Sunday, March 30, 2008


I won't mention the name of the church I attended Mass at today, for the sake of humiliation. I will tell you it is in the Diocese of Fall River, though less than five minutes from my home (driving) which sits in the Diocese of Providence.

The church itself is a good-looking traditionally built church. Not very big, not very elaborate, but definitely decent-looking. The pews are in a traditional style. There is a choir loft, from which the choir "sang". The choir was accompanied by an "organ".

OK - you're probably wondering why I put the words "sang" and "organ" in quotation marks.

The 9:00 AM Mass I attended was a total freakin' nightmare - ranging from community room entertainment (aka "geriatric glee club" with a borderline tone deaf cantor) to an all-out love fest. Let's start from the beginning.

I arrived about twenty minutes early. You could easily hear the conversation between the music director and the organist (yes, two different people), arguing about the condition of the organ. It turns out that it's one of those so-called "church Hammonds". The only difference between this Hammond and your typical Hammond is that this Hammond uses actual stop tabs instead of drawbars. The sound is still the same - crappy. I've heard better sounding organs in ballparks.

The pew books were the OCP Missal and Music Issue, plus the maroon-cover Gory and Puke. The Gory and Puke, thankfully, wasn't used. But the music selected from the OCP Missal and Music Issue was (on the most part) bad enough. In fact, the only decent selections (despite the fact that they were horribly played) were the Psalm setting and the recessional. NONE of the selections even remotely related with today's Mass.

Here is the order of events that passed for Mass this morning at this church:

In lieu of prelude, the organist practiced his hymn playing.
Entrance hymn was Blest be the Lord (blech!)
The pastor begins Mass by saying that he was in conversation with his sister outside before Mass, when suddenly she told him "hurry up, you're late".
The Gloria was recited, and probably better off. I'd hate to imagine the setting.
The Psalm was the Alstott setting (Give thanks to the Lord for he is good...) from the missalette, which, as it is, is fine. The cantor, however, was borderline tone deaf, missing as many passing tones as possible, not to mention being underneath her notes by AT LEAST a quarter tone.
The Boston Celtics Alleluia was bellowed (big stress on the word "bellowed")
The homily wasn't too bad. I'll give credit where it was due. He did quite well on the Divine Mercy.
The Creed was skipped. :-(
The offertory was Amazing Grace (played with a hacked gospel revival feel), but not before the pastor's big announcement calling for more "eucharistic ministers" (you mean, "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion", Father) and that there was a class for them at a church a couple of towns north, followed by his other big announcement that he recently acquired a "new pet" - a "robot puppy".
Sanctus, Christ Has Died, and Amen were from the St. Louis Jesuits Mass. The "sopranos" that bellowed the descants were way flat, as much as a half step.
The worst of it (IMO) was the rite of peace. After what looked like a typical "offering of the sign of peace", the pastor, accompanied by the choir's bellowing of John Foley's Peace Prayer, went up and down the entire center aisle shaking hands and giving hugs (big Barney-like hugs to the kiddies - scary).
The Communion hymn was One Bread, One Body (blech!)
WHILE purifying the Chalice, the pastor proceeded to crack jokes about coffee and donuts after Mass.
The recessional was Now thank we all our God. Finally, a good solid traditional hymn, though botched up badly by the organist.
The choir geriatric glee club decided to follow that up with their own community room-like rendition of Let there be peas and carrots on earth. So much for a good ending.

Next week's experience will be much better. I guarantee it. Details to follow.


Motherhen said...

Wow, smack dab in the middle of Easter tide and they're singing Amazing Grace. Unbelievable.

Biggest pet peeve, 2000 years of Church history and we are stuck singing the same ole same ole every single week.


DominiSumus said...

That is a scary Mass. You should have come to my parish. ;-) We had coffee and donuts too.

Brian Michael Page said...

Yeah, but I'll bet your boss didn't start cracking jokes about making coffee while he's purifying a chalice. :)

Adrienne said...

Our only bright spot is a priest who does his job well.

Did that church steal our "choir"???

DominiSumus said...

Absolutely not!

What part of it's the Second Sunday of Easter did the music director miss?

Today is the end of the Easter Octave: something we play up at my parish as much as possible. Easter Hymns, lots of Alleluia's, and incense. Ahhhh, I love Easter!

The only thing we didn't do was sing the dismissal, but that's only because my boss can't carry a tune in a bucket.

Mr. C said...

Isn't Fall River on Cape Cod? If so, I may have attended a Sunday Mass there back in '98 or so during the summer. Anyways, my memory of that Mass rings true with your account.
I agree with Domini, what part of 2nd Sunday Easter/DM Sunday did the DM not get? Especially two built in natural reasons to sing "O Filii" and "Adoro te." Yeesh.

Brian Michael Page said...

Charles - nope. Fall River's still a good half/three-quarters of an hour west of the Cape. However, the Cape is a deanery in the Fall River Diocese.

Yeah, that parish appears to be totally clueless when it comes to putting together a decent liturgy. I guess comic monologues and geriatric glee club music is the rule there.

Argent said...

Ahhhhhh, no! Just seeing the title "One Bread" has got the ditty stuck in my brain. Curses!