[USCCB] Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship
  • Chironomo: How interesting that the NPM "higher ups" are dismissive because they perceive a step backward, while many of us in the forum feel it doesn't go far enough. And, haven't we all had enough inclusivity and heterodox theology (verging on heresy) in our hymn and song texts?
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Jeffrey, it's long past time to start using the word "regressive" to describe those who want to continue wandering in the desert of the last forty years.

    The way forward is, as it has always been, that of organically developing Roman Catholic tradition.
  • I just found this thread on Fr. Z's blog. He is rather favorable to the document as compared with what it replaces. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. anyway, there is some interesting discussion on the thread.

    A note about the Hymnarius. I cannot, for the life of me, find my copy, but a commentator on the thread confirms what others have said. It does contain dots of episemas, though the ictus is not prevalent. The book that pushes the semiological envelope is the new Antiphonale. There are some complicated musicological/political issue that I don't understand well enough to comment, so I think I'll just leave it at that, except to say that I adore the old style of the Liber Usualis and which also appears in the Gregorian Missal and the current Graduale.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,464
    I found all of your comments helpful and interesting. My main impression of the document is it's 'low church' tone, something which was (and delibrately?) most evident in MCW. The new document seems to imply that congregations are geneally stupid (hence the comments about 'small variety of somple somgs etc') and that it is really best to have a simple liturgy that is aimed at the lowest com. den. Instead of the high, poetic and beautiful language of writers like Pius X and our present Holy Father, the document reads like an auto manual for fixing a a mufffler. It all depends on your conception of what the liturgy is, and them one will find music to fit that conception. Maybe there is real fear of 'too much highbrow polyphony' that will drive parishioners away. That sometimes seems to be the sense that one can read between the lines with witing of folks like Msr. Troutman.Your comments and dissagreements are most welcome.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • That's an interesting point. There does seem to be this constant assumption by incompetent American liturgists that the People of God--presumed to have been newly empowered and appreciated following V2--are actually dumb as chickens and so the liturgical language must be in baby talk, the music must be infantile, the lessons very simple and clear, and even the art must use nursery school pedagogy to impart a minimalist understanding.

    Compare to trends in the secular world in marketing. They are exactly the opposite. The profitable and growing companies are those that flatter the consumer by presuming intelligence and knowledge, speaking to people as if they already are in the know.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • Jeffrey,

    My copy of the LH, published by Solesmes with a date of 1990 appears to have a much "cleaner" almost "urtext" look to it as compared to, say, an old copy of the Liber Usualis I own, or the Gregorian Missal.

    Here's what I understand from a musicological point of view regarding Solesmes editions: if you look at original chant manuscripts, none of their markings appear. As I understand it, at some point in history Solesmes developed from whole cloth (if recent scholarship is to be understood) this system of interpretting neumes, incorporating their own set of diacritical markings and imposing a rhythmic structure to the singing of chant. But, it seems that as early as the research and work of Dom Eugene Cardine (of Solesmes) this rather strict and rigorous interpretation of the execution of chant began to be questioned. Scholars more vested in the semiological interpretation seem to have a better fix on the issue now, but the interpretation/notation/diacritical markings war seems to wage on.

    I have gathered from those currently working with the interpretation of chant that a strict adherence to the Solesmes style of singing chant is being "poo-pooed." I tend to agree with them, especially since the purpose (to my mind) of chant is not so much to sing a melody or phrase, but rather to support the text, including the syllabic stresses and nuances found in the spoken language.

    Now I have to get ready to conduct a festival of nine lessons and carols in the style of King's College, and have a pint afterwards. How Anglican of me.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "There does seem to be this constant assumption by incompetent American liturgists that the People of God... are actually dumb as chickens"

    I'm going to recognize the gorilla in the room and say that they are. We all ought to be able to recognize it. Now don't get me wrong, I've met very few people in my (so far short) career that I disliked or held in low regard. But, as my favorite line from Men in Black says, "a person is smart. People are dumb and scared." When I plan music, I always do it factoring in that a lot of people will be angry about my decision, many will yell at the pastor about me, some may even yell at me, many will be confused, not know what to do, and thus become angry over "everything changing", and the majority of the congregation won't sing. Any intelligent MD thinks that way.

