I was in a church recently visting a Priest whom was a Pastor at the church I attended while in grade school. The choir(folk band) was to the right of the Priest closer to the altar then I’d seen before, separate from everyone else and facing the people. I found this distracting as it seemed like the choir was there to perform rather then worship and with them facing me, I found myself distracted, perhaps this is a character flaw on my part but I thought this might make a good subject for a poll.
I don’t know anything about your character flaws (but, don’t worry, you’re one of us humans).
The choir and the musical instruments worked just fine for centuries back up there in the choir loft, where their sounds could project and travel throughout the church building. A microphone or two helps for amplification purposes.
The best location for the choir depends on the layout of the church. If they are towards the front, and the choir members project a prayerful and reverent demeanor, they should be no more of a distraction than a single cantor.
[quote=Chris in Mich]The choir(folk band) was to the right of the Priest closer to the altar then I’d seen before, separate from everyone else and facing the people. I found this distracting as it seemed like the choir was there to perform rather then worship and with them facing me, I found myself distracted, perhaps this is a character flaw on my part but I thought this might make a good subject for a poll.
We have a great choir loft, but I have not seen it used in years.
There is no glory for the organist, musicians to be there. (This is the only reason I can think of, that they needed to take up a whole section of the church behind the sanctuary.)
But a choir loft now that would be great to see it used. It is above our adoration chapel. Since it remains empty it is inviting for the little ones to run around in.
I’m not bothered by their location, no matter what the design of the church. The only thing that bothers me is bad music with out of sync singers and a clunky piano that’s out of tune.
where they sit is not the distraction, bad music, insipid lyrics, amateur instrumentalists, unlovely voices, trying to sing complicated tunes and harmonies without training or even practicing together, organ in competition with piano with guerilla attacks by vocalists–now that is distracting.
I like them to be in the choir loft. (The choir should be heard and not seen.) Of course, that presupposes that there IS a choir loft.
they actually just GOT RID of a whole section of pews on the right side of my church to build a STAGE for the choir and organist. it is a HUGE distraction. awful.
Our parish has a wonderful, choir what is sad is the awful computerised, blast you out of the pews organ we have, I’m just waiting for the lenes in my glasses to shatter one day. Just before the mass begins someone, normaly the cantor, will program in the songs and away we go, it get so loud sometimes that it hurts my ears. Then right after then mass is over, one of our cantors usually decides to practice a couple of hyms for the following week, so much for a quiet time for thanksgiving after the mass.
Our choir is in a loft in the back. I like it that way although it took some getting used to.
I just read a Protestant book called "The Emerging Church’ and while this modern church has live bands they actually put them in back for some of the services becasue they didn’t want it to be a ‘peformance’. I thought that interesting!
Chris, I wonder whether you visited my own parish because it sounds like it – St. Anthony in Belleville.
I WISH we had a choir loft (I am in choir, and sitting up front is a disaster and I imagine terribly distracting for the congregation). At least our choir wears robes.
Our praise group is a large group composed of mostly overweight mostly middle aged folks who wear jeans and t-shirts! I find it unacceptable. I’ve been asked to sing with them, but I always find a reason not to. They are VERY NICE and do a fair job with the music, but their dress is just inappropriate. If they were in a choir loft they’d at least be hidden.
[quote=Linda H.]Our parish has a wonderful, choir what is sad is the awful computerised, blast you out of the pews organ we have, I’m just waiting for the lenes in my glasses to shatter one day. Just before the mass begins someone, normaly the cantor, will program in the songs and away we go, it get so loud sometimes that it hurts my ears. Then right after then mass is over, one of our cantors usually decides to practice a couple of hyms for the following week, so much for a quiet time for thanksgiving after the mass.
Wow, what church do you go to in the Upstate, if I may ask? The organ at Prince of Peace is a beautiful sounding instrument though I dislike where the choir is located–off to the side in the front behind the columns…you can’t even see the cantor unless you sit on the front row.
My church does not have a choir loft and the choir sits on two pews to the left and facing the altar. My priest asked me the same question polled here as part of our long term planning. I told him that I like the choir where it is now for the following reason:
We are not more important or on show, but we are part of the lay faithful and like to be part of the Mass as much as any one else.
The current location is off to the side and facing the altar at an angle a little more than those who sit on the far right and left pews.
