Top Five Books on liturgical music or other helpful books on liturgy
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I'd like to see what others enjoyed and got helpful guides in litrugical music. (I thought 10 sounds like a lot for books than listing music, but you can certainly list more than 5.)

    1. A New Song for the Lord (J.Ratzinger)
    2. The Spirit of the Litrugy (J.Ratzinger)
    3. Catholic Music through the Ages (E.Schaefer)
    4. Sacred music of the Catholic Church - Fr. Predmore
    5. Sing Like a Catholic (J.Tucker)
    (Last two books I've started this week)

    (6.Music and Ministry by C. Johansson, own it, but didn't start yet)
  • In alphabetical order and not necessarily about liturgical music:

    The Chants of the Vatican Gradual (Dominic Johner OSB)
    The Liturgy Betrayed (Denis Crouan, Marc Sebanc)
    The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate: Reform or Return (Fr. Thomas M. Kocik)
    Sing Like a Catholic (Jeffrey Tucker)
    Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste (Thomas Day) -- with reservations

    I've also devoured the free online excerpts of Ratzinger's writings on the liturgy.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Books about liturgical music I've read recently (as they sit on my desk):

    'Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations'. Chicago, 2007. (Anthony Ruff, OSB)

    'Cum Angelis Canere: Essays on Sacred Music and Pastoral Liturgy in Honour of Richard J. Schuler'. St. Paul, MN, 1990. (Edited by Robert A. Skeris)

    'The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform'. Front Royal, VA, 2003. (Laszlo Dobszay)

    'Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform After Vatican II:Proceedings of the Fifth International Church Music Congress, Chicago-
    Milwaukee, August 21-28, 1966'. Rome, 1969. (Edited by Johannes Overath)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Aristotle and Jan, thank you so much for sharing the list. All the books sound great. I'm all set for my next few years' reading. I hope others benefit from the lists too.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Miacoyne: All the books are published by CMAA except Fr. Ruff's. So check with the bookstore of CMAA.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Ratzinger (Spirit)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thanks, Jan. it's good to know. I went Amazon and look for Fr. Ruff's book, and found it's very expensive ($95). Don't even have a used one. So I'll have to wait on that one.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    yes, that's a very sad feature of Fr. Ruff's work.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Actually there are used ones, still over $90. (I didn't think they were used, because the price was still high.)
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    My favorite:

    The Spirit of the Liturgy- Ratzinger. This was the book that changed my outlook and gave me hope. I share it whenever possible (on my third copy).

    Might I use this thread to make a plea to read liturgists and musicians other than the ones we tout here. Only because one needs to see the spectrum in which we are all working. I regularly read the Wanderer right next to the National Catholic Reporter (talk about spectrum here!) and as much as I hate to admit it, I also read GIA Quarterly and the NPM magazine. I found a wonderful article by Paul Turner in this month's GIA mag that argues for singing the dialogues and other parts of mass. Knowing him a little and seeing it in the GIA mag tells me there is a movement afoot. I find hope in little places.

    It is my fervent belief that when we can converse with all sides in this question (which I believe will only get more contentious), we will be able to help others "see the light" and make our arguments for reform more palatable and more convincing. I even read Cardinal Mahony (its good for sentimentality and historical archives).(You may smile now)

    Just a plug for all not to get too far into your own corner even as you spread the "gospel" of reform.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I agree with you 100 %, Kevin. Thank you so much. I just experienced today from a conversation that we can be so one-sided and not be able to see the spectrum, so end up not being helpful but just criticise. I hope others list some good journals too.
  • You know Jeffrey, I regard the "cost" of Fr. Ruff's book as not sad at all, but worth the sacrifice in ratio to the benefits from its reading. I understand your point; but we can loan it to others who're up to the task. Just put a GPS device in it before you hand it over.
    If you think about it, it's forefather was his dissertation. Dissertation volumes are about $100 in any case anyway.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    That's true Charles. I just wish there were a way to share his knowledge more broadly! It is a gripping read in every way.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Gee, I think I should get this first.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Too many good books, so little time (and money!)

