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October 11, 2016

Three things to love about Masses with children


row of seated small children
 

Faith - pure and simple
Honesty - no pretense
Enthusiasm - joyful willingness

In the presence of Catholic elementary school students, faith abounds, pure and simple. That faith is visible in posture, facial expression, willingness to participate and desire to please. I love the candor in their being. There is no faking it when it comes to children. They will call you out and let you know what they think. I appreciate that kind of honesty and the opportunity to bring music to weekly children’s Masses at Queen of Peace School in Salem, Ore.

My regular involvement with Catholic school Masses started around 1997, when my own children began their Catholic elementary school education. The church had a wonderful deacon at the time who helped with Masses and enthusiastically gave of himself to facilitate music for weekly liturgy. He sang a capella, usually the same couple of songs every week. As a parent, musician, songwriter and Catholic, I felt compelled to ask if there was anything I could do to help. My offer was most welcome and all these years later I continue to volunteer in this capacity.

When I asked the question, “Is there anything I can do to help?” I had no idea it would lead to so many wonderful years of goodness in sharing liturgy with children.

As I became more comfortable with leading and cantoring children’s liturgy, I began to pay attention to the level of participation. I noticed the children sang out strong for the Entrance and Recessional songs, but participation dropped off during Communion. When asked why, the school’s principal informed me that, “Just getting everyone to Communion and back again was enough of an accomplishment. Singing and walking, especially with song books would be too much to ask.” I knew I would have to find a way to keep the Communion song simple.

One big question remained, what was up with the Mass parts themselves? The Penitential Rite, Gospel Acclamation, the Children’s Eucharistic prayer responses, The Holy, Amen and Lamb of God, why was the singing of all of those important parts so pitiful? Only the occasional adult voice joined in. I knew I could count on the the parish priest to sing but the children’s voices were conspicuously missing. I needed to know why. So… I took my question to the people.

“Why won’t you sing with me on the Mass parts?” I asked. I knew they would tell me the truth. The collective response from kindergarten through sixth-grade classroom interviews came down to three things:

“They’re too long.”
“They’re too high.”
“They’re too hard.”

I knew then that simplicity was the key. From that moment my journey into writing a simple Mass setting began. One piece at a time, it started coming together. I brought the Gospel Acclamation to Mass the week following my interviews. Being a call and response piece, the children, teachers and community members did great and they sang out strong. Little by little, the Mass of Simplicity was born. I sought to write something only as long as it needed to be, something singable, something simple and sweet. The entire process, from writing to approval and publication took about seven years, which included the two years it took for Rome to change the text of the Church.

I consider the existence of the Mass of Simplicity a miracle. Inspired by the honesty and simplicity of those I have served, it was written on faith not qualification. I believed and I enthusiastically did as God called me to do; without question, without a spirit of competition. With honesty and purity I sought only to serve and to create something useful for God.

Faith, honesty and enthusiasm are just three of the things I love about Masses with children. There is so much to appreciate! I was just a parent who wanted to help. I’m so glad I did. 

Julie Hoy

Julie Hoy

 

Julie Hoy is inspired by her faith and the way God moves people through the music she creates. She created the Mass of Simplicity because she considers it her responsibility to use her talents to create original music for the modern church.

Mass of Simplicity