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Shantigarh: Blog

Power Point and the singing assembly.

Posted on October 29, 2012 with 0 comments

I am here to tell you:  I love it. 

I love the overhead projection at Our Lady of Peace of all the lyrics to the songs as well as the words to the revised prayers which are still a stumbling block to many Catholics.  Whatever esthetic reservations I had about a cantor operating a slide show with a handheld remote have vanished in the face of such obvious advantages.  Let me count the ways:

1.  We can include any song for community use whether or not it is found in our "print media" hymnal. 

In the last month, I've used "Who Will Speak?" by Marty Haugen with its stirring social justice implications.  I have used a new Word Music offering "Yes, Lord, Yes." and the congregation was treated to "Jesus on the Mainline."  All of these would be unthinkable without Power Point.  (To some traditional Catholics, they are unthinkable anyway.  But may I add that Gregorian chant, almost completely absent from our official publications, can find new life people have only to look up and read the words. 

2.  Speaking of "looking up," the people now stand with their heads tilted ever so slightly back, eyes up, jaws dropped.

Most choir directors know that we do not serve our vocal music very well when we crush our windpipes by looking down into a printed page.  Suddenly, I see eyes, faces, expressions from the pews.  The Power Point advantage is that it promotes good singing posture. 

3.  The overhead projection aids those Catholics stumbling over the revisions to our most sacred prayers.

4.  The added dimension to multi-cultural celebrations.

The lector may be speaking in Tagalog, but the meaning of her words are clearly projected in English just over her head.  In the alternate, your predominantly Spanish-speaking population hears the Epislte in English, but can read every syllable as they raise their eyes slightly.  Language barriers fall away and liturgy is enhanced.

5.  The task of preparing the Power Point.

I welcome the additional duty of typing out the words and arranging them in order because it actuallly promotes a new level of efficiency.  It causes us to commit to our program earlier in the season (or, at least earlier in the week) and it encourages a more unified approach to Masses throughout the Vigil/Sunday schedule of services.  The Cantor at our weekly Vigil Mass has always excerised a rare prerogative to choose his own hymns, but, lately, we are in accord with the idea that we will consult so that we can approximate each others preferences; that way, he can have use of the Power Point system and, with a few variations, we use the same slide presentation. 

6.  The availability of fine, downloadable graphics allows the music minister a rare opportunity to exercise a visual component to his charism.

Title cards preceding each song or prayer as well as visual indications identifying the parts of the Mass from "Gathering" to "Presentation" or "Sending Forth" are opportunities to find art and color schemes which reflect the season, the readings or the particular environment of your sanctuary. 

Of course, there are issues in the use of liturgical slide shows.  Your own local Church will want to evolve its own techno-cultural response to each.  For example, should you include every verse and refrain or just refrain?  Some songs, say, There's a Wideness in God's Mercy, or I Sing the Mighty Power of God and, among the contemporary songs, Open My Eyes, Lord, and O God You Search Me, have no refrain and must be typed in their entirety.  The director of our Spanish Language 2:00 Mass likes to type out every verse followed by the refrain which he block copies over and over.  This means that, during the Mass, he or his assistant must be continually advancing the projection--hardly and impossible feat, but it requires somebody's constant attention.  Inmy own view, a refrain is enough, most of the time.  Those congregants who wish to sing on every verse should, as almost second nature, pick up the printed hymnal on the way to their seats. 

At any rate, the additional chore is welcome and I already heard from several volunteers who would like to take it over.  But that would commit me to an ever earlier level of preparation which, while noble, holy and preferable, may not be something I want to deal with.  We'll see.