Music for the Gloria and Alleluia CONSTANTLY changing

My small parish has a small choir with big hearts but small talent. More distressingly, they create a BIG headache each week.

Every week during Lent they changed the music for the Kyrie and the acclimation. During Ordinary Time they change the music for the Gloria and the Alleluia*** every two weeks*** or so. They insist on playing the new version 3-4 times before Mass starts so people can practice it- despite the fact that most people at Mass that early are praying or spending time in silent meditation.

While visiting family in Atlanta a few weeks ago, we attended Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King. There was what, to my mind, was a more “traditional” choir, singing more traditional music, and Heavens above! What a difference it made in my participation at Mass! For the first time, the music, while “adding to Mass” isn’t what I mean, it certainly didn’t detract from it.

Are there any guidelines on the music at Mass? Or is this one of those things we must just bear? How much say does the priest have over the musical selections? Would it do any good to bring these concerns to our parish priest? Things are so dismal I know two other families who have switched parishes because of the music here.

It’s not that I expect professional musicians. However, when the music is changed so frequently I find myself less able to concentrate on the words and more in need of reviewing high school music theory.


The first thing we need to do is kill all the music directors. :smiley:

Apologies to Shakespeare.

Fight it baby - they are, as a group, a viscious and elitist lot with no musical taste and worse theology. It’ll be a tough row to hoe, but there are good choir masters/music directors. They are the exception, unfortunately.

The “Music Minister” was the reason I left my last parish since she was messin with parts of the Mass that cannot be changed.

The Parish I goto now, it seems, that each of the Priests (3 assigned and 3 weekend) has a favorite Mass setting. I hate to say it, but some music of the Mass setting for the Paster seems like it should be played in a 1920’s speakeasy (and I stated so on the survey a couple of weeks ago) :hypno:

I know the feeling but double. In america I was part of a 30 piece choir. we sang 4 part harmony all the time. all the traditional stuff nothing new or cutting edge. even latin you know traditional. now I am in australia in a parish that allows drums. I mean like van halen. I dont think I need to say anything else it is bad. My heart goes out to you. but dont expect a major change unless you PETITION with a majority of the parish members.

Ug. We’ve got a drumset, and bongos, and a guitar AND a string bass. Add in the occaisional tamborine, and you’ve got yourself a regular headache.

I wonder if I started with the priest, then asked him for the next route we could take…

They are the exception because Catholic churches don’t want them. The good ones get jobs in other churches- ones with nice organs, big (and good) choirs (maybe even more than one choir) that sing every week, a congregation that sings, and where the musical heritage of their church is celebrated- rather than looked at as a relic of the past that wore out its welcome years ago.

Before this thread turns into nothing more than a gripe session, how about a suggestion to the original question:

Try making a friendly overture to the music director. Thank him/her for all the choir does for the parish. During the course of this friendly conversation, mention that it would be helpful to you and perhaps the rest of the congregation to sing the same responses for a whole liturgical season, so you could get comfortable with it and really pray as you sing.

Nothing beats an honest conversation with a reasonable request. Perhaps a couple of weeks after you do it, one of your friends could do the same thing, and a month later, another one. And if they take the hint, be sure to thank them for that, too.


Love it! Plus, it’ll give me a chance to finally learn his name!

Every parish that has two or more Masses on a weekend should know between three and five Mass settings, so that the musicians can be free to rotate between the settings. Priests, Music Directors and liturgists should be allowed to mandate a specific setting be used throughout the parish for a special season of the year, such as using The Mass of Creation throughout Lent.

Until your parish is familiar with a setting, it does no one any good to start learning a new setting, unless the old one wasn’t working and you are abandoning it. Until the parish is familiar with three to five settings, rotating on a biweekly or monthly basis is equally useless. Fooling around with the settings every two weeks during Lent seems equally futile to me.

The parish I belong to currently knows four settings, and there is no pattern for rotation. The congregation seems pretty adept at singing the setting that the musicians at that Mass are using. It’s taken our church a long time to get to this point, but it’s worth it.

As far as I am concerned, the parts of the Mass that are sung are to be the people worshipping through song. The task of the musicians is to facilitate sung worship, and that means they choose music and perform it in such a way that accomplishes this goal.

We typically sing the Mass of Creation in my parish, but during different seasons (Easter, Christmas for example) we sing the Gloria from the Mass of God’s Promise. I think the Gloria from the Mass of God’s Promise is beautiful, (although I’m not sure if it’s valid since the words are varied??), but most of the congregation has a hard time singing it - other than the refrain *("Give Glory to God, give glory, to God, glory to God in the highest…) *

Just have Gregorian Chant.

Viscious and elitist - that pretty much describes your post…I am surprised as I have seen other posts by you and this seems rather unworthy

I am a choir member and cantor have not pretensions to what constiutes good theology or not beyond that expected by a person who has received the sacraments. I do know, however, that music is a ministry of exhortation and praise devoted to the elevation of the body of Christ. Music in some form is also a liturgical requirement. There is no spiritual requirement that it be “good” though a good pastor will ensure that it blends in with the rest of the liturgy in pace and content and is theologically sound.

As most of the singers in my group are individuals like me with prior musical background who dusted it off and spend long hours in rehersals and do fundraisers to pay for the “real organs” and so forth. We do it for free as well. That goes for the instrumentatlists who are acutally “pros” for the most part and could command high fees.

One of the posters is right - the music ministry must help involve the congregation in worship and praise. This must embrace more than one genre of music. As shocking as it may seem to some here, we truly are many parts and all deserve a share in the public worship. Thus, what passes for disorganization may in fact be an effort to reach and educate newcomers to music.

