Sunday, September 14, 2008

Instrumental Recessional...

Fr. G and I have spent a bit of time recently discussing the pros and cons of having an "instrumental recessional" rather than a closing song. I certainly think it is more appropriate and wish we could do it always: there isn't much of a point to a closing song, very few people probably actually want to stay and sing a few verses!
Fr. G had seen it done elsewhere, so he has been bugging me to try to play some loud and fancy organ piece for a while, but every time he brought it up I would try to explain all my reasons for not wanting to do it; mainly, that once you let people know that it's "ok" to leave right after the priest does, then they always will. (of course, I am aware that it is permitted for them to leave then, it is just rude if they are supposed to be singing!.) He doesn't/didn't think that will be an issue, so we will see if more people leave early in coming weeks!
I finally agreed to play something this weekend, as it seemed appropriate on such a great feast.
But I was able to articulate a couple days ago the real reason that it made me nervous--and that is because I am afraid people will say I am showing off!
I have asked a couple people, and they all seemed to like it. My only regret is that at none of the Masses was I actually able to turn around or look in my mirror and see what was going on, as in, were people confused? Did they turn around and look up at me? How long did it take for the priest and servers to leave? How long after that did everyone leave?
So, we shall probably do it again, maybe for the next major feast (All Souls?) or even sooner.


Anonymous said...

Info from the 8 o'clock.
Fr.G and servers headed out fairly quickly. People followed as well, almost immediately. I didn't see people gazing up into the choir loft any more than normal. People weren't confused, they recessed out. It seemed more festive, sort of wedding-like.

Anonymous said...

I was at the 10:30. The thoughts crossing (no pun) by mind were:

1- "What number is the song?"

2- "I don't know the words to that."

3- "Why is everyone looking at everyone?"

4- "Fr G is gonna be peeved."

5- "If 4 is true, it's all Mara's fault..... :) "

Mara Joy said...

are you serious?!

Gavin said...

I'm a huge fan of the "closing hymn", so I don't like seeing it not done. Remember the admonition of the apostle, "Hold fast to that which is good." The tradition of a hymn or antiphon after Mass is centuries old, and a strong part of German Catholic heritage (I think your church is German, isn't it?) Substitute the function (to praise God) of the hymn and you have in your statement, "there isn't much of a point to [praising God], very few people probably actually want to stay and sing a few verses!" Uh-oh!!

Yes, there's disadvantages to it. Too many people think the closing hymn is a prescribed part of Mass. Oh well, too many people think the chausible is called a "robe", so should we embroider all chausibles with "I am a chausible, not a robe, please adjust your language accordingly."? It's a minor problem. And people say that they are "forced" to stay. Not really, but I ask what kind of Christian doesn't have 2-3 minutes to praise God?

I also am 100% against cutting hymns short. Hymns are works of prayer and poetry and thus art. We would not cut the Pater or the Canon short, so why is it ok to do one verse of "Holy God We Praise Thy Name", ESPECIALLY when it's a paraphrase of the Te Deum? So I would say that if you have a congregation that stops after one verse, indeed just do an organ piece after the Mass.

Actually I don't mind doing a recessional voluntary as an occasional practice. It seems practical to me even to do it during the summer months, when people just want a short Mass. But the problem with doing it on high occasions is we often have SO MANY hymns to sing that you just can't cut one! On Pentecost we have to choose between "Hail Thee Festival Day", "Veni Creator", "Come Down O Love Divine", "O Holy Spirit by Whose Aid", "Come Holy Ghost" and already we have more than you can fit in a Mass, especially with propers! On Holy Cross, you left out "Lift High the Cross" - ARGH! Such a wonderful text and tune that proves that post-1960 music doesn't HAVE to be lousy and heterodox! Alas, we always have to leave SOMETHING out, but using the organ recessional on feast days I think ties our hands too much.

So there's my opinion. Given the comments above, maybe an explanation in the bulletin would have been helpful to people. Given what you said though, I'd definitely consider cutting the closing hymn for "short" Masses if I were still working!

Mara Joy said...

you like "Lift High the Cross?!" you are the first person I've met...
I have found that the Catholics who like "contemporary Catholic music" don't like it, NOR do the Catholics who like "traditional Catholic music." I think that it is uncomfortable to sing, with skips that are too high (yes, we've had this discussion before,) and I certainly don't think it has a good/worth singing melody.
So, this year (this past Sunday), I made a deliberate decision to not use it! I know I can't please everyone all the time, but I'm not going to do a song that pleases no one!
(actually, St. P. is Irish...and there doesn't really seem to be much of a tradition of good Irish congregational/choral singing...just take a look at my puny choir loft!)
Regarding praising God through a closing hymn? you (of course) have a protestant view on it: I would say as a Catholic that the entire Mass is the most perfect form of praise we can give to God. once it's over, well, it's over. Anything afterwards is anti-climactic.
a choir member pointed out to me after Mass that in a way, the organ recessional was ideal, since those who wanted to leave immediately could, but those who wanted to stay and continue to pray (silently--praising God!) could--and not have to express their praise of God in a forced manner. (eg, singing another hymn when all they want to do is quietly mediate or continue to inwardly adore Christ after receiving him in Holy Communion.)

Gavin said...

Oh, I love that hymn. And you're right, there is that nasty octave in the verse. And they don't even set it up well! Still though, if you breathe properly it's doable. I love it because it's not a hymn you can "phone in"! When I was quite a bit younger, I always thought that was a really old hymn, since it fits in so well with the other "organ hymns". I was shocked to find out it's a recent composition!

The problem with trads is that they don't want ANY music after 1960. Tell them that "Salve Regina" was written by the St. Louis Jesuits and they'll throw it out! It's a really unfortunate view, for reasons you know so well. The original text is nice and long, and there's even a pro-life set of verses: and The original text is just amazing! Alas, you need to do what's right for your own parish.

And I thought the architecture of your church was rather German. I'm surprised it isn't called St. Joseph's (although you can't beat St. Josephs in Detroit for German architecture!!)