Friday, July 28, 2006

une pensée sur le Graduel Romain

Hey, I'm in France (ergo the absence of postings lately) on vacation. So many incredible cathedrals and just random awesome-looking churches. (Ay-ay....what the hork happened???)

Anyhow, I had a thought a while back. Folks are starting to adapt the Proper texts to new music. Those of us with more affinity for the Gregorian repertoire seem to be inclined toward those texts, while guys like Paul Ford use the Missal texts.

My thought is: if the Gradual's texts are entirely determined by the existence of ancient Gregorian melodies, and the Missal texts are created anew (essentially) .... if we are using the Church's resources just for texts and not for music, should we not use the Missal texts, which are designed to be set to new music, as opposed to the Gregorian melodies' texts, which constrict the choice of text to an existing repertoire of music?

(Confound these French keyboards!)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ministering to ex-hippies?

I had a funny moment a few weeks back when a woman who plays in one of our guitar groups lamented to me about how “everything is going back to the old ways”. We had a chat about it and have exchanged a couple emails.

She remembers fondly the Mass of the early 70s, when “for the first time” she was able to understand the Mass, and has a couple of kids who, she laments, find more interest at our local Vineyard than in our church, though they do still come to Mass and participate in parish activities. She’s afraid the coming/expected changes in the Church, such as those discussed here, on TNLM, etc., will alienate these young adult types even more.

I don’t know that she’s especially bothered by anything I’ve done except using Guimont-type responsorial psalms, but she has spoken of some of these things as “old church”. She mentioned in passing she figured by now priests would be allowed to marry, women would be priests, etc. etc. She is probably averse to any Latin, or anything that reminds her of how Mass was in 1960.

None of this gives me pause or makes me wonder if I’m on the right path in introducing more Scripture-centric ways of singing (esp. with the approval these practices have enjoyed of the pastor and other staff), but it does make me wonder: how are we going to minister to the disillusioned ex-hippies who thought they were re-creating the Catholic Church in some kind of “cool” late 20th century, everybody’s-equal image, who thought in 1970 that every difficult Church teaching was a holdover of a past made irrelevant by the advances humankind has made and that surely would be abrogated in a short time?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Nice idea for Marian chant/polyphony

As many readers of this blog are probably aware, Pope Paul VI published a collection of chants in 1974 called “Jubilate Deo” that he asked all the world’s bishops to make known to all Catholics.

Included in this collection was the Marian hymn “Ave maris stella”. I happened upon this polyphonic version by Felice Anerio a few days back. (FYI, Anerio also has a great setting of the Gradual for Good Friday.) It occurred to me that a neat idea would be to alternate between chant and polyphony - this actually is how I first encountered this hymn in a choral lit class (Dufay and Dunstable, I believe, did this):

Verse 1: chant
Verse 2: polyphony
Verse 3: chant
Verse 4: polyphony

The actual polyphony is kinda cute: Palestrina meets early Baroque chromaticism.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

MS 33-36

33. The assembly of the faithful should, as far as possible, have a part in singing the Proper of the Mass, especially by use of the simpler responses or other appropriate melodies.
Of all the chants for the Proper the one coming between the readings as a gradual or responsorial psalm is particularly significant. It is intrinsically a part of the liturgy of the word and thus is to be sung with the whole assembly sitting, listening, and even, if possible, taking part.

This is a tricky one. When the Propers are actually done, they usually take the form of a non-congregational setting. When the people are asked to sing them, some concessions are usually made in regards to the integrity of the Proper itself.

Personally, I like the idea of the congregation fully involved with the Introit and the Gradual/Responsorial Psalm, but I think that Offertory and Communion are times when the Proper would often best be left up to the choir.

34. When there is to be part-singing for the chants of the Ordinary of the Mass, they may be sung by the choir alone in the customary way, that is, either a capella or with instrumental accompaniment. The Congregation, however, must not be altogether left out of the singing for the Mass.
In other cases the chants of the Ordinary may be divided between choir and congregation or between one part of the congregation and another. The singing is then done by alternating verses or in any other way that takes in most of the entire text. It is important in any such arrangement, however, to attend to the following. Because it is a profession of faith, the Credo is best sung by all or else sung in a manner that allows the congregation's proper participation. Because it is an acclamation concluding the preface, the Sanctus should as a rule be sung by the entire assembly along with the priest. Because it accompanies the breaking of the bread, the Agnus Dei may be repeated as often as necessary, especially in concelebrations and it is appropriate as well for the congregation to have a part in it, at least by singing the final Grant us peace.

The document makes an assumption that is nearly always ignored in practice: a sung Credo. Not only sung, but with the people involved.

