18 November 2020, The Tablet

I am finding – to my genuine surprise – that I very much miss the singing at Mass

I am finding – to my genuine surprise – that I very much miss the singing at Mass

I am tone-deaf – and have been since childhood.

To be precise, I am not 100 per cent tone-deaf, but I cannot accurately or reliably tell the difference between two piano keys less than about four or five tones apart and grew up believing that the black keys on the piano were a “cunning trick” by grown-ups to make playing more challenging (like Latin irregular verbs).

I went to the sort of girls’ school where learning an instrument was compulsory, but when I was about 14 my music teacher’s termly report read, “Alas, poor Sara”. And both my parents and the school gave up the doomed endeavour to instruct me. The natural consequences of this “disability” is that music conveys very little to me emotionally and good manners dictate that I should not sing in public (I do sing alone in my house, and particularly in my car).

Nonetheless, I am finding – to my genuine surprise – that I VERY much miss the singing at Mass – presently cancelled as part of the “Covid safe” response to the pandemic. I want to be clear: I understand the health reasons for making this decision and accept and even “agree” with them. I do not believe that singing increases the “validity” of the sacrament or even necessarily the unity of the body. I have never felt that Mass without singing was in any way “deficient”. But I miss it.
I have been trying to work out why this should be.

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