Did Vatican II Open The Floodgates?
  • packardgrrl
    Posts: 16
    I remember that pre-Vatican II the hymns were all trad. Post Vatican II it seems that the "touchy-feely" type hymns came flooding through. They didn't sweep the trads away but it seems as though, at least in my parish, we could go for several weeks without singing something trad.

    Does anyone else feel the same way?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 931
    Oh my... do you know what you have done?!

    (I jest, but I suspect this thread will garner some impassioned responses.)

    Short answer: yes, some of the movers and shakers at VII had an agenda and in the overwhelming majority of cases, the results aren't pretty. It's very interesting to compare common hymnody pre and post council. There is undeniably a change in tenor, theology, style, content... all of it. Just look at the much-loved St. Basil or St. Gregory hymnals and then look at any of the "Worship" hymnals or anything pumped out by OCP. Good luck reconciling them. (Hint: you can't really.)
  • Packard Girl,

    There is a school of thought (one which has, at least, some significant evidentiary support) that although the Council Fathers kicked down the doors, there was sulphurous water behind those flood gates, so that (in effect) they lanced a boil rather than encouraging evil. [That's too many mixed metaphors....] Jeffrey Morse has advanced the theory that there's just not much daylight between Beautiful Mother and Be not Afraid.
    Thanked by 1Joseph Michael
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    Yes, but no. There is the 1956 papal encyclical
    MUSICAE SACRAE
    63. If hymns of this sort are to bring spiritual fruit and advantage to the Christian people, they must be in full conformity with the doctrine of the Catholic faith. They must also express and explain that doctrine accurately. Likewise they must use plain language and simple melody and must be free from violent and vain excess of words. Despite the fact that they are short and easy, they should manifest a religious dignity and seriousness. When they are fashioned in this way these sacred canticles, born as they are from the most profound depths of the people's soul, deeply move the emotions and spirit and stir up pious sentiments. When they are sung at religious rites by a great crowd of people singing as with one voice, they are powerful in raising the minds of the faithful to higher things.
    64. As we have written above, such hymns cannot be used in Solemn High Masses without the express permission of the Holy See. Nevertheless at Masses that are not sung solemnly these hymns can be a powerful aid in keeping the faithful from attending the Holy Sacrifice like dumb and idle spectators. ...
    What that failed to do was to control the words used by the congregation at Mass. It gives no hint at a process for vetting the words, and that is what opens the floodgates.
    Thanked by 1PolskaPiano
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,358
    There were/are plenty of touchy-feely older hymns. I very much include saccharine as touchy-feely.
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 845
    Before the impassioned responses are coming, some input by me (from a Dutch perspective!).

    Indeed, from the 1960s onwards some poor hymn texts and tunes were produced (it's important to distinguish between texts and tunes), some of which are really troublesome. The question is: is the Second Vatican Council to blame? Personally, I think it's mainly the zeitgeist, the Council often being used as an excuse or a scape goat.

    Another question is: what does it mean a hymn is trad? Must it be written before 1960? In the nineteenth century? Taken from the breviary? Only using "thou" or "thy"? I would like to point out that, despite the fair amount of poor hymns produced after 1960, there have also been written beautiful ones in the time after Vatican II. Anselmus Lentini comes to mind (whatever you may think of his work taking up the larger part of the LotH), and there are many good writers and composers here on the forum. Likewise, there are many awful, meaningless, sugar sweet devotional hymns prior to Vatican II.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,073
    FWIW, many of "pre-" and "post-" V-2 hymns were lousy imitations of Broadway/Tin Pan Alley styles.

    It is good to avoid them like the plague.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    bhahahahaha...

    yes, and so did you with this thread!

    see other threads about 'trad' vrs. 'vii' as ServiamScores is alluding to... however, don't try to synthesize an answer just from this forum, because it comes from mostly a musico-theological perspective which in my opinion gets muddy very fast... go get it from both horses mouths. PM me if you want my view from living (or dying, perhaps) in both barns (mostly VII).

