There was a guitar at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s First Sunday of Advent Service!
From Facebook today:
Thank you for posting this, Deborah. I had a good laugh out of this, but don’t expect Fr. Tilley in Oshawa to follow suit. I will forward the picture to him.
I have had the great fortune, in recent years, to spend some time in the summers in Southern Tyrol: an autonomous region of Italy on the border with Austria, it works hard to maintain its distinct culture and doesn’t seem to have too severely severed its Christian roots. (Benedict XVI’s maternal grandmother was from Süd Tyrol.) Mass in our favourite small alpine town is beautiful, beginning with the church structure and the huge onion-top bell tower, which has been giving glory to God for centuries, even before the area became rich with tourism earnings. There’s little space between the pews: the configuration is such that you get the kneelers right against the shins, and it’s simply more comfortable to kneel throughout the mass. This is a church which has, for some time, been “going forth” (to cite Francis’ “in uscita” refrain): worshippers wait outside the church for the priest and servers to process out behind a monstrance and to perform the Liturgy of the Word in front of the church’s door, presumably so that passers-by can also hear. Afterwards, worshippers process around the church and enter the side entrance: generally speaking, and judging by the locals in traditional dress (beautiful outfits!), the men fall in first behind the ministers, followed in turn by the women, all reciting Hail Marys (I think).
Even to a non-German speaker like I, it is apparent that the mass is said reverently. The hymns too are beautiful, and there is sometimes even accompaniment by a horn instrument: hauntingly beautiful. You can imagine my surprise my first time there when, at a certain point (the Offertory, if I recall correctly), I heard a guitar playing. It was the celebrant himself (the pastor) playing the guitar and singing (solo, I recall ) from behind the altar! After the initial surprise, I quickly noticed that there was nothing “seventies” about the sound. It seemed as seasoned as the beautiful, traditional hymns. But, even after 10 years, I still get a bit of a jolt when the strumming starts!
While keyboard music became the norm in Anglican worship in the Victorian era, in earlier times the music in parish churches was more often led by string or wind groups–whatever local resources could provide. Given the cost of buying and maintaining an organ and the shrinking number of musicians able to play one, small parishes may return to such musical alternatives in the future. While the “guitar masses” of the 60s might have tried to suggest that there was some connection with a rock concert, surely one can play any style of music on a guitar.
You wrote: While the “guitar masses” of the 60s might have tried to suggest that there was some connection with a rock concert, surely one can play any style of music on a guitar.
I’m not persuaded that one can play any style of music on a guitar (bugle calls, for example, would be rather difficult), but it most assuredly is possible to play many very diverse styles of music on a guitar. By way of example, one might consider the differences among a typical hard rock band, the Beatles, classical guitar music, and old-fashioned western (cowboy) music.
It’s also true that many styles of music that might incorporate guitars can be suitable for worship. By way of example, one can incorporate the sort of praise music that’s popular among evangelical Protestant congregations or full gospel music into a Catholic liturgy, and the same liturgy might also incorporate some traditional hymns and/or Gregorian chant.
Perhaps you might enjoy the story of the ‘quire’, the predecessor of the keyboard or guitar in most English country churches, and is described so very well by Thomas Hardy in his novel ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’, in which great distress is caused by the suggestion of their replacement by an organ!!
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