No more roadblocks
  • I'm very interested in any comments you have on this post, in which I argue that unless something is done soon to eliminate the road blocks to a well-sung Ordinary Form, it will lose the struggle for the Catholic soul.
  • Well said, Jeffrey. There are times when we just get fed up, but take heart. Things are moving. We must not repeat the mistakes of the previous generation or another generation will come along and undo what we are working towards. The problem, in perspective, is a 40-year lapse that has occurred during the approximately 1500-year history of Catholic chant. We can remedy this, but it will be difficult in this "Age of Popular Music". Stay strong, brother.
  • I'm becoming more convinced that we must look at this as an effort to blot out the sin of Modernism, or in its present form, Secularism.

    I just heard a brilliant explanation of the effects of secularism within the context of formation of conscience in preparation for the elections in November. However, what the speaker had to say about it was relevant to our discussions.

    The three big "errors" of this sin, or the stumbling blocks, if you will, are: 1) materialism or the seeking out of "things" to make us happy, a direct result of the industrial revolution, 2) the need for gratification or "pleasuring", or the need for things to produce a positive and pleasant personal response, a result of the sexual revolution, and 3) the demand that these things happen immediately, a result of the technical revolution. I see this as applicable to our situation in that the "liturgical reformers" succumbed to all three of these by creating a liturgical paradigm in which people receive a material sense of "possessing" the Mass (as a "community"), they sing songs, hear homilies, even watch dancing and the like, as a means of producing a sense of pleasure from their "active participation" and that the Mass must do this quickly, if not immediately, hence the need for everything to be dumbed-down and understandable.

    Rather, what is needed, and what we need to strive for is a sense of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a gift given rather than something taken or seized, a sense and understanding of what is beautiful rather than pleasurable in the music, language, ritual and movement within the Mass and a return to the sense of mystery and contemplation as against instant, total gratification.

    Perhaps there is someone with a stronger grasp of the sociology and anthropology of what the Church has been through in the last 40 years who can help us develop a more measured, deliberate and charitable way of directing the needed changes in the liturgy. Otherwise, I share in Jeffrey's fear, and add my own as I discussed in other threads, that being slow movement that is not carefully measured and regularly evaluated will turn into inertia or backwards movement, and ultimately the loss of the Catholic soul.
  • I should be clear that my post isn't really a reflection of our own particular situation. We've lately made huge advances by going step by step, but it has been a rough journey. I can understand how it is that people come to be tempted just to bail out. this is why I wrote the post: to urge pastors to fix up their parishes before the whole of the highest liturgical yearnings get sucked entirely into EF efforts, leaving the OF to be the way it is currently in most parishes.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    I think that when life hands us roadblocks, sometimes it's not a bad idea to take detours. The task at hand in the average parish is to shift things towards the sacred music idiom. Over time, the roadblocks are bound to disappear on their own. There is much that can be accomplished in the meantime.

    In the face of insistence that the congregation sing the Sanctus, why waste energy on a fight? Isn't it easier just to shelve the polyphonic setting and program one of the easier Gregorian settings?

    While the Graduale Romanum is the ideal, realistically it's an ideal that will only be achieved in a few parishes for the forseeable future. Singing all the propers every Sunday is a tall order for the average choir. While we ought not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good, chant poorly performed has devastating consequences for the reputation of chant generally. Cantors of intermediate ability warbling through tracts and graduals while using the organ as a crutch made a generation of Catholics fearful of the words "High Mass." We would all agree that this is not what we want to return to. By all means, let's promote choral excellence and chant education as a remedy; let's also heed Thomas Day's warning about the Catholic temptations of the "greatness syndrome" and the "idols of excellence," which have afflicted choirs of the Graduale and Glory & Praise persuasion alike.

    So if you have the ability to sing the Graduale and Alleluia well every week, I can understand how you might be frustrated at never being allowed the opportunity. This circumstance, however, is just not an issue in most parishes. In the meantime the task at hand for most will be to move toward simple, singable modal settings of the responsorial psalm, perhaps enhanced with alternate fauxbourdon verses. Why not make it a priority to have the congregation learn all of the Alleluias in the Simplex?

    Laszlo Dobszay has pointed out somewhere that throughout history Gregorian chant has been more a musical language than a fixed repertory. The immediate goal should be to learn this musical language and have it live in our parishes. Without this in place, we're not even in a position really to "get" what the repertory of the Graduale Romanum wants to tell us.

    All of these little fights seem rooted in one big, false dichotomy: "active participation" vs. "sacred music." I think that it's absolutely crucial to the success of the movement toward sacred music that we promote active participation even more enthusiastically than the active participation camp. Our rhetoric should never even hint at "Catholics can't sing anyway, so let's drop the pointless charade and let the choir sing for them." Instead, it should be: "Catholics don't sing, and this is a serious problem. The conventional solutions to this problem have failed miserably. We have a better solution." The solution lies in the "homely music" Thomas Day talked about. If you can successfully have the congregation singing the simple dialogues and responses throughout the Mass, you will have more active participation than most parishes dream possible and no one will raise an eyebrow if you plunk a Gregorian offertory in place of the hymn that no one in the pews ever sang anyway.

    My point, I suppose, is that if we find ourselves expending too much energy on the little fights, we're probably getting ahead of ourselves--the first priority is to neutralize the "active participation" argument by working towards making active participation a reality, as opposed to an abstract theory wielded as a weapon by those who oppose the Church's model for sacred music.
  • I agree completely.

