Saturday evening Masses

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Posts: 564
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Parish / Diocese: Westminster cathedral
Location: London

Saturday evening Masses

Post by organist »

I wonder why so few Masses have any singing. At the most there might be a sung Alleluia with spoken verse and a sung Doxology. Some churches sing hymns unaccompanied by why no attempt at the simple chant Mass settings in the Missal? Recent horrors I have endured a recording of Silent night after communion - why? A guitar and flute getting the intro to Salazar Gloria wrong but coping quite well with carols. It might be that some musicians would prefer a Saturday to a Sunday Mass? :(

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by JW »

I moved back to playing the organ on Saturday evening just over a year ago, having stepped down from running our Sunday music group. Everyone is very appreciative and supportive. We do 4 hymns, plus Alleluia, Holy Holy, Acclamation, Amen, not Missal Chants though: currently New Celtic setting. I added the Mass parts with the blessing of the former PP - previously they just sang unaccompanied hymns. If we're doing new stuff I'll use a microphone to lead the singing, otherwise the people sing.

I think you need a confident singer to lead Mass settings. Most priests know that people will sing hymns but, I suspect they're worried that nobody will sing the Mass setting and they aren't confident enough to lead it themselves. I might be wrong, but I have the impression that, back in the day, every priest was expected to be able to preside at a Missa Cantata or even a Solemn High Mass? This involved the priest singing the Gospel and Preface and Pater Noster as well as all the dialogues. They also had to sing the prayer at Benediction. Musical education in the seminaries seems to have taken a nosedive from those times. Or am I mistaken?

Strange that most of us have no worries about what we sound like speaking or reading, but become very self conscious if we have to sing!

High Peak
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Nottingham
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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by High Peak »

Our family switched from Sunday morning to Saturday evening due to rugby and cricket. After a while I was asked to set up a music group at the vigil, we play fortnightly, and a while later to lead the singing when the group isn't playing.

One thing that I have ensured, whether the group is playing or not, is that pretty-much everything that should be sung is sung, and sometimes a bit extra on top. When the group isn't playing I lead the congregation in the Belmont Mass or Mass XVIII (in both English and Latin/Greek) in the Penitential Seasons - we are not using that Gloria!!! When the group is playing we use a couple of my own settings except during the Penitential seasons when we use the Belmont and Mass XVIII (three flautists playing the sustained notes of the chords and the guitar playing arpeggio chords work really well on the Belmont Mass).

Without a doubt a confident singer is needed for the a capella weeks, but in fact we need two - one to cantor and one to lead the congregation responses. Last weekend, for some reason that eludes me, the priest left the sanctuary as I began to lead the Kyrie. He normally leads the congregation to echo me but, without him, the congregation sang the Kyrie VERY quietly!!!

However, at weekday Masses nothing is sung except the Gospel Acclamation and that with a spoken verse - unless I'm the Reader!! :) I don't understand why - everyone in the parish know Mass XVIII in English and Latin. It really should come naturally to all to sing parts of the Mass and it can only become natural if it is absolutely the norm.

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by Mancunian »

At my parish there is a distinct divide between those who attend the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening and those who attend Mass on Sunday morning. There is no music on Saturday evening and I have the impression that the Saturday regulars much prefer it that way. Any suggestion of music on a Saturday is firmly rejected. In fact, I have a suspicion that some of the Saturday regulars attend Mass then specifically to avoid the music on Sunday mornings. The only exceptions are the Easter Vigil (and the Saturday crowd are not happy about that) and Christmas Eve if it falls on a Saturday.


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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Leeds

Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by IncenseTom »

I rather agree with Mancunian.

I think that would be the same in my parish. Our Sunday liturgy is fairly splendid, (or so I like to think!) so I reckon those who go to the Vigil Mass go for the simplicity/ quiet/ etc that it offers - a liturgical palette cleanser.

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by Hare »

I play for all 3 weekend masses in our parish - a flavour of the slightly different content of the 3 can be seen in the weekly music lists here People seem happy with it.

