Monday, February 20, 2006


This in from Pontifications.

First of all, this is one popular article, obviously (109 comments as I write this, and Alvin Kimmel only wrote it YESTERDAY). But so true in many circuits. Them cantors (song leaders) like to fly now don't they? They look even more winged in vestments. They want YOU IN THE PEW to sing, but they still want themselves to sing louder - even louder than the choir, who are probably singing their hearts out!

Mr. Kimmel even quotes the famous "Mr. Caruso" chapter in Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing, a book I STILL think should be required reading in the seminaries, and for those laity studying liturgy or church music.

"Bring back the cantor and put her into the choir. Restore her to her proper role. Catholic liturgy would improve a hundred-fold over night!", concludes Mr. Kimmel.

Kudos for a great article.



Jeff Miller said...

And then place them in the Choir loft.

Unlike children Choirs should be heard and not seen.

Brian Michael Page said...

Exactly, Jeff. We don't have an actual loft at the church I serve (cornerstone date 1987), but the music is still in the BACK, where it belongs. My pastor wants no music up front at all, and I don't blame him. There is no place in Catholic liturgy for a "stage".


Todd said...

I'd take it a step farther. The proper role that needs filling is the psalmist. A decent organist or pianist does not need a person singing into a mic to make good sung liturgy happen.

The progressives have been touting this for ages; it's good to know the conservatives have finally caught on, too.

Brian Michael Page said...

Todd, I'm 50/50 with you on your comment:

"The proper role that needs filling is the psalmist."

Absolutely. As for me, I refuse to sing in those contraptions. And since the Psalm can be sung from the ambo or "other suitable place", we use the "other suitable place" option (er, the back, with the rest of the choir).

"The progressives have been touting this for ages; it's good to know the conservatives have finally caught on, too."

Hmmmm. I found, from my experience anyways, that this was the other way around. One friend of mine, very traditional-minded, has agreed on this for a long time. The divas I've had to work with in the past are the ones who want to put on their own show, take fits if they don't get to sing their own songs (eg, mostly from Glory and Praise and Gather Apprehensive), etc.

Speaking of divas, check out my reply in the Pontifications post about how I deal with prima-donnas. (comment #110-ish)


Anonymous said...

The last time I cantored a Mass, I was roundly criticized for backing off the microphone during the Closing Hymn. I explained why I had done that - whenever I hear the congregation singing along, I gradually back off from the microphone and let them take over. One person told me that whenever the organist does the alternate harmonizations, especially on the last verse, the people are confused, and then they stop singing. My response to that - they sang the same melody for the first three verses, did they forget so quickly for the last? And besides, one would think that the people were not ignorant fools that they cannot sing without someone else's voice floating above the ceiling.

So Brian, do you have any more of those buttons that read, "Back off ..."?

Brian Michael Page said...

My former pastor (the snake from the Roundhouse) used to insist that I use the mic. I hated it.

Those "Back off, let the people sing" buttons --- you can get those through GIA.

I like the "Carpet bedrooms, not churches" one too.