full and active participation
  • I (the only orthodox one) serve on the diocesan liturgical committee. The priest/leaader is adamant about all music at liturgy should be for the "people" or assembly as he prefers. That is, in his opinion, a choir should function ONLY to lead the repsonses. There should be no choral music at all. Obviously, he would never allow a choral polyphonic mass setting. Is there any document that is clear on this subject, that is any document that would permit choral settings of the ordinary? It is my understanding (and of course I could be incorret) that "full participation" does not necessarily mean that the congregation MUST sing all parts of the Mass. Please, someone, come to my aid!
  • I would start with the most local recent documents, especially the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. For example, #53 (emphasis mine):

    The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone.

    There are similar instructions for the Creed, etc.
  • The priest/leaader is adamant about all music at liturgy should be for the "people" or assembly as he prefers.

    Hmmmm .... "assembly" ... that worries me, and here's why.

    There should be no choral music at all.

    Even for Mass Propers? Those belong to the choir.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,444
    If the Liturgy IS NOT PRIMARILY about the people, then it doesn't matter whether they sing or how much. So, do some choral music.

    If the Liturgy IS PRIMARILY about the people, then the people deserve to get to relax and listen to some lovely music that puts them in the right mood and so forth. So, do some choral music.
    Thanked by 1JonDeuling
  • Active participation was not intended to force the dumbing down of music to only permit music that the congregation would be able to sing.

    It was intended to increase the involvement of the people in the Mass from the norm of sitting without understanding what was going on or saying the Rosary silently during Mass - or singing hymns or other music that was not the Mass text.

    Singing alternate texts while the priest said the ordinary was common in some areas.

    Active participation opened the door to let the people say and sing the words of the ordinary. This, I believe, was the sole intent of active participation.

    To limit the music sung to what people could do bans almost all melismatic chant and all polyphonic works. Which is what the blanket use of the term "full and active participation" has succeeded in doing.

    Benedict has said it is time for a return to chant and polyphony but has not outlawed full and active participation since it was never intended to eliminate chant and polyphony sung by a choir. The rules for guest choirs singing Mass at the Vatican clearly outline that only music that is acceptable may be sung at Mass. The rules do not rule out or restrict in any way the full and active participation by the people unless the faulty blanket application of the term is used. And it's not, otherwise the choirs would be restricted to only singing music that the people could sing with them.

    As the gun people say, "then only the criminals will have guns": "When choirs are eliminated, only easy music with catchy tunes will be sing by the people."

    People have a right to attend a Mass without music. But they also have the right to attend a Mass with glorious music, a right that is being outlawed at this time.
  • Of course, that all makes sense to us musicians. But the committee is lead by an ordained minister of the Church. I know that they are not all the same, some are incredible leaders and inspiring preachers, and also acknowledge the place of appropriate music. But it sounds like you're having to work with a priest whose motto is the respond to the Lords' Prayer:
    "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever." You're a lay person - it's a losing battle.
  • I still think our understanding of full participation must include an understanding that we are in the state of grace that we may merit the necessary sanctifying graces of Christ Sacrifice at the Mass. Anything less than that is not participation at all. When we say 'full" participation, I think of the word "full" as in "full of grace" which is really a weaker translation of "perfected by grace". I find many current liturgies do allow us to fully participate in the mockeries and blasphemies aimed at our Lord and thus unite us to His passion and sufferings.
    The chanted ordinaries are enough for Masses by sung the the congregation alone.
  • People have a right to attend a Mass without music.

    Since when?
  • Since the guitar and boom chick a boom was invented.

    [ADDED: Read below. My fingers typed this but there was a disconnect between the brain for a moment that I correct below.]
  • It's called low mass.
  • Since the guitar and boom chick a boom was invented.

    Noel, I am personally sanctioning you from making no distinction between the instrument and the person playing the instrument. This particular "One Note Samba" is tiresome and does not advance improvement. And how much gas has been expelled about the accordian, for cryin' out loud...
    And don't think, my friend, of defending your blather with "guitar AND the chick a boom."
    Do you want we should yak about "chick a boom" organists that still abound out here? And they do. Had to play nice with one at a funeral at a neighbor parish this last Tuesday.
    Enough about the "guitar." I'm done with stereotyping from any quarter.
    Yes, and every key on my laptop was hit at fortississimo.
  • image

    One of my favorite memories was hearing Segovia live. I love the guitar and its music, it is truly one of my favorite instruments. I failed to study it only because I was unable to maintain the right hand fingernails.

