Tuesday, March 28, 2006

of dogs, tails, and homilies

Our pastor takes pains to make available his homilies so that I may plan music around them. This struck me as a little weird when I first encountered it; I’ve always just planned music according to the readings. Lately I’ve also started consulting the Propers of the Mass and treating them as models for texts to choose to be sung during the processionals (entrance, offertory, communion).

Thomas Day would look at this as an example of the Mass becoming “the priest’s show”, I imagine: that a priest would expect me to plan music around the words he subjectively (and fallibly) speaks in the Mass.

There are two things that come to mind here. For one, this is actually contrary to the guidelines for homilies in the GIRM, which give the following:
65. The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.
So, the homily is an exposition of Scripture, the Ordinary, or the Proper. In other words, the homily is based off the sung texts, not vice-versa. Of course, this presumes that the sung texts are those from the Proper - which is not the norm nowadays.

The other thing that comes to mind is how “Protestant” this concept is, that the liturgy revolves around the homily. In an “ideal Mass”, subjectivity is kept to a minimum, and the liturgy itself is given maximum opportunity to catechize. (sp?) The more subjectivity there is, the more opportunity there is for our own human weakness to detract from the lessons in Scripture, the Ordinary, and the Proper.

“If I had my mouth”, I’d argue to my pastor that the homily and (option 4) musical texts, being both subjective decisions, have no interdependence. Of course, he wouldn’t take kindly to this: he’s still got his mind in liturgical reform, wants to renovate our church to have everyone facing radially. He doesn’t realize that our generation is busy picking up the pieces from their “reform”.

This all being said, my pastor’s homilies are generally well-done, even for being (literally) read word-for-word from a piece of paper.


At Monday, May 01, 2006 9:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I urge you to begin introducing By Flowing Waters into your parish`s repertoire. This way, you can accomplish a few of the very astute things you pointed out here:

1. You can bring back proper Propers, even though BFW is the Graduale Simplex in translation;

2. You can get away from the need to throw money on a regular basis at the newest, most popular musical pieces that are eternally generated by the various "liturgical music" companies, and maybe even rid the parish of the need for "worship aids" (I hate that term--sounds like a disease you get from going to Church) like missalettes;

3. You can use the implementation of the Propers as rationale for getting away from having to use the pastor`s suggested tunes, and at the same time acquaint him with the purpose of the Propers--which you very well and succinctly state in your post.

At Monday, May 01, 2006 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

One issue I have with BFW is the Biblical translation - NRSV, gender-neutered.

The other is that BFW doesn’t really contain *Propers*, in the sense of being music and text that are appointed for a particular Mass. (This being said, neither does the Gradual, for funerals and other incidental Masses.)

BFW (like the GS) basically takes the hymnal mentality: a set of general texts that may be chosen by the music director and/or pastor.

Preferable to BFW, in my opinion, is the approach of the Introit hymn.


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