y. Your first goal should be to get yourself firmly entrenched as the music director who can do no wrong. THEN you can make changes, but get that music teacher on board too. There's no reason they can't prepare something and be in charge of the presentation. (remember, the first option for the communion song is "the choir sings a song by itself". Maybe the responsorial. Look at one way far down the road, put together a version that takes great advantage of her/his forces, and hand it off. Find a way to make the principal think it was all his idea and you are home free, especially if the pastor knows all along that it was his idea.
  • I am in a parish that currently uses OCP for everything. I am familiar with the children's book that the OP is having to use, and, frankly, do not believe that it should ever be used in a liturgical setting, especially where children are concerned. LIturgically, it is very weak. OCP was called out because the clappy Gloria that was initially in the service section had to be moved since it wasn't even the actual prayer, but a bad paraphrase. The Agnus Dei is also not the prayer, but, another bad paraphrase. In fact, a lot of it is not conducive to teaching the faith to the kids. "Shine Jesus Shine" works for Protestants because all they have is the Word. With all due respect, a typical Protestant ecclesial community service consists of singing, reading a biblical passage, singing, a long sermon and then, more singing. The Church, on the other hand, has both the Word and the Sacrifice, something that songs like "Shine, Jesus Shine" don't take into account.

    My pastor, although a very good and sincere priest, slavishly follows the OCP liturgical planner as though it were dogma. When I have tried to suggest more appropriate hymns (rather than have to endure some Carribean-laced song that makes the choir tap its feet), the choir director tells me that it has to come from the OCP guide. For me, this is a huge let-down. I used to plan the music for our diocesan liturgies and would never use OCP for English. Unfortunately, because we are on the Texas/Mexico border, we have to use OCP because it has a monopoly on the Spanish-language market. The music I chose reflected the particular Mass (whether it was for the bishop to take possession of his cathedral, a diaconate ordination, confirmation, the Chrism Mass or a special occasion) that was going to be celebrated. In fact, we would have Latin elements and the organ.

    Now, even at that point, I refused to use the "liturgical planner" because it had no rhyme nor reeason to it. As I told my rector, planning music isn't necessarily rocket science. You go by the guidelines set forth by the Holy See and you look at the parameters set forth by the seasons. He agreed with me wholeheartedly.

    We used the Worship III hymnal and we found some very solid hymns for the choir (which was composed of children) to use. Furthermore, much to the former music director's chagrin, my rector insisted that the kids learn chant. He was at a loss as to why we weren't singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel during Advent and directed that the kids learn this hymn. He also had them learn the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin.

    The big problem is the fact that the OP seems to be faced with a group that has bought into the whole OCP marketing ploy. The songs are mass-produced. Pope Benedict spoke rightly when he noted that "certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another." This certainly applies to the situation the OP is facing.

    Now, what to do? While GIA also has its warts, the Worship III hymnal, if you can get one that hasn't been corrupted by the inclusive language translation, is a good starting point. Read what the Holy Father has written about sacred music in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" and "A New Song for the Lord." Share that with your school and tell them that these songs do not represent what is just and right for the Mass. Also, I would suggest reading the Chirograph on Sacred Music that the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote to mark the 100th anniversary of the encyclical that Pope St. Pius X wrote on sacred music. John Paul made a very telling observation, noting that he agreed with the late Pope Paul VI who said, in referring to sacred music, that "not everything was fit to cross the threshhold."
  • Yes, agreed. Get the pastor on board. Then move slowly. But a word of caution: the sad reality is that slow movement as described by my colleagues above will more likely become one of two things: inertia or backward movement.

    My experience has been threefold: 1) Sadly, many pastors have received very little training in, or even basic exposure to, an understanding of the important spiritual and catechetical as well as liturgical importance of appropriate and properly selected music for the liturgies, regardless the age of the "gathered liturgical assembly." That leads me to 2) The pastor says he understands what I'm saying regarding more appropriate music in the liturgies, then because he (as with most pastors) wants to do anything and everything to avoid conflict, maintains status quo in the name of "moving slowly." (The French have a saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same.")