I will grant you one thing, though, without good pastoral moderation you can end up with a “battle of the bands” situation, as I saw at one church around here.

However, Don’t criticize music ministers almost as a whole especially when God knows what their hearts really are and blesses their ministries accordingly.


This is what I do…I cantor for the weekday masses, Acapella…and the faithful about 30 strong who attend all the weekday masses…sing along since we continue to sing the traditional melodies for all the parts of the mass. Makes up for the weekend changes. Have faith and continue to pray the liturgy…pray for your music ministers as well. I am sure the choir is probably as frustated as you and hopefully they will join up in a hopeful revolt.

Happy Easter!

Johnnykins: I guess you struck a chord! :smiley:

Sorry Asaph, I couldn’t resist the chance at a pun! Thanks for your efforts in your ministry.


I’ve always found that sticking with a particular set of service music for a month or so, or for the whole short seasons of Lent or Advent, gives enough variety without being overwhelming or confusing. Although my preferences lean toward Gregorian and simple Latin polyphony, certain contemporary pieces (for organ) like the Heritage Mass or the Mass of St. Benedict lend a greater sense of dignity to the Mass without being either too technical or too pedestrian.

Asaph, I completely understand the point of your post (sorry for deleting most of it in the quote), but, at the risk of sounding whiny, I don’t want to be educated in music at Mass, I want to be able to worship Our Lord. :frowning:

Now, I know there are people for whom music is an absolutely vital component to worship (case in point, my Protestant sister-in-law who switched churches because this new one makes her feel like she’s “at a concert” :rolleyes: ), and I appreciate the time and effort people put into the music ministry. And it’s not like my main point is that they’re poor musicians- we have plenty of poor lectors, and I’m still able to fully participate at Mass- it’s just that they keep changing the dang Mass setting (thanks y’all, for providing me with the proper vocabulary), and insist on running through it a few times for the parish during what many people use as quiet reflection before Mass.

Argh. Waiting for Saturday, when I can casually mention this to Father at confession…(during our parish’s 20 minutes confession time :wink: )

Music director? You have a MUSIC DIRECTOR?

Count your blessings!

We have 8 weekend masses, with music, but no music director(s). The choirs are people with good hearts that can’t read music. For music in 3/4 time, they insist on singing it in 4/4 time. Don’t ask me “how to do that” because the answer is very, very ugly, sort of like making sausage.

They have no clue what “rests” are or how to count beats.

They insist on singing the Gloria during Lent (at least until the presiding priest get’s their attention and tells them to stop halfway through.)

At those masses where the organ is used, every song no matter how joyful is played at one-third the desired tempo, thereby turning it into a funeral dirge.

I’d love to have a music director, any music director, even if they change the songs constantly!

I am a pianist/organist and totally understand where the OP is coming from. One of our musicians insists on changing everything all the time. When I’M there, the congregation sings what they know pretty well. My philosophy is that Mass is NOT the place to teach new music, and musicians are there to serve the congregation’s need to worship…not to show off.
Another pet peeve is not using the music that’s in the Missalette (for instance, the psalms and the alleluia that already there…then the congregation is bewildered on how to sing what should be easy.):mad:

I would have to agree with this, although I believe things are slowly changing. I know and know of a number of excellent musicians who would have loved to work in a Catholic Church, but the churches either do not have the money to pay a decent living salary or they churches do not want them. There was a time between the 70s and 90s when many excellent organists and musicians were practically driven out to Protestant parishes - mostly Anglican and Episcopal - because the pastors preferred things like “Kumbayah” with guitars and bongos, whereas these musicians still wanted to do Gregorian chant, polyphony and other works. So we were left with people who weren’t great musicians (but meant well). Things are slowly equalizing itself out in terms of music liturgy, but now you have these mediocre or non-musicians trying to do this music and it comes across just as bad as if you listen to some garage rock band at some of these youth masses I had to attend as a teenager.

But like I said, we are starting to get the better musicians back - at least in many of the city parishes of my diocese and some of the suburban parishes.

One thing a good music director does is to know not to switch the music for the mass parts every week. We usually have a mass for all of Advent and Christmas Season and different one during Lent and Easter. For Ordinary Time, it’s usually the same mass parts. We do this especially because we’re a transient parish - a Cathedral that has a small parish, but LOTS of visitors. For the low masses we do a contemporary mass setting like Heritage Mass, Community Mass or Mass for Christian Unity. We also do a Plain Song setting by David Hurd during Advent and Christmas which is lovely and the congregation and priests do sing. For the High Mass we do “high art” masses by Palestrina, Mozart, Batten, etc. including Gregorian Chant for our Latin masses. Many of the hymn melodies are traditional and recognizable by any visitor coming to mass. So, we usually set different texts to the melodies. For the High masses they also do choral motets along with the hymns.

I think what you could do is speak with the music director first regarding the way the music is done every week. As someone else mentioned, do it nicely. I believe you always get much more out of a person if you speak to them nicely, rather than to complain to their boss. In terms of the priest or the pastor. They may be great with theology/morality/liturgy, etc., but many of them know little about music and even sometimes have very bad taste. I know of a few who were a thorn in my colleagues’ sides in terms of taste and wanted to always dumb down the music. My colleagues are brilliant musicians so they had the talent to present liturgically-correct music in the higher art form.

I do know some pastors control what music is to be performed during mass, so when you speak with the music director, ask him/her who decides on the music. If the pastor has most of the say, then go to him and speak to him about the music choices. Good luck!

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