I have sometimes thought that I wouldn’t mind so much some of the standard fare of modern hymns in the Mass if a selection of older hymns were also used. I never understood while there has to be some dividing line where anything before the sixties has to be censored. A sort of hymn age discrimination. Not that everything older is worthwhile, but surely you would think they could find something older than themselves to select. Last Sunday this thesis met its test. My wife and I were in Norfolk, Va and attended Mass there. This Church had six Masses on Sunday and the one we attended was packed. There was a strange juxtaposition of the old and the new. A modern style cruciform church with a a Byzantine style cross with a raised corpus in the sanctuary. Before the Mass started they requested that everyone turn of their cell phones before "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" started and then announced who the presider was. While using the term presider I guess is technically correct, I prefer celebrant if your going to announce it all. Better yet would be "The part of Jesus Christ today we be sacramentally played by Father such-and-such." – to fully give that In Persona Chirsti flavor. Then the "theme for today’s Mass" was given – which use to be called the entrance antiphon.
The choir though was wonderful and the best I have heard live in a Catholic Church. Because it was a more modern church so there was no choir loft and as I have said before unlike children, choirs should be heard and not seen. But at least they were wearing choir robes and during the consecration the whole choir kneeled which is something I rarely see happen. The entrance hymn was something circa 1800 that I hadn’t heard before, but that I would love to hear again.
A Latin hymn was used later and there sung version of the Our Father was quite beautiful. My main parish church usually chants the Our Father, but this version sung in different parts was a joy to listen too. The last two hymns used were standard fare in many Catholic churches and they were kind of a let down after the previous ones, but the organ along with their singing made them much more than passable.
The celebrant was a Fr. Moss who is a Navy Chaplain. I am still trying to figure out if I liked his homily or not. Hands down Fr. Moss is the funniest homilist I have ever heard. Mostly the homily felt more like a stand-up routine than a homily and he regularly had people in the pews laughing throughout. There were some obvious themes he had used before such as talking about his "twisted evil demon-spawn sister" since just the mention of her had people laughing. As an amateur comedian I quite admired his ability and timing. While the homily was played for laughs he also did teach a good deal about blessings and the blessing at the end of Mass and I must admit that much of what he said stuck with me afterwards. I truly doubt if I would like hearing every homily in this mode, but maybe in the case of Fr. Moss he could pull it off. Humor can be a good tool when used correctly in a homily, but too much of it can certainly distract from the dignity of the Mass.