    Moreover, the fact that the liturgical documents give priority to these dialogues/acclamations/etc. should suggest to us all that these, not Palestrina, ought to be our top priority. Yes, I also believe we can do both, but if we must have one or the other....
  • Jeffrey, I am going to start another thread on Dobszay and “alius cantus aptus” because I don’t want to derail the original conversation.
  • The question for me is that the congregation sings what? Cantor is right about the dialogues. If I could start the whole project over again, I'd start with training the congregation to sing the dialogues (forcing pastors to sing as a result). After they are comfortable with that (and there is plenty to sing there), then introduce the ordinary. Probably best to leave the propers to the choir as that is their territory and duty. Once you have done this, the congregation needs no more singing duties. The only thing I would add is a few solid hymns during the year. The infrequency would amplify their effectiveness too.
  • Migration to the EF from the OF won't be a problem in areas where the EF is non-existant or minimal (very early/late/odd time/remote location). And I think that is one of the reasons that some dioceses are still being very slow on this - they don't want the competition. (Interestingly, during the early years of Ecclesia Dei indult Masses, many areas used those these as a way to get rid of complainers. "If you don't like it here, we suggest you go to St. Ethelbert's...")

    Well-celebrated and attended EF Masses could have an effect similar to school vouchers on the average Ordinary Form.
  • That's the conundrum and the thrust of one of Jeffrey's comments. Do we work against the odds and hope that we will live to see and sea change in Catholic liturgy or do we take refuge in the EF (where it's available and not run by radicals)? What if the Catholic world simply won't go along with the idea of reverent, substantial Masses?
  • "It seems that some traditionalist Catholics wouldn't go along with reverent, substantial liturgy. Many prefer the quickie Low Mass with no frills. Would they pray the Liturgy of the Hours on Sunday in a parish? Would they swallow a Tridentine High Mass every Sunday and holy day?"

    True, though my impression is that this is less the case with younger people.

    "If all church musicians with traditionalist sensibilities bolt mainstream parishes, two things may happen. They risk a professional, cultural, and artistic isolation. They also impoverish average parish music ministries that need to stay anchored in a wholly "catholic" approach to music."

    But this problem would be mitigated if the Tridentine mass was introduced into more "average" parishes. Unfortunately, your sentiments are self-fulfilling prophecy - it is just this attitude that discourages the mainstreaming of the traditional mass.

    "I think the EF is a dead-end for Roman Catholics. We don't need it to have great music and reverence."

    Why we can't have great music and reverence in *both* forms? If the pope is correct, each has the potential to enrich the other. Many priests are on record saying that their celebration of the EF has enriched their understanding of the liturgy. Though I now play and sing at a OF parish, I myself have been enriched through my singing for the EF in the last few years.

    Sam Schmitt
  • The "both forms" model once seemed an impossible dream to me. Then I went to the Colloquium and found what seemed to me to be Heaven on earth: two-form tolerance. This was 5 years ago or so, and it really changed my life in a liturgical sense. I realized that I had been wrong about many things. The whole world of Catholic liturgy opened up to me in ways it had been shut before.
  • I think the EF is a dead-end for Roman Catholics. We don't need it to have great music and reverence.

    Yes, maybe, but what an end!

    And to say we don't "need" it to have great music and reverence ignores the reality of the musical, liturgical and cultural wasteland most Catholics have been forced to endure at "gunpoint" by the irresponsible proliferation of the junk trowelled out year after year by OCP, GIA, et. al.

    I'll agree, there are traditionalists out there who have their heads in the sand, and want to be "left alone" to their quickie low Masses. The same is true for many mainstream Catholics who, with arms folded, keep their mouths firmly shut during the whole of a Mass with "Fr. Friendly" and "Mr. Caruso" at the mic bellowing the latest "fad ditty."

    I'm reminded of a quote from an address given by the Holy Father I recently read over at NLM, and I think it merits re-posting here:

    The liturgical cult is the supreme expression of priestly and episcopal life, as also of catechetical teaching. Your duty of sanctification of the people of the faithful, dear brothers, is essential to the growth of the Church. I was prompted to specify in the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the conditions of the exercise of this duty, regarding the possibility of using just as well the missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) as that of Pope Paul VI (1970). Fruits of these new provisions have already seen the light of day, and I hope that the indispensable pacification of spirits is, thanks be to God, coming about. I appreciate the difficulties that you encounter, but I have no doubt that you can achieve within a reasonable time satisfactory solutions for all, so that the seamless robe of Christ does not tear further. No one is too many in the Church. Everyone, without exception, must be able to feel at home, and never (must he feel) rejected. God who loves all men and does not want to lose any entrusts to us this mission of pastors by making us the Shepherds of his sheep. We can but thank him for the honour and trust that he has placed. Let us strive therefore to be always servants of unity!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    We don't need it to have great music and reverence.

    Since when? God deserves great music and reverence, period.

    I feel the point of this thread rather acutely. I now lead a schola. We sang the Exaltation on the 14th in the EF. We're now being asked to sing in the EF every other Sunday. It is not my home parish, but I'd like to do this for many reasons -- not least of which is that this opportunity galvanizes my schola, trains it, and nurtures it. We also sing four OF Masses at this location in Latin.

    But I'd also like to do many things, many of them in my home parish, which is all OF, all the time. It is increasingly friendly toward sacred music like chant, and there will be four OF Masses in Latin there before Advent. A visiting schola from outside the city will sing the propers at those Masses. I'd like our schola to help run workshops, etc., and eventually found a parish schola there.

    My time is limited, my schola is in demand, and so the question becomes how best to steward these resources. I think a happy medium can definitely be found, and the key dimension of that medium is education. That has the greatest distributive effect.

    But singing Masses in the EF also has a distributive, salutary effect on the OF, and I will tell you why: it is a curiosity. People from the OF show up at the EF. Afterwards, young people came up to me with eyes all lit up, and said, "that was AMAZING. It was so ... HOLY." We were just doing our job, and yet this effect occurred.

    So let me tell you that there is no good reason to fear musicians hanging out in the EF. It nurtures them, allows them to grow, and their flowering in that context is a delight to all who listen and observe. It becomes inspiring, and that is the exact opposite of a dead-end: it is a re-birth.

