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CNP Feedback - Properly Done

Q. Dear CNP:

I have been checking out your site and products for several months now. I am an organist / choir director at a small Catholic church. I work in tandem with a music minister in selecting hymns. That individual and our pastor are very "progressive."

For Lent, I am using the Propers for Lent as found in your catalogue for the Introit and Communion at select Masses with the choir. Your site has given me other ideas as well for reintroducing Latin and chant on a more regular basis.

Given my situation, as outlined above, what suggestions might you have that I might further this work, and return our parish to a more orthodox form of worship?

D. Rite Text

A. Dear Mr. Text:

I can only say, "Good work!" on your efforts to bring a snatch of the "Propers" to your parish. Anyone who can read (including your pastor and music minister) must know that these texts for Introit and Communion are what the Church wants us to be praying in the liturgy.

When you choose to sing the Proper text at Introit or Communion, no one (meaning no one) can object. Anything else that might be chosen has the possibility of error, or distortion, or agenda-laden politics. The Proper text, just like the Glory to God or the Creed or the readings, is handed directly to us by the Church — there is no possibility of misjudgment. Be consoled by this, and try, with patience and tact, to explain it to the pastor and other musicians.

Whatever you choose to do musically, work slowly. Too much (even of a good thing) will only shock the congregation. Be sure that the performance of the Propers is impeccable — rehearse aplenty. Even if the congregation is not involved (for example, at other Masses), you might have some children from the school or kids choir chant the Communion Proper & psalm verses at Communion time, before or after the hymn. A small group from the adult choir might do the same. Or (if you're comfortable with your voice), you could chant the music — these CNP Propers work equally well without accompaniment.

Be patient. Endure any negative comments politely. Enjoy the positive comments — and recycle these comments in some form so the congregation and the pastor get to hear them, too.

If your pastor is unwilling to teach about the Propers (which seems likely), then find another avenue for instruction. Is there a bulletin or liturgy sheet in which you could write an article about what the Propers are? (People generally have no idea). Feel free to quote or reprint anything from our Musical Musings articles.

In general — work slowly, be patient... and pray a lot. After 40+ years of singing hymns and ditties at Mass, this change will perhaps be awkward and troublesome. As the new Mass texts are introduced in Advent, you might put together a schedule of how and when the Propers themselves can be sung. I know a parish that alternates a chanted proper Introit (like the CNP version) week by week with a metrical hymn based on the proper text. The congregation gets to sing some hymn tunes they know (ever other week), but always the text is what the Church gives us.

Some articles of interest:

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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