Are there any church documents that condemn contemporary, or beat driven music.
  • jim111
    Posts: 2
    I know its bad, but I am trying to prove my point to somebody else.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Sure Jim, whatever testimony that condemned Galileo's heliocentric postulations.
    Really? You want some wax sealed piece of paper to mitigate the natural rhythms of the cosmos that inform, not infiltrate the imagination and poetic expression of the beauty of said cosmos and the theological cosmology that is part and parcel of the human DNA? Dare ya, tell me Jesus wouldn't laugh at a great limerick.
    Honestly, this is how you occupy your day? I think we'll rap AMAZING GRACE this Sunday just 'cause we can. Yeesh.
    PS. I spent the last two days reinforcing what I consider the most worldwide known hymn in Christendom to my students, LASST UNS ERFREUEN. You telling me that's not "beat-driven?"
    Old codger done with his latest nutty.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,611
    melo:

    If Jesus is on our earth (physically present in the Eucharist) then the center of the universe is right here.

    Can you also rap the Tantum Ergo?
  • Just about every church document on sacred music from Tra le Sollectudini (1903), Musicae Sacrae (1958), Musicam Sacram (1967) and every other document since has re-inforced this.

    The main criteria is that music be of a sacred and not a profane nature. Sacred music should not seek to imitate secular music and I am sure that every church document says so.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    To your first premise: be careful what you wish for.
    To your question: yes, why yes, I can.
  • Jim- have you looked into the talks by Fr. Basil Nortz? They might be a good starting point for you. Google "Music and Morality" and his name. It comes on three discs, and is worth a listen whether you agree with him or not.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    No joke: while working for a very good priest, the night before we hosted a visiting schola, I had a nightmare (woke up screaming, sweating and shaking) in which he dressed in "ghetto" wear and rapped the Introit of Epiphany in Latin. It still freaks me out.
    Thanked by 2Salieri E_A_Fulhorst
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Seriously, what rubbed me the wrong way about this thread is the wording. "Condemn" - as in the parking spots in Hell are labeled for the Composers We Personally Don't Like? What about "discourage?"

    Or better yet, what does the Church "encourage?"

    Maybe the reason that, for so long, traditional elements never got anywhere was because they were so obsessed with trying to shut up people singing the bad stuff, rather than getting people to sing the good stuff?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    1) There are no documents that condemn, specifically, contemporary or beat-driven music used in Mass.

    2) There are documents (or, I think, there is one document) that prohibits "bands," but it was written at time before that word means what we generally think of today.

    3) The Church specifically names Gregorian Chant as an ideal and Polyphony as an obvious additional style of great esteem.

    4) There are vague statements about "secular" or "banal" music here and there, but they are never made in so specific a way that they can be shown to "prove" something to someone with an incentive to interpret it as liberally as possible.

    5) Even if the documents said precisely what you would want them to say, it would not really matter. Catholic doctrine and practice is remarkably clear on many other things, and yet there is widespread dissent, denial, and disobedience (along with plenty of bad taste and downright idiocy).

    6) If you are ever successful in convincing a friend of something by showing that Church Documents agree with you, then you have some amazing pedagogical talents, and should strongly consider starting a swine schola.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 633
    Come on guys...this was Jim's very first post. Could my esteemed colleagues perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt?

    While the question could have been worded differently I wasn't aware that we had become the grammar police.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,741
    If you are ever successful in convincing a friend of something by showing that Church Documents agree with you, then you have some amazing pedagogical talents, and should strongly consider starting a swine schola.
    This makes me wonder: Will the Swine Schola will intone Pigorian Chant ?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    OMG! My parents came into that CD when I was a kid... hysterical!
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    Or-snay!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,731
    To get back to Jim's question:

    Some church documents do deal with issues of musical style and instrumentation, and they make a distinction between sacred music and secular music.

    The 1958 document De musica sacra et sacra liturgia has this instruction about instruments:

    [para. 60b:] The difference between sacred, and secular music must be taken into consideration. Some musical instruments, such as the classic organ, are naturally appropriate for sacred music; others, such as string instruments which are played with a bow, are easily adapted to liturgical use. But there are some instruments which, by common estimation, are so associated with secular music that they are not at all adaptable for sacred use.