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Parish / Diocese: St Lawrence, Diocese of St Petersburg
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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by PhloridaPhil »

Over here in Florida we currently 1ave two Vigil Masses and like all eight weekend and Feast Day Masses (except weekday 6.30am!) there is music provided by yours truly. Here the fact that Mass might be quiet is anathema and even at weekday Masses they sing (without accompaniment) the opening song, Alleluia and Eucharistic Acclamations.

At the cathedral I served for many years in UK they did have a quiet Mass at 8.30am on a Sunday. I once arrived early and played a bit during communion and the recessional. World War III nearly broke out!

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by alan29 »

Ours is an amalgamated parish. One church was closed (declining congrgation and a vanity project building that needed huge money to keep the rain out) and the congregation did a church share with the local Anglicans.
Then the closed church was given to a wealthy Tridentine order and the arrangement with the anglicans came to a close as it was costing money.
That remnant congrgation were told to either go and worship Tidentine-style or come to us.
Some disappeared, some went to other parishes and some form the nucleus of our Saturday Vigil Mass with their own music group who provide accompaniment every other week. The congregation don't sing and aren't encouraged to, either. :?
Much diplomacy and tact is called upon when we combine for Holy week services - I find it a deeply penitential experience.

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by dmu3tem »

Yes, my experience of Saturday evening Masses is much as described above.

[1] There is still a strong sense (inherited from pre-Vatican early morning Mass on Sundays) that this is a 'Low Mass' with little in the way of singing. In particular choirs stand at a discount. Likewise, though to a lesser extent, it still seems harder to assemble instrumental groups.

[2] What I do is provide (about once a month) 4 hymns (leaning towards more modern 'folk' repertoire but adapted for organ, a Sanctus (metrical hymn version), Kyrie and Gospel Acclamation setting (Hymn setting: Alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord), and voluntaries at Communion and as people leave. I would definitely like to have a cantor, but no-one is available; so I am compelled to use metrical hymn type settings as the priest cannot act as chanter. This may be liturgically 'incorrect' but it does not seem to bother anyone; and it is either that or nothing at all!

[3] There is little doubt that, in terms of numbers, the pendulum is swinging away from Sunday morning Mass to the Saturday evening service. As a result increasingly the latter is becoming the service where most musical effort will be made, probably with a greater emphasis on Congregational singing as opposed to purely choral stuff.

[4] Where I live, rural Anglican congregations have shrunk so much that a Saturday evening service is never attempted; they just have an early morning sunday service (about 4 people attend) and the main 10.30 service (numbers ranging from 15-30)

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Re: Saturday evening Masses

Post by Peter »

When in Lugano, Switzerland recently, I attended a Vigil Mass in a local church round the corner from where I was staying. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend a Sunday Morning Mass for comparison but on the Saturday I had the impression that they were making a commendable effort with limited resources. Sadly, the notes I scribbled at the time are hard to decipher and memory is fading. :oops:

There was an organ accompanying but I couldn’t tell whether the singing was led by the organist, the priest or some invisible cantor. A common theme seemed to be sung refrains with spoken texts. This was true not only of the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamation (the latter sung to the O’Carrol/Walker Celtic Alleluia refrain) but also to the Gloria, where singing of the Taizé round Gloria III topped and tailed a spoken text.

There was one hymn to open and another at Postcommunion. The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Agnus Dei were all sung but I forget the style of the setting; however, my notes do suggest that they were more elaborate than the plainchant tones used for the Kyrie and Doxology. During the Offertory and Communion processions there was organ music played, including O Lord my God, when I in Awesome Wonder and the Air from Bach’s Suite no. 3 (a.k.a on the G string), which fizzled out during the repeat of the second part. There was also an organ recessional piece.

A moment of informality was provided early on, when a boy in civvies ran across the side of the sanctuary, vanished and emerged a few minutes later in server’s garb. Unfortunately he was too late for the Opening Prayer, so the man who eventually gave one of the readings had to hold the book up instead for the priest to read. :)

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