    Still doubt me, Jeff? After Mass, say to one of your EMHCs, "I think Father could distribute communion just fine on his own." I'll bet you dollars to drafts that their response will be, "but that's our part of the Mass, you can't take it away!" "The People" aren't just misinformed, they're scared of any change, and always ready to panic and take their money to another parish. And they are NOT open to correction. They will bend facts, twist plain truths, and flat out ignore logic if it means they won't have to do anything requiring effort. This is why we have parishes with excellent musicians where the 4-hymn model is still the rule; it isn't because the congregation would realize that a Latin chanted Mass is the Church's highest form of worship and the MD is underestimating their intelligence. Don't get me wrong, individuals can handle Latin quite well. The problem is that congregations don't think they're capable of it, and that's why it has to be taught at a child's pace.

    And about companies assuming intelligence, that's a plain lie: look at Macintosh. Enough said.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242

    I think you forget one simple fact: 'people' go to church to worship, not get involved in political fights. All this
    mess after Vat II I believe is a continuation of the culture wars of the 1980's. I was in high school during
    Vat II, was a church organist/choir director up until 1975'ish when I quit because I couldn't take it any more.
    4 years ago I returned to find a Church that I really do not recognize. I was certainly shocked by the liturgy & the music. However, I started a small schola in our parish and began singing Gregorian Chant once a month for the past 3 years. I remember the first few Masses, older members of the congregation came to me with tears in their eyes saying they cried thoughout the whole Mass because they thought they would die without ever hearing
    Gregorian Chant in the Church again. A few younger people thought it was very cool. We continue to sing
    all the propers/ordinaries one Sunday a month with an english language Novus Ordo Mass. From the late 60s on, this would never have been possible. I see many young families with kids at church! They like many things.
    But one very important thing is they ALSO like Gregorian Chant. I really don't think 'the people' are stupid. I
    believe they are sick of the turmoil & the politics.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I also believe not enough people have the heart to tell Peter Tenorless, Paul Strummer, and Mary Volksang that maybe they're past their peak. Because who will replace them, from among all those stony faces in the pews?
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    I'll tell you one paragraph that I was very happy to see:

    38. As a leader of congregational song, the cantor should take part in singing with the entire gathered assembly. In order to promote the singing of the liturgical assembly, the cantor’s voice should not be heard above the congregation. As a transitional practice, the voice of the cantor might need to be amplified to stimulate and lead congregational singing when this is still weak. However, as the congregation finds its voice and sings with increasing confidence, the cantor’s voice should correspondingly recede. At times, it may be appropriate to use a modest gesture that invites participation and clearly indicates when the congregation is to begin, but gestures should be used sparingly and only when genuinely needed.

    This should, in theory, get rid of the soloists like Mr. Caruso. Of course, this assumes that people will read and follow the document. I think our experience has been that people do what they want.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Jan, the people are the ones who start the politics. That's a large part of why nothing gets done towards authentic liturgical renewal: priests know any changes are going to result in the envelopes walking off.

    Greg, one of my first changes at my parish was to get rid of Mr. Microphone. (want proof for my thesis? not only "the people" but also the cantors and a VERY well-educated musician priest complained to me "there's no one to lead the singing!" Tell me about the intelligence of American laity now...) I DO encourage the cantors, at choir-less Masses, to stand at the edge of the choir loft and sing loudly for unfamiliar music. I have a very small church and such singing carries almost as well as a microphone. It's loud enough to assist with singing yet won't drown out anyone.
  • I recognize the scholarly concerns about the Solesmes rhythmic markings, which Solesmes added, and I think, did so openly. I think the episemas, dots, and bar lines are all added. Don't the quilisma and salicus represent actual neumes?

