Our Holy Father & Music (from Zenit)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    There is a kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life, said Benedict XVI at the end of a concert offered in his honor today.

    The concert was a gift from the president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to mark the third anniversary of Benedict XVI's pontificate. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected April 19, 2005, and began his petrine ministry April 24.

    The Holy Father attended the concert, held in Paul VI Hall, accompanied by the president. The Pope's older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, was also there.

    Milan's Giuseppe Verdi orchestra and symphonic choir, directed by Oleg Caetani and Erina Gambarini, respectively, interpreted musical compositions from Luciano Berio, Luigi Boccherini, Brahms and Beethoven.

    In an address after the concert, the Pope referred to the "spiritual value of musical art, called in a particular way to instill hope in the human spirit wounded by the earthly experience."

    According to the Pontiff, there is "a kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life," and for this reason, "the Christian tradition represents the souls of the blessed in a choir."

    Benedict XVI said he thinks that new generations can find new inspiration by approaching the "universal value of the artistic patrimony," thus making it easier to build a society "open to the values of the spirit."
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Did anyone else notice the questionable music at the recent papal Masses? I suppose one has to plan different music for open air than they would in a cathedral acoustic, and a perfect performance is probably impossible to achieve. But performance aside, some of the selections just didn't make sense, at least to me. Why a Gloria based on a motet about the incarnation during the Easter season? Why symphonic music by Beethoven? (The J.S. Bach-bashers on this forum must have had a reaction to that!). Was it because the Pope is German? If he was French would he have come down the aisle to "La vie en rose" or if he was Asian, would it have been the pentatonic lick from "Everybody Was Kung-fu Fighting"? Why not chant? Why not a proper motet? And on top of it, the media coverage described the music as "classical" and "traditional." Is this perhaps sending the wrong message about Benedict's musical intentions? Surely he doesn't want us to sing nothing but "Lasst uns erfreuen" -- even if it IS German. But you've got to hand it to him, even after the audience (and it was an audience, not an assembly) cheered at the beginning of the Yankee Stadium Mass, B16's very first words were "In the name of the Father..." and not "Hello New York." Of course, the crowd responded by making the sign of the cross with giant foam fingers...
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    LOL!
  • The saddest part was that MC Marini said that he liked the variety of styles for the DC Mass. I really hope that was pure politics.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,192
    Shall I open a vein in my arm, or a bottle of wine?

    Decisions, decisions . . .
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Do the wine, David. It will help you focus on the positive. Think of all the good music in NY. By the time you finish the bottle, the DC Mass will have faded from memory.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    Well, I totally understand your comments, incantu. I think most all of us feel the same way about the Masses being a mixed bag.

    The type of music 'performed' at St. Patrick's was much more suitable for a religious music concert (and preferable by far to the DC circus). Unfortunately, in general, the American Catholic Church doesn't know anything else except 'participatory music' (folk, cultural, etc.) or religious music (concert variety that has a Christian theme). The art (or better yet, office) of 'liturgical music' has totally fallen in the cracks between the two. True sacred music demands that the liturgy dictates the selection and that it becomes subserviant to the rite. (liturgical season, spirit of particular liturgical celebration, etc.) It also demands that everyone sets aside their own agenda and get with the true purpose of music in the liturgy... Sacred Music. On a strictly human level, to me, this is the main difference between the OF and the EF. In the OF we look into the eyes of the priest (or pope) and tend to celebrate ourselves. In the EF we look into the eyes of God, and the sacrifice is the focus of our attention.

    Unfortunately, these grand scale papal Masses are a strange anomoly that caters to the highest realms of a quasi church/state/national political/social/justice/cultural pandemonium. Add on top of that the Unions musical, state (stadium), political representatives, ecclesial representatives, etc, etc, etc, and what do you get? An elitist mish mash that no one 'office' is able to control. Not even an MC Marini. I know this may sound crazy, but I would ban any kind of 'outside Mass' that turns the Holy Sacrfice into a spectacle (and a platform for the mercenary-which becomes very powerful in this type of thing). The Mass is not an "event" and I think it cheapens the sacredness of the rite.

