And Now Some Joyful Noise

I realize my last few posts have been a little on the somber and serious side, so today I decided to lighten up the mood. I actually got this idea while at Mass this morning. Did any of you realize the church was at the forefront of text message shorthand hundreds of years ago?

Photo by Michael Maasen on Unsplash

I’m serious, the next time you go to Mass or to services (for you non-Catholics) pick up you Hymnal and read the lyrics of the hymns. You will see words like o’er and e’er, heav’n and treas’r. This wasn’t a case of a typewriter missing letters, most of these hymns were handwritten, it was intentional. Personally, I think, just like with texting, it was just plain laziness.

Sure, I know people think it was because they needed to make the words fit the tune, but I honestly think if they tried hard enough they could have figured it out. Changing the English language is not the way to do this. Now, I’m not a musician, a composer or a lyricist, some will even argue I am not much of a blog writer, but be that as it may, there must be a way around this. Couldn’t they have just added another note? How about a B sharp or and E flat? Nope, I think it was just pure laziness.

Here is another case in point, have you ever noticed all the rests there are in some of these songs? The organist doesn’t need a rest, the choir doesn’t need a rest, the cantor doesn’t need a rest, therefore it must have been the composer needed a rest. The only person who may need a rest would be the tuba player, but I haven’t heard a tuba playing in a church ever. Of course, that might have something to do with trying to get the tuba up those narrow stairs to the choir loft.

I bet there are a whole bunch of Catholics who learned how to read music by going to Mass. Especially when it came to the section of the Mass where the Psalm Prayer is sung. The responsory is only two lines, maybe three and they are composed mostly of one note notations. No funny looking flags, no strange double line bars, no squiggly marks, just plain old single notes, little black notes with lines going either up or down, sometimes neither, sometimes one going in each direction. It didn’t take long to figure out by listening to the words and matching them to the notes you could tell certain things. If the note was at the top of the lines you sang high, if the note was at the bottom of the lines you knew to sing lower. If there were two notes connected with a bar, you sang the word a little longer, and when the note has a hole in the middle you, well I don’t know what you do.

I think there is an old saying, or maybe it is a new saying, or maybe I just making it up, that goes like this:

There are two places where everyone thinks they are great singers: the shower and in church.


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