I must admit, I've never even been to a mass where the Credo was sung, much less had it sung under my musical leadership. It just seems too long and unwieldy to pull off successfully. Has anyone ever tried the setting by T. Marier in HPSC in which the entire thing is sung recto tono on a G while the organ changes harmonies underneath? I'd like to see how that works sometime . . .

As far as the Sanctus, this debate has come up before in other venues (and maybe this one as well, I can't remember). This document affirms the use of the Sanctus by all assembled; choral settings would not be normative, nor even desired it seems.

35. The congregation should join the priest in singing the Lord's Prayer. [22] When it is in Latin, it is sung to the traditional melodies; the melodies for singing it in the vernacular must have the approval of the competent territorial authority.

Nothing raises the roof like the chant "Our Father" . . .

36. Any one of the parts of the Proper or the Ordinary in a low Mass may be sung. Sometimes it is even quite appropriate to have other songs at the beginning, at the presentation of the gifts, and at the communion, as well as at the end of Mass. It is not enough for these songs to be "eucharistic" in some way; they must be in keeping with the parts of the Mass and with the feast or liturgical season.

Once again, how does this play out in the current liturgical landscape when we don't really have "low" masses anymore? According to this paragraph, the "low" masses have different musical guidelines than those of the "high" or "solemn" mass which we discussed previously.

22. See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Inter Oecumenici, 26 Sept. 1964, no. 48 g.

MCW 30-38

The Liturgical Judgment

30. The nature of the liturgy itself will help to determine what kind of music is called for, what parts are to be preferred for singing, and who is to sing them.

This is kinda treading on Musicam sacram’s feet here; a U.S. bishops’ document should dicuss Mass in the U.S. alone, not give a whole different schema of singing in liturgy. Anyway.

A. Structural Requirements

31. The choice of sung parts, the balance between them, and the style of musical setting used should reflect the relative importance of the parts of the Mass or other service) and the nature of each part. Thus elaborate settings of the entrance song, "Lord have Mercy" and "Glory to God" may make the proclamation of the word seem unimportant; and an overly elaborate offertory song with a spoken "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord" may make the eucharistic prayer seem less important.

MCW’s writers apparently didn’t envision the all-sung Mass that was in mind when the SCR issued Musicam sacram.

This little paragraph can be used to justify the near-exclusion of any art music from the Mass, since it doesn’t take a whole lot of artistry to “make the proclamation of the word seem unimportant”. Actually, I am fairly sure that just about any music goes along with that: no one walks out humming the homily - or the Epistle.

ISTM also that this thinking would preclude the use of the great Gregorian tracts of 1st Lent and Palm Sunday.

This does, though, speak to the natural tension between musical progress and keeping it accessible for the layperson. I had this discussion lately: the Mass as it stands in most parishes offers little for the introspective, cultured individual. The usual response to this observation is something like “go to the cathedral, then” - really unfortunate, considering that many (most?) cathedral parishes do not offer the same sense of community that a regular parish does. It also reinforces the idea that we know what’s good for us - “this isn’t nourishing me”, someone says - well, how do you know that it’s not what you need?

Granted, this could go right back to artsy folks - how do we know that simple music isn’t what we need? I suppose tradition speaks to the validity of art music in the liturgy, though.

B. Textual Requirements

32. Does the music express and interpret the text correctly and make it more meaningful? Is the form of the text respected? In making these judgments the principal classes of texts must be kept in mind: proclamations, acclamations, psalms and hymns, and prayers. Each has a specific function which must be served by the music chosen for a text. In most instances there is an official liturgical text approved by the episcopal conference. "Vernacular texts set to music composed in earlier periods," however, "may be used in liturgical texts."'3 As noted elsewhere, criteria have been provided for the texts which may replace the processional chants of Mass. In these cases and in the choice of all supplementary music, the texts "must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources."'4

It stops short of explicitly saying texts (other than the processionals) must conform fully to approved liturgical texts, though I believe this is stated elsewhere. (would appreciate a reference?)

Of course, one wonders about strophic musical settings of texts: do these “express” the texts? Or, psalm-tones: do these traditional elements of liturgical music “express” anything? (generally, no)

I do like the attention given to function being regarded in the composition of the music. ISTM that responsorial Glorias kinda fall under this concern: the Gloria is not a responsorial prayer, so why are there so many responsorial settings of it?

C. Role Differentiation

33. "In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy."'5 Special musical concern must be given to the role of the congregation, the cantor, the choir, and the instrumentalists.

Good stuff - different strokes for the different folks who sing/play.

D. The Congregation

34. Music for the congregation must be within its members' performance capability. The congregation must be comfortable and secure with what they are doing in order to celebrate well.

