music and liturgy

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I think I am finally ready to talk about my parish's Easter Triduum.
This is a small parish, with an orthodox pastor who picks his battles carefully (in my opinion). He is involved in Cursillo, is an excellent confessor, and has a truly pastoral heart. He did not think, growing up, that he could become a priest because he is partially deaf. But God had other plans, and pulled him out of the world of business to become a diocesan priest. He has been a blessing to the parish.
Our music director is a wonderful godly woman, and I have a great deal of personal respect for her even if I often disagree with her choices in music. We are stuck with the OCP books, and she has a fondness for stuff that I find inane or worse. I haven't found it worthwhile to argue about too many things - although I was strongly tempted to scream when I learned that the (heterodox) song Ashes was going to be part of the Ash Wednesday liturgy. The choir is dedicated and talented - and I would guess that the average age of choir members is somewhere around 60 - I think that John and I are among the younger members and we aren't exactly spring chickens.

Anyhow - Holy Thursday was not too bad. I winced at the choice of persons whose feet were washed - I understood from overhearing conversations that there was quite a discussion in the Liturgical Committee (what ever happened to the Altar Guild, anyhow) about including women. I really wonder what is so hard about reading and following directions? My side obviously lost from the looks of things. Some of the music we sang was, frankly, not what I would have chosen, but we did sing the wonderful hymn "Sing my tongue the Savior's glory" in 4 part harmony, a capella, as the Eucharist was being transferred for adoration. I do admit to missing having a real procession to another building, but I guess in New Hampshire that is a lot harder than in California or Oregon, given the weather.
Good Friday, I was not able to attend Stations but my parish did the LIturgy of the Lord's Passion in the evening. The liturgy of the word was properly done, with us taking the parts as scripted for the reading of the Passion. The psalm was chanted by the choir a capella, and did not drift. We sang beautiful and reverential hymns - Were you there when they crucified my Lord - Ours were the griefs he bore - Into your hands, I commend my spirit - a capella, in 4 part harmony, on key and with an aching beauty that just went through me. The intercessions were done just as printed in the missal. The veneration of the cross was reverential and silent. I wish that we had done the reproaches, though.
Holy Saturday - the vigil Mass - now that was another story entirely. This year, we had no candidates, no catechumens, not even any babies to be baptized. Nothing, nada zilch. Despite the provision that the mass is not to be started till after sundown, there was plenty of light at 7PM when things started. The blessing of the fire and candle went well. One of our tenors chanted the exultet (father is not only deaf but tone deaf - he does his best to chant the mass part that he is called to do, but a long piece like that is beyond him). The Gloria was wild and glorious (despite being one of my least favorite modern settings).It all seemed to fall apart for the choir with the psalm chantings.
For some reason we can't discern, the 4 choristers who were chanting the psalm verses went flat within the first few notes - and never recovered. Eventually the organist quit playing because it was too painful. This went on for the first two psalms - finally for the third psalm, the group that was singing that one managed to stay on key. But it was frankly awful to hear those first two times, and I was wincing in pain.
I guess it was just as well that we didn't go through all 7 of the old testament readings with psalms - although I really missed them. I mean, with no rites of initiation, we certainly had the time. With no rites - no litany of the saints. It made for a hollow feeling to the Mass, to me.
Anyhow, after Father came up to the choir loft and sprinkled us with the holy water, we did a lot better -until the very last hymn. We were supposed to be singing special Easter lyrics, but at the last minute everybody pulled out the sheet music (rather than the missallette) and sang the regular lyrics. Didn't bother me either way as I was playing the flute for that one, and the flute only cares about the notes not the words. But the choir director was more than a little annoyed and puzzled.
I've been in lots of choirs and music groups over the 31 years I've been Catholic. I think I prefer the ones who start practicing for Christmas in September, and for Easter in January. I like choirs that have a committment to being there every week for Mass, not just once or twice a month. But God has put me in a place where I have had to learn that I am not in charge and that I am to bloom where He has planted me.
So I ask that you pray for me that I will be more charitable on this issue.



I can't even begin to talk about my Triduum experiences... I'm in Rochester... it's all just too painful. Except for the tenabrae service I went to at Our Lady of Victory, the priest there is very orthodox (he's one of the priests who says the Tridentine Mass for us) and the choir was amazing.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on April 13, 2004 9:50 PM.

About my patron saint was the previous entry in this blog.

more on foot washing is the next entry in this blog.

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