Friday, December 28, 2007

My Lofty Experience of Singing

Singing this year's Christmas Vigil with a choir turned out to be the healing experience I'd hoped for and clearly needed. How lovely to be so generously invited by a choir director and so warmly welcomed by the regulars. How glorious to sing next to a soprano whose voice transformed the descants into brilliant shooting stars of sound. And on pitch, too!

I was grateful to be standing where I was for another reason. I'd been placed directly across from the Crucifix above the altar -- a presence hovering over Real Presence, and face-to-face with me. Thanks, I needed that.

It doesn't matter whether I'm singing as a parishioner or a choir member, my perspective on the liturgy changes literally and figuratively whenever there's a choir loft in use. In both instances, I'm more focused on what I'm doing, which is praying, whether my voice is floating up or down. This is why I've become such a big fan of choir lofts. Too bad they've been ditched by church building committees.

A liturgist I know says this relatively recent development in church architecture is as much about economics and acoustics as it is about inviting the pew people to participate. Makes sense, I guess. But now having experienced
singing from a loft several times, I've become positively retro on the matter. I'm certainly much better able to appreciate Thomas Day's book, Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste, first published in 1990 and still brutally hilarious. Note to self: come up with music selections for my Mass of Christian Burial now.


  1. Well, at least I'm hoping you were singing traditional Catholic hymns rather than "folk" music :) Glad you enjoyed your experience. I'll check out the Day book, thanks! A blessed Feast of the Holy Innocents today!

  2. Kumbaya transposed into square notes and translated into Latin. Not. Maybe for fun I'll post a list of the contemporary Catholic "hymns" I'd love never to hear again in this world or the next. See? It's true. I always have more to say.

  3. Now, now, no more of this morbid line of thought. I'd rather not be planning your Mass of Christian Burial just yet, thanks. Who will make me laugh when I am too full of meself?

    Really wish I coulda heard the choir where you were...our dowdy country church just stuck with the usual (botched) Gloria based on that Christmas Carol, and a cantor who ranges in and out of pitch. I don't have to too busy trying to make my youngest behave!


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