Are the editors of Spirit & Song reading this paragraph - “within its members’ performance capability”.

The second sentence kinda argues for not giving the congregation the Proper, since by its very nature it does not lend itself to giving congregations “comfort” or “security”. (Instead, what we generally have done is opt for singing songs in place of Proper texts: valuing congregational singing enough to dislodge the Proper.)

E. The Cantor

35. While there is no place in the liturgy for display of virtuosity for its own sake, artistry is valued, and an individual singer can effectively lead the assembly, attractively proclaim the Word of God in the psalm sung between the readings, and take his or her part in other responsorial singing. "Provision should be made for at least one or two properly trained singers, especially where there is no possibility of setting up even a small choir. The singer will present some simpler musical settings, with the people taking part, and can lead and support the faithful as far as is needed. The presence of such a singer is desirable even in churches which have a choir, for those celebrations in which the choir cannot take part but which may fittingly be performed with some solemnity and therefore with singing."'6 Although a cantor "cannot enhance the service of worship in the same way as a choir, a trained and competent cantor can perform an important ministry by leading the congregation in common sacred song and in responsorial singing."'7

ISTM that a cantor serves a very different function liturgically from a choir: a choir sings as a distinct body, whereas a cantor either leads congregational singing (leading a body rather than singing as a part of it) or sings verses of responsorial chants/songs. And of course, the cantor needs to be visible to the people, while the choir does not (and, IMHO, should not).

F. The Choir

36. A well.trained choir adds beauty and solemnity to the liturgy and also assists and encourages the singing of the congregation. The Second Vatican Council, speaking of the choir, stated emphatically: "Choirs must be diligently promoted," provided that "the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs."'8

The tension between what the choir sings versus what the people’s great to have the congregation sing the Kyrie, but that effectively rules out polyphony and anything else that is not congregational (simple, homophonic, etc.)

"At times the choir, within the congregation of the faithful and as part of it, will assume the role of leadership, while at other times it will retain its own distinctive ministry. This means that the choir will lead the people in sung prayer, by alternating or reinforcing the sacred song of the congregation, or by enhancing it with the addition of a musical elaboration. At other times in the course of liturgical celebration the choir alone will sing works whose musical demands enlist and challenge its competence."'9

Important here: the choir is within the congregation - not “performing” in front of it!

G. The Organist and Other Instrumentalists

37. Song is not the only kind of music suitable for liturgical celebration. Music performed on the organ and other instruments can stimulate feelings of joy and contemplation at appropriate times.20 This can be done effectively at the following points: an instrumental prelude, a soft background to a spoken psalm, at the preparation of the gifts in place of singing, during portions of the communion rite, and the recessional. In the dioceses of the United States, "musical instruments other than the organ may be used in liturgical services, provided they are played in a manner that is suitable to public worship."2' This decision deliberately refrains from singling out specific instruments. Their use depends on circumstances, the nature of the congregation, etc.

Et cetera? In a liturgical document???

It would be helpful for guidelines less subjective than “suitable to public worship”. I think just about anything could be (and probably is) justified under that criterion.

38. The proper placing of the organ and choir according to the arrangement and acoustics of the church will facilitate celebration. Practically speaking, the choir must be near the director and the organ (both console and sound). The choir ought to be able to perform without too much distraction; the acoustics ought to give a lively presence of sound in the choir area and allow both tone and word to reach the congregation with clarity. Visually it is desirable that the choir appear to be part of the worshiping community, yet a part which serves in a unique way. Locating the organ console too far from the congregation causes a time lag which tends to make the singing drag unless the organist is trained to cope with it. A location near the front pews will facilitate congregational singing.

A bit of nonsense here:

1) The organ console does not make sound; the organ’s pipes (and/or, alas, speakers) are the issue with lag.

2) Churches have been built with organ consoles away from the front for centuries now, and the arrangement was perfectly conducive to congregational singing. Now, in the 20th century, some Catholics (who have no substantial tradition of congregational singing) come along and say we need organ consoles in the front? Poppycock.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

MCW 25-29

The Musical Judgment

26. Is the music technically, aesthetically, and expressively good? This judgment is basic and primary and should be made by competent musicians. Only artistically sound music will be effective in the long run. To admit the cheap, the trite, the musical cliche often found in popular songs for the purpose of "instant liturgy" is to cheapen the liturgy, to expose it to ridicule, and to invite failure.

“Great things happen when God mixes with us!” (Speaking of the cheap and trite!)

27. Musicians must search for and create music of quality for worship, especially the new musical settings for the new liturgical texts. They must also do the research needed to find new uses for the best of the old music. They must explore the repertory of good music used in other communions. They must find practical means of preserving and using our rich heritage of Latin chants and motets."

