Rory Cooney, 1985(?) : "Psalms became our song!"
  • Reading literature from the period of post-conciliar liturgical upheaval in the United States never ceases to amaze me. I just came across Rory Cooney's "Do Not Fear to Hope" book, published by North American Liturgical Resources, presumably some-time in the early or mid-1980's (the book does not seem to indicate a date of publication) and the introduction states:

    Soon after the Second Vatican Council, musicians in our country brought the richness of Holy Scripture to our prayer-life by taking the words of the Bible as the inspiration and even the actual text for their music. The hope of the Council's liturgical renewal to open up the range and depth of Scripture for the nourishment of the People of God found itself wonderfully realized in our music. Psalms became our song!


    Are you kidding me? Is it possible that the author could be this ignorant of the musical structure of the Mass? Is it possible, 20 years after Vatican II, for these people not to know that the propers of the Mass are actually... scripture? And beyond that, that they are mostly comprised of the singing of the psalms? This is a new low in my experience of the apparent ignorance of this time period.

    Here's the entire text (emphasis of the inexplicable is mine):


    DO NOT FEAR TO HOPE

    We have begun to live a new moment in American liturgical music. Soon after the Second Vatican Council, musicians in our country brought the richness of Holy Scripture to our prayer-life by taking the words of the Bible as the inspiration and even the actual text for their music. The hope of the Council's liturgical renewal to open up the range and depth of Scripture for the nourishment of the People of God found itself wonderfully realized in our music. Psalms became our song! The figure of Christ came alive in the rhythms and melodies and harmonies of American music; and our Savior, touching us in the cultural modes of our own American experience, became available in ways that were familiar to us from our daily lives. Christ seemed closer, more part of us. And the beautiful passages of the Old Testament were rediscovered.

    Twenty years later, Rory Cooney emerges from the crucible of that American experience as a leader of a movement that promises to carry us to a new maturity in our liturgical music. Forgetting nothing of what has gone before, the grateful heir of an abundant liturgical tradition, Rory Cooney has found a way to pass beyond the pop psychology that was so characteristic of our earlier efforts to find expression for our response to God's gracious presence in history. Here in this music we can find vigor and courage and whole-hearted love, without a trace of the sentimental or the sugary. This is nothing trivial, contrived, or phony. These liturgical songs really are liturgy! They announce and proclaim and deliver to us the very presence of the Holy One. At the same time, they incorporate our grace-enabled response, humble and bold: Do Not Fear To Hope.

    Music can be sacramental when it finds visible, touchable, audial expression for what is invisible, untouchable, and beyond all sound. Rory Cooney's music is inspired by Holy Scripture, just as our first post-conciliar music was. But in these glorious and strong melodies, the language of graced human response to biblical proclamation is now adult, filled with mystery and passion and awesome reverence. Rory Cooney's music is sacrament, offering us the gift of Holy Presence and embodying a new and welcome surrender of love that is mature
    and aware. It is music that has risen from our American lives, fully conscious that in the Lord we live and move and have our being. If the fragile instability of the human heart and the tragic reality of foolish sinfulness make us anxious and fearful, yet there is more! The sense of Holy Presence lifts us and transforms us. We do not fear to hope.

    John Gallen, S.J.
    Corpus Christi Liturgical Center
    Phoenix
  • rollingrj
    Posts: 266
    Was Fr. Gallen writing a concert review?

    Yes, Adam, the author seems to be ignorant (or ignoring) the musical structure of the Mass.

    It reminded me of "Lift High The Cross" and "Festival Hymn: This Is The Feast" with its verse/refrain structure. And that's all this piece is--a hymn with orchetration.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    I cannot find much about the music collection "Do Not Fear To Hope",
    but "Jerusalem My Destiny" is not part of it.

    Jerusalem My Destiny.
    I have always skipped this item found in the parish hymnal "Lent" section.
    I wrote a large "---NO---" across the top many years ago to save time.

    "... The journey is our destiny ... The journey makes us one."
    No, Heaven is our destiny. No, Baptism makes us one.
    There is also the confusing mix of individual perspectives in each phrase, throughout.
    And none of the text seems Psalm-based.

    Maybe the tune needs a new text?
  • Cooney's music is a step up from the banal, childish folk-stuff, and approaches the sort of formal Baptist cantata style...possibly this priest was a convert or was aware of that style and felt this was at least headed in a direction.

    I can compose in that style, I just don't share it. Fills a temporary need for music to fill the gap as we move forward without spending money on published schlock. I try to write so that it expands the ability of the singers, gets them ready for better music by better composers, of which there are a lot!

