Here is another reason I so prefer choir lofts. I have long said that unlike children “choirs should be heard and not seen.” If the choir I heard on Sunday had been in a choir loft I just might not have been annoyed by them and actually concentrated on the Mass instead. Though I would probably have found another distraction.
This specific pet-peeve which seems to affect the majority of parish choirs is that they don’t kneel when they should. The posture of kneeling is required for the entire Eucharistic Prayer and yet choir members act like they are just hired labor outside the bounds of the Mass. Every knee shall bend before Jesus unless I guess you are a member of the choir.
The fact that most areas for the choir do not have kneelers is not a just reason for not kneeling. Yes even if you are one of the leagues of folk guitarists that are so common at Mass you can still kneel and play chords to whatever crappy Marty Haugen song they are accompanying. If Jimi Hendrix could play his guitar with his teeth and behind his back, kneeling while playing guitar is just dead simple. This especially goes for vocalists who don’t even have the instrument excuse.
Now I don’t want to be just ranting at choir members who after all are volunteering to help provide sacred music (giving the benefit of the doubt here) for the Mass. Part of the problem is the example of how these choir areas have come to be constructed. When no kneelers are provided this teaches them that they are exempt from kneeling. It just has become common and is seen as accepted behavior. I seriously doubt they are purposely violating the norm.
Now even a rant deserves caveats and certainly those that are unable to kneel due to physical condition are exempt. Maybe just maybe all the choirs I have seen in my diocese that do this are made up totally of people with bad knees.
This reminds me of a related rant. The faux-kneel where some just kind of lean forward instead of actually kneeling. This also is very common, but again maybe I am attending Masses made up of people with bad knees. If so I should start contributing to the “Aid to the Church in Knees.”
A bigger rant I aim for myself. Here we have the absolute wonder of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the joy of receiving Our Lord in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and yet here I am noticing that the choir is just standing there. If only my blog posts could perfect the liturgical aspects of the world so that I might become less distracted (if possible).
Our choir use to sing with their backs to the TABERNACLE ! They never kneeled nor did our alter servers. Our newly ordained priest sat them in the pews after his first Mass at the parish and re-trained the alterservers before he left for 4 years of schooling in Rome. Sadly our deacons still stand.
Jeff, our choir “area” doesn’t have kneelers–but then again, our church doesn’t have kneelers. It’s a tiny mission church with too many chairs in it (I tried kneeling when seated in the congregation, and couldn’t quite fit in the space with the chair in front of me–and I’m 5’2″). Parishioners want to put in kneelers, but we don’t have pews at this point. Don’t know when that will happen.
Even so, many of our choir members will kneel during the Eucharistic prayer–from the epiclesis to the memorial acclamation. Two reasons: the kneeling is lead by our director who was Byzantine Rite before she married (hence the wait till the epiclesis), and our director can’t quite play her violin kneeling (no room for the bow–she’d be hitting the seats behind her). So when she rises to play or sing the acclamation everybody joins her.
I hope that’s okay! I kneel when I can, but now that we’ve managed to squish an organ next to the piano there’s not much room left. We wanted to relocate the choir to the back of the church, but doing so would require rewiring the electrical system to accommodate the organ and would also violate fire code (since we’d be blocking a main exit no matter where in the back we tried to put the choir).
Sigh. What we really need is a new, permanent church building (with a proper choir location, even if an actual loft is too expensive to build). But in order to have that we have to have 300 registered families, and it’s pretty darned hard to get 300 registered families when your only Mass on Sunday is at 8:30 a.m….
RE: Distractions. Over the years I have found that the closer I sit to the front of the Church (right behind the Pharisees), the less distracted I become by parishioner behavior.
Of course, the enormous phylacteries and the movement of tassels and fringes on the garments of the Pharisees becomes at a time a show to rival the proceedings on the altar.
(((Now even a rant deserves caveats and certainly those that are unable to kneel due to physical condition are exempt.)))
Jeff before I talk about the upper statement, “I’M” going to ramble a little and hopefully sinner vic won’t enter rup U>S (usual sinners) but I’m sure that he won’t cause our T.V. is off NOW and he’s probably busy entertaining and might even be the ref for the debate with the help of vs. 🙂
Anyway, this post of yours reminded me of when I was an alter boy and watching old men in front of the church with long beards and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that they were angels cause any time “The Name of “Jesus” was mentioned when “IT” came to the changing of the host and wine into THE BODY AND BLOOD OF “JESUS, they were always on their knees but I’ll spare you the stories of back then for NOW.