Sounds good - preserve and use the old while also creating new.

In the meantime, however, the words of St. Augustine should not be forgotten: “Do not allow yourselves to be offended by the imperfect while you strive for the perfect.”

Hm - so “Abba Father” was to be excused as a step on the road from “Veni creator Spiritus” to perfection?

28. We do a disservice to musical values, however, when we confuse the judgment of music with the judgment of musical style. Style and value are two distinct judgments. Good music of new styles is finding a happy home in the celebrations of today. To chant and polyphony we have effectively added the chorale hymn, restored responsorial singing to some extent, and employed many styles of contemporary composition. Music in folk idiom is finding acceptance in eucharistic celebrations. We must judge value within each style.

It would be helpful to define “style” at some point. I am of the mind that good congregational music is basically one musical style: straight rhythms, homophony with one really obvious, singable melody with a modest range and repetition at the phrasal and/or motivic levels. That doesn’t exactly apply to all the music I’d want a congregation to sing (i.e. Holy Thursday and Good Friday hymns), but by and large, if I want a congregation to sing something, it should be a lot like LOBE DEN HERREN.

"In modern times the Church has consistently recognized and freely admitted the use of various styles of music as an aid to liturgical worship. Since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy and more especially since the introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy, there has arisen a more pressing need for musical compositions in idioms that can be sung by the congregation and thus further communal participation."'2

This seems true - after the CSL there was a pressing need felt for music that was immediately accessible to Joe Catholic - which isn’t chant.

29. The musician has every right to insist that the music be good. But although all liturgical music should be good, not all good music is suitable to the liturgy. The musical judgment is basic but not final. There remain the liturgical and pastoral judgments.

Sounds good - I’ll be the first to concede that the Mozart Requiem, while incredible music, is formally awkward for liturgy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

a funny Jeffery excerpt

Indeed, there is no better illustration of the inherently conservative character of liturgical worship than the strange fact that the Roman Catholic Mass (of all things) has become the last bastion of late 1960s folk-rock, long after popular music has moved on through disco, house, techno and trance, rap and hip hop.


ok, at least one legit objection to “Liturgiam authenticam”

I am reading Peter Jeffery’s book “Translating Tradition: A Chant Historian Reads Liturgiam authenticam”. When we get to about page 50, here finally is what I find to be a legit objection to one part of the document.

Article 36 states that there should exist only one approved translation of the Scripture, even the Psalter. Maybe I’m just overly attached to the Gelineau psalmody, but I think it would be unfortunate to lose the Grail translation (still approved for the responsorial Psalm) from the Mass. And I don’t know that we necessarily need have just one text; Jeffery shows that there have been multiple Latin texts for Scripture in use for centuries in the TLM.

Unfortunately, much else in Jeffery’s book is cruft. He can’t distinguish between a new rite and a translation of the Roman Rite, it seems. This is a very highly regarded book; if you engage in discussions over Liturgiam authenticam, it’s pretty much required reading.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

MS 27-32

III. Singing During Mass

27. As far as possible, eucharistic celebrations with the people, especially on Sundays, should by preference take the form of a Mass with singing, even more than once in the same day.

Right on.

28. The distinction between solemn, the high, and the low Mass, sanctioned by the 1958 Instruction (no. 3) remains in force, according to tradition and current law. But for pastoral reasons degrees of solemnity for the sung Mass are proposed here in order that it will become easier, in accord with each congregation's capability, to make the celebration of Mass more solemn through the use of singing.

These degrees must be so employed, however, that the first may always be used without the others, but the second and third never without the first. Thus in all cases the faithful are to be brought to take part fully in the singing.

It was my understanding that this first sentence distinguishing solemn, high and low masses had been rendered obsolete by the advent of the "Novus Ordo"--can anyone verify this?

As far as the aforementioned "degrees" go, these have been clearly ignored since the document was released. If the first degree was used by itself in any parish in the US, it would be a very strange experience for your typical Sunday worshipper.

29. To the first degree belong:

a. in the entrance rites

-the priest's greeting and the congregation's response;
-the opening prayer.

b. in the liturgy of the word

-the gospel acclamations.

c. in the liturgy of the eucharist

-the prayer over the gifts;
-the preface, with the opening dialogue and the Sanctus;
-the Lord's Prayer, with the invitation and embolism;
-the greeting May the peace of the Lord;
-the prayer after communion;
-the final dismissal.

In general, to this first degree go the priestly prayers as well as the dialogues with the people. This is curious to read since most priests I have come across rarely sing their parts of the mass.