    However, before we start accusing Solesmes of 'tinkering with the chants', isn't it also the case that they actually restored the full musical texts from the truncated versions that existed before? I've seen 17th-19th century printed chants, and a lot of the melismas are missing, and the text underlay is moved. So aside from the issues of the rhythmic method, don't we owe to Solesmes the existence of the full musical texts (ie, all the notes) in the Vatican and Solesmes editions (with or without added rhythmic marks)?
  • Thank you David. I've been meaning to post on this thread. One reason that the semiologists have had such a time of it is that there haven't been many published defenses of the classical Solesmes approach published in many many decades. A vacuum appeared and the detractors filled it. Few people are willing to slog through Mocquereau's treatise -- and the Whiggish view of knowledge favors more recent as versus earlier scholarship, for whatever reason. This is why I was thrilled (!) to have Gajard in print: The Rhythm of Plainsong. He makes a very compelling case for the classical approach! I would like to see people who run down Solesmes deal with his essay in detail.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    Concerning the issue of whether the "people" are dumb, I would put it differently: after forty years of dumbed down music and liturgy, the people in many places are impoverished and uneducated. Our task is reeducation. Only slowly and with care do you raise the level of taste and appreciation and piety of the people. Yet it is worth it. After many years of gradual improvement, a vital and beautiful liturgy is possible, I am convinced.
    Thanked by 1Eric D. Williams
  • From the 1991 article by Peter Jeffery that Jeffrey Tucker linked a while back about the 'new Solesmes' method in the Liber Hymnarius. {Moderator: should this be in a 'Solesmes Method' thread rather than a 'USCCB document' thread?}

    "Thus the new Liber Hymnarius and Psalterium Monasticum, despite their innovative attempts to represent the medieval notation more faithfully, are nevertheless the beginning of what is still intended to be a performing edition rather than a truly critical edition. However, this performing edition is of considerable interest to musicologists for a number of reasons" [snip--the author gives 3 reasons]

    "Whether used for performances in church, concert hall, or classroom,
    this performing edition requires much more than most from the performers who use it. One could perhaps have learned the old Solesmes method merely by reading the preface to the Liber Usualis and listening to Solesmes' classic recordings-at any rate some people tried. But any serious attempt to perform from the new notation will require lengthy study of Cardine's writings, and probably at least some familiarity with the medieval manuscripts themselves. An edition that promotes greater interest in the primary sources should surely be welcomed." The full article is here: http://nrvconcert.org/new_chantbooks.pdf
  • bsven
    Posts: 20
    Considering the new document by the Bishops: after reading and rereading and pondering, I have decided to think of it this way: is the glass half empty or half full? Progressive solemnity is addressed. The Jubilate Deo Mass is mandated, albeit 30 years late and a dollar short. Just those two things alone, if implemented in an "average" parish, will change everything. Chant has a Divine life of its own. Just one small piece of it changes everything. Our job is to prepare. Preparation is everything for a musician. What I fear most is people striking out with vehemence and not much wisdom or training. The very ambiguity of this document on many issues ( even the contradictions contained within it) are in our favor, because we will move more slowly. I learned from Dr. Edwrad Shaffer, in a chant class, that our first job is to pray, because Gregorian Chant arose in an atmosphere of prayer. Our Holy Father has said that the change will come from "islands of tranquillity". I come back to that again and again. Thank you, Dr. Mahrt, for your words of reason and peace. Your example has taught me much. I think that the glass is half full! By the way, my bishop (Joliet, Illinois) has invited us all to a meeting to discuss the document. This is the first word from our bishop on the liturgy. Good news!
  • bsven,

    Your comment is well-put, and equally well-taken. (In a forum like this, I would hope that we can let our hair down sometimes and present our unvarnished opinions, without appearing to strike out with vehemence and not much wisdom or training.)

    On a positive note, I've been approached by my pastor, who was approached by the pastoral council, to assist in a study of this document. The pastor wants me to comment on the good and not so good (poorly written, questionable) parts of the document so that a strategy for catechesis and formation can be developed. From this they wish to endorse a carefully considered policy on music in the liturgy for our parish. I welcome the opportunity to do it, and see this as a positive sign.

    Part of my conversation with pastor included a comment from him that much of the struggle I have been facing with respect to the music comes not from maliciousness, but rather from ignorance. He respects my insights, and has asked for my wisdom in this regard, including what I have gleaned from my studies and research on the matter.

