Saturday, February 24, 2007

the church musician as a waiter...

so I don't CARE if we sing all the verses to the opening and closing hymns or not! Honestly, I'd rather just sing the introit and do nothing at the end of Mass except maybe play a big organ solo and let everyone just walk out of the church or continue praying when Fr. says, "The Mass is ended." It really is ended! I hate feeling like I'm keeping people there...
anyhow. So when I first got to this church, I would only do 2 or 3 verses for those two hymns. Then one of my choir members was like, "Why don't we sing all the verses to the hymns?" "My friends are telling me they wish we would..." (why does no one ever tell me anything? All of the feedback I get is through my choir!) and my favorite, "We used to sing all of the verses..." And I was like "fine, I really don't care." So it took a couple weeks until everyone stopped trying to run out as soon as Fr. was gone down the aisle, but now they're used to it.
But then at choir rehearsal this week, someone different mentioned that they had been hearing comments that people didn't like singing all of the verses!

good grief!

I KNOW I can't please everyone, but in this situation, there isn't really an objectively right or wrong answer (unless the Holy Spirit is the one you're leaving out with the third verse!) and because I don't really care, I don't know what to do!
And I wish that my boss would give me more feedback, about this and other things. He is so great in so many ways, but I know that he worries about stepping on my toes or "controlling" me too much. (Ha-he doesn't know me yet. control me?!!) But I highly respect his pastoral senses and his opinion, and besides, he's my boss! Maybe we'll have this discussion tomorrow between the Masses, if I see him.
Like a couple weeks ago, I announced to the congregation at all the Masses that for the opening hymn the men would sing the first verse, the women the second, and everyone the third. That goes well when the choir is with me, but I couldn't really tell at the other two Masses. So I wish the someone-anyone! had given me feedback about that.

I think that people don't understand how influential their feedback is towards people in my position. If ONE person tells me something, I have to take their opinion as the majority (unless I know otherwise,) because I have no reason to believe that other people think differently!

1 comment:

Gavin said...

I'm a staunch supporter of singing every verse. Hymns are ultimately poetry. We wouldn't put on a Shakespeare play and cut out the last act for time, would we? In that regard there is a "right" answer, even if it is just my opinion. Certainly this at least holds with "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name", which is a paraphrase of the Te Deum prayer.

I'm surprised that anyone in your congregation DOES want all verses. And I'm not surprised you got complaints when you started doing that :P I think you need to make up your mind one way or the other and say "that's my decision, deal with it". If you don't have strong feelings one way or the other, ask your boss. If he doesn't, check what the local custom is. If there isn't one, then get a feel from the congregation. That's kinda the decision-making process I go through.

Enjoy your vacation! I'm taking one myself the weekend after this (nothing so glamorous - San Diego for my brother's USMC graduation)