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Top Ten Challenges

A typical Catholic parish in 2020 faces several challenges regarding development of healthy, robust congregational singing. By healthy and robust, it is meant congregational singing in which 95% of congregants are singing. The most common challenges are:

1. Amplification of one person or group of people over the congregation and organ

2. Limited hymn tune repertoire leading to repetition of same tunes ad nauseam

3. Organ without enough tonal resources

4. Architectural and acoustic deficiencies

5. Catholic Church still evolving from little or no congregational singing prior to Vatican II

6. Inadequate number of printed worship aids, or congregants not using the aids

7. Use of folk-pop music with free-style rhythm composed for a professional

recording artist rather than the average person with limited singing abilities

8. Dependence on volunteer (amateur) musicians

9. Use of piano, keyboard, or guitars instead of organ

10. Multi-cultural parish identity in which there is no single, identifiable music tradition

Good news! Congregational singing at St. Joseph is above average for Catholic parishes. This is because excellent St. Joseph musicians and pastors, over the years, have removed challenges 6-9 (above). No. 10 does not appear to be a major contributing factor and no. 5 will take care of itself over time.

So, our focus is on nos. 1-4 above. Can congregational singing at St. Joseph be better than it already is? Yes! Stay tuned.


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