Hymnals from smaller publishers
  • Dear benedictgal,

    Thank you for your thought-provoking post. I look forward to having this discussion with you. Unfortunately, I am presently required elsewhere. I will reply as soon as possible.

    I am grateful for your intelligent and impassioned question.

    God's blessings,

    Vince Ambrosetti
    Publisher, ILP
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 4,690
    Which elements in this book help parishes to take a step toward the Church's ideals for the liturgy:
    * singing the Mass instead of merely singing incidental texts at Mass
    * a choir singing the proper texts for the day (or at least seasonal propers)
    * sung dialogues
    * sung congregational acclamations (K, G, C, S, M, P, A)
    * musical styles that are recognizably sacred and not recognizably secular,
    * styles derived from plainchant and sacred polyphony?
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    Wow, JennyH! Thank you for the sweeping, overgeneralized, disrespectful comments!


    I need to be clear here: I will not be intimidated, nor will I apologize for saying what I really and truly thought about the samples on that St. Augustine website.

    The major problem of the last 40 years is that Catholics refused to speak up. No matter what atrocities were committed (St. Louis Jesuits, Marty Haugen, etc.), we were expected to just be polite, not say anything, don't rock the boat, don't say what you think because you might hurt feelings, etc. We now have a "shortened" version of the wedding readings at Mass which edits out the part speaking of the duties of wives to submit to their husbands, lest it hurt somebody's feelings.

    I found the samples on your website sappy and insulting to Catholics in the pews. I feel that this will do great harm to the Church militant. I have a right to make up my own mind about such things. I will not be told that my view "does not matter."

    People are going to have opinions about things placed online. I will not be silenced.

    I agree that insulting any person is wrong and has no place in Christian discourse. However, honest appraisal of a commercial book is something else entirely.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 759
    Vince Ambrosetti-
    When you come back and read this thread, I apologize for the self-righteous, snooty, and thoroughly rude attitude of certain forum members. Please know that most others of us are actually interested in genuine discussion, and don't let unnecessarily condescending and ornery posts dissuade you.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 753
    Dear Mr. Ambrosetti:

    Please do not take this as a full-frontal assault, but, I do have some major concerns with the contents of the St. Augustine Hymnal. I come both as a cantor and as a regular pew potato.

    While I have not reviewed the book enough to do it justice, there are some pieces of music that I wish that the ILP had just avoided. As I am looking through the book, I am using Sacramentum Caritatis No. 42 as my guiding principle, along with what Pope Benedict XVI has written in regards to sacred music (pre-papal works).

    From what little I have seen, there are some huge, glaring red flags that come to mind. The inclusion of some of the works of Marty Haugen, David Kaufman (whose compositions may be okay for ACTS retreats, but, not necessarily for the Mass), the St. Louis Jesuits ("Blest be the Lord"; "Let Heaven Rejoice"; "One Bread, One Body"; "Sing a New Song Unto the Lord"; "Glory and Praise to our God"; "You are Near"; "Be Not Afraid"; "City of God"; "Here I Am Lord"), "The King of Glory", "Hosea", "Hail Mary/Gentle Woman", "This is Jesus" (seems to promote sole reception of Communion in the hand), "Bread to Share" (Haugen really does not have a Catholic Sensus Fidei understanding of the Holy Eucharist), "We Remember" (again Haugen does not have a complete understanding of the Mass), "Song of the Body of Christ" (which is a very poor understanding of the Sacred Liturgy), "The Servant Song", "When All is Said and Done" (I am trying to figure out the Catholic theology here), "How Great Thou Art", "Rain Down", "We are the Light of the World" (focuses more on ourselves, very horizontal), "Breathe", "On Eagles' Wings", "We Will Rise Again", "Amazing Grace", "One Spirit, One Church", "I Will Choose Christ", "Lead Me Lord", "Lord When You Came" (it's bad enough to hear this in Spanish, why translate this), "Now We Remain", "Peace is Flowing Like a River", "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace", "They'll Know We are Christians", "We are Many Parts", "Abba, Father", "Gather Us In" (which stands as, in my opinion, the worst of the worst, right after "Lord of the Dance"), "Gather Round this Table" (Haugen has no concept of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is), "Come, Worship the Lord", "Here I Am to Worship" (this is a Protestant song that does not take into account the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and would not fall under the Holy Father's hermeneutic of continuity), "Table of Plenty", "All are Welcome", "In the Day of the Lord", and "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory".