    On the other end, the OF's dialogical approach I hope has a salutary effect on the way the EF is conducted. Saying and singing things aloud, clearly, and together, is a good thing, consistent with sacramental culture. It keeps things focused. The EF's effect on this, in return, can be to make sure the OF dialogue is ritualized, dignified, and accurate. And so on.
  • Todd, I'm glad you're here to offer your thoughts. They are most welcome.

    If all church musicians with traditionalist sensibilities bolt mainstream parishes, two things may happen. They risk a professional, cultural, and artistic isolation. They also impoverish average parish music ministries that need to stay anchored in a wholly "catholic" approach to music.

    I have to agree. In regards to the first point, that isolation may be very welcome after the cuts and bruises that have been received by some who just want a proper reverent musical approach to the Mass. We get bombarded with the need to be pastoral (codeword for appeasing the lowest musical desires for simple love songs at Mass) and to be "relevant" to today's world. You know what, though? I go to church to escape the world and to get a taste of the eternal. If the angels are singing Carey Landry tunes, I'm less interested in heaven. That may sound harsh, but I avoid churches where this music is offered in place of the Church's liturgical texts. To address the second point, I truly believe that many parish musical establishments chase off decent musicians. I'm not a stellar singer (just ask incantu!) but I'm one of the most sought after creatures on the planet -- a man who will sing in church choir. I currently don't do that because I've finally gotten to the point where I get physically ill when the piano starts an introduction of an OCP tune. The byproduct of learning the Church's wheat is recognizing its chaff.

    Sorry to be in such bad mood, but after I read Pes's description of his situation, I wanted pack my bags and leave this part of the country immediately.
  • I think we need to clarify some terms here, because words mean things and certain words can drive the tone of a position or debate.

    I must object to Todd's expression "traditionalist sensibilities." I am not, and would vigorously object to being called, a "traditionalist." I consider myself orthodox, committed to the concept of liturgical and musical orthopraxis. I assert that Todd well knows and understands that to be painted a traditionalist connotes an unbending and perhaps borderline irrational devotee of an ossified "fly in amber" understanding of the Church's liturgy and its attendant music. If this is an inaccurate understanding of the term "traditionalist sensibilities," I'm perfectly open to a clarification of terms.

    Michael O'Connor lands a "blow on a bruise" for me. While my perception may be distorted, personal experience suggests that my primary duty at my church (as a classically-trained professional who devotes large amounts of time studying the many documents and writings of the Church on the matters and issues of the liturgy and its music) is to defend my right to be a church musician at all since I'm viewed by some as one with "traditionalist sensibilities."

    And, I'm right there with O'Connor's sentiments regarding physical illness and certain music. I have, for the last 5 or 6 months, been working with a team (no fooling- up to 4 now- an MD, a chiropractor, a CBT therapist and a spiritual director/health coach) to determine why I'm nearly doubled over in abdominal pain before, during and after playing for Masses at my church, especially when "Gather Us In" and "Jesus Wine of Peace" are on the hit parade. What's worse, I'm under obligation, if I wish to keep my job to continue using this horrid stuff, because the pastor has said he doesn't care what kind of music we use, as long as the people will participate. Of course, nobody ever has to defend using it, but I always and at every turn must defend every hymn, antiphon or chant from the tradition I may wish to incorporate into the liturgy. I often don't even enter into the fight, because I'm physically incapable of sustaining the effort.

    So, Todd, I for one welcome the efforts of the Holy Father, and hold a glimmer of hope for the future of the Church with the influence of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. I view the coexistence of the EF and OF as being a closing of the rupture that happened with the haphazard and sometimes manipulative implementation of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and a re-emergence of those aspects of the Church and her worship that truly build up the faithful.
  • David - If your playing the music is causing physical ailments, there is something seriously, seriously wrong. Added to the evident problems you're experiencing in dealing with your pastor you are frankly in an unhealthy environment. You mention "...if I want to keep my job..." but that appears to be a less than glowing option in itself.
    With all sincerity I would suggest you consider a temporary leave of absence from your position. Perhaps some time in a monastic retreat would give you a chance to better discern how your skills and talents can best serve the Church.
  • priorstf,

    I've actually pursued that. Unfortunately, I can only get about 2 weeks, and even if my MD were to issue a statement to the effect that I needed this leave, he would be bound by law to disclose that it was for mental health reasons. That would immediately trigger an exploration into my various treatments, and may even give the insurance folks with the archdiocese the right to examine and read my treatment notes. The various issues being discussed in my sessions are really none of their business, but if I ask for a leave of absence, it becomes their business.

    I'm really "over a barrel" in this regard. It may come down to going to my pastor directly and telling him in the strictest confidence what's going on and ask for his cooperation.
  • DA
    I have taken the liberty of contacting you directly. Please excuse if this is an intrusion.

  • Todd, from what I read in your posts and on the blog, you are really concerned about Church unity. Theologically, I can understand, but musically? The Church has almost never been united in its musical approach, even during Charlemagne's rather forceful adoption of Roman chant for his kingdoms in the 9th century. So, I'd like a clarification. Are you proposing that we give everyone a little of what they want (chant, pop hymns, polyphony, modern art settings, polka)? Are you suggesting that volunteer choirs (or ensembles) become adept at all types of music? I propose that this will not create unity. Very few people that I know would be willing sing something they don't like because they got something they did like in the understanding that we all need to pull together. That's a pretty selfless attitude that would be nice but I don't see in the average parish. I know that I don't have this attitude. Again, I can listen to and sing along with pop music 6 days a week (and more after church on Sunday). I WOULD only get to experience the music that even popular culture associates with the Catholic Church for one hour on Sunday if only priests and DM's would allow it. People often complain that chant, hymns, and artistic Ordinary settings sound too "churchy". That tells me they are attending Mass for the wrong reason. We could go on about the way in which music connects with people, but my basic argument is that modern Catholic music connects in the wrong direction. Chant is a music that sends prayers to God, while pop music, by its nature, affects human emotion. I don't doubt that folks would be reluctant to give up that emotional boost each week, but I wish I could transmit the feeling I get after a reverent OF or EF Mass. It's a different and more substantial feeling of having given something of myself, which in turn has its positive effects on my state of mind. At most OF Masses I attend, even the music-less ones, I just feel glad that it's over, mostly.
  • Todd, I have to call you on this one. You statement, and I'll say this nicely, is nonsense.