    The priest may have been overboard, but when you are on a cruise ship and everyone else is getting sick, it may be time to go overboard. He may have been suffering from Sons of God-itis.

    How many composers of merit have attempted to compose for the Church in English...and been rejected or slapped down to the point of writing scholck or music that is highly deriviate, like Cooney's Canticle that is all over YouTube??

    [Oh, Chris McAvoy, never got your email, lost your phone#...drop me an email, please!]
  • And you are right, Adam (well-written notes as usual!) the priest seems to have been absent the day that they were taught that psalms are and have always been the song of the church, even before there was a church.
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 331
    i have to wonder if cooney had ever bothered to pick up the graduale...by his words, obviously not....
  • BruceL
    Posts: 996
    i would submit that much of "the fruit" in this country has been to encourage subjective texts which do NOT use the Psalms as their basis, to our great detriment.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Yes, Noel! Even the Jews sang the psalms! this guy's missing something big.

    Do you all think that maybe he didn't know these things because he only went to Low Mass? I don't remember ever hearing propers at a Low Mass. Or was he just not paying attention?
  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    All the propers are spoken by the priest offering low mass. And if you are praying along with a hand missal, it is VERY conspicuous since it is missing from the ordinary section and requires flipping to a new ribbon.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    Rory's piece reminds me of a military march.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Truly, this entire generation was willfully ignorant of all issues regarding liturgical music. Their swaggering stupidity has been passed on in time.
  • For the record, I find this whole thread irrelevant and unnecessary. Rory Cooney's hubris in 1985 is a trivial matter. Sure, this is a wide open and ranging forum, but wasting time decrying Cooney's utterances doesn't advance the positive mission of CMAA.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    So how is Rory Cooney's hubris in 2010? I don't keep up with him, so it is a genuine question. Is he still doing the same as in '85, or are there differences?
  • And, for the record, I find this whole thread irrelevant and unnecessary.


    Quite the contrary, Charles. As a young music director in the very city that birthed the 'Glory and Praise' hymnal, a thorough knowledge of the historical context is necessary if I will be successful in my work. When people who were trained at Rory Cooney's liturgical workshops in the 80's approach me claiming that 'Glory and Praise' was responsible for the singing of scriptural texts in the liturgy--as ignorant as this comment might be--I will have some idea of why they have come to believe such a nonsensical idea. Knowing that they were taught it will help me to be more empathetic, and provide a framework for correcting the errors.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    You know, I wrote something above and I've deleted it. I knew nothing in 1985. I've learned since. Rory is a wonderful person and I'm sure he too is learning.
  • And I appreciate your perspective that you feel a need to explain the interactions between generations in order to defend the need for RotR and correct error. If anyone noticed, in Gallen's shill he mentioned that Cooney's efforts (and by extension his forebears, SLJ's, Dameans, Fitzpatrick et al) were meant to remedy, or "correct" the sentimental and sugary diet he felt was prevelant in parish music prior to V2. Now what could that possibly be? Montani's heavily Italianate handed editions of the St. Gregory Hymnal? The Mount St. Mary's Hymnal? The very romantic hymn texts that were meant to be devotional and, over time, got sandwiched into the low Mass?
    If you want to provide seminars for your parish/liturgy councils or the parish at large, be my guest. But in all likelihood few minds and hearts will be changed because people's tastes are associative. As I mentioned in another thread, three years ago I led music for the diocesan priests' convocation and used Propers, Psalm tones and Latin ordinaries for the Masses. That effort was, to a man, villified by those of my generation (boomer.) One monsignor took great umbrage and pain to inform me that this "type" of music didn't uplift him. Nevertheless, I have slowly, steadily been infusing, grafting these types into our parish liturgies among three of our four churches. Three years later, my pastor asked if we could chant the Litany of the Saints at Vigil 2011. Do you know what a paradigm shift that was for him (he's a couple of years older than me?)
    CMAA is the lighthouse that points to the font of every musical blessing that the Church has embraced over time. I don't spend nights awake wondering what Rory's thinking then or now, or what Tom Conry's doing nowadays, or whether Paul Inwood is a worthy "Musician of the Year" for NPM.
    Now, if you're in Phoenix, as implied by your statement about NALR, I can understand that with Jaime Cortez nearby, you might have your work cut out for you. But in the end, your efforts as a DM will be assessed on their own merit. Blessings to you.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    GIRM 1975 was in effect.

    In CMAA Forum Discussion 1719, I provided two posts which focus on what was permitted.
    See
    http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1719#Item_6
    and
    http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1719#Item_8

    At that time, it is clear that the Psalms were to be used.

