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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

May 16, 2020

How ‘live’ do you have to be?

evelyn @ 4:04 pm

A friend and I had an argument over the validity of including recordings in a live-streamed Mass. Her view was that such a Mass was not fully ‘live’ – happening at that moment. I think she thought that if you record one bit you might as well record the lot, and she’s probably right about that.

My point was that viewing a Mass online doesn’t mean you are attending Mass. The only people who really attend a ‘live’ Mass are the physically present operators of the streaming equipment. So why not include a bit of recording of parish readers and singers, to give a sense of community in lockdown?

I suppose that in the end it depends on what any particular parish priest wants to do, and in these unprecedented times, priestly reactions vary widely. For example, our priest actually requested the reader and choir recordings, but I also know of a priest or two with sonorous voices who do all their own singing live, hymns as well as Mass parts. The latter certainly fulfils my friend’s demands, as does the routine of another church I’ve viewed, where a live-streaming operator comes forward and does the readings. And I’ve heard of one where readers and a cantor are actually present, though no doubt socially-distanced.

There are lots more variations, all over the world. In fact, never have there been so many opportunities of ‘experiencing’ (can’t say ‘attending’) different Masses in different places.

My priest thinks the demand for live-streaming will still be there after the pandemic is over. That might not be a bad thing, so long as choir and organ are back in business and all this sound-mixing is finished. On the other hand, it could be a bit embarrassing for the choir if things go wrong in real time! At present we can always adjust a not-too-good recording …


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