Unusual article at LifeSiteNews....
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 689
    "The market for professional liturgical musicians, as opposed to secular musicians who perform occasionally in churches, is so tiny that it is only by some musicians’ extraordinary dedication that skills can be passed on at all."

    Perhaps not for organists, but for singers, this is undoubtedly true. I can count on one hand the number of expressly liturgical professional singers that I know.
  • Drake
    Posts: 120
    Sadly, in our society, people are conditioned to love what is not beautiful--even in opposition to our very natures, which were made for Beauty Himself. That conditioning has had its effect even among the people of God and even among the clergy. The effect on vocations, architecture, music, and faith in what the Church teaches has been staggering. Just look at the numbers of Catholics who no longer believe in the True Presence.

    When simply being moral is radically counter-cultural, how small indeed is the "market" for authentic expressions of the sacred! In such a climate, sacred music almost has to be given away--as a tool of evangelization--in order to rekindle that spark in the souls of people who are touched by beauty's expression of the truth. A faithless generation has little motivation to value it ahead of time.

    All the more reason that professional church musicians absolutely must be paid a just and proper wage among the parishes that still have them. (And I am but an amateur, so I can say that without direct self-interest.)
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 183
    Joseph Shaw often comes out here and there in defense of some tiny segment of Catholics trying to live a Catholic life, and demonstrates a good grasp of what he's talking about. In this case even taking note of the non-contract and week-to-week musicians. I appreciate him for it.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw cesarfranck
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,177
    I appreciate the main thrust, though perhaps I ought to recuse myself. However:
    When the Church is dominant in a culture, one can say that all culture is Catholic culture. Churches built along the lines of civic meeting halls (basilicas) or the great halls of kings and nobles were not built in a secular rather than a sacred style: at those moments in history, there was no such distinction.

    This doesn't sound very different from 1970 or 1789. The argument seems to be that Trent showed wisdom in anticipating a loss of dominance and turning from the Age of Faith back to the catacombs, and that the 19c didn't go far as far as it ought to have to make the temples safe for Witt, Duguet & Faure sans é by guarding the gates against Bruckner, Liszt & Gounod. But can one really say there was a distinction between sacred and secular in 1607?
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,679
    That notion of the separation of sacred and secular music styles as being a reaction to loss of cultural hegemony intrigues me. It opens a line of thinking which allows for the use of ALL the Church's cultural expression (NONE of which is part of the current culture).
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,917
    So then should one consider Hassler's Missa Secunda to be 'sacred' or 'secular'? Moreso than Brucker's E minor? Less so?
  • This runs counter to records of musicians in the early Church. The notion of amateur musicians arising 'out of the congregation' and offering their services for free is a peculiarly Reformation one which persists in some quarters to this day. Archeaological and literary evidence of music in the early Church tells of highly skilled, highly trained cantors. Their most prized possessions, their cantatoria, were books of the texts that they chanted, complete with markings not unlike Carolingian notation telling them how to inflect their voices. I have not seen mention of them being paid but would suspect strongly that they were compensated in some manner, be it monetary or in goods or lodging. Nor, apparently, did the 'congregation' itself do much singing. There is no record of such singing. The notion of spontaneous singing by the congregation without any paid or trained singers is a fond myth current mostly in the Protestant world, but, as well, in some Catholic circles. Singing in the early Church, again, was done by highly skilled and trained cantors, and, later were added scholae cantorum.

    Congregational singing was very likely restricted to responses to prayers and dialogue and little else. There were no hymns in the modern sense, and the ordinary was as yet not developed as fully as we know it. In the very very earliest of times there were hymns such as are recorded throughout the New Testament, e.g., 'Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain', etc., but these, too, were not likely to have been congregational but restricted to a cantor or a few specialist soloists.

    Sorry - the robust congregational singing which Luther and his modern heirs thought was 'taken away from the people' never existed. Later, of course, Ambrose, Hillary, and others developed the strophic hymn of Eastern origin as means of catechesis. These were quite popular amongst the people, and found a place in the monastic offices, but they did not form a part of the Western mass.