    That would seem to rule out electric guitars, drum sets, and other instruments that are associated primarily with dance music and other entertainment music.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,611
    chonak

    Yes, that is about as clear as it gets with instrumentation. However, The "beat" is a very subjective term (as the melo has stated) and until one understands WELL the very nature, the composite of sacred music, it escapes many if not most, including many who are clerics and musicians in the very "business" of liturgy.
  • Why don't we aim for the highest forms of music? Why do we have to make the music in the temple sound like the music of the world? Why would I want to hear music in the sacred liturgy which mimics the style of music which expouses the profane, offensive and sacrilidge?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    HM, when discussing music with, what else, words...we can vainly try to sell our thesis with superlatives such as "highest....ephemeral....sacred....profane.....ultilitarian....popular....classic..." ad infinitum. Music is thus reserved to the subjective, fine and dandy.
    What is, therefore, "music in the temple," Stravinksi's "Rite of Spring" or his "Symphony of Psalms"? Would you consider John Payntner's "The Rose," a hauntingly aleatory Marian motet-paean appropriate for Dec. 8th or Fourth Sunday, Advent? Not to belabor this much further, but wouldn't Ligeti's "Atmospheres" make the cut for ritual as it, like chant, is a language unto itself, irrythmic, and highly contemplative? Nevermind these questions, I'm just illustrating a point, which is-
    "Say 'yes' when you mean 'yes,' 'no' when you mean no.
    Simply say: "I want to hear Gregorian Chant in Latin, first. Roman polyphony in Latin, second."
    And then put on your helmet when others inexorably add, "Well, what about Tallis, what about the Coronation Mass, what about Taverner's "The Lamb" or Part's "Miserere" or Whitacre's "Five Hebrew Wedding Songs or Lux Arumque"?
    If you are the choirmaster or DM, simply do what you know in your heart is best for SERVING the liturgy in your parish. And then, relax about the rest of Christendom. YMMV.
  • That would seem to rule out electric guitars, drum sets, and other instruments that are associated primarily with dance music and other entertainment music.


    ... and also is a fine prebuttal against the prooftexting you might see which combines Psalm 150 alongside that one point about the Church not being "in principle" opposed to the use of a variety of instruments.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 633
    "If you are the choirmaster or DM, simply do what you know in your heart is best for SERVING the liturgy in your parish. And then, relax about the rest of Christendom. YMMV."

    That has got to be one of the most sensible statements I have ever read on this forum.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    And, my diocesan friend, an ever redundant semantical game of ping pong whose only answer ironically becomes a question like: Which came first, chicken or egg?
    Music and instruments aren't exempt from the inertia of evolution, even revolution. One of the benefits of revolution, post Psalm 150, was the repeal of the association of the earliest manifestations of wind driven reed organs with the secular plays and celebrations of the plazas and marketplaces within the city walls encompassing both castle and cathedral.
    Ne'er fear, should we show up to celebrate and hear the TLM with St. Blaise Schola, I'll leave the geetar in the car!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    It is one of the most sensible statements I have read here. There are too many obsessed with every detail that someone else is doing. Seems like Jesus had trouble with the same kind of folks. It doesn't improve sacred music, but it surely does create enemies.
  • Translation:

    JUDE
    20 It is for you, beloved, to make your most holy faith the foundation of your lives, and to go on praying in the power of the Holy Spirit;
    21 to maintain yourselves in the love of God, and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with eternal life for your goal.
    22 To some you must give a hearing, and confute them;
    23 others you must pluck out of the fire, and rescue them; others again you can only pity, while you shun them; even the outward fringe of what the flesh has defiled must be hateful to you.
    24 There is one who can keep you clear of fault, and enable you to stand in the presence of his glory, triumphant and unreproved, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes;
    25 to him, who alone is God, to him, who gives us salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, glory and majesty and power and domination are due, before time was, and now, and for all ages. Amen.


    Qualified by:

    1 THESSALONIANS 5
    9 God has not destined us for vengeance; he means us to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    10 who has died for our sakes, that we, waking or sleeping, may find life with him.
    11 Go on, then, encouraging one another and building up one another's faith.
    12 Brethren, we would ask you to pay deference to those who work among you, those who have charge of you in the Lord, and give you directions;
    13 make it a rule of charity to hold them in special esteem, in honour of the duty they perform, and maintain unity with them.
    14 And, brethren, let us make this appeal to you; warn the vagabonds, encourage the fainthearted, support the waverers, be patient towards all.
    15 See to it that nobody repays injury with injury; you must aim always at what is best, for one another and for all around you.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    All well and good. But nowhere in scripture or Church law, is authority given to those who are not, and have never been, in charge.
  • Music and instruments aren't exempt from the inertia of evolution, even revolution. One of the benefits of revolution, post Psalm 150, was the repeal of the association of the earliest manifestations of wind driven reed organs with the secular plays and celebrations of the plazas and marketplaces within the city walls encompassing both castle and cathedral.


    From my rudimentary knowledge of European history, and confirmed by a Wikipedia knowledge of the history of the pipe organ, this was either:
    - Before there was a real distinction between sacred and secular, i.e. when plays were mystery plays, and fairgrounds were for feast days; or
    - Well after the organ was established as the instrument of the church.
  • All well and good. But nowhere in scripture or Church law, is authority given to those who are not, and have never been, in charge.