    Musicians of any sort unwilling to play and invest in any quality music outside of their comfort zone do themselves no good.

    OK. I don't have a problem with that, but your next statement is non sequiter.

    It's my opinion a good church musician must be familiar with lots of instruments, and able to play more than one, plus be able to sing.

    You mean like organ and guitar or do mean organ and piano or synth (I'm guessing the latter)? If things continue as they are then your statement is true, but I predict that few highly qualified organists will look to the Catholic Church for a living. Some might rejoice in this, but what a tragedy that would be. The ability to sing is a plus, but not necessary in some larger establishments that have a separate choir director. My main point is that a good organist should not have to know all these other instruments for a Catholic Church job. Maybe for a Baptist or other Protestant gig, but the organ should be enough for our Church. I believe there are docs and statements by the pope that suggest as much.

    The best musicians are unafraid of diversity: Renee Fleming recorded an outstanding jazz cd; Bela Fleck plays bluegrass, jazz, and classical; Gershwin was a master of the pop song plus a fine classical composer.

    Here's the part that sinks the argument. Being unafraid of diversity as a performer is completely different from embracing a hodge podge of styles in Church music. On a side note I would also argue that Fleming's jazz recording was nice but hardly outstanding. Compare it Ella, Billie, or even Diana Krall. Bela Fleck is awesome, but he makes a living of crossing boundries. It's his schtick. Gershwin has never been accused of being a high quality classical composer. Even he lamented that much. He had others do his orchestrations and his forms are quite klunky even if he had a knack for a good tune or two. If he had lived a bit longer, he might have developed nicely, but we'll never know.

    So, yes, a few fine performers venture out into other areas out of boredom or a sense that they can do no wrong as a musician, but they are (and I'll even add Yo-Yo Ma here) the exceptions. When asked to sing opera, I doubt seriously that Fleming would suggest that she should sing it more in a popular style in order gain more of an audience. Even she knows that there is an appropriate approach to every idiom. Well, every idiom but Catholic Church music, I guess.
  • Hey Todd,

    OK. So you say meant that a DM must be familiar with other instruments and how to combine them and lead and such. OK. No problem there, but your examples were crossover performing artists, so I hope you see my confusion regarding your claim. Anyway, I'm not going to argue that a good musician should have some secondary competencies, especially composers like Mozart, who lived during a time when it was expected that a musician play keyboard, violin, and be able to sing. We live in a much more specialized world now because the of the sheer number of musicians and the declining opportunities for making a living as a performer.

    I understand your general outlook on Church music and I guess I just want you support your claims clearly -- and I would hope that I support mine clearly as well. To that end, I have considered alternatives to my worldview and I have found that not many line up with what the Church as an institution, and the pope as our leader, have called for. Believe me, I'd be happy to read anything you can offer that says that commercial-music (by this I mean pop, country, rock, etc) ensembles and the music that fits them is a preferred or even equal type of music to Gregorian chant in the eyes of the Church. Sure, many would like that to be the case, the status quo argues strongly for it, but so far the documents and teaching clash with the reality on the ground. You may argue that this music is now expected and the vast majority would miss it terribly if it went away and I don't think I could dispute that. Here's the thing, though. Enough people have finally had enough and this organization (CMAA) is growing as proof of that. I think most of us (maybe not all) agree that Catholics are able to put aside popular music for ONE HOUR each week and sing (or listen to) the musical prayer in such a way as to connect with generations who came before and hopefully will come later. What a powerful thing! St. Teresa sang the Salve Regina (admittedly with minor variants of the Avila chant melody) but she never knew Gentle Woman or even O Sanctissima. Shouldn't we focus on the former for unity's sake?

    I'm sure that if things stay the way they are, most Catholics won't care, but there is a growing number who never knew the TLM and never heard chant in the Mass but came to the realization that our current music is somehow insufficient to the task of carrying the words of the Holy Mass. It's not just taste. I forever reject that argument. Here's an example from the past. During the 17th century some wonderful music was composed for the Mass and Office. Unfortunately it was very operatic in nature and like pop music became and end in itself (peformance vs today's feel-good vibe). I wouldn't suggest it return. OTOH I don't suggest that only chant and polyphony be allowed either. Bruckner proved that a good composer can provide solid new settings of texts that are not a total break from the tradition. I understand we live in the Age of Popular Music (our Masses testify to this) but that age will end like every other and I think we are seeing the beginning of that end (just look at contemporary rock and country - stale).
  • Mike, I'm not inclined to engage this exchange exhaustively here. But I lean towards accepting Todd's assertion there is no definable idiom known as "Catholic Church Music." Anthony Ruff's chapter on Musicam Sacram more or less abets this contention by showing a documental exegesis that debunks a clear understanding of what constituent forms constitute the thesaurus sacram, or sacred treasury of RC musical traditions.
    "...(I)t is not possible to identify the treasury of sacred music definitively with any repertoire of music old or new. (I add) However, this does not mean that the notion of a "treasury of sacred music" is too vague to have any meaning in the implementation of liturgical reform." {SACRED MUSIC AND LITURGICAL REFORM, p. 357}
    I believe the qualities outlined by Todd here and in his latest post at CS that would best benefit parish and cathedral DM's in the future would provide the Church with leadership that is conversant AND capable of developing authentic and aesthetic improvement in the quality of worship at her liturgies.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    I think anyone who gets an organ degree will be exposed to a variety of instruments in college - or at least, I was. That doesn't mean that I find all of them appropriate for liturgy. I think what our good Pope Benedict is telling us is that liturgy is not about our feelings or experiences. The man is brilliant and has given clear directions as to what he wants us to do musically. And he didn't ask about anyone's feelings, either. The last time I looked, a big part of being Catholic is following the leadership of Peter's successor. I have no problem with that. But let's face it, our choices will always be limited by something. I did "One Bread, One Body" today at communion. Yes, the infamous "Gentile or Jew, sheep goat or gnu, arachnids too, oh yeah!" A huge limitation is the crummy selection of communion hymns in Ritual Song - and it's supposed to be one of the better hymnals available, or so I have been told. As one of the characters on the old Saturday Night Live show used to say, "It just goes to show you. It's always something."
  • Todd,

    "It's my opinion a good church musician must be familiar with lots of instruments, and able to play more than one, plus be able to sing."

