Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

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sjgc
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Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by sjgc » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:33 pm

Involving visitors in the music of First Holy Communion

Thinking ahead to the year’s liturgies, I wonder if anyone has some practical advice borne of experience as to how best to involve the many visitors who join us for First Holy Communion (for example grandparents, aunts and uncles) in singing joyfully and wholeheartedly when not overly familiar with church music.

We already make the music accessible in a welcoming booklet typeset to a good quality. We include just about all the music including the hymns and parts of the Mass, music dots as well as words (ensuring we have the appropriate licences).

I wonder what more we can be doing, perhaps ahead of the day and thinking about how to reach people. So, any pointers? Your thoughts very welcome.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by organist » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:15 pm

I do not have to play for these services any more but a good booklet is an excellent start. It helps a lot if the clergy sing. An animator who can welcome everyone and go through some short responses beforehand helps too. Having a choir also helps! Responsorial settings are a good idea. Use settings the parishioners know well. Often what is known in school is completely unfamiliar! :)

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VML
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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by VML » Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:40 pm

A singing celebrant does help, as I know from my daughter's parish. And PP there not only goes through responses vocally, but also, at FHC, makes clear that this is a solemn and holy occasion, not a photo opportunity. No cameras during Mass at all.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by alan29 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:02 am

Yep. No cameras or phones, re-enforced at key points. Provide photo ops at the end.
And if the children know what they are doing and are well-behaved and joining in, the parents usually take their cue from them.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by sjgc » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:50 pm

Thanks to organist, VML and alan29,
Lots of good pointers there, thank you. I think we could do more of a run through of key responses beforehand; we don't have a tradition of animators so that would be a good innovation especially for this Mass. The PP does emphasise that it is a solemn occasion and we also ban cameras - it was like having the paparazzi before we did this. I think I will finalise the music shortly and see if there are any opportunities to preview it with the children and their parents at least. The Kyrie will be responsorial, the Gloria used to be (as simplified) but is a through setting these days so quite a lot harder for infrequent or first-time visitors. Thanks, everyone, any further comments warmly appreciated.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by Southern Comfort » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:44 pm

sjgc wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:50 pm
Thanks to organist, VML and alan29,
Lots of good pointers there, thank you. I think we could do more of a run through of key responses beforehand; we don't have a tradition of animators so that would be a good innovation especially for this Mass. The PP does emphasise that it is a solemn occasion and we also ban cameras - it was like having the paparazzi before we did this. I think I will finalise the music shortly and see if there are any opportunities to preview it with the children and their parents at least. The Kyrie will be responsorial, the Gloria used to be (as simplified) but is a through setting these days so quite a lot harder for infrequent or first-time visitors. Thanks, everyone, any further comments warmly appreciated.
Why sing the Kyrie? Why not just have a short spoken penitential act and get through it as quickly as possible on what ought to be a celebratory occasion. Or, instead of a penitential act, have a rite of blessing and sprinkling water to remind everyone, including the children, of their baptism, since 1st Communion is part of the initiation process. Then you can do a sprinkling song with a refrain, which will assist participation. Similarly, your diocese's current mass setting has a Gloria in two versions, one with a refrain, one without. Use the one with on this occasion, even if you don't normally.

Another maxim might be "Do less things", which will help infrequent attenders. But of course "Do them better"!

I'm in agreement with banning cameras (AND mobile phones). Otherwise you'll have phenomena such as, instead of holding the order of service and singing the entrance song, everyone is holding up their phones taking pictures of their kids...... But it needs explaining. People need to know that it's impossible to "photograph" a sacrament, and that by attempting to record a "magic moment" they are actually depriving themselves of the opportunity to enter into that moment by being fully present to it. Taking a picture in effect "distances" you from what's going on. You become a spectator instead of an integral "part" of the action.

