It’s easy to get caught up in our musical arrangements, instrumentation, vocal parts, vocal ranges, recorded versions, rehearsals, etc. Let’s always try to remember that no matter how great we sound, how many harmonies we know, how many instrumental parts we can fit in, etc…we need to be sure we are enabling our assembly to sing along! It’s not a concert. There’s back-and-forth dialogue (i.e. “The Lord be with you. And with your Spirit.”), communal prayers, built-in ‘acclamations!’ The liturgy is designed to involve the assembly. Our gathering songs, responsorial psalms, offertory songs, communion songs, and dismissal songs should, too!
Ever notice how a good organist will accompany a cantor with just the upper manuals on a light registration for the first part of a responsorial psalm, then crank up the volume, adding the pedals and a much fuller registration when the assembly is supposed to join in? Even if the cantor didn’t raise his/her arms to invite the assembly to sing, they’d feel invited to sing simply by the fact that music changed and is suddenly full and supporting them. Our contemporary ensembles (bands) should do the same.
Here’s a video that shows some examples of how we did this sort of thing this past Sunday.