Monday, July 28, 2014

Comical and Disappointing

Monday greetings to all. It is in the 60's here in Chicago; feels much more like a September morning!

I want to share a comical moment that occurred yeterday at the 9:00 A.M. Mass at Saint Peter's in the Loop here in Chicago.

When the opening hymn was announced, the elderly woman seated in front of me turned around and, with the hymnal open, said to me, "Isn't this one of those electronic book things?" as she pointed to the title of the hymn:

I chuckled and, as I sang the first stanza of the hymn, the second line struck me as well:

"God, whose purpose is to kindle;
Now ignite us with your fire . . ."

Kindle. Fire.

Made for a humorous beginning of Mass for me, for sure.

Since I have been attending Saint Peter's, one thing has struck me, since it is outside my own liturgical experience. For the most part, at communion time, after a long silence after the priest has consumed the Body and Blood of the Lord, followed by the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion receiving, a strophic hymn is announced; a hymn without any kind of refrain. No one takes the hymnal with them to receive communion so, for the most part, it is the organ and cantor one hears.

Yesterday's communion hymn was "Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether." It is a rather short hymn and was concluded before half of those going to communion had received. At the end of the hymn, there was a brief period of silence, then the organist improvised until the celebrant was seated at the end of communion. This simply could be "the way we have always done it here," but it just seemed so disjointed and uninviting to me; there was no sense that the communion procession was cohesive.

It is often challenging for me to be in the pews Sunday after Sunday. I try so hard not to put my "liturgical reviewer" or "liturgical music critic" hat on. I am there to worship God. Sometimes it's just very tough.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Joseph Burgio said...

Stories like this are the reason that I seldom worship in a Roman Catholic church when I am not working. I am both saddened and angered. One cannot fault the assembly, because they are not being enabled to participate. This is, as my friend M.D. Ridge would say, liturgical malpractice. The GIRM clearly explains the purpose of singing during Communion, provides 4 options for singing and a 5th if there is no singing. We probably should not be surprised though, that many parishes are still stuck in the 4 hymn format, and that they continue to reinforce behavior, in this case, the tacit approval of the assembly not singing.

DCJules said...

I had the same experience at a church in St. Louis the Sunday before NPM. The communion song was strophic, short, and then a very somber organ improv "filled in" the rest of the communion procession. At my parish, if I run out of verses at communion I simply just start back again at verse one.

Linda McKeague said...

My practice is to always have a Communion hymn with a refrain the congregation can sing without their liturgy aid. We also begin the song as the ministers are receiving to get the people involved in the song so they continue singing as they walk up to receive. After the song is finished there is usually a meditation song. Works well for us. Sometimes the congregation will join in on the meditation song when there is a repeated refrain. You invite them, they sing!

Therese Butler said...

After 40 plus years of serving in music ministry and still going strong... when I want to go to Mass as "a person" in the community of faith and be truly present to the Mass, I go to the one Mass in my home parish that does not have music. I am so distracted by the lack of care that is given to the preparation of the music in some parishes that it makes me angry as well. The people in the pew deserve the best of what we can bring of ourselves. As I have said in other forums, a fruit of a strong music ministry is the voice of the assembly singing strong and clear.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest contacting this Music Director. Over the years, I've had fruitful conversations with parishioners and visitors. Sometimes, email or a phone call is good. Other times, esp after the first round of emails, face-to-face is the way to go.

John Black said...

I do very much as does Linda M. Our hymn begins immediately after the presider receives, so that the the flow establishes before the assembly processes. A subsequent quiet instrumental, if necessary, seeks to inspire reflection. Often I'll simply leave the silence after the hymn's completion.

Katherine said...

Your Kindle story reminds me of every time I hear Alleluia, Alleluia, Hearts to Heaven and Voices Raise. There is a line in there that says "Christ is risen and we conqueror by his mighty enterprise." Being a Star Trek geek, I always see the "Starship Enterprise" at that point in the song. I just can'g get past it- though I have tried.

Liam said...

The communion song should, of course, begin *while* the celebrant receives Holy Communion. (It's in the rubrics; I learned it's also the rubrical practice for Solemn High Mass in the EF, fwiw).

jdonliturgy said...

In our parish, because our English Masses are so small (the parish is about 85% Spanish-speaking)it's less disruptive if the musicians receive first. This prevents those distributing communion from having to wait for the song to conclude. Our practice is to announce the song as soon as the celebrant finishes receiving, to start an instrumental intro while the EM's and then the cantor receive, and to begin singing as soon as the cantor is able.

Usually it's a simple well-known song with a refrain, in hopes that people will sing in the line. Again, because the attendance is low, we never run out of song before the rite is concluded.

However, at big bilingual liturgies when there are a lot of people present, such as Confirmation, there is often a second Communion song.