HE CHOIRMASTER does so many things only another choirmaster could appreciate. So much “hidden” work is required for the music on Sunday to be worthy—or, at least, as worthy as we can make it. When I am setting up fifty chairs, carrying heavy items up and down stairs, or spending hours sorting choir binders, I remember the words of Richard J. Clark: “Every technical detail and every rehearsal is a prayer.”
Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923) was a priest who truly appreciated the details of what we do, as you can see:
* * PDF • THE ORGANIST AT SUNG MASS
Learn about this book’s provenance by clicking here and scrolling to the summary by Fr. Aidan Nichols. 1
In the 1990s, Fr. Valentine Young always encouraged the organist to play the recessional melody softly during the LAST GOSPEL—and we always do that here in Los Angeles. I once received a nasty email from someone claiming to be an “expert” in Sacred music (whatever that means!) declaring it was utterly forbidden to play during the Last Gospel and “there is absolutely no precedent for this.” He failed to realize that much of what we do as choirmasters is not written down; it’s a living tradition.
For the record, notice that Fr. Fortescue agrees with Fr. Valentine:
What Fr. Fortescue says about the Offertory is 100% accurate, but nowadays the Communion time is even more nerve-racking than the Offertory. That’s because depending upon the number of priests, it could last five minutes or twenty minutes. This was only beginning in the time of Fr. Fortescue, though. Until the reign of Pope St. Pius X, the priest alone usually received Holy Communion.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 These pages are courtesy of Maestro Charles Cole, as the linked article explains.