Prof. Mahrt on EWTN
  • This thread is for discussion following EWTN Live, tomorrow, December 12, when CMAA President, Wiliam Mahrt, speaks on Sacred Music and Liturgy on EWTN Live TV and Radio. He will be on the "EWTN Live" show with host Fr. Mitch Pacwa at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. (The show encores: Thur. 12/13. at 1 a.m., Thur. 12/13 at 9 a.m. and Sun. 12/ 16 4 a.m. Eastern time. You can also find the show in the station's archives if you miss it.)

    You can view the EWTN Live show on cable TV; view it or listen to it over the Internet at, or listen to it on Sirius satellite radio. You can call in with a question at 1 (800)221-9460 when the show is on.

    To view it over the Internet:
    Note: When prompted, select a video player according to your Internet connection speed.
    1. Go to
    2. Select Multimedia from the top menu and go to Live shows at 5 p.m. Dec. 12.
    3. If you miss it and want to watch it later, select Archived shows.
  • Dear Jeffrey,
    Congratulations to you and Professor Mahrt for a major "exhortation." My wife, who will join us in Chicago, was transfixed.
    However, if Arlene was in attendance, could you yield the microphone to her the next broadcast? She is ever so effervescent and cute.
    I'm going to reproduce this on DVD (w/perm. from EWTN) and hand them to my priests.
    Bravo, job well done.
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    A fine exposition by Dr. Mahrt, and to an audience that perhaps most needs to hear it: regular Sunday Catholics who are not particularly chant-conscious.

    I particularly appreciated Dr. Mahrt's emphasis on the way each liturgical day becomes associated with specific chants; I have found that to be exactly the case with the scholae I have directed. It strikes me that this idea is in direct opposition to the NPM ideal of liturgical music in which one generic "song" is supposed to fit any of a multitude of liturgical uses.

    This Sunday, and only this Sunday, we will sing Gaudete in Domino semper. The Schola remembers it from last year. Next year they will remember it from this year. Eventually the congregation will begin to remember it from year to year, as, after 20 long years, they now sense that Ubi Caritas belongs on Holy Thursday. We musicians have to remember that our involvement in the Liturgy is merely an installment; the cycle of the Church's sacred Liturgy is bigger than us and we must work toward results that we will likely not live to see.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    I thought that Prof. Mahrt did very a fantastic job setting out the essentials lucidly and in an organized way, which isn't easy to do in a conversation-style interview.
  • He was great wasn't he? The whole thing went so well. He was calm and moderate and principled and, in the end, it was an overwhelming presentation. What a leader!
  • Although he said the chant tones for the lesson, epistle, and gospel were simple, I'm already having trouble remembering them. Is there a PDF somewhere on the MS web site that has them (and maybe examples too)?

    I'm watching the repeat on EWTN's internet broadcast right now. Excellent program.

    UPDATE: I did a Google search for "chant tone epistle" and found Prof. Mahrt's essay, "Gregorian Chant as a Paradigm of Sacred Music", which has an image of the tones for the readings. More reasons to love Google and
  • Ah! that's great. A detailed tutorial is in the Liber Usualis.

    Never once in a parish Mass have I heard the Prophecy sung. No excuse! It can be done by any layperson.
  • I think it'd be beautiful to have the readings sung at the Easter Vigil Mass... however, my parish uses a different reader for each reading, and that would require a lot of people (plus the pastor!) getting on board. ;) It'd be nice to hear the readings sung on big feast days, like Christmas, Easter Vigil & Easter, Pentecost, etc.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    I played last night for a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, (about the music for which, the less said the better,) but taped the program.
    When I got home I asked my husband if he wanted to see it with me, nah, not interested, it'll be over my head, etc., etc.
    I was five minutes into viewing when I realized he was utterly transfixed, kept saying, "this guy is GREAT," and asked me to set it back to the beginning so that he could see it in its entirety.
    Bravo, Dr. Mahrt!
    I'm wondering if there is some way I can work a showing of this into a choir rehearsal, the next liturgy committee meeting -- heck, smuggle it into the DVDs for "LifeNight"....
    I am so grateful to Dr Mahrt.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • EWTN sells tapes and DVDs of the shows. Go to their website: They take online and phone orders.

    I was amazed at how well Prof. Mahrt was able to be professorial and still get his ideas across in the interview. Especially, I loved Prof. Mahrt's "performance" of the proper parts of the Mass to prove his point about how different each part is. Very engaging.

    I had a group of people over to watch it with me, cradle Catholics who don't much care about music in the liturgy as a topic. They loved it!

    The reach of ETWN is phenomenal. I witnessed its scope first hand before I started regularly watching it; I was on a pilgrimage to Israel. Fr. Joseph Mary, who is the first friar in Mother Angelica's Missionary Friars of the Eternal Word, travelled with us as one of three priests to provide spiritual direction. When our group was passing through the Amsterdam airport, a Filipino couple rushed over and asked me to take a photo of them with Fr. Joseph because they watched him saying Mass on EWTN all the time. But most moving was how several of the beleagured Catholics in Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem came up to him and took his hands and told him that EWTN is their lifeline.

    I hope fame doesn't bring any harm to Prof. Mahrt. After this EWTN interview,I suspect he's in a for a big dose of it.

    EWTN Masses have sung ordinaries all the time, as Father Fox and Father Pacwa mentioned.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Excellent presentation by Dr. Mahrt on EWTN 12/12/07. I plan to use this as a template for any future presentations I might make r/t the implementation of Gregorian Chant at the parish level.

