Monday greetings from Chicago, where the worst thunderstorm I have ever experienced rolled through last evening. Some damage to assess up on the roof of my home.
This is just one of those "musings" posts.
After having experienced liturgy in various places (and countries) over the past month, I have a question that has been bugging me.
Why do cantors at Mass extend their arm/s or hand/s when it is time for the assembly to sing?
I've noticed in some places, for instance, that a cantor can keep a hand raised for the entire length of the refrain for a responsorial psalm, even one with a very long refrain. My question: Don't we already know that we are supposed to repeat the psalm refrain after the cantor sings it once and after each verse?
Also, when there is a nice, strong introduction to a hymn or song and the organist, or keyboard player, or ensemble musicians actually breathe at the end of the introduction, signalling all of us to breathe and begin the hymn or song, why does a cantor need to lift up a hand to signal that we are to begin singing?
I have shied away from the hand-lifting in the past several years when I am a cantor which, admittedly, is a rare occasion. I simply memorize the first few lines of whatever it is that the assembly is supposed to sing, I look out at the assembly, I breathe, and I think by my body language and eyes, that I am giving them the signal to begin.
Also, if there is a strong introduction, and the hymn or song is well known, does a cantor really need to be anywhere near a microphone? Does the cantor even need to be alone "up front?" Does a cantor need to sing into the microphone at all?
I'll be interested in hearing your take on all of this.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.