Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

On Sunday, I actually went to church. A Catholic church. There was incense and everything.

You see, a friend of mine found this Catholic parish in Chicago that actually performs really good music.

By “really good music” I mean none of that guitar mass insanity or songs from that horrible Catholic songbook called “Gather” -- Horrid, treacley songs like On Eagles Wings that make breakfast suddenly rise in my throat.


By “really good music”, I mean four-part choral works in Latin composed no later than 1600, like God intended.

So, I went to check it out on Sunday. This church has a Mass in Latin at 11:00 and a “Tridentine” Mass at 12:30, also in Latin. I opted for the Tridentine Mass just because I’d been to only one before in my whole life.

For those of you who are wondering what a Tridentine Mass is, (and I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats), it’s the Mass that they used to do back before the Vatican reform in 1965 (Vatican II). It’s the old rite -- the one where the priest has his back to the congregation while little old ladies in head shawls finger their rosaries.

There’s not a lot of audience participation in the Tridentine rite. Hardly any at all. Every once and a while, the priest sings “Dominus vobiscum” (The lord be with you) and everyone chants “Et cum spiritu tuo.” (And with your spirit). But that’s about it.

There were lots of altar boys doing their altar-choreography. No alter girls at all, no siree. These were all clean-cut adolescent Caucasian boys and lots of them. It was sort of creepy.

There were two choirs on hand during the service. One was all men, singing the parts of the Mass in Gregorian chant. The other was a 16 voice mixed chorus singing lots of Palestrina. God was pleased, I could tell.

There was a recessional hymn at the end with a rousing pipe organ accompanying it. Finally, a chance for the congregation to sing.

But, typical of folks attending a Tridentine mass, none of them sang. Those attendees seldom do – they’re there to let the priest do all the work and then get besmudged with incense. For them, Vatican II is just a vicious rumor.

Now, having been raised a Protestant, I was appalled that no one was singing. Martin Luther would have been rolling over in his grave.

If they wanted to stand there like a gum drop, fine. But I sure wasn’t going to let their apathy keep me from making a joyful noise.

During the third line of the hymn, the melody rose to some higher notes and I was just letting loose with the inner-tenor in me.

Right then, this little kid in front of me spun around and just stared at me. I really wanted to lean over and hiss at him, “It’s called SINGING, you little urchin. And your mommie and daddy are going straight to hell if they don’t start piping up!”

Anyway, I called the choir director yesterday and I’ll be auditioning for two of the choirs this evening.
It looks like I’m back in the saddle. . .


At 10:49 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

That's very cool. Although I could never handle the pre-VII mass...I'm too used to participatin' and not getting stared at for doing so. Of course, I also go to a church with killer music and nary a "Gather" hymnal in sight.

At 11:35 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Lorraine: You're right. The Cathedral has THE best liturgy in the whole wide world. It makes me weep, so I could never sing in the choir there.

At 6:11 PM , Blogger Pati Mc said...

Bring on the Gregorian anything! I adore it.(And he Latin too for that matter).

So, a fellow Luterhan, perhaps Buck? Guess what? I also sing in the choir. Go figure. Alto II and Tenor I. Yes, aa girl that can sing tenor. Scary isn't it? Eh, I used to smoke.

Y'all are making me wish I lived closer to the windy city. Sounds like a happening Cathedral. =)

At 7:17 PM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Pati: How can I find your blog? I didn't see it when I tried to link to you>

At 10:16 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

I think it's wonderful that this beautiful church service inspired you to want to tell a kid that his mommie and daddy are going straight to hell if they don't "pipe up!" LOL! :)

At 10:42 PM , Blogger Pati Mc said...

Buck - I do not have a blog of my own. I am on Facebook and maybe somehow I can get you my email address without publishing it here? Let me know. =)

At 11:46 AM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Pati - you can click on "View My Complete Profile" and you'll see a link where you can email me.

I hope to hear from you soon!

At 11:48 AM , Blogger Br. Jonathan said...

Pati - Thank goodness for you gals willing to sing Tenor I, as that section is always lacking.

BTW - I was raised Southern Baptist. My daddy was a preacher.
And I used to smoke too.

At 4:28 PM , Blogger Kyle said...

My hero.

I had this experience at a liberal baptist youth camp last year when I was helping a pastor friend as adult chaperon.

The bitching at people for not singing part.

Not the incense part.


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