A Time to Speak — A view from the pew

Shaun McKiernan
Shaun McKiernan

By Shaun McKiernan

“If God gives you a bad singing voice, punish him with it” — Kevin Powers, St. Raphael Church parishioner.

Since my junior year in college, I’ve rarely had a “view from the pew.” At that time, a classmate who was in the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir convinced me to audition for the 50-member “traditional” choir that leads the Sunday 10 a.m. Mass at Notre Dame University’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. After just a few practices, I was hooked!

Mastering the music took concentration, listening, and watching. It took proper breathing, diction and knowing the limits of one’s abilities. Performing well took trust in our directors, in one another and in ourselves. Watching the music eventually come about out of chaos (one Easter piece had 16 different voice parts) was a marvel to behold. I loved every minute of it.

Perhaps the best part of the whole experience was the view: As choir members we each had one of the best “seats” in the “house” — though we were standing in a very crowded loft for the whole Mass.

The liturgies at the basilica were wonderful and filled with pomp and circumstance, and the choir saw a lot of them. We were there for Sunday Masses, vespers, weddings, ordinations, lessons and carols and the Easter triduum.

If you have never seen Notre Dame’s basilica, find it on the Internet: it’s a witness and testament to Jesus and Mary and a true celebration of the colors blue and gold! Watching all of these beautiful liturgies from the loft was magnificent.

Notre Dame’s choir directors were brilliant musicians, but thankfully they were even better teachers and ministers. They instilled in us a love for some of the greatest music ever written in the western tradition to praise God and bring us closer to him. They also taught us to be humble (that came easily for me) and generous in sharing our talents. The music was always secondary. We were there to humbly set the stage and prepare the assembly for God’s word and the Eucharist.

Since college graduation in 2000, I’ve been a choir member at St. Louis Bertrand Church, the Cathedral of the Assumption and now at Holy Trinity Church. The leadership of these groups and the camaraderie has been truly wonderful and to be so engaged at Mass is a real blessing.

I pray that everyone finds his or her “place” in church. My wife and I have a 17-month-old, and I think soon I might be moving back to the pews for a while.

If you think your place might be in the choir, talk to your parish music minister and get involved. And if you know that the choir is not for you, see the quote above and please sing with gusto from the pew anyway! The choir needs all the help it can get. After all, as the Irish song goes, “All God’s creatures have got a place in the choir.”

Shaun McKiernan is a member of Holy Trinity Church.

If you have a story you would like to submit for, “A View from the Pew”, contact Sal Della Bella at sdb@archlou.org or 502-585-3291.

Tags from the story
The Record
Written By
The Record
More from The Record
Youth Events
‘Outstanding’ volunteer St. Raphael School fifth-grader Madison Roy is one of two...
Read More
0 replies on “A Time to Speak — A view from the pew”