To form a singing parish, parishes need to plan all year long for singing best and most at the highest celebration of the year. That means singing all year as rehearsal for the Triduum. By the time we get to Triduum, we shouldn’t have to “explain” or rehearse the music. If we do, people will watch it instead of sing it.
Parish musicians need to plan the music for the Triduum immediately after the Triduum. Their first choices should be the music from the Triduum just completed that people actually sang. The first criteria for music selection should be based on the assembly’s ability and willingness to sing it. If they didn’t sing it, don’t use it.
Plan with the Triduum in mind
Once the music plan for the coming Triduum is in place, the rest of the liturgical year would be planned with the Triduum in mind. What songs must the parish sing throughout the liturgical year in order to be able to sing the Triduum? The goal is for the parish to sing the Triduum (not sing at the Triduum) by heart. That is, obviously, a long-term goal, but a goal nonetheless.What songs must the parish sing throughout the liturgical year in order to be able to sing the Triduum? The goal is for the parish to sing the Triduum (not sing at the Triduum) by heart. Click To Tweet
People need to be able to sing the Triduum by heart so they can have their hands and heads free. There is much procession and much assembly action throughout the Triduum. If the assembly is fumbling with song books, it lessens their level of participation in the action of the liturgy.
Some Triduum music, such as the psalms and the acclamations, can be used throughout the year in Ordinary Time liturgies. Other music that might be more specific to the Triduum alone might be used with different texts that are appropriate to other times of the year. To the extent possible, the music of the Triduum should not be “new.” It should be music we know, music we love and music we will sing. Those few things that might be sung only during the Triduum should be the same from year to year so the assembly eventually learns them by heart.
Plan music for your whole community throughout the year
This goal is even more important in the growing number of multilingual parishes. In too many cases, parishes divide up the music for the Triduum in rough percentages that match the language demographic of the parish. For example, 50 percent of the music might be in English, 25 percent in Spanish, 15 percent in Tagalog and the rest perhaps sung by the Vietnamese choir. The Triduum then becomes a hodgepodge of passive and active musical moments for me as an assembly member. Even when I do have moments of active participation, the overall musical flow of the liturgy is completely disrupted.
- The solution is not to make everyone learn English.
- The solution is for all of us to learn at least some elements (texts, melodies, rhythms) of each other’s musical repertoire throughout the liturgical year.
- Every Sunday of the year should serve as an opportunity for all of us to become more deeply immersed in the music we will need for the Triduum — in whatever language.
The way the community decides to share each other’s music will vary from assembly to assembly. However, no one plan will work for every community. What will work is if the music leadership and the parish assemblies make a commitment to spend the year (and years) learning how to sing the Triduum together.
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