Via Rich Leonardi
What we’re trying to do is bring out all that Vatican II was asking," he said, quipping that before the 1960s, "The church kind of discouraged rhythm because people were going to move their body and that was going to lead them into sin. Then the spirit revealed that maybe it really wouldn’t be that bad."
If this is the highest form of praise, then we should treat it that way, right?" Stephan remarked. "This is the moment we should really try to do our best." He added that on a personal level, singing is his way of expressing his love for God in a more impassioned manner than prayer recitation allows.
Yet many congregants don’t share his exuberance, leaving him to dub such folks "the chosen frozen." One way of breaking the ice, so to speak, is to engage them in "call and response," in which the congregation repeats the musicians’ lines. For example, Stephan cited the song "You Are Worthy of My Praise": "I will worship (I will worship)/with all of my heart (with all of my heart)/I will praise you (I will praise you)/with all of my strength (with all of my strength)."
Creating a spark among church-goers may or may not involve clapping.
"You have to use good judgment," he said, adding that in helping the congregation find its voice, "we can’t force anything." He suggested having musicians sit in the pews, imagining themselves as congregants and the personal situations they may be facing such as divorce, having a baby and drug addiction: "Who are we singing to?"
As Rich quipped Count me among the "frozen chozen"
Who are we singing to? I would suggest the object of the congregation in singing is to God. Normally the object of worship is, dare we say, God. The Angels constantly singing Holy, Holy, Holy understand this. Why though would they have to imagine themselves as congregants? Last I checked members of the choir are in fact part of the congregation.
One of the major mistakes liturgists make is confusing active participation with just external actions. I find myself, more often than not, in prayerful attention at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at my normal parish where liturgy is untouched by liturgists. When I go to Mass at other parishes where exuberance is the norm I rarely find myself at prayer. In fact sometimes I am even tempted to heckle the choir because of the choices they make. I experienced a real strange dichotomy recently where the priest said the Mass very reverently and he used incense only to be backed up by a choir that included a bass player who was bobbing about as he played with even almost head banging gestures. The dissonance was like what would happen if Pantera backed up Peter, Paul, and Mary for the soundtrack of the Passion of the Christ. At the end of Mass they handed various noisemakers to children so that they could shake along as the happy-clappy rhythmic song to the beat of clapping was inflicted. I am also tempted if I go back to this church to bring a supply of for example copies of Musicam Sacram, Sacrosanctum Concilum, and Gregorian Chant CDs to place on the windows of all the cars so that these might come to attention of those involved in music ministry. I am charitably inclined to believe it must just be ignorance on their part on what the liturgical documents say and the rich heritage of sacred music in the Church.
Note to liturgists: Just because we might not be moving around or saying something in response does not mean we are not doing anything. We might actually be praying. Plus good intentions do not automatically equate to good results.