    Number three is a biggie. I've often heard of music directors being accused of "trying to change too much too quickly." In my case, on careful reflection, this simply doesn't square with the facts. Apart from the fact that because I'm a classically-trained musician whose principal instrument is the organ, I tend to employ the use of the organ more, I've changed things very little in the last two years. Perhaps there has been a slight leaning toward the inclusion of one more hymn (over a "contemporary song") than usual in any given liturgy. However, the fact remains I've been using the same hymns and songs as my predecessor, from the same resources that have been in the pews for the last 10 years. There hasn't been a syllable of Latin or a punctum of chant sung since the day I walked in, which is the way it's been in this parish for a whole lot more years than I've been here. Yes, I'd like to use some chant. Yes, I'd like to hear some Latin. Yes, I'd like to replace the opening hymn with the introit. Yes, I'd like to see the GIA books that litter our pews used to heat the school this winter. It's not going to happen. The school kids will continue to sing "Awesome God" and "Witnesses" at the school Mass, "unified music at all Masses" will continue to be the norm, and I'll continue being accused of trying to change things when they remain inert.
  • Now, what I did to help our diocesan superintendent was to give her the documents of the Church as far as music was concerned. I gave her the new USCCB document, but, I told her that it really didn't have much teeth to it. We talked a good bit and she told me that she was concerned about what was happening at our diocesan schools.

    One case in point is the school run by the Salesians (my alma mater). They, too, have fallen under the trap of Protestant Praise and Worship Music and have incorporated same into the Mass, complete with drums, electric and bass guitars and keyboards. A couple of the priests dread celebrating Mass at the school becasue of the music. And yes, they also partake in liturgcial dance, which a priest friend of mine found most troubling. I wrote to the provincial and told her that these things were very worrisome to me, especially since Don Bosco stressed fidelity to Rome in all matters. This, in fact, is supposed to be the cornerstone of the Saleian way. I told her that if our founder had walked in on one of the Masses, he would have stopped it right away and met with the staff. Don Bosco never took liberties with the Mass. This is not how he founded the order.

    The nuns wanted to plan the music for this year's Catholic Schools week Mass (and include litugical dancing). Based on the documents i gave the superintendent, she said no.

    The other big problem is that most of the music conferences my diocese attends are sponsored by OCP. You are not going to get much in the way of authoritative Church teaching. What you will get are presentations by Bob Hurdand some of the SLJs about their music, but, nothing about what Pope Benedict has said in Sacramentum Caritatis and what Pope John Paul II and Pope St. Pius X have written on the subject. The conferences conclude with a jam session. Our choir went and were proud to have had their picture taken with Bob Hurd and Mary Reza.

    Something else to note is that the Fathers of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist found the music used at Youth Masses to be very problematic. They said this in the Lineamata, the working document on the Synod. It was the only kind of music that they called by name and genre. This is what got the response from Pope Benedict, who, also noted, in Sacramentum Caritatis, that the composition, form and lyrics needed to jibe with Church teaching.
  • Unfortunately, I cannot speak much to the politics involved in the Parochial School Systems. My sympathies to all church musicians involved!

    As to alternatives (after being DofM at Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston), look to the Children's hymns section of The Hymnal 1940 - good music, good theology. Better idea? Check the copyright issues, first; then present these hymns in Finale or something else, lest you open yet another Pandora's Box by bringing a '40 hymnal on the premises!
  • Steve, I don't think that you would be opening up a Pandora's box regarding the 1940s hymnal. There is more sound catechesis in there than what OCP has shoveled onto unsuspecting parishes.

    For example, what is wrong with teaching the kids, "Holy, Holy, Holy", "Come, Holy Ghost", "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name", "At that First Eucharist", "Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above" and "Shepherd of Souls"? The hymns are easy to sing and are rich in theological and liturgical teaching. Even "I Received the Living God", "Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether" and "At the Name of Jesus" are sound and suitable, as well as "For all the Saints", "Ye Watches and Ye Holy Ones" and, especially during this month, "Lift High the Cross".

    The same thing holds true for hymns dating back to the early centuries of the Church: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (9th century) and Attende Domine (10th century). Even the hymns written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Eucharist are certainly worth teaching the kids. The phrases are simple enough to teach the children the basic kernel of our belief in the Real Presence.
  • Yes, I agree with Steve about the good stuff in the Hymnal 1940, especially having swam the Tiber from Anglia some 10 years ago.