    Forbearance and patience are perhaps the most difficult of virtues, but we must do what we can.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    I look forward to hearing what your bishop has to say on the matter.
    He gave the keynote address at a function I attended in Mundelein earlier this year.
    His presiding at a closing Mass and his address (on the evangelical power of the Liturgy,) were, both, thoughtful and moderate.
    One participant who was from his diocese was eager to know his take on ad orientem and the (at that time only rumored, IIRC) motu proprio, but was loath to ask him herself, as she wanted to stay off his radar before she and others made a formal request.
    I have a big mouth, so I had no trouble bringing up the subject in the Q & A.
    His answers were interesting, basically that we had nothing to "fear" from older practices.
    I suspect that he had misjudged his audience, thinking we were typical of trepidatious FDLC types.
    But most of us were looking forward to the liberalization of any restrictions on the older rite, and a return to proper orientation with an eager anticipation.
    In any case, his answer was cagey, political and revealed very little of his own attitude.
    My impression of him at Liturgy was that he himself was not musical? ,(in his defense, that may only have been in contrast to the other priests, who, since they included Fr Samuel Weber, and Fr Douglas Martis, set the bar awfully high...,) but was intent on doing whatever needed to be done musically and liturgically, on giving the Lord His due.
    I suspect, or at any rate hope he will be equally dutiful in implementing SttL.
    Please do report back after you meeting!

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    Here is where I think the glass is half full: the document strongly encourages priests to sing their parts of the Mass. Without that, we are singing at a low Mass. This is a really welcome improvement.

    "Progressive solemnity," however, is a mixed blessing. Where there is practically no singing of the parts of the Mass itself—the priest's parts, the Ordinary and the Proper—the incorporation of singing, even of the gospel, on the high feast days, will be a great improvement. But it must be recognized that Musicam sacram did not really advocate "progressive solemnity" as it is proposed in the document, as a means of distinguishing the solemnity of the various days. It advocated the progressive incorporation of sung parts of the Mass as a means of achieving a high Mass, a completely sung Mass. Nowhere in the document is this high Mass limited to the major days of the year. In fact, if Musicam Sacram is seen in the context of the tradition, the high Mass was appropriate, even on weekdays. What distinguished the major feast days was the elaborateness and festivity of the music, not whether there was music. I would contend that the goal as authorized by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is a completely sung Mass as norm, not as the special form for the major feast days.
  • bsven
    Posts: 20
    First, in answer to "G", I was also at that lecture by Bishop Sartain (sp?), and I had the exact same response in my mind--that he had totally misread his audience, because we all were waiting with baited breath for permission for the 1962 Mass; but he was trying to reassure us that there was nothing to fear. I put this response down to two things: first, although I have no hard evidence, I suspect that he is surrounded by people who do have fear. He only knows the situation in the diocese from what he hears from the people around him. He is, after all, a newcomer. ( I have waited in line for an hour on two occasions to just say to him "Gregorian Chant".) Second, He gives the impression of being being very sincere, sweet, concerned about our wellbeing. His column in our diocesan newspaper is downright lovely, direct and humble. However, he is obviously a smart and well accomplished man who might not be in touch with the savvy of the common guy in the pew. Therefore his first concern is that we will be afraid, rather than that we will be welcoming: he underestimates us. But if you would understand (maybe you do) the black hole that is music in our diocese, maybe this would make more sense to you! Secondly, to Dr. Mahrt on Progressive Solemnity:
    I must say that I was mystified by the Bishops' definition of P.S. at the beginning of this section, which seemed to define the word "progressive" as meaning wherever you land between zero singing and, on high feasts, lots of singing. But as I remember Musicam Sacram, it simply said that there is such a thing as a solemn Mass, and proceeded to define it according to the parts to be sung, but, most importantly, said that every parish should have at least one solemn Mass every Sunday, meaning that we all should be chanting the whole Mass, more or less, every Sunday at least once. The word "progressive" seemed to mean that you start with the dialogues and move on in time to ordinaries and propers. However, as the document (STTL) proceeds, into "The Parts to be Sung", we are given instruction to actually sing all the parts of the Mass, which seems to me to be the point. How often should we be doing this? #116 says: even during daily Mass. Granted, this document is full of contradictions, but there is enough there to run with it. The meeting with Bishop Sartain is in mid January. I will let you all know what transpires!
  • bsven
    Posts: 20
    The meeting with the Office of Divine Worship of Joliet to discuss STTL (w/ Sister Sharon) has come and gone, and it was an utter disappointment. No need to go into the weary details, which amounted to one vast banality of monologue about the "gathered assembly". We did not start with "Divine Action", but with "the needs of the people", and it spiraled down from there. But the most disappointing thing to me was: my priest has told me that we may not implement any more Latin in the Mass Ordinaries until we hear from the Bishop. So I asked this question of Sister Sharon. Does Bishop Sartain encourage us to sing Latin ordinaries? May I now start teaching the people the Creed? Her reply floored me: the Bishop has no personal recommendations but would rather we just follow STTL. So I wonder: What ever happened to the role of "territorial authority"?Is this actually what the Bishop of Joliet believes?
    Now that I know that I am alone here, with no help from the Diocese, I ask someone out there to help me with two questions: should we be implementing Musicam Sacram's degrees of Solemnity? Is this binding? If I can tell my priest that this document should be followed, then I hope to encourage him to begin the first level--the dialogues, collects, etc. And, secondly, what are the options for tones to accompany the English? Is the Sacramentary the only option? Somebody please help.
  • "The people looking for analysis of 'Sing to the Lord' are a self-selecting group; hopefully this thread will be indexed by some of the major search engines, bringing more people into the discussion. So while outside of this forum there may not be a great deal of attention, outside forces will bring interested parties here."

