Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of watching my fourth (and final) child, my 7-year-old daughter, Brittany, receive the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time. She was also one of those who got to take part in the Offertory. As a father, I was in my glory, and very proud of Brittany. My wife took pictures like you wouldn't believe.
As a parish musician (not the parish where her First Communion Mass was, thank God), I was sick to my stomach. Here's the liturgy sheet:
Prelude (choir): One Spirit, one Church (talk about killing "Come, Holy Ghost")
Processional: Let the little children come (I forgot the author's name, but it was sung to "Hymn to Joy"). I don't mind the "Hymn to Joy" so much, but the text was horrible.
Gloria: It was the first time I had ever heard this setting. Composer name was not listed. The line "You are seated at the right hand of the Father. Receive our prayer." was left out completely.
Psalm: Lord, send out your Spirit (Joe Zsigray) A metrical setting. The verses were big time irregular. Though in a fast 3/4, you can fall asleep waiting to get back to the antiphon. Bright spot: the text is from the Lectionary for Mass.
Alleluia: GRAB YOUR BEER MUGS AND SWING BACK AND FORTH ON THE BAR STOOL, FOLKS! Oh, I mean, "Celtic Alleluia"
Offertory: We come to your table (from that insipid "Hi God" book)
Sanctus: Massive Cremation, at 78 speed
Memorial Acclamation: I forgot what it was, but it sure as heck wasn't any of THE Memorial Acclamations.
Amen: Massive Cremation
Agnus Dei: Dean Olawski
Communion: Jesus, come to us (Haas); Take and Eat (Joncas)
Recessional: This is the day (that one with the echo - that had me singing on the way home "This is the day (this is the day) that my dog got spayed (that my dog got spayed)"
According to the music director, who I know personally, it was the CCD folk (figures!) that picked all this watered down trash for music. But that's par for the course. I'm just glad that the kiddies didn't get up to the altar and sing something. That happened at my former parish, and the pastor had the colossal nerve to say "it's not entertainment". If they're using the altar as their little stage, which they did, and the parents are getting all sentimental over it, then yes, it's entertainment. To boot - that song was another from the "Hi God" dungpile - "His banner over me is love".
I would never subject my junior choir to that kind of garbage. I have a choir of 7-12 year olds who love "Mass of the Bells", especially the Gloria and Sanctus. They have the Latin Sanctus and Agnus (Mass XVIII) down to an art form. They sing standard hymns - Catholic hymns (I wouldn't consider much of what Haugen writes "Catholic"). Even my own 7-year-old couldn't stand the music yesterday at her First Communion.
My message, aimed particularly at CCD directors, teachers, and liturgist-wannabes: Don't dumb down the liturgy. These are, usually, very bright and very devoted children who seek to receive the Lord. They're not 3-year-olds. They don't need "Hi God", "Rise Up and Sing", "Young People's Glory and Praise", or any facsimile of such putrid collections. There are plenty of reverent selections that can very easily (and very enthusiastically) sung by young children. Yes, it's their big day. But they need to learn that the Mass focuses on Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Sacrament, and not on themselves.