    The problem isn't alternatives . . . the problem is convincing somebody, anybody that any of these alternatives to the theologically weak and musically impoverished choices the current publishers provide are worth the effort to begin introducing to the children.

    ISTM that it's not the prejudices or preferences of the kids that gets in the way, it's those of the teachers, principals and catechists that get in the way. Where to start? How do we convince them that this is something worth "letting in?"

    For example, our school music teacher, who is responsible for helping the kids prepare for school Masses, actually sabotaged (although she claims she "forgot to change the announcement for what they were singing") the introduction of a good, solid hymn into the Mass the week of Thanksgiving last year, despite the fact that she seemed to have plenty of time that same week to teach every student in the school (during school music classes) the words and hand claps/movements to a non-Catholic, non-liturgical song they sang at the end of Mass. Unfortunately, the pastor didn't see it as a big deal, and said we'd just try again next time. There hasn't been a "next time."

    At some point does it become a fruitless endeavor?
  • What about getting the diocese involved? Surely someone somewhere has to have some sense and sensibility to help out and provide some semblance of guidance.

    The hymns used in the 1940s are rich in sound theolgocial and liturgical teaching. They are far superior to the OCP kiddie songbook. Plus, the melodies and tunes are easy for anyone to sing. Case in point is "Eagles' Wings". The notes are complicated and are not meant for congregational singing. On the other hand, "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is theologically and liturgically rich, having come from the Liturgy of St. James.

    I suspect the other problem is that perhaps the folks planning the liturgies do not have any formation (or scant) in the liturgical theology of the Church (and I don't mean the Spirit of Vatican II; I mean what the documents actually say). The issue here is that along with the parents, the teachers are charged wtih instructing the children in the Church's Sensus Fidei. However, if neither of the adults have gotten it right, how are the children supposed to do that?

    Furthermore, we are not supposed to be worshipping God based on trends and popular music. The Church has given us paramters. Shine Jesus Shine may work for Protestant youth, but, not for the sons and daughters of the Church.
  • Catholic school teachers, in my brief experience working with them in a small midwestern Catholic school, can be extremely .... cheesy about liturgy.

    Remember, these are the same people who force kids to stand in line without saying a word....behavior that no adult around them embodies.

    Someday I hope to figure this situation out....but my own conception of “Catholic school teacher” is about as far away in my mind from “sacred music” as trucks and sea anemones are.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,944
    I have a hard time telling Jesus to shine.
  • Francis, I literally laughed out loud at your comment (and I will not debase my beautiful national language with "lolspeak.")

    I do not accept the notion of children's liturgical music, nor do I use it. During a school Mass, it is acceptable for the priest to preach in simpler language for the sake of comprehension, but the music should be the same as the adults sing. How else are they going to learn it? What if they don't understand it? In time, they will. As a child, my exposure to Scripture was from the Authorised Version (KJV). If someone in a Sunday school class didn't know what "thou" meant, they were told, and then they knew. If they are never exposed to authentic sacred music as children, they will most likely never gain an appreciation for it as adults.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,944

    We are all children of God, and it is only right to bring the simpler ones into full adulthood. "Children's music" is simply the apothecary of a Disney Church... forever living in a fantasy. Do we constantly teach our children to save all of their money to spend it on candy? That would be the death of their little lives! Give them meat!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Francis: perhaps one could use it for Transfiguration?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,944

    (Here is a new text for that feast day to the tune of 'Camp Granada' [not to be sung at ANY liturgy])

    Hello Mudda
    Hello Fadda
    Here we are on
    Mountain Toppa!
    Sure is comfy
    Sure is cozy
    And for sure, My God,
    You have the brightest clothies! (pronounced clo-theez)
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    "One really needs a good priest"

    I have now changed my position on the propriety of reproductive cloning.
    I am all in favor of any way we can get an additional Fr Phillips, Fr Pasley, or Fr Keyes; perhaps we could clone Fr Scott Haynes, the Guido Marini of the western hemisphere.

    "What about getting the diocese involved? Surely someone somewhere has to have some sense and sensibility to help out and provide some semblance of guidance."

