Y’all, sometimes I just have to get things off my chest. And I haven’t ranted about church music in a while. So, for those of you who like such things, enjoy this mini-rant.
I sang in the choir at the 7 p.m. Mass at Georgetown all four years. (We had Masses practically ’round the clock on Sunday, including a 30 minute one known as “[Father] Freeze’s Breeze” and a “last chance” one at 11:15 p.m.)
When I was a Freshman, the choir was student-led. So when we were taken over by the University’s choir director the following year, we chafed a bit under her direction. One of the things she did not like was our pianist’s habit of playing what she called “traveling music” at points where no talking was going on, like after the Offertory procession, for example. We liked the pretty music and did not appreciate her point: that there were times in the liturgy where silence is desirable.
Well, apparently the choir director at my parish doesn’t appreciate it either. Because he’s instituted a bizarre practice of singing TWO Offertory songs. As soon as we finish the first one, our cantor steals a quick look at the altar and if the preparation of the gifts is ongoing she quickly announces another song. Which we dutifully begin to sing.
But there isn’t time for two songs at the Offertory, not really. So one of two things happens. We don’t sing the whole song (and y’all already know how I feel about THAT), or Father stands there twiddling his thumbs and frankly looking impatient to get on with things already while we finish.
This singing serves no liturgical purpose. Especially since we never sing songs that are about offering our gifts or ourselves anyway. It’s filler, pure and simple. And why does the Mass demand filler? When you run out of Offertory song, there are the optional prayers and responses: “Blessed are You, Lord, God of all Creation . . . ” and “Blessed be God Forever.” (Did these get changed, I wonder? In our parish, I’ll never find out.) Then there are the quiet prayers as the priest washes his hands, which always fascinated me as a child: “Lord, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sins.”
Everyone knows how much I love to sing. Even when I can hardly stand the songs. But can’t we just have some quiet time to pray?