does not allow comments on their weblog (probably a good thing), I will post here some reservations about this organization.
But, first, some praise.
It is astounding, and incredibly useful, to have resources like the 1961 Graduale
and a complete pre-V2 Missale
made available for free download, in text-underlaid PDFs. These alone would prompt me to continue my CMAA membership.Sacred Music
has some interesting articles in it. I very much enjoyed Tietze’s article, I think an issue or two ago, about differences between the processional antiphons in the Graduale
and the Missale
. Mahrt’s article a few issues back further about the musical constructions of the proper chants was very handy knowledge.
Given the apparently small number of leaders in the organization, there is a lot of cool stuff happening with the group: t-shirts and mugs, downloadable PDFs, weblog posts, and more.
In general, the organization has much more tech savvy than, well, just about anyone. From this I get a warm, fuzzy feeling of being “at home”, being myself a musician with a strong technical bent (who did work full-time as a programmer in years past). I think this will help attract the right minds to the organization’s work.
But, here are some beefs:
An obvious oversight: why is there no email list for CMAA members? (Ok, Jeffrey says there is one
. I don’t recall being invited to join it, though, until emailing him.)
Another oversight: there is no hint of regional chapters. We may gather that membership is not exactly booming in comparison to NPM, but even knowing if there are one or two other CMAA members in my area would be of great help in advancing the cause of chant/polyphony/good-modern.
There is too much “head-in-the-clouds” about the reality of how things are today. I mean, really. I work in the trenches of parish music ministry. I deal with the parishioners who hate Latin and want to sing David Haas and Spirit & Song (or at least to try
to sing them). The priests and liturgists may be more open to it, but they know there’d be hell to pay. It’s all I can do to get any
chanting, even Gelineau and Guimont responsorial psalms, to be accepted in the parish’s sung prayer. There are some
who do like traditional Catholic music at Mass. Some
. Just as there are some
who appreciate the use of Latin. But in my experience, and I would imagine in that of most FT Catholic church music professionals, traditional Catholic music is a hard, hard sell to the mainstream of Catholics. Chant CDs may sell well, but apparently that doesn’t translate to widespread acceptance of the form at Mass. The relatively few who do like these things (which, I agree, should be experienced and made a part of every Catholic’s liturgical participation) have fled to those few speciality parishes (themselves indulging in the post-V2 error of “go to the church you like the best”).
I should add, Gavin is one of the lucky few whose pastor truly seems behind the cause of traditional Catholic sacred music.
The paraphernalia that CMAA would have me distribute to my parish’s music ministers
, let alone to ordinary pew Catholics, might as well be in another language. I would hazard a guess that none of its authors is a teacher, for whom one of the fundamental rules is: “start with what the students know”. In this case, if you want to talk to Joe Catholic about sacred music, start with “Here I Am, Lord”, because that’s what he knows.Sacred Music
could really use some more contributors.
Along the line of Sacred Music
, did the magazine ever print a recognition of the points Paul Ford raises in defense of his book “By Flowing Waters”
, a book which Calvert Shenk apparently dismissed in the Spring 2004 issue?
This is a critique that would go for much of the Reform2 commentary, but in particular with CMAA, come observations on Haugen/Haas music that is at least less
offensive would go much further toward reaching Joe Catholic (and even Joe Liturgist) than the seeming universal condemnation. Whether we like it or not, the music of the SLJs is probably here to stay for some time. The best we can hope for in the immediate time frame is coexistence with the 600-pound gorilla.
And, lastly, a Dies iræ wall clock
?!? Could be just me, but that’s something my non-chant-enthusiast friends would buy for me as a gag gift. I mean, it’s funny, even hilarious, to me, but I guess I’m not sure it’s intended to be funny. (And I say this as one who laments the removal of Dies iræ
from the Mass.)
I am hoping that these critiques will be a catalyst for some positive changes. I know the guys at CMAA are doing everything they can to further the cause of sacred music, but I wanted to throw this out there to see what other folks think of the direction in which we seem to be headed. There is so much good possible from this organization - I guess I simply worry that, unless we “come down to earth”, all people will see in us is fanaticism.