lördag 30 mars 2013

Why I did not go to the Easter Vigil

I have been singing in Catholic choirs since 1976. We always sang at the main festivals such as Midnight Mass, Christmas Day, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, and spent many weeks preparing the music. This consisted mostly of Gregorian chant and some of the easier polyphonic pieces. Apart from a bleak period during the 1990s when the parish priest was an out-and-out philistine, this has been the pattern for over three decades.

Assuming the same would be required this year, I set the time aside and did not take the opportunity I had to go away. But on Good Friday our new choir director, who, since taking over at the start of the year, has never bothered to find out what music the choir are familiar with - they have about 300 years' experience between them - told us that we would not be required for the most important church feast of the year and that the liturgy would consist of congregational singing ie mostly protestant hymns.

Had I attended the liturgy I would have been constantly reminded how much better I have experienced in the past, and how much better it could have been this evening if this musical director had thought to use the talent, experience, enthusiasm and committment at his disposal. Seeing the effects of this remarkable skill at rubbing people up the wrong way would have made me very angry indeed, an unworthy emotion for the most holy day of the year.

I remain at a loss for words. Have I done the wrong thing? Other churches are a long way away, the liturgies began late, the clocks go forwards this weekend and I want to be up in time to get to an Extraordinary Form Mass on Easter Sunday. The latter will be sung properly by a very competent young cantor, whose considerable skills could also be put to better use than singing to a tiny congregation at on out-of-town chapel. It was a miserable way to spend Easter Saturday. The situation in the parish needs to be resolved, and quickly.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor

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