Saturday, 9 August 2008

Early Warning Time

You may think it a little premature to be thinking of Christmas. To you, as it does to me, the Nativity probably seems a long way away. That's because it is.

However, if like me you are at least semi-literate in music and enjoy Christmas music and liturgy, you are probably already wondering how things are going to be done in your parish. The state of Catholic church music in the UK (and outside of Westminster) is (as a general rule) appalling. Few parishes have regular, decent choirs. Even fewer have a proper organ. Only the tiniest minority will be able to sing carols properly: descants, harmonies... ie the way they were written.

If you want your parish to be different, you must act NOW!
If you need to bring in an organist, you should be approaching one now.

If you want a choir, you should be selecting music now.

If you want to move people with beautiful liturgy, you should be planning now.
If you need to form a choir for the occasion, you should have assembled volunteers and sheet music by Holy Cross day. Try to keep it simple if this is the first time your parish has experimented with four part harmonies etc. Stick to traditional carols; there are likely to be members of the congregation who can be moved to remember that tenor line they sang at school, or the descant they used to sing at St. So-and-so's.

Now a word for priests, MCs, liturgy committees, and anyone else interested.

Christmas liturgy should be unashamedly theatrical. Candlelight is a must for a dramatic Midnight Mass. A young child singing a soprano solo will eliminate any Grinch-like tendencies amongst Scrooge-ist parishioners. Perhaps more importantly, the involvement of a school or youth choir will bring in parents and relatives, giving the Church a chance to speak to those who mightn't usually turn up on the average Sunday morning.

So this is just a friendly reminder. Christmas is something that sticks in people's minds. Perhaps, years from now, a fallen away Christian will remember Father Whatsisname's Midnight Mass '08, the way the choir sang, the deep music of a pipe organ, an eloquent homily... it will all come flooding back, and the spiritual life of such a person will re-awaken.

Don't waste Christmas.

Plan ahead!


Jackie Parkes said...

Do you mind adding my blog to your links?

Augustine said...

Of course not, I thought I already had...