Last weekend, apart from the storm (of which enough has to be said), I attended a wedding. I mentioned Blue Leaf before because it just so happened that the reception was there. The wedding was of my mother’s cousin’s son, and it took place at a church which, from the South Expressway, looked like a very interesting set of corrugated boxes.
The highlight? Dinner. It was a wonderful wedding dinner, all four courses of it. (I fled before the meat course because I had another engagement to attend.) We had a very interesting Mexican corn soup for the starter, down to a tortilla topping, and then (I forgot the salad) the first entree, baked snapper topped with mango salsa on a bed of couscous finished with sour cream. The meat course was being served just as I was leaving, which was grilled tenderloin.
The bad part was at church. I honestly think that if ever I get married, I would have to work out the wedding liturgy in excruciating detail down to who sings it. The people who sang at church were most likely the same people who did the music at the reception. Hence, there was one unfortunate rendering. At communion time, I winced more than once at their rendition of Manoling Francisco’s “Tanging Yaman.” It was pathetic. They turned it into some jazz standard, complete with melisma.
Now it really offended me for two reasons. One, I know that this song was composed in a contemplative environment and deserved a rendering worthy of its original context. I would have had an organ and four-voice chorus do it if the organist knew how to accompany them. Two, I am somewhat conservative about liturgical music. I do not mind Taize or a U2charist, but I am unhappy with having silly renditions of tunes meant to draw us close to God in a particular way. So I think that for my wedding, or my… (figure that out), I will have to hire a real choir with a real group of musicians who can do justice to sacred music.
I don’t blame Fr. Manoling for that, though. I hope he and his Jesuit brothers now regret that they allowed “Tanging Yaman” to become the title of a commercial movie and thus liable to being covered in a crass, commercialistic, poppy way. And the Jesuit musicians should realize that they may soon suffer the kind of backlash that Marty Haugen, David Haas, and the St. Louis Jesuits are getting from a significantly noisy part of the Church in the US because of this. I should know; some of them are on a bulletin board I visit every day.
(On this note, I think I should really get that sacred music conference set up. Dr. Feliciano will be getting a visit from me sometime.)
Otherwise, I liked dinner.