Third Chanting Psalmist Role at Holy Mass in Church

Today's the third time I'm singing and chanting the Responsorial Psalm as a commissioned psalmist. It's still "so good so far". I'm working with a new choir this time and the choir leader, Ryan, is an experienced keyboardist.

I've seen and heard this choir many times at the church. They've also performed in our neighborhood chapel. In fact a few members live in the same community.

The practice for the Responsorial Psalm was set at the parish hall. The choir, apparently, practices regularly an hour before their scheduled mass service.

There was a bit of a mix up on the room, but I finally found them. It wasn't difficult. There was a choir practicing behind a closed door, and I was sure it was them.

Be Humble Enough to Practice with Youth

I sort of barged into the practice. In hindsight, I should've knocked, but I doubt if they'd hear me knocking at all. As I opened the door, the singing stopped.

All of the choir members are young. They would be young enough to be my kids, actually. But Ryan was quite genial and upon seeing me, raised his arm and motioned me to come in.

This is the first time for me to work with him, but I suppose he knows me as a regular commentator at church. Ryan is probably in his late twenties or early thirties. The impression of him by many is that he's quite a dynamic and dedicated fellow who's passionate with choir music.

He's an amiable guy and was kind enough to even introduced me to his choir. I, not knowing where to position myself, just went to the table where he had his keyboard. I had to, for there was no way else he could hear me sing and chant the Responsorial Psalm (sing the response and chant the verse) with the volume of the keyboard.

It was quite humbling to be standing next to him with his keyboard while the choir rest of the choir of young adults surrounding us was staring at me. It seemed awkward at first for me.

I'm not professional singer and was starting to doubt my ability to sing. But then I had a mission to accomplish and that's to master the Responsorial Psalm (response and verse) and be good enough to sing and chant its parts.

So that's another tip when learning to be a good psalmist. Be open-minded and practice humility during choir practice. This is in addition to the tips I listed in the Basic Psalmist Seminar and Workshop I attended.

After a short practice, the choir leader was satisfied. But I had to go back around forty minutes later saying I needed to practice one more time. The leader readily obliged. He added "it's better to mess up in practice, rather than at the ambo" or something to that effect.

No Feedback from Colleagues and Peers

The Responsorial Psalm went well without major hitches. As in my first and second psalm chanting, there was no feedback from my co-lector, the Lector 2 at the bench. Maybe it was simply unremarkable.

So I just asked her what she thought of the psalm singing and chanting. She said "I suppose it was okay". Nudging her to say more, I asked her when she'll be singing the Responsorial Psalm.

And there seems to be the standard reply from co-lectors at the bench. This is, they don't see themselves singing the psalms in the future and that chanting is not for them. It makes me think whether the direction of the diocese to have lectors sing and chant psalms is actually clear.

After the mass, neither the commentator, a senior lector, had anything to say. Without any actual and credible feedback mechanism, how are we to learn? An evaluation program, similar to what the Toastmasters program advocates, would do wonders.