Friday, February 25, 2011

Music and the Mass Part 2

I wanted to share a story about the Mass and music

1) A few weeks ago we had an all school Mass at Ritter, and as we were doing a walk through about 30 minutes before Mass, I noticed the 4-5 young ladies who made up our our choir were anxious - the piano player had still not shown up! I went over and talked to them and said, "If we don't have music today that is fine, we're not going to put you on the spot, but why don't you try and sing it without any piano just to see how it sounds." I was just offering some practical advice, but as soon as they started singing I knew we were on to something. The piano player did finally show up, but I asked them if they wouldn't mind singing the opening song the same way they'd practiced it - no instrumentation.

As Mass and the small choir started their piece sans instruments I noticed a couple of things
A) The music was a ton more prayerful because it wasn't overpowering.
B) Because it wasn't overpowering, a TON more kids were singing than normally would. I think that as long as there are instruments going and lots of noise coming from the front of the Church, people aren't going to sing. However, if it is a prayerfully sung or chanted piece, I think it is much more of an invitation to join in.
C) The whole idea of chant is that the congregation realizes "If I don't join in, this song might not make it" by its very nature it invites people and it reminds people "the choir needs your help!" If the choir/flutist/pianist/guitarists/drums and whatever other fathomable musical arrangement is up at the front belting out a hymn, then I know, as a person in the congregation, that "this song doesn't need me." If I stand here with my arms folded and look at the ceiling, the song is going to be just fine.

I learned something last week about how to help transition a parish or community to the type of music that the Church asks for at Mass. The transition can be a lot simpler than it may seem when looking at the vast gap between what the Church is asking for and the typical music you hear at Mass today.

Other ideas for how to make Mass music holier? Other stories of what you have seen work with liturgical music?