Can We Get Catholics to Sing? - Part Deux


#1

I didn't want to dig up the old thread from last year, but I still have the same question.

Can we get Catholics to sing?

Sometimes we hand out processional hymns at our parish before the mass, and nada.:shrug:

How can we get people in the pew to sing?

How can we get them to sing the Mass ordinaries, for example, something as well known as this Sanctus, from the Missa de Angelis, which everyone knows?

I read on another thread that the Ruthenians sing loud and clear. What's up with that?

Help!


#2

Do you have a choir? Try, for a few Sundays, spreading them out through the church (not in choir robes or anything if you have them), and have them sing nice and loud (only melody, not parts or descant or anything). Then the people who aren't singing merely because nobody else is singing, will sing. If you reinforce them this way for a few weeks, they might be able to keep it up.

I hope this helps,

--Jen


#3

Well, if they brought back the hymns that most of us middle aged Catholics grew up with, I think most of us, even those of us with bad singing voices, like me, would belt 'em out like Kate Smith in her prime!

Matter of fact, a couple of months ago I went to a TLM low Mass, and the organist did some old favorites at communion time, and for the recessional. Then after the recessional, played another old Catholic hymn, but only one verse. The congregation started singing the second verse, a capella. The organist quickly caught up with the congregation. Then another hymn. We could have hung out and kept singing a few more, but frankly, I think Father wanted to go back to the rectory for lunch!:rolleyes:


#4

[quote="odile53, post:3, topic:296813"]
Well, if they brought back the hymns that most of us middle aged Catholics grew up with, I think most of us, even those of us with bad singing voices, like me, would belt 'em out like Kate Smith in her prime!

Matter of fact, a couple of months ago I went to a TLM low Mass, and the organist did some old favorites at communion time, and for the recessional. Then after the recessional, played another old Catholic hymn, but only one verse. The congregation started singing the second verse, a capella. The organist quickly caught up with the congregation. Then another hymn. We could have hung out and kept singing a few more, but frankly, I think Father wanted to go back to the rectory for lunch!:rolleyes:

[/quote]

This! I wish there were more times during the year to play Eagles Wings and Lord of the Dance. There's another, I wish I rememebred the name...


#5

[quote="odile53, post:3, topic:296813"]
Well, if they brought back the hymns that most of us middle aged Catholics grew up with, I think most of us, even those of us with bad singing voices, like me, would belt 'em out like Kate Smith in her prime!

Matter of fact, a couple of months ago I went to a TLM low Mass, and the organist did some old favorites at communion time, and for the recessional. Then after the recessional, played another old Catholic hymn, but only one verse. The congregation started singing the second verse, a capella. The organist quickly caught up with the congregation. Then another hymn. We could have hung out and kept singing a few more, but frankly, I think Father wanted to go back to the rectory for lunch!:rolleyes:

[/quote]

That's exactly what we're doing Hymns like Immaculate Mary (everyone knows that).

Wow. What wonderful spontaneity!


#6

[quote="revert_jen, post:2, topic:296813"]
Do you have a choir? Try, for a few Sundays, spreading them out through the church (not in choir robes or anything if you have them), and have them sing nice and loud (only melody, not parts or descant or anything). Then the people who aren't singing merely because nobody else is singing, will sing. If you reinforce them this way for a few weeks, they might be able to keep it up.

I hope this helps,

--Jen

[/quote]

That sounds like a great idea. Our schola is kind of small though. :(

Full disclosure for whoever doesn't know by now: I do attend the TLM aka Extraordinary form of the Roman rite. :D


#7

Have better musical settings, and stop having organ step all over everything? :D I'm half-kidding, but really...the Ruthenians have to sing because their chant is unaccompanied. This used to be the norm in the Latin Church as well (see, for instance, this arrangement of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo", according to the 16th century Mozarabic reconstruction of Cisneros), and you'll still find it among the majority of the Eastern and Oriental churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. Of course, that might not be exactly a fair comparison...after all, it's hard to not sing when your whole liturgy is sung in the first place...that's one way to make them sing! ;)


#8

[quote="TrueLight, post:6, topic:296813"]
That sounds like a great idea. Our schola is kind of small though. :(

Full disclosure for whoever doesn't know by now: I do attend the TLM aka Extraordinary form of the Roman rite. :D

[/quote]

Sounds like it might be time for a pastoral intervention.:D Father can remind people that s/he who sings prays twice and encourage people to go for it! If it's preached from he pulpit at a Latin mass I'm betting that will make a difference. Sometimes people think that the processional is for the schola and the recessional is for everyone. It might just be a misconception...
Full discolsure: I sing at the processional for my Novus Ordo but only at the recessional at my Latin Mass.:blush: Guess I'll be checking on this one myself...


