Advice needed...

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SAUnison
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Advice needed...

Post by SAUnison » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:02 pm

I'm looking for some wise advice - that I know I can get from this forum...

I'm working on planning a Children's Mass to take place in the Cathedral. It's something I've been involved in for many years so I do have a fair idea of what I'm doing - at least, the people responsible keep asking for my help. This year, however, there are a number of new people involved - especially at the Cathedral, and I am getting strong hints that the new precentor is something of a traditionalist -apparently his suggestion was to use the readings for the day which are not particularly suitable for this occasion and I want to suggest some alternatives. I'm looking out my copy of the Directory for Masses with Children and other related documents to go in prepared to argue if needed when we meet next week, but would welcome any words of wisdom to help me persuade him of the need for some flexibility regarding liturgies with children, and perhaps some suggestions as to how to handle this meeting positively...

Hopefully I'm worrying about nothing - the precentor might be charming!

Thanks

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Gwyn
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by Gwyn » Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:34 pm

What's the occasion, SAUnison? And what are the readings for the day?

Can you get to chat informally with the Precentor beforehand? That way you can get a better sense of where he'll be coming from. I've found that most tradies are able to and happy to compromise. You sound as if you're pretty genned up. Often a good opener with a tradie is along the lines of "I'm happy with traditional or modern as long as it's dignified and glorifies God" or words to that effect.

Just a thought; since many young people may not know of, even less experienced 'traditional', then to them it will be new. Traditional (whatever that is) is only archaic to us old fuddy-duddies. :)

Be joyful. Keep The Faith.

SAUnison
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by SAUnison » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:16 am

Thanks, Gwyn, that was a useful starting point.

The occasion is the Annual Children's Mass for our Diocesan Children's Society. I don't think it's really an issue of traditional vs anything else. I have a pretty good idea of how to keep the balance between the expectations of the cathedral and the need to keep the Mass a positive experience for the children. I think I'm more anxious about how to begin to establish some trust with the new precentor and persuade him that (despite being female and a lay person) I do have at least half an idea of what I'm talking about regarding liturgy.

dmu3tem
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by dmu3tem » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:56 am

I know this sounds a bit anti-liturgical, but the bottom line, surely, should be that the children get something out of the service. I would have thought that if they came away with positive and lasting memories of what went on so that they wish to know more about God then you would have achieved a primary object. Against this everything else - including what is or is not the 'correct' liturgy for the day - pales into insignificance.

Personally the questions I would be asking myself would include:

What are the age ranges, social and educational backgrounds of the children you expect (or hope) to come along to the service?

From this stem other questions such as:

(a) What are the likely tastes of the children? For instance would they be happier with something 'folky' like 'Colours of Day'?

(b) What are they already familiar with? (often - but not necessarily - associated with their personal taste). Do you wish to reinforce or go against this by offering them 'something new'. Worth remembering that children, by definition, may well be surfeited with 'new experiences'.

(c) How can the children - as individuals and as groups - contribute their own special talents and skills.

(d) What would the children's parents like to see? (Vital because this may be a determinant as to whether they decide to encourage their offspring to take more interest in Christianity).

You might note that all these questions are pertinent for adults as well. A (potentially Pharasaical) focus on a 'correct' cycle of liturgical texts obscures the fundamental truth expressed in the text 'when two or three people are gathered in my name there I (Christ) will be among them'. If people do not get something from a service then they will not return.

I hope this helps,

Thomas (Muir)
T.E.Muir

Hare
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by Hare » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:56 am

dmu3tem wrote: everything else - including what is or is not the 'correct' liturgy for the day - pales into insignificance.



What? :shock:

This "let's dumb it all down" "child-friendly" (whatever that is) approach is exactly what I have spent years fighting against in "Family Masses".

So, why bother with "correct liturgy" ? Lets all just choose our "favourites".

I have 'given up' on this forum in the past and stopped posting, but come back because I missed it, but I am sufficiently gobsmacked to consider disappearing again. :-@

monty
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by monty » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:36 pm

SAUnison wrote: I think I'm more anxious about how to begin to establish some trust with the new precentor and persuade him that (despite being female and a lay person) I do have at least half an idea of what I'm talking about regarding liturgy.


Good luck with that one!!!

Have you already met or is it just reputation that is making you apprehensive?