    Although the ICEL chants are included, too much play is given to Hauffman's setting, almost making it the default one. Furthermore, is there really a need to have a responsorial setting of the Gloria? I believe that it is important to learn the Chants, first, and then move on to other settings once we have been accustomed to the new texts.

    While you do seem to put in some effort, it is as though the company is giving us"more of the same". As one who selects the music for the Mass, I find this particular book a bit of a challenge. Rather than have all of these new compositions, I wish that ILP would take up the challenge and set the propers to music. It is important to sing the Mass, rather than sing at Mass.

    As I said, I do not want to sound as though I am attacking you. It's just that, musically, it's been very frustrating, given the fact that there is a serious dearth of sacred music.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 2,256
    [Document reference key:
    SC - Sacrosanctum Concilium
    TLS - Tra Le Sollecitudini
    DMS - De Musica Sacra]

    While I don't fully support the strong language put forward by some, I still strongly agree with the sentiment there.

    This hymnal is being hailed as new and great, but I'm finding that the more I look at it, it is really much of the same sub-par, theologically shaky music that we've been getting from GIA and OCP for years. Some good hymns and a lot of other music not really suitable for Mass. Some may like that music, fine, but if that's the case, you can just get the same things from the other major publishers. Simply from a neutral standpoint, I don't see the draw of this hymnal over Worship or RitualSong or an OCP subscription.

    You also state that you are trying to use the hermeneutic of continuity. However, so many of the songs seem to have a great influx of protestant ideas about the Mass. Lots of talk about "us" and about "us gathering around the table," (It's an altar, for pete sake) and about "us" doing this & that, or "us" loving everyone.

    The sound of most of the songs also strikes me as very secular sounding, musically. The liturgy is supposed to be a heavenly action, and the style of music we use is (supposed to be) separated from that of "real life" for that very reason. It's supposed to be different.

    Does anyone see the sharp contrast between the beauty of one of these texts, and the sing-songy triteness of the other?

    The angelic bread becomes the bread of men; The heavenly bread
    ends all prefigurations: What wonder! The Lord is eaten by a poor and humble servant.
    Triune God, We beg of you: visit us, just as we worship you. By your ways, lead us here we are heading, to the light in which you dwell. Amen.


    Here we will take the wine and the water,
    here we will take the bread of new birth.
    Here you shall call your sons and your daughters,
    call us anew to be salt for the earth.
    Give us to drink the wine of compassion,
    give us to eat the bread that is you.
    Nourish us well, and teach us to fashion
    lives that are holy and hearts that are true.


    In Pope Pius' motu proprio on sacred music, he's combating many of the one of the same things we are dealing with today: the influx of "religious music" being passed off as "liturgical music," which is a serious problem. [DMS 10, 20, 54]
    [Correction: that was the 1956 document De Musica Sacra, not TLS.]

    You also state that we need new music in the church. There's a few things I'd like to respond with:

    1) First, you proclaim a great love of our past sacred music. We all do here. But I must ask bluntly: if it is important to you, why have you deviated so far from it in style, in content, and have included next to nothing of it? For someone who loves it, it sure feels to be ignored in this hymnal.

    2) All of the church documents demand that gregorian chant and classic polyphony be given pride of place in all liturgical services [SC 116]. Considering most churches only use one hymnal, how does this hymnal help bring us back to that ideal? Part of the wonderful parts of the church is the fact that it is slow to change. When it is slow to change, things are thought out and done well. When things are changed quickly (Vatican II), chaos erupts. By publishing a hymnal that contains music from only the last 50 years or so (2.5% of the church's history), doesn't that seem to be more of the quick-change side of things? It's hardly in the hermeneutic of continuity to throw out all that music from the past and publish this with all new music, considering that most parishes only buy one hymnal.

