It is possible to have reverence at Mass without solemnity.
And the issue of my life, for the past year in particular, has been to find that balance.
Perhaps the initial statement is a little extreme. Perhaps I mean that it is possible to have true worship of God without solemnity. Not everything needs to be a solemn procession.
A great deal of my thoughts in this area over the past year have been in comparing my own duties at my church, with the music and worship of another church in the same city. (Let's call it St. C.)
I came to a surprising (but probably obvious to most) conclusion recently, after a musical selection which didn't work out quite the way I had expected.
St. C uses a lot of EXCELLENT music, and rather than reinventing the wheel, I often like to borrow some of their songs, either those they have written, or songs they have simply found among the vast archives of current and past church music history. However, the realization that I came to recently is that St. C. and St. P. are two different churches. Not everything that works for them will work for us, and probably also the other way around. Songs that work great for them don't always work for us. I admit, they can come off awkward in the church/worship environment of St. C.
Let me give a little background and explanation of both of these church's worship environments, and then perhaps you will understand how it relates to my dilemma of solemnity and reverence.
St. C. is a very excellent church, which understands true worship of God and teaches solid theology. However, many would dismiss it as being "overly emotional" (in ways that are complicated to explain on here for those who are not familiar with the situation.) There is an active "praise and worship" life, (a catch-phrase that could easily be dismissed by many, BUT in this particular church's worship, this style is, significantly, VERY vertically oriented.) It is completely reverent. (you betcha the 3 year olds there know how to genuflect when getting up from their pews. but sometimes they do it backwards, like facing the wrong direction. tee hee... sooo cute!)
But solemn? Sometimes, but not always.
Contrast this to St. P. I need to keep in mind that people have come to St. P precisely in order to find not just reverence, but also solemnity. (and this is where my mind starts to get jumbled. I expect this post to not make much sense from here on out...)
My job is to choose music that promotes reverence and solemnity.
But what about worship beyond (or before???) that? What about those who want songs which more actively engage them? (Don't get me started on chant...I love it but, Ubi Caritas does NOT actively engage people in any way which could even be compared to a song like "Days of Elijah!")
So...when I get started thinking about some other great songs that maybe St. C uses, but I question how well they would be received at St. P, I need to keep in mind that people come to St. P and not St. C or St. T in order to find reverent solemnity.
I think. ?
BUT WHERE IS THE BALANCE!!??? ARGH!!
(and don't get me started on young people who love these other kinds of songs, or maybe those who are at a spiritual level in their personal lives where they NEED songs which more actively engage them. That would certainly be an entire new post. Some other time maybe.)