Wednesday, July 30, 2008


by the NLM's own Jeffrey Tucker

Now that I'm back, I can post more. For some, that may be good news. For others, that may be bad.

Anyhoo, while playing catch-up, I caught an excellent Wanderer article which Jeffrey Tucker wrote and posted in the NLM blog. Check out especially the last paragraph - a youth Mass the way it SHOULD happen.

I for one have always said that today's junior choir is tomorrow's senior choir. Today's youth Mass is tomorrow's adult Mass. After all, the kids need to learn how to worship so that when (and even before) they're adults they'll "get it". Teach them right.

I made my first Communion in first grade, in a class that had first and second graders mixed together, in a Catholic school that closed for good after my first grade year. The Ordinary Form, as we know it today, was still very young (the year was 1971). We were expected to learn ALL the people's prayers and responses of the Mass. Where there are options, we had to learn the "A" option (i.e., the Confiteor of the Penitential Rite, Christ Has Died). Watching my kids through CCD over the years - none of that is taught. In lieu of the Rosary, they learned this "Fiat" rosary, which truncates much of the real Rosary. The only things they were expected to know was how to process, where to sit, and a few crappy songs. Incidentally, we had to learn crappy songs for our first Communion Mass too (Sons of God, Take Our Bread, We Are Your Flesh Now, and get this - Turn, Turn, Turn - I liked it on the radio, but at Mass? Even a six-year-old knew better!).

At our Confirmation rehearsals (yeah, we're fast forwarding to 1979), guess what we had to learn: Abba Father, Peace is Flowing Like a River, and similar Carey Landry dreck. Not many sang, and the CCD powers that be were getting pissed. Thankfully, at Mass, they also at least programmed Come, Holy Ghost and Faith of Our Fathers, two standard well-known hymns. We didn't get to do these at the rehearsals, of course. Guess which ones the congregation boldly sang at Mass...

Then we get to a parish in Warwick (not the parish I normally dub "The Roundhouse", but about seven years before that - this parish church was more of a "Squarehouse" or "Boxhouse" with similar style seating as "The Roundhouse"). This is the 1997-1998 choir season we're talking about here. Anyhoo, while I directed the senior choir, the junior choir had their own director (about my age - I was in my early-mid 30's then), which happened to also be an alto in the senior choir. So, while trying to get good solid Catholic music into the throats of our senior choir, guess what got forced down the throats of the junior choir: Not so much Carey Landry. But let's see... Marty Haugen, Amy Grant, Christopher Walker ("We are the Church, happy to be God's children in one family" is a perfect example of the liturgical terrorist intelligence I had to experience), and whatever the director could get from Integrity Music. What the hell are these kids going to sing when they've grown some? I can imagine!

May the Australian youth Mass that Jeffrey Tucker mentioned be an example of what a youth Mass is supposed to be, and not just a suggestion!


1 comment:

DJL said...

This really interests me. I just finished teaching music for three week-long sessions of CCD camp (can Catholics call it Vacation Bible Camp?!) This year's theme was the Creed, and Pastor finished each session with a teaching Mass on Friday. Since this is all the Religious Ed. these kids get for the year (and let's face it, many of them are CAPE Mass goers at best) I decided to teach them the music for a typical Mass. Here's what I used:

E: "We Believe" - Carey Landry, I think. The RE coordinator had picked it as the "theme song" for the week.
Psalm: of the day
Celtic Alleluia (pastor's favorite...)
O: "Salve Regina" - each year, I try to teach them SOMETHING in Latin. (We've done "O Salutaris Hostia", "Tantum Ergo" and "Pange Lingua" the past few). I only have one week with each class so I write it out phonetically, and every year they nail it. They're proud to have mastered something difficult.
Holy, Chris Has Died: People's Mass
Amen: Danish
Lord's Prayer: I wrote a setting years ago that we use at Mass each week.
C: "I Am The Resurrection" - Ray Repp. I know, I know...
R: "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee"

My point: in five classes, I went through a (mostly) appropriate Mass and had these kids singing at the top of their lungs. It doesn't have to be dumbed down, and I can tell you that I really hear the difference in the parts of the Mass on Sunday.

Caveat: I played guitar the whole time (which I know is borderline anathema here) but being able to move around during class is a necessity when you've got over fifty squirming kids in front of you!