Our pastor came to the Music Director and instructed her to NOT have us sing the Haydn Kyrie and Gloria from his Missa Brevis in F Major at Midnight Mass, as we had rehearsed and planned for months. He also wants to do away with the pre-Mass hymns that have been a tradition for nearly 50 years in our parish.

His rationale is that some parishioners didn’t like having to stand for the slightly longer time that it took for us to sing the Mozart Kyrie and Gloria last year. Mind you, our choir has sung those sections from the Mozart Missa Brevis in F Major in years past and there were never any complaints. In fact, to our knowledge, there had been only praise. We’ve sung movements from various “Missae” in years past, and we change it up so that we keep the music fresh and yes, a bit of a pleasant Christmas surprise for our parishioners.

Our “usual” setting now is the Black Mountain Liturgy by Sally Ann Morris and while it IS pretty and we all love it, we all feel that Christmas is “special”, and it deserves a special atmosphere. That includes special music that we don’t sing during ordinary times. The Haydn sections that we had planned are actually SHORTER than the Black Mountain Liturgy. We also had a 20-minute pre-Mass “reflection period” of maybe 5 or 6 hymns prepared, as we’ve done for decades, and that was just scrapped as of this morning. We had soloists and choir members who had worked long and hard to perfect this music “FOR” Christmas. Everyone is very upset about this. :mad:

Okay, so the Mozart Gloria that we did last year was fairly long and the people had to stand for a few minutes. But the way I see it, if you don’t want to attend a “long Mass” deep in the night, then please don’t come to the Midnight Service. There are 6 or 8 other Masses to choose from at our parish, in English or Spanish. Many people come to the Midnight Mass in large part for the special music and the beauty of the services. As Choir, that’s our ministry-- to add our voices and lead the people in musical prayer and worship. No, we aren’t “performers”, we are people whose gift from God is our voice and musical talent, and we look forward to the opportunity to sing our special songs of praise and prayer. To sing an “ordinary” setting at a “special” time takes something away from it, and it has basically put our time of practice for the Commemoration of the Nativity of Our Lord to waste. We feel like we prepared a special gift, only to be told just before the “party” that it isn’t wanted or welcome.

It’s so hurtful that some of us are planning on NOT singing at all for the Midnight Mass and simply attending Mass at another parish or service time.

If Father is going to essentially “gut” Christmas Mass this way, then what will happen at the Easter Vigil-- when we have TWICE as much music?Is he simply going to refer everyone to the text of the “Exsultet” because that prayer is “too long”? Is he going to say that “we have too many candidates for Baptism” and decide that it would be more efficient to simply soak everyone at once with a garden hose? (Okay, that was sarcastic… but oh! The visual!)?

Okay, perhaps I’m a wee bit petulant… but it also seems odd that he’s pulling this just 2 days after waxing ecstatic at Mass over our choir and our “beautiful music”.

If you were in the Choir and your priest did something like this, would you sing at Christmas Mass, or would you just sit it out in the congregation, either at Midnight Mass or another service time? Or would you “boycott” your parish and just go to another church for Christmas Mass)?

Your thoughts…


My parish choir sing polyphonic Masses all the time at our FSSP parish. When the settings are long, the priest and people sit. In the EF, the rubrics call for this once the priest is finished reciting the prayer. I realize that the OF rubrics do not specifically provide for this, but I have seen it done at OF Masses, especially at St. Agnes church in St. Paul, MN and at St. John Canrtius in Chicago.

In a heartbeat.

I think that boycotting your parish because you disagree with what the pastor of the parish decided would be an unfortunate choice and example.
You are serving as a choir member. And frankly, you are serving at the pleasure of the pastor who has ultimate responsibility for your parish. Swallow your personal desires and preferences and serve as the leader of the parish has asked you to serve. Your disappointment is understandable, but you have an opportunity now to turn your disappointment into a Christian virtue.
My children play sports and music. It would be unfathomable for me as their mother to encourage them to boycott or quit because they disagree with a decision their band director or coach made.

Thanks, Chatter-- I really wonder if the “kibbosh” is really because Father wants to get back to bed… :wink:

Also, he does like to sing along (not well, mind you, but he seems happy and we won’t kill his joy) and I know that he doesn’t know the Haydn, and the Mozart Missa Brevis has a lot of complicated parts that don’t lend well to congregational input. Maybe that’s it… encourage EVERYONE to sing, and use a familiar setting that’s in the Gather Hymnal?

Nah. Our congregation SINGS. :slight_smile:

As for standing, Father has occasionally prefaced the Gospels with an invitation to sit if the passage is very long, especially during the Passion readings. So I don’t think that’s the whole reason for cutting out our short Haydn, especially since the setting is shorter than the Black Mountain.

Naw, there’s something else going on.

I dont think Mass is ever a time for showing our displeasure. I would obey my Priest and would not miss the opportunity to praise the Lord in song with the choir.

I’m sure he had a good reason. Maybe there were complaints last year that you just didn’t know about. It’s too bad he didn’t give you more warning, however.

Wouldn’t it be better for you guys to just talk to him about your diappointment rather than stage a protest as you suggest? Also, maybe you could schedule a Christmas concert in which to showcase your music, if you can’t perform it during mass?

There is a precedent for sitting for longer settings. It is done in the EF, and while the OF rubrics call for standing at the Kyrie and Gloria, there is precedent for sitting at longer settings, which seems to me to be a generous and exceptional application of traditional practice in a specific case, and not contra legem.


