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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

November 17, 2015

Bridal chit-chat (19): When is a Mass not a Mass?

evelyn @ 6:51 pm


Priest: We don’t sing any Mass parts in this church, so you don’t need to worry about that.

Me: (aghast) Is it a Mass ?

Priest: Oh, yes.

Me: (sighing with relief as the no-Mass-parts realisation sinks in) It just didn’t look like a Mass on the Order of Service.

The priest agreed.

I had arrived at this fairly distant church to play at a wedding, which I had assumed from the information given to be in the short service form – entrance and exit music, two hymns and something for the register. One should never assume anything, of course, and after all these years I should know that.

Me: So what is to happen at the Offertory and Communion? We’ve no more hymns on the Order of Service.

Priest was puzzled about this, too. He decided the second hymn could be stretched to cover the Offertory, but Communion was still a problem.

‘I could always just tootle on the organ’, I offered, and he brightened up considerably.

Meanwhile, an organist friend playing for a wedding on the same day had had exactly the opposite experience. The bride had booked the church choir and had asked for the MacMillan St Anne Sanctus and Agnus Dei, which the choir had dutifully practised. A couple of days before the wedding my friend learned that it was to be the short service – no Sanctus or Agnus required.

In both these cases the bride was not Catholic and had been given the choice of the music, which was no doubt a nice gesture on the part of her Catholic fiancé. However, she had then been left to work out herself how it should all fit in.

Like many organists, I have a music checklist which I email to brides to help them sort out their music, but it doesn’t go into the full detail of Nuptial Mass. Maybe this needs re-thinking.

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