    I should have typed:

    Since the guitar strum pattern boom-chicka-boom was invented.

    This is the term the guitarists I worked with last year used to describe their default pattern which they were truly unable to break away from. They looked upon it as a sort of thing of honor that they were indelibly associated with.

    And there are organists that play the same way, I know.

    I began to type on another thread about guitar and deleted it today (I find myself doing that more and more) and wanted to say that I think that you, Charles, SHOULD write guitar accompaniments for chant BUT you also need to record them and score them so that guitarists can play them as you hear them in your head. Continuo is beautiful which is why I took up the cello. I would enjoy doing a baroque work with guitar in place of harpsichord or organ. But they would need to play the style.

    PEOPLE should not be subjected to bad music poorly played on guitar, organ, piano, accordion.




  • And this: Book
  • You're the sharpest tool in the box, Noel. Good on ye, mate.
    And don't forget the whole Dowland mystique.
  • That's a hoot! I was there in the audience. The guitarist to Dr. Shoske's right (mostly hidden behind a cellist) is my boss, Stephen Toombs.
  • Kevin
    Posts: 3
    Dale, I too was in the same situation as you. I wish you luck and hope that you do better than I. I began on our liturgy committee 15 plus years ago as a Vatican II enthusiast embracing it liturgical ideologies. Through study and prayer I came to realize the error of my ways but was unable to convince our priest and other committee members of what I felt was the correct liturgical path. I finally resigned and am much more at peace though still frustrated with the liturgies in our parish. In answer to your question, a resource that illustrates your just contention might be "Sing to the Lord", the USCCB document on the music in the liturgy. Section E, #30 states: (30. At times, the choir performs its ministry by singing alone. The choir may draw on the treasury of sacred music, singing compositions by composers of various periods and in various musical styles, as well as music that expresses the faith of the various cultures that enrich the Church. Appropriate times where the choir might commonly sing alone include a prelude before Mass, the Entrance chant, the Preparation of the Gifts, during the Communion procession or after
    the reception of Communion, and the recessional. Other appropriate examples are given in the section of this document entitled “Music and the Structure of the Mass” (nos. 137-199). The music of the choir must always be appropriate to the Liturgy, either by being a proper liturgical text or by expressing themes appropriate to the Liturgy.) Maybe this will help. Good luck.
  • I was wondering if we were treading on your turf, Jeffrey. I used to have an office on Magnolia, but spent most of my time in the snack shop out back at the pinball machine...and the french restaurant was always fun.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 673
    The documents are good stuff, but don't forget the things where our current Pope eloquently pointed out that our choirs symbolize the always-present-at-Mass choirs of angels. Non-binding documents are also nice, as telling more of the reasoning.

    2005 Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the members of the Pontifical "Sistine" Choir:

    "I did not have time to prepare a talk, although my idea was quite simple: to say, in these days before Christmas, that they are days of thanksgiving for gifts; to say, in these days, a "thank you" to you for all that you give us the whole year round, for this great contribution to the glory of God and to the joy of the people on earth.

    On the night when the Saviour was born, the Angels proclaimed Christ's birth to the shepherds with these words: "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus". Tradition has always claimed that the Angels did not simply speak like people but sang, and that their song was of such heavenly beauty that it revealed the beauty of Heaven.

    Tradition also claims that choirs of treble voices can enable us to hear an echo of the angels' singing. And it is true that in the singing of the Sistine Chapel Choir at the important liturgies we can sense the presence of the heavenly liturgy, we can feel a little of the beauty through which the Lord wants to communicate his joy to us.

    In fact, praise of God demands song. Therefore, throughout the Old Testament - with Moses and with David - until the New Testament - in the Book of Revelation - we hear once again the hymns of the heavenly liturgy that offer a lesson for our liturgy in God's Church.