    3) New music is a good thing. But bad new music is not. Why not publish new music that is more suitable for the sacred liturgy? We have so much GOOD new music to draw from. We've got Adam Bartlett, Kevin Allen, Richard Rice, Aristotle Esguerra, all writing and arranging NEW music. But not just generic NEW music, NEW sacred music, NEW liturgical music. Keep this principal in mind for new music: the closer it is in spirit and in style to gregorian chant, the more suitable it is for the sacred liturgy [TLS 3.2]. Even pieces that have secular sounding motifs should not be played [TLS 5.2]

    We don't need more of the spirit of Vatican II. That's gotten us in enough trouble already. We need more of the letter of Vatican II, the letter that asks us to celebrate the Mass in latin frequently [SC 36], the letter that requests that the people of God know the ordinary of the Mass in latin, including the chat Masses, so that they can USE them [SC 54], the same letter that says our past treasury of sacred music should be used [SC 112, 114], and the same letter that calls the organ (and no other instrument) an instrument to be held in high esteem [SC 120]. To quote someone I admire, the spirit of VII is a demon that needs to be exercised from the church while we start following the letter.

    I don't mean to be uncharitable, only honest: to me, it seems that the St. Augustine hymnal does none of these things for the church. We are much better off with something like the VII hymnal. Yes, it's not perfect, but no hymnal will be.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 753
    I concur with Ben. Perhaps the question should be asked: Just which Church documents did the publisher consult with when making the determination as to the content of the new book? I believe that this is a fair question to ask, since the publisher stated that these selections were made with the Church documents in mind.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,081
    I have been troubled by Haugen for years. He's not Catholic, doesn't accept the dogmas of Catholicism, and doesn't write lyrics that adhere to Church doctrines. Also, I have read supposed statements by him openly disagreeing with positions taken by the Church. What gives? Why the fascination with the works of this man? I looked today at the index pages for Worship IV and found too many things written by him. Why is anything by Haugen included in a Catholic hymnal? He clearly has little understanding of the Catholic Church or its teachings, especially its eucharistic beliefs.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 2,256
    Since we've requested this of Vince, I've updated my previous post to include document citations wherever I could, to be fair.
  • Eighteen months ago I took over the music direction of a small parish whose former DM used a lot of Ambrosetti music. Since taking over the ministry, I have chosen against his music in favor of more traditional hymnody and organ use, but, I will say, the people loved Ambrosetti and were always happy to sing it. Songs like "Sanctuary", spoke to the people of the parish and were loved by many. I continue to use his music, although not for masses. The same goes for John Michael Talbot (please don't blast me here!). I think there is a time and place for anybody to whom the Lord has given a special musical gift. Now, let's enjoy this forum and learn from each other. We all bring special gifts to the table and are certainly entitled to opinions, but I think it's time to settle down and love each other, for, after all, what are we in ministry for in the first place? God bless to all.
  • My colleagues and friends,
    The SAH is a done deal, as is Worship 4, Adoremus 2 and JMO's V2.
    Nothing is served well by a chorus of "shoulda, coulda, woulda" opinions that likely won't be read by a Pastor or parish shot caller reviewing hymnals.
    This is no rebuke of anything thus far written. Move on, please.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 753
    While I see your point, Charles, maybe this kind of a discussion is what is needed. I do not think that SAH is necessarily a one and done deal. Maybe this kind of a discussion will give Mr. Ambrosetti some food for thought when producing the next installment.

    I had a similar discussion with Pedro Rebulcava concerning the dearth of Sacred Music in Spanish. When I told him that OCP should also look at the Propers, he told me that no one had ever mentioned that to him.

    As for John Michael Talbot, his music might work well outside of the liturgy, but not necessarily within it. I could see singing "Holy is His Name" at some Marian gathering, like a retreat setting or for a public recitation of the Rosary, but, not for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    What I do wish is that publishers be willing to have a real listening session and study the authoritative documents of the Holy See so that they could get a sense of how music needs to work within the Mass and not be an appendage (that sometimes, like or nor, seems to take over the liturgy). The music should be humble handmaid of the Mass and not its master.
    Thanked by 2JennyH E_A_Fulhorst
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,081
    If you really want to hear something a bit extreme...

    I think the USCCB should put out an official Catholic hymnal, like other religious denominations do. I can't imagine for a minute, the Presbyterians or Episcopalians letting independent music publishers dictate what is in their hymnals.
  • Liam
    Posts: 1,368
    Be careful what you ask for.

