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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

April 26, 2019

A very small token of appreciation

evelyn @ 3:14 pm

Church music is for worship, never for acclaim. A choir piece at Communion, no matter how well done, should be greeted with silence. The Mass then proceeds. The singers should know themselves if they have succeeded in enhancing the liturgy, and that knowledge is all their reward.

Likewise, if they mess things up there will be no booing or rotten tomatoes. The most likely result would be a few suggestions afterwards from the priest.

This year we had worked, and worked, and worked at our choir piece for the Vigil – the English version of Mascagni’s Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana, ‘O rejoice, that the Lord has arisen’.

We should perhaps have realised that this piece might be a little too ambitious for our simple parish choir. True, we had recently acquired a trained soprano soloist. True, we had successfully brought off the Benedictus from the Jenkins Armed Man Mass last year. But the operatic counterpoint of the Easter Hymn was new to us, and more difficult than expected.

Even arranging the score for our limited forces was a massive job – I was exhausted before we even started rehearsing. An ever-increasing number of extra practices were needed, and our choir organiser and conductor were both fast reaching the hair-tearing stage.

Things improved, however, as time went on, and our performance at the Easter Vigil was sincere and heartfelt, even if the right notes were not necessarily always in the right order. But on this occasion we had no idea how successfully we had performed. Had we made an inspiring contribution to the Easter liturgy? Or would the priest be having a word afterwards?

As the final chord died away in our excellent acoustic, a solitary member of the congregation started clapping, then stopped. Embarrassing for that person, no doubt, but oh, how reassuring for the morale of the choir was that tiny spontaneous sound. One person had liked it.

Thank you, whoever you were!

And here’s an excellent performance of the Easter Hymn with all the notes in the right order:

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