January 28, 2022 – Pastor’s Note

English

It has been six months since we talked about a new approach to singing at our parish, and I thought this might be a good time to revisit some of those ideas and to explain why music looks like it does right now.

First, in case you missed it, I laid out much of my vision for music at our parish in a homily and a letter from last July. Unfortunately, after only five or six weeks of trying to implement this vision, the COVID Delta variant became rampant and we had to shut down congregational singing again (something I addressed in this homily). Which has left things very confused. Are we doing something because of COVID, or because of a new approach to music, or what? Allow me to help!

Part of the Vision

There are a few things happening now which are supposed to be happening, and which will remain even after COVID. Those things are (1) the new hymnal, (2) the chanted Sunday Mass, and (3) the chanted antiphons after the opening hymn and before the communion hymn. I put so much effort into the letter about the new hymnal in July, I only realized later than I did not do enough explanation about the chanted Mass. To that end, I have now published a full explanation of my reasoning.

Though I believe both are the right thing to do, if I could do things again, I would introduce the new hymnal and the chanted Mass at different times, rather than together. It was too much at the same time. I did things on that timeline because I was hyper-focused on the end of the COVID restrictions (which we all thought was happening last July) and wanted to reintroduce liturgical singing according to the new model, rather than reintroduce the old model just to change it again in six months. But the universe had other plans, Delta shut everything down in September, and my best laid plans were completely undermined.

COVID Restrictions

The current Archdiocesan policy on singing is:

  • Parishes may bring back as many cantors that fit safely 6-9 feet part. All must wear masks.
  • Congregations may respond in song to the Alleluia and Responsorial Psalms and chanted dialogue parts of the Mass (ie, “The Lord be with you…. and with your spirit”).
  • Multi-verse congregational signing during the Mass is strongly discouraged, as singing has been proven to spread the coronavirus.


It is for these reasons that we do not sing hymns, the Gloria, or the Our Father. But as soon as we are able, we will bring back congregational singing.

Given these restrictions, we have gotten questions about how BCC was able to perform in our church. The short version is that outside groups are allowed to be responsible for their own COVID procedures, while church groups must follow the Archdiocese.

Choirs

Theoretically, we could bring back some form of choir, as long as all the members are 6 – 9 feet apart. We had plans to do so before the Delta variant. However, we are not sure this would be worth it without the full choir. In addition, Dr. Mabalot is conscientious about the needs of our choir members and has been very deliberate about communicating with them about their comfort level regarding COVID and singing. Given the current context, none of us believe that this is the right time to bring back our choir. We will, of course, keep the conversation open so that we are ready when the timing does feel right.

Music Selection

In my letter about the new hymnal, I mentioned my desire to integrate some old hymns with the new, to make the transition less jarring. Unfortunately, two factors have so far frustrated that desire. The first is that the extension of COVID with the Delta and Omicron variants has necessitated that we continue streaming the Mass, something that prevents us from using OCP songs without an expensive license. We could include OCP songs at our non-streamed Masses, but that requires Dr. Mabalot to prepare three sets of Mass music (English non-streaming, English streaming, and Spanish), and that is more than I am willing to ask him to do. Second, the problem with songs that everyone knows is that they are far more tempted to sing those songs (something we saw when we used well-known Christmas hymns last month). With the prohibition on congregational singing, it did not seem the right time to use well-known hymns. Instead, when congregational singing got shut down again last September, Dr. Mabalot and I agreed that we should use the opportunity to use hymns from the new hymnal exclusively, so that there was a greater comfort level in the congregation with these hymns by the time we were ready to sing them together. Nearly every hymn played since September has been from the new hymnal.

Looking to the Future

Other than the drastic change in our experience of Mass that will come with the return of congregational singing and choirs, we have reached a fairly stable place in our liturgical music, and I have no major changes planned for the rest of my time at Assumption, however long that may be. These smaller items are all that is currently on my radar:

  1. Figuring out what the rotation and frequency of OCP hymns will look like over the next year, particularly once the choir returns.
  2. I have been conversing with a group about what it would look like to have more opportunities to sing contemporary Christian music at the parish (think Praise 106.5). I am still undecided about what this might look like, but step one is finding someone capable of singing these songs according to the principles I laid out in my letter last July (low instrumentation, non-dominant cantor). If you have any leads, let us know.
  3. At some point, we will want to introduce the chanted Gloria (text, audio) and Our Father (text, audio).
  4. Solidifying when to use cantors and when to mic them. Generally, cantors would only be mic’d when they are singing alone (the antiphons and the verses for the responsorial psalm). We likely will not even need cantors (mic’d or otherwise) for the hymns if all goes according to plan. However, there is the matter of teaching new hymns, which could require a mic’d cantor the first few times, and that will require some experimentation to get right.

Español

Han pasado seis meses desde que hablamos sobre un nuevo enfoque para cantar en nuestra parroquia, y pensé que este podría ser un buen momento para revisar algunas de esas ideas y explicar por qué la música se ve como se ve ahora.

