Which is the cart, which the horse?
  • I've borrowed an excerpt by Jeffrey over in NLM regarding the associative properties of music in different cultures and environments:

    "Many of the objections to chant that I've heard gravitate toward the observation that it just sounds too churchy for people, that it draws one into issues at the core of the economy of salvation and all its extraordinary drama, and not everyone longs to be part of that. But that is an objection that should carry no weight since it is really objection to the entire project of liturgy itself, which is inseparable from the longing to touch eternity."

    Thankfully, I've almost never had anyone from any congregation ever complain that our use of classical music (including hymns, chant, polyphony, motets and anthems, et al) sounds "churchy." However, I think that the point that chant, etc., does draw one's attention into the economy of worship and salvation (that's the point, right?) and that very many folks, likely both here and abroad, are ill at ease, at best with the deeper ramifications of that call.
    It is in the next comment that such an objection carries no weight that I feel the real crux of our anthropological and existential need for liturgy rises. Is this inclination to remain disengaged, or distanced from the beauty and mystery the result of errant liturgy or errant ecclesiology?
    If I take into consideration more factors than the pure attributes of beautifully prepared and rendered liturgy as the prime movers of what compels the faithful to board the barque of Peter, I'd come to the conclusion that the Church is still playing catch-up with ecclesial dynamics that have deep roots in the late 19th century. It seems to me that the "longing to touch eternity" that should reside in the soul of every believer has been besieged by input from 364 other degrees of concern, from the grievous injuries of genocides (see "The DR of Congo) to mundane and banal consumerism, to the inexorable march of scientific progress that literally immerses us in a very real Frankensteinian culture that negates, or certainly diminishes "g*d" in the equation, etc. etc. etc.
    I suppose what I'm saying is that at the basic, parish level, our shepherds are preoccupied with keeping us penned up, or at least in sight. It seems to me that at that grass roots level, very few of our shepherds are willing to lead us to greener pastures. So, in an ironic, sad sort of way, our inability to advance our ecclesiology so that it gets through to the hearts, souls and minds of the faithful worldwide, our own shepherds have ratified Marx's contention that the church, in reality, functions as an opiate.
    However, I rejoice in our current Pope's heroic efforts to right the ship, scrape off the barnacles and consign us all into fulfilling our calling to the waters.
  • Lots of metaphors here!

    The more I read about Church history, the less I think our current situation is altogether unprecedented. I also think you are right about the effect of the Pope's work here. I've notice a real change in attitudes at so many levels. In a few years, this would be undeniably obvious to everyone.

    Our pastor told us the other day that the only people who truly complain about the music we sing are 80 years old or thereabout. Interesting.
  • We had a revolt last year when the Confirmation Class circulated a petition to have our Choeur Liturgique chant the Mass instead of the regularly scheduled Guitar Mass normally held at that time. In the year since this was denied, the guitar group leader has decided that chant is the true music of the church and he himself has begin teaching Gregorian Chant to this Sunday evening congregation...he's getting the complaints I got when I got here.

    noel at sjnmusic.com
  • That's a wonderful conversion story. One of the guys in my schola is a guitarist for LifeTeen. He just wanted to expand his Catholic sound world. He's one of my best chanters.