Fourth Chanting Psalmist Role at Holy Mass in Church

This would be the fourth time that I would be taking the chanting psalmist role at Holy Mass in our parish church. For two months now, and twice a month, I've been singing the response and chanting the verses of the Responsorial Psalms in the masses I serve as Lector 1 and Psalmist.

Thus far, it has been challenging and frustrating yet fulfilling and fun at the same time. This fourth time, and especially this one, proved to be even more challenging.

Changing the Key to Suit the Voice

Going to the choir meeting for the Responsorial Psalm practice, I already had the tune in my head. This is largely thanks to the Musescore software I used where I entered the notes for the melody.

The key signature of the response is in B flat. If I sang my chosen verse tune (variation 2) in my normal head voice, the notes would be too high. But when I modulate my voice, the response tune would sound too low.

When Ryan, the choir leader, heard my modulated voice for the response part, he said it sounded too low for my vocal range. I raised my concern and he seemed to immediately understand the problem.

He tried tinkering with the keys on the keyboard, apparently trying to find a more suitable key to suit my voice. When he found one, he asked me to try it and it was perfect. From B flat, the key signature is now at G.

With this new key signature, I didn't have to unnaturally lower and modulate my voice. At first, I was anxious of having to adjust my voice level to the new key, but realized that it sounded better and felt easier to sing.

Ryan was quite concerned with how the response is sang because that was his "responsibility". It is the part that his choir will sing. When I asked feedback for my psalm chanting, he just said it was "okay". As I didn't get much feedback, I sort of teased him saying "that he wasn't too interested with verse chanting".

Response Lyrics did not Match Rhythm

Ryan also altered the response's rhythm part because it did not match the lyrics. This is one thing he hates about the Sunday missalettes. Sometimes the lyrics just don't match with the intended melody rhythm.

Unfortunately, the alteration wasn't too clear with me or was difficult to follow. It showed at the actual Responsorial Psalm. The commentator also had difficulty following it. He used to sing the response part together with the choir during the Responsorial Psalm.

Comments and Feedback on the Psalm

The lines of the verses were long. The first verse even had five long lines. Frankly, I don't understand why the verses were written this way. Just to keep the chant going with the tune in my mind, I admit I sort of just rattled the first monotone part of each line. The tune though, I was able to carry quite well.

(See Part 2 for the continuation)