Primero, en caso de que se lo haya perdido, expuse gran parte de mi visión de la música en nuestra parroquia en una homilía y una carta [ingles solo] de julio pasado. Desafortunadamente, después de solo cinco o seis semanas de intentar implementar esta visión, la variante Delta de COVID se volvió rampante y tuvimos que cerrar el canto congregacional nuevamente (algo que abordé en esta homilía). Lo que ha dejado las cosas muy confusas. ¿Estamos haciendo algo por COVID, o por un nuevo enfoque de la música, o qué? ¡Permíteme ayudarte!

Parte de la Visión

Están sucediendo algunas cosas ahora que se supone que deberían estar sucediendo y que permanecerán incluso después de COVID. Esas cosas son (1) el nuevo himnario, (2) la Misa dominical cantada y (3) las antífonas cantadas después del himno de apertura y antes del himno de comunión. Me esforcé tanto en la carta sobre el nuevo himnario en julio que me di cuenta más tarde de que no había explicado lo suficiente sobre la Misa cantada. Con ese fin, he publicado ahora una explicación completa de mi razonamiento [ingles solo].

Aunque creo que ambos son lo correcto, si pudiera hacer las cosas de nuevo, presentaría el nuevo himnario y la Misa cantada en diferentes momentos, en lugar de hacerlo juntos. Era demasiado al mismo tiempo. Hice cosas en esa línea de tiempo porque estaba hiperenfocado en el final de las restricciones de COVID (que todos pensamos que estaba sucediendo en julio pasado) y quería reintroducir el canto litúrgico de acuerdo con el nuevo modelo, en lugar de reintroducir el modelo anterior solo para cambiar de nuevo en seis meses. Pero el universo tenía otros planes, Delta cerró todo en septiembre y mis mejores planes se vieron completamente socavados.

Restricciones por COVID

La política actual de la Arquidiócesis sobre el canto es:

  • Las parroquias pueden traer tantos cantores que se ajusten con seguridad a una distancia de 6 a 9 pies. Todos deben usar máscaras.
  • Las congregaciones pueden responder con cantos al Aleluya y los Salmos Responsoriales y cantar partes del diálogo de la Misa (es decir, “El Señor esté con ustedes… y con tu espíritu”).
  • Se desaconseja encarecidamente el canto congregacional de varios versos durante la Misa, ya que se ha demostrado que el canto propaga el coronavirus.


Es por eso que no cantamos himnos, ni el Gloria, ni el Padre Nuestro. Pero tan pronto como podamos, traeremos de vuelta el canto congregacional.

Consideraciones específicas de nuestra comunidad hispana

Por el momento, no tenemos coro debido al COVID. Sin embargo, cuando recuperemos el coro, será diferente de lo que era antes de COVID. Cuando cantamos en Misa, el enfoque es principalmente las voces de la congregación y nuestra capacidad de sentirnos unidos cantando juntos. Los coros que usan muchos instrumentos a menudo disuaden a las personas de cantar, porque los instrumentos son demasiado fuertes para que las personas se escuchen cantar entre sí. Además, la mayoría de los himnos que están disponibles en español son difíciles de cantar para las personas de todos modos.

Así que ahora mismo no sabemos qué hacer. Es difícil encontrar himnos que sean apropiados para la iglesia (en el sentido de que no suenan como la radio y son fáciles de cantar juntos), porque existían pocos himnos en español antes de la década de 1970. Estamos tratando de usar salmos responsoriales para los himnos de entrada y comunión (ya que esto es lo que la Iglesia prefiere que hagamos de todos modos), pero veremos cómo va esto.

De todos modos, nuestra comunidad no es muy buena cantando juntos, a juzgar por las respuestas de la misa cantada, así que tal vez debamos centrarnos en aprender a cantar juntos antes de centrarnos en los coros.

Mirando hacia el futuro

Aparte del cambio drástico en nuestra experiencia de la Misa que vendrá con el regreso del canto congregacional y los coros, hemos llegado a un lugar bastante estable en nuestra música litúrgica, y no tengo grandes cambios planeados para el resto de mi tiempo en la Asunción, por muy largo que sea. Estos artículos más pequeños son todo lo que está actualmente en mi radar:

  1. Averiguar cómo será la rotación y la frecuencia de los himnos de OCP durante el próximo año, particularmente una vez que regrese el coro.
  2. En algún momento querremos introducir el Gloria cantado (audio) y el Padrenuestro cantado (texto y audio).
  3. Solidificar cuándo usar cantores y cuándo microfonearlos. En general, los cantores solo usarían el micrófono cuando cantan solos (las antífonas y los versos del salmo responsorial). Sin embargo, está la cuestión de enseñar nuevos himnos, lo que podría requerir un cantor con micrófono las primeras veces, y eso requerirá algo de experimentación para hacerlo bien.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s