    Again, I make my plea:
    More than ever I really want all the GIRM texts online
    and provided in parallel columns with side-by-side diffs hilighted!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    West Coast Charles said, " That effort was, to a man, villified by those of my generation (boomer.) One monsignor took great umbrage and pain to inform me that this "type" of music didn't uplift him"

    Been there, done that. I have often been told I am betraying the work that the musicians my age did after Vatican II to bring the church into the - take your pick of 20th or 21st, but it was the 20th century for most of the time. That they had to change the music to reach out to the "young people" to keep them from leaving the church. Guess what? They left in record numbers anyway. I have heard the "I want to be uplifted" nonsense a hundred times, too. I usually tell them to watch Oprah if they want to be uplifted. Getting old does have one advantage - you tend to care less what others think about you.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    Charles

    We hear you, we ackowledge your insights.

    But the really big cat is out of the bag, so to speak. And the undoing of the wayward tracks of those cats who led the charge will come about by one thing. The truth. It is heavily documented and widespread through the highly publicized avenues that promoted it's agenda. It's in books, journals, trade mags (especially the efforts of the big three) and most of all, it's in our hymnals and octavos in just about every one of our churches and choir lofts. We are not out to discredit anyone by what is said here. But the truth is, (and I have said this before somewhere on this forum) a tree is known by it's fruit. We are simply examining the fruits. You can be the judge of the tree if you like. We are simply looking at the product on a case by case basis.

    God is purging His church as the entire world is quite aware. I believe this purgation also is being born out in the liturgy, the sacramental life, and as we are witnessing, the musical aspect of the church too.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    After a hot late afternoon in the sun, I misread the name in the title of this thread for Ray Cooney, an English playwright famous for his comedies, including the long-running Run For Your Wife. I was just about to update you all, when I realised my mistake. A shame.
  • Francis, I actually think we're saying the same thing. But we're saying "it" to each other. My original post was not about the issue of discrediting Cooney's words/works, but about the worthiness of stringing out a well worn thread AND perpetuating stereotypes for what purpose? Where is the necessity?
    If given a choice of being provided an hour's worth of air time on EWTN discussing the merits of Rory Cooney's philosophies or Jeff Ostrowski's, whom would you think would provide the most benefit for the widespread viewership?
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    All the propers are spoken by the priest offering low mass. And if you are praying along with a hand missal, it is VERY conspicuous since it is missing from the ordinary section and requires flipping to a new ribbon.

    Ah, that would explain it then. Usually I follow along at EF Masses with my PBC, which of course doesn't have the propers. Then when the propers come along I try to listen and understand if I can, since I'm a Latin minor and all. Thinking back, I have been given sheets of paper with the propers printed on and translated, but only at high Masses, not at low... then again, I don't go to many low Masses, and most of the ones I have been in I was in the choir for...
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    Charles in CA

    Many young musicians (unlike you and I who once swallowed the whole liturgical musical farce hook, line and sinker because we were led to believe it was the truth) are savvy enough to do a little digging for what is authentic and what is not. They are just now discovering the truth as is clearly evident by this very thread.

    Going from sugary and sentimental to what we have now was akin to going from the frying pan into the fire. I think people are tired of being burned and want their church back-- hook, line and sinker-- and are willing to do whatever it takes to run the cats scared.


    Adam Bartlett 1 day ago edited  
    Reading literature from the period of post-conciliar liturgical upheaval in the United States never ceases to amaze me. I just came across Rory Cooney's "Do Not Fear to Hope" book, published by North American Liturgical Resources, presumably some-time in the early or mid-1980's (the book does not seem to indicate a date of publication) and the introduction states:

    Soon after the Second Vatican Council, musicians in our country brought the richness of Holy Scripture to our prayer-life by taking the words of the Bible as the inspiration and even the actual text for their music. The hope of the Council's liturgical renewal to open up the range and depth of Scripture for the nourishment of the People of God found itself wonderfully realized in our music. Psalms became our song!

    Are you kidding me? Is it possible that the author could be this ignorant of the musical structure of the Mass? Is it possible, 20 years after Vatican II, for these people not to know that the propers of the Mass are actually... scripture? And beyond that, that they are mostly comprised of the singing of the psalms? This is a new low in my experience of the apparent ignorance of this time.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,130
    On another tangent, I believe Summorum Pontificum could have been the final straw that broke the lame liturgical camel's back once for all.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    CCCA: meant to remedy, or "correct" the sentimental and sugary diet he felt was prevelant in parish music prior to V2

    I have re-read carefully the Gallen intro/foreword.
    There is no mention of pre-V2 music history.

