Wednesday, November 28, 2007

fighting the fight?

I was going to post this as a comment elsewhere, but I decided that it would actually make for a decent entry here.

I sang in a schola, singing the Propers at another church nearby with 3 other women for a little while, towards the beginning of my dive into the world of Sacred Music.
The leader of our group was middle-aged, and the other three of us were all college-aged. The three younger ones of us had NO idea what we were doing. Yes, we could read music, but...these square note thingys? I'd pretty much only seen them in my music history text book. Our courageous leader however, had quite a bit of experience in reading different kinds of chant notation, and she worked at imparting her knowledge to us, in the little time that we had to rehearse.

I'll never forget one rehearsal, in the spring, when with a faraway look in her eyes, she said to us, "You know, I never, in my whole life, would have thought that there would come a time when I would be singing chant in a volunteer schola, every other week, and much less with three young ladies in their 20s!"

Here's a lady, who found a passion in this music, who even went across the country to study under some of the foremost chant experts, and thought that it would always be a lonely singing experience.

BUT, for her time and effort that she put into our little schola for less than a year, three other people have directly benefited, and gained knowledge necessary to begin imparting even more musical experiences to those around them. Although we all now have been more musically and spiritually enriched through that experience, I can only speak of myself personally. I can impart tidbits to my choir, teaching them music, explaining concepts to my choir, giving explanations to the congregation, and singing myself. And who knows what the future holds. (of course, this particular experience of this schola is only one of many that have shaped my musical and spritual life,) but everything we do has a domino effect. Who knows what will happen, to my church, my choir, myself, but, I have given all of those a little tidbit of what could be. And their lives will be enriched by it, whether they realize it or not.

On Thursday I'm going to begin to teach my choir the REAL "Ave Maria." (anyone else notice that it's the Offertory Antiphon for 4 Advent A? Woot!) And you know what? They might complain. (Probably not, cuz that's one Latin text that no one seems to mind.) But, whatever happens, once they learn it, I really believe that sometime in their lifetimes they will hear it again, even aside from when I use it at St. P. And they will think, "oh yeah..." And they will have more appreciation for it for having learned it. And who knows, maybe we will sing it enough that they will really learn it, and although they will always feel nostalgia at hearing the Schubert, they will begin to appreciate the chant. And see the intrinsic beauty of it. Even if I'm not around anymore by the time that happens....I will have planted the seed.

So, don't give up, because you just don't KNOW what effect your musical offerings to the congregation will have. And if you do it well musically, and you implement it pastorally, then it can't hurt. And everyone will benefit. And at the very least you can grow in humility if you don't get all of the appreciation that you think you deserve. :-)

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