Lenten services of Reconciliation - including those celebrated by the Bishop around the Clifton Diocese - are a chance to use music in a new way for many parish and deanery choirs and groups.
The requirements for music are fairly simple, but the way that it is used can set an appropriate atmosphere for the acts of confession which are the main focus of the evening. On the whole the musical needs for these celebrations differ from those in the Mass or the Office. What is required for Reconciliation services is a quieter, more reflective and less involving approach. While some of the people may join in, be prepared for the majority to want to listen, or to use the music as a background effect, rather than join in the singing.
This means that the focus is on making the words clear and the singing lines simple (remember that this is during Lent, so you might not want to have instruments other than the basic accompanying instruments such as guitar or keyboard/organ playing); it is also a matter of having what may be familiar music, which tends to be a more comforting experience. It's amazing how particular words in a song can affect individual people
Types of music which are appropriate might be:
- Responsorial psalms (especially those of a penitential nature, and/or those with song-like responses)
- Songs and hymns (again, those of a penitential nature, or songs of healing and wholeness)
- Taize (or Taize-like) chants
- Plainsong (if your community is used to hearing plainsong)
If you are choosing music using thematic indexes you might like to consider pieces in the categories for healing, repentence, God's love, forgiveness and God's mercy as starting points.