    So we would agree, then, that the right course of action is not to try to usurp control of the musical "means of production" but to win over hearts and minds by Christian witness and, on the rare occasions it is appropriate, reproof of our peers?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Have you ever noticed that new posters seeking advice and guidance, often don't stay here very long? Could there be a reason? For example, (sample imagined post):

    I am DOM in a parish using guitars and Glory & Praise. I also have a Snotgers digital organ which I am learning to play. How can I implement sacred music in my parish?


    Replies, exagerated of course, tend to go as follows:

    Here at our Lady of Burningham, we would never tolerate Glory & Praise. We would make sure you joined the ranks of the Elizabethan martyrs if you even tried.

    Tre la Twiddletwaddle said in 1900, that wind pressures on organs lower than 1 inch are anathema and consign the organist to hell. That Snotgers is digital, so you are doomed.

    NO! Musicam Nauseum said that higher wind pressures may be used with St. Gall notation only on holy days of obligation

    You are not using the EF of the ages, so why waste your time pretending to worship in that new, pagan rite?

    Talk about being as bad as Eastern Christians for nitpicking. Nowhere, nowhere, does anyone say to the newcomer:

    How can we help you? What resources can we share with you? How can we help you develop a timeline and an orderly progression for implementing better sacred music in your parish? I think we could be less judgmental, less superior, and a lot more helpful.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    >>win over hearts and minds by Christian witness and, on the rare occasions it is appropriate, reproof of our peers

    Not only does it seem to be the right and Christian way, it is also appears to be the only way which is effective.

    Or, you know, we can complain and insult people. Jesus seemed to really appreciate that sort of thing.
    Thanked by 2IanW bonniebede
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Chonak,

    I nominate you to designate a feast day for MSF, in which we invoke any of the sayings of King:

    1. Peter, do you love me? (x3) Lord, you know I do. Then, feed my lambs, tend my sheep.
    2. I have a dream....
    3. Why can't we all just get along?

    For just one gosh darn day! A peaceable kingdom, too much to ask?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Can we trope the "Peter" part?
  • Does anyone post seeking advice and guidance anymore? This place is more like a bitter bunker of recrimination on all sides, bound together by only a solemn, common, deep and dreary dissatisfaction with the past or present state of something, be it the liturgy, liturgical music, or the forum itself.

    New thread coming up. (EDIT: Thought better of it.)
    Thanked by 1Ruth Lapeyre
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,731
    ...and that's the part we like about it :-)

    I kid, I kid. Yes; please, folks, be *constructive*.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    In concert with my advice above I'll try to alleve any sense of doom and gloom.
    EAF, as I understand it, you and your LMA community (w/FSSP) have a really good thing going. I'd love to join you and the guys in schola were it not logistically difficult making sure three evening Masses down south are covered, but c'est la vie.
    I have had my time trying to change hearts and attitudes of boomer pastors under the previous bishopric, won't even bore you with the details of propers at priestly convocations being rebuffed and rebuked.
    So, we have a new bishop, very liturgically interested and involved. Would you be willing to approach him and his surrogates, the diocesan liturgical coordinator (a pastor for whom I used to work) and his music "mentors" and state our case?
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • Well, I found a few documents some years ago that seemed to condemn contemporary music, but most of them were pre-vatican II. After I found most clergy and bishops ignore or find ways to make light of them I lost interest in paying attention to such documents.

    Most people just join the nearest FSSP/SSPX apostolate or even Orthodox (catholic) Church if you want liturgical consistency and purity - IE no more bad beat driven music.

    One man alone cant do much as far as Im concerned, thats why the CMAA is important, as a unit it is strong enough to make an impact greater than lone individuals.
  • See, for everyone that trie to teach or tell the truth to whoever it is in your generic "fill in the blank" church, there's always this response from someone that goes about like this, as illustrated in the first response to Sr. Joan Roccosalvo's eloquent article:

    "Praise & Worship Music is a key ingredient in the Catholic Mass today. Having played in the LifeTeen Music Group for the past 8 years at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.- I truly believe that the music we play at this very special Mass, is up-lifting, spiritual, and ties right in with the Liturgy and theme of the Mass. And, playing the unique instrument of the Harmonica, that wailing, melancholic sound it produces, truly emphasizes that emotion and mood even more so. It is a unique instrument and I only wish there were more Harmonica players in our churches today. "

    (from Willy Guardiola)

    Only God can fix these this, His mysterious ways we do not understand.

