Friday, December 07, 2007

SttL, USCCB, politics, and incompetence

Those of us who have expertise with computers often recoil when the U.S. government decides to take some sort of action in the world of information technology because it often constitutes aging lawyers making legislation about technology that they barely understand, if at all. As an example, I recall one Senator who introduced a bill to create software that would blow up any computer that sent a virus .... or something along that line.

It occurred to me today that the same bishops who voted on “Sing to the Lord” (SttL) were once the parish priests who thought “Be Not Afraid” was just fine for funerals. In other words, I wonder if we don’t have a musically illiterate episcopate in this country.

And how many of us have pastors who appear simply not to care how well the liturgy is celebrated? It is out of this pool that the U.S. bishops have been selected. Again: the bishops who voted on SttL were the pastors when “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” was a responsorial psalm in the 1980s.

In this light, it is not at all surprising that there are things in SttL about Agnus Dei tropes, which the GIRM doesn’t envision (and, therefore, shouldn’t be done...?). It is not a surprise that, as Jeffrey has pointed out, SttL quotes the GIRM’s wording on responsorial psalms to draw the apparently incorrect conclusion that RPs are preferable to Gregorian graduals.

I mean, look at that awful translation of the GIRM for the U.S. that describes the options for singing at the entrance procession - the same body of bishops that approved that piece of dung are the same ones who now apparently give implicit OK to songs that “at least paraphrase” the Lectionary’s responsorial psalms to be sung as responsorial psalms. (Actually, I am waiting to see what the USCCB Directory on Music will say on this, since that document will have Roman approval.)

*sigh*....I hate feeling so pessimistic about the bishops’ conference here. Really, I do. And there is a lot of good stuff in SttL - I guess the perfectionist in me just doesn’t want to wait 35 more years to see the flaws worked out. Maybe Rome will come out with something, given the rumblings about B16’s attention to music.


At Saturday, December 08, 2007 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is not musically illiteral bishops. The Latin Church has been wandering in the desert musically for hundreds of years. Every few decades a pope will point the way forward and nothing happens. No doubt many of the bishops know a lot about music. What they don't understand is the fundamental principles of liturgy.

How is it possible for the liturgy to be translated into English without a workable and mandatory system for chanting the ordinary and the propers of the Mass?

Catholics should be able to sing the ordinary from memory in any church they walk into in the anglophone world. Life-long Catholics should know many of the propers from memory as well.

At Sunday, December 09, 2007 3:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Rembert Weakland is often villified in St Blog's, he was one of the very few bishops who not only had a background in liturgy and sacred music, much less a grasp of and understanding for chant.

Clearly, the Congregation of Bishops thinks we need more canon lawyers and other theological experts.

My current bishop, one of "Burke's Boys" was a school administrator and newspaper editor before his appointment, and never pastored a parish.

I'd say that bishops largely don't have the theological chops for liturgy. Is their approach colored by good, bad, and ugly experiences in parishes? Probably so.



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