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Most just don’t know about Mass propers and the role of the choir.
To be sure, it is flattering for the musicians to hear that they have this power.The liturgy itself is being held hostage to a few people’s on-the-spot views of what the message should be and what should take place.A major aspect of the Mass, one that can make or break the entire point of the ritual, is being put in the hands of people who have little or no substantive guidance or basis for their decision-making.So the musicians end up with a feeling of failure and confusion. This statement has profound significance if you understand something of the structure of the liturgy and the purpose and applicability of Gregorian chant within it.Or they blame others and end up getting mad about the people and their refusal to go with the program. The trouble is that hardly anyone does understand this.Of course musicians do not know that they are throwing out whole parts of the liturgy that have been integral to the musical experience of the Mass dating as far back as documentary history.
Nor do the workshop leaders intend to do violence to the liturgy in this way.
The answer, we are told, is to look at the theme of the week, which is given by the readings.
Flip through the book and find a song that seems to match in some way. Then consider and anticipate the congregation’s reactions to the pieces of your choosing and give it your best shot. In this model, the musicians are being charged with making the liturgy happen on a week-to-week basis.
The texts for singing at Mass are already given to us.
There is an entrance text, a Psalm text, an offertory text, and a communion text. The counsel to pick and choose whatever you want amounts to a counsel to ignore the liturgy of the Church and substitute something of your own making.
What is restraining and constraining the musician’s range of play in this model?