Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

"The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to Saint...."

Notice, the reader* never says, "according to our beloved music director, Gary 'Gonzo' Garryman," or even, "according to the greatest composer of sacred music who ever lived, and one heck of a producer of talented and multitudinous off-spring, Mr. J. S. Bach."

I had to write this for a friend whose parish musicians decided that an ominous, drum roll or cadence like that used for military funerals might be a swell thing to add to the reading of the Passion on Sunday.
He was hoping to persuade someone in charge to read it prior to this Friday's performance.
Maybe it will be of use to someone else.
In Chapter V of the General Instruction Of The Roman Missal, (GIRM, it will be in the front of the Missal in the sacristy, the big red book that used to be called the Sacramentary until the newer translation finally came out,) paragraph 313 is very explicit:
313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments should be placed in a suitable place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the people and be heard with ease by everybody if they are played alone. It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[123]In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. [emphasis supplied] Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
Using a drum during the reading of the Passion (this is me talking now,) not only violates that in letter and in spirit, it is tacky and cheesy in the extreme, it is the equivalent of adding sound effect, or dum-dum-DUM fanfares like for Youtube squirrels.
"Gee, maybe next year, every time Judas' name is mentioned, let's have Villain's-Entrance-Music, like from a silent movie!!!!!!!"
The Passion at Mass or at Good Friday liturgy is not a performance.It does not call for creativity.It calls for reverence and obedience.Anyone who would do anything that tacky would probably add water sound effects for the Washing of the Feet, in the Mandatum.
*I said "reader" instead of "deacon or priest," because for the Passion, it is uniquely possible that a lay reader will licitly do this.

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