"Common Musical Repertoire" article
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    The May/June 2008 issue of Pastoral Liturgy (formerly Rite Magazine), an organ of LTP out of Chicago, has an article on this subject, written by former "liturgy specialist" at OCP, Michael Prendergast. Stay with me, however, because there is a paradigm shift at the end!

    One shouldn't be surprised that he quotes the usual paragraphs from Sacramentum Concilium, especially 26 and the ever-popular gold-standard, the "baseball bat" of progressive liturgy, paragraph 14 used to defend the hackneyed "full, active and conscious participation" mantra of the liturgical/industrial complex. He reminds us that, "Pastoral musicians must constantly remind themselves that the music of the liturgy belongs to the whole assembly."

    He pays the usual lip service to SC's references to the "treasure of immeasurable value," but goes on to state:

    "Sacrosanctum Concilium removed restrictive language and style surrounding the use of music in the liturgy. Since the council, Roman Catholics have been exposed to worship music from officially approved vernacular texts, paraphrased texts, and texts not linked to the rites or to scripture. Even though Sacramentum Concilium and documents since the Second Vatican Council uphold the treasury of sacred music that includes Gregorian Chant and other classic forms, those styles have almost disappeared from Roman rite worship." [My emphasis in bold].

    I find this statement rather curious, mainly because Prendergast seems to be skirting the inescapable fact that his sisters and brothers at OCP, together with GIA, WLP and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians have seemed to work tirelessly to ensure this very outcome. Is he upset that the treasury has been lost? Is he pleased that Catholics have been exposed to this non-stop parade of Broadway show tunes, sacro-pop and quasi-world music garbage? He doesn't seem to be taking a position either way. (Wait for it . . .)

    He sites to The 1992 Milwaukee Document, the Universa Laus document from 2002, takes an interesting excursion through aspects of Liturgiam authenticam (assuring us that the as yet unrecognized Directory for Music of 2006 sent to Rome will "serve not so much as a list of approved and unapproved songs but as a process by which bishops regulate etc.,) and ending with SttL, wherein he quotes a paragraph that had escaped my notice, " . . .the bishops suggest that those who choose music for liturgical celebrations take 'care to include selections from the repertoire typically sung by the wider Church at Sunday Liturgies' (56)." This absolutely ensures that his earlier observation, that is that certain styles of music from the treasury that have disappeared from Roman rite worship, will stay that way.

    Or does it? Here's the possible paradigm shift. The remainder of the article focuses almost entirely on the inclusion of chant-based hymns for the more important seasons of the liturgical year, the Kyrie in Mode XVI, the Mode VIII Mass, and Marian and Eucharistic devotional hymns into the list of parish common music. Unfortunately, he does refer to new texts written by Dufner and Troeger to be sung to some of these tunes. His list of vernacular Mass settings include the usual suspects (Haugen's Mass of Creation and the St. Louis Jesuit Mass) along with settings by Proulx and Vermulst.

    I'll readily admit that my enthusiasm for this article is couched at best, as it's difficult to tell if he's merely paying lip service to the treasury or truly interested in seeing its pride of place restored. Nevertheless, perhaps the "gravitational pull" being exerted by documents like Summorum Pontificum and the hard work of organizations such as CMAA are beginning to bear fruit.

    Brick by brick . . .
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    So that's very interesting actually. I recall that we had interviewed Prendergast soon after the OCP started carrying the Gregorian Missal. His justification was somewhat along the lines of: "if this book has a market, better that people buy from us than someone else."

    I hadn't realize that he left OCP. He was the editor of Today's Liturgy for many years. Of course the main purpose of Today's Liturgy, which purports to be a magazine to help parishes pick music for Sunday and to guide them through the liturgical year, is to sell OCP-published music.

    I fully expect that in the coming years, we will see OCP and GIA make a shift, not leading the way but chasing a trend. They are enterprises above all else, with no fixed principles. If, for example, the Parish Book of Chant really gains a foothold, I'll give it six months or so before the same volume appears from one of these companies except with modern notation. Someday, they might even come out with a misselette with an exclusive focus on Latin chant.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,230
    Jeffrey:

    I know this flies in the face of the ideal, but maybe you should follow your own hunch (and your hard work) and put out the book in modern notation yourself. I am sure many will purchase it.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    We'll leave that to OCP/GIA
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    Jeffrey,

    Prendergast's comment (your quote) is not unlike a response I received from Bob Batastini regarding the issue of whether or not market forces were driving the kinds of music being used in the Catholic Church. His response was rather patronizing. He said that regardless what the Church may say about this kind of music or that, until the market for the "contemporary" music dries up GIA will continue to sell it. He went on to say, and this is the patronizing bit, that it is precisely because GIA sells the contemporary stuff that they are financially able to keep a small stock of the traditional music available.

    Gee, thanks.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Now, there is an interesting if obvious point. By itself, it does not make the case for contemporary/popular music in Mass of course. It only says that some companies would be less profitable, or might not exist, without it.

    It is of course completely incorrect that there is no competitive market in goods with stable or even public domain source material. Product differentiations take place within a particular genre all the time.
  • musico48
    Posts: 16
    It is interesting how the "market" dictates what is to be sung in church? Interesting how Sacred Chant both East and West was anonymously given to the glory of God and the edification of the faithful for nearily 1500 years and BANG, along comes the printing press and "copyrights" step in and the musical style wars began in earnest! NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLUM EST!!! Meanwhile, I suggest we gently, but firmly separate the wheat from the chaft,without being acrimonious in our zeal for what is "heavenly" music.Some thoughts to ponder and pray on. Vivat Jesu!
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    Even the 1500 years were not so terribly heavenly... remember the editorial fight about the privilegium between Pustet and the gregorian-restauration-mouvement in the XIXth.
  • I am grateful that Bach, Handel, Mozart and Vivaldi had the boldness to compose and 'record' the music of the then masses.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    david andrew,

    Unless my theory fails me there is no mode XVI. I'm guessing you mean Mass XVI and Mass VIII? Not to be a stickler, but other readers might be confused.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    incantu,

    Oops, sorry. You're right. I'm embarrassed that I didn't catch it. I was wrapped up in the moment.

    But, this raises an interesting point. While I currently don't have the article in front of me, it seems that this was exactly the language used to refer to that specific kyrie and Mass. So, it shows that the folks who wrote or edited the article haven't a clue what they're talking about . . . which makes me wonder even more.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    The SF Chronicle did a great piece a while back about Prof. Mahrt and his Gregorian chant schola. The online vlog version had some beautiful sacred music as the background soundtrack -- but not a scrap of it was Gregorian chant!