Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Musicam Sacram 1-4


1. Sacred music is one of the elements of liturgical reform that Vatican Council II considered thoroughly. The Council explained the role of music in divine worship and set out many principles and rules in the Constitution on the Liturgy, which has an entire chapter on the subject.

(Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 112-121 found here)

2. The recently begun reform of the liturgy is already putting the conciliar enactments into effect. The new norms relative to the faithful's active participation and the structuring of the rites, however, have given rise to some problems about music and its ministerial function. It seems necessary to solve these in order to bring out more clearly the meaning of the relevant principles of the Constitution on the Liturgy.

It almost seems that the writers were starting to see some of the abuses that we are so familiar with currently. The second sentence seems to imply that some of these problems pertain to the "active" participation of the people which we're still battling over.

3. By mandate of Pope Paul VI the Consilium has carefully examined these problems and drawn up the present Instruction. It is not a collection of all the legislation on sacred music, but a statement simply of the principal norms that seem most needed at the present time. The Instruction also stands as a continuation and compliment of the earlier Instruction of the Congregation of Rites on the correct carrying out of the Constitution on the Liturgy, which was also prepared by the Consilium and issued 26 September 1964.

Admits that this is not an exhaustive statement, but one that addresses the principal norms "most needed at the present time."

4. The reasonable expectation is that in welcoming and carrying out these norms pastors, composers, and the faithful, will strive with one accord to achieve the genuine purpose of sacred music, "which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful." [1]

Perhaps a bit unreasonable it seems; I've yet to come across a pastor who has ever even mentioned this document. I'm not sure many even know it exists, much less have read it.

a. Music is "sacred" insofar as it is composed for the celebration of divine worship and possesses integrity of form. [2]

William Mahrt argues in his article for the most recent issue of Sacred Music (found here) that this should be translated literally as "excellence of forms." (plural) Excellent article.

b. The term "sacred music" here includes: Gregorian chant, the several styles of polyphony, both ancient and modern; sacred music for organ and for other permitted instruments, and the sacred, i.e., liturgical or religious, music of the people. [3]

Notice the hierarchy of styles here; chant at the top and "music of the people" at the bottom.


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