...and letting the wrong people put on a show
Very good post by Domini Sumus.
Yes, it is nice when family members can perform certain functions during the Mass, but I don't understand the obsession families have with getting everyone involved. Especially when they are putting them in roles where they are unprepared and unqualified. Personally, I am tired of funerals where "my sister's friend's daughter's friend's cousin with a really nice voice" comes to sing. Usually the person doesn't have a nice voice and many times they can barely sing on key. In addition, they seldom know the hymns and sometimes ask me to teach it to them. Add to that the "singers" who are close family members such as grandchildren who start crying in the middle of the hymn and it's a recipe for disaster. (emphasis mine)
Exactly. Not to mention the ones that have to stop for a sniffle break (or to find a tissue) every three seconds when doing the readings or the ever-forbidden eulogy (forbidden by the Church but allowed by many pastors just the same). Yes, funerals are a sad occasion. But let someone with a little thicker skin do these things.
As for singing, I once had a "supposedly trained" soprano at one funeral I had to play. 1 - She was loud, even louder than me, and I have a loud voice; 2 - Her vibrato was so heavy that I really thought she was doing a whole hymn crying (yeah, keep going, this is a take), yet there were no tears or use of a tissue. Even the pastor thought it was horrible.
Another good point Domini Sumus brings up is having to teach the stuff. Best bet is to let the singer sing the one or two songs that he/she was requested to sing (if those songs are even appropriate - if they're not appropriate, don't allow it, period) and insist that the real professional (the parish musicians(s)) handle the rest him/her-self, especially the sung Mass. Many soloists would come in and know only Mass of Creation. At my last parish, we never did Mass of Creation. At another parish, I used it periodically for one year and successfully phased it out. No one even noticed. So I would say, "let me handle the Mass music." The sung Mass would land up being either the People's/Danish combo, Community Mass, Mass of the Bells, or the Jubilate Deo set in Latin (I say it this way because there are some adaptations out there to Jubilate Deo using the English texts too).
And let me add a point of my own to DS's post:
Have you ever heard this excuse? "They're very good Catholic people". Yup - I had heard one pastor (two parishes ago) use that excuse to allow requests in for some really bad music. Yeah, they may be good Catholic people, but should that really excuse them to let a good Mass go bad, or should we teach these "good Catholic people" to do the right thing? The REAL "good Catholic people" would want to learn, I'm sure. A couple of minutes is all it takes. Spend the time.
DS rightly points out also that the role of the person in the pew (thus the post title, finally) is just as important as the role of the musicians, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, server, etc.