(Note: What are the "gospel acclamations" in this context? The Gradual/Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia seem to be contained in the third degree . . . ")

30. To the second degree belong:

a. Kyrie, Gloria, Agnus Dei;

b. profession of faith;

c. general intercessions.

Most of the Ordinary is included in this degree besides the Sanctus which is contained in the first.

31. To the third degree belong:

a. songs for the entrance procession and for communion;

b. chants after a lesson or epistle;

c. Alleluia before the gospel;

d. songs for the presentation of the gifts;

e. the Scripture readings, except when it seems better not to have them sung.

And to this degree goes the Proper. Notice again the order of the degrees, keeping in mind that the second degree should not be sung without the first and the third without the second and third:

1) Presidential Prayers and Dialogues

2) Ordinary

3) Proper

Of course we automatically notice that the degrees are normally inverted in the typical parish. I would say that the Proper (or the hymns substitued in their place) are nearly always the first thing to be sung, while the Presidential Prayers and Dialogues are almost never done, except during an important feast.

I must admit I found the contents of the degrees jarring when I first encountered them since they were so foreign to my own liturgical experience. Yet pondering them further, it is interesting to note that a mass with only the first degree sung could be a very prayerful and powerful liturgy done with little or no accompaniment.

32. In some places there is the lawful practice, occasionally confirmed by indult, of substituting other songs for the entrance, offertory, and communion chants in the Graduale. At the discretion of the competent territorial authority this practice may be kept, on condition that the songs substituted fit in with those parts of the Mass, the feast, or the liturgical season. The texts of such songs must also have the approval of the same territorial authority.

Normally I would say that this paragraph is the one that opened the floodgates for "Kum-ba-ya" and the like, but considering that I doubt many read this document at the time, I think the substitution of other hymns for the Propers was brought about elsewhere.

We're still waiting for the "competent territorial authority" to approve these songs.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

MCW 19-25

The Occasion

l9. The same congregation will want to celebrate in a variety of ways. During the course of the year the different mysteries of redemption are recalled in the Mass so that in some way they are made present.7 Each feast and season has its own spirit and its own music. The penitential occasions demand more restraint. The great feasts demand more solemnity. Solemnity, however, depends less on the ornateness of song and magnificence of ceremonial than on worthy and religious celebration."

Enh, ok, but lines like this have been abused to disallow any ornateless of song or magnificence of ceremonial.

Ornateness and magnificence speak to our sense of something’s being special - it’s in our culture. Maybe it’s natural in all cultures. Why does the U.S. Capitol have a big, imposing structure? Because a big, imposing structure signifies importance. Gold chalices, murals, stained glass - these add magnificence, which in turn teaches us that what happens here is more important than what happens elsewhere.

20. Generally a congregation or choir will want to sing more on the great feasts like Christmas and Easter and less in the season through the year. Important events in family and parish life will suggest fuller programs of song. Sundays will be celebrated with variety but always as befits the day of the Lord. All liturgies, from the very simple to the most ornate, must be truly pastoral and prayerful.

True dat!

The Celebrant

21. No other single factor affects the liturgy as much as the attitude, style, and bearing of the celebrant: his sincere faith and warmth as he welcomes the worshiping community; his human naturalness combined with dignity and seriousness as he breaks the Bread of Word and Eucharist.

This kinda presumes the celebrant is “on display” - which, when the liturgy is celebrated with the priest facing liturgical east, isn’t so much the case.

But, yes, there definitely is an element of the celebrant as “greeter” in the new liturgy, so it’s fair to say the first word from him should be a sincere greeting.

22. The style and pattern of song ought to increase the effectiveness of a good celebrant. His role is enhanced when he is capable of rendering some of his parts in song, and he should be encouraged to do so. What he cannot sing well and effectively he ought to recite. If capable of singing, he ought, for the sake of people, to rehearse carefully the sung parts that contribute to their celebration.9

Here we see reference to some of Musicam sacram’s first level of singing: greeting, responses, etc. Not enough, in my opinion; I’d like to see the new document stress the importance of the priest singing his parts: the notes themselves aren’t as important as just singing, even if just to a simple psalm tone.

The Place of Music in the Celebration

Music Serves the Expression of Faith

23. Among the many signs and symbols used by the Church to celebrate its faith, music is of preeminent importance. As sacred song united to words it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.'? Yet the function of music is ministerial; it must serve and never dominate. Music should assist the assembled believers to express and share the gift of faith that is within them and to nourish and strengthen their interior commitment of faith. It should heighten the texts so that they speak more fully and more effectively. The quality of joy and enthusiasm which music adds to community worship cannot be gained in any other way. It imparts a sense of unity to the congregation and sets the appropriate tone for a particular celebration.