    A few years ago, the US bishops effectively detoured the issue of repertoire approval on the respective bishops of the dioceses of the major publishers (Portland, Chicago, et cet.) and there things sit. The bishops have no appetite for going near this with a 10-foot pole. Even the Pope himself, a serious appreciator of sacred music, has no appetite for prescriptive measures (perhaps his 5 years in pastoral episcopal ministry acted as an appetite suppressant). The kind of men who have an appetite for this tend to have personalities that make them unlikely to be chosen as bishops or, if lucky enough to be so chosen, to be promoted except by way of being sidelined where they can do less pastoral damage.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    In a way, they kind of did . . . it is the ICEL collection called "250 Hymns in the Public Domain" — we used many of those in the Vatican II Hymnal, but changed many of the harmonies and keys.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 753
    Actually, Liam, the proposed division on Sacred Music at the Congregation for Divine Worship is still very much alive, and this is one of Pope Benedict's initiatives. I wouldn't be too quick to say that he is not willing to touch this issue.

    My concern with leaving it to the Metropolitans of Chicaco and Portland to decide is that the quality control is simply not there. OCP can brag about having Cardinal Levada on its board of directors; however, what is the likelihood that he even got to see what they have been publishing?

    The USCCB had a very good chance. They did submit a common repertoire to Rome back in 2006 and it is still at the CDWDS. Maybe the Congregation has to filter through a lot of what the USCCB sent. I do not know.
  • Liam
    Posts: 1,368
    I understand that division is there. I would not get my hopes up about it. Its charter is vague; the perfect curial place to pretend to promote people but not have them do anything that is terribly effective. If you think quality control is bad at the metropolitan level, it only gets worse the higher up you go, because the scale becomes unmanageable.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 2,256
    Equally extreme...

    I hate to say it, but I'm not sure I'd want to see a USCCB hymnal. Maybe something from a Roman office though.
  • Liam
    Posts: 1,368
    Rome couldn't even manage a Missal translation on its own. Didn't even try to issue one itself.
  • PMulholland
    Posts: 117
    CCCB (Canada) put out a hymnal. CBW (1, 2 and 3) Not that great. Started Ok (CBW1) and went downhill to the present CBW3. Bishops conferences should be the best equipped to handle a hymnal but sadly I would not rely on them to produce a quality one.

    Also, in the U.S., could you imagine the outrage from OCP, GIA and LTP when they have spent money (to the USCCB) to purchase the rights to the Psalms were the same bishops conference to produce their own hymnal....
    Would make me laugh though.

    We need episcopal example and true leadership on music, like to the bishop of Phoenix and others. Without it, publishers will publish what they do and the appetite for true reform from parish to parish will remain isolated and rarely happen.

  • I really liked CBW 2. I was introduced to it on a Christmas Eve visit to the cathedral in Milwaukee (St John the Evangelist). Maple leaf on the cover and all, it was the cathedral's standard pew hymnal! I was impressed. I have a fat, heavy choir edition of CBW 3. Still impressed, mostly, but it's a mixed bag...some weaker stuff in there.
  • PMulholland
    Posts: 117
    Scott,

    Perhaps I am a bit harsh to CBW 2, but the inclusion of Ray Repp materials always made my stomach turn in 4 directions. Carey Landry, Bob Dufford and Dan Schutte also make appearances in the CBW2. Sorry, but 100 years from now people will be saying Carey who? Ray what? Dan what's it? We did that???
    The CBW2 does have a saddle of good and strong hymns and a peppering of chants. Victor Togni was an excellent musician and his Mass I used for many years.

    CBW3 got much worse and went for so called inclusive language. Fr Stephen Sommerville contributed much for CBW and later recanted all his work in a manifesto. Took on the Archdiocese of Toronto, got friendly with Mel Gibson and I wonder where he is now.

    Tracking all these hymnals outlines the slippery slope. A downward slope that takes us further and further away from our theology, our beliefs and ars celebrandi.

    Kudos to Adoremus and V2 hymnal for trying to turn the tides for the average parish in the English speaking world, but I have no idea why we need more hymnals on the market to promote the same stuff GIA and OCP have been doing.
    My parish will be in the market for a hymnal in 5 to 7 years. In the meantime we produced our own hymn book to work as a stop gap when we toasted the G&P. It will work for now, but I am looking for something like the V2 hymnal that we could use in Canada.

