Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Stuff I should've blogged before: Corpus Christi

I almost got to read today. Alas, the readers showed up right on time (ie, right before the priest and servers headed out of the sacristy), so no luck there. I used to do lectoring when I was in school and really enjoyed it. I still remember the first one I did -- it was the bit where 'the lame will leap like a stag'.

The reason I almost got to lector was that I was cantoring. (Well, actually I went up the hill at something closer to a trot....) I think I did all right, except for the parts when I totally lost it. Ugh! Church fright again.

I never used to have this problem when I was a kid. Put a song in, the song would come out. I'd get caught up in what I was singing and never even notice the congregation. It was just me and God.

But the problem is that cantoring is not supposed to be private vocal meditation. If you cut everybody else out, that discourages other people from participating. During the parts of the Mass when only the cantor sings, the cantor is representing the congregation, not just singing instead of them. You don't just lead the singing when everybody else is singing along, but also when they're not.

(I hope that made sense.)

The other thing that makes me nervous is that, when you're cantoring by yourself instead of with the choir, you sing down front and to the left of the altar area. Right next to the Tabernacle for the Blood. I'm standing diagonally cattywampus to Jesus under one species, with my back to Him, on the Feast of Corpus Christi! My SCA training on behavior in court with 'royalty' was shrieking right along with my Catholic instincts! I know, it's not really disrespectful to be standing cattycorner and my back isn't really turned; but I'd feel so much better if I'd just get to stand about ten inches farther along the wall and closer to the statue of Mary.

My major consolation was that my voice was doing okay, despite the sinus/allergy that's been bugging me for a while. I did run out of breath once, but that was nothing but stupid nervousness. I do wish the higher parts of my voice didn't sound quite so tentative. But since I didn't have that tone or a few of those notes until this year, and since I usually have only used them in choir where I can't hear myself, it's so weird to hear them coming back at me through the speakers that I lose my concentration. Of course, I am perfectly capable of doing that anyway. (I even screwed up in the Gloria. I never screw up the Gloria!)

On the gripping hand, I got to learn a good song I'd never heard before. "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All" by Frederick W. Faber. Nice tune, nice words. Totally new to me (I was born in 1970), but apparently a standard back in the day. We have a lot of older folks at my parish, and they liked it. I do wish we'd had a male, non-tenor cantor singing with me, though. I think it's hard for some guys to go down an octave without someone demonstrating where that octave is; or at least they're more willing to sing along with another guy.

The next day we had a blood drive at work. I would probably have something deep to say about this, except that it's so easy to give blood that there is basically no comparison to Jesus' painful and humiliating sacrifice of His Blood. For us it's enlightened self-interest;
for Him it was pure love. The pain and fear of needles is nothing to the pain and fear caused by whips, nails and thorns. We were just doing our duty; God was a hero. And somehow I doubt they gave Jesus orange juice and cookies as well as sour wine, or a sticker that said 'Hug me -- I saved the world from its sins today'....


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