To the Editor:
As a cantor, instrumentalist and song-leader (both solo and with groups) over the past 40 years in six parishes and many others for weddings, etc., I read with interest the letter about music at Mass from “city withheld” June 19 (Father Ken Doyle’s Question Corner).
There have been periods during these years that I have taken a “sabbatical” because of new unpalatable liturgical rules, bad health or tensions between participants, directors, administration or certain parishioners. I certainly understand what is meant by “overbearing sadness,” “slow” and a dislike of “chanting.” I myself have been accused of many things (usually at the opposite end of this spectrum), but I believe that resolution lies in honesty.
Honest dialogue between people, done with respect, sensitivity and tact is the key. When people say nothing, quit coming, manufacture quotes, complain through gossip, brutally attack verbally and engage in “behind their backs complaints” then any resulting reformation becomes bitter and unnecessarily painful.
My biggest complaint is when people say after Mass, “it was too loud,” or “we couldn’t hear you” this should have been relayed immediately on the opening hymn by someone appointed as a monitor. But rarely are we given true data or that kind of assistance. People prefer to suffer in silence at the time, then lash out later. It is a guessing game as to what a congregation or those in charge really think, and often a surprise even to fellow musicians.
Your advice Fr. Doyle, was right on. Just remember to be gentle. Musicians are generally a sensitive bunch, especially if they volunteer. People don’t realize the hours it takes to prepare properly, and the risk one takes trying to please everyone. That, I know, I’ve never done.