    Indeed it was. I searched for the document, and this thread was one of the top hits. :)
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,912
    While 'standards' always freeze matters for which there can be valid disagreement, surely if chant is to be more generally available to the community as a whole then having some standard version is beneficial?

    I quote the above to put my comment into context, not to respond to it.

    It almost seems that the USCCB was trying to create its own standard with this document, although a standard already existed: Sacrosanctum Concilium and the GIRM. Instead of following the instructions and recommendations in those documents, it seems that they tried to make up their own rules. I always cringe when I hear "pastoral reasons" or "pastoral sensitivity" or "congregational need," as these phrases seem to mean: "keep the donors happy," or "make people happy so they don't complain." To me, it is a deviation from obedience to the Church's expressed desires, simply because those desires don't line up with their own.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    Well, perhaps it's better to think of it as a North American approach to the Roman way. In the Roman way, it would be understood without saying it. North Americans don't like unstated interpretive rules. A Roman would understand that, of course, there is this beautiful, lovely norm, but how that norm is implemented in practice will involve careful consultation - which doesn't necessarily mean deference, but sometimes it does (particularly if it will alienate donors whose absence would fundamentally impair the mission). The model is the abbot who has power on paper, as it were, but understands his effective authority depends much on such consultation.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,032
    I understand what you're saying, Liam - it's not a matter of imposing something that people are not ready for or making the law an idol. We all know that that looks like. More often than not, though, "this beautiful, lovely norm" has become a distant memory and, in some cases, has been actively opposed in the name of pastoral considerations. And we all know what that looks like . . .
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    Indeed. Romans are typically comfortable with beautiful abstract norms that are subject to discretionary execution, as it were. It's their legal culture. Folks in the Anglosphere are typically uncomfortable with discretionary execution, and tend to want exceptions stipulated - and then the exceptions can gobble up the main rule to the point that it becomes secondary. (An American applying Roman rules with an American mindset is likely to become frustrated. Roman rules are not a Marcella Hazan (or Yul Brynner-as-Rameses "So let it be written; so let it be done!" II)-style recipe, to be simply implemented as written. Marcella is someone who understood the American mindset very well, and wrote in the imperative voice with that mindset in mind...)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    PS: I can't help but think of this passage from Edith Wharton's "Age of Innocence" (chapter 9):

    "[Madame Olenska] lifted her thin black eyebrows. 'Is New York such a labyrinth? I thought it so straight up and down—like Fifth Avenue. And with all the cross streets numbered!' She seemed to guess his faint disapproval of this, and added, with the rare smile that enchanted her whole face: 'If you knew how I like it for just THAT—the straight–up–and–downness, and the big honest labels on everything!'

    {Newland Archer] saw his chance. 'Everything may be labelled—but everybody is not.'

    'Perhaps. I may simplify too much—but you'll warn me if I do.' She turned from the fire to look at him. 'There are only two people here who make me feel as if they understood what I mean and could explain things to me: you and Mr. Beaufort.'

    Archer winced at the joining of the names, and then, with a quick readjustment, understood, sympathised and pitied. So close to the powers of evil she must have lived that she still breathed more freely in their air. But since she felt that he understood her also, his business would be to make her see Beaufort as he really was, with all he represented—and abhor it."