    I also tend to think that JPII brought the novelty of a "papal personae" into the fore throughout his pontificate. People seem to want to celebrate a papal personality instead of Christ at these types of events, and are shouting Papa instead of Pater. I was glad to see the pope playing that aspect down at every turn and was always attempting to refocus our attention on Christ. He made quite a statement by putting the cross on the altar between him and the view of the people as a sign and desire of this attempt at correcting the orientation from "he to He".

    BTW... I really like Bach. Unfortunately, as far as music for the Mass, his falls more into the realm of one that is religious more than sacred in my mind. But when it comes to concerts, I am all for JSB!
  • JDE
    Posts: 584
    francis,

    JSB wrote both kinds, and was also a dabbler in the profane (thank God, I say as a pianist). The Cantatas are religious music meant for a religious service, but not parts of the liturgy as such.

    On the other hand, the Mass settings are beyond exquisite. Although not as appropriate as chant (because nothing is), they are in the required spirit and fill the bill for liturgical pieces IMHO.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    Yes, I too play the English Suites, The Art of Fugue, Trio Sonatas, etc. I love them all! I have also composed large scale Masses for full orchestra and choir. I go back and forth about utilizing them in a Mass though. The USCCB wanted to program one with the Philadelphia Orchestra once and I backed down for reasons stated above.

    I think length of composition is another very critical element in Sacred Music. If a Credo goes on for fifteen minutes, one can 'get lost' in the music and loose the 'tempo' of the liturgy. Now if I was in heaven, I think a fifteen minute Credo would be too short! But on earth, we grapple with the imperfect, so perfection in this regard is very difficult to achieve.

    When it comes to polyphony and harmony, for me, there is a fine line between the 'simple and the beautiful' and then the 'extraordinarily beautiful' in music that draws attention more to itself than to the rite. It is a very delicate tension indeed. This has become more and more apparent to me only in my later years. I think this is what the Church has always wrestled with in terms of the proper balance. Perhaps that is why the Church puts forth the chant as the penultimate example of Musica Sacra: perfection of musical melody, harmony and tempi perfectly suited to the word and action of the liturgy.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Oh, I was asking for trouble with the Bach comment, which was mostly tongue in cheek...
  • Yurodivi,

    I beg to differ. Bach's sacred cantata cycles were composed for religious services. The "works" that we see today were often broken up during the Lutheran Mass with readings and the sermon in the middle. I too have some reservations about long works at Mass, but I think the Mass can handle an occasional grand setting. The pope celebrating Mass as a visitor is a chance not only to celebrate the Mass, but it is also a celebration of the Church Universal. Americans get very nervous about mixing the spiritual and the political, but this has a long tradition in Europe. Without state Masses and big events, many of the greatest Mass Ordinaries would never have been written. Recall that Victoria's Requiem was composed for the exequies for wife of Charles V. Morales's wonderful setting of Jubilate Deo omnis terra was composed for a peace treaty between Francis I and Charles V. Don't get me started on Venice! I'm not sure I could live in a world without Gabrieli! IOW we need these occasional grand Masses to celebrate grand things. It's our human way of outwardly showing our respect and joy for the Church. For the rest of the year, we can scale back. I liked the grand romantic settings at St Patrick's. Sure they were a bit over the top, but the occasion demanded something grand.

    Mike
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    St. Patricks was far more in line with what I would expect of a papal Mass than the DC affair. However, here is thinking out of the box.

    I think we could have a grand Catholic event without needing to include all the trappings of such within the Mass itself. Why not have other manifestations of Catholic expression at these events? Performances, multimedia presentations of the Gospel, projected sacred icons, a spiritual play or type of oratory extravaganza. What about the premier of some fantastic Catholic music by a 200 voice choir? Something like this could then conclude with a solemn Mass that would then not have to be a smorgasborg for everything and everyone and could maintain the continuity of a respectable liturgical form.