    I'm please you framed it as your opinion, because the church law does not agree with this. The church outlines the instruments of choice....organ and the human voice, particularly in choir. And not solo voices.

    And the forms of music you feel all church musicians should be familiar with? Same thing. No. Ruff's wrong. Sacred music is based the truth that the music MUST be sacred. Catholic Church music MUST be Sacred. And what can make it sacred? Three tests:

    1. Melody with a Catholic Text.
    2. Based upon a melody sung to a Catholic Text.
    3. Sounds like music that belongs ONLY in a church.

    To be Sacred Music....must be either 1 or 2 or both.
    To be Church Music...can be any of the three

    Church Music permits the playing of Bach. That's the loophole that carries with it all the wonderful organ music that belongs in church.

    But the French have ALWAYS, always, always known the difference. And the organists promulgated the great chant tunes all the time by being ready to play EXAMPLE 2, which is 2 from above, at the drop of a....beret.

    Here...Marcel, play us a tune....and he gives us a double fugue (Messrs. Haugen and Hass, can you say , "double fugue"? Great, now write one and call us when you are finished.)

    The playing of the French church has always been based upon their work introducing chant....sometimes accompanying it, often improvising on it to fill time, for processions....and they taught it, chant, as part of music theory and Americans sat at his feet and the feet of Nadia Boulanger.... descending like flocks of seagulls on the streets of Paris to take daily theory classes in her home....

    Belgium (flor peters) also followed this practice.....

    We have come along way...SONS OF GOD, HEAR HIS...EAT HIS BODY, BODY DRINK HIS BLOOD to ONE BREAD, ONE BODY...over fifty years we have moved a long way....further and further from a music that is truly Sacred....

    [my opinions must be tempered by the ongoing rumor of the past two years...popped up twice at a chant workshop we led over the weekend...."he's really good at this...." pause "you know, he's not Catholic." Fr. Varbel, who baptized me in 1948 (yes, I was born in 1947, but spent a few extra days in the hospital due to jaundice...) was, as far as all of us knew, in full priestly power and permitted to confirm the sacrament of Baptism in a valid manner, to the joy of my parents, both converts....but my father, born to a Catholic mother whom following her marriage in the rectory to a non-Catholic, then went with the entire family and his girlfriend (if you want to see Russell on Tuesday nights, you have to come to church with us, said Grandma Lizzie) and took classes and became Catholic following the death of my Grandfather, while most of the kids were still in school. Lizzie was feisty. She eventually had my grandfather disinterred from the Masonic are of the cemetery (did I mention he was non-Catholic?) and re-interred in the main cemetery so that she might eventually be laid to rest beside him, which she did, RIP 1958.

    Which is how I ended up in Catholic grade school for 8 years. That's where I became intelligent and civil.
  • Charles, well, since I am not in a position to choose music for Mass, my belief that there is indeed an idiomatic approach to church music won't harm anyone at present. Let's not confuse "idiom" with "style" though. Jazz is an idiom. Think of how many styles exist under that umbrella. What do they all have in common? A fairly direct link to the blues and improvisation at the heart of the music. That's about all you can really say that connects them. Most people know jazz when they hear it, even if they can't define the elements. Same for church music. Organ, a capella, or ensemble setting, there is a sense of sacredness that people can detect. I'll think a bit and see if I can find some connecting aspects. I ask this. If there is no idiom of church music then why do so many well-trained church musicians feel that pop music is not appropriate for Mass? Why do so many folks who favor pop music call chant, polyphony and hymns "churchy" as if that is a bad thing?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Noel, thanks for the video! I usually find Dupre's playing (as opposed to his composition) to be very lacklustre, but this is great. Of course, let's hope that he didn't do this in the liturgy - lest he add something on to the Mass! ;)
  • Ah, "obvious problems with your argument"

    It's not an argument, it's a life I live.

    "Your three tests are highly subjective.

    [WIKI: Subjectivity refers to a subject's perspective, particularly feelings, beliefs, and desires. It is often used casually to refer to unjustified personal opinions, in contrast to knowledge and justified belief.]

    " In fact, they demand a certain relativity to compare them to what is "not" church music."

    TEST 1. Catholic Text
    TEST 2. Based on Tune with Catholic Text

    Salve Regina PASS
    Devil with a Blue Dress On FAIL
    Leaving on a Jet Plane - played and sung during Communion in a military chapel in Berlin, Germany, 1969 - FAIL

    3. Sounds like music that belongs ONLY in a church.

    Purely subjective...and that's our job. Understanding what belongs. the 4HYMNSandwich was not the beginning of poor contemporary music. It has been in and out of the church since...forever. Appeared in the 1850s...banned....appeared in early 1900's...banned....some problems in the 500's but Gordianus's son took care of that...

    Someone clamps down, it is purged.

    Haugen used chant...that's not chanting...Catholic Cover Songs...

    But pulling the terms "Catholic" and "Roman" argument tells me you are either an animal lover who has decided to stop baiting bears and is sublimating that desire by baiting us...

    "I'm leery of people who promote "Catholic" music based entirely on their experience and personal taste."

