March 16, 2008

Gratuitous Swimming the Tiber Posting

It suddenly dawned on me this morning that today was the last time I'd ever participate in an Episcopal Communion. Whoa.

I've been doubling up on Sunday services for some time now, going with the family for the nine o'clock at my old church, and meanwhile attending Mass on my own either before or after. I must say that it works out quite well, and I really haven't felt this arrangement to be at all burdensome.

For the most part, I've been hitting the 7:30 Mass. Advantages: there are no kids, so one can actually concentrate. Disadvantages: no musick, and I'm usually the youngest one in the congregation by about sixty years. But when the middle Llama-ette's youth choir is performing at her service, I have to get her there a bit early, which means I have to wait until later to get to Mass. In that case, I've been going to the 10:30. Advantages: musick and hymns, and one doesn't have the sense of being hustled through. Disadvantages: a sea of small and very loud children. I had a pair in front of me this morning who got progressively noisier and more squirmy to the point where I found myself meditating strangling one or both with my palm frond.

I haven't really decided what to do about this, if anything. I may just continue to flip back and forth as the mood and circumstances dictate. Another possibility is skipping both the 7:30 and the 10:30, sticking around at my old church for social hour and then catching the noon Latin Mass. The option of attending the early Saturday evening service has no appeal to me whatever.

I noted that the 10:30 Mass has musick, but I should also reiterate my opinion that it is largely thrown away on my new flock. I've heard plenty of horror stories about what kind of hymns get served up in a lot of RC parishes these days (indeed, Mrs. LMC, who came to visit this weekend, mentioned that theirs employs bongos), but week after week this lot is treated to the choicest of Old School hymnody, yet sit there practically in silence when invited to sing along. To give but one example, this morning being Palm Sunday, we got "All Glory, Laud and Honor". This is an old favorite of mine and - momentarily forgetting where I was - I duly snapped into my standard church voice, only to discover after about a line and a half that I was easily the loudest singer within ten or twelve people in any given direction. And although I couldn't prove it, I got the distinct impression that everyone in my immediate area was looking at me in surprise, tainted perhaps with indignation and even hostility.

The Eleventh Commandment for me has always been "Thou Shalt Not Make A Fool Of Thyself In Public", so it was pretty tough to keep going. I hope that I won't be beaten down by the forces of social pressure so that I am eventually assimilated into the Mumblers' Collective. On the other hand, who knows? Perhaps once I've settled in I'll take it upon myself to teach these people a thing or two about hymn-singing. New blood and all that. In any event, as I plan to continue going to the other service with the Missus and the Llama-ettes, I will at least have one outlet in which I can sing to my heart's content.

Posted by Robert at March 16, 2008 02:50 PM | TrackBack

At least you have your pick; Husband and I are still so shell shocked over the mess at the church we just left that we're spending Sunday mornings curled up in fear of looking for a new church.

And I just wail away to my worship CD's.

Posted by: GroovyVic at March 16, 2008 03:35 PM

I just recently heard that what GrovyVic describes is called "Bedside Assembly". When a friend who's chosen to leave TEC said that's where they tried that week, I asked where it was, as I hadn't heard of it...then got the full definition. Felt every blonde hair I have. ;-)

While we don't feel swimming the Tiber is a sport we would enjoy, we find we are watching the Mass on TV more.

Posted by: JB in Florida at March 16, 2008 05:19 PM

That's a good old hymn; anything in which the lyrics are a translation of an original Latin version that is pre-9th century and the music is from the old Munich Gesangbuch is a guaranteed winner. And whenever you see J.M. Neale as the translator you know you're getting a good translation of something ancient. It was at our church today, too, which makes me think that there is beginning to be something of a common musical revolution in the church, at least during Lent and Easter.

We have an organist at my church who really understands music, too -- and the organ we have is less than 5 years old; modern, digital, etc. it can reproduce the hoary old sounds needed as if it was made in the 16th century.

As for singing, our church has been singing the Agnus Dei in Latin after the consecration. I sing it loud enough to make up for the deficit around me. I have a good singing voice but a range of about 5 notes; it's taken me 43 years to realize what I was given it for.

Compare the note range of "All Glory, Laud and Honor" to something modern like "On Eagle's Wings" (which goes up and down almost two octaves) and you'll soon reealize a paradox -- ancient church music was written for people with little or no range (most of us), while modern church music was written for the performers. So to bring music back to the people, guess what we need -- more old hymns.

Posted by: The Abbot at March 16, 2008 05:23 PM

Please don't stop singing! I am tone deaf and cannot sing at all...I love to be surrounded at church by those who can, and do.

Posted by: old school lady at March 16, 2008 06:02 PM

I'll see your "Glory, Laud and Honor" and raise you ten bells. Yep, we started with a rousing choral Fanfare for Palm Sunday, then we all (the choir) rang handbells to accompany aforementioned opening hymn. It was very nice. We then proceed to serve up both "Behold the Lamb of God" and "Surely He hath Borne our Griefs" from Messiah. We added some plainsong mass parts, and our best gal did "Pie Jesu" from Faure's Requiem Mass, which I've never heard. It was lovely. This church hasn't seen ANYTHING like this EVER. It's still so soaked in the 70's pop hymns; I'm so thrilled things are changing, and people are loving it (or so they say.) Keep singing, Robbo, and you will be especially in my thoughts during this Holy Week. Can I say "Break a leg?"

Posted by: Monica at March 16, 2008 09:11 PM

Going to a lovely mass or service is great, but sitting through a mass offering your frustration as a prayer is probably more valuable to growing into spiritual maturity....

Say a prayer to ST. Therese, who had to put up with a nun who jangled her rosary during silent prayer time...she'll understand.

As for me, I figure about ten percent of all the masses I attended fed me spiritually. So I can sympathize.

Posted by: tioedong at March 17, 2008 07:22 AM

For reasons still unclear to me, my (TEC) church decided to reserve the Processional part of the Palm Sunday service to the choir. The choir gets to Process every Sunday, but at least they sang All Glory, Laud and Honor. The three wigglers with me had been told by various people to expect a walk, a march, a parade, and even a hike, so they were really anxious to be out of the pews. Very difficult to make it through the Passion and a sermon when you were counting on a walk to burn off some energy and ditch the left-over snack crumbs from Sunday School that were supposed to be gone before church actually started.

What a change from my yout' at the same church when on one very memorable Palm Sunday, someone provided a donkey to be in the processional.

Posted by: AKL at March 17, 2008 07:05 PM