Happy Wednesday to you all.
I had guests in from out of town (Pennsylvania) over the weekend. We went to my parish, Saint James, for Sunday Mass. It has been a longstanding tradition at Saint James to sing the Albert Hay Malotte setting of the Lord's Prayer (except in Advent and Lent). Before coming to Saint James, I was not a big fan of the hand-holding ritual that takes place in many parishes during the reciting or singing of the Lord's Prayer. But, parishes have a way of forming us in different ways, don't they? At St. James, as the introduction is played, everyone reaches out to those around them and we lift our voices like no other parish congregation I've ever heard. We pause before the "For thine is the kingdom . . ." so that the priest can pray the embolism. I know that many of you would say that singing this setting is simply wrong, because it is not the official text of the Lord's Prayer for the celebration of Mass. And sure, there is a part of me that says the same thing. I would not introduce it in a parish that has a few settings (including the Snow chant) under its belt already. The Malotte just happens to be what has been sung at St. James for as long as most people I talk with there can remember. And I can't imagine it not being a part of Sunday Mass.
As a matter of fact, when we finished, with arms raised high, my out of town guest put her hands to her face and began to weep. It is an emotionally charged moment, for sure, especially for those who have a somewhat staid experience of musical liturgy. I almost don't want to continue here, knowing the kinds of comments that this will engender. But I will anyway. Don't out parish liturgies need to have a certain amount of emotional expression so that peoples' hearts are drawn into the Mass? The Malotte does that for me each week. Chanting the Pange Lingua this past Holy Thursday did it for me. Chanting the Salve Regina with the priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Chicago at a recent fundraiser did it for me. Being drawn into a closing song with drums, guitar, and piano—knowing that I was sent forth after communion to be Christ for others—did it for me. And I am not talking about a sentiment like "the liturgy made me feel good" here. What I am talking about is a deeply personal and communal emotional experience that draws my heart and the hearts of those with whom I worship closer to the sacred heart of the Lord Jesus. This is why I don't think I could be one of those people that likes the early Sunday morning so-called "quiet" Mass (of which I do not think there is such a thing anyway). I need music to lift me out of myself. I need music to acclaim the work that God is doing in my heart. I need music to connect me with the millions who have gone before me. I need music to help me grieve. I need music to help express my lament. I need music to connect me to my billion plus Catholic brothers and sisters all over the world.
How about you?
Comments, as always, are welcome.
More than ever, gotta sing and gotta pray.