It is easy for the cantor to face the main body of people when announcing page numbers, intentions, etc.
It allows choir members to receive communion first and then start a eucharistic song. This avoids that time at the end of communion while everyone has received, finishing the verse and going to receive communion. (Can just imagine how long this would take if we had to climb down stairs and come in from the back).
We do not have choir robes, but we do wear ties and dresses. This is not a rule, it is just what each of us feels is appropriate for Mass.
I belong to St.Mary’s in Shelby,NC. It is closer to my home than Sacred Heart in Gaffney, and much more wheelchair accessible.The sanctuary at Sacred Heart is much older and the new sanctuary in Shelby was apparently built with wheelchair access in mind, and I am truely thankful for it. The front pews are built to allow room for one wheelchair or scooter to safely park without becoming a obstacle for anyone else. The location also makes it easy for Fr.E to bring the Holy Eucharist to us, what a blessing.
The only downside is being so close to the organ, while I don’t really believe it will shatter my glasses, sometimes it makes me wonder.
Where is Prince of Peace, I know I have heard of it, I just can’t remember where it is.
Do you feel more part of the Mass in the front two rows? How does the choir sound to the people in the back of the church?
Why is an angle needed, along with a lack of symmetry it seems to me that being in the front two rows and on an angle would draw attention to the Choir.
Again, why is that needed?
At my church the choir leaves the loft and recieves communion before the rest of the people, solving this problem.
One of my favorite churches has one of the best choirs I’ve ever heard in the choir loft, and I believe the fact that they are in the loft in back of the church adds a powerful element, symbolically as if the music is coming from heaven, like many others this church has great acoustics and an echo which adds to the experience, and I’m not an expert but I would think having the choir centered in the back of the church would be best for sound. I am listening to people, but I keep drawing the conclusion that having the choir outside the choir loft is another one of those things that make a mass more man centered, and less God centered.
[quote=puzzleannie]where they sit is not the distraction, bad music, insipid lyrics, amateur instrumentalists, unlovely voices, trying to sing complicated tunes and harmonies without training or even practicing together, organ in competition with piano with guerilla attacks by vocalists–now that is distracting.
So are you going to replace them create the proper music?
It is so easy to criticize, but when one is the volunteer who tries hard to create the best music possible with little time for practice and no support in buying enough copies of the full hymnals to really practice with – it is pretty difficult to get up there and take a stab at it.
Really, do you want people to criticize your every attempt at worship or praise?
I am only singing for my son’s school liturgies at this point in time. I sing with professional musicians who are too cool to cue me when they are ready for me to sing. We don’t practice the intro’s that is not necessary, so I can’t always tell when to start.
Yep, I am not perfect, but I at least try. I pray to the Holy Spirit to help me raise my voice for the glory of God.
I like when the choir is being directed and I can see it, it helps me to learn new songs. I don’t necessarily want them to be on the altar, but the choir loft does make it impossible to watch the cues. It is also a long walk to the ambo to lead the response.
I am just a flawed, hack musician, so I guess my opinion is worthless.
The set-up at my church works for us and that is what I was describing and my opinions on it. I gave my reasons I like the choir in it’s current location. I am sure a loft is effective in your church.
Yes, I feel more a part of Mass sitting up front. I have never been much for the back pews. I do not know how the choir sounds to the people in the back of the church. No the situation does not draw attention to the choir. While it is not needed to face the people to speak, it makes for better communication (Speech 101). Finally, walking sown stairs, down the aisle, back up the aisle and back up the stairs, still takes longer than walking ten yards.
Our choir would be best located under the church
[quote=little_flower]they actually just GOT RID of a whole section of pews on the right side of my church to build a STAGE for the choir and organist. it is a HUGE distraction. awful.
We must go to the same church.
[quote=Toni]We have a great choir loft, but I have not seen it used in years.
As a chorister, I have to say that SINGING from the choir loft is a LOT easier than being placed up front. I used to sing in an Episcopal vested chancel choir. Half of one’s effort was in NOT moving unnecessarily, keeping one’s posture “up” at all times, standing, sitting, kneeling on cue and in unison, with the least commotion possible, lifting one’s music into singing position simultaneously – all so that the choir would not be a distraction . . . It was gorgeous, of course, but WHAT an effort.
When I moved to a parish with a choir loft, it was like being on vacation – except in the warm weather when temperatures could reach 3 digits . . .