HE CATHOLIC FAITH is very much a “both and” type of thing. It’s usually not an “either or” type of thing. For example, our Redeemer said (Luke 6): “Blessed are ye that hunger.” Yet, we also know that feeding the hungry is one of the CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY. The conscientious choirmaster is very familiar with the “both and” concept. For example, on one hand it’s true that the sacred liturgy is something given to us; it’s not something to be fabricated by us on a weekly basis. After each Mass, we don’t take a poll asking members of the congregation whether the music gave them pleasure. That’s all true.
Other Side of the Coin • On the other hand, I believe that sacred music—even if it’s very simple—should be performed well. It should exhibit a certain excellence. It should be a source of delight for the congregation. In other words, if your priest approaches you after Mass and says the music sounded horrible, it’s incorrect to reply: “Well, that’s how it’s supposed to be.” Indeed, a major problem these days is music directors—even those who consider themselves experts—who cannot tell whether music sounds good.
Tricks of the Trade • Like many of you, I choose repertoire for my choir with great care. Let me share with you a trick I have learned along the way. I always try to balance selections which are melancholy (“sad”) with selections that are bright (“happy”). If 100% of the repertoire you choose for Mass is mournful, the people might complain—and they would not be wrong!
For instance, the Introit last Sunday was rather melancholy (“sad”):
So I made sure to balance it with other selections which were acutely bright (“happy”). Here’s one example:
M To access this hymn’s media in the Brébeuf Portal, click here.