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July 28, 2020

Pros and Cons of Projection at Mass


Pros and Cons of Projection at Mass
 

Who knew that a virus would force those involved in parish music ministry to become members of an audio/visual club?

But, alas, here you are—music directors, choir directors, cantors, etc.—mulling over a decision on whether or not to pursue and use a projection system for music at your parish to support the Mass.

OCP knows many of you are thinking of following this path. We also know that learning a new technology and introducing a new way of approaching music during Mass can be a sticky wicket.

Here is a short list of the pros and cons of using projection at your parish.

PROS

  1. People don't have to hold anything
    Parishioners sharing worship resources such as missals or hymnals may lead to sanitization tasks that might prove a bit overwhelming between Masses. With projection, no one has to hold anything, thus eliminating the need for any maintenance of current worship aids.
  2. People don't have to be told what page to turn to
    With projection in place, the need for song number boards, or cantor announcements are over. Parishioners can simply look up toward the projection and sing along with the words on the screen. A no-hassle solution for these times.
  3. Heads up
    Full, conscious, and active participation may be enhanced through projection simply by the requirement of them looking up. This simple change, will lead participants in the pews to look more toward the altar instead of looking down at their missals or hymnals, thus enhancing their participation in the sacrifice of the Mass.
  4. Everyone is on "the same page"
    We've all seen it. Folks whispering to each other during Mass about which song number was said in order to follow along. With projection, all of those concerns are gone since all that is required is the ability to lift one's head toward the screen.
  5. Cheaper
    The initial set up of a projection system may take some investment for equipment and staffing up front, but in the end, could prove more financially sound. Music projected would still have to be paid for through copyrights, however, the purchasing of missals or hymnals would be avoided, thus in turn, saving the parish some money in the long term.

CONS

  1. Where to project
    It could be difficult to choose where to project (wall vs. screen) without distracting from the liturgy. The U.S. Bishops document, "Built of Living Stones," directs against the placement of choirs, musicians, and in this case projection, that pulls the parishioner away from focusing on the Mass. Careful attention must be paid to its placement.
  2. Staffing
    Unfortunately, there is no way to hit a button and have a projection system run itself. Your parish will need to acquire and assign a person familiar with the technology to run the projection during Mass. The task will require a person with immense patience, familiarity with the liturgy, and with a good sense of timing. There will also be some prep work to be done before the Mass in order to coordinate with music ministers and the pastor to make sure what is being projected is what's desired.
  3. Initial cost
    The initial cost of purchasing equipment, hiring someone to run it, constructing a screen space to project on (whether that's screens or a wall) will cost some money upfront—there's no way around this. There are many styles of projectors, but know this—the higher the lumens, the brighter the projection. For many parishes, especially those with low light, a low lumen projection system which costs less, may work just fine. For others, with more natural light pouring in, a higher lumen projection system (which is more expensive) may be needed.
  4. Only music: no prayers or readings
    Per the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, prayers and readings are not allowed for projection. I know for me, following the readings in a missal is comforting, and leads me to further reflection upon, however, perhaps this new approach will allow folks to build upon their listening skills as the word of God is proclaimed during the liturgy.
  5. Learning curve
    Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your projection system and ministry be either. Be patient, be willing to learn, and most importantly, practice. Whoever ends up doing projection ministry at your parish, have them do a few dry runs before participating at Mass. Don't use art or photography in your projections; only the words to the music. Color backgrounds can be chosen based on liturgical relevance for each particular Mass. Do not overwhelm people with imagery. That's the liturgy's job.

Singing at Mass is important. We all know that. During these trying times, if you are considering projection, know that OCP (as well as your parish priest) is here to support you in these efforts and will continue to provide advice, guidance, and resources to help you along the way.

Below you will find a form for a free OCP projection template to get you started, and we promise to keep you up to date on developments and news around the issue of projection at the Mass.

Please fill out the form and know that through all of this change and uncertainty, you have a friend in the liturgical music world.

God bless you and blessing to you in all of your ministries. The world needs them now more than ever.