  • We will also be changing hymnals in the not so distant future (we now have Breaking Bread) and will most probably go with Adoremus. But, I've decided that an OCP reprint license and a supplement is in order to keep in the pews and keep the people happy. For funerals and other special liturgies, we will most probably keep some of that music to satisfy the families. Like it or not, "On Eagle's Wings" and "How Great Thou Art" are still big requests for funerals in my neck of the woods. I don't see anything bad with appeasing grieving family.

  • "To address those differences with arrogance and harsh condemnations is contrary to the very faith that we profess."

    Aren't those words from the bible....the mutterings of the moneychangers being driven out of the temple?


    When you wrote: "How edifying to see such intelligent discourse on sacred music in the Catholic tradition. As the publisher of the Saint Augustine Hymnal (SAH), I appreciate the opportunity to clarify some points of confusion regarding this fine hymnal, the collaborative work of many dedicated and talented people over the last eight years." it was obvious what you were up to....
  • Where CMAA affiliated publishers have the higher ground has everthing to do with Jeffrey Tucker's mantra that the Logos cannot be legitimately and moreso morally co-opted as intellectual property and thus held hostage to a marketplace. Whether one's publishing arm is a non-profit or commercial is irrelevant. I personally believe that hymnals of any printed source will sooner than later become necessarily obsolete. That is not saying hymns will go away, but hymnbooks will. And this will be due to realizations from many fronts- Kyriales and Proper compendiums besides the GS and the GR will likely be the sole "book format" item to occupy pew pockets. But I believe that no matter at what level, parish, diocese, metropolitan to conference, a weekly pamphlet ordo or a refined projected image modality will become normative. What that means in the "economy" is that a wooden stake will be driven through the heart of publishers whose intent is to maintain a sustainable profit margin from recycled, oligarchicly controlled gebrauchsmusick. by a stable of "contract stars" like the old movie and sports moguls maintained.
    Everyone we know, including Gary Penkala, Kevin Allen, Benesonarium basically operates most likely at a zero sum profit margin. Oh, any precendence for that? Palestrina, Victoria, Bach et al. And those that managed to publish for distribution (Byrd, Purcell) still relied upon their talents in the choir or the courts for their principal livelihood. Can you say "Rice, Ostrowski, Bartlett, Oost-Zinner, Pluth, Jones, Giffen, Esguerra et al?"
    This is not a broken clock gets it right twice a day rotation, this is the pendulum returning to its natural pulse.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 619
    Mr. Ambrosetti,

    I was very honored to serve as a reviewer (upon your request) for some of the Mass settings for the SAH while it was still in production last year.

    I was candid — but still charitable, I hope! — about my perspectives on those settings. I hope I was able to render useful judgments for you, even on the settings which I felt were not congruent with my own preference for sacred music.

    I am thrilled to see you here… welcome!
  • DougS
    Posts: 792
    Charles, I imagine the profit margins for OCP and GIA are extremely low, too, but I could be wrong. Publishers of all kinds are struggling right now.
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    Rome couldn't even manage a Missal translation on its own. Didn't even try to issue one itself.

    Not sure what this means . . . unless it is a joke.
  • Jenny H, not worth going there, believe me.
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    OK, then I will assume this was meant as a joke. You probably know that individual conferences formulate their own vernacular translations. I think this was mandated by Vatican II. But that is a very statement than, "Rome couldn't create a vernacular Missal."
  • Liam
    Posts: 1,368
    Yes, it was meant as a joke, in the context of understanding that, if Rome wasn't going to issue an English missal on its own (where missal translation under the jurisdiction of the conferences, using texts that they own), then to expect an English hymnal (where music is under the jurisdiction of the bishop, using texts that he does not own) to be ruddered out of a new Roman back-office is a joke.
  • This is a really good place to come to and ask, "What do I have to do to the hymnal I publish to make it possibly for me to stay in business."

    But no one's asking.
  • You know, folks, I entered into this discussion because the early postings that I read were, in fact, intelligent and edifying. I left this forum (temporarily) because of pressing obligations with the sincere intention of returning for ongoing intelligent discourse.

