Resource for Cantors

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Fr Allen Morris
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Resource for Cantors

Post by Fr Allen Morris »

As mentioned in the current issue of Music and Liturgy the Society has committed to producing a range of resources to support the formation of liturgical ministers.
The first of these is a set of three videos and some supporting handouts related to the ministry of Cantor.
You will find them at:
Allen Morris

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Re: Resource for Cantors

Post by dmu3tem »

Many thanks for this. I had a look at the articles, and they look very useful. However, could there also be something on vocal technique? After all Cantors are supposed to sing.

John Ainslie
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Re: Resource for Cantors

Post by John Ainslie »

I like the videos and accompanying documents.

My grouse is not about the subject matter or the presentation. It is about the title 'cantor'.

Paul Inwood recently wrote in the PrayTell blog:

The problem with 'cantor' is that it can be interpreted simply as psalmist or even soloist. The French term animateur de chant, literally “one who gives life to the singing”, is probably best translated as “song leader” rather than animator, because of the Disney connotations of the latter. But for some reason that term doesn’t seem to be looked on favourably by some. In workshops I increasingly use song leader (like the German Gesangleiter) because cantor is so often misunderstood.

And another contributor (Jack Rakosky) answered thus:

Song leader sounds much better.

Cantor has the connotation of a soloist, especially a virtuoso soloist. Choir director has the connotation of someone responsible for the choir, i.e. a specialized group of singers. Too often choir directors are too concerned about leading the choir and not enough concerned with leading the song as when they choose music the congregation does not know. Music director has the connotation of someone with overall responsibility for the music such as choosing music, accompanists, etc. Again these people often fail to be song leaders.

Leader has a more primus inter pares flavour than director. Animator may be intended to have the same flavour but it does not come across that way, perhaps because of the history of words like director and conductor. It sounds like the singers do not have life rather than giving greater life to the song.

I think what Frances Novillo has presented in the SSG videos is much more 'song leader' than 'cantor'. And therein lies the distinction hinted at by dmu3tem's request for voice training.

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Re: Resource for Cantors

Post by JW »

The GIRM uses the word 'cantor' quite often and distinguishes the ministry from that of 'psalmist'. 'Song leader' could be confusing to the person in the pew: a song leader hopefully doesn't just lead songs! 'Animateur' doesn't mean much to most people either. A 'Director of Music' is more wide-ranging.

I agree with Thomas that, if someone is going doing the job of leading the congregation in singing, then they could use some tips on technique! How many cantors do not cover the voice, do not breathe properly, do not enunciate words clearly, strain to reach high notes, use unwarranted vibrato, or do not stay in tune? And I'm guilty of some of this myself, even with some vocal training.

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