Please review a brief talk on sacred music?
  • Hi All,

    Thanks for checking this out.

    I'll be giving a short talk on sacred music. Since I'm not expert, I thought a little peer review would be extremely helpful. Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it and/or comment.

    It's meant to be relatively brief and fairly conversational. It's intended for a group of people who, for the most part, have an appreciation of sacred music; there are likely to be a number of people with little background in sacred music as well.

    I recently read "Forming Intentional Disciples." I wanted to pick up on some of that language while maintaining a distinctly traditional position.

    File is attached. image
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,923
    "Messiah" is not the foremost wagon I'd bridle my horses to. For any number of reasons.
    If one is looking for something seminal, might I suggest "Dies irae" from the Requiem?
  • Hi melofluent,
    Thanks for the response. I forgot to mention - this talk is attached to a performance of Messiah.
    Thanks!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,787
    That raises a difficulty: "Messiah", beautiful and moving as it is, is a concert work, and not really connected with the liturgy (whether Catholic or Anglican). On the other hand, some of the principles which the talk cites are related specifically to music in the liturgy. Does it make sense to invoke them here?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 478
    Yes, you need to make it clear that Messiah has a sacred text, drawn from scripture, but is not a liturgical text. Certainly it is meant to uplift and inspire, but it is not meant as an act of worship by performers or audience.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,109
    Mr Hawkins is, of course, right about the extra-ritual nature of any oratorio. I would, though, respectfully suggest (though I do understand his contextual use of the word) that such sacred concerts are not necessarily not 'acts of worship', that they can be 'quasi-worshipful', and, certainly, they have the capacity to serve as 'sacramentals' - as opposed to being divinely ordained 'sacraments'. I hate to muddle this thread with such complexities, but I and many do definitely think of ourselves as in a worshipful state whenever we are 'performing' sacred or religious music, though it is extra-liturgical and, often, unfit for liturgy - which most of Messiah is. I have given two organ recitals recently, one at St Basil's Chapel, UST, the other at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. I am planning another later this autumn at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham. All of these are, to me, sacred spiritual exercises and may be experienced, even powerfully experienced, as such by my companion listener-hearers. But, they are not worship. I would equate the experience of sacred-religious music as a musical equivalent to reading Thomas a Kempis or any other great religious literature, or the experience of viewing religious art, especially sacred icons. I have often said that music is as a sacred icon written in sound. When I make music I am consciously aedifying the hearers, with whom I and they are gratefully bathing our Heavenly Father with the glorious sound of the very music which he himself has inspired.

    Perhaps you would like to make some 'disclaimer' such as I have spoken of just above; namely, that Messiah, whilst it may very well excite spiritual passions, move one to worshipful states, and be both spiritually and intellectually stimulating, it and these reactions are not formal worship and can be wholly inappropriate to liturgy and ritual, which are, indeed, worship. Such worship is differentiated by the very fact that there is a very real divine-human interaction and a very real object of worship, namely the very objective presence of the God-Man Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. No extra-liturgical activity, regardless of its genuine spiritual worth, approaches the encounters witnessed or experienced in liturgy. To the extent that they have the capacity to draw attention entirely to themselves, even away from the true object of 'worship', they have no place in that worship.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • >> One way to measure the extent to which the Good (with a capital G)

    but your notes do not refer to God the Father with a capital G, nor to His Son with a consistent capital H ('his' vs 'His'). I am sorry, but I am confused by this and by your references, at the outset, to the King James version of the Bible, and the book of common prayer, and then to St Pius X and Pope Benedict XVI.

    Is your audience Catholic?

    If so, maybe some non-protestant opus might be more useful (Dies Irae a very good example) if what you are aiming for is 'a distinctly traditional position'. You did ask for comments. thanks!
  • Hi Chonak and a_f_hawkins. Thanks for responses. Yes, I realize Messiah is a stretch I wanted to take a stab at it since it was the music of the evening. I have some editing to do.
  • Hi M. Jackson Osborn, thanks for the thoughts. I didn't intend to convey Messiah as an act of worship. I'll have to clean up the language to make it clear.
  • Hi mmeladirectress, thanks for the response. Thanks for pointing out some of the capitalization problems in my rough draft.

    I reference the King James to establish from where the text is derived for those people who are unaware (we'll have a number of concert goers who will probably be hearing parts two and three of Messiah for the first time).

    I anticipate the audience to be majority Catholic, although the event has been advertised to all denominations and has drawn on various denominations in the past.

    Again, I attempted to discuss Messiah as it is the material to be performed. Otherwise, yes, something like the Dies Irae would be superior.
  • Thanks to everyone for helping me clear up my thoughts. I see where some of the language is potentially confusing and needs some cleaning up!
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 5,109
    Offense shouldn't be taken at the King James Version. It isn't inherently heretical. It is widely respected even by many Catholics. And, than the Douai-Rheims it is rather more literarily gracious.

    Ditto a careful reference to the BCP, All are (or should be) by now aware that its contents, particularly the langauge of most of the eucharist, the offices, and the Coverdale psalter are now unassailably Catholic, insofar as they form the substance of the Ordinariate Use as found in Divine Worship:the Missal. I should think that anybody could quote from DWtM (or the very same words from a BCP) to his or her heart's contentment.
  • I bet we can agree that the Bible is kind of important – it’s the place where we encounter God through his Word, after all.


    This sentence and the next sentence are highly problematic.


    We "encounter" God in the Mass and the sacraments, since Christ is the priest and the victim at Mass and is made known through the other sacraments. His Word is Christ. Christ is the Word of God, God Incarnate, and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Christ is not words on a page, however much they are important. It is true that "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" as one Holy Father put it, but that's not because Jesus is a bunch of ink blots on a page.

  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,836
    Yes, that statement, to me, seems in keeping with the Protestant idea of Sola Scriptura. This may not be relevant to the thread, but I've noticed that there are two things that Protestants have the most difficult time accepting when they convert: 1. We're not Sola Scriptura, and the Bible is not the most important part of our lives; and 2. Yes, that is, indeed the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
  • >>>Offense shouldn't be taken at the King James Version. It isn't inherently heretical.

    No one said anything about offense. As for KJV being inherently heretical; well maybe not, unless you consider all the parts that were taken out, to fit some other understanding.

    let's not get off topic, for once. The OP was asking for review and comment, that's all.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • Is it fair to consider Messiah counterpoint, whole and entire, or did you not mean to make such a broad claim. In this sentence....
    All Sacred Music grows from this musical vine. The first branch is organum. The second branch is polyphony. The third branch is counterpoint, where we find Messiah.
    you seem to imply that Messiah exemplifies counterpoint. I'm not sure that's accurate.

    I think, were you to ask Pope Pius X where he would place Messiah, he might include it under religious music, but not sacred music.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,787
    Yes, that's what I was thinking above, with the distinction between the liturgical and the non-liturgical.
  • Hi All,

    Thanks for help. Just checked back in and saw all the new comments.

    It's great to know so many people are willing to offer their time.

    Now that I've got plenty of good critiques to help clean up my talk I can feel a bit more certain that I'm presenting something clear, direct and meaningful. I don't want to waste my listeners' time, and I don't want them to walk away with misinterpretations.

    Thanks again everyone.