Sometimes, the congregation is your boss. In fact, most of the time.
Perhaps that is tepid theology, but I can't see past their musical and spiritual need to a higher priority. For example, I provide the Liturgical Music for a Catholic School and those 1200 kids and their teachers own me, whether they know it or not. Last year, I tried to make a medly of "This Little Light of Mine" and "We Are the Light of the World."
They groaned. As I made my effortlless segue to "We Are the Light," they audibly groaned in disapproval. Beasts. But I remembered. I remembered all summer. And now, after a long summer vacation, our school choir must stand and deliver at the opening of school Mass and I will close the Liturgy with "This Little Light of Mine."
Here at Shantigarh, the lectionary guides us. But at school, the only thing I think about is the congregation. I will open the Mass with "Lean on Me." Why? Is this Christ who is offering us a shoulder to lean on? Are we offering support to one another as Christian brothers and sisters? Take your pick. I chose it for its ambiguity and the fact that the teens will probably sing it.
Some teachers get mad if they see the kids (whom they are "proctoring") making fun of the song by singing it loudly or caricaturing it in some manner. Not me. Sometimes, the only way a kid can dare to sing along is to pretend he is mocking the process. I'll take that. If his mockery is on pitch, doubly so. After lean on me, my wonderful school choir will have earned the right to go back to playing by the rules. We will perform a true psalm found in Spirit and Song. At Presentation, we will rehabilitate ourselves in the Principal's eyes with Franck's Panis Angelicus. Having reached the top of Parnassus, I'll shimmy my way back down with The Summons and Strength for the Journey. I'll end with This Little Light of Mine. Teenagers will actually sing that. How do I know?
I thought about it all summer.