    (A bit of humour - vanity was apparently a problem in the early church as well as now. Edward Foley, in his brief book about church music in the pre-Constantinian church, mentions that a curious rule was made to the effect that cantors may not use curling irons in their hair. As the law is the mirror of our sins we may just imagine the elaborate 'hair-dos' that were sported by some cantors.)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,177
    musicians arising 'out of the congregation' and offering their services for free is a peculiarly Reformation one

    spontaneous singing by the congregation without any paid or trained singers is a fond myth current mostly in the Protestant world

    These can seem like two different assertions: it's no secret that Anglican and Presbyterian jobs for ringers tend to be coveted and that the office of Cantor usually presumes more skill in a Lutheran setting than a Catholic one. Congregational singing on the other hand might well require some sort of full, conscious and active participation that might be tacitly assumed by Protestants.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    In my area there have been workshops (AGO usually) in the past that dealt with how to sing hymns. Nothing on chant in this Protestant area. Someone Protestant always showed up to lead the workshop and tell us how Presbyterians sing hymns and other music. I agree the Presbyterians often have good music but their practices are not necessarily a good model for Catholic parishes. Their hymnals are quite different, as well.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • IdeK
    Posts: 81
    Some remarks about cantoring in the Middle Ages (and earlier, though I know Middle Ages better).

    No one really bothered about the congregation or "the people". If anything, from the very first churches known, the idea was to physically mark the distinction between the priestly space, enclosed by a chancel and then a rood screen, and the area for lay people. It is quite clear already in the first explanations about the dedication of churches, in the 8th century, but even before that, you can see 6th century chancels in the more ancient churches, such as St. Sabina in Rome.

    (That is why most probably the Mass was always with the priest facing east since the very early centuries. Sometimes he faced the faithful when the apse of the church was at the western part, but nobody really cared for the faithful, who had to consider themselves happy to be allowed to get into the church when their pagan counterparts couldn't get into temples).

    Which leads me to the other part of what I said : I am appalled at the implication made in the article that there was no distinction between sacred and secular in the Middle Ages. Anyone who knows well about Romanesque architecture will tell you that the most important principle in Romanesque architecture is the distinction of the different spaces in the church, from most sacred to less sacred, and that the door is a very important place because it marks the limit between sacred and secular space.

    However, it is true that architectural styles, in themselves, were not considered "sacred" or "secular". They were not really considered as "styles", either. The vaults, and especialy the rib vaults, were employed because they were beautiful and because they were more robust, and especially more resistant to fire : vaults give an extra protection in case of roof fire, because they "hold" the walls once the timber is gone. Had there not been vaults in Notre-Dame de Paris, it would be ashes today, and the same for Notre-Dame de Chartres, Metz cathedral, Reims cathedral, and so on.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,177
    The invention of hymn singing by Luther fits in very well with protestant views of the Reformation, but are we really being 'data driven' or accepting a myth? One of Thomas Day's points is that one can't even generalize about Catholic singing across Mexico, Austria and the US, let alone past ages.

    What I remember about Notre Dame de Paris is what a trial it was to listen to César Franck swimming in the modern acoustic, let alone polyphony. For all the documentation of veils, scrims, rugs and tapestries in Craig Wright's book, what I found eye-opening was the rood screen's division of the sanctuary, where the liturgy was carried on by Pérotin's schola, and the secular nave, into which the organ spoke to accompany crowds in the Te Deums sung on public occasions.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,204
    Which was not the way it started.
    And of course the screening was followed by the erection of chapels and altars all round, including those standing in front of the screen. Wright mentions the altare pigrorum 'the altar of the lazy' where Mass started just before noon. Screening off the choir does not mean the rest of the building becomes less sacred.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,177
    To be clearer I do not mean non-sacred: cathedrals are 'secular' institutions. At NDdP the monastic worship of the school went on side by side with public liturgies.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,917
    the faithful, who had to consider themselves happy to be allowed to get into the church

    Just like today!! You MAY be one of the luckies who fits into the 25%!!
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,679
    Were not the Colleges of the Hours active in various Dutch cities (Leiden etc.) made up of laymen? Though even then, they were acting as surrogate canons.