Critique of Rendler-McQueeney
  • Today's Liturgy exercises an amazing influence over the shape of liturgy in this country because the pub by OCP makes it so easy to pick hymns, and it also gives a certain cover to risk-averse musicians that they are doing the right thing. As you probably know, Elaine Rendler-McQueeney writes a short column for each Sunday of the year, many unobjectionable but many which promote a sort of mediocrity that causes musicians to take their job less seriously than they should. None of these columns are online so they tend not to be subjected to critique. Quite frankly, most potential critics don't take these columns--or her writing in generally--seriously enough to bother.

    In the recent issue she writes the following:

    You just have to love those Corinthians! They remind me so much of our Church today. They get into all kinds of liturgical intramurals, just like us. For example, in this time of transition in our Church, some are disappointed in the Church's implementation of Vatican II directives and bemoan the loss of Church tradition, particularly in music. Others perceive a trend toward the past and feel the Church has disappointed them. It's time for everyone to stand back and realize that it's a big, big Church, and people have differing needs. Live and let live. Let the Spirit lead. In the end, all that matters is how we've treated one another in Jesus's name anyway.


    I describe this point of view as a kind of pro-Jesus atheism, and offer a critique here.
  • I think I wrote positive things about her, as best I could. But anyone who says that all that matters concerning liturgy is how we treat each other deserves correction.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,002
    It is interesting how she asks that we "Let the Spirit lead." By capital letters, I assume this would mean the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit is always at work in the church through the successor to Peter. So, why no mention of something from the Magisterium (Now look: I know this is a small quote, so I'm not totally trying to take everything out of context. But de-supernaturalization and a lack depth seems to be a problem with these sort of aids)? How we treat each other is very important, but ultimately what matters is that we are getting to heaven, and that our music is helping people get there, right? There is a lack of Hope in many of these writings, in a theological sense, which is replaced by a sort of false optimism about the present situation and a general laissez-faire.

    I do suggest that we retract the "conservative" and "liberal" labels: they are misleading. After all, it is a sort of musical-liturgical mediocrity that often rules the day, so in fact that group (if it may be called such) really should be labeled "conservative" in our current situation. Perhaps we can use "orthodox" and "progressive" as more accurate terms.
  • I agree that liberal v conservative is ridiculous. Orthodox v. progressive doesn't quite do it either since the way forward is pretty obviously not with the pop music in liturgy. No one classification does it, but sacred music v. everything else comes closest.
  • I too have met Elaine and have talked to her at length.

    She is quite obviously "left-leaning" in several regards. She might even admit as much if you asked her. What I give her credit for, though, is that she advocates sticking to and playing by the rules. I attended a liturgy institute in which she taught not long after the revised GIRM came around. In discussing the new rules of no accompanimental music underneath the priest's prayers of the mass, she rolled her eyes and expressed obvious displeasure. She said "All I can say is that this too shall pass. Until then, follow the directive."

    I give her some credit for saying "follow the directive" and advocating obedience even when she clearly does not agree with it.
  • It is interesting the attitude of all these people who are despairing right now rather than celebrating. They do have some sense that it is just a pendulum swinging and nothing more fundamental than that.

    Anyway, I sent my critique to her inbox.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    "the new rules of no accompanimental music underneath the priest's prayers of the mass"

    ?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,765
    Under the Eucharistic Prayer, that is. I don't think it's really a new rule.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. What troubles me is that music directors read Today's Liturgy and think that they are making informed decisions. Is replacing the Offertory with a song suggestion from Today's Liturgy an informed decision, when you don't know where to find the Offertory and wouldn't know how to read it if you did? And how many well-meaning parish "liturgists" will think "If ERM can make suggestions for innovations, why can't I?" etc. Further, I for one bemoan the Church's lack of a real effort to implement the directives of Vatican II. But this doesn't seem to be what she's getting at here, or it's vague at best.
  • No question that Today's Liturgy plays to a kind of Gnostic temptation: having read this little callout, we know what's what, we really do, and now we will reveal all that is right and true to the people in the pews.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    Under the Eucharistic Prayer, that is. I don't think it's really a new rule.

    Yes, that was my point.
    The OLD (1975?) GIRM:
    12. The nature of the presidential prayers demands that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone present listen with attention.[21] While the priest is reciting them there should be no other prayer and the organ or other instruments should not be played.


    So I don't know that anyone deserves "credit" for being a by-the-rules kinda guy, who ignores, (or remains ignorant of) a rule until a louder, more publicized iteration of the rule, and then is snide about the the "new" rule.

    What I give her credit for, though, is that she advocates sticking to and playing by the rules. I attended a liturgy institute in which she taught not long after the revised GIRM came around. In discussing the new rules of no accompanimental music underneath the priest's prayers of the mass, she rolled her eyes and expressed obvious displeasure. She said "All I can say is that this too shall pass. Until then, follow the directive."


    It reminds me of how much some in the Lifeteen program made of their "obedience" to some rubric in the new GIRM that, surprise surprise, was no change from the old GIRM.
    What had changed was a new bishop who insisted the owners of Lifeteen get with the program.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I'm a little curious… does she write new blurbs even when the