Choirs v Congregations

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Re: Choir verus Congregation

Post by Tsume Tsuyu »

Catulus wrote:Perhaps the role of a choir is not only to facilitate and encourage the congregation to raise their voices to God, but also to facilitate silence and contemplation. What do you all think?

I think I agree with this. And I think many choirs do just this, by taking time to begin pieces, not rushing into the psalm, for instance, before the echoes of 'Thanks be to God' have died, but pausing to allow the words of scripture to sink in. Where I have experienced a lack of time for silence and contemplation is usually where the priest rushes onto the next 'bit'. Our priest, for instance (who is mostly wonderful), will start the notices almost before the last chord of the communion song dies. He also has a habit of pausing for all of about 30 seconds after the Intercessions, when the reader invites the assembly to pray for a moment in silence. I've usually just about gathered my thoughts when he launches into the closing prayer bit. I find that many of our readers too, seem frightened of silence. They fail to use pauses when they read and they rush through the prayers without giving any opportunity for reflection.

And so, I do think the choir can do its bit to facilitate silence and contemplation, but so could others who facilitate the liturgy.

Catulus wrote:Are they there to lead, or to guide, or even to encourage?
This surely determines the best position!

A combination of all three, I should think and, yes, this should determine the best position. :-)

Catulus wrote:Following the post-communion hymn, which is beautifully sung, the choir remain standing as if to imply that now they are finished, its time to get on with Mass and wind things up

If you find this irritating, why don't you simply approach them and ask them if they would mind sitting down after the post-communion song until the priest signals that it's time to move? I know from experience, that when people approach our choir direct with suggestions, we take them on board and discuss them at our planning meeting.

Finally, for the record, I was being facetious when I mentioned Liverpool. I just found it interesting that so many people seemed to know exactly where I was talking about (that is assuming we are all talking about the same Cathedral :D )
TT

Merseysider
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Post by Merseysider »

cccc
Last edited by Merseysider on Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Post by Tsume Tsuyu »

Ouch!

First of all, Merseysider, I don't think everyone who is signed up to the forum is a member of the SSG. As far as I'm aware, the forum is open to anyone who chooses to sign up.

I wholeheartedly agree about the bickering, but I don't have a problem with lively discussion. What irritates the pants off me is people who presume they know what is going on in my mind and people who make petty criticisms about things that are clearly getting up their nose in their own parish, without speaking to the people who might be able to do something about it.

I think what you're doing in the parishes you work in is very much in keeping with what the SSG tries to promote. And, for what it's worth, I've yet to be involved with an organisation that doesn't have a bit of back-biting and one-upmanship going on. If you think the SSG is bad, you should be involved with the girls football club I help to run! :)

I intend to stick with the SSG - and raise any queries I might have at the AGM (having first given notice of my questions, of course!).
TT

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musicus
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Post by musicus »

Thanks TT - well put.

Merseysider wrote:Are the posts which appear here, representative of the SSG in 2004?

The SSG currently has about 600 members, so, no, the handful that post on this forum are not representative, (not least because they might not all be members). For that you would need to meet the 100 or so that meet for Summer School every year.

There are many of us, amateurs, volunteers, trying to help our communities to celebrate in the best way possible. Any chance of a bit of Christian, fraternal support. Or can we expect to be shot down every time we raise a head above the parapet?

I see a good deal of fraternal support here. Unfortunately, as moderator I also see a little mischief-making from time to time which not everyone will be aware of. I, and others, do our best to disarm this, but when the same parish is repeatedly targetted it does get disheartening and hard to deal with. If the usual standards of tact and diplomacy have slipped, then I am sorry. Normal service will be resumed henceforth.

Musicus - moderator

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Benevenio
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Post by Benevenio »

Merseysider wrote:have strange Latin documents quoted at me
Um... the only document quoted in this thread is the English GIRM, which arguably ought not to be strange to anybody who chooses to celebrate an English Roman-Rite liturgy - from those who choose to do no more than turn up to those who are immersed in it all the time. (Anyway, if you don't know 'the rules' how can you break them good and proper :twisted: ?)

Merseysider wrote:Can anyone tell me why I should remain a member?
Yes. Because we are people who are foolish enough to care deeply about what we do, and in the main do so without any thanks, with little support and with a good deal of humour. We need someone like you to tell us when we get things wrong - as often we do - to show us what what you do in your neck-of-the-woods so that we can try different things when life gets tough in ours. It's that bit from St Paul to Timothy, isn't it - about avoiding squabbles and correcting each other with gentleness [bible]2 Timothy 2:23-25[/bible]. What might seem gentle to me, say, could easily push all the wrong buttons for you, of course...

Anyway, don't forget too that the posts here are not from SSG Members. Some users will be SSG members as well, but you don't have to be. And the posts here are not representative of the majority of SSG members - who, like you, want nothing to do with them.

And for my share of the cutting posts on this thread, when all the wrong buttons were pushed for me, I apologise.
Benevenio.