I think it’s fair to say that this paragraph hasn’t really seen implementation. Take the Haas Mass of Light Gloria, with its extra word “Sing glory to God” and the absence of an “Amen”. And certainly, when the style of music defines one Mass from another in a parish, and people determine when they attend Mass by that factor, that is definitely putting into question whether the music is truly “serving” or “dominating” the liturgy.

This being said, it is hard to ignore great works of art, like a Palestrina Gloria, at Mass.

Maybe a clarification of what it means for the music to “dominate” rather than “serve” the liturgy would be helpful.

24. In addition to expressing texts, music can also unveil a dimension of meaning and feeling, a communication of ideas and intuitions which words alone cannot yield. This dimension is integral to the human personality and to growth in faith. It cannot be ignored if the signs of worship are to speak to the whole person. Ideally, every communal celebration of faith, including funerals and the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, penance, anointing, and matrimony, should include music and singing. Where it is possible to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in a community, it, too, should include music.

I’m liking this idea: music as a vehicle for expressing text. How often, especially with the pop-flavored stuff like in Spirit & Song, do people think to themselves, even subconsciously, “I like that song”, and only later they pay attention to the words.

25. To determine the value of a given musical element in a liturgical celebration a threefold judgment must be made: musical, liturgical, and pastoral.

The core of this document is its outline of musical, liturgical, and pastoral judgements. Stay tuned for the next episode of our trek through this document!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Computers to save us from modernism?

Gerald cites the “bad old days” of post-V2 Netherlands.

One of the underlying ideas is that the traditional Church approach to divine revelation - magisterial teachings, dogmas, and so forth - is not relevant today or, presumably, for the future. In the place of certainties, some post-V2 theologians, esp. in the Netherlands, “boldly” asserted ambiguities (or, possibly, “I’ll do whatever the h**l I wanna do!”).

Of course, to me, I read all this as analogous to the following: God has two students in a class and asks the first a question. He/she responds, to which the second reacts by saying, “no, that’s not the answer”. The first, then, turns and asks, “ok, what’s the answer”, to which the second replies “that’s not the point.” (The first student looks for an answer, while the second insists all answers are subjective.)

I have a substantial computing background, and an interesting trend I’ve noticed (ok, unempirically, and of course this is something I would *want* to see) is that, given a basic faith in God and His Church, computer-savvy people seem much more at home in the world of traditional Catholic belief: defined dogmas, logic, and so forth. I wonder if the information age may end up being a bit of a saving grace for the Church: sorry, goofy post-V2 wacko Dutch theologians, but your theology is outdated, a relic of a bygone era.

I love saying that, esp. in my parish. :) A lot of people really live in the same world as NPM and lots of mainstream liturgical publications: the reform of post-V2 is ongoing, don’t quench the spirit (Trautman), ya-de-yah. Meanwhile, more and more of us are saying, “um, V2 ended 40 years ago. Let’s live in the Church today, not in 1971.”

And of course, there is grey area. I’ve read *lots* of shaky reasoning in various blogs and forums, going both ways. (i.e., and some of what people post on

“Long live the Pope”

Anyone know this hymn?

I mean, I like B16, but I’m not sure “his rule is over space and time”. :)

The tune itself is kinda funny, kind of a musical caricature of ....something - the whole thing just makes me laugh.

Monday, July 03, 2006

MCW 10-18

I’m noticing quite a number of typos in the online edition. Hm.

Pastoral Planning for Celebration

10. The responsibility for effective pastoral celebration in a parish community falls upon all those who exercise major roles in the liturgy. "The practical preparation for each liturgical celebration should tee done in a spirit of cooperation by all parties concerned, under the guidance of the rector of the church, whether it be ritual, pastoral, or musical matters."2 In practice this ordinarily means an organized "planning team" or committee which meets regularly to achieve creative and coordinated worship and a good use of the liturgical and musical options of a flexible liturgy.

Sounds good to me - we keep one person from making all the decisions, and more input can be offered for how best to work with tricky situations.

11. The power of a liturgical celebration to share faith will frequently depend upon its unity—a unity drawn from the liturgical feast or season or from the readings appointed in the lectionary as well as artistic unity flowing from the skillful and sensitive selection of options, music, and related arts. The sacred scriptures ought to be the source and inspiration of sound planning for it is of the very nature of celebration that people hear the saving words and works of the Lord and then respond in meaningful signs and symbols. Where the readings of the lectionary possess a thematic unity, the other elements ought to be so arranged as to constitute a setting for and response to the message of the Word.

Here we have, implicitly stated, the idea that the texts to be sung are to be chosen in accordance with the readings. True enough, the Gradual does reflect this, with many instances of particular chants matched to particular days because they quote the Gospel. Still, there is a justification for having just another psalm - in a way, it is a separate piece of Scripture in and of itself.