    I, without planning it, or knowing it studied with a teacher who studied with Dupre who studied with a teacher who....and in an amazingly to me short list of names, studied with Bach. And Bach studied the works and was highly influenced by Frescobaldi and treasured his volume of Fiori....there is a tradition that is evidenced by the survival of certain music over the centuries that guides us in the knowledge and understanding of what is sacred music....and what is not. "they demand a certain relativity" I'm not a relative of Bach's....

    And I am definitely not to claim any right to even wear his Lutheran shoes.....back when lutherans were more Roman Catholic in worship than most Catholic churches of today.
  • Todd, right about the 4-hymn sandwich at the TLM AND the Pauline Mass. It needs to go. We have texts that belong in those places that should be sung first. If there's time afterward, no problem with a nice hymn. Subjectivity? I think if polled 100 people, 90 or so would be able to pick out the church music from an aural line up of tunes that include rock, country, jazz, hip hop, chant, hymns, and pop love songs. I think you also know what a church idiom is but would rather promote a more varied approach. Hey, that's your call, but I for one think things need to be changed. frogman is right, sacred music needs to be set apart from the everyday. BTW why bring up other Rites in the Catholic Church? I think most of us here are Roman Rite, with a few former Byzantines. Also, age of the music is only part of the equation. Chant has a foundational place in the Roman Rite according the Church so it must be used, but I'm totally happy to hear modern compositions that aspire the highest of human abilities. The post-modern equivalence of pop to art was a short-lived fancy and I believe that philosophy has run its course. Why can't we have music to grow into rather than music that panders?
  • Todd,

    Just read a note referring people to your blog...

    "2. A parish usually benefits more from a music director being a conductor than an organist. The choir is the measuring stone for every Sunday and holy day Mass."

    This is definitely a post-1960's viewpoint....and as they say here in the South, "This just ain't right."

    The choir is but a fleeting few minutes of music in the life of a parish week. A music director must be totally responsible for every Mass in the church, in the music that is sung and the music that is not sung....the masses that should be silent. [of course, the pastor describes me publicly as only being the choir director for three Masses....only one of which has a choir....]

    Your view of the Music Ministry is....may I say the word, Protestant? It's a show. Choir's gotta sound great! That's the slippery slope to: Let's get the score to the Sister Act Salve Regina and....where are the tambourines?

    The measuring stone for a Catholic Music program is this: Did it detract from, or distract from the Mass? That's the beginning point we all have to work with. Then we begin to create a program that builds so that they can sing great music....without distracting or detracting.

    I know I'm battling here, and would like to meet you and everyone on this list some day in person...please take these as the words of someone who knows deep down that he really knows nothing....
  • Protestant Worship glorifies the individual and for Protestant Music all ceases...except the offering. I have served in Protestant churches for many years. Protestanism has created an aura over things in worship that adorn Catholic liturgy.

    If the choir, pianist, organist and minister of music at Athens Second Baptist here in Tennessee leave the church all at once the 10:00 service the next Sunday would be 30' long rather than an hour. And people would leave because they did not feel the had gotten enough church that day, and find other churches.

    If your choir, organist, director and all did not show up this Sunday, Mass might be a few minutes shortened. But it WOULD STILL BE THE MASS.

    Music is to adorn liturgy. Not become it. Protestants have abandoned the True Presence. Their worship is empty, and centers on all the things that they can to make a Worship Experience.

    Todd, you may, like a good attorney, argue the meaning of words. But you cannot argue the meaning of the Mass.

    Others have abandoned it. I call them Protestants. I may be painting with a wide brush. But list for me the Protestant churches that believe in the Presence of Christ in the form of His Body and Blood....

    You seem, to protest too much.
  • To quote someone much wiser....and a better dresser than I am...

    "Is it any wonder that people take refuge in the extraordinary form..."

    People home school their children to keep them from a permissive society. Catholics have the EF Mass....
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "But list for me the Protestant churches that believe in the Presence of Christ in the form of His Body and Blood...."

    The Lutheran, Anglican, and more conservative Reformed confessions all bear witness to this.
  • Sorry, I should have been clearer, thanks for catching that Gavin...list the Protestant churches who the Roman Church accepts in Communion and are permitted to share the Sacrament under normal circumstances....
  • Gavin,

    Having been raised Presbyterian, then converting to the Episcopal church, serving several Lutheran Churches, becoming orthodox Anglo-Catholic and finally "swimming the Tiber," I think I can speak with some little authority on this.

    The Lutherans perhaps in their very earliest history believed in some form of Real Presence, but their developed understanding no longer accepts this. (They do not have a sustained, received teaching on this subject). They believe in some type of "consubstantiation" wherein the bread and wine take on a mystical presence of Christ, which is confected not by the words of institution spoken by a priest in alter Christus but rather by the fiat of the whole gathered community. They also believe that this mystical presence "fades" or leaves the bread at some point in time after the celebration. In one Lutheran parish I served, one which was ELCA but very conservative (celebrated the eucharist every week, rare in those days), if the pastor wasn't available to preside at the service, a "worship deacon" would stand at the altar in cassock alb and lead the whole of the congregation in the recitation of the words of institution. Lutheran theology doesn't believe in holy orders, either. An ordained Lutheran minister receives his (or her) faculties to celebrate the Lutheran sacraments again by the fiat of the community he or she is serving. Once a minister leaves a parish assignment, their "faculties" are suspended until imposed by the next community.

    Anglicans (apart from Anglo-Catholics, who have a much more orthodox understanding of the Real Presence) and Episcopalians also do not believe in the doctrinal teaching of transubstantiation as the Catholics do. Louis Weil, a Jewish convert to Anglo-Episcopalianism wrote an excellent and by Episcopalian standards very orthodox book on the subject of the liturgy, stated that during the celebration of the liturgy of the eucharist, the whole of the congregation is lifted out of time and space, and bread and wine become the very same bread and wine broken and shared by the disciples, thus making the same promises of eternal life proclaimed by Christ to his disciples available to the immediate congregation. This is a wonderful metaphysical description of a small part of the reality of the transubstantiation, but it's not the same.