    Just an idea.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    I agree with Francis on this.

    Many European cultures had a place for grand religious events - pagents, mystery plays, auto sacramentales. Today we feel the need to stuff everything into a Mass. (I won't even get into the "ticket-punching" mentality where people won't come to an event because it doesn't satisfy their "Sunday Mass obligation.") In the post-Vatican II era, the Mass became the only liturgical event of any merit. Sunday evening Vespers and Benediction had already disappeared earlier with the institution of the later Mass on Sundays. The collapse of sodalities and groups that had separate devotions was another loss in the "para-liturgical, musical" arena.

    The recovery of some non-Mass arena for music would also ease the process of moving toward music that is integral to the liturgy. When you can tell people that there is another home for the music they love - be it a hymn festival, a sodality that takes "On Eagle's Wings" as their theme song, whatever - it will make that transition less painful.
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    Well said, Francis and mj. Perhaps one of the reasons that people want to hear/sing music at Mass that is inappropriate is because in most places the Mass is the only event on the calendar. Perhaps one of the greatest struggles of parish musicians today who take the Church's teachings to heart is the tendency since the 1960's for the Mass to be treated as a blank bulletin board on which everyone wants to pin their favourite pretty pictures. When someone hears a song they like, the standard reaction now is to say "Hey, we should do that at Mass!" Why?

    I recall reading in a liturgy document (can't recall which at the moment) a recommendation that "other uses" (such as concerts) be found for the profound sacred works composed for the Mass. I submit that this should be inverted: the great sacred works should be retained in the Mass, and other uses should be found for music that is less appropriate to the Mass. This would remove from the Mass the burden of having to be sufficiently entertaining for everyone.
  • I've been calling for a return to extra-liturgical events for a while now. I'm guessing that devotions went away when the folks were given more of a role in the Mass. Non-Mass religious activities arose from the people's needs to express their faith in a more active way. I'm reminded of the shift every time it takes longer to give the EMHCs communion that it does for them to distribute to the congregation. People do want to be involved, but now they get their satisfaction at Mass instead of the Knights of Columbus. Let's hope for a renaissance of confraternities and soldalities!
  • JDE
    Posts: 584
    Michael,

    unless I wrote something I don't remember, I said that Bach's Cantatas were religious music for a religious service, but they are not liturgical as such. To wit, there is no part of the Lutheran service called the Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit or the Jesus bleibet meine Freude, whereas there is a Gloria, not to mention a Kyrie and a Lamb of God (even in their modern service). Yes, the Cantatas were sprinkled through the service, not performed all at once; but that doesn't make them liturgical.

    This is all irrelevant anyway, because no one would think to program an entire Bach Cantata for Mass. There's no place to put it all, unless you do half before, a couple of chunks at Offertory and Communion, and the rest as a postlude.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    Concurring with Francis and Mary Jane, and with Michael O'Connor's call for a return to extra-liturgical events, but my impression is NOT that they "went away,"
    My impression is that they were actively suppressed in many cases.
    (Devotions are still denigrated by many liturgisti who would be happy to promote Liturgical Tobacco Juice Spitting if they read somewhere that it was an authentic expression of an oppressed minorities culture.)
    The beautiful theology that the celebration of the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our Faith was mangled to mean that the celebration of the Eucharist was the ONLY appropriate occasion for the public expression of that Faith.
    Hence the shoe-horning of a thousand other events into the Mass.
    We literally don't have a weekend without some fabricated rite being tacked on to our parish's celebration of Sunday Eucharist.
    These made-up ceremonies, often in series, (never perform a rite in one week when you can chop it up and spread it out over three,) are used to lure non-church-going types into the pews for a few weeks running, but their only real effect is to annoy the **** out of the PIPs who would have been there anyway.