    I want to live where you live! (Unless you were being facetious?)
    Many of us can only dreeeeeam of residing in a diocese where the Office of Worship is not among the worst offenders at promoting bad music and bad liturgical practice.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • V.2

    I see Moses
    And Elijah
    Lord, you're floating
    so much high-uh!
    Here on Tabor,
    grant us favor
    We'll build your tent and call it "Thirty-One Flavors!"

    Gotta allide "31,"
    Okay, so now it's irregular!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,944

    Shine on, shine on
    Shine on, Jesus!
    Through the valley
    O'er the cities.
    You're the heart-light
    Of the Nations
    Hear us as we shout out this supplication.

    Text: CMAA
    Tune: Shoun Itz Brightzen
    44 44 44 11
  • Someone help me. I couldn't find any of these at *snicker*
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,036

    I see this thread (sorry to resurrect an old one, but wanted to thank you all for your responses) has degenerated into impromtu hymn-improvisations...

    Seriously, though, thank you all for your responses. I had already been following some of the suggestions (i.e., coming with the approach that there isn't really "children's music" that appropriate for mass; moving very slowly with changes; feeling out the pastor's support; etc.) and appreciate some of the others, especially about the interaction between musician-priest-principal. That's the key relationship here. All in all, things seem much better in my situation than for some of you others, so perhaps I need not sound so dire.

    Finally, I appreciate the mention of the sacrificial aspect of mass. I have been stressing this a lot with the kids, or at least when the topic comes up, making it clear that we need to remember that we are not in charge of the liturgy, but rather God himself. They are pretty receptive to this, and the associated idea of objective inappropriateness of some music.

    Lots of food for thought...thank you all for you input!
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,036
    PS-We are trying to get across the whole "there are not liberals and conservatives (in the American political sense) in the Church with regard to teachings" thing, but people are always quick to tar with a broad brush if they don't agree with you (or the Church, in this case...)
  • I've lost this battle as of today.

    We do "All Gather Songs, All the Time" now at our school Masses. The guy from the formation office who plays guitar comes in at the last minute every week, and insists on playing for every song, regardless if I'm doing it on the organ or not, and usually changes tempo at least 5 or 6 times on any given verse. I'm not going to fight it anymore.

    The prinicpal backs her teacher, accuses me of being "uncooperative" and dismisses any legitimate complaints or concerns I have regarding the type and quality of music the kids are being exposed to.

    'Nuf said.
  • DA...

    Find some really, really beautiful organ music...simple.

    Play at least one piece during Mass.

    Trust me. Kids are honest. They can smell bad music and adults trying to make them HAPPY WE ARE AT MASS, HO HO!

  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    There is an important concept that was missing from my outside-of-home faith formation, ( I was fortunate to have parents from whom I learned most of the Catholic Faith, either explicitly or by osmosis, ) and that is recollection.
    Father Ray Blake had a post about a teacher battling the Forces of Dimness that assault our children in their everyday lives, that at least ought to be kept out of their spiritual lives.

    concerned about re-enchanting the faith, and consequently the liturgy, for their students. They seem to have a deacon as a school chaplain who is quite enthusiastic about their approach. So what is he doing?

    * They teach children to be recollected, the use recordings of plainchant.
    * They have been teaching their students to sing plainchant.
    * They are preparing them to take part in Benediction with the proper chants, it sounded like EF to me.
    * They have taught them marbling
    * They have taught them gilding

    The last two, are so they can do up their school chapel and altar, I just think that is wonderful! So often we underestimate the importance of the visual for children, that which we do give them is so often ephemeral.

    Anyone who has ever taught children knows how difficult the class immediately after recess, gym, or any other frenetic or boisterous activity is; parent know how hard to quiet a child down for bedtime becomes if evil aunts and uncles (;oP) have come to visit and gotten the kids all riled up late in the evening.
    Yet the de facto liturgists for children constantly assault them with noisy and clamorous "worship" and then pretend they can be attentive to the more important but essentially quiet, STILL aspects of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
    It makes no sense.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think Todd has the right approach here. We're not talking the Barney Song here, we're talking "OK kids, the readings are these. What would be a good substitute for our Entrance antiphon of X, which will set the right tone for our Mass?" Of course, I'm guessing that you may be in a position of such authority, and it sounds like you REALLY wouldn't want to hand over such a teaching task to the religion educators.

