Monday, November 9, 2009

Singing with Gusto

Happy Monday to you all. Remember to scroll down and read Friday's post about upcoming changes to gottasinggottapray.

At Mass yesterday, I was struck by how terrific the congregational singing is at my parish. I was seated next to a man who was singing as energetically as was I. I chuckled a few times when the music itself moved into the upper voice range. The man simply dropped his voice an octave and didn't miss a beat in the process. It's great to sing at Mass and not feel like you are the only one singing with gusto.

This reminded me of my Dad. When we were kids, my parents would take all six of us to Sunday Mass. And, truth be told, my Dad was a person who sang at Mass with gusto. And he was the only one who did so. I reflect back with embarrassment now when I think about how awkward I felt at those Masses standing next to my Dad. I was so self-conscious—that people were staring at us because he sang so loudly. I remember children turning around and looking at him as he sang. I also remember saying to myself, "Why can't he just sing softer, or not sing at all, like everybody else?" It brings a smile to my face now, of course, as well as a tremendous sense of gratitude for the example my Dad set for me. When I am at Mass—either at St. James or elsewhere—I sing with gusto. And now I am the one who gets the looks from others around me, especially children. Isn't it amazing how we change with time? Here I am—the guy who used to cringe because my Dad sang with gusto—now leading a Catholic music publishing company and writing a blog that is entitled Gotta Sing Gotta Pray!

God is good. Music is such a great gift. My Dad's a great gift to me. Hope your week is a blessed one. Let's remember in prayer all our friends on the Gulf Coast bracing for Ida.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Marty Lucas said...

Your story reminds me of my kid sister who, when only about 3 or 4 years old, managed to memorize a few of the hymns we sang in my home parish. She sang them loudly and with a great deal of enthusiasm probably more because she had memorized them and not because she understood why we sang at mass. Other parishioners would turn and glare at her as if her singing embarrassed them. They, of course, were not singing at all. My mom always found it amusing that these grownups were taken to task by a 4 year old.

Funny too that you write about this today. Just yesterday I was looking around at the assembly gathered in my current parish during one of the hymns and was disappointed with how many people were not even attempting to sing.

We have a really varied music ministry but so many of our Jane & Joe Pews have lost sight of the fact that their voices are required even when they think they can't sing.

Alan Hommerding said...

My memory of singing with my Dad is the once-a-month Holy Name Society Mass in which the first 5 or 6 pews at the front on both sides were full of the parish men. What a sound! I loved standing next to my Dad and belting out those hymns, proudly wearing my first communion pin and Holy Name society pin on my suitcoat. When I started playing for that Mass in Jr. High, I definitely missed that singing experience.

This past weekend proved to me that you can't always successfully predict congregational singing. The best singing was on the final hymn "The Kingdom of God" [Rees/Parry, Peoples Mass Book #511]. They really sang out! Even at the last Mass (usually referred to by the musicians as God's Frozen People) they stayed and sang all four stanzas. I would never have predicted that ... Hooray for the Holy Spirit!