    Sadly, on my return, I was disappointed to discover how far into the basement you have traveled. You do not need to lower this forum to a free-for-all coliseum of cynicism, angry rants, snooty self-righteousness and shallow back-slapping to those who might agree with you.

    You seem to be bright people. You might consider that respectful dialogue will accomplish so much more than small-minded poisonous postings.

    Many of you make excellent points; and you do so without resting upon insidiously destructive comments. To you, the Church is indebted and I am grateful.

    To those who are seated in anger: Take a deep breath, restrain yourself, pray for wisdom, temperance and humility; then come back.

    I have learned this: I prefer to play tennis with those who play better than I; it helps me to be a better tennis player. In life, I choose to surround myself with those who love more deeply, live more charitably and yearn to know God more than I; it leads me to grow in grace and goodness, to live within the heart of God.

    I know the Church documents. You can spout off all the references that you wish. If you do so without the love of God, you accomplish nothing and you are nothing.

    When this forum returns to respectful, charitable, intelligent discourse, I will return.

    God's blessings,

    Vince Ambrosetti
    Publisher, ILP
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,018
    Speaking of glass houses, how Christian is it to accuse folks of being self-righteous, snooty, and cynics?
  • TCJ
    Posts: 392
    When I heard the first description of SAH, I was intrigued, so I sent for the free copy. Unfortunately, I really don't see much difference between it and OCP or WLP. I wouldn't be interested in procuring a new hymnal for the church I work at to get more of the same. What would be the point? I think the problem is that many people who read the Church documents can get just about whatever meaning they wish from them, so it's easy to keep publishing the trendy style of music under the "cultural influences" phrase.

    As for the questions, perhaps some of them were a little on the pointed side, but when we musicians are fed the same thing over and over again, I think some of the impatience and irritability (and honest questions!) we have can easily be understood. Leaving in a huff and failing to give answers to some key points is merely a cop-out.
  • Vince,

    I have had the good fortune of meeting and working with you at a place that shall remain nameless in this discussion, so I know from whence you come. I am VERY pleased to see you here and glad of your willingness to dialogue. The anger that you have encountered here is the necessary release of frustration on the part of many who have encountered poor musical choices on the part of hymnal publishers and who have had to live with those choices for years because they and their people were told this is what "they" (as in the people in the pews) could and would do.

    I would gently take you to task for the comment that parishes need a "broad" repertory of music that is diverse. Using the word "diverse" is a bow to the culture that plays on the use of "division" as an acceptable experience in the US. Having witnessed that use, I can say say with deep intensity that the paradigm is deeply flawed in the same way the "multi-culturalism" is, insofar as that it does not address the profound differences and seeks to wash them over in a " you are you are and I am who I am" and we are all happy. That might be very American, but it is not a paradigm of worthy of following in the US church. Multi-culturalism has only served those with the printing presses to turn out the material that continue to plague us. I used to believe that this paradigm would service a transitional phase into a more deeply unified experience, but time has taught me otherwise. People can do and sing what is put in front of them. Case in point: resistance to the new translation was seen as the end of life as we know it. When I last checked, my parish was doing quite well with it, when they were taught why and given a chance to ask questions.

    So I think you are working fundamentally with a model of church that many of us do not wish to continue. That in part is the anger foisted upon you and others who may represent a more "contemporary" style. We have the mess made by many of the last 40 years and no longer wish to be a part of it. In the grand words of Bob Dylan "the times are a-changin."

    Even though I no longer use material named in your book, your discussion of the problems associated with "contemporary" music should surely give us pause as I have not personally seen many of the current crop of publishers begin to name. I am happy to remove such glories of the past age such as "I am the bread of Life" and others and I am pleased to see that you "name the whirlwind".

    I guess that the problem remains as of one of style, sometimes of substance and lack of care for reading the church documents. I am happy that you read them. Continue the dialogue as to why you think your vision is an acceptable one for the parish of the American church.

    I encourage you to stay here and post. You will learn much here. Maybe even a really good volley shot, to continue the tennis metaphor.

