A music director I know, a good man, was recently nudged out of his parish, supposedly because he, a staunch traditionalist, reallllllllly didn’t want to do more “contemporary” stuff. I don’t fault him, in a sense. I prefer more traditional stuff myself. But if there’s a theme set that I have developed on this blog over the last couple years, it’s the following:
1. Church music is not about you.
2. Differing musical preferences are OK.
3. Even though you may not like a hymn, swallow your pride and do it. You are a professional. This is your job. Do it.
This guy’s issue is that he finds “contemporary” music unworthy of Mass. Fine and dandy. But you can’t draw a wide brush to describe all “contemporary” music. There’s a gulf of difference between this or the Protestant songs that snuck into Mass (“Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”) and, say, “Open My Eyes” or “We Belong to You” or “Christ in Me Arise,” all excellent “contemporary” hymns that can also be done on organ.
Now, he is a music director, unlike me. So he can pick whatever songs he wants. But my point is that you can find serviceable, Mass-worthy “contemporary” songs now. He could have swallowed his pride and found the best “contemporary” out there. He could have, in other words, played ball. But it doesn’t seem like he did. Exiting a parish, in my mind, is something you want to avoid unless you have another job lined up or circumstances at the church are terribly dire. I wonder if at some point, he might regret what has happened.
But, as I’ve said, he’s a good man. I hope he lands safely on his feet quickly — perhaps a smidge wiser.