    It seems to me, from what I've heard, that you have a parish full of 10,000 people who think they know A LOT more than they do. And that puts you in the difficult position of demonstrating to them that no, they really DON'T know enough about the Mass to select music without some sort of oversight.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,036

    Your comments are well-taken. Understand that I, in a personal sense, am taking one for the team from time to time: for example, we use some more praise and worship style music ("Open my eyes, Lord") with the kids at times because our Sunday evening Mass is of that style of music. However, I see that as a neutral thing, because at least it is bringing the school liturgy in-line with one of the Sunday masses.

    Also, Todd, I'm not sure of your diocese's situation as regards catechesis, but even in our archdiocese, the catechesis of children (regarding liturgy and the general Catholic Faith) is extremely spotty. As one seminarian friend of mine mentioned the other day, the kids often are in middle school without any instruction regarding the Holy Trinity. Are they getting any liturgical catechesis? No, or if they do, it is, frankly, not in relation to any documents or significant authorities (no Vatican or even USCCB here, thanks very much.) I have to do it in the children's choir rehearsals or at school cantor practices, which is not exactly the ideal venue. So, we're hoping to get to that point where kids could help pick their own music, but it will take years. They just haven't received much Christian formation of any kind, unfortunately, so they aren't much better off than the teachers. It doesn't help when the priests use props for their homilies. When Father treats the homily as entertainment, it is hard for the DoM to take a stand without looking silly and very gauche.

    Pardon one more vent here, but it seems that a lot of the problem is a lack of intellectual rigor on the part of the adults involved: they don't like to read "serious books" about the liturgy, whether it be documents, non-binding writing (SotL, BXVI), etc. Certainly, I think many people are scared they will read something that will conflict with their own opinions, so they choose to "punt". I know when I really got reading about the liturgical reform, I had to check a lot of my Anglican-leaning preference at the door: but look what musical heritage opens us when one does that!

    Anyhow, just some more background from me. I should say that I think teachers were only helping pick the music here to give me an idea of what was done before; they haven't been territorial now that I asked to plan everything.
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    "in our archdiocese, the catechesis of children (regarding liturgy and the general Catholic Faith) is extremely spotty. "

    Do you not find the catechesis of the adults, specifically the teachers, religious ed teachers, DREs and de facto liturgists comparably, that is to say, extremely spotty?
    I have never been in a parish that did not have catechists in (permanently, that is, having no interest to regularize,) irregular marriages, parochial school teachers who gave themselves the "weekend off" from Mass since they did it so much during the week, a DRE who was allowed to function as the children's "liturgist" who had never heard of the General Instruction, a music director who didn't know that Liturgy of the Hours was "liturgy" and ought to use prescribed texts (at least he knew generally, that liturgies had prescribed forms,) or some such.
    Yes, the reason can be traced back to the priest/employer, the bishops, "Catholic" higher education ... but at a certain point these lay adults have to take responsibility as adults for their own education, realize that what they are doing matters, is important, is SIGNIFICANT, and that you can't "do it" on information you've "kinda picked up along the way," or heard, from somebody who had a handout, from someone who'd been to a discussion group, that'd listened to a guy, who'd read a book by.... some Catholic.
    The decisions we make as musicians or liturgists are going to inform the , for want of a better word, performance of the Liturgy, which is going to inform the Faith of the Church... so they kind of matter.
    And they can't be left to people who don't have the time, or the means, or the interest to be properly educated in the matter.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • But Todd, any thought that you work for the people, and not the Priest...and the once again, a misunderstanding that is the top of a slippery slope. The Parish Council cannot advise you on the music you should be doing, or have any control over it whatsoever, nor anyone else in the parish, except the priest. He may and can make pastoral decisions that temper your employment of the church instructions, but that's it.

    If you feel more comfortable having explored the prospects of the position and the people and the current state of affairs, that's a personal thing. If you don't think after all of that that they don't want you or you don't like them, it means nothing, because you do not pursue this calling for them.

