What might have been . . .
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    On this page, if you look at the 7th Sunday of Easter, you will find a piece by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.

    Score for organist and Score for vocalist

    Now, Fr. Valentine may not be known as a famous composer or famous music theorist, and he doesn't have any fancy degrees in music from a University.

    As a matter of fact, his expertise is in Latin, Greek, and Theology.

    But, he did learn about Gregorian chant in the seminary, and he was the one who taught me to love Gregorian chant.

    I asked him to compose a Responsorial Psalm, and in his charity, he did so.

    Why did I do this?

    The reason is because Fr. Valentine was born when Pius XI was Pope (yes, I said Pius XI), and his composition is rooted in the tradition of Church music in America over the last century.

    You will notice that his Responsorial Psalm is simple, dignified, and easy to sing.

    I feel that the history of Church music would have been a lot different if people had adopted music like this for Mass (based on chant and easy to sing), rather than Broadway, overly emotional pieces, overly rhythmic pieces, and other things (rock music, etc.).

    I feel that part of the reason that this music was not adopted is that it was not READY TO GO after the Council, in other words, one could not buy it or find it published --- the other type of music was "waiting in the wings" (from everything I have been able to learn). I feel that getting people to love and appreciate Gregorian chant at Mass is going to take a lot of work, prayer, sacrifice, and time.

    I would be curious to read anyone's comments, HOWEVER I am asking everyone to be very respectful and only post positive comments (PLEASE!) about Fr. Valentine's work, being that he is a faithful Franciscan who has always served the Church and has no ill will toward anyone.

    If you want to post negative comments, please E-mail them to me: jeff@ostrowski.cc
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Jeff O -

    There actually was a fair amount of music like this in the years immediately after the Novus Ordo was promulgated. Simple settings using psalm tones and light accompaniment sought to combine dignity with vernacular clarity. I know because I used to have dozens of these that I picked up from the mezzanine level file cabinets at Carl Fisher in New York in the early 90's. Long out-of-print music that had been languishing in file folders.

    The music had been there. From the not-yet-wacky Grail in Ohio, from the French "biggies" like Deiss, etc.

    Just one problem: no one wanted it. It was too much like the past - and the past was bad. That wasn't just the position of powers that be on the parish level; it went clear across the culture. The world was going to be "made new" in the late 60's. Trust me on this. I was there at one of its epicenters in San Francisco. Instead, infected with the joy of hootenannies and anti-war concerts, we strapped on guitars and went straight to Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, and the Kingston Trio. Wait, I forgot Marianne Faithful! Sacro-pop didn't exist yet - and that's why for many it was seen as "an improvement" in the 1980s.

    Now we're in a "second Spring" for works by Fr. Valentine and others. While I love Latin, I know that vernacular psalmody has a value of its own. Simple, clear singing on accessible chant tones will be a path to truly liturgical music for many people. And you - and others - are doing a great deal to light the way.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Hello, mjballou

    I would love to see some of that, if you ever have time to scan it in --- I would particularly like to see the English translations
  • Mary Jane is right! My first experience in the Catholic Church was at St Ambrose, Houston, from 1964-1969. I was sought out because I was (as yet) Anglican and, thus, knew about English liturgy and it's music. We had a solemn high mass (with deacon & sub-deacon) in English every Sunday and Solemnity. EVERY part of the mass, save the homily and canon, were sung; yes, that includes the three readings. We sang the propers from a red book with plastic spiral binding, the name of which I do not recall. They were set to psalm tones, and, sometimes on greater feasts we would sing them to Anglican chant. For offertory and communion anthems we did everything from the Renaissance and Tudor masters to Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Howells. A great favourite was Holst's arrangement of 'Let all Mortal Flesh'. The choir (of about 30 voices) were a unique group: though family people, they would sometimes practice until 10.30, 11.00, or even later just to make a difficult anthem their own (and THEN go out for coffee!). The new church was modern, but in very fine taste with good art and a 45 rank organ with a trompette en chamade. This brings me to the only unpleasant thing about being there; namely, the Pastor (of Italian lineage), who otherwise had excellent taste and ecclesial decorum, would make me play trumpet fanfares at the elevation on major feasts.(But I, in turn, got him to observe the ancient custom of having the tower bells rung at the elevation.) In sum, Msgr di Primeo was the only priest I ever knew who did the right thing with Vatican II: he did what he had always done - he just did it in English. This wonderful situation did not long survive my tenure and then Msgr's. It wasn't five years before the guitar people and liturgical Jacobins took over like the Paris mob. I have been astonished ever since at how everyone just caves in to these people's 'vision' (rather, 'anti-vision'). I fail to comprehend how people can literally 'sit still' for it, how priests perpetrate it with a straight, purposeful, determined countenance. It really stretches credulity to believe that such are in persona Christi. I left St Ambrose to become choirmaster and organist at a large Lutheran church with a fine liturgical tradition. You can just imagine the music we got to do there - while stressing in every way that I could what remained of catholicity in their heritage. I left there to help get Our Lady of Walsingham and the newly promulgated Anglican Use started. I think, in this area, if we didn't have Walsingham I would go to the Maronite parish, or one of several Byzantine rite parishes which we have here. But, to get back on track: yes, there were numerous places in those days where an intelligent, spiritually thoughtful, transition was made. Many were the Catholic choirmasters, and not a few priests, who were thrilled that now they could have beautiful solemn high masses in English like the Anglicans. Then came the deluge. Now comes the CMAA: may God be with us! :::: I am engaged occasionally at St Basil's Chapel at the Univ. of St Thomas, and may, if all goes well, have a chant workshop there next year. If you will, pray for us in this endeavour.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a religious sister about liturgical changes and its impact on religious orders. A report on that is for another time. More immediately relevant was her collection of hymnals that she had salvaged from various churches and chapels. Of course, the Pius X and St. Basil, as well as several of Bragers' accompaniment volumes for the Kyriale and propers. What reinforced my earlier comments and those of Mr. Osborn were the copies of the organ edition of Our Parish Prays and Sings from Liturgical Press and Twenty Psalms and a Canticle arranged from singing by Gelineau and published by the then Gregorian Institute of America. These volumes have their imprimaturs from 1955 and came from the 1953 instruction of Pius XII on music in the liturgy. Oh, what a bright dawn all were expecting!