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Musical Hospitality

posted Jul 22, 2012, 8:07 AM by Steven Vaughan
I'm playing a wedding in Omaha, NE this weekend, but want to comment on some thoughts of Elaine Rendler- McQueeney.  An associate professor of music theory at George Mason University, she holds a doctor of musical arts degree in organ performance from The Catholic University of America, and is internationally recognized as a pastoral liturgist.  Her weekly column appears in Today's Liturgy, and this week she wrote:

“Today's Gospel concerns the sending forth of the disciples and the role of hospitality in their mission.  Although we often associate hospitality with etiquette, hospitality in Jesus' time meant welcoming strangers into one's home, at table, and often offering protection...

In summer, many communities – some more than others – experience the presence of many visitors.  Do we offer hospitality and a verbal welcome at the door?  What about our actions during the rest of the liturgy?  How easy is it for strangers or friends to find music in the missals and hymnals?  The result of such a variety of  Mass settings means that they differ from community to community.  While the immediate community may know the musical settings, do the visitors have access to the page and/or numbers if they want to find them?  How do they find the music for the Eucharistic acclamations?”

So when you come into church at the beginning of Mass, look around you.  If you notice somebody not holding a Breaking Bread, offer to get them one, or at least show them where they are.  And in case you don't remember, the Mass setting we sing is the Mass of Renewal, and is numbers 874 – 883. If someone looks like they can't find the page, share that with them, and point out the numbers on the hymn boards so they can find the hymns.  In this age of iPods and ever-present headphones, singing, which should be a joy, too often becomes a spectator sport; something we listen to, but aren't always  comfortable participating in.  Try to encourage and help those around you, especially strangers, as you welcome them into our “home.”
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