    But I do know this much, unlike Willy - Pope Benedict is not having any dreams at night thinking to himself "harmonica players in church would be a great new form of evagelization ". This type of viewpoint is awfully silly.
  • "Contemporary or beat-driven music." Well, all contemporary music, including wandering new-age music, is beat driven. There is a structure in which the music has a beginning, a middle and an end. This becomes a box that words must be fit into.

    The reason that chant has pride of place is that the words come first. The melody must fit the words. The solo instrument, aside from the voice and the organ, has no place in the church. This way the secular music that people enjoy, dance and perform other bodily functions to (including those in public restrooms that feed music into them) remains outside the walls of the church.

    We've talked before that that the pulse of modern music exists first and the words are put on it. But chant is totally the other way around. In the early church polyphony was accepted grudgingly as it was suspected of detracting from the text. And the further the word rhythms were distorted and the harder it was to distinguish the words, the more it was criticized.

    You have to draw a line. Are you going to have music of the people that today inundates their ears all day in church, or are you going to put aside the secular world and enter into the church?

    A friend - Methodist - is playing and conducting as an interim at an Episcopal church where he is in the back with the choir. At first this was strange to him since he's been used to being up front with the choir and the focus of attention.

    Last night he called to tell me about this and how impressed he is that he likes this form of worship, "It's all about the liturgy. The people aren't distracted by me and the choir. The focus of the people is on the liturgy.

    Drums and other instruments have been banned from the church just as women were expected to cover their hair and a long fast before communion was in place. Church holydays were celebrated on the day and not moved to make it easier to enjoy their secular lives without interruption by the church.

    I was at a church with a huge Ash Wednesday attendance. The word was that the people thought it was a holy day and they had to be there.

    Expectations are what it is all about. Having folk music at Mass attracted people. Now, you've got to think that through. Why would people want different music at Mass?

  • dad29
    Posts: 2,100
    Couldn't have said it better than Froggy. Text is primary (it's The Word, precisely as B-16 notes.) The music should illuminate the word, or serve to 'enflesh' it.

    That's why hymns have a very limited place during the Mass, technically.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    illuminate... precisely.

    I also think of non-proper hymns/motets/anthems as illuminations of the primary text(s) of the liturgy, in the way that the images surround the text in an illuminated manuscript. The additions, if done well and faithfully, add glory and honor to the primary text. If not, they can seriously detract.

    Of course, if you replace the text of the manuscript to make room for additional "illuminations" - it isn't that text anymore, it's (at best) an artful coffee-table book and, (often) a children's "picture bible coloring book." And if the images are disconnected from the text in a way that makes little sense, then they become a distraction and are better omitted altogether.

    Of course- all this assumes the illuminator knows how to read the manuscript text in the first place.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • In the conclusion of the document posted early on in this thread, our Holy Father writes:
    I would like to conclude my remarks with a fine quotation from Mahatma Gandhi which I recently found in a calendar. Gandhi mentions the three “living areas” of the cosmos and notes that each of these involves a specific manner of existing. Fish live in the sea, and they are silent. Animals on earth below, bark and bray. But the birds who inhabit the heavens sing. Silence is proper to the sea, braying is proper to the earth, and singing belongs to heaven. But man has a share in all three, for within himself he bears the depths of the sea, the burden of the earth and the heights of heaven. Hence he possesses all three properties: silence, bellowing and singing.

    Today, I would like to add, we see that for man deprived of transcendence there remains only braying, because he desires to be earth arid nothing more, indeed tries to make the heavens and the ocean deep to be his earth. True liturgy, the liturgy of the communion of saints, gives man once again his completeness. It instructs him once again in silence and in singing by opening for him the depths of the sea and by teaching him to fly—the existence of the angels. By “lifting up the heart;” true liturgy allows the buried song to resound in man once again. Indeed, we could now actually say that true liturgy can be recognized by the fact that it liberates from everyday activity and restores to us both the depths and the heights: silence and singing. True liturgy is recognizable because it is cosmic and not limited to a group. True liturgy sings with the angels, and true liturgy is silent with the expectant depths of the universe. And thus true liturgy redeems the earth.


    I think we do have to be "lifted above ourselves" to realize sacred music and not all of us can find that within us to create such music. But when you experience it you know it. Our family had the privilege of assisting at the Holy Mass twice this past weekend at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis for the occasion of our daughter's Confirmation. This was sacred music.

    I'm the "choir director" at a small parish in rural Tennessee. We are light years from realizing anything close to these heights of sacred music. But as long as I can choose the music I'll avoid the profane and do the best we can with the sacred.

    Kathy
  • You'd be surprised how easy Gregorian Chant mass ordinaries are. Everyone sings the same melody, there is no accompaniment and the text drives the tempo and rhythm. The key is to make sure that people don't drag it out. You'd be surprised how many people think that Gregorian Chant is meant to be some sort of long drawl.