Anyway, “IT” is a good thing that “I” honestly believe that GOD (Good Old Dad) literally looks into your heart cause if HE didn’t, for many reasons me, myself and i probably would not be here writing in the flesh today in reality. Let me quickly try to explain the last time that happened. I was writing something like this “Give “IT” UP sinner vic cause you know that me, myself and i have just come back from church where we received the body and blood of “Jesus”.
“Christ”? Tell U>S (usual sinners) all about “IT”. butt on second thought, forget “IT” Victor cause the last thing we gods want to do is open UP another can of worms like the last time.”
At that very moment I heard my wife yell but I didn’t pay that much attention cause sometimes she does yell at me like most woman will yell at their man, I guess. (lol) Anyway long story short and while I was putting out the grease fire in the kitchen, it seemed like the entire kitchen was on fire and I was in the middle of a hell fire while my wife was yelling and both fire detectors were screaming even louder while GOD looked into our hearts and saw that the acting gods had made a mistake and believe “IT” or not, HIS ANGELS put the fire out as if nothing had even taken place and I went back UP to finish writing, what The Anchoress might call, “What The Holy Spirit” wanted me to say and if you look long enough ya might be able to find “IT”.
I don’t think that the election The Bate, I mean debate is over yet so “IT” should be safe to tell you another story about what happened at church this Sunday, well actually this Saturday but some priest allow U>S Catholic to call “IT” a Sunday NOW. Anyway, long story short, and “IT” was kind of funny because when I turned to wish a lady “The Peace of Christ” she quickly gave me she two fingers and when I went to tough them, she quickly pulled them back and kept saying so every one could here her, I’m sorry but I’m sick, I’m sick and all I did was turn around but this time with no anger in my heart but only a toothless smile on my face and in my heart.
NOW! As to the choir, let’s just say that I keep my eyes close but Jeff, there’s still a LOT of time for them. I can recall that this new church that my wife and I attend and from pass writing, we’ll also leave that for NOW. Anyway GOD literally kept from closing this church also because of a long list of problems.
Other than me going to confession to the last good priest at that church, long story short we have a new priest NOW.
Jeff you must forgive my wife and because of her two knee replacement, she doesn’t always kneel but during the calling of GOD if you know what I mean, she’s always on her knees.
One more little story before I close and find out who they say won the debate but as you know it will depend on who we’re listening to. Right?
Couldn’t have been important cause I forgot already!
I hear ya sinner vic? What! Mitt Romneytia already? 🙂
Please add sinner vic to your praying list also Fred, I mean Jeff!
Our old church has a proper loft that we use – even the cantors sing the psalm and gospel verse from the loft. There was little room on my row to kneel. If we didn’t have everyone there, you could make a way, but it was a distraction to fight the space. Anyway, I really do have bad knees, so can’t really climb the stairs our kneel down in the nave.
Old age is a nuisance.
To be fair, if the choir are singing the Sanctus and preparing to sing the Benedictus (in the EF these are often before and after the Consecration respectively) they might have to stand – kneeling can crunch up the diaphragm which can affect singing… and getting up and down during that part of the Canon can be even more of a distraction.
(I’m being charitable… mostly it’s just ignorance)
So true! Our church has a choir loft that is used as a balcony — no one ever sits there except at Xmas and Easter. I was at several churches with choirs singing from the choir lofts this year — what a great idea! They should all do that! It sounds better and it keeps the music from being a distracting “act.”
The faux-kneel is also the recourse of those with certain back injuries. And depending on the position of the kneeler in relation to the pew in front, and the angle of that pew, etc etc, it can be quite difficult to kneel if you’ve got weakness in one or both legs. Or, alternately, quite difficult to walk up to communion if the leg has gone numb due to the weird angle of pew-to-kneeler. I’m sure there are other ailments and architectural problems that also impede folks. But it isn’t just knees. Though knees alone would be plenty.
Most choir lofts now are set on risers, or set up in rows of chairs, that not only don’t have room for kneelers but barely have room for the chair. You end up standing around the organ instead, with no room to sit or kneel, so that you stand all through Mass except for the homily/rest break.
The thing that’s really amazing is that most church choirs expect to be treated like this, and not to be consulted in the setup of a choir loft or any other choir area. I miss my old choir loft, which was so sturdily and broadly built that it had pews and kneelers and everything else, so you could actually concentrate on Mass as well as sing.