Monday, April 28, 2008

Holy, Holy, Holy?

A funny thing happened at Mass, and in some vague way, I sense there is a parable in it.
The celebrant murdered the Alleluia, and then went on to attack, I mean, "intone," the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). The melody was somewhat familiar, so as soon as I perceived which version he was aiming at, I turned on the volume, in order to support the assembly in singing it acappella. Unfortunately, Father had changed key three times by the fourth word, and he had the mike. I kept bravely trying, wincing at the resulting chord (it was an augmented, demented--oops, diminished--something, for sure), until Father shot out the same kind of "evil eye" that my esteemed choir director has been known, on rare occasion, to send as a warning to an errant member of the group. I relinquished my effort, figured out what key he had landed on, and joined him there. All was again well.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

The hilarious account of the aberrant singing celebrant and how you coped with his self righteousness reminds me of the old saying "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em".

Anonymous said...

The assistant pastor in our parish church insists upon singing during the purification of the sacred vessels while most of the congregation is absorbed in post communion thanksgiving and petitioning...distracting and off key would be the most flattering means of describing the ritual. I have learned to avoid his Masses.

Anonymous said...

How long would it have taken your esteemed choir director to head for the nearest exit?

Anonymous said...

As a presider not blessed with perfect pitch I know how difficult this must be for the man you described...I have asked my own cantors to be ready to do what you did and help me find my way. Were you at my mass I would have welcomed your intervention. It's a pity that perfect pitch is not included in the list of "grace of office" or "the church will supply" that most of us depend on. Pray for those of us who have to lead God's people in sometimes imperfect prayer. And thanks for your story. It made my morning!
Father Fred, CMF

Anonymous said...

Sister Anne, thanks for a mid-morning pick-me-up!

Lisa said...

It's interesting that he could not hear to keep himself in key but he could discern that you and he were not in tune when he again changed keys. That's a bit fascinating to me, musically (or aurally) speaking.

Anonymous said...

There is a parish here where the evening mass is accompanied by a most sorrowful excuse for music. What these "musicians" lack in harmony and finesse is made up for by their enthusiasm and volume. The only thing that keeps me from complaining too much is thinking, "Well, at least they are making an attempt." I will sing with a crowd, or in the car, or even in the shower, but I would not be brave enough to sing solo in front of an actual audience!

Archbishop 10-K said...

Nothing drives me more batty at Mass than this, LOL.

For as long as I've been Catholic, my pastor has been a professional singer and organist as well as a priest, and is a former Church of England priest with serious musical background. The Mass I usually sing in choir with him at is in Latin (the so-called "Novus Ordo", not the Tridentine) and wow, he sings absolutely every single part of the Mass, including the entire Eucharistic Prayer I/Roman Canon.

It seems to me that priests should have singing classes in the seminary. Now, when I attend recited Masses, it feels really weird.

Anonymous said...

This response comes via Sr. Anne's choir director with the occasional "evil-eye", who wishes to comment on the previous comment:

"....he (The priest) sings absolutely every single part of the Mass, including the entire Eucharistic Prayer. It seems to me that priests should have singing classes in the seminary."

The Missa Cantata (sung Mass - where everyt bit of text is sung/chanted by both priest and people, including dialogues, readings and responses)is taken for granted as not only a liturgical ideal, but is also granted the status of "normative". The USCCB's most recent document on Music in the Liturgy, entitled "Sing to the Lord", states that those dialogues between presider and assembly, of which the previous writer speaks, are to be given the highest priority. Those few examples of a Missa Cantata whichy i have been priviledged to witness have been transformative in the way I view our liturgical celebrations. The training must not simply be ofered in a few classes in seminary, but young men preparing to answer the call to priesthood should be offered these examples in their parishes - dare I say, the entire culture of sung dialogue
must be adopted in our liturgies. This step, if enthusiatically taken, will go a long way to helping to dispel the notion that Catholics don't/can't sing.

And as for the "evil eye" of which our good "Blogging Sister" speaks, I can only say that it is a very useful tool when needed!