    Consequently, your contribution is essential to the liturgy: it is not a marginal embellishment, for the liturgy as such demands this beauty, it needs song to praise God and to give joy to those taking part.

    I wish to thank you with all my heart for this major contribution. The Pope's liturgy, the liturgy in St Peter's, must be an example of liturgy for the world. You know that today, with television and radio, a vast number of people in every part of the world follow this liturgy. From here, they learn or do not learn what the liturgy is, how the liturgy should be celebrated. Thus, it is very important not only that our masters of ceremony teach the Pope how best to celebrate the liturgy, but also that the Sistine Choir be an example of how to convey beauty in song, in praise of God.

    I know - since my brother has, as it were, enabled me to have a first-hand experience of a choir of treble voices - that this beauty demands a huge commitment and many sacrifices on your part..."

    Pope B's Christmas 2007 homily at Midnight Mass: "According to the Fathers, part of the angels’ Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise. Liturgical song – still according to the Fathers – possesses its own peculiar dignity through the fact that it is sung together with the celestial choirs. It is the encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us capable of hearing the song of the angels, thus creating the real music that fades away when we lose this singing-with [the angels] and hearing-with [the angels]."
  • Maureen
    Posts: 673
    This may be more magisterial than usual, because it's the Pope teaching the meaning of a Vatican II document.

    Greeting of the Holy Father at the blessing of the new organ at Regensburg's Alte Kapelle:

    "Gregorian chant and classic choral polyphony were integrated into the liturgy. The attention given to liturgical sacred music in the “Old Chapel” was so significant that it reached far beyond the confines of the region, making Regensburg a centre for the reform of sacred music, and its influence has continued to the present time.

    In the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium), it is emphasized that the “combination of sacred music and words … forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy” (No. 112). This means that music and song are more than an embellishment (perhaps even unnecessary) of worship; they are themselves part of the liturgical action. Solemn sacred music, with choir, organ, orchestra and the singing of the people, is not therefore a kind of addition that frames the liturgy and makes it more pleasing, but an important means of active participation in worship.

    ...Psalm 150, which we have just heard and interiorly followed, speaks of trumpets and flutes, of harps and zithers, cymbals and drums; all these musical instruments are called to contribute to the praise of the triune God. In an organ, the many pipes and voices must form a unity. If here or there something becomes blocked, if one pipe is out of tune, this may at first be perceptible only to a trained ear. But if more pipes are out of tune, dissonance ensues and the result is unbearable. Also, the pipes of this organ are exposed to variations of temperature and subject to wear. Now, this is an image of our community in the Church. Just as in an organ an expert hand must constantly bring disharmony back to consonance, so we in the Church, in the variety of our gifts and charisms, always need to find anew, through our communion in faith, harmony in the praise of God and in fraternal love. The more we allow ourselves, through the liturgy, to be transformed in Christ, the more we will be capable of transforming the world, radiating Christ’s goodness, his mercy and his love for others."

    Pope B's Address at the conclusion of a concert of songs, July 2007:

    "Learning to sing, in choral singing, is not only an exercise of physical hearing and of the voice; it is also an education in inner hearing, the hearing of the heart, an exercise and an education in living and in peace. Singing, whether in unison, in a choir and in all the choirs together, demands attention to the other, attention to the composer, attention to the conductor, attention to this whole that we call music and culture.

    Hence, singing in a choir is an education in life, an education in peace, it is 'walking together', as His Excellency said in reference to the Diocesan Synod."

    May 2008 General Audience talk on St. Romanus the Melodist, who sang his homilies: "This great poet and composer reminds us of the whole treasure of Christian culture, born of faith, born of the heart that has encountered Christ, the Son of God. Culture, the whole of our great Christian culture, is born from this contact of the heart with the Truth who is Love. Nor, if faith stays alive, will this cultural inheritance die; rather, it will remain alive and present. To this day, images still speak to the hearts of believers, they are not relics of the past. Cathedrals are not mediaeval monuments but rather houses of life in which we feel "at home" and where we meet God and one another. Nor is great music - Gregorian chant, Bach or Mozart - something of the past; rather, it lives on in the vitality of the liturgy and in our faith. If faith is alive, Christian culture can never become "obsolete" but on the contrary will remain alive and present. And if faith is alive, today too we can respond to the imperative that is ceaselessly repeated in the Psalms: "O Sing to the Lord a new song" (Ps 98[97]: 1). Creativity, innovation, a new song, a new culture and the presence of the entire cultural heritage are not mutually exclusive but form one reality: they are the presence of God's beauty and the joy of being his children."

