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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Funeral Fall-out from the Colloquium

Whenever one attends such an event one is asked, (and one would surely ponder on ones own,) what one will bring back to ones own position and state in life, "What do YOU take away from this?"
To be honest, I usually answer, "not much." I am constrained in my work from implementing that I knew to be right and wanted to do pre-Colloquium, and I see little chance of that changing post-Colloquium, and least not in the foreseeable future.
So, warm-fuzzies, (validation, affirmation, the reassuring knowledge that someone, somewhere knows and is able to do what ought be done....,) but not much concrete.
Oh, there were maybe three pieces of ancient polyphony, and a modern motet or two I can introduce into the (begrudgingly allowed,) CHORAL repertory at my parish, but the song of the faithful will remain as it it, the chant of the minsters will be unaltered, (that is to say, non-existent.)
But there was one almost instant result.
Embarrassment.
Yesterday during a typical funeral, well, perhaps better than most, no OEW or HMGW or BNA or How Great Thou Art... but on t'other hand, no chanted Agnus, the only smidgen of genuine Gregorian music that I am ever allowed to program for the Faithful, (I am having vocal difficulties, and wanted everything possible to be organ-driven; but I digress.)
As I was saying, yesterday during a funeral I gazed down into the nave and sanctuary and saw to my shock someone in choir dress, (a rare enough sight,) and dashed if it wasn't a Colloquium participant.
So what was the result?
Wounded pride.
Not that this gentleman is unaware of the situation and the strictures faced in implementing genuine reform, but still...
Himself, a typical midwesterner is painfully, (and I mean that, the stress causes physical pain of varying forms,) is painfully concerned with What Other People Think, and will express envy of me, a typical easterner, to his mind, who doesn't give a tinker's dam what anyone else thinks.
But his impression is wrong -- I care very much: I am desperate to have other people think I don't care what they think.
So, what Himself sees as a failing in himself is a virtue -- it is charity, when you come down to it, and humility, a respect for others.
And what he sees as one of my strengths is nothing more than base pride. And deceit, at that, since I try to pretend it isn't there.
Ah, well....
Funerals at our parish are a mixed bag. Prelude is a silly custom, (usually the church is EMPTY!) that I cannot do away with, (though I have shortened it from my predecessors' 8 selections to 2 or 3,) but use as a place to throw bones.
I refuse, as at all Masses, to use "Ordinaries", however popular, which play fast and loose with the words of the Missal.
Ditto for psalms, which we chant either to a Gregorian or a Meinrad tone, ( the practice was to sing Shepherd Me O God, which is now consigned ONLY IF SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED to one of the hymn "slots." Propers, alas are not an option, even in English.)
And the change of which I am truly proud, (see? there it is again,) , instituted on day One of my regime: we sing the In Paradisum, (albeit in English.)
Period.
It will be done, despite periodically pronounced protest or preference from clergy and choir.
This balances out the Funeral Theme Song which replaces Requiem Aeternam, and the chants for incensing, final commendation, etc., the Taize Jesus Remember Me, (which I find a bit odd textually speaking.)
And to return to my theme, so flummoxed was I by the knowledge that all this was being observed by Someone Who Knows Better, (not just Him Who knows all,) that I began the In paradisum a step higher than we usually sing it, (no great problem,) and forgot to visibly bring the choir in after I intoned it (yes, we've all sung it together some 300 times, so you wouldn't think that would make much of a difference. Would you?)
(Well, it did.)

4 comments:

lvschant said...

I think the changes you have been able to implement are already a huge step in a gradual movement toward more liturgically appropriate music... with your addition of In Paradisum and the psalms you have already made great strides. I am sure the colloquium attendee has been to enough parishes where absolutely nothing is done correctly to be encouraged by your efforts there!

I think the changes at Arlene and JT's parish have taken place slowly over a 10+ year period... (I'd like to see such changes in about 10 seconds, but it would be doomed to failure). At the colloquium last year I remember hearing so many people tell us to take things gradually if we want long-lasting changes.

Scelata said...

Thanks, it's nice of you to say so.
(p.s. I should probably go to your blog to tell you this, and if I ever get around to organizing my thought on the Intensive I'll post, but my husband, who attended the Friday afternoon Mass at the intensive refers to you as "you know, the one with the voice of an angel.")

lvschant said...

Please thank him for me... what a nice thing to say! J.

lvschant said...
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