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Andrew Motyka is the Archdiocesan Director of Liturgical Music and Cathedral Music for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
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“…it would be a very praiseworthy thing and the correction would be so easy to make that one could accommodate the chant by gradual changes; and through this it would not lose its original form, since it is only through the binding together of many notes put under short syllables that they become long without any good purpose when it would be sufficient to give one note only.”
— Zarlino (1558) anticipating the Medicæa

Once Upon a Mattress
published 25 December 2013 by Andrew R. Motyka

This post is guest-written by Andrew’s wife Julie, while Andy alters his sleep schedule in anticipation of Midnight Mass.

NDY’S AND MY FIRST CHRISTMAS AS A MARRIED COUPLE WAS IN 2006. The above is our Christmas photo from that year. If any of you music directors or choir members recall 2006, it was a year of the dreaded “Monday Christmas,” not to be seen again until 2017. The parish where Andy was working at that time had four regular Masses every weekend, and five Christmas Masses. Normally, the “folk group” covered the music at one of the Sunday Masses, but decided to give themselves the weekend off that year, resulting in Andy playing for nine Masses in about 40 hours (though there were two priests to take turns).

Because we lived about 45 minutes away from the church, we were invited to spend Christmas Eve at the rectory, a Victorian-style house with the parish offices on the main level and the priests’ quarters on the second floor. We were relegated to the very drafty third floor, where there was a guest bed that probably had not been slept in by anyone since 1967. It was permanently dented in the middle, and Andy and I spent all night sliding into the middle of that bed and trying to roll back out to the more-supportive edges.

Andy (and probably you, too) was worried that I might not have a point to make when I told him I wanted to write about that crappy guest bed for his Christmas blog post. I don’t work in the music field, but I’ve been Andy’s main cheerleader for years, so I have at least a few insights. Being a church music director or a dedicated music volunteer is hard work. Things are not always going to go the way you want or expect, and, if you are anything like Andy, there are going to be times when you feel like like just when you made it to the supportive edge of the bed, something happens, and you sink back down into the dent the middle.

On Christmas Day, when you’re tired after umpteen Masses, or any time when things get discouraging, just remember: you’re not spending your whole life sinking into the hole, even if it feels that way sometimes. Every time you fight your way back out and provide good music at Liturgy, or make a positive change in your parish, or write an informative article, or mentor a budding musician, you are doing something positive for the future of the Church. The fruits of your work may not be immediately apparent, but those of us who are along for the ride appreciate what you do.

So on this non-dreaded Wednesday Christmas, after your last Mass, eat some Christmas goodies and take a nap in a bed that was hopefully manufactured in the twenty-first century. Please don’t worry about whether your cellist was out-of-tune and why no one sang along with “Angels we Have Heard on High.” You did good work today, and the Church appreciates it!