    It is VERY American Roman Catholic to think and say it is OUR church....
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "The application/interview/discernment/job acceptance process is as much about you interviewing the parish and its personnel as it is about them talking to you."

    I want to take a minute to thank Todd for that comment and those following it. I'm in the process of applying at a church, and this echoes some of my concerns. I'm not sure where to go from here, but it helped a lot to read that.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Noel: this is something I've wondered about. Would it be accurate to say that the function of MD is a delegation of the duties of the pastor? that is to say, in an ideal world where he has infinite time, should it be the pastor who decides the music or what? How much autonomy should a MD have?

    And I think you're dead on: our primary responsibility is to the Church. It's not the choir's Mass or the liturgist's Mass or the priest's Mass or the congregation's Mass. It's the Church's, and our job is to execute our task correctly.
  • I think that role of the DM is in support of the Pastor. If the Pastor is knowledgeable of the documents and has the interest and a plan, then his word is almost unquestionable. But we are hired to carry out the plan...and in the case of a Pastor who is unwilling or unable to do this, we must do any or all of this for him, the study, gaining of the knowledge and creating the plan....

    We have autonomy within the rules. But if our interpretation of the rules differs from his, we must accept or leave. This is where his Partoral role covers us. He's The Church in town. Like it or leave it.
  • I do think any music minister needs a clear and well-discerned liturgical and pastoral philosophy with which to approach the challenges of parish life. Coming in to a situation that needs reform requires a calm-headed confidence, an ability to make friends, skills to demonstrate desired improvements, and above all, the patience to stick with it for at least ten years. Otherwise, abandon hope.

    Todd -

    The above quote from your post is wonderful. There is much truth in what you have said.

    The only place that I disagree with you is that I often would rather be interviewed and hired by the pastor alone, provided that I am satisfied with his "take" on things and that he will be supportive of me. Committees often bring with them agendas; who hasn't had that one member who keeps asking for assurance that guitars will not be banned, etc. when no one else on the committee seems to be worried?
  • "But, more to the point, why are the teachers picking anything regarding the Masses? By what miracle of training in the field of elementary education have they been endowed with wisdom, knowledge or ability to make these choices?"

    Thank you - My thoughts precisely! It is a problem I encounter all too often in parishes here: Self-appointed experts (who have never read a document about Sacred Music in their lives) controlling parish (and school and other) music programs.
  • The problem is that there is little to zero liturgical preparation for Catholic School teachers, be they religious or laity. The problem, in my opinion, is that schools are not willing to invest the time or the treasure to properly train their teachers in the appropriate rubrics, music and form of the Mass. The right to having the Mass properly celebrated according to the rites, norms and rubrics of the Church doesn't just include the adults. Children have that same right, too, and, this also includes having music that is theologically and liturgically sound and appropriate.

    Unfortunately, teachers (and anyone else who plans liturgies geared towards children) seem to think that the kids need to be entertained in order for them to participate at Mass. That is not true. The teachers seem to be using the protestant model of music because that is what publishing houses like OCP are shoving down the throats of unsuspecting parishes and schools. The kids need to be exposed to the music that the Church has held sacred for nearly two millenia. Shine Jesus Shine may work at a rally, but, it is not at all suitable for the Mass.
  • Unfortunately, the state of affairs benedictgal describes is extremely common and is the sort of thing that leads many of the most devout Catholic parents to homeschool their children or, when financial feasible, found small, economically elite schools outside the parish/diocesan structure.
  • Parents, first and foremost, are charged with being the primary teachers of their children in the Faith. They make this promise at the moment of their child's baptism. Granted, there are some parents who abdicate this responsibility and leave it in the hands of the priest, CCD instructors and Catholic school teachers. However, there are some parents who care enough about the spiritual well-being of their children and are willing to invest the extra time to learn about the Church and transmit the Faith to their offspring.