#9

[quote="TrueLight, post:6, topic:296813"]
That sounds like a great idea. Our schola is kind of small though. :(

Full disclosure for whoever doesn't know by now: I do attend the TLM aka Extraordinary form of the Roman rite. :D

[/quote]

Well, maybe some of the members of the schola have husbands or wives or friends that could join in the "spread out and sing loud" effort? :)

It's weird you're having that problem though. I haven't seen that problem at an EF Mass before.

--Jen


#10

I have vocal lessons and my teacher says I have a good voice, but my voice just doesn't agree with Church music. I simply can't sing it. This is because the parish I go to is full of old ladies who have created their own voice range that is far beyond soprano and it is difficult for me to keep my tenor one voice not to try and conform to their pitch. Plus, I am highly uncomfortable when singing in front of my family, and I sing relatively powerfully and loudly. I think not singing is a problem we have and we should fix it, but I also think perhaps converting some Protestants that can sing to lead the charge would be a sound plan. Josh Groban and Michael Buble, anyone?


#11

[quote="dzheremi, post:7, topic:296813"]
Have better musical settings, and stop having organ step all over everything? :D I'm half-kidding, but really...the Ruthenians have to sing because their chant is unaccompanied. This used to be the norm in the Latin Church as well (see, for instance, this arrangement of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo", according to the 16th century Mozarabic reconstruction of Cisneros), and you'll still find it among the majority of the Eastern and Oriental churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. Of course, that might not be exactly a fair comparison...after all, it's hard to not sing when your whole liturgy is sung in the first place...that's one way to make them sing! ;)

[/quote]

I second this!

I do have an instance where the congregation was forced to sing on their own: the cantor didn't show up, unexpectedly. The priest for the Roman parish I had attended, at the time had to improv the entire mass.


#12

[quote="dzheremi, post:7, topic:296813"]
this arrangement of "Gloria in Excelsis Deo"

[/quote]

I forgot how amazing Mozarabic chant is! :heart:

Like revert_jen said, a lot of it seems to do with the group mentality. I've seen it a few times at various Masses at my parish. The 9:30 am Sunday Mass is generally filled with people who want to be there for Mass, and aren't simply "getting their card punched," and many more people sing at a louder level. At the 5:30 pm Saturday Vigil Mass, there's not nearly the same amount of singing. But, I've noticed that if I sing louder at the 5:30 Mass, then at least the people around me will sing a bit louder, even if they don't have a fantastic voice! :thumbsup:


#13

[quote="TrueLight, post:1, topic:296813"]
I read on another thread that the Ruthenians sing loud and clear. What's up with that?

[/quote]

We certainly try, and it is at the heart of our liturgical tradition, but not all congregations are singing congregations at all times.

It takes energy, passion and commitment to get there, from pastor and lay music ministers alike.

We have taken several approaches to get people engaged again in chant, including a healthy, regular infusion of catechesis on chant and its use in the liturgy. Sometimes its as simple as showing somene how to open a hymnal. Other times, its dealing with other issues - people not trained in reading music, for example, especially those who came from other Churches where chant was used infrequently.

Ruthenians and other Greek Catholics (Orthodox too) have it easier in that chant is essential to liturgical worship, so it cannot be avoided.

I know from our encounters here and elsewhere that you have a very gifted ear for sacred music. That gift in and of itself, when shared with others, can provide a spark for expansion of the music ministry at your parish and others.


#14

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:10, topic:296813"]
I have vocal lessons and my teacher says I have a good voice, but my voice just doesn't agree with Church music. I simply can't sing it. This is because the parish I go to is full of old ladies who have created their own voice range that is far beyond soprano and it is difficult for me to keep my tenor one voice not to try and conform to their pitch. Plus, I am highly uncomfortable when singing in front of my family, and I sing relatively powerfully and loudly. I think not singing is a problem we have and we should fix it, but I also think perhaps converting some Protestants that can sing to lead the charge would be a sound plan. Josh Groban and Michael Buble, anyone?

