Last weekend it was my turn to sing at the Saturday Vigil Mass. I don’t regularly sing at that Mass and so that set of our parish rarely sees me and almost none of them know who I am. In a way, that’s great because I can make mistakes and nobody would remember for long, but in a way it is a little bit nerve wrackiing because my style of singing might not be what they are looking for and the last thing I want to be is a distraction to the people at Mass.
So, I got there a few minutes early to run threw the unfamiliar songs, especially the Psalm and the Gospel Acclamation verse and we were set to go. This time around I made sure to pray that God lead me and help me to lead the people to worship Him and not to draw attention to myself. (Being in a parish with no choir area near the sanctuary makes this difficult at times.) As Mass began I belted out the opening song (originally starting on the wrong page, mind you) and we were off. I made it through it and through the Gloria and it was time for the 1st Reading. I tried to listen attentively, but was also occupied by the music I was about to sing for the psalm. Then it was my turn. The organ played the intro and I hit the refrain perfectly and reverently, thinking about the words I was saying. It was beautiful (not my singing per se, but the prayer that was coming out of my mouth)!
I moved into the first verse and paid even closer attention the words, the phrasing the sentiment of the words spoken so many centuries ago, memorized by people for more centuries, finally meticulously written down and copied, word for word, then translated and eventually put down in front of me…it was thousands of years of human civilization giving praise to God in a song written on the heart of a prophet and it was meant to be sung! It was beautiful and in that moment, in that Mass, I realized how important the psalm is and how important it is to be part of the Mass.
I don’t remember the words I prayed that evening, but I was moved by the connection I was able to feel with the entire Church at that moment and at the same time overjoyed at the priveledge and responsibility I had to pray that psalm properly. I am a cantor so that I can use the voice God has given me to lead others into deeper prayer and love of Him. That night, I think, I was able to do that in a very real way. Thank you, God, for that gift!