Debbie Warrier with Michael Peters: Liturgy, if done well, can be spine-tingling

04 Mar 2009

By The Record

Music played well at Mass is like the icing on the cake. In 1999 Father Tim Deeter asked me to be the organist at St Mary’s Cathedral. He also got some people together to sing at the 11.30am Mass there.

Michael Peters

Eventually I took over rehearsals and the Cathedral Singers became my choir in 2000. I’ve been the director ever since. The whole idea was that the singers be a high quality parish based choir whilst singing some professional Cathedral music too.
Our choir is not there to put on the best performance but purely to inspire people.  I’ve always believed that singing hymns is praying twice.
One of the prayers we say before Mass is, “Bless us your servants O Lord who minister in your temple. Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and that what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” It reminds the choir we are not just there to provide the music at the Mass but to really, truly believe what we are singing.
After Mass and rehearsals we say our prayers together. We always add, “St Cecilia, pray for us.”
She is the patron saint of music. She inspires me and I always pray to her for guidance and help. I think she does help our choir in a lot of ways.
Doing the liturgy well (the way it is meant to be) is a really beautiful thing to do. I lose myself in liturgical music. It can be spine tingling.
The Eucharistic prayer is particularly meaningful to me too. During this part of the Mass the musicians and choir can spend a few minutes in meditative prayer.
To be a Catholic you have to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist which I really do.
At night I pray with my daughter Erin (4). She sings her prayers to music she has made up and says, “Daddy sings his prayers. Why can’t I?” We say the “Hail Mary” and “Our Father.” Then we ask God to bless our family and thank Him for the day. We start and finish with the Sign of the Cross.
I play and sing for Masses, weddings and funerals. I’ve taught altar servers, readers, special Eucharistic ministers and acolytes about the liturgy.
Whenever I feel like my music has put me on the map I am reminded by the Gospel readings of the importance of humility in prayer. Becoming the organist and director of the Cathedral Singers at St Mary’s Cathedral is like my reward for my faith.
Currently we are singing at St Joachim’s Church, in Victoria Park. We will return to sing at St Mary’s Cathedral on its completion. New members are always welcome and those interested can contact me on 0414 294 338 (m).
My faith provides me with the foundation for my life.
It is something I try to pass onto others. Doing music with people for weddings or funerals gives me the opportunity to be a part of their life for that period of time and impart to them how I feel about what I do. Music is a form of evangelisation.
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