I spent this past Holy Week with the Manoa Catholic community at two parishes: Sacred Heart Church on Wilder Avenue and St. Pius X on Lowrey Avenue past the Manoa Safeway. The same clergy, choir, and choir director serve both parishes and go back and forth between the two churches. They are presently without an organist, so I was contracted to play Holy Week and Easter.
Here’s what my schedule for the week was:
Tuesday: Choir rehearsal at St. Pius.
Wednesday: Choir rehearsal at Sacred Heart.
Thursday: Maundy Thursday service at Sacred Heart
Friday: Good Friday, no music, I stayed home!
Saturday: TWO Easter Vigils, one at 4:00 at St. Pius X, and the other at 7:30 at Sacred Heart, each in excess of two hours long. The second service was 2-1/2 hours. With choir warmups in advance of each service, I think I was done in by all those hours sitting on the organ bench.
Sunday: TWO Easter services, one at 8:30 at St. Pius X, and the other at 11:00 at Sacred Heart. Thankfully, the congregation at St. Pius had a brunch following the service, so I didn’t starve.
Since this was my first Catholic Holy Week, I would have to say that there are some obvious differences. The first is in how the people say Amen. The Catholics here in Hawaii all say “Ay-men,” like how Sidney Poitier said it in the movie, Lilies of the Field. The Lutherans and the Episcopalians all say “Ah-men.” I went to Catholic Answers Forum and learned that American Catholics used to say “Ah-men” until about 50 years ago when Latin masses were replaced by English, then they switched to “Ay-men.” But in the United Kingdom and Australia, apparently it is pronounced “Ar-men.”
As far as I can tell, neither of these parishes has a printed bulletin with the order of service. The choir and I had all of the musical responses, responsorial psalms, hymns and the liturgy in order in binders and waited for a cue from the director to start. Of course, with all my years playing in liturgical churches, the words of the Mass are very familiar, so I was fairly well-prepared for what came next. However, the hymns are only announced by a choir member, so if one is not paying attention, someone in the pew would not know the number of the hymn since there is no printed bulletin. What was also interesting was that the numbers that were announced were completely different from the ones marked in the accompaniment versions. [N.B. Perhaps it is only these parishes which have no bulletin with the order of service — I know we always got one at St. Theresa’s.]
In the Catholic church, just because a hymn has a certain number of verses printed doesn’t mean that you will sing “X” number of verses. In several cases, the hymn was sung over and over and over, with some instrumental interludes. In other cases, only one or two verses of the hymn were sung. This was not announced, but probably depended upon the action of the clergy — so that is why some hymns went on and on, and others were truncated. In Lutheran and Episcopal churches, the tradition is that all of the verses are sung, even if there are up to eight verses, but the hymn is only sung once through and generally not repeated.
I do want to add that I was so impressed with St. Pius’ excellent handbell choir which accompanied all of the hymns. They played the four parts written in the score with the addition of trills, shakes, and other handbell effects on succeeding verses. They also played an extended prelude (15 minutes) on Easter morning of moderately difficult literature.
As you know, after my Holy Week marathon, I hosted an Easter brunch. Thankfully my friends helped with the dishes, except for the stemware which I washed yesterday.
On Sunday, I think I fell asleep at 6:00 pm!