    Also not binding, but important:

    "Introductory Rites Unite Priest and Congregation", a 2010 document by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff explaining Latin Rite introductory rites:

    "On a Sunday, feast or special occasion, the priest then intones the Gloria, the song of the angels, which is taken up by those present or sung by the choir which represents the faithful."

    Alternately, you could always take Father at his word, and point out that obviously all congregations should be taught to sing four-part harmony, Gregorian chant, sightsinging, antiphonal singing of the psalms, and all the great traditional hymns of the Church, from "Alma Redemptoris Mater" to "Virgo Virginum Praeclara". But I don't advise that! :)
  • Maureen
    Posts: 673
    Pope John Paul II's 2001 Address to the professors and students of the Pontifical College of Sacred Music:

    "Indeed, music and song are not merely an ornament or embellishment added to the liturgy. On the contrary, they form one reality with the celebration and allow for a deepening and interiorization of the divine mysteries...

    "The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, continuing the rich liturgical tradition of previous centuries, said that sacred music "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 112)."

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1142 and #1143:

    1142 But "the members do not all have the same function." (Rom 12:4) ....

    1143 For the purpose of assisting the work of the common priesthood of the faithful, other particular ministries also exist, not consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders; their functions are determined by the bishops, in accord with liturgical traditions and pastoral needs. "Servers, readers, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 29).

    JP II's Chirograph for the Centenary of the Motu Proprio "Tra le sollicitudini":

    "The importance of preserving and increasing the centuries-old patrimony of the Church spurs us to take into particular consideration a specific exhortation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: "Choirs must be assiduously developed, especially in cathedral churches" (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 114). In turn, the Instruction Musicam Sacram explains the ministerial task of the choir: "Because of the liturgical ministry it exercises, the choir (cappella musicale or schola cantorum) should be mentioned here explicitly. The conciliar norms regarding the reform of the Liturgy have given the choir's function greater prominence and importance. The choir is responsible for the correct performance of its part, according to the differing types of song, to help the faithful to take an active part in the singing. Therefore,... choirs are to be developed with great care, especially in cathedrals and other major churches, in seminaries and in religious houses of study" (Ibid., n. 19: AAS 59 (1967), 306.). The schola cantorum's task has not disappeared: indeed, it plays a role of guidance and support in the assembly and, at certain moments in the Liturgy, has a specific role of its own.

    From the smooth coordination of all - the priest celebrant and the deacon, the acolytes, the altar servers, the readers, the psalmist, the schola cantorum, the musicians, the cantor and the assembly - flows the proper spiritual atmosphere which makes the liturgical moment truly intense, shared in and fruitful. The musical aspect of liturgical celebrations cannot, therefore, be left to improvisation or to the arbitration of individuals but must be well conducted and rehearsed in accordance with the norms and competencies resulting from a satisfactory liturgical formation.

    In this area, therefore, the urgent need to encourage the sound formation of both pastors and the lay faithful also comes to the fore. St Pius X insisted in particular on the musical training of clerics. The Second Vatican Council also recalled in this regard: "Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiate houses of studies of Religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and schools" (SC n. 115). This instruction has yet to be fully implemented. I therefore consider it appropriate to recall it...."
  • ... but don't forget the things where our current Pope eloquently pointed out that our choirs symbolize the always-present-at-Mass choirs of angels.

    Do the "always-present-at-Mass choirs of angels" sing the Mass of Glory with us, when such a setting is chosen to be done?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,866

    Of course. Angels obey. They might, however, add a great descant, as it were.
  • Hmmm, I wonder if they'd "belt" and use finger snaps, too, then.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,866
    Praise Jazz Wings (or Eyes), of course!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Fantastic quotes there, Maureen… thank you!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    My gosh, Jeffrey… that one makes my eyes water.