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!


At Friday, July 07, 2006 9:20:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

You know what's wrong with paragraph 20? It says that people are hip to singing on holidays. Fine.

But all throughout the year, the choir often told to save its polyphonic Mass settings for big feasts. These are times when it is appropriate to sing a spectacular Gloria or Sanctus or Kyrie. Fine too.

But both can't be true. Either these are the time for big choral pieces--choirs are often told to hold their horses until then--and then the big day comes around and they are told, no, you must do stuff everyone can sing, and especially since there are so many people who don't come around too often, you must do something familiar.

Do you see the problem here with this paragraph? It can easily be invoked in the ongoing Catholic War on the Choir.

At Friday, July 07, 2006 9:25:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

Paragraph 20, though, doesn’t really distinguish between congregational and choral music.

There is definitely that conflict, between great music for high feasts and congregations’ singing on those days, but paragraph 20 doesn’t engage this conflict, strictly speaking; it just says there should be more music on high feasts, without saying who does the singing.

At Friday, July 07, 2006 9:27:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

You are right! I misread it.

At Friday, July 21, 2006 8:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastorally speaking, I am torn, too -- you want to take advantage of the people's willingness to sing when the hymns are those beloved Christmas carols, those grand old Easter hymns; but in practice, that means the more solemn the feast, the LESS likely that you will do the Propers (which, after all, are only really possible, if the choir is doing the singing.)


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