31 May 2003

For those of you who haven't yet noticed the links to the left of these lovely and I'm sure very enlightening posts, I would suggest you visit them, as most of them are much more enlightening than I am, if, perhaps, not as lovely. (I'm a very vain and conceited girl, and take a look at my website if you don't believe me. Especially the pictures.) The blogs of the guy with glasses and my sweetheart are not terribly enlightening except insofar as they give you a glimpse into the minds of two of my best friends. Come to think of it, you may not want to visit those links, after all. You might get scared and not come back. I know I feel like my education is being furthered by the Accidental Choir Director and the Curt Jester, though; the Curt Jester on every subject under the sun, and the Accidental Choir Director on the subject of sacred music in a more "real" setting than the one in which I have become immersed at college.

The chant Mass at our lovely Jesuit university is rather unique. The regular congregation is extremely small, consisting of not more than 25 people. The musicians are all of professional quality, with the possible exception of the organist who has promise but doesn't practice as often as he should (though who among us does?). We also have quite a number of priests around who are capable of chanting Mass, which is also not the norm. This combination of circumstances creates a lovely Mass, but not a Mass of the sort that could be practiced in most normal parishes. How many parishes could have a Schola of ten or twelve professional-quality singers, all of whom are dedicated to Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony? I'd guess not too many. So, the Accidental Choir Director, even though he too is working at a university, shows me what the possibilities and frustrations are of someone who loves the ancient music of the Church but is in more, well, normal circumstances. The circumstances in which I shall most likely find myself at the end of my time at the university I currently attend. Sometimes I find it depressing, other times, encouraging, but always educational. I now have lots of material with which to pester the pastor and music director of my parish at home. Fr. Kalil's taste in music runs in the direction of white gospel, which to my mindset, is decidedly the wrong direction. I don't mind that he likes it, I just mind that he brings his personal taste to Mass with him and expects other people to like it too. Have I mentioned yet that he likes to get the congregation to clap along?

Ok, now it's time for the rant to really begin. I'm going to be the cantor for the 5pm Mass tomorrow. The situation has changed in the past year since I was a regular cantor at this parish. As I said in a post a few days ago, the OCP hymnals are gone. Every week, a "worship aid" is printed up (I think this is terribly misnamed; it doesn't aid me in worshipping at all) with the music for that day. Readings too, presumably--I haven't yet had the opportunity to examine one thoroughly. The organist for tomorrow is also not a regular at the parish; she's from another church upvalley and was called in as a sub. (She actually got called first and requested to work with me because she likes my voice and says I'm very professional and easy to work with. Isn't that nice?) Until this evening, I hadn't had the opportunity to talk to her about tomorrow. She called me tonight and started to suggest songs, which startled me. Our wonderful and very communicative (detecting sarcasm yet?) director of music had not informed her of the new music situation. He picked out songs for us, and ok'd them with me, and the misnamed documents are probably already printed. And he never told her. She doesn't even know some of the songs he chose.

Obviously we're going to be reciting the Gloria tomorrow evening, as I don't like the setting he chose and she doesn't even know it. We'll pull it together somehow, and the congregation may have to just watch because we will have to substitute for the things the organist doesn't know. I think that, at least from an aesthetic standpoint (and I'm all about aesthetics) a silent and rapt congregation is better than a struggling organ accompaniment and a consequently confused congregation, though you're free to contradict me if you feel otherwise. It'll be all right, I guess. The congregation and the two associate pastors just love me. I think the pastor doesn't like me much because I say things that make him uncomfortable, but he respects my gifts and the fact that the congregation seems to appreciate what I do, so future such jobs for me are not going to be forfeit if I do something "unorthodox" tomorrow. Although, my unorthodoxy is more orthodox than their orthodoxy, if you catch my drift.

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