These few thoughts off the top of my head.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by Gwyn » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:27 am

. . . have a rite of blessing and sprinkling water to remind everyone, including the children, of their baptism, since 1st Communion is part of the initiation process. Then you can do a sprinkling song with a refrain, which will assist participation.
An excellent suggestion S.C.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by Nick Baty » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:06 pm

I agree with SC about using a responsorial Gloria. By introducing that, and a psalm response, before Mass, you're saying to the visitors, "You're welcome to be here and we'd love you to sing." Smile at them – and at their kids – and you'll get them on board.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by Gwyn » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:04 am

Nick wrote:
I agree with SC about using a responsorial Gloria. By introducing that, and a psalm response, before Mass, you're saying to the visitors, "You're welcome to be here and we'd love you to sing." Smile at them – and at their kids – and you'll get them on board.
Definitely. :)

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by alan29 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:39 pm

First of two sessions today - kids from the parish school.
Despite reminders to families about being repectful before Mass it was awful. Nobody joined in the music. Nobody said the responses which were in the booklet. Constant hubub which got worse during the actual communion. I've come home furious. All to be repeated next Saturday with the other class from that year.
Now I was under the impression that the bishops had said that First Communion preparation was to happen in the parish not in the school, so that it was a parish event rather than a school event - "Its your class this year getting done." Does this actually happen anywhere?
I have suggested that either children make their first communions at Sunday masses a few at a time, or that someone acts as "animator" from the lectern to keep people focussed. We will see if it either are taken up.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by VML » Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:14 pm

Family FHC on a Saturday in May away from our home parish, where they sing very well at Sunday Mass. Fairly respectful quiet before Mass, but with even the most 'well-known/ hackneyed/ folk hymn' songs, i.e. Colours of Day, Sing Hosanna and Shine Jesus Shine, there was no enthusiasm for singing. Unfortunately the catechist was also the organist, who has composed a Mass setting, and used that, with predictable results. It's not a bad setting, but unknown to the visitors.

The children were very well prepared, in the parish, where coming on term time Saturdays over 18 months is expected. The readers were excellent, and the children spoke and sang thanksgiving prayer and song together on the altar facing the assembly. Cue applause. They were very good, but applause grates.

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by JW » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:38 am

I attended a granddaughter's FHC yesterday. This was a Saturday morning Mass for First Communion. There was no attempt made to involve visitors. The catechists did the readings and read bidding prayers. The prayers had been written by the children but had clearly been heavily edited. I don't want to go through a litany about this Mass so I'll just make two further points:

Anglican friends had to ask me if they were allowed to go up for a blessing or to receive Communion. I suspect that this particular priest would not be comfortable with giving Communion to non Catholics. People need to know what's expected and I was surprised that no announcement was made.

The sermon wouldn't have resonated with either the children or visitors, unless they were interested in the background to the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi (including St Thomas Aquinas writing the hymns Pange Lingua and Lauda Sion). It's also pretty pointless telling people that they should attend Mass and receive Communion every Sunday. Although this may be true, you can't change people's lives by hectoring them.
JW

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by markyboy2000 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:52 pm

No wonder our congregations drift away when they feel unwelcome, and unwanted.
Explanations from priests are a must when there are a number of non-RC visitors at Mass, weddings or funerals, or even when they is a change from the routine liturgy (of course, I know liturgy should never be routine, but it happens)
Sadly, lack of response, even when the words are in front of them, is not unique to visitors. Even regular parishioners can go 'shy' for no reason

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by organist » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:26 pm

I was just thinking back to my grandson's first communion which was a happy occasion. The folk group did their best and people did sing! I think the school's approach is very important as we went to a thanksgiving Mass at the school which was lovely! My dear wife got asked to be be a special minister (which fortunately she can do!) but should there not have been better planning? I think having small groups at the normal Sunday mass was an excellent idea and we sat as a family which also works better! Photos afterwards. :D
I sued to play Dubois Toccata at the end of first communion during the photos and people enjoyed it - it's a fun piece! :D It is all about celebration!

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Re: Involving visitors - music of First Holy Communion

Post by John Ainslie » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:55 am

For decades my parish has celebrated First Communions fully integrated into the Sunday morning Masses. Over two of the morning Masses over four weeks in Eastertide, from 6 to maximum 10 children make their first Communion (we have about 60 first communicants a year). They will have been expected to have taken part in one of the Masses with their parents consistently over the previous six months. Apart from the inevitable glitter, the only special feature is that the group of children are invited to stand on either side of the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. (I think they take the Sign of Peace to their families.) As for music, they will have become familiar with the standard parish repertoire, and there is very little 'special' music for the First Communion Masses.

This arrangement takes an enormous amount of planning by the priest and catechists. But it is really worth it.

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