    Shame we can't all have an " wish list" like a particularly well-known, beloved and respected Catholic blogger who will remain nameless!!!
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,768
    Papal Legislation on Sacred Music (70AD-~1962) by Mgr. Hayburn

    Foundational material of the first order.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    true true! This book might have been the first to open my eyes to the fullness of the world of Catholic music
  • 1- What about The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Alcuin Reid. I'm loving it, and seeing several patterns (and disruptions) to reforms in the liturgy over the last 1000+ years.

    2- My favorite to date has also been Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy, and I really want to get the book that inspired the author and the title, also The Spirit of the Liturgy by Guardini. Mary Jane has been running intriguing bits on her site.

    3- Documents, Documents, Documents. Sacred musicians would be wise to regard summations as just that and proceed as soon as possible to digesting FULL documents for full context, etc. Consider Sing to the Lord and such. Even with a trustworthy person summarizing, its always best to (at least eventually) go to the source.

    Speaking of summations, thanks for this tip- I will get it in short order!
    Papal Legislation on Sacred Music (70AD-~1962) by Mgr. Hayburn
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    All the above, plus Ross Duffin's Performer's Guide to Medieval Music, which has some really fine essays in it.

    "A lay apostolate for chant," one of Aristotle Esguerra's old posts, is what finally got me off my duff. It's still inspiring.

    Catherine Pickstock's _After Writing_ remains stimulating in philosophical terms.

    David Fagerberg's book on liturgy and truth comes highly recommended. Anyone know that book?
  • Geez.
    Nothing by Eugene Walsh, Gabe Huck or Bernard Huibers?
    I'll just go back to skimming thru "Original Blessing" by Mathew Fox....

    Kidding. Just kidding!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    More excellent titles which changed my life:

    Music & Morals, A Theological Appraisal of the Moral and Psychological Effect of Music, Basil Cole, OP., Alba House, New York - 1993

    The Mass : A Study of the Roman Liturgy, Adrian Fortescue, Longmans, Greena dn Co. LTD, 1926

    Iota Unum : A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 797
    The Spirit of the Liturgy - Ratzinger
    A New Song for the Lord - Ratzinger
    Feast of Faith - Ratzinger
    The Lamb's Supper - Hahn (although not on music, it does give some good theology on the liturgy)
    Why Catholics Can't Sing - Thomas Day (no reservations, he's pretty accurate)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Yes, I liked Scott Hahn's book. (also very easy to follow) His view on the Christ's second coming was very shocking and made good sense. (Christ's second coming might be very different from what most people expect like His first coming.)
    I really like to get 'Feast of Faith.'
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    This gives me an idea that I'm going to try some sort of "books to Lend' program in our parish by schola. I've already listed books I can lend to my schola members in the blog. But I think I'm going to 'risk' lending my books to others in my parish.(most non-technical books that I have are not too expensive anyway) I'll post in the church bulltin that schola is lending books to others that are related to the liturgy and liturgical music to promote sacred music so we can recieve God's grace more fully from our liturgy. (I have to find better wording for the post) I'll keep those books in the music room and have people write their names and dates and book title of the book they are borrowing or just simply send an email to me. (maybe some 'praise band' might pick up and start reading some. who knows?) Also since our parish is starting a bit of latin Ordinary parts, I'll be posting for people to read, listen and freedownload Gregorian chant. Another thing I'll do is I am donating one of my copy of "Sing Like a Catholic' in the parish bookrack.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,768
    This book might have been the first to open my eyes to the fullness of the world of Catholic music

    Yes--but another lesson derived from the book is that since Popes have written the SAME INSTRUCTIONS dozens of times in 1900 years, we can infer that Bishops and priests have been ignoring Popes for the same period of time.
  • Just received my copy of The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. After all the recommendations on this forum, I couldn’t let my education continue without reading it! Thanks!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I hope you like it Janet. It was truly awakening for me to see the liturgy as it is beyond the time and space limit, truly eternal and universal. It's most suitable music? Gregorian chants, eternal and universal...

