Responsorial psalm
  • i would like to ask your opinions or any document as reference. can a responsorial psalm can be sing with R & B tune with lots of high notes? we are singing it in chant but other choir is singing it with R & B style. Its like they are having a show. Please i need your help.
  • Is the other choir your responsibility?

    If not, then do what you do excellently, and pray for the other choir and the people who are responsible for them.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 937
    Unless your pastor is going to stick his neck out and stop the other group from behaving so badly, there is absolutely nothing you can do. Complaining (unless you do it anonymously) will only harm you, not the other group, UNLESS the pastor is a strong supporter of your position.

    Tread carefully.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • MarkB
    Posts: 104
    There isn't a document that provides a specific prohibition of R&B music at Mass, just as there isn't a document that specifically prohibits the priest from delivering his homily as a rap. Informed, good judgment based on what liturgical documents do say as well as a sense of propriety and respect for the Mass would exclude both R&B and rap.

    Perhaps the closest thing that might help you is this from Sing to the Lord: "125. The role of music is to serve the needs of the Liturgy and not to dominate it, seek to entertain, or draw attention to itself or the musicians."

    The other choir is following the OCP Spirit & Song/Spirit & Psalm model of liturgical music, and they'll be able to say, "Well, OCP publishes music and responsorial psalm settings that sound like this, and they're the biggest publisher of Catholic music for Mass. So there."

    Unless your pastor is informed by and committed to the authentic spirit of the Church's liturgy, he won't have a rejoinder to their "OCP sells it" or "other parishes do it" counterargument.
    Thanked by 2Incardination chonak
  • RJCardosa,

    Documents exist to support your qualms, I think.

    Having lots of high notes isn't (necessarily) a problem.

    If by R&B you mean "rhythm and blues", the fact that the music-composition style is designed to serve purely secular purposes (i.e., it has no necessary connection to the worship of God and plenty of associations to the profane) this (by itself) should be reason to refrain from using it.

    So, if your chant uses high pitches (some of them do) don't shy away from that. If someone proposes that you should allow, encourage or be part of the singing in the R& B style, you have at least some documents on your side.

    As sometimes happens, however, when you start quoting documents, someone on the other side, one who wants to force you to agree with or force you to use the R& B style, will have at least a snippet of a document on his. The American bishops (in a document I don't have in front of me, but I think is called Sacred Music Today
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    Welcome, rjcardosa!

    The 1982 document was "Liturgical Music Today"; it was from the bishops' committee on liturgy. Here's what CMAA has said about it on our FAQ page:

    Q: What about “Music in Catholic Worship” (1972, rev. 1983) and “Liturgical Music Today” (1982), two documents often cited in discussions of sacred music?

    A: These two documents from the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy contain some insight, but they tend to offer commentary that is at odds with other official sources of Church instruction, not in the least because they rely on the opinions of their authors. MCW, for example, says that “the musical settings of the past are usually not helpful models for composing truly liturgical pieces today” (¶51)—a position that finds no support in any official teaching. In contrast, Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that “the treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and cultivated with great care” (¶114).
    Such discrepancies have made it difficult for many people to discern the Church’s authentic teaching. The authority of these American documents remains debatable, as neither was passed by or even voted on by the full body of the U.S. Bishops. [...]


    There's more at the page linked above.

    The 1967 document Musicam sacram is the most substantial instruction on music from the Holy See in the wake of Vatican II, and it does have an express caution against bringing instruments associated with secular music into the church:
    63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.


    Incidentally, rjcardosa, I should realize that the style you're talking about could be described as "R&B" music, but also might be described as "black gospel" music. The composers of these psalm settings may be intending to follow a gospel style, in which case the performers can support it as an effort in "inculturation". On the other hand, if your parish, like most parishes, has no black Catholics, then using that style of music starts to look like posturing, or as something done for the sake of entertainment, rather than to serve the liturgy itself.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I think that arguing from documents is a pointless endeavor the vast majority of the time. Pax is right. Focus on what you do, and don't focus on other people or putting their music down. Just make your music better, be humble, be polite, be enthusiastic, and be kind.

    I'll give you an example from experience: I work at a parish that has little history of organ music. A few years before I arrived (last year), they finally bought a digital organ, amid much controversy. (Many people actually left the parish over this.) Over my time at this parish, I have played mostly (but not exclusively) on organ and tried to make use of its many colors. I make sure I don't let any hymns drag. I pick out mostly preludes and postludes that are crowd pleasers -- I don't think they're up for discordant French organ yet. I wrote articles in the bulletin that focused on why I like playing the organ, not why the organ is the superior instrument and all others are inferior. And I do everything I can to be helpful and have a good rapport with parishioners.

    One day, the head usher at the choir Mass took me aside. She's around 75 and loves folk era-style music, wanting to hear more happy-clappy stuff at Mass. She acknowledged as much in one of her first conversations with me, not long after I started. But in this conversation, a year or so later, she said the way I played the organ and the articles I wrote in the bulletin had changed her mind. She still loves her happy-clappy stuff -- don't get me wrong. But the effort I put into making a positive case for my music has had good effects, and she looks forward to what I and the choir do each week. Based on the feedback I get, she's not alone.

    Focus on that, RJ. Be a good person and a good musician, and I think that'll go farther than any document citations.