Saturday, August 19, 2006

Liturgists are crazy.

I guess not all liturgists are crazy, some of them are are good. A good liturgist and a good pastoral musician are a magic combination that you don't want to mess with, like a bass player and a drummer, or a real estate person and a mortgage person.

I got plenty of 'crazy liturgist' stories, of course, but my heart's not into tellin' 'em right now. Just a few choice nuggets of wisdom I want you to know.

1) If a song is running long, get the musician's eye contact and then either tap your watch, or hold up a closed fist, which is the musician's sign for 'end it.' The musician will end at the next convenient spot; i.e., not go on to an additional verse or repeat. DO NOT give the "slit throat" sign. "Slit throat" means "stop playing immediately," and is only appropriate if, say, there is a medical emergency in the congregation, or the song is somehow unexpectedly and grossly offensive. Doing the "slit throat" sign makes us think you are an idiot. Seriously.

2) We play what we're told to play. Don't argue with us about not playing something we were told to play. We don't care.

3) Stop telling brides and grooms what their music options are. You suck at it. Let the musician handle the music planning.

4) Most of us are playing an express Mass with no extra music, only the music that is absolutely necessary. The difference between Mass with music and Mass without music is around seven minutes. So stop blaming us when your Mass runs long. Your Mass is long because your transitions are sloppy and the homily is too long.

That's right. I said it.


J., A's sister said...

Ok, JP, I hear you. I am a liturgist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (you know the old joke about the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? you can negotiate with a terrorist...)

Just do music the congregation can sing, and don't change it every week because the musicians get tired of playing the same thing. But remember, I'd hire you any day. But you'd be bored to tears in the Palisades.....

john patrick said...

Hey J, I already know you're one of the good ones!

If changing the music loses the congregation, then obviously the musician is not choosing music that is catchy. I don't know why Catholics insist on playing non-catchy music.

Also, music "readers" will always inevitably get board. You should hire improvisors instead of readers. Jazz cats.