If Adoremus is right, that the thinking that went into MCW and its forerunner, “The Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations”, was the fruit of far-left types, this would explain things: obviously if your ideal parish Mass is a “hootenanny” Mass, the idea of a Proper, even adapted for easy congregational singing, doesn’t square easily with “being meaningful”.

12. The planning team or committee is headed by the priest (Celebrant and homilist) for no congregation can experience the richness of a unified celebration if that unity is not grasped by the one who presides, as well as by those who have special roles. The planning group should include those with the knowledge and artistic skills needed in celebration: men and women trained in music, poetry, and art, and familiar with current resources in these areas; men and women sensitive also to the present day thirst of so many for the riches of scripture, theology, and prayer. It is always good to include some members of the congregation who have not taken special roles in the celebrations so that honest evaluations can be made.

Interesting that there is no mention of lay liturgists. Either the priest is the liturgy go-to person, or the document wants everyone to be a liturgy enthusiast.

But yes, we definitely need trained specialists in the arts for good liturgy.

13. The planning should go beyond the choosing of options, songs, and ministers to the composition of such texts as the brief introduction, general intercessions, and other appropriate comments as provided for in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. How people are invited to join in a particular song may be as important as the choice of the song itself.

I am definitely experiencing the truth of this last sentence lately: announcing the song versus asking people to open the hymnal to number blah-de-blah and sing hi-dee-ho.

I go back and forth on the merits of the general intercessions in the Mass. ISTM this is a vulnerable spot for some iffy ideas to creep into the liturgy: emphasizing, for example, social justice issues in intercessions without giving regard to praying for an end to abortion, respect for dignity of sex, etc. But yes, if we are to have intercessions, they should be decided upon with input from a committee.

This paragraph suggests that songs/chants be chosen by this committee. I can’t say as I’m a big fan of this; in my own experience, John Q. Catholic doesn’t pay as much attention to what music is easiest for him to sing as he does to which songs he likes to hear. Or, maybe I’m just selfishly reluctant to abdicate control over the musical choices for Mass in my parish.

14. In planning pastoral celebrations the congregation, the occasion, and the celebrant must be taken into consideration.

What does this mean??? Take them into account....and do what with that taking into account?

It’s not as bad as all that, I think - of course, congregational music should be easy to sing, and so forth. BUT, while one person thinks taking the congregation into consideration means doing only two or three OT readings at Easter Vigil, I would contend that taking the congregation into consideration means giving the people the fullness of the liturgy, not depriving of it. Sort of a “it’s for their own good” mentality, so to speak.

The Congregation

15. "The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be heightened if the texts of readings, prayers, and songs correspond as closely as possible to the needs, religious dispositions, and aptitude of the participants."3 A type of celebration suitable for a youth group may not fit in a retirement home; a more formal style effective in a parish church may be inappropriate in a home liturgy. The music used should be within the competence of most of the worshipers. It should suit their age.level, cultural background, and level of faith.

Ah, here it is. My first reeeally big beef with this document. Being pastoral means, among other things, helping people to grow. The liturgy is formational, and not everyone likes to be formed! If we take the GIRM and the CSL at face value, then part of the liturgy is indeed Gregorian Chant; people will only acquire “competence” with this music if they are exposed to it.

Supposing a necessity of accommodating people’s current conditions eschews the idea that the liturgy has its own culture. If the kids only heard Children’s Lectionary speak, they would never learn to understand the “grown-up” Biblical vocabulary. Granted, kids hopefully get that elsewhere in their formation.

16. Variations in level of faith raise special problems. Liturgical celebration presupposes a minimum of biblical knowledge and a deep commitment of living faith. If these are lacking, there might arise the tendency to use the liturgy as a tool of evangelization. Greater liberty in the choice of music and style of celebration may be required as the participants are led toward that day when they can share their growing faith as members of the Christian community. Songs like the psalms may create rather than solve problems where faith is weak. Music, chosen with care, can serve as a bridge to faith as well as an expression of it.

The liturgy is a pretty awful tool for evangelization of non-Catholics. My atheist friends are going not going to convert to Christianity because they hear a priest recite Eucharistic Prayer II. Evangelization requires answering questions and a more personal interaction than the liturgy, a communal act of the entire Church, allows. I mean, “Catholic aerobics”.....this is not appealing to non-Catholics!

Different tools for different purposes: to nourish the faith of the catechized, the liturgy is crucial. To bring new people into the faith, personal interaction is needed.