How new is this person in role? Do they have something to prove?

johnquinn39
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by johnquinn39 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:13 pm

I do not see the point in 'Children's Masses'.

Why do we teach children to sing that there is plenty of time and that truth decays?

Why are children told not to join in with the psalm response?

Why are we instructed (in the Birmingham Diocese) that young poeple do not like the pipe organ
and choral music?

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by Tsume Tsuyu » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:04 pm

Children's Masses, done well, can be fruitful liturgies for both children and adults. Done badly, they can make one wince. The liturgy does not have to be 'dumbed down' for children. Yes, simpler versions of the readings may be used (and that can sometimes be a help to the adults in the congregation who are themselves baffled by some of the readings!) We mistakenly believe that children are only capable of singing simply ditties, which does them a great injustice. Children are capable of far more than they are given credit for. Music planning should be done on the basis of what reflects the readings and antiphons, what is already known in the parish and (where there are groups from different parishes coming together) what is common repertoire. Much of the success of a Children's Mass lies with the presider. Not all priests have the gift of being able to preach at a level which will reach the children, without being patronising. Another key to success is the preparation of those children who are asked to read, or perform other ministries. They don't just need to practise, but to have an understanding of their ministry so they approach it with reverence and care.

I understand johnquinn39's comments, but these Masses don't have to be a depressing experience. The power is in the hands of those responsible for planning the liturgy. Unfortunately, those aren't always the right people!

SAUnison, it sounds as though you have a good deal of experience and knows exactly what you're doing. You need to strike a balance between coming across to the new Precentor as someone who knows what they're doing, without sounding as though you're suggesting he doesn't know. Not an easy one! You could use Thomas's argument that it's important (especially in these days where youngsters have so many competing pressures) that the children taking part take something away with them and, if they are more engaged, i.e. because they can relate to the readings, then they will, hopefully, want to come back for more. Good luck!
TT

johnquinn39
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by johnquinn39 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:24 pm

I'm sorry, but I do find it depressing that children are taught things that are not true. And why do this at Mass?

Traditionalists have no knowledge of tradition. They merely worship altar rails and Latin hymns.

Hare
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by Hare » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:38 pm

By whose authority are these statements made regarding psalm responses and pipe organs? :? :shock: :evil:

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presbyter
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by presbyter » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:53 pm

Hare wrote:By whose authority are these statements made regarding psalm responses and pipe organs? :? :shock: :evil:


I'd quite like to know too - as they are not coming from any diocesan agency.

Hare
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by Hare » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:07 pm

From perusing Ken Tickell, organbuilder's website, is it to be inferred that St Joseph's, Rugeley, who apparently had a new pipe organ in 2005, have no young people? :wink: :lol: (Incidentally, does anyone know - Presbyter perhaps? - how effective that instrument is? Only 5 stops but photos I've seen suggest the church is large-ish......?°

SAUnison
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by SAUnison » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:07 pm

Lots of useful comments...
dmu3tem wrote:the bottom line, surely, should be that the children get something out of the service

I agree - that has always been a priority. This Mass is very often the first time the children have visited their cathedral, it should be an occasion to remember and (I hope) build faith.
johnquinn39 wrote:I do not see the point in 'Children's Masses'

I'm guessing you have had some negative experiences... so have I! I think the very term 'Children's Mass' suggests something different to an 'Adult Mass'. I'm planning a 'Mass with Children' - a subtle difference, but I think an important one. We will be adapting the liturgy to suit the needs of the children present (about 1,000), but will be singing all the acclamations as well as the Psalm.
The issue of what to sing can be difficult. The children are coming from primary schools across the diocese and the musical repertoire is diverse (just as it is in parishes). I usually try to find an acceptable balance between familiar music and one or two less familiar or even 'new' pieces. Hopefully some of the teachers present will take the details back to their own schools and introduce the music there.
Anyway... meeting the Precentor tomorrow (deep breath...)

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VML
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by VML » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:11 pm

In Clifton schools I think the music for the primary leavers' Mass is sent to the schools ahead so that they have a chance to learn it.
It certainly was when I had more to do with the primary school a few years ago.

SAUnison
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Re: Advice needed...

Post by SAUnison » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:19 pm

VML wrote:In Clifton schools I think the music for the primary leavers' Mass is sent to the schools ahead so that they have a chance to learn it.

We do that too - not sure how many schools take the time to use it, but the opportunity is offered at least.

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