Friday, September 29, 2006

MCW Revision

Fellow musicians,

The following was sent to me recently from the Director of Worship in my old diocese:

Some of you may know that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is beginning the process of revising the two foundational U.S. documents on Catholic Liturgical Music: Music and Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today. As part of the revision process the Music and Liturgy Subcommittee has asked for advice / suggestions / recommendations from various organizations, institutions and diocesan offices of worship.

I know that some of you may have already been asked for input from one or more of the organizations / institutions who are in contact with the USCCB or BCL. However, I am also asking for your input in this endeavor and would be pleased to receive any response you might have to the following questions:

1) What elements or principles of Music and Catholic Worship and / or Liturgical Music Today do you think should be taken into consideration in this revision?
2) Are there areas of these documents, as they now exist, that you feel should be expanded and further developed OR areas of these documents that should be edited / shortened / deleted? Why do you feel this way?
3) Are there issues with music and the liturgy today, and which are not addressed in the documents (because of when they were written and where we were at that time in the liturgical renewal) that you feel need to be addressed? What are they and how would you think they should be addressed?
4) Are there any other concerns that you would want to voice in regard to the revision of these two documents?

Please feel free to respond to any of those questions above, or make any other comments / recommendations you feel moved to make. I appreciate any and all feedback.

I e-mailed him and asked him if it would be possible for me to post this in the blogosphere for feedback, and he said that the more input he could receive, the better.

So, let's share some ideas/suggestions with him . . . here's your task: answer the aforementioned questions and send them to us at and we'll forward them on.

I need not tell you the impact this revised document may have on the future of liturgical music in the US: please prayerfully read through MCW and LMT and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. Please try to have your responses to us within the week; I believe a commission is meeting October 9th (can anyone verify that?)


At Sunday, October 01, 2006 6:26:00 AM, Blogger Pespodatus said...

Personally, I think they should revised each document to a paragraph which reads as follows:

"In the spirit of true charity and obedience, we declare this document to be most usefully set aside in favor of the USCCB's translation and revision of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. Liturgists and musicians may continue to regard this document as pastoral, but for the purposes of religious (i.e. non-liturgical) use only."

And I am not being flippant. The USCCB needs to speak with one, obedient voice: the Missal has its instruction. Follow it.

At Sunday, October 01, 2006 6:03:00 PM, Blogger Ephrem said...

One wonders where to begin. Certainly the preamble of MCW can be seen, in hindsight, to have been ill-advised. It is almost entirely liturgical opinion, not "teaching" as such. The same could be said for much in the balance of the document, but the preamble is an obvious block of opinion.

A phrase that comes up again and again in MCW is "express faith." Why not just say "pray"?

"The unity of the celebration" is a facile way of regarding the Mass. One need only consult the propers to note their lack of reference to one another. And their constant tone of pleading with God.

I think the three part judgment is useful.

At Sunday, October 01, 2006 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

I sent these to PT when he first asked me about it. I’ll post them here just for good measure and discussion:

I think a renaming of the liturgical judgement to “formal judgement” would reflect better what that judgement *is* - basically, does the music fit the “form” of the liturgical text.

The documents should echo Musicam sacram’s three levels of singing, placing more emphasis on singing the dialogues etc.

Due attention should be given to the Council’s (and GIRM’s, and Musicam sacram’s) stipulation that the faithful should learn their parts of the Ordinary in Latin. This is something on which we really have dropped the ball.

There should be attention given to the uses and characteristics of congregational versus non-congregational, or “ministerial” (meant to be sung by specialists), types of music. Congregational music attempts to involve everyone physically, while ministerial music, like sculptures and murals, beautifies using the musicians’ special gifts.

Music in Catholic Worship asserts that placement of the organ console near the front of the assembly will encourage congregational singing, which seems to be a questionable assertion given the tradition of rear choir lofts in German churches.

Use of the Proper texts in translation is a new area of concern that deserves commentary - and, I feel, encouragement.

In many ways, these documents seem to presume to take the place of Musicam sacram, which they have no place to do.

There needs to be something regarding various translations used for the responsorial Psalm, I think. It would be helpful also to have commentary on the various stipulations that the episcopal conferences are to produce a body of approved texts for singing.


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