    Unfortunately, trends have infilitrated the liturgical life of the average Catholic School. My alma mater, for instance, has taken up the notion of liturgical dance with a vengeance, even though the Vatican has issued statements to the contrary. As I told the Salesian principal, if Don Bosco were to walk into a Mass at my alma mater, he would not be pleased at all with the excessive liberties the nuns have taken with the liturgy. In fact, he would have ordered it to stop and would not have recognized it as a Mass at all. Furthermore, the same nuns are using stuff like Shine Jesus Shine, I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and Our God is an Awesome God. When I asked the principal if the choir could sing "All Creatures of Our God and King" for an upcoming event on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, she had a blank look on her face. I kid you not. I even reminded her that a prelate had given the nuns older red Worship III hymnals and that she could find the music there. I mentioned that it was a lot easier to sing than their current repertoire. Needless to say, the ikds will sing the hymn.
  • I can say quite confidently that the Catholic homeschooling parents I know have a drastically better background in the Church's liturgy than most Catholic school teachers in the lower grades. And it shows in the children I see in my parish treble choir: the homeschooled kids tend to be much more at ease in and have more respect for the liturgy. Most of them go to daily Mass, often including coming early to say family prayers or a rosary.
  • Todd - You post some thought-provoking questions about the qualifications of both teachers and parents. Unfortunately there are very very very few people really qualified for this difficult task. Few parents even lead their children in saying grace at meals, let alone say the LotH. And I'd put a lot of money down on saying 90% of our RE teachers couldn't name the Holy Days of Obligation.

    Most RE teachers are handed the textbook for the class a week or two before it begins and they try to stay a chapter ahead of the kids. There may be 2 or 3 hours of in-service training, but most of that will deal with classroom administration, child protection, etc. The assumption seems to be that if your were baptized 25 years ago you can teach the proofs of the existence of God today.

    This lack of instructional preparation does our Church and its members more damage today than all the clown Masses I've ever seen.
  • Umm, I just searched "clown Mass" on youtube and pulled up a bunch.

    Could be please cool it on the provocations here? This forum has never had contention until very recently. The line of dispute here looks like a time warp that no one wants to revisit. It is not productive.
  • This forum seems to have been a place for people who are largely vitally interested in abandoning the personalized interpretations of Vatican II, putting back into effect the liturgy of the Church as it had been all without abandoning the context of the Pastoral matters that were to bring people into a greater understanding and participation of the permission for the use of the vernacular. Latin chant was and should be sung as evidenced by the great gift of Jubilate Deo to the entire Church.

    The return to these principles would appear to be the guiding force behind all of our writings, our thoughts and dreams...our gentle jabs at each other as we continue upon a journey we have all embarked upon, many of us having had to burn bridges as required to make this trip happen.

    Having our goal questioned in the realm of this forum would indeed seem to be non-productive.

    I hope for the day when the music at all Masses is the music of the Mass of the day, rather than music chosen by personal preference...unless it's between singing the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex....
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Well said. Thanks, Noel.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Gavin (sep 4)
    "Is it just me or can NOTHING change without the full and proactive support of the priest?"
    BruceL (sep 22)
    "When Father treats the homily as entertainment, it is hard for the DoM to take a stand without looking silly and very gauche."

    This forum discussion came to mind as I stumbled across the following vignette.
    Musical Memories
    by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

    The last paragraphs of CHAPTER X THE ORGAN (S-S was organist at La Madeleine from 1857-1877):

    One day one of the parish vicars undertook to instruct me on this point.
    He told me that the Madeleine audiences were composed in the main of
    wealthy people who attended the Opera-Comique frequently, and formed
    musical tastes which ought to be respected.

    "Monsieur l'abbe," I replied, "when I hear from the pulpit the language
    of opera-comique, I will play music appropriate to it, and not before!"
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Yes indeed. And we have plenty of heretical/warm-and-fuzzy/pointless sermons to match post-conciliar music!

    Although I WILL say that, on the contrary, music can have great formative power. Many on the NLM and such blogs love to pontificate on how a priest ought to hold his hands, claiming he must press them flat together rather than clasped. Regardless of how silly this is, most people regard it as a more noble posture. At my last church, I noticed that, while I was playing a Langlais piece for offertory, the priest folded his hands as such! And this past Sunday I subbed at a church where the priest gets maybe half of the words of the liturgy in. I must say though, after I chanted the psalm and alleluia a capella, he had a very much better demeanor! So there is SOME extent to which we can influence the priest's "ars celebrandi", but too often the music and priest feed eachother into this vicious circle of heteropraxy.
  • I'm totally stealing that line by Saint-Saens!