Thursday, August 10, 2006

Interesting in the latest Pastoral Music

1) The nascent chant section of NPM has 95 members - pretty impressive for having been nonexistent in 2004.

2) The issue leads off with an article titled “Etiquette for Cantors for Facilitators of Song” which first takes issue with overamplified cantors. (My mother, in a recent visit to my parish, confirmed that we have a problem with this, too....it’s political, alas.)

But, just when you thought it was safe to play outside....

3) Look at the following paragraph:
The priest celebrant would speak the prescribed texts while the congregation sang a versified paraphrase - in the best conditions - or otherwise a familiar devotional song. .. The Second Vatican Council, in the interests of such “active participation,” charged the congregation with singing the actual liturgical texts, but proper chants are not easy, and so bishops seized on the exception clauses in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy /Sacrosanctum Concilium/ encouraging the use of the “people’s own religious songs” even “during the services of the liturgy itself” (118) and allowed easier and by now much more familiar hymns to substitute for the appointed chants.


Nowhere in the English translation of the CSL does the phrase “religious songs” appear. The CSL does not discuss replacing the Proper texts of the Mass with other texts (at least, not at article 118); it encourages congregational singing, but it does not describe the terms of such singing.

Only in the 1967 instruction “Musicam sacram” do we find explicit encouragement for popular singing of the Proper of the Mass, and even here, replacement of the Proper is not discussed. Singing the Proper is the “third layer” which, according to that document, should be achieved only when the first two (basically the dialogues and the Ordinary) are done as well.

That all being said, the article is actually quite in favor of a balance between congregational and non-congregational singing, with a glowing review of a Mass at St. Mark’s in Venice that made frequent use of plainchant and polyphony.

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