Merseysider
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Post by Merseysider »

cccc
Last edited by Merseysider on Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Post by Tsume Tsuyu »

It's slightly unnerving to think that my post about visiting another parish has caused such a furore (especially since I wrote what I did out of support for a choir that I thought was going a good job but with one hand tied behind its back). And it's very sad that the said furore has caused Merseysider to be so damning about the SSG. I understand, Merseysider, that if you've had a bad experience in the past, it's very difficult to let go of that, but I think the SSG is a good organisation to be involved with. It has good intentions and works hard to achieve its aims:

to further the study and understanding by the people of the Roman Catholic Church, with a view to promoting active participation in accordance with the teaching of the Church

to promote facilities for the study of liturgy and church music
to organise meetings, schools and conferences at which instruction in the liturgy and music is given

to reproduce, print, publish and sell books and pamphlets likely to be required by persons concerned with the liturgy and sacred music


I don't think it gets everything right, but it is trying and that's what's important. It's only as good as its members and it's important that there are people involved, such as yourself, who are prepared to speak out, rather than just mutter behind the scenes.

As for the forum specifically:

Merseysider wrote:I've worked in church music now for more than 30 years and I would be terrified to share my experiences on this forum – why set yourself up to be shot down?

I think you have shared a number of your experiences on the forum, and I recall you getting a good deal of support for what you're doing. People think you're getting it right. And you know that what you're doing works, so keep on doing it, and keep on telling us about it. Please. :)
TT

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musicus
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Post by musicus »

A belated welcome to Catulus (didn't I study one of your ancestors at school?) and estuaire.

It was quite a "warm" welcome, but please don't be deterred!

Musicus - moderator

Catulus
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Choir v Congregation

Post by Catulus »

Thanks for the welcome - I think!

It seems to me that that this site provides an environment for adult and informed discussion concerning liturgical matters. I don't think that anyone deliberately intends to back bite or *beep*, on the contrary as a whole I believe their is a willingness to respond openly to a variety of questions.

My response to Tsume Tsuyu was based on what I felt to be a familiar experience, although possibly interpreted and understood differently.

When asking for comments, that is all I was doing, I was and am not only stating my own opinions but also sharing some of the thoughts fellow parishioners have shared with me - although I admire the amazing mind reading skills of excathedra I would suggest that his reply concerning my previous questions were mistaken and as I understand it totally misrepresented my position.

Perhaps we should simply return to the relationship between Choir and Congregation, and maybe more importantly the role of music in the liturgy. If I may I will pose this question: When does liturgical music hinder the full and active participation of the faithful?

excathedra
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Re: Choir v Congregation

Post by excathedra »

Catulus wrote:although I admire the amazing mind reading skills of excathedra I would suggest that his reply concerning my previous questions were mistaken and as I understand it totally misrepresented my position.

My mind-reading skills are legendary, but I am delighted to hear that I was mistaken on this occasion. My apologies :oops:

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contrabordun
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Post by contrabordun »

Without wishing to sound like a politician on Today, I'm not sure that's a very helpful question.

Let´s set some context. Chapter VI of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy leaves no room for doubt that music is an integral part of the Liturgy, and doesn´t by any means insist that all present should actively participate in every musical item. (my emphases).
114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.

Hands up if you´ve diligently promoted a choir recently.. which it doesn´t define as 12 men and 24 boys in cassock and surplice. The concise Oxford online defines it as "an organized group of singers, especially one that takes part in church services". I´ll take the word "organized" as aspirational for now. Four old ladies round a piano is a choir. But it does imply that items from the "treasure of sacred music" (undefined, but shouldn´t think they intended to exclude Palestrina) are valid inclusions (else preservation and fostering is pointless) in the liturgies of cathedrals especially (which clearly implies that this is not exclusive to cathedrals, or the word "especially" is redundant). It also makes it very clear that active participation is a right (and a duty?) of all members of the assembly. Or job is to strike an appropriate balance.
121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures.
Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.

That "not...only" implies that choirs will be singing by themselves some of the time, else the "only" is redundant (as is the "confining").

So given that music is an integral part of the liturgy, that we must have choirs, who will be singing choir only items, asking when liturgical music hinders the full and active participation of the faithful (by which is presumably meant those members of the faithful not in the choir), is a bit like asking "when do the wings hinder the flight of the airplane?" Or "when does the church building hinder the worship?" The answer is, when things go badly wrong.

So my answer to the question as asked would be music intended for congregational participation in which insufficient effort is made to encourage said participation (indeterminate length interludes between verses, lack of clear animateurage, no indication as to where the words/music are to be found (FAR too common with mass settings, because "everbody knows it") and overcomplicated rhythm or melody.

with choir-only (or musician-only) items, my list would include
underprepared items
overambitious items
inappropriate items
totally totally inappropriate stuff
Last edited by contrabordun on Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Post by Tsume Tsuyu »

Hear, hear to all of the above!

Thank you contrabordun.
TT

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presbyter
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Re: Choir verus Congregation

Post by presbyter »

Tsume Tsuyu wrote:Our priest, for instance (who is mostly wonderful), will start the notices almost before the last chord of the communion song dies.


errrrrrr ...... I hope you don't mean he reads notices out before the prayer after Communion ........ but I think you do ........ :cry:

Merseysider
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Re: Choir verus Congregation

Post by Merseysider »

cccc
Last edited by Merseysider on Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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contrabordun
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Post by contrabordun »

fair point, but equally, the clergy are supposed to know what they're doing, no? this is why we pay for them to spend seven years in Rome :twisted:

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