1. This is an excellent interview with a good dose of chastening as well as motivation to improve as a parish singer, as a choir, and as the Church in this our land; may the King of the angels sustain us and guide our voices.

  2. Baker Galloway

    Thank you for your challenging words, and for pointing out that most of us who sing the services don’t really know how to read music, we’re just using the notation to aid our singing by ear. You’re spot-on there. And investing our treasure in the Liturgy in order for our hearts to be there, again you’re spot on. I have two follow-up comments:

    1. I don’t think “paying choir directors a full-time salary” is going to happen anytime soon for 90% of parishes in North America. A stipend is totally reasonable, though – to treat the work as a part-time job. After all, there are other roles besides the priest’s that one could argue are competitively important for room in the parish’s operating budget: ministry done by deacons, youth leaders, parish secretary, and others. And it could be problematic to have a full-time salaried choir director who needs to justify his/her salary by over-working a group of volunteer singers throughout the week – sounds to me like a recipe for bitterness.

    2. Do you have as an objective for parish choirs/chanters that they restrain the majority of their repertoire to music that the assembled lay congregation can sing along with? This is the case at my parish for the most part. The opportunity for everybody to sing seems to be a priority. Thank God we are blessed with a handful of professional-level musicians IMO who can take the lead and the rest of us stumble along adding our ‘mites.’ But I guess my question is when you push a parish choir to challenge themselves musically, to step up to a higher level, is there any consideration in the pieces you select, of whether the congregation will get lost in the process? I don’t think anything in your Common Book linked above will fall into that danger necessarily, but several times when I have visited cathedrals or parishes that have a very high level of musical excellence, it has seemed to take on the character of a performance rather than an offering that arises organically from the community. Is this important to you?

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