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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Causing Pain

Amy Welborn has one of those What did you see? what did you hear? threads about this past weekends liturgies that she does from time to time.

It's that week. Many of us gritted our teeth and sang, (or swallowed our gorge and programmed,) the obvious front-runner inspired by I Samuel. (I also did the Schubert "Behold the Lamb..." that we do, the anonymous "Let Your Light", the Calvert Shenk pro-life text to ST COLUMBA, the Richard Rice choral communion proper, the setting of the psalm refrain that Gather offers [albeit with the corrected lectionary verses, chanted in four parts,] some Purcell thing that I grabbed because it was the right key signature to eke out the rest of communion time, [is it a shameful admission that i don't even know what it was?] all in all, a very mixed bag.)

I don't know why, perhaps because I am tired, and find myself in one of those (cyclical, and, mercifully, usually short,) sloughs where I am discouraged about where the Liturgy is going, (only in the short term, and in the immediate vicinity, I know that ultimately and everywhere right will prevail,) I found myself very touched by several of the comments:

As a church musician who did one of those hymns this morning (Here I Am, Lord), I can tell you that, at this point in my life, the resources needed to throw out the OCP drivel and replace it with something good outweigh the despair I feel more and more as I play the stuff.

Just today I was thinking: I can’t stand this song one — more — minute! Yet trying to explain to the choir and congregation why we would be embarking on a new venture in church music, when no one around us is, when that “new” (mostly old) music is hard (though not impossible) to find, when it’s also hard (though not impossible — ever try teaching the verses of “Be Not Afraid”?) to learn, when the current music is all that people know …

I am too tired to face those overwhelming odds. I admire the people who can, but I can’t. For now, I try not to introduce any more drivel than I have to (there are some decent things out there), and I glean what I can of traditional (mainly Protestant) hymns from the OCP canon.

I don’t consider myself a traditionalist. I’m liberal politically (exc. life issues, where oddly ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ seem to have reversed their ideologies). I like Commonweal.

But you know what? I’m just tired. I need peace at Mass, not the constant cringing at The Next Dumb Thing. Not ham-fisted attempts at moving me emotionally through music. Not Father narrating every part of Mass as if I just entered the Church and am slow on the uptake, or as if Father doesn’t trust symbols to do what symbols are supposed to do without narration (”And now we will do X as a symbol of Y because we as a community believe Z”). And absolutely not the constant grating intrusion of Father’s personality. This aging liberal is so glad to have Father “turn his back on the people” at the start of Mass each Sunday. If only the writers of most Catholic music would be that considerate.

o.h.? MJ? I know it doesn't mean much, but I feel your pain. I share your pain.

Heck, I may have caused some of your pain....

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