Children in Church: Easter Vigil Edition

bls rightly points us to Ben Myers’ wonderful post on his son’s experience of the Easter Vigil.

All I can add is: YES!

Well, actually, I know I can’t help myself from adding a bit more…

Two things.

First, I said a while ago that I needed to write up how M used to do her children’s mass because it truly was exemplary as far as I’m concerned. It was a well-done Anglo-Catholic prayer book low mass that incorporated children, but talked down neither to them nor to their parents. And both the kids and the parents loved it. I do actually need to write that up…

Second, Ben Myers’ observations parallel mine. The girls were in church quite a lot over the last few days, even going all three Nocturns at the Tenebrae. (I took them home and put them to bed so they didn’t get through Lauds. My decision—not theirs.) They loved it. Heading home, G’s principal comment after chanting through 12 odd psalms was “That’s what real Christian music is supposed to sound like, not the praise stuff they make us sing in chapel [at school].”

H is used to hearing Anglican Chant in church; she wasn’t used to us singing Gregorian tones there (we have sung it at home a few times), but after the Tenebrae she was at it like a pro—and insisted that we sing along with the choir at the Vigil. The psalms in our leaflets were unpointed, but she did a fine job of sight-pointing with me. (So, if my 8 year old can pick it up, why do some feel that adult congregations can’t…?)

Because the sign-up sheet was left unguarded in the parish hall, both girls signed up to serve as lectors, several times. They did great. Yes, we practiced and went over words, and worked on projecting and all. (H never did fully wrap her tongue around “ordinances” and also ended up with one syllable to many or to few…) But at 10 and 8, they read just as well as the adult lectors.

Kids want to sing, they want to serve, they want to have the full-body experience. Yes, they want to play with fire. And we should let them! Carefully, of course. They neither want nor need a second-class liturgy. They went it well-done and as rich and deep as the rest of us.

2 thoughts on “Children in Church: Easter Vigil Edition

  1. John-Juian, OJN

    I grew up in a parish in which the rector (Fr. Edward Caldwell Lewis) encouraged “Family Mass”: he insisted that all children be present for the entire Mass, and that they not be “restrained” by their parents. Consequently, little children wandered freely about the church during Mass – even into the sanctuary and sometimes even went up and stood next to the Celebrant at the altar for a short while. The amazing thing was that there was never any “child-noise” during Mass – no crying, no yelling, no loud talking, no fussing. And, it was a parish understanding that ALL adults in church had responsibility for ALL the children, not just their own. Sometimes children would have favorite adult friends and would go to sit with them rather than their own parents. Also, next to the font inside the rear door of the church was a huge heap of stuffed toys, so children could have things to play that weren’t noisy. Father Lewis moved the sermon to the end of Mass, so that after the dismissal, the children would leave for Sunday School. Then the Celebrant and the acolytes would leave the altar and go to the sacristy, he would remove his chasuble in the sacristy, and then go back in to the pulpit in alb and stole to preach. The acolytes unvested and went to Sunday School. The adults then had coffee hour after Mass until Sunday School was finished

    (I remember in 1949 there were some who didn’t like Fr. Lewis and who would leave church at that break at the end of Mass and before the sermon. One Sunday I was acolyte and as we genuflected to the altar at the end of Mass, Father whispered, “Hurry! Hurry!” We dashed into the sacristy, he whipped off the chasuble, and literally ran back through the side chapel to the church door— to shake hands with the people who were leaving before his sermon!)

    By the way, in that parish ALL boys (in those days only boys!) were made acolytes. Automatically, when you were eight-years old you were made an acolyte. And ALL acolytes vested for service EVERY Sunday—the young ones carried torches and then lined up along both the sides of the sanctuary—sometimes as many as nine or ten! And then as a boy grew older, one gradually graduated to serving Mass.

    And in some 27 years as rector, Fr. Lewis influenced 24 men to enter seminary—I think that may be a record. Oh, and the parish also produced two founders of religious orders! A pretty remarkable place in those days!

  2. Pingback: Blogue de Georges » Enfants & liturgie.

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