The setting: 4:59 pm and 30 seconds. Choir loft at St Leo’s, Pawtucket.
We’re ready for Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. A guy walks up to the loft and asks Brian if he can squeeze in “On Eagles’ Wings” somewhere, ’cause his sister (for whose benefit the Mass was to be applied) liked it.
We threw him over the side.
No, that’s not what happened. Really, the bell rang for the priest’s entrance (Saved By The Bell!) and Brian turned back toward the console. The guy kept talking. Brian shook his head. “Not at this Mass,” then he sat down and started the hymn. It was “Let all mortal flesh keep silence”. Just by happenstance.
Man, that request was so wrong in so many ways.
No, mister, paying the stipend for a Sunday Mass doesn’t turn it into your own family affair where you’re entitled to make requests about the music. This isn’t a wedding or a funeral. It’s a regular Sunday Mass. On the other hand, I might wish to get such influence just by giving a stipend. I’d do it all the time just to improve the music at my suburban parish!
No, mister, we don’t take last-minute requests. This is not the drive-through window: “Gimme a Mass of Creation with some Pan de Vida on the side”.
No, mister, we don’t play anything in English during the Traditional Latin Mass: it’s against the rules at High Mass, and the priest doesn’t allow us to do it at Low Mass.
And we do wish we could make you happy, mister, but we’re not going to play sentimental, sappy, overused songs from the ’80s that sound like a commercial jingle before or after the Tridentine Mass, because the congregation would rise as a man, hike up to the loft, and execute swift vengeance on anyone up there.
Just to escape, I’d have to throw myself over the side.