Cameo roles

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IncenseTom
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by IncenseTom »

I agree with the comments made above.

Here at St. Anne's in Keighley we have a full church for Mass at 11am on Sunday. It's a big church and you can barely get a seat. However, there are I think, 6 members of the choir who are also extraordinary ministers of holy communion and every Sunday without fail, at least one is on duty. There have been occasions where 4 of them have left the choir to distribute holy communion. There have been times when this has really quite scuppered the communion song, leaving a very depleted choir to struggle on. The parish is big enough for more people to come forward to do things but it doesn't seem to be happening at the minute. I imagine this may be the situation in a lot of places.

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Gwyn
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by Gwyn »

I imagine this may be the situation in a lot of places.

It certainly is, I.T., and craves some sort of regulation.

alan29
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by alan29 »

Gwyn wrote:
I imagine this may be the situation in a lot of places.

It certainly is, I.T., and craves some sort of regulation.


Maybe the PP should be inviting people to undertake ministries.

IncenseTom
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by IncenseTom »

When I think about it, there are lots of folk who do this or that. Opening the church, running the tea and coffee after Mass, flowers, cleaning, several adult Altar servers, good 'Liturgy of the Word with Children', choir, extraordinary ministers, etc. The issue for me is that there are always 5 EM's at communion - 1 ciborium and 4 chalices. This means the rota goes around rather quickly and it seems that many in the choir are the sort of people who are involved in others things besides being in the choir. It's by no means a huge issue, just a bit of an annoyance.

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Nick Baty
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by Nick Baty »

IncenseTom wrote:There have been occasions where 4 of them have left the choir to distribute holy communion. There have been times when this has really quite scuppered the communion song, leaving a very depleted choir to struggle on.
I do know what you mean here, Tom. So I am always careful to use a communion song which does not involve the choir – other than the cantor who is singing the verses – just the assembly. For some of these, the cantor sings the first few verses and then the choir sings the later ones, numbers growing as they return from receiving Communion.We have one setting of Psalm 41 which has choir parts in the final verse and refrain and, to date, everyone's been back in their seats in time to sing it!

dmu3tem
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by dmu3tem »

Regarding VML's unfortunate experiences, I am inclined to be rather intolerant.

[1] I think it outrageous that people give higher priority to music planning meetings over actually coming along to practices. It suggests that people want to command but not do the donkey work.

The only modification I would countenance would be on the grounds that such people might give feedback on what people in the congregation would like to have.

Even so, I tend to be a bit suspicious of this argument (a) because it merely reflects what people in the church think, as opposed to 'strangers' who might come in from outside if things were different (b) because such people may not actually express what the congregation as whole really feels (a dubious proposition anyway given that it is an assemblage of individuals and groups) but merely their own opinions which they imagine are the same as everybody else's.

The issue is also affected by whether the MD (and other musicians) are paid or not. If they are paid there is quite a strong case for them doing what their employer pays them to do, so they should take on board what parish councils etc say to them. If they are unpaid the situation is quite different. If someone - especially someone with considerable musical skills - comes along and offers their services for nothing the quid pro quo must be that they have considerable autonomy. What musical (or other) satisfaction would they get otherwise, especially if week after week they are required to perform music they despise?

[2] Music in church by specialist groups (which is what Choirs and Music Groups are) deserves and needs proper rehearsal. Anything less suggests that people are not very serious about the whole enterprise. This applies even to 'folk' groups, who are too often seduced by the idea that you can just improvise your way over the difficulties. Too often effective music is short-changed through poor performances that are the result of inadequate rehearsal or unrealistic expectations of what particular musicians can do.

People turning up late or leaving early is a slightly different issue. On the face of it this suggests a lack of commitment, but this argument should only apply if there are not copper-bottomed reasons for this behaviour to occur (e.g.illness, physical disability, the need to care for a friend or relative etc). The important thing is that (a) others - e.g. music directors - who are affected by such 'disappearances' are informed in advance. The 'sin of sins' in my book, is to offer to do something 'without considering the cost' - i.e. knowing (subconsciously) that you probably will not be able to deliver what you promised to do. (b) that if genuinely this is all that can be expected from somebody, than their contribution - however small - should be respected, valued and not denigrated by comparison with others who have 'stayed for the full course'. At the same time, though, this should be balanced by considerations arising from the fact that someone who 'can stay the course' is willing and able to do the job.

[3] I must say I find it very irritating when musicians during the service have to go off and do the readings, distribute communion etc., but provided it does not interfere with what they agreed to do on the music front I feel I must respect their commitment (which on a purely religious plane seems to be so much greater than my own). I think the key thing is that such people tell the music director in advance what they are going to do so that appropriate plans can be made for when they are absent.

