Friday, June 3, 2011

The Singing Celebrant

Friday greetings to all.

On Monday and Tuesday of next week, I will help facilitate a clergy convocation in the Diocese of Davenport. One of the things I have been asked to do is lead the participants through some portions of Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, especially those areas that pertain particularly to the celebrant.

Here are two of the sections I will be sharing:

21. The priest joins with the congregation in singing the acclamations, chants, hymns, and songs of the Liturgy. However, the priest does not join in the singing of the Memorial Acclamation or the Great Amen. To the greatest extent possible, he should use a congregational worship aid during the processions and other rituals of the Liturgy and should be attentive to the cantor and psalmist as they lead the gathered assembly in song.
21. In order to promote the corporate voice of the assembly when it sings, the priest’s own voice should not be heard above the congregation, nor should he sing the congregational response of the dialogues. While the assembly sings, the priest should step back from a microphone, or, if he is using a wireless microphone, he should turn it off.

Some of what is contained in these two paragraphs is fairly obvious, such as the fact that the priest should not be singing the congregation's responses to the dialogues. I must admit, however, that I have been in places where the priest forgets to turn off his wireless microphone and his own singing voice dominates the singing of the congregation.

I also have to admit being part of larger cathedral or diocesan liturgies where the celebrant (most often the bishop) does not carry a worship aid, does not sing a note, and just sort of stands there while all the glorious singing is happening around him. This has always irked me. And then there are other times in these same kinds of celebrations when the bishop does hold the worship aid and joins in the singing. Practice is eneven at best.

Just thought I'd share those musings as I continue to prepare for next week.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


AliasKate said...

My pastor, a wonderful liturgist and presider, does not carry a hymnal or aid, but processes with hands folded, but singing nonetheless. Once he arrives at the chair, he picks up the missal if needed, still singing. Unlike at many parishes where the opening song is viewed as traveling music (only), the presider's arrival at the church is not the signal to finish up. The song and the feast inform that decision. The desire/choice to process with hands folded supports the case for a familiar parish and even diocesan repertoire. As at communion, great care should be taken in choosing, introducing, teaching and leading music for processionals.

John Black said...

I think that presiders often fail to consider the great power that their example wields. (Flash back to this blog's discussions of the praying-versus-reading of the Eucharistic prayers.) Full and active participation applies to the presider, as well. The assembly is drawn into the priest's wake. Reflection on these STL sections would go a long way in guiding that example. The more prepared, prayerful, and participating a presider is, the more the assembly is lifted.