    Reformed confessions? Really? Perhaps they have a teaching that says if you believe that Christ's body and blood are present in the bread and wine, we won't teach you otherwise, but we also do not teach that as a matter of our faith and doctrine.

    In a Catholic church, a Mass celebrated validly and licitly renders the body and blood of Christ present on the altar regardless what the individual in the pew believes. In the Protestant churches, this is not their received teaching.
  • frogman, Athens? Cool. I used to teach HS up the road in Sweetwater.

    Having sung in a number of choirs led by the organist, I can side with Todd on this one. Only one choir, which was made up of semi-professional singers, sounded together and balanced on Sunday morning. Man, I miss that! Anyway, I really think that all organist-DMs should have another organist play at the choir Mass when the choir is singing. This is especially true for the average amateur choir whose sense of time is not usually very consistent.
  • If I may, there seem to be several threads of late that have tended in the direction none of us want this forum to go, namely toward polemics about contemporary vs. traditional music, arguments about style, and some heated exchanges that hit at professional judgments. I just say that my whole experience in this field lead me to believe that such exchanges accomplish nothing. No one learns from them. They only make our lives more difficult and hectic. Let's not let this forum go this direction.

    This forum is here so that we can all help each other and learn from each other. It is not a debate forum. Disagreement is fine but let's always make it productive, not intentionally provocative. This is not a forum for anyone who only wants to vent and otherwise throw punches.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    The Lutherans I know have a saying, what was it? Oh yeah, "ELCA isn't Lutheran." Read over "Schmucke Dich", Lutherans believe in the Real Presence. I've been there, fought the arguments, got the t-shirt. I would go so far, at least with the Lutherans I've met, and say that MORE Lutherans believe MORE STRONGLY in the Real Presence than with Catholics. And it is the word of Christ that makes a sacrament a sacrament to them. The LCMS is nearing a split over, among many others, the issue you mention: whether a layman can preach or administer sacraments. Oh, and that includes no EMHCs. As far as what it is, most Lutherans will repeat Luther's formula of "in, with, and under", meaning that they believe the Body exists alongside the bread, so that each is consumed at the same time. A few of them will point out, however, that Lutherans have no established definition of HOW Christ is present, and that they only have His word that He will be - and let the Presence be a mystery with "in with under" being a latter innovation like transubstantiation. I've even been to Lutheran churches where the communicants are directed to adore the elements. And lest my credentials be called into question, I am dating a Lutheran who won't give the time of day to anyone who practices open communion. I have the bruises on my groin area from arguments to prove this is what Lutherans believe.

    The Calvinistic doctrine, if you ask the right person, is that Christ's Body and Blood, although corporeal, are spiritually present. This is accomplished by the soul being lifted to Christ in heaven, whereupon they feed on His Body. I don't make this stuff up, I just enjoy comparative theology. Very very few will say "well we eat it, we don't want to explain how", but Lutherans (again, real ones) refer to even this as the "real absence". And your assertions about Anglicans may be correct, as the old "black rubric" backs it up, but still the Anglo-Catholic church in my city (you know the one) has Benediction on occasion.

    Of course Catholics will disagree and say you need a proper priest to have communion, but still that's what they believe. It's a question of how it fuels their practice, as Noel brought up. I HAVE heard Lutherans and Anglicans make the same arguments as on here, that Christ is truly present so the liturgy must be as solemn as possible. Some have even come to Rome over it. So I dislike seeing "protestant" used as a slur as though Martin Luther invented (all at once mind you) Glory & Praise, felt banners, Once Saved Always Saved, and liberal theology.
  • Gavin,

    Thank you for your clear points.

    I guess my only point is that with Catholic received teaching, there is a consistent dogma that isn't influenced by individual belief or degrees of belief. The bread and wine become the presence of Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity, regardless personal volitive belief or fiat.

    With the various denominations you mention, the belief is varied and open to degrees of personal interpretation. For instance, orthodoxy for Lutherans can vary from sect to sect, and there's no over-arching "magisterial" authority on the matter. To be sure the Catholic church has a similar situation in that orthodoxy runs the gamut, but nevertheless it's what the Magisterium has to say that counts.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,172
    I wish to carefully enter this discussion insofar that "Protestant" notions of life and music have entered into Catholic life.

    David Tracy, a wonderful theologian, in his book "The Analogical Imagination" argues that Catholic life is given in an "analogical" form. We see the presence of God in "analogy", in other words, through things and people (i.e sacramentals, statues, and saints). The presence of God is worked out in the collective imagination, mediated in the collective and seen in that light. Individuals are related to the collective, not dependent upon it

    The Protestant imagination is dialectical. It is based on the notion of the individual and that individuals relation to God.
    God is "here" and I am "there". That dialectical relationship is at the heart of the question.

    So, what does this have to do with the question? Loss of continuity with tradition (the working out of the collective), the reductionist thinking of text (me, myself) are the symptoms of the "Protestant" imagination. It only matters about what is "now" and what "I" am in relation to God. Catholic questions regarding transcendence and immanence (two cornerstones of the theology of God in Catholic life) have been lost due to our loss of the "analogical" imagination.

    SO, yes, I do believe that we have been afflicted with "Protestant" notions. I do not use that as a slur (I am married to one), but I say it to differentiate about what Catholics are and are not. We are an" both/and" people, not an "either/or".
  • Jeffrey,

    Understood. I'll let my previous comments stand as they are and get back to learning chant.
  • In an attempt to get back to the original post, I have some serious concerns with the referenced article. Lots, actually, but I'll comment on just a few.

