Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Songs with Questions and Answers

Greetings during this Second Week of Easter.

On Sunday, I found myself in my usual "spot" at Old Saint Patrick's at the 8:00 Mass. No standing in line as I did for that Mass on Easter Sunday. My view:



We sang a contemporary song during the communion procession. I am not going to name it nor the composer. When one gets into the singing at Mass like me, I pay attention to what I am singing. This particular song had a basic refrain that summoned us to sing to the Lord. I was thrown by the verses, because they were all questions and to me, begged for an answer. When I returned to my pew after receiving communion, I didn't pick up the worship aid because I just didn't understand why the verses were asking so many questions.

When I came into work on Monday, I looked for the song in a hymnal and found that it was only at the end of the third verse of the song that the questions were answered. I shared my experience with some folks here who serve as musicians in their parishes on the weekend. One person told me that they had sung the same hymn at Mass on Sunday and "every single time we have sung it we never have gotten to that third verse." We did sing the third verse at Old Saint Patrick's on Sunday, and I should have followed along and sung the entire song for sure.

It got me thinking about hymns and songs that actually unfold a story line, or whose verses unfold a particular theological construct. I remember a Sunday a long, long time ago, Trinity Sunday as a matter of fact, when my parish sang the hymn O God, Almighty Father as the "recessional hymn." Only two verses were sung, so that Sunday we only recognized two personsFather and Sonof the Holy Trinity and by skipping the third verse completely omitted the Holy Spirit! And on Trinity Sunday, no less!

As an organist and pianist, I sometimes get lost in the accompaniment, or in my own interludes and flourishes or key changes and I can lose the meaning of the words set to that accompaniment. Sunday's experience reminded me again, as a "pew Catholic" to give the entire song a chance before making my judgments. Live, worship, and learn.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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