[/quote]

Same here. I find it difficult to sing because oh man, I can't sing in as a high range as the old lady who sings every Sunday Mass. It feels like my voice becomes way too small when I attempt to sing it. My parents don't sing and it's weird when they pay attention to my singing. My mother has a very low attention span...


#15

In my “adopted” weekday parish (not my home parish, but I’m seriously considering just moving there for a variety of reasons,) there isn’t an organist. It’s run by a religious order of priests, and new priests rotate in and out with some degree of frequency. Since there’s no organist, there usually isn’t any music.

One of the “new” priests (he’s actually in his sixties, and has been a priest for approximately 35 years) is of the opinion that Catholics ought to sing hymns at Mass. So he announces each hymn, and keeps it real simple (the old hymns from the fifties, “Immaculate Mary,” “Lord Who at Thy First Eucharist did Pray,” etc., you get the idea) and sings them loudly from the altar. AND Father seems to know who is lip-syncing, and gives us the stink eye if we don’t raise our voices (such as they are) in song.

A capella, in a big stone and brick nave, can be tough to pull off. And most of us have aging voices. Even though I’m middle aged, my voice is awful. We sound like a convention of annoyed bees.

But at his Masses, that particular priest will just glower at you if you’re not singing. So I drone away, desperately hoping that there is someone near me who has a decent voice. I take comfort in the fact that most of the congregants sound just as bad as I do.

At least I know Our Lord likes “joyful noises,” so I’m okay with it. Because all I can do is make some noise!


#16

[quote="ByzCathCantor, post:13, topic:296813"]
We certainly try, and it is at the heart of our liturgical tradition, but not all congregations are singing congregations at all times.

It takes energy, passion and commitment to get there, from pastor and lay music ministers alike.

We have taken several approaches to get people engaged again in chant, including a healthy, regular infusion of catechesis on chant and its use in the liturgy. Sometimes its as simple as showing somene how to open a hymnal. Other times, its dealing with other issues - people not trained in reading music, for example, especially those who came from other Churches where chant was used infrequently.

Ruthenians and other Greek Catholics (Orthodox too) have it easier in that chant is essential to liturgical worship, so it cannot be avoided.

I know from our encounters here and elsewhere that you have a very gifted ear for sacred music. That gift in and of itself, when shared with others, can provide a spark for expansion of the music ministry at your parish and others.

[/quote]

I think going to a parish (a parish committed to singing the liturgy, and trying to project that angelic hymn (if I can say such) is important, then I think going to metropolitan cantor institute is important, too - of particular note, it's cantor companion guide (which is really detailed and involved)

The parish is so small (at least that's my limited perception, due to the limited time I've been in the Byzantine parish) we don't have much of a catechism program. I could be wrong, however.


#17

[quote="onjac, post:14, topic:296813"]
Same here. I** find it difficult to sing because oh man, I can't sing in as a high range as the old lady who sings every Sunday Mass.** It feels like my voice becomes way too small when I attempt to sing it. My parents don't sing and it's weird when they pay attention to my singing. My mother has a very low attention span...

[/quote]

I've had that problem too...

I can't understand how an individual with a good voice can they are helping by singing in a operatic range and style that nobody can follow.


#18

We once had a pastor who told people that they were not participating in the Mass if they didn't sing. It made a difference.

I can't carry a tune, but I sing. We are not at Mass for entertainment, so just watching is not an option. We are there to worship God. I truly believe we should use whatever gifts we have been given and do our best.


#19

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:10, topic:296813"]
I have vocal lessons and my teacher says I have a good voice, but my voice just doesn't agree with Church music. I simply can't sing it. This is because the parish I go to is full of old ladies who have created their own voice range that is far beyond soprano and it is difficult for me to keep my tenor one voice not to try and conform to their pitch. Plus, I am highly uncomfortable when singing in front of my family, and I sing relatively powerfully and loudly. I think not singing is a problem we have and we should fix it, but I also think perhaps converting some Protestants that can sing to lead the charge would be a sound plan. Josh Groban and Michael Buble, anyone?

[/quote]

Lol your post made me laugh. We have a good number of converts in our schola. :thumbsup:


#20

Love the Prairie Home Companion skit where Keller describes a congregational “sing off” competition between churches. He talked about the Lutherans belting out the classics, and the Catholics over in the corner paralized with fright. :smiley:

I have decent vocals, but I find a lot of music written after 1970 tend to dip high or low out of my range. I tend to just read the words of the hymn for inspiration.


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