Whether music is on a 'higher' or 'lower' plane than other activities is another issue. In one sense I consider it an irrelevance, as the attitude ought to be that each person contributes according to their means/skills and there should not be a 'pecking order' about who does the 'more important' job - leave that to the Scribes and Pharisees of this world.
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VML
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by VML »

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, TEM. it is sobering to think that this thread has been refreshed after a three year break.
In the meantime, our parish music is led alternate weeks by the other group, and by me.
Three years ago it was a painful process, I opted out of planning that year 'March and April' which of course covered HW&E.
It opened the eyes of some of the other group, and there is some fairly good co-operation and interaction now.

I tried to re-establish practices fortnightly, inviting all concerned with music, most recently last September.
One of the other leaders turned up twice, and half a dozen others, in twos and threes, over two months, until it became untenable.
I had a useful discussion with our PP, who is certain that the parish is happy with what we do, and most people want music they know.

However..We have sung the psalm on Sundays for over twenty years, but occasionally the other group, having no practices, don't manage to sing it.
On their last Sunday, there were actually at least two capable singers who have done it over the years, but the music leader simply read it from his place.
I am trying to summon the courage to suggest that if they are not going to sing the psalm then it would be good manners to tell the first reader and let him read it.

We too have the perennial problem of multitasking musicians.

JW
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by JW »

VML wrote:We too have the perennial problem of multitasking musicians.


As musicians we can also end up doing too much within music ministry. At last Sunday's Mass, because of absences, I ended up as psalmist, cantor and organist (not all at once!). Probably my own fault for:
(1) Being keen that the psalm is sung at a sung Mass (I have colleagues and, no doubt, congregational members, who believe that the psalm, Gloria and Sanctus are lower priority for singing than hymns).
(2) Being keen to introduce new music - we currently only use 3 mass settings.
(3) Being too keen overall.
JW

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musicus
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by musicus »

JW wrote:(3) Being too keen overall.

:D

Well, yes – we do need to rein ourselves in from time to time!
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JW
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by JW »

musicus wrote:
JW wrote:(3) Being too keen overall.

:D

Well, yes – we do need to rein ourselves in from time to time!


Yep, I'm stepping aside at Easter; it will give someone else a chance! :twisted:
JW

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VML
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by VML »

By 'multi-tasking musicians' I meant that on the rare occasions we have a bassoon player, she is often also covering children's liturgy; and our best solo soprano (now actually at Oxford on a choral scholarship) is also one of five extraordinary ministers who disappear from the choir corner in turn.

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Gwyn
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by Gwyn »

By 'multi-tasking musicians' I meant that on the rare occasions we have a bassoon player, she is often also covering children's liturgy; and our best solo soprano (now actually at Oxford on a choral scholarship) is also one of five extraordinary ministers who disappear from the choir corner in turn.

Nightmare! That must make planning a laff-a-minute VML?

Southern Comfort
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by Southern Comfort »

It's also a violation of a basic liturgical principle: that no one should exercise more than one ministry in a single celebration.

The idea behind this is not only to spread out ministries among as many people as possible but also to avoid creeping clericalism. When a layperson carries out two or even three or more ministries in the course of a Mass, that compounds the impression that the person is a sort of "mini-priest". Some dioceses have guidelines that actively discourage this.

I have seen plenty of examples of Masses where one of the sopranos, say, steps out of the choir to do a reading, then the intercessions, and who later acts as a Minister of Communion. It doesn't look good at all. Even worse when the same person is one of those bringing up the gifts in procession.

I have also had occasion to request people to choose which ministry they are going to do, telling them that they can't do both. Sometimes a person has said to me "Oh, but I like doing it" when told, say, that s/he can't be a Minister of Communion when s/he is singing in the choir, or vice versa. The proper response to that, harsh as it may sound, is "It's not about what you like, it's about serving the community. By taking on an additional role, you deny someone else the opportunity to serve the community too." And when s/he responds that "there aren't enough people to go round so I have to step in to fill the breach," I tell the person that, as long as s/he is filling in like this, others will not volunteer to assist with a ministry — they will think that they are not needed when in fact they most certainly are.

It's only by standing firm over this basic principle that we will bring about the end of what could even be termed a liturgical abuse.

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VML
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by VML »

Wise words, SC. This has been pointed out to me in the context of music across the board so to speak. In other words, so long as I am willing to be there regularly people won't put themselves forward, though I somehow think that there is room for quite a number of singers and musicians in a parish.
It was my Sunday off today. Musicians were a father on guitar, a very experienced music leader, and his teenage daughter on keyboard. Then she went off to distribute HC. :( The chant during Communion was 'In the Lord…' and was sung very well unaccompanied with plenty of assembly participation, and my mind went to the article in the current M&L about how Taize have a habit of doing odd things with words... :D

Southern Comfort
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Re: Cameo roles

Post by Southern Comfort »

VML wrote:my mind went to the article in the current M&L about how Taize have a habit of doing odd things with words... :D


That's funny. I have a more recent issue of M&L than that, which arrived the other day. Has your subscription lapsed? :(

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