Tuesday, June 20, 2017

what I learned at church this week

One of my goals is to use this space to inform, teach and challenge.  This week I'd like to turn the tables and share an important lesson that I learned from you.

A primary role of the music director is to decide the overall direction of the liturgical music at the parish.  Here I am speaking globally rather than each individual song selection. I am confident in my ability to assess where a parish has been musically and plan a course for it's future.  It is something I have done successfully over my career.  

In some churches I simply chose to add new songs and styles to an existing parish repertoire.   At St. Mary's I chose a different tack making more sweeping changes. 

I usually pick music for blocks of time and try to vary musical styles both over time and on a given weekend.   This week you will hear songs written in these styles:

  • The folk music of the mid 1970's
  • The gospel style of the early 20th century
  • contemporary Catholic praise music 
  • 20th century Christian hymnody

Note:  look at the small print on the bottom of the page of each of today's 4 hymns to see this in more detail.

For the most part I pick songs that fit the liturgy and that I like (to some degree) musically, textually or both.  But what about songs that I don't necessarily like?  Herein lies the lesson.

A few weeks ago I selected "How Great Thou Art" as the communion hymn.  Please don't take offense, nor get hung up on the fact that this hymn does not move me.  

What is important is that it moves many of you.  You made this known in the spirited way in which you sang.  Thank you. 

Let me conclude by reflecting the lesson back. (A kind of what we learned today about church music).

The song that touches you might do nothing for the person sitting next to you and the song that you dislike might be their favorite. (and vice versa)

Blessed to be your music director,

Bruce

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