OME TIME AGO, I wrote an article which pointed out that a diversity of opinion exists regarding whether choir members should be paid to sing at Mass. I noted that some of my good friends employ paid singers while others do not. There are advantages and disadvantages to either scenario. I explained that my preference is to recruit singers from the congregation and teach them the traditional music of the church. I also mentioned that—in my experience—when church singers are paid, it can sometimes (not always) be difficult to know if they are attending Mass for the right reasons, which can potentially be problematic.
I received several nasty emails from people who failed to carefully read my article. One accused me of “condemning the practice of paid singers.” (I did no such thing.) Another told me forcefully I had no right to share with others my experiences.
I WAS RECENTLY SENT this “live” recording of a composition by Sean McDermott. It was sung by a church choir with twenty-four paid singers! I find the performance quite beautiful—especially around the 1:30 mark—and it certainly does demonstrate the advantages of paid church singers:
Here’s what Mr. McDermott has written about his piece:
Virgo Dei Genitrix is an SATB (div.) setting that I wrote specifically for the Choir of St. James Episcopal, Los Angeles, where James Buonemani is choirmaster. It is noticeably French in style, whose opening salvo is stated by Tenors and Basses in four parts. It is intended to be sung within the context of the Mass and is an appropriate and accessible motet for any Marian feast day.
Learn more at the website of Sean McDermott.