Folk group music in the documents
  • Where does "folk group music" (Blest Be the Lord, City of God, Here I Am Lord, Though the Mountains May Fall, et al) fit into the documents?

    1967 Musicam Sacram (Instruction on Music in the Liturgy)

    4. (b) The following come under the title of sacred music here: Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony in its various forms both ancient and modern, sacred music for the organ and other approved instruments, and sacred popular music, be it liturgical or simply religious.3

    [3] Cf. Instruction of the S.C.R., September 3, 1958, n. 4.


    1958 Instructio de Musica Sacra et Sacra Liturgia (Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy)

    4. "Sacred music" includes the following: a) Gregorian chant; b) sacred polyphony; c) modern sacred music; d) sacred organ music; e) hymns; and f) religious music.

    10. Religious music is any music which, either by the intention of the composer or by the subject or purpose of the composition, serves to arouse devotion, and religious sentiments. Such music "is an effective aid to religion" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina, idem.). But since it was not intended for divine worship, and was composed in a free style, it is not to be used during liturgical ceremonies.


    I feel as though these two documents are describing the same genres of sacred music, but with different words. MS says "modern polyphony" while IMSSL says "modern music". One is very specific, while the other one seems rather vague, yet it's the same thing.

    In an effort to synthesize (pun intended) the two documents, I come up with this:

    Sacred Music:
    a) Gregorian Chant
    b) older/ancient polyphony (ie. music of Palestrina)
    c) newer/modern polyphony (ie. music of Kevin Allen)
    d) organ (and other approved instruments) music
    e) hymns
    f) ??? music

    I'm questioning the last category. I feel as though this is where "folk group music" really fits in. MS says "popular music, be it liturgical or religious", while IMSSL says "religious music is not liturgical". In other words, a single piece of music in category "f" can't be both liturgical and non-liturgical. This is where confusion lays. But what's interesting is that MS cites IMSSL on this, and yet that last category in MS contradicts what's stated in IMSSL.

    Or maybe that last category in MS is being misread. Perhaps the "be it liturgical or simply religious" statement was made for the entire "title of sacred music".
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    From the second document:

    10. Religious music is any music which, either by the intention of the composer or by the subject or purpose of the composition, serves to arouse devotion, and religious sentiments. Such music "is an effective aid to religion" (Musicæ sacræ disciplina, idem.). But since it was not intended for divine worship, and was composed in a free style, it is not to be used during liturgical ceremonies.


    It would seem this is where these folk songs fit in. "Religious Music," which btw, is not appropriate for the liturgy.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,124
    It takes no imagination at all to hypothesize that the authors of MS deliberately "forgot" the restriction imposed by SMSL.

    That war has been going on for several decades. See, e.g., Prof. Mahrt's discussion of the USCC's latest attempt, "Sing to the Lord" (it's on this forum someplace, or just Google it.)

    It's called "proof-texting". Quote what you want, leave the context in the trash.
  • So, if a newer document is citing an older one on a particular point, the older document really gets precedence?
  • Jeffrey C et al,
    This is not meant to be regarded as cynical or defeatest, but "the horse is already out of the barn." And she galloped into the mountains singing, hooked up with a wild stallion, and their progeny are everywhere now.
    The "documents" did not cause Peter Scholtes, Ray Repp, Joe Wise etc. and their contemporary fellowes' gaining a foothold in the American Catholic consciousness, and they, in and of themselves, won't beckon or bully parishes to shift to the paradigm.
    How do we fight wildfires in the forests and brushlands, with strategically calculated counter-fires, "good" back-fires that disable the destruction, and set the stage for a new spring greening.
    Boots on the ground, so to speak.
  • i just have a few questions to ask..so we are not allowed to dance in praise to God at church...David did? the music is not supposed to make us feel God's presence'? i love Gregorian chants but the average church goer cannot understand it and the music ministry is supposed to help the mas along in terms of helping the congregation understand to whats going on especially the young ones..i for one always listened to the Lord have mercy's and Gloria's and understood what they were but if they were in Latin i would have gotten bored and instead of listening to the words i would have just liked the sound of it or not listen at all. whatever happened to make a joyful noise unto the Lord whether it be a clashing or clanging of symbols... are all of us in the Caribbean who grew up listening to praise songs that just so happened to be syncopated an catchy damned for hell because we don't do much Gregorian chant? are those good Christian bands out there bad to listen to because they don't do Gregorian chant or something close to it? siighh please answer my questions :/
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,656
    Trnijeni

    Thank you for your questions. We all here wrestle over this stuff every day, day in and day out.

    Here is my take:

    David did not know Jesus or receive the traditions of Mother Church or her prescriptions and rubrics for the Sacred Liturgy. Dance all you like! I am sure Jesus likes you to dance for him. It's just not appropriate during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Would you have danced at the crucifixion?

    When I was young, I went to an all Latin Mass, and I was quite clear in my understanding that it was a holy, sacred and mystical event and a representation of the death of Christ on the Cross. I didn't need a degree or teaching to understand these things. It was communicated through the solemnity, the sacred, the austere, the other-earthly way in which all people approached the altar.

    Those who do not sing Gregorian Chant are not condemned to hell. But those who do not loose out on almost the entire sacred music tradition of our Church and are somewhat bankrupt from experiencing a deeper, historical, long-standing tradition that is much bigger than ourselves. My children grew up in Catholic churches filled with 'praise music'. I never told them it was innapropriate (well, I am sure I did, but I didn't harp on it), but being a DoM and knowing and loving polyphony and the organ, they are now expressing that they do not care for the casual contemporary music that has filled our churches. They want meat not candy. So I don't really believe the part about the young ones wanting that type of music. Do you give your children candy for dinner... every night? Of course not! Their bones would disintegrate! You give them good food. Sometimes they have to acquire a taste for it. Sometimes that takes years and can even reach into their adulthood before the appreciate it.

    It is fine to listen to the Christian bands... have at it. It just does not belong in the liturgy. It is not sacred music. It is religious music and is for the car, the living room, the ipod, or what have you. The Mass, however, has its own prescription for music. The more you discover what that means, the more you will come to appreciate and understand the wisdom of our ancestors, the tradition and the nature of the Mass.

    Don't take my word for it... go and find a Mass that has it, and give true sacred music a chance.