    What stuck me most was Dr. Marht's sensitivity to the emotional needs of 'the people'. His discussion of the term
    'nostalgia' (from the greek word 'nostos' return home, -algia: akin to the old english -genesam: to survive &
    the sanskri 'nasate': he approaches) as a "...legitimate longing for home" & " is not really pastoral to take
    those things away from the people" was of particular importance. Not only did he restore the validity of this human emotion, but he isolated it from it's more negative colloquial inferences. As he stated, "...therefore we must be
    very gradual (when reintroducing Gregorian Chant especially on the parish level) and leave what is most dear to them" & "...(they) must understand the chant as something that now belongs to them."

    The phrase 'leave what is most dear' is such sage advise.
  • G,
    I dealt with the same paradigm shift as well. But being on the Left Coast we could watch the whole program live before going to our duties for OLGuadalupe (which, at least, more resembled a Mass than what I experienced in years past.)
    But the re-reform movement will eventually encounter the real crossroads of the worship paradigm shift vis a vis enculturation, whether it's OLG, Simbang Gabi, Fatima Festas, Hula or Polka Masses. WE know that what re-reform is selling is priceless and will work, if (as Prof. Mahrt consistently stresses) given time and resources. But the example that Fr. Pacwa cited of the hybridization of polyphony in the colonial new world cannot re-occur in the face of Mass Media et al. Gonna be a hard row to hoe.
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    Who was that guy in the bowtie? ;)
  • CMAA's editor and our very own moderator, the eminent (handsome man about town and bon vivant Jeffrey Tucker;) back at ya, Michael. Tho' I still wanna see Arlene next time!!!
    Oh, and someone should look into booking Jason Pennington onto EWTN LIVE someday.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Well, that was splendid. Thoroughly engaging. After watching this, I have a new appreciation for how much thought saturates the composition and use of chant. It really is wedded, in the most profound sense of the word, to the Mass and its actions. The discussion and demonstration of the OT, gradual, NT and gospel chants was particularly fine.

    My overall impression is: My Lord, what have we been missing?!

    Thank you, ETWN, and thank you, Dr. Mahrt!
  • The only thing missing was a really hardcore modern music person to challenge some of his statements. While I agree with Prof. Mahrt's ethos of sacred music, I disagree that some of today's music will not be held dear by people in the future. The music written in the early 80s which continues to plague (my word) the liturgy is already held quite dear by a lot of 40-somethings I know. Ironically this stuff has become the "traditional" music for so many Catholics. This new sacred music movement is still in its infancy. When I look at the numbers that attend the LifeTeen Masses, I'm not so sure that there is a hunger at this point for mature, really sacred, music. It will take some brave pastors to set aside a Mass for sacred music or to insist on integrating chant into all the Sunday Masses before people will ever get a chance to experience it.

  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Splendid! Thanks for sharing that with us.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    "It will take some brave pastors "

    Well yes, that is the crux of the matter, the best educated, best intentioned, best informed musicians can accomplish almost nothing without the support of the pastor.
    And everything that is accomplished can be undone with one transfer from the diocese.
    So it is going to take some wise bishops creating a haven for these "brave pastors" to create space for sacred musicians.
    The good example of an appropriate music program at the cathedral works wonders. I know we have a least one cathedral music director contributing here -- would that there were more like him.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Nothing is preventing this kind of music (LifeTeen, etc.) from being sung at prayers meetings and other gatherings; people can still pray with this music. It' s natural that it's dear to people - it' s simply not appropriate at mass.

    Sam Schmitt
  • rich_enough

    Of course it's not appropriate for Mass, but the challenge is to show people why it's not. Especially in the U.S. where novelty, popular culture, and the will of the people is prized, this is a tough sell. I think that the more chant services that people hear, the more they will come around to the idea because it is so compelling. So many Catholics are not even clear on the basic catechism, though. I think this is the root of the problem. Many folks see the faith as a democracy. Another disturbing aspect that I have observed is that many people see the Church as simply a place to raise children. Why else would so many people stop coming to church after the last kid is confirmed? They see nothing there for them as adults.

  • Truly, the LifeTeen thing does exist and must be reckoned with, but there is some hope. I usually managed to avoid attending the 5PM Sunday Mass at my parish (except coming back from Boy Scout trips) but over the years, I started noticing that it was dying. The once full church was not so much full; the youth was disappearing, and no one was singing. Eventually they had a very hard time finding any more musicians. This Advent, our new pastor put half a dozen of our high-school boys to work in cassock and surplice, turned around the altar, and brought in a certain schola from Auburn, Alabama to sing, and I have not seen the church so full, so young, and with so many people singing (well, relatively for not knowing much of the music) for many years.
  • A couple years ago when I heard Prof. Mahrt lead the choir in Palo Alto,
    there was a nice older gentleman who sang the OT and Epistle. He didn't
    come off as a trained singer (he wasn't in the choir, and his pitch was a
    little off) but seemed to do just fine. It brought even more dignity to an
    already dignified and reverent service.
  • The RealAudio file of Fr. Pacwa's interview of Dr. Mahrt is now available for download from EWTN.
  • Aristotle, have you found a clean link to the video?

    They said that we could put this up at a .wmv file on musicasacra, but it involves writing a note and etc., and we may not host it on youtube or google or something -- which strikes me as a very bad policy actually. They should permit all programming to be aired anywhere through any means.
  • Two issues -- financial of course -- that might prevent EWTN from freely distributing programs. If there are any unions involved in production, there may need to be extra payments for broadcast outside the EWTN website. Also the composers and performers of the "bump" or theme music may have clauses. If none of these apply, EWTN should have no problem allowing their programs outside the website since they don't need to charge advertisers more for going outside the contracts. They only advertise their own stuff!

  • No unions in Alabama. We are barely getting by as it is. Unions would shut us pretty quickly.

    I suspect it just might be a confusion and a sense of losing control. Lots of people are very mixed up about digital media and the internet, running away from its radical possibilities rather than embracing them.