Over the past month, you’ve seen our Director of Music & Liturgy, Jessica Roberts, include several things in the bulletin to keep you updated on our music program. In particular, she has written a few columns to let you know how we intend to restart our music program as we give all of our parish ministries a reboot after they slowed down during the pandemic. Jessica has done a marvelous job of providing beautiful music for our liturgies almost singlehandedly for over a year and a half, but I know that like all of us, she’s anxious to be able to share the ministry with cantors and choirs again.
Part of the reason we’re giving so much attention to the liturgical music program is that we see this “reboot” as a golden opportunity to elevate our liturgical music even more. Jessica has made tremendous strides in our music program during her six years here at Christ the King, and I’m excited to see what lies ahead. She’s also worked very hard to act on the feedback that you gave us in the parish survey, way back in 2017. (Wow, has it really been that long?) For instance, the two predominant areas for growth that were noted in that survey were (1) the desire for the music not to drag, and (2) the desire for hymns that were more familiar and easier to sing along with. Those changes were put into place immediately, and parishioners have seemed to respond really well to them. There are some other, longer-term projects that Jessica is working on as a result of the survey, including putting together a hymnal supplement to add some more favorite hymns to our repertoire, offering more recitals and musical prayer opportunities and making some acoustical improvements to the church. (Regarding the latter, the survey found that most parishioners said they sang at Mass, but it also found that they didn’t feel like the people around them sang! We think a lot of this has to do with the acoustics, and there are some fixes that we will work on in the coming years to help this.)
These things all put us in a great position to reintroduce our new-and-improved music program to the parish as we re-emerge from the pandemic! You’ve seen Jessica’s bulletin write-ups to let you know what that will look like. Now the only thing she needs is you! If you feel confident enough to give cantoring a shot, Jessica is a great instructor and will make sure you’re expertly prepared. If you’re not quite that brave, we are reopening our various choirs and musical groups, and Jessica makes these experiences engaging, rewarding, and prayerful no matter what level of experience you have. Most of all, we just need you to pick up your hymnals and sing! It’s a great (and important) way to join our prayers together as one voice while setting a great example for our kids. If singing in church feels like a chore to you, Jessica will be offering some singing technique tips and church wisdom that may help you with whatever aspect is most challenging. Also, if you feel called to music ministry, but you have barriers to participation such as childcare, work schedule, or other questions, please talk with Jessica – she is very welcoming and will find a way to work with you.
Of course, we’re always mindful of health and safety regulations as we reintroduce music and other ministries. I’m not aware of any plans to reinstitute restrictions on choirs or congregational singing, but we’ll be ready to adjust if it happens. But in the meantime, know that we have a lot to be excited about with our liturgical music program. I hope many of you will find a way to participate when everything is back to normal!