The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

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John Ainslie
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by John Ainslie »

My view was that we should aim for a staged recovery, and that is what my PP and I agreed. Stage 1 was a said Mass with the bare minimum. After 3 weeks we moved to Stage 2, which was the addition of the organ for a quiet voluntary before Mass, quiet music during the Offertory and Communion and a short'ish voluntary at the end. I worked out timings from our live streams so that the addition of music would not extend the mass (to maintain minimal viral load). Today (we had always targeted the Feast of the Assumption) we started Stage 3 - the addition of a cantor, applying the same timing principles. She chanted the Introit, Offertory Chant, Psalm (using the response/verses/response formula) and Communion Chant from behind a perspex screen at the back of the sanctuary.
With COVIDity on an edge, it could be a very long time before anything like normality returns. In the meantime, I applaud keitha and others trying to be creative within current restrictions. I have my own suggestion to add:

Back in March, there was a cartoon in the Tablet showing a priest or music leader announcing to the congregation “we will now hum hymn number 253”. It seemed a ridiculous idea at the time, but with the current constraints on opening one’s mouth to sing, is it worth a second thought?

It appears to me that there is no reason why a cantor, suitably distanced (and even screened) from his/her nearest human being, should not sing a well-known (and liturgically appropriate) hymn, the people being invited to listen to the words they hear and make them their own act of praise or prayer – and even humming along the melody if they so wish. With closed lips there is no expulsion of breath at all. It can be done from behind face masks.

And of course it is liturgically permissible for the cantor to sing the Responsorial Psalm without its response – or the response could be hummed as I have suggested.

Having read of Paul Inwood’s dislike of background music (‘Sound Reflections’, new issue of Music and Liturgy) I have to say that, after months of musicless liturgy, to listen to recorded Taizé chant as ‘Gathering Music’ before Sunday Mass is an absolute treat. On Thursday, for my parish’s patronal feast of St Gregory, we had recorded Gregorian chant (yes, I know, even though Pope Gregory the First probably didn't write a single note...). It created a milieu for liturgical worship a world away from bothering about face masks and social distancing - and from the diet of live-streamed Masses watched from one's sitting room. Background music can be participation by osmosis.

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Nick Baty
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Nick Baty »

We're one of the few(?) churches which is still closed. In a small building with chunky benches, social distancing is almost impossible.
We were a fine singing community – I don't know many assemblies with such a large and wide-ranging repertoire. I wonder how long it might take to rebuild that?
There are two other, larger, buildings on our parish. But what we're really mourning is the loss of a strong, loving and supportive community.

Hare
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Hare »

Hmm. All this listening is in danger of becoming the "New Normal" (I HATE the term with a vengeance!) Why don't we just give up??!

alan29
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by alan29 »

I play before and after and at the Presentation of Gifts and Communion at ours. People really appreciate the change of sound from what has become a spoken word fest. And it gives me personally a change of activity.
Good parish liturgy has evolved to have a balance between spoken word and singing. My wife commented today how utterly dull it is just listening to the priest and a reader, how nonsensical to speak (mutter away behind masks) texts are are designed to be sung (Gloria and Eucharistic Acclamations.) Our PP has instructed us to sit during the whole Mass (apart from Communion) so people don't even get to change their posture.
Its all a bit grim. I am glad to be able to provide a change of sound.
To answer Hare, I dont give up precisely because I dont want this to become a new normal. I want to continue to offer what I can to keep something ticking over for the time when we can have proper congregational singing again.

Hare
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Hare »

I would happily play but am furloughed until singing is allowed - or the furlough scheme ends - when I would be redundant.

alan29
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by alan29 »

Hare wrote:
Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:48 pm
I would happily play but am furloughed until singing is allowed - or the furlough scheme ends - when I would be redundant.
That's a bad situation.

Hare
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Hare »

Saving the parish money :cry:

High Peak
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by High Peak »

In case you haven't seen this...........
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Southern Comfort
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Southern Comfort »

As the RSCM guidelines indicate, face visors or face shields are pretty useless. Some interesting data here:

https://gizmodo.com/how-face-shields-an ... 1844916328

Proper masks are what is required for safety, and in more than a few places, singers have learned to sing while wearing them. Some of the "singing masks" that are being marketed do not have the same preventative qualities because they do not fit as close near the mouth and so allow aerosol to escape.

Those having problems with glasses steaming up can try coating them with washing-up liquid. It also helps to have the mask fitting tightly above the nose. Surgical masks have a metal bar insert along the top which can be bent to hug the bridge of the nose. That is why they are more effective than homemade or purchased textile masks, which do not have such a bar.

It has been said that asthma sufferers cannot wear masks. On the other hand, some asthma sufferers say they have been wearing masks for years to protect themselves from other people's germs. It may all be in the mind.

The RSCM guidance mentions perspex shields, and some places are placing those between cantors and the assembly. It has been shown that these suffer from the same problem as face visors — aerosol goes over the top and around the sides of them.

Ultimately the only sure way of helping prevent the spread of pathogens is a surgical face mask.

alan29
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by alan29 »

Of course this change is of no use at all in parishes like mine where we have no choir.

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Nick Baty
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Nick Baty »

alan29 wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:21 am
Of course this change is of no use at all in parishes like mine where we have no choir.
Yep! Our primary task is to lead the assembly in song! And I'm really worried that much could be lost. Our church isn't even open yet – too small for social distancing.

Hare
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Hare »

Precisely the reason for my despondency

alan29
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by alan29 »

I am less despondent. I think that those who return when things like singing and provision for children restart will be wanting to sing.
I worry more that people will have lost the habit of going to church and will have found other ways of filling that time on a Sunday. I can see a time of shrinkage and retrenchment ... and of financial struggle for some dioceses.

Hare
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by Hare »

alan29 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:53 am
I am less despondent. I think that those who return when things like singing and provision for children restart will be wanting to sing.
I worry more that people will have lost the habit of going to church and will have found other ways of filling that time on a Sunday. I can see a time of shrinkage and retrenchment ... and of financial struggle for some dioceses.
Very true. Although I haven't been as I am furloughed, my parish is happily managing with one Sunday mass at the moment as opposed to three in the past, and I can see that becoming the norm.

alan29
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Re: The Government's Guidelines for Public Worship II - the return of choir groups

Post by alan29 »

Hare wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:42 am
alan29 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:53 am
I am less despondent. I think that those who return when things like singing and provision for children restart will be wanting to sing.
I worry more that people will have lost the habit of going to church and will have found other ways of filling that time on a Sunday. I can see a time of shrinkage and retrenchment ... and of financial struggle for some dioceses.
Very true. Although I haven't been as I am furloughed, my parish is happily managing with one Sunday mass at the moment as opposed to three in the past, and I can see that becoming the norm.
We still have the three masses on Sunday, but with about a third of the numbers - slowly rising, though.

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