    Peace my brother and stay cool in Nashville.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 4,690
    Here's a condensed list of the criticisms:

    "dross", "a low-budget Gather Comprehensive", "a lot not to like", "Widely sung? Where?", "early-to-mid-1990s Protestant praise & worship", "disappointed... difficult to sing/learn. Lots of syncopation, strange phrasing ... the text is not easy to understand", "a style I have never heard in a Catholic context", "disgusting... sacro-pop recycled. Broadway tunes, sappy piano pieces... trite, predictable, horrible", "glaring red flags... more of the same", "sub-par, theologically shaky music... very secular sounding, musically... sing-songy triteness".

    Makes one heck of a jacket blurb, hm?

    Marajoy objected a couple of times to the more visceral terms (and I agree with her). Still, even if those hadn't been written, the message is collectively a kick in the teeth, to have a bunch of disinterested strangers tell you that your labor of love stinks, based on criteria that maybe you didn't take into account. Probably he'll get more favorable reviews from some other forum of church musicians (NPM, say).

    I can't fault anybody for liking the P&W music in that hymnal; I used to play similar stuff at prayer groups, even with a vague sense that the Protestant P&W music wasn't connected to Catholic liturgical spirituality.
  • Vince, this forum has been down this trench many times before, as our mutual friend Todd and I were musing over just this morning about your visiting here. And I also agree with both Richard Chonak and Joy that the unmoderated comboxes here can prove quite disheartening given the "nature" of our enterprises and missions. And there's no consolation to be found that similar toxic climates are likely to be found at many other liturgical blogs, particularly those that are collectively authored.
    Almost from the day after the Ascension, one would wonder if the "Hatfield v. McCoy" caricatures bruised the early followers of the Way. Sts. Peter and Paul have suffered such revisionist historical "treatments." Bruised, not broken, are we. And I do hope we can "walk together, children" down the road a ways.
    Peace to you.
  • Speaking of glass houses, how Christian is it to accuse folks of being self-righteous, snooty, and cynics?


    Well said!

    When I heard the first description of St. Augustine Hymnal, I was intrigued, so I sent for the free copy. Unfortunately, I really don't see much difference between it and OCP or WLP. I wouldn't be interested in procuring a new hymnal for the church I work at to get more of the same.


    I agree wholeheartedly.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • "You do not need to lower this forum to a free-for-all coliseum of cynicism, angry rants, snooty self-righteousness and shallow back-slapping to those who might agree with you."

    Boy, you really figured us out fast....you're right, we are obviously the scum of the earth, not worthy of playing a tambourine at your liturgies.

    "To those who are seated in anger: Take a deep breath, restrain yourself, pray for wisdom, temperance and humility; then come back".

    Um...to use your tennis thing...it's our court, we are here....you came to us.



  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    Vince Ambrosetti wrote: When this forum returns to respectful, charitable, intelligent discourse, I will return.


    I was looking forward to seeing how you would respond to some of the serious criticisms of the selections in your book, by members of this forum. It has already been pointed out several times that thoughtful criticism of these selections has nothing to do with "personal attacks" against you. However, pretending that someone has attacked you on a personal basis is a rather ingenious way of not having to answer some pretty tough criticism and questions. Congrats!

    You seem to be bright people.


    I find this an odd statement, because it lumps all of *us* together ... wouldn't it be easier to simply respond to the criticisms about selections in your St. Augustine Hymnal?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,654
    ya know, people, lets all take a deep breath.

    vince. good to hear from you. its been a ton of years since i last saw you.

    this is an old quarrel that goes back centuries. we (the church) keep revisiting it over and over.

    most of the fight comes down to one thing: theatrical music. very plainly and clearly the church over and over, pope after pope, edict after edict has proclaimed that the theatre has no place in liturgy. this was a huge issue in italy just before the turn of the century (1900). the church gets lax, abuse becomes rampant and it tears at the pure fabric of the liturgy.

    so what we are are hearing is simply this: we want to return to AUTHENTIC sacred music. no guitar strumming ditties, no operatic wannabes or has beens, no lounge pianos, and no egos clammoring for the stage (sorry.... i mean sanctuary)

    there are three elements to sacred music, and Latin is the basis. THE chant, polyphony and organ. anything else is simply a deviation that is less sacred, less appropriate, and less authentic. that is what you hear from us here at cmaa. the emotion, the slurs, the rough and tumble language is just our being tired of having the same mud slinging war over and over. we are just passionate to get on with the real thing.
    Thanked by 1benedictgal
  • Um...to use your tennis thing...it's our court, we are here....you came to us.