    Sorry for the rant, it touched a nerve...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Yurodivi,

    My point was that cantatas were part of the liturgy whether they were specified in Lutheran documents or not. All of Bach's sacred cantatas were written and used during the Lutheran Sunday Mass. These events would take up to 3 hours, but that was pretty normal in Leipzig in the 1720s-40s. Your description of the performance, is btw, exactly how it was done. I wouldn't recommend this for a Catholic Mass.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,192
    Some may recall that in an earlier thread here (or perhaps over at NLM, I can't remember) I expressed fear that the NYC liturgies would have a "performance" aspect to them, making it seem like what we would witness would be somehow devoid of a sense of true liturgical music ministry. (I think I called it a "get the work out" mentality of those involved). I was somewhat chastised for this remark, but I think that Francis has put his finger on what I was trying to express.

    I agree too that much of the stuff and nonsense we've endured with respect to liturgical music and its uses is a direct result of an active suppression of devotional services and a feeble execution of the LOTH with music, wherever it may occur in parish churches. The desire then is to cram as much musical stuff, much of it borrowed from devotional practices, into the Mass. I recall as a young NPM-type "pastoral musician" being truly baffled at the requests for Marian devotional hymns at Mass in October and May, for example. I think I've come to understand where these requests come from.

    An aside:

    Not just a few churches I've encountered and worked for have had among it's members and staff those who claim that concerts of any kind (sacred or otherwise) are not permitted within the physical church. I'm aware of legislation on this although I'm not sure exactly where it's found or how the legislation reads. A colleague of mine said that it comes out of an abuse that became common in churches in Europe, especially royal chapels, where "spiritual concerts" were being held, often under the guise of Benediction services. In order to eradicate the abuse, it seemed necessary to put a ban on all concerts, even organ recitals.

    Can anyone clarify this?
  • I thought "Inestimable Donum" clarified the conditions by which sacred concerts could occur in RC churches.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    The 1987 declaration by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 'Concerts in Churches' permits them at the discretion of the Ordinary, but stipulates that the music must be of a religious character. It also suggests the Ordinary may wish to prohibit payment at the door in order to encourage the preservation of the sacred character of the church.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    I always enjoy reading declarations such as this one and adding up the number of times I've seen them ignored. The comments in the beginning that imply most liturgical music has been discarded because "we're totally up-to-date in Kansas City" were rather irksome. The principles enunciated were good. At the same time, there seems to be no enforcement and anyone who points to documents such as these will be answered with examples from cathedrals and large churches all over the USA.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    This document seems to be a bit schizophrenic to me. The way it speaks of the organ is almost as though it is anti-liturgical. Has language toward the organ ever been couched in these terms before the 20th century? During? I don't remember reading anything as anti-organ in the music docs. Then in number 9, it goes on to encourage the use of organ in concerts.

    How do organists here approach playing a postlude after the Mass? In the past it was a norm for me to do so, but in the last five years or so, I have been trying to be more sensitive to people who wish to pray after Mass and sometimes wind up playing meditative music apart from the fanfare typical with a postlude. Any thoughts or suggestions?
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    It's refreshing to read this, considering that this past weekend we had two presentations of Rossini's Stabat Mater at the cathedral. The orchestra and choir were in the sanctuary, and we had a free will offering basket in the center of the cathedral, but neither is prohibited by the document. This is the fourth such performance of sacred music in the past two years and there is a steady increase in attendance. It's almost as though people have perhaps longed to hear this music again somewhere more holy and dignified than a concert hall. What a concept!
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    "This is the fourth such performance of sacred music in the past two years and there is a steady increase in attendance. It's almost as though people have perhaps longed to hear this music again somewhere more holy and dignified than a concert hall."
    There is a choral group that used our church every year for an enormous and magnificent concert of sacred music. (Because of logistics one year they no longer do.... having needed a new temporary home, and finding one, they made it permanent.)
    Our pastor noted wistfully the standing room only crowd and sighed that Mass couldn't fill it like this -- he had the evidence before his eyes, but can't see the hunger for beauty and excellence, (a beauty and an excellence that would befit the music at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass superbly,) that is not being fed by Spirit and Song, and "Send Down the Fire," and "The Little Drummer Boy."

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)