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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

July 3, 2011

Out and about (1)

evelyn @ 9:43 pm

My PP has agreed that I should have a month’s break from playing the organ in our parish. This will give me some time to get plans and resources organised for new-Missal-time. It also gives me a chance to explore other churches’ liturgies, getting a view from the pew, so to speak. It’s like being on holiday.

Today I attended Mass at a large church in Glasgow. My husband, who isn’t Catholic, very kindly accompanied me and did the driving. Lovely big nineteenth-century church, architecturally looks like a Pugin creation, big organ (which I must find out more about on the next visit) in a west gallery, tremendous acoustic (it has to be Pugin!), beautiful sanctuary with original Victorian reredos.

The priest chanted a lot of the Mass. This may always have been a custom of this parish, of course, but I suspect not. Chant is being promoted like fury with the new Missal translation, and ultimately the celebrant will probably have more chanting to do, note for note, than choir, cantor and people combined. I rather think the clergy in this church are getting into practice.

The organist played a spot of Bach beforehand but stopped well before the start of Mass (is this something to do with the new liturgy as well, I wonder?). He didn’t vary the registration between verses of the hymns, but given the choice of hymns, I don’t think I would have bothered, either. Mass parts (present Missal) were nicely done, except there was no Gloria. I did notice that there wasn’t a lot of singing from the congregation, even though the gallery choir, thanks to the excellent acoustic, were not too dominant. Final voluntary was good.

The high point for me was, however, the psalm. The cantor sang unaccompanied, bringing in the congregational response in a very definite, but understated way. None of your American ‘cantor arms and big smile’ here! She was most reverent, and her voice was beautiful. Interestingly, she also acted as altar server.

Before Mass, as people came in, I had looked to see if there was anyone I knew, but in vain. So it was with surprise that I kept hearing mutterings beside me from my C of E husband – ‘No, it can’t be’, ‘Surely not’, ‘Yes, I do believe it is’.

Afterwards, he told me he had recognised two separate people whom he had known professionally for decades. ‘One never thinks of one’s colleagues in a religious context’, he said bemusedly, ‘I had no idea they were Catholics’.

‘They’re probably saying the same thing about you right now’, I replied.

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