    First of all, I take issue with the idea that the sandwich hymns are inherently "random". I find that most DMs work to select hymns that relate to the day's readings. Somebody complained recently about this modernistic concept of "theme Masses" but I find nothing wrong with that at all. When the celebrant gives a homily that ties together the readings and the music of today's Mass, I feel a closer tie of participation to this Mass.

    Secondly, you say "You have to somehow deal with the guitarists, trumpeters, flutists, and many other instrumentalists who believe they have a right to perform.You must explain to them why they should just give it a rest." Just why must you? Why can you not incorporate the varied talents of people into the Mass? Flutes and trumpets and drums and cymbals were the instruments that accompanied Christ when He sang the Psalms Now we're too good for that? The organist's "talents" guarantee a more spiritual backdrop than the brass quartet?

    Third is the issue of the Psalms. A battleground? Perhaps. But what is fundamentally wrong with congregational response? You mention that the purpose of the psalm is " inspire reflection on the scriptural readings" and that "[t]his is a time for prayer". Fine. But now you want to insert long melismatic chant with words unknown to the people. How on earth is that an inspiration for reflection or prayer? For all the people know you could be intoning a grocery list found in Pompeii.

    You cite the Pope as a foundational character. "As Pope, he presides in many ordinary form Masses with a polyphonic sanctus." He also presides in Masses accompanied by symphony orchestras, guitars, drums, ritual dance, etc. You can't pick and choose and decide that your preference is the only acceptable form - the one the Pope really means.

    Correctly you note that "Vatican II pushed the place of chant to the top". Yes it did. But garnering "pride of place" does not relegate everything else to the dustbin. In the US military, the Medal of Honor has "pride of place". But go tell a Marine that Chesty Puller's five Navy Crosses for gallantry are worthless. On second thought, don't.

    Your conclusion is perhaps of the greatest concern: "Unless something is done soon to eliminate the road blocks to a well-sung Ordinary Form, it will lose the struggle for the Catholic soul."

    Is the well-sung Ordinary Form struggling for the Catholic soul? If so, with whom is it struggling? The bad schola Form? The well-sung-but-not-chant Form that two generations have grown up on - their "traditional" Mass? And why is the form struggling for the soul in any case? Is not the soul guided to its form by the Spirit?

    Sure there is a lot of work that can be done to improve the quality of the Liturgy. It is with that in mind that I started the first and only schola in our diocese and serve as coordinator of Liturgy of the Hours for the Cathedral. But before we assign the loss of our congregants' souls to the music we don't like, I would argue we would do better to improve the level of catechesis of those souls.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Wow, great commentary Priorstf. In reflection, I think you're right, although I'd say this more succinctly: many of the roadblocks Jeffrey mentions (that we all run into) are of our own making.

    You have a guitarist, trumpeter, flutist who won't go away? That's not a roadblock. Ask the guitarist to join the schola. Tell the flute player you want her to play for a prelude and hire the trumpeter for Christ the King. Why does it have to be about telling talented people they're not talented or valuable, just because they don't (yet) subscribe to your ideology?

    The inter-lesson psalm is only a roadblock if the Mass is all about forcing your ideology through on people. If it isn't about that, there's so many worthy settings of the psalms to use, from Guimont to Jeff's own psalm-tone models. Restoring the Gradual doesn't need to be a priority if one wants to follow the mind of the Church.

    There are ways to "elbow in" on the propers. Perhaps one might have them recited before the hymn, and then at a later date have them sung before the hymn and later on eliminate the hymn altogether. Perhaps one might, as I did, use a seasonal psalm in place of a proper, with an eye to moving it toward a responsorial singing of the proper.

    There ARE legitimate roadblocks. I'm not going to sit here and pretend our friend David just can't get past his own foolishness enough to get chant done in his parish. He's facing real roadblocks. I've faced my own, and we all have some of various kinds. BUT we have to recognize which are easy enough to overcome and which are just in our own minds, lest we become too discouraged by the task ahead of us.
  • "noel, you have a unique commentary style, however, regarding:

    "Your view of the Music Ministry is....may I say the word, Protestant?"

    You may say (or write) whatever the forum host permits. But your view in this instance would be wrong. Unless, we've redefined "protestant" to mean a view you personally don't like or agree with."

    And I may withdraw from conversations with people who do not have the common goals of this I am doing now.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,071
    Back to the original subject matter: I do worry about the opposition of the OF and EF, because that is how some would choose to cast it, with the impression that they are somehow unrelated and opposed. I agree, Jeffrey, that the music can be the uniting link. As you know, though, there is a bit of an antagoning going on among less orthodox Catholics to keep any sort of firm theology (whether through the propers being used, or even good hymns/songs) out of Mass. I run into this a lot.

    Also, to Charles W: I always like to remind people that think there is a shortage of good communion hymns that the communion antiphon is not often explicitly eucharistic. I am trying to move our communion selections to a better mix of communion texts and general psalms, gospel passages, whatever.

    Lastly, I do tend to agree that there some who would Protestantize the Mass. I am reluctant to argue about things that are official "options" in the missal, but just look at the prevalence of Eucharistic Prayer II in masses (even Sunday masses), use of Form C of the penitential rite, the increasing length of homilies in relation to the rest of mass (or perhaps the decrease in emphasis in other areas, etc.) Again, although there is an indult for it, I see this in communion-in-the-hand: Mother Teresa, for example, and all the holy fathers of recent memory opposed it because it is much easier to go on autopilot at Mass when one has that option of reception. Add to that most people in the US believe this is the "ordinary" way or receiving and not an indult. Perhaps my judgement is somewhat tempered by the fact I am a convert to the faith, but nonetheless I feel these are valid points.

    Also, Jeffrey, hope I am not adding contention the thread with these points. I agree that one of the attractive things about the CMAA forum is that there isn't any personal attacking or insulting. Hope we can keep civility going, and I humbly accept the reminder.
  • I should add that I really owe that formulation about the music in the OF and EF to Richard Rice.