Now, we all know those vocalists who hear a very spiritual song and think that they can sing it like the original artist. Furthermore, they decide that it would be fantastic to sing it during the Mass for all parishioners to enjoy. Although this may be true in rare cases, I will be the first to admit that in most cases that is not the case. Here is what the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council has to say to those musicians.
11. It should be borne in mind that the true solemnity of liturgical worship depends less on a more ornate form of singing and a more magnificent ceremonial than on its worthy and religious celebration, which takes into account the integrity of the liturgical celebration itself, and the performance of each of its parts according to their own particular nature. To have a more ornate form of singing and a more magnificent ceremonial is at times desirable when there are the resources available to carry them out properly; on the other hand it would be contrary to the true solemnity of the liturgy if this were to lead to a part of the action being omitted, changed, or improperly performed. (Musicam Sacram)
Did you get all that? To simplify, it means acknowledge what your God-given talents are and put the Liturgy of the Mass before your own ambitions. The Mass is the highest form of worship in the Catholic Church, and we must be wise to always keep that in mind. Remember that in parts of the world, the Mass is celebrated without musicians and sound equipment, and still hearts are changed and the Holy Spirit is always present. As musicians we can get caught up in wanting to do more, but sometimes it is a simple “Seek Ye First” that will make a person tear up. Our job is to maintain the “true solemnity of liturgical worship” as stated above, and simply encourage parishioners to open their senses to hear God’s call for their life.
It also states above to “carry them out properly” relating to a more ornate form of singing. This will definitely be a blog post in the near future!
Now, I want to ask you a question. As a parishioner, how has a musician that has been over ambitious affected your time at Mass? As a musician, have you ever realized that you were attempting to do more than your talents would allow or had to address someone who was in that situation? Tell us about your experiences.