    Another book I started is "Praying with Iconcs." by Jim Forest. I found 'Icons' have the same spirit as Gregorian chant in music.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    Hi Miacoyne

    I have been downloading Icons for years. You are absolutely right about them having the same quality as the chant. IMHO we as RCs lost a great treasure of sacred art in the segregation of Catholic Byzantium, Russian and Coptic Icons. I have one writing from a Russian priest that talks about the anti-icon and it's devestating impact on our homes and culture. He references the idolization of celebrities (posters) and of course the TV as being two of the present day anti-icons, not to mention the ultimate anti-icon of pornography. If you are interested I can point you to the article.

    There are a few websites that host extremely hi-res icon images that make fantastic giclee prints which is an inexpensive way to adorn your home and surround yourself with holy images.

    One of the best is

    Another interesting article here
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I'd love to read the article. And thank you for the website. They are absolutely beautiful. Icons are persecuted even in early days, I was told. I think Leo the 3rd (emperor?)wanted abandon Icons hoping it will help Muslims to convert (I was in the talk on icons last week.) It was funny because the priest who gave the talk also mentioned that even these days people want to throw away tradition hoping that more people will come to the churches. (I think I was one of the very few there who understood what he meant by that.)

    I get easily distracted when I pray, and the book talks about how the icons can help with your praying. Icons can be windows for our prayers to Christ and saints.

    One quote from the book,
    " Icons guard against over-familiarity with divine.- An icon of the Savior is not merely a sentimental parinting of "our dear friend Jesus," but portrays both his divinity as well as his humanity, his absolute demands on us as well as his infinte mercy."

    Do you know there's a icon-making retreat? In Priestfield, WV (He says it's not just for priests. You get to 'write' your own icons.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    Yes. This is why there is a great distnction between the eastern and western depictions. In the tradition of iconograhy the images are made in a two dimensional fashion and are "given up" by the author. This perfectly reflects the way chant is composed. Composers do not sign their names. It is not about the composer with chant or the artist with the icon. It is only about bringing the viewer or the hearer into the presence of God. The western traditions tend to focus much more on the humanity and the emotion intertwined in religious sentiment. The imges are three dimensional, and focus more on the artist. Michaelangelo, as great as his works may be, do not approach the mystery and other-worldliness that is written into the icon. In music it is like comparing the GC Ave Maria to Shubert's Ave Maria. In the music of Shubert I hear humanity singing a prayer; in the chant I am praying the prayer.
  • G
    Posts: 1,388
    Oh, Janet, as you read it you will thank God even more than you probably do for giving us the Holy Father!

    "since Popes have written the SAME INSTRUCTIONS dozens of times in 1900 years, we can infer that Bishops and priests have been ignoring Popes for the same period of time."

    Too true, too sadly true, Dad29!

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    "In music it is like comparing the GC Ave Maria to Shubert's Ave Maria. In the music of Shubert I hear humanity singing a prayer; in the chant I am praying the prayer."

    Before I started to sing chants, my faith relied on my feelings and reasons. And the divinity was just an abstract concept. GC truly led me experience His divinity and His infinite love, which fills my emotion with joy. Our Pope also mentions in one of his writings about how music should be more spiritual,which then fills the feeings, not the other way around. If the music depends on just the feeling and the artistic skills, it cannot reach the spiritual level that sacred music strives for.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Documents on the Liturgy: 1963–1979
    Conciliar, Papal, Curial Texts

    Thirty-Five Years of the BCL Newsletter 1965-2000
    by USCCB

    The Reform of the Liturgy (1948-1975)
    by Annibale Bugnini

    Papal Legislation on Sacred Music 95 A.D. to 1977 A.D.
    by Robert F Hayburn, Mus.D.