Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let the People Find Their Voice

A beautiful message appeared on the
Many years ago GIA had buttons that said "Let the people sing!" meaning turn off the microphones and don't carpet the Church buildings.
I have introduced the SEP for Communion and Offertory now for about 6 months. After Easter season, I shut down the organ and use it only for the Entrance (cough, cough) hymn and the closing hymn. I decided to sing the Responsorial Psalm acapella, (I have been using the Chabenal Psalms), the Gospel acclamation, Kyrie, Gloria (in English) Holy, Mystery of Faith, Lamb of God and the Appropriate Seasonal Marian antiphon without benefit of organ. If the priest sings the doxology we answer him in like kind, if he speaks it, we create a unity with him and proclaim in speech the Amen.

After quietly doing this for almost a half a year (with some exceptions) I am finally hearing the people's voice, AND it is their voice. I don't have "lead through the microphone" the response the Great Amen, or the Alleluia. The people know. Little by little they are discovering that they can sing as one voice where they are. As a people, we have become consumers of music through electronic devices and function more as voyeurs than participants. I see this in my students as young as Kindergarten sometimes.

When the Fall season begins and we look towards the changes, especially for the people, I am going to approach my pastor and ask that all the dialogs be sung, "the Lord be with you" the doxology, the sign of the Cross. I intuitively think that as we move slowly and gently through this change from being held hostage to meter and major and minor, and loud blaring artificially generated and amplified sound that as a congregation we are beginning to "miss" the dialog portions being sung which are ours to respond back.

I think that most people are afraid of the sound of their own natural voices, especially in Church and part of my job is to restore what has been devoured and taken from them in the process of the last 50 plus years. It is very gratifying to be part of a singing humble congregation where I don't force my expertise but lead by example, or so I hope.

I think that by Advent some of my masses will sung in just this way. It isn't grand and glorious, but it is reverent, simple and intimate.
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