    The Gallen summary of music history begins with sentence two: "Soon after the Second Vatican Council",
    and hilights the twenty years of American experience
    that Cooney inherits and moves forward with some improvements ("new maturity").

    I find this Discussion helpful
    in that it provides another datapoint for understanding the thinking of the time.
    I escaped all this music; from 1980 through 1990 I attended my nearby parish
    which had organist and cantor/choirs leading missalette material (four hymns, ordinary).
  • Though I take your point about the context of Gallen's review, I'm not sure it matters whether he was referring to "Bring flowers to the fairest" or "It's a brand new day."
    I yield the discussion to those interested with my apologies for the interruption.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Adam, although I appreciate your sentiments and know exactly how you feel (and I think the vast majority of us do), and stipulating for the record how cathartic it is to point out how strange things were back in the day, yet I applaud Charles' attitude of, "let's move on", and Jeffrey's sentiment that "25 years ago, people were different". I will add, as my own observation, that 25 years ago, EVEN IF you wanted to be a good Church musician according to the rules that most of us here assent to now, it was virtually impossible to find out what those were in 1985. Who would you ask? and how? The only avenues open back then, beside the people you associated with, were Church publications and telephones. I know that until FIVE years ago I didn't know what the GIRM, or propers, or anything related to chant, polyphony, and the litrugy was. I had been taught, and knew nothing other than, the 4 hymn sandwich programmed by personal whim.

    So let's move on and talk about the things, the great, fantastic things, that are happening today! The Colloquium is only a little over two months away!! Time to queue up Andy Williams: "It's the most wonderful time, of the year..."
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    eft - I have to chime in here because I don't see this mentioned above: Jerusalem (or Salem) in this context means heaven. This reference is found in the chant repertoire as well, In paradisum and Urbs beata to name but two.
  • @Charles in CenCa - Thank you for your thoughts and wishes. There is indeed much to be done here in Phoenix, but I can tell you that I personally believe that the Diocese has had the first opportunity to judge the fruits of the trends of this era (Glory and Praise, and now even Life Teen [the 90's incarnation]). Many of the young and middle-aged priests here who have grown up with this stuff are the ones who are pushing hard to recover the Church's traditions. Myself, I was 3 years old in 1985... so I can't comment much on what was happening then from personal experience! But digging through parish filing cabinets and bookshelves is always very enlightening and helps fill in the blanks. I hope that as we move forward we can do so as charitably as possible, and I apologize for the times that I've failed to uphold a charitable attitude, but I have to believe that we can't just forget this history. We have to understand what happened so that a) we can steer onto the right course, and b) so that we never make the same mistakes again!

    @gregp - I agree with "let's move on". But again, the point here is not to dwell on the mistakes of the past, but to learn from them. I suspect that many in my generation and in the generations to come will continue to find statements like the one in question above, will see the architecture of the period, hear the music, see pictures of the liturgies, and on and on, and necessarily will have to ask themselves "why?" It's not a past that makes me proud as a Catholic, but I am very glad that it's gradually becoming the PAST!
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 331
    i agree that we should move on . . . but it would be nice if the rory cooney's of the world would write articles retracting their mistakes...and also if they would stop writing with such disdain and condescension to anyone who doesn't share their opinions . . .
  • LIke many musicians in my generation (=boomer), Rory has done a lot of growing and changing. He's still feisty, but I enjoy dialoguing with him on the pastoral ministers list. If you are interested, here are windows onto his world:

    http://www.rorycooney.com
    http://web.me.com/stannerory
    http://www.stannebarrington.org/liturgy
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I wrote some remarks in the middle of the night that were thoughtless, Charles drew them to my attention, and I gained clarity and cleaned up the thread. I was in Phoenix at the time, Adam! Does that explain it? ha.

    I've very much enjoyed my exchange with Rory of late. I'm not sure what I thought in 1985 but it can't have been very sound. I would have appreciated correction however.
  • "I was in Phoenix at the time, Adam! Does that explain it? ha."

    Wow, Jeffrey! That explains a lot, actually ;)

    I was a wee lad in the Midwest then, but moved to Phoenix about a decade ago. It is a very unique place. Like I said above, though, I think that Phoenix has had the first opportunities to assess the fruits of the movements that it pioneered in the 70's and 80's. This diocese is the first to see the end of the life cycle. Thank God we have such a fantastic bishop right now, and many young priests and faithful who are longing and working for the authentic liturgy. The future is looking very bright.