No offense intended, but do you mean avoiding mass at this parish just because of the music? I think Communion, the sacrifice, is the most important part of the mass, and is the purpose of the mass.

I really hope you guys resolve this. You should talk them if you have not about the change. And I am sorry about what is happening.

Mafh, we have a concert this Thursday. There will be our Traditional Choir, plus 3 handbell choirs, 2 grade-school choirs (the “Cherubs” and the “Angels” for grades Pre-K through 2 and 3-5 respectively), a middle-school and a high school choir, the Contemporary Adult Choir, the Cantors’ Schola and the Hispanic Chorus. The Trad Choir’s singing John Rutter’s Donkey Carol and 2 other traditional carols. We do this every year, as well as having the pre-Mass hymns.

Perhaps the choir loft isn’t the place for a protest, but perhaps Father might get the message if Christmas Midnight Mass was truly a “Silent Night”… if you get my drift!

(Hmmm… Father leading the congregation in an acapella version of anything. Not a beautiful image. Trust me, I’ve been to Adoration many times when he’s led the ‘Tantum Ergo’ and the ‘Holy God We Praise Thy Name’ and there’s no telling what key we’ll end in, except that it won’t be the same key we started in. Or tempo! Not to be mean, but holding a tune is NOT one of Father’s many gifts!)

ADDED… the setting that we had chosen is VERY SHORT, even shorter than our “everyday” setting, and Father was made aware of this. :confused:

I am wondering if you have children because, as a mom, the right thing is so very clear. I would never allow my children to carry on like this over a coach or band director’s decision, let alone for something at CHURCH.
I am hoping your anger is a temporary symptom of your understandable disappointment.
You are SERVING. That service should not have strings attached…especially in the house of the Lord.

Again the holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not the place to “send Father a message”

And how would you feel if your kids had practiced and practiced for “something special” only to be told that their practice was for naught and that they’re going to do the “ordinary thing”? It’s not the director’s decision to forego the Haydn one week out… the “coach” or “band director”, if you will. This is like the “commissioner” coming up to a team after they’ve prepared for a major sporting event and saying, “You’re playing in a different sport”. Had we had a couple of weeks’ notice that this wasn’t going to fly, then we could have focused on things that would.

Not only that, there was no issue with the Haydn until just today. Father knew that the Haydn was going to be the setting for this Mass since LAST year, when we sang the Mozart setting (Missa Brevis in F Major). He should have said something before now-- 6 days before Christmas! Come ON, and let us reason together.

The “right thing” here seems so very clear-- you DON’T fool with your VOLUNTEER SERVERS and expect them NOT to grouse, or even stop serving at your parish.

And yes, I have a son who’s grown. I taught him how to COMMUNICATE with people, and to appreciate it when others volunteer their time and talents to serve. I’ve taught him to give proper and constructive feedback soon after they’ve done their part. That means praise for a job well done as well as suggestions on how to do even better next time. If there was a problem with the choice of music, or the length, or some other issue, then it should have been addressed at that time, not a week before the next “big event” when the volunteers have put their heart and soul into practicing and now have no time to change to a better “way” other than defaulting to the “ordinary”.

I stand by my response and I wish you peace.

Well, he’s certainly sent US a message. :frowning:

OP, I completely understand why are you so disappointed – I would be too. But, there is a classy way to respond to this: To swallow your disappointment and go along with the priest’s wishes, offering your best voices to the music he has chosen for the midnight mass. If you don’t mind my sayng, the boycotting response sounds a bit petty and petulant to me.

Likewise. :slight_smile:

Our church never does hymns like that for Mass. We have gutted and simplified our Mass so bad it makes me want to cry. We never do chants, we never even say “Kyrie” and the only classical hymns we ever sing are before Mass and never during it.

Done ranting. let’s get to your problem:

If the Mass settings your pastor chose are still beautiful and reverent, I would try not to get too upset. Try to show forth the beauty of God in whatever you’re singing. Christmas is special! I know it is hard when you have spent so much time rehearsing it and your not doing it. Maybe talk to your music director about planning things better next year so this can be avoided.

//If you were in the Choir and your priest did something like this, would you sing at Christmas Mass, or would you just sit it out in the congregation, either at Midnight Mass or another service time? Or would you “boycott” your parish and just go to another church for Christmas Mass)?//

I am actually quitting our choir after singing for 3 years because they don’t teach us any chants, they keep singing the same banal, perky songs over again and because they never sing the traditional hymns I suggest and then complain that young people aren’t interested (hello, young person here suggesting hymns) I am sticking it our for Christmas however and I suggest you do the same. Stick it out for Jesus if for nothing else.

If I were in your choir I’d convince everybody to take it down to the big Christmas tree in town and sing it down there, maybe the night of the 22nd or 23rd. Let people enjoy it the way you rehearsed it. Voices risen in exultation can be very inspiring. You never know who you will reach with your beautiful sounds! You don’t need the organ playing. Just fill in those parts in your heads. Run through it once or twice in rehearsal and then wing it. You’ll find your way. I bet people would LOVE it!

My issue is with the fact that he pulled this less than a week beforehand, leaving us no time to really practice any substitutes, other than the usual setting. He also killed our Communion anthem in the same stroke-- the venerable “Alleluia Chorus” by GF Handel. We haven’t even got a backup anthem. I’m sure we’ll come up with something; we’re a great choir. But will Father suddenly decide that our backup anthem is also “not to his liking” after originally agreeing to it?

Christmas is NOT an ordinary day, so why should the setting be ordinary? Midnight is not the “regular” time for Mass, so why should our hymns be “regular”?

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