Archbishop Sample's pastoral letter on sacred music
  • Admin,...

    Could you set this up as a new thread, so we don't go down a rabbit hole here?
  • Dad29 - the topic of aesthetics and musical value judgment makes my head spin! It is so hard to define beauty and goodness (or ugliness and badness), though many have tried. If I remember right, Ratzinger's point about rock music is that it has as its goal the sublimation of self (the brutality/inexorable quality of the beat batters down an individual's sense of existing as a unique, rational person). The individual is absorbed into the crowd, and all become extensions of the music rather than rational creatures responsible for their own choices and actions. Which is what some people want out of music - an escape from self.

    I would think that there are some kinds of music that are inherently evil, based not on their physical existence but on their intent, context, and effect on the listener. Satanic death metal would seem to be one example. But on another end of the "rock" spectrum you have Chuck Berry. Of course, many people thought Elvis' music was "devil music", too :)

    The hard part for me is defining where non-extreme examples fall on that spectrum, since most people aren't advocating satanic death metal at Mass. Although, I do remember once being at a "youth gathering" in Vienna, where we met in a cavern (maybe a cellar) and there was eucharistic exposition in one room and screaming rock music (live band) in the next room. It was a deeply unsettling experience, almost like stumbling onto a black mass.

    One takeaway from all of the above is that I'm glad I am not personally responsible for crafting a theory of aesthetics from scratch, by which I can judge music for Mass. Instead, I have a lot of theory and practical directives from the Church as a foundation. We ignore that foundation at our peril (and usually through our intellectual hubris).
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,745
    [rock] has as its goal the sublimation of self (the brutality/inexorable quality of the beat batters down an individual's sense of existing as a unique, rational person). The individual is absorbed into the crowd, and all become extensions of the music rather than rational creatures responsible for their own choices and actions.


    What I took away from his writing was his mention (and condemnation) of the back-beat which largely served to excite the nether regions; (what you recall is also there). That back-beat is found in most of Elvis' music, which is why it, too, was condemned as 'devil's music'.

    As you indicate, the Church's formulations are excellent starting points for a working definition of "good" music, but it would be a MUCH simpler task to use the Church's formulas for Church music and leave the rest alone. Converting Catholics to Catholic music is difficult enough without taking on the entire secular world, too.

  • Can we try to back up even farther. I've tried to grasp what good music in the nominative case, --- so, not "to me" or "in this situation" or whatever, but thusly:


    Good music is_____________________________
    Good music has____________________________
    Good music does___________________________


    If the purpose of the tongue (in speech) is to tell the truth, then lying is an abuse of the purpose for which it was created.



    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,079
    Dr. Kwasniewski has written on the subject of rock music's "sexual rhythm"

    http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2013/sep/12/sexual-rhythm-rock-music-1-2/
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Jared -
    Well met.
    Unfortunately, we're not able, in this forum, to interline, to truly interact.
    I appreciate the feedback and counter-arguments.
  • OCP felt they had to answer AB Sample letter:https://www.ocp.org/en-us/blog/entry/the-pastoral-letter-and-ocp-answers-to-common-questions

    As far as I am concerned, I believe AB Sample’s letter to be a perfect sum up of the direction towards which Church musicians and the laity should educate themselves. Instead of trying to make lofty points about SC and “pride of place” I now have as tool a very recent letter, well written, from the AB supervising OCP’s work.... I am now going to hit the road and make sure this letter gets better known...
    Thanked by 2MarkB CharlesW
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,882
    Archbishop Sample is an example of an impeccable virtue of mind, body, and soul.
    OCP's infelicitous response to his letter is nothing more than smug and shameful insolence.
    (Why would anyone buy anything from such people?)