Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Spare a thought for Church musicians

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A professional singer, Dominic Bevan (facing right), leading a training choir during the
Latin Mass Society's Chant Training Weekend in 2019.
The excellent article on church music by Matthew Schellhorn in the new Catholic Herald, who among other things is the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, prompted me to write on a related subject for LifeSite.

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Church employees have been badly affected by the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent cessation of public services. Particularly hard hit are those who did not have formal contracts, or who were paid service-by-service. This includes many musicians.
There is a strand of thinking in the Church that says that the liturgy should be served by musicians who appear spontaneously from the congregation and offer their skills for free. Sometimes this is possible, and in particular circumstances it may be the best solution, or the only one. Indeed, I am an amateur singer myself. The worrying thing about this claim, however, is the word “should” which appears in it: the idea that it is somehow less authentic, or appropriate, or worthy of the liturgy, to pay musicians. 
Occasionally a parish may find that a member of the congregation has the skills to help fix the heating; quite often parishioners help with the accounts. But generally, people with professional qualifications need to be paid for their services. This extends to things intimately connected with the liturgy, such as vestments and sacred vessels. The more important something is for the liturgy, the more willing a parish should be to part with cash to get the best possible results.
Read the whole thing.

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