17. The diversity of people present at a parish liturgy gives rise to a further problem. Can the same parish liturgy be an authentic expression for a grade school girl, her college.age brother, their married sister with her young family, their parents and grandparents? Can it satisfy the theologically and musically educated along with those lacking in training? Can it please those who seek a more informal style of celebration? The planning team must consider the general makeup of the total community. Each Christian must keep in mind that to live and worship in community often demands a personal sacrifice. All must be willing to share likes and dislikes with others whose ideas and experiences may be quite unlike their own.

Again we presuppose that there is no intrinsic culture to the liturgy, instead asserting that the liturgical culture should come about as some kind of melting-pot of the gathered assembly’s likes and dislikes.

It’s easy to see, though, why so many are reticent about using Latin; if this document is their formation, then of course, Latin doesn’t “meet anyone at their level” except maybe a Classics scholar. Meanwhile it solves exactly the problem of various nationalities gathering to which MCW here makes reference.

18. Often the problem of diversity can be mitigated by supplementing the parish Sunday celebration with special celebrations for smaller homogeneous groups. "The needs of the faithful of a particular cultural background or of a particular age level may often be met by a music that can serve as a congenial, liturgically oriented expression of prayer.4 The music and other options may then be more easily suited to the particular group celebrating. Celebration in such groups, "in which the genuine sense of community is more readily experienced, can contribute significantly to growth in awareness of the parish as community, especially when all the faithful participate in the parish Mass on the Lord's day."5 Nevertheless, it would be out of harmony with the Lord's wish for unity in his Church if believers were to worship only in such homogeneous groupings.6

Oh boy. B16 has some interesting thoughts on “community” in Feast of Faith: basically that the more important sense of community is the communion with the whole Church, not the local gathering. Don’t take my summary, though - read the Pope’s writing. Pretty hardcore.

So, an all-English parish has 1,000 English-speaking families, 50 Hispanic families, and 1 Polish family. The number of Hispanic families soon triples, so the parish makes provision for a Mass in Spanish every first Sunday of a month. More Hispanic families come, and eventually there’s a regular Spanish Mass on Sunday. All the time the Polish family is subjected to the majority-rules mindset: their ethnicity and native tongue doesn’t matter as much as the Hispanics’ because the latter are more numerous and politically influential.

This is exactly the justification for Latin, even for readings: the more inculturated the liturgy becomes, the more uniquely it becomes the propriety of a particular group of people, and the less effectively it portrays the Church’s universality and inclusion of all peoples. We really need to rethink the insistence on vernaculars to the complete banishment of Latin.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sacred Music Retreat

Wow, the last 8 days have been full to say the least. Last Sunday, I worked my last weekend at my old parish and my daughter was baptized at my very last mass at the parish. That evening I left for a Sacred Music retreat which I attended from Sunday evening until Friday. Saturday, I started my new job. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

I wanted to say a bit about the retreat which took place at the seminary in Mundelein, IL. It was a great opportunity for some prayer, rest, and association with other like-minded musicians.

The setting was intimate with only about 20 participants and the campus there is isolated and beautiful. We prayed the Divine Office 3 times a day (Lauds, Sext, Vespers) with mass in the early evening. Presentations were in between interspersed with lengthy periods to relax, pray, read, or hang with the other retreatants.

It was very enlightening to be able to engage in public prayer with other professional musicians in a wonderfully resonant acoustic which was ideal for chant. We chanted english settings of the Divine Office propers composed by Fr. Samuel Weber (make sure to get on his e-mail list; he recently composed settings for the new translations of the Mass . . . e-mail him at and request to be put on his list). Though it took me a couple of days to really be able to pray in this way and not be focused on musical things, I must say that it was a very spiritual experience. Fr. Samuel was present at the retreat; a very holy man with a profound depth of knowledge when it comes to the sacred chant. Also had a very quirky sense of humor but amusing nonetheless.

Our retreat master was Fr. Jordan Kelly, a Dominican priest who was very soft-spoken and pious. The man was quite the intellectual and a tremendous speaker to boot. The man's history in liturgical music is interesting; he is an accomplished organist who hung with the NPM camp for many years and worked with some heavy-hitters (Bob Batastini, Leo Nestor, John Romeri) until converting to the other side of liturgical music fairly recently. He's all about chant and polyphony now, baby. He had some great anecdotes about the aforementioned musicians as well as other folks that I know of but have never personally met. Great priest.

I may write more about the retreat (I believe there are plans to do another one next year; I highly recommend attending if you're able) but I'm a bit exhausted.

quick thought on “consenting adults”

This article has an interesting take on the idea that “what two consenting adults do in their free time has no bearing on the rest of society”: in short, when everyone uses birth control, society as a whole suffers an aging population.