    FNJ, I love you man, but there is no "us" versus "them."
    Focus. The Enemy is afoot. We participate in "divided/conquered" our souls are at peril.
    It's not rocket science.
  • How sad it is that the place where I thought I would be able to find comfort and advice has turned into a battle ground for "what is better". As Tevye states, "a bird can love a fish, but where would they build a home?" Taken from a purely humanistic standpoint, Teyve is right, but from a purely divine standpoint, all the birds and fish come together as brothers and sisters in our everlasting home with the Lord. We are musicians and, therefore, very emotional in all that we say and do. It's the nature of our beast. We are opinionated and want to do right with what we've been given. The bottom line is what is best for the people. So many of you have given me advice on other threads about not hurrying change in my own parish. I've prayed about it and taken your advice with love and gratitude and have begun to slow down as has been suggested. If that is true advice, then we need to sit back and allow everybody to find their own way. God bless to all and may we all do God's work in whatever way He's equipped us.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 759
    Really, JennyH?!?! YOU were looking forward to how he responded to criticism? I'm pretty sure that you were the first to take this discussion from questions and dialogue to insult-flinging!
    Thanked by 2Gavin chonak
  • Kathy
    Posts: 3,404
    I think many individuals would like to have an official USCCB hymnal that reflects precisely his/her own convictions about sacred music.

    How does the old saying go? Where there is no Magisterium, there are many little Magisterium(s).

    What I have hoped for, and expressed on this forum, is the possibility of truly thinking about hymns, one by one, to discover their aptness for liturgy. It is not about this or that composer, this or that publisher, but about this or that WORK OF ART, which may or may not be suitable. I think people could generally come to a consensus. It is hard work, but, imho, not only worth doing but a key to moving forward.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 5,081
    I was sorry to see Haas leave this forum. I haven't cared for some of his music in RitualSong, but I understand he is creating new material and it's better. People generally do improve at their crafts over time. I enjoyed hearing his perspectives on music, even if I didn't agree with them.

    The St. Augustine is not something I have attacked on stylistic grounds. It wouldn't work for my congregation because it has too much new material, and they don't take kindly to changes. At this stage, I don't intend to take the time or expend the effort to teach them a great number of new hymns. I introduce a few new hymns each year, but over time have settled into using a collection of hymns they know and will sing. This hymnal would be somewhat disruptive for us, simply because it is too different from what we know. Someone else might have a valid use for it.
  • A smaller publisher could take over the industry if they's monitor the traffic at the NPM discussion group....not just dead, but the moderator checks every few months and a rush of messages that were blocked from earlier come rolling through....so it's like being in a time machine headed in the wrong way. Someone posts something nice about chant and snide comments follow.

    There is no life there.

    However, if a publisher came here not to promote their product but to ask what they should do to reach this market, it'd be a different story.

  • benedictgal
    Posts: 753
    Part of the problem with SAH is the way the preface was written. When Mr. Ambrosetti wrote that we "are not the 'Bread of Life'" and then made some sort of veiled reference to the song "Ashes", I had some hope for this book and it's potential usability. This hope was further augmented by his claim to have consulted with the Church documents (although he never cited which ones he used).

    Unfortunately, when I got down to looking at the PDF of the book, I was greatly disheartened with the content. As I read through the titles, I could not see any evidence of the "hermeneutic of continuity" as claimed by the publisher. On the contrary, as many of us have observed, the book represents more of the same. In my own observation, SAH seems to move us in the exact opposite of what Pope Benedict XVI called for in "Sacramento Caritatis, No. 42.

    Charity calls for honesty. Sometimes, someone has to tell the emperor that he does not have any new clothes. I do hope that Mr. Ambrosetti can step back and examine what many of us are trying to say with some objectivity, studying our comments in the light of the authoritative documents of the Holy See and in the writings of the Supreme Pontiff (Pope St. Pius X, Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

    It is obviously too late for Mr. Ambrosetti to amend what has already been released, but, perhaps this discussion could very well help him for the next go-around.
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