When we’re playing alone, whether it be on piano or guitar, and it comes time to end the song, it’s easy to do. It’s just YOU! When you’ve got a whole ensemble with you, that isn’t always the case, especially if you are doing something unexpected. To me, it’s very important that the whole group ends together, and ends SMOOTHLY.
You’ll often here me say (or read when I write) that when you have an ensemble everyone doesn’t need to be playing all of the time. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t. Like an orchestra we need to arrange or ‘orchestrate’ our music so it has the most impact on the listener, or in this case, singers/assembly/congregation. The same goes for ENDINGS. When we end a song it needs to sound natural, not like someone just pulled the emergency brake. I find this to be SO important in liturgies. Often times we are handing over the ‘baton’ to the presider, the lector, etc. Except for the last song we, as liturgical musicians, are always setting up the next moment.
Watch this short video clip as an example. This is a beautiful song by Jesse Manibusan called ‘Open My Eyes’ (spiritandsong) which I have suggested many, many times on this blog. This particular Sunday we used it as a Gathering Song so, when the song was over, we handed the ‘baton’ over to the priest to begin with the Sign of the Cross and the Greeting. To me, I wanted this to me a gentle transition…not abrupt. This technique is so simple and obvious, but not always practiced. (and it can work with virtually ANY song!)