    There are some really good reads on this, especially from Dr. Kwasniewski that are eye openers. He also lived in the VII world most of his life and career. I also have other good sources from prominent theologians writings and audio talks to which I can share with you.

    https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27:Peter+Kwasniewski&s=relevancerank&text=Peter+Kwasniewski&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    @packardgrrl - If you are thinking of hymns at Mass, you should realise that VII did not ask for hymns at Mass (apart from the Gloria), either traditional or 'touchy-feely'. And neither do the rubrics in GIRM, with the sole exception of an optional hymn of praise after Communion is completed.
    And I would not put any trust in rejectionists or polemicists like Dr Kwasniewski, read first those who wecomed VII and its output, but not the implementation, such as Papa Ratzinger and Louis Bouyer.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    And I would not put any trust in rejectionists or polemicists like Dr Kwasniewski
    Well, I disagree with you on this and so do many others, and especially offering the labels of 'rejectionist' and 'polemicist' puts a slant on your opinion. Read and hear all. Make your own decision. IMHO labels discredit opinions. If any labels matter they are "truth" and "fact". (IOW, dispute any fact in Dr. K's book and come with it). Truth and fact comes from knowing both sides. I am not a "trad" or a "VIIer", and the minute you label yourself, you have wandered off from being what is primary, which is Catholic.

    An ad hominem argument is a personal attack against the source of an argument, rather than against the argument itself. Essentially, this means that ad hominem arguments are used to attack opposing views indirectly, by attacking the individuals or groups that support these views.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 222
    the floodgates

    I'd better make my way off to the moral high ground!
    Thanked by 1francis
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    @GerardH

    yea,,, i am thinking the same thing... been here done this...
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,146
    Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, his Hymns do not need an introduction as most of us should have sung at least one, and/or at least one of the many translations. His Hymns were for many years considered modern, other Office hymns were old 100s of years before St. Thomas.

    I do wonder why we consider the hymns and songs found in pre Vatican II hymnals traditional? How can they be considered traditional when they only appeared in a handful of hymnals over less than 50 years?
    Thanked by 2francis hilluminar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    I do wonder why we consider the hymns and songs found in pre Vatican II hymnals traditional? How can they be considered traditional when they only appeared in a handful of hymnals over less than 50 years?
    Excellent point. This is the perfect example of how the muddiness to which I was alluding is skewed by those that espouse a musico-theological philosophy, (in other words music before theology.)

    And to elaborate further, VII was the fulcrum of error, not the source of the see-saw. But it IS the fulcrum of spilling error over dogma into the church.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 856
    Read Why Catholics Can't Sing by Thomas Day. At least in North America, the seeds of wilfully terrible hymnody had been sown and bore fruit long before the 1960s.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    Read Why Catholics Can't Sing by Thomas Day. At least in North America, the seeds of wilfully terrible hymnody had been sown and bore fruit long before the 1960s.
    Terrible seeds and terrible fruit all come from the same terrible tree... (seeds are found in the fruit) keep looking... don’t blame (become myopic) the seeds and the fruit. Lay waste to the root and the seeds and fruit will be gone once for all. Step back, look at the forest. It’s not just a single tree that betrays.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,366
    I guess it dates me that I can't help laughing out loud at "Burn, baby, burn" now being a traditionalist slogan.
  • KARU27
    Posts: 151
    Although some hymns from pre-Vatican II may have been syrupy, or not in the best musical taste, at least they weren't jazzy or heavily drum-based.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,073
    you should realise that VII did not ask for hymns at Mass


    Correct. The clear preference was for the Propers. But recall also that the typical Sunday Mass became a hybrid "sung"/"spoken" mess of pottage due to the lobbying of liturgists for 'vernacular' at all times, in all places, for any reason they could conjure up at the time.

    Musicians, no longer allowed to use Latin for ANY reason, sought continuing employment through use of hymns, right, wrong, or otherwise.

    The flat-out ignorance and flaccidity of most US Bishops didn't help either.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    as Gregory DiPippo has observed, Vatican II and the reforms which came from it enshrined the very worst of pre-conciliar practice and managed to eliminate the good things.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    No, Vatican II did not open the flood gates. It stated, commanded, very specific precepts expressed plain as day in black and white what it expected of the music and liturgy to follow. What has followed is not even a caricature, not even a parody of the Council's intended mass, What has followed is a flagrant debasement of the mass, a thing vainly made from whole cloth by an incredibly disobedient clerical order, who have, literally, gotten away with murder. Not even pope or 'the Vatican' had the spine to set them straight in no uncertain tones.

    Want to see what the typical mass fulfilling what VII really commanded would look like? Go to an Ordinariate parish or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham (which may be seen live streamed at olwcatholic.org) and there you have it - of course, minus the Prayer Book English.

    It is one of history's most hideous LIES, spoken and drilled in by those bishops and others who came home from the council and said that it 'threw out' chant, Latin, choral heritage, choirs, etc., etc., when, in fact, the council ordered that all of these be retained and cultivated assiduously. It is likely at this point that, but for a number of exceptions here and there, and the Ordinariate, the Catholic Church will never celebrate, nor the people be blessed with, a genuine Vatican II mass. What a deep sadness - like the voice from Ramah. What a burdensome tyranny it is when we have countless bishops (non-excellent 'excellencies') and priests fly in the face of VII's clear instructions and have the brass to forbid the very things the council ordered - a stance which really makes them in essence lawless, outside the law. They will tell you to your face, knowing what VII ordered, that 'I don't care what the council said, I like such and so kind of music, and that's what we will have in "my" parish, "my" diocese'. We've been shafted.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    dad29 is right to point at the bishops. In Baltimore Cdl Sheehan banned any use of Latin, once the vernacular translation of the 1962 text was complete. While in Westminster and several other English dioceses every parish was required to have at least one Sunday Mass in Latin, as Cdl Heenan pointed out in his 1967 criticism of the proposed Missa Normativa.
    Apart from Episcopalian material, (and adopting them would have been much more objectional than adopting the vernacular) there was no music for the propers in English, thus the floodgates were opened.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    ...no music for the propers in English,...
    So???? The obvious thing would have been for these heedless bishops to commission such. Their failure to do so only amplifies what is evident - that they had no intention of fulfilling VII's vision. Fifty years have now passed and they still haven't seen to this matter, which can only mean that they still couldn't care less for what the council actually said.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    comment 1
    No, Vatican II did not open the flood gates

    comment 2
    thus the floodgates were opened.

    comment 3
    - that they had no intention of fulfilling VII's vision
    YAY!!!! ...thank you very much for what is behind door number three!!!

    The council was purposely designed with ambiguity and vagueness TO BE THE COUNCIL that could go against what it actually (vaguelly and ambiguously) proclaimed.

    Come on people... you can lob this back and forth until the town burns to ashes... which it is doing at an alarming rate of breathtaking speed. (we declare! we are fully clothed! pay no attention to our nudeness!)

    i will stick to the tree imagery to drive the point home...

    a bad tree does not produce good fruit, and vice versa.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    It was Sheehan and his ilk that opened the floodgates. As I said Sheehan was acting in defiance of the Council documents. SC :
    114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; ...
    116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
    But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded ...
    54 ... steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

    Sheehan also incurred the anathema pronounced by the Council of Trent.
    Session 22 CANON IX.--If any one saith, ...; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; or, ...; let him be anathema.

    [We have of course the same grave sins being committed now, for example by Msgr Kroetsch in the diocese of Hamilton.]
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,146
    Words written in print are one thing, example and discipline are another.

    It is manifestly unjust, that chant is just one of several options, rather than the norm, with permission (with good reasons) needed to choose one of the other options.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 931
    To me it's a bit akin to when you have a substitute teacher come to class. You all know what you're supposed to be doing, but you take advantage of the new person who, although left written instructions by the incumbent, doesn't really know the lay of the land so it's easy to get away with murder.

    We had incumbent traditions and directives that were suddenly on sabbatical, and a new set of instructions that were based on the norm but were ultimately rushed in; you simultaneously had a culture of rebellion which had gripped the world at this time, and a bunch of people rushed to take advantage. There was also mob-mentality in that once certain trends got rolling, everyone just trudged right along with everyone else without giving it much thought. Anyone who would have objected was told to tow the line or risk having the ire of the mob turn to them. And, as we've seen this past year with many well-known riots (at least in the USA) human nature becomes very destructive, very quickly, when in a state of rebellion.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 874
    What has followed is not even a caricature, not even a parody of the Council's intended mass

    But then how did this happen? As you say yourself, this was done under the auspices of - and in many cases -with the full cooperation of - those who voted at Vatican II.

    The answer is that "The Council" wasn't just the 16 documents and what they say "plain as day in black and white." It's also the how, who, why, and the results of the implementation. You can't separate these things any more than you can in any other endeavor - as if I have nothing to do with how my kids end up since I state noble goals at the beginning. A bare appeal to "I clearly stated what I intended to do" doesn't get me off the hook as a parent, politician, churchman - indeed, it indicts me more for my naivete and foolish optimism.

    Even the notion of "the Council's intended Mass" is a chimera - it's just one of many options, all equally legal and valid. You can have a Mass with no propers, no Latin, no music, no chant - and according to the documents it's just as legitimate as one with smells, bells, and full chant and polyphony. Any progress towards this can be overturned with a new pastor, without recourse or appeal. And this not because of some abuse in the system but because of the system itself. This is all official, documented, and certified.

    With all the liturgical and musical problems we had before Vatican II, I don't see how this could have happened without the Council - meaning, again, the whole shebang, not just the text of the documents. Which is to say, yes, it opened the floodgates.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    Which is to say, yes, it opened the floodgates.
    Maybe more accurately, IT IS the flood?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,223
    I would say go back even earlier. The root of all the craziness was the low mass. It never should have been allowed and set precedents that reached their logical conclusions after Vatican II.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • On the subject of Low Mass, I came across an article in Latin Mass Magazine (I think; I'll go and find it later) which led me to conclude that privata means "lacking something intrinsic to it". The thing missing is music.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 856
    Even the notion of "the Council's intended Mass" is a chimera - it's just one of many options, all equally legal and valid. You can have a Mass with no propers, no Latin, no music, no chant - and according to the documents it's just as legitimate as one with smells, bells, and full chant and polyphony.
    This is like saying that, because Low Mass was equally as valid as Solemn High Mass before Vatican II, and Low Mass was the norm in most parishes, all of these options were equally legal and valid.

    There is a clear preference from Vatican II; the fact that it's routinely ignored is no different than parishes routinely ignoring the Vatican before the 60s.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    I must emphatically (but respectfully) disagree with those above who would seem to equate what the Church said 'plain as day in black and white' with those who went off and 'interpreted that 'black and white' to make it read whatever they wished it to, the opposite of what the black and white said. The council said exactly what it said, and those who left the council did exactly what it didn't say. This is no logical outcome of the council. It is murder of the council. There are those honoured people who simply have a congenital disdain for the council as a whole, and who, at any rate, despise or at least denigrate vernacular liturgy. With all due respect, they will never see anything good in the council, even if it HAD been obeyed.

    If I leave instructions to have a certain room painted blue and after I leave the room is painted red, the fault lies not with my instructions but with the willful disobedience of the painters.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    If I leave instructions to have a certain room painted blue and after I leave the room is painted red, the fault lies not with my instructions but with the willful disobedience of the painters.
    in part, perhaps, but if you are the boss, the buck stops with you.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw rich_enough
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 931
    If I had a dollar for every time my former employees didn't do as they were told I could have retired at 29.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    An interesting observation, Francis. So the council was disobeyed, it painted the room red instead of blue. So the 'the buck' stops with pope and 'the Vatican', who just stood by, spineless to straighten anyone out and set them on the right track in no uncertain tones. It would appear that no one, from top to bottom, in Rome had the backbone or resolve to say 'stop this. This is NOT what the council said' The council itself was not a bad thing, the instructions were just flagrantly ignored. That people got away with this is the fault of overly indulgent popes and the away-turned eye of almighty Vatican - or is it a paper tiger? Or does it just really not care - not at all - not the least bit?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    So the 'the buck' stops with pope and 'the Vatican', who just stood by, spinless to straighten anyone out and set them on the right track.
    No, I am thinking conspiracy to hijack... PVI was not innocent or neglectful... he was totally complicit with the takeover.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 856
    And Pius X was complicit with awful church music because Tra le sollecitudini didn't go far enough and/or wasn't enforced properly? Come on.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    francis - You won't get a conspiracy to work without secrecy, and the workings of the Consilium were, if not under continual media scrutiny, open to many including dissenters. Where you do find a conspiracy is in the 15 years before the Council, and devised by Pope Pius XII. The Pian commission to reform the liturgy was openly established, but conducted its affairs in total secrecy, because Pius XII understood that the Sacred Congregation of Rites was, to quote Fortescue a “crowd of dirty little monsignori at Rome in utter ignorance of the meaning or reason of anything”. The commissions deliberations were conducted in total secrecy and the recommendations transmitted by the secretary to the Commission in total secrecy via the Sostituto for Internal Affairs to the Secretary of State (which is a perfectly normal way of proceeding). Usually the Secretary of State would inform the SCR, however Pius XII was himself the SoS, and he chose not to involve them. The Pope had of course selected both the Secretary to the Commission (A Bugnini) and the Sostituto (G Montini, now St Paul VI). The resultant changes, notably to Holy Week and the Triduum, were announced by papal fiat, to the complete shock of SCR.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    masonry is both Secret(ive) and Reveal(atory)... "revealing" is the other half of their tactics... they use them both like a two headed monster...

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/b2/30/72/b23072eccd13fd12616fa444886442f1.jpg

    (see also coatlique (mexican satanism, confronted by OLOG... the most devastating result of Our Lady against Lucifer on human grounds))

    https://www.pinterest.pt/pin/62557882305446383/

    it is the tactic of masonry to trump both sides of the world view... that way they polarize everyone... to their own end either way... the end of which is an earth goddess on both extremes... um, let's think 'pachamama' as the latest revelation (reveal)

    so, you see, PXII was also caught in the web... recourse to Our Blessed Mother is the ONLY way out of our present predicament, and following her request (prescription) is our only way to avoid the Mystery of Iniquity, which will eventually be revealed in full as scripture elaborates.

    This is an intricate, and in depth study, in manipulation of the highest levels of spiritual and political conflict.



    Ávē Marī́a, grā́tiā plḗna,
    Dóminus tḗcum.
    Benedícta tū in muliéribus,
    et benedíctus frū́ctus véntris túī, Iḗsūs.[13]
    Sā́ncta Marī́a, Mā́ter Déī,
    ṓrā prō nṓbīs peccātṓribus,
    nunc et in hṓrā mórtis nóstrae. Āmēn.


    Hail Mary, full of grace,
    the Lord is with thee.
    Blessed art thou amongst women,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    That reminds me - the topic of this thread!
    Our current hymn book omits one of my favourite verses, which seemed to me as a six year old under sporadic bombardment during WWII much the best verse of any Marian hymn we sang. And still seems the same way 76 years later -

    2. Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world,
    And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled;
    And the tempest-tossed Church,---all her eyes are on thee;
    They look to thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!
    Fr Faber (MARIA ZU LIEBEN)
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • MarkB
    Posts: 671
    The documents didn't intend it, but the aftermath of the council opened the floodgates to this "new" music:

    https://youtu.be/6PIE_c_yteM?t=24

    60s folk guitar music still lives on in the church in 2021, to my amazement.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,073
    The root of all the craziness was the low mass. It never should have been allowed


    Unlike some others, Roman Catholic parishes had LOTS of people show up on Sundays. Every Sunday. So many that the churches ran out of room and time (remember, no Mass could begin after 12 noon....)
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Dad,

    Connect those dots for me....?
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    John XXIII did open that window and famously said that we needed to let in some fresh air.
    He was right -
    But I rather think that what has happened has surely not been the air that he had in mind.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 874
    I must emphatically (but respectfully) disagree with those above who would seem to equate what the Church said 'plain as day in black and white' with those who went off and 'interpreted that 'black and white' to make it read whatever they wished it to, the opposite of what the black and white said. The council said exactly what it said, and those who left the council did exactly what it didn't say.

    I didn't claim that what the Church said plainly in the documents was equal to what was done afterwards - quite the contrary. The question is how do we explain it?
    This is no logical outcome of the council. It is murder of the council.

    If a candidate campaigns on a set of policies and then once elected proceeds to implement the opposite policies, this isn't the "logical outcome of the campaign." But it is the fault of the very same man and the same organization who campaigned on those promises.

    I'm not arguing that what happened after the Council logically follows from what the documents say, only that "the Council" cannot be reduced to the documents - just as a administration cannot be reduced to what it said it would do during the campaign. In this case it would strange to say that the campaign was faultless but the administration was the problem - they come from the same source and are being run by the same people. So there's more going on here than "good Council [documents], bad implementation."
    If I leave instructions to have a certain room painted blue and after I leave the room is painted red, the fault lies not with my instructions but with the willful disobedience of the painters.

    This only shows my point. The Council cannot be reduced to the written "instructions" since those who wrote them didn't "leave the room."
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 874
    And Pius X was complicit with awful church music because Tra le sollecitudini didn't go far enough and/or wasn't enforced properly? Come on.

    If Pius X went ahead and made concrete changes directly contrary to TLS or even did little to promote and support good church music, I think it would be fair to say that he was complicit in awful church music.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,223
    I think one of the problems with Vatican II is that it couldn't have happened at a worse time. The entire world was entering a cultural revolution the likes of which had not been seen in centuries. All of society was in an uproar, war was raging, the drug culture was expanding and previously held beliefs were being challenged on all fronts. Add to this a weak and vacillating pope, Paul VI, whose orthodoxy had been suspect for years - didn't Pius XII run him out of Rome - and there was a "complicit" leadership crisis at the very top of the church. The bishops were not any better. The seminaries had been hotbeds of underground heresy for some time. Put it all together and it spelled disaster.
  • piccolopat
    Posts: 14
    Good morning. I'm a new member here and a volunteer music director in my parish. Our group consists of piano, 2 guitars and flute plus a bunch of dedicated but largely untrained singers. Our guitars use a combination of picking and strumming that flows and changes with the tone of the music while our piano player fills in. As a trained classical musician, I understand your points of view regarding "good" music and I know my opinion here will not popular. Our primary goal is to provide music that reflects the readings of the day and encourages parish participation. We do both the newer contemporary works as well as traditional hymns whenever we can adapt them for our group's composition. We do harmony whenever we can but are always mindful that the melody line must be prominent so the congregation can join in. We have always drawn thanks and accolades from the pastor and the congregation and they have been quite vocal about missing us whenever we aren't there (summer breaks and now pandemic). For anyone trained in music, our sound is far from perfect but the people join in and sing. I've been to masses where the music is perfect but too complicated for the congregation or too perfect and they end up being the audience rather than active participants. Vatican II may have led to folksy and more simplistic music, but as long as a song and its lyrics is respectful of the Mass and in the hymnal our Church allows, I would encourage it if it means people sing. Most parishes can't afford to hire enough trained musicians to cover all of the masses (ours has one organist). That doesn't mean that the music that volunteers offer is not valuable and should be appreciated, even if not necessarily "good".
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • piccolopat
    Posts: 14
    My other opinion on this topic adds to what "smvanroode" posted asking what is traditional music. Traditional music, as with many other traditions, changes with time. The music that existed at the time of Christ and what would have been sung in the very early Church is not the same as what many consider traditional Church music today. There weren't elaborate church buildings, electronic or pipe organs, polyphonic choirs or perfectly composed hymns of classical origin. There may have been simple stringed and wind instruments, rudimentary percussion and if singing was done it would have been simple and in the language of the people. IMHO there is a reason why Christ preached directly to the people, in fields and villages and He used parables as a way of relating to them. The Council of Nicaea was far more transformational to our Church than Vatican II and yet still without controversy. Many of the rules and traditions that the Council of Nicaea made official were done to move the people away from pagan practices, to support a male dominated and power hungry hierarchy and to put the clergy on a pedestal that separated them from the believers. Early in our history, priests were allowed to marry and had children, same as the Apostles, but this tradition changed so the wealth accumulated to the Church rather than the clergy. After reading the Gnostic Gospels, I started to think that the reason they were disregarded was how they viewed the role of women. After all it was women followers that stayed vigilant at the Crucifixion and first witnessed Christ's resurrection, not men. The Gnostic Gospels also said God wanted us to follow His rules and not the rules made up by man. At no time did Christ say that Masses should be held in fancy buildings, said in Latin, accompanied by music played on organs with well trained polyphonic choirs, etc. Vatican II made the Mass more relatable to the people, just as Christ did with his teaching. Once Mass was offered in other than Latin and with songs that people could actually sing to, people changed from observers of formal and sometimes stuffy ritual to people engaged in their faith. To me, that's a positive change even if the quality of the music is inferior to the Mass music by Bach, Mozart and other great composers.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 950
    Welcome, @piccolopat. I hope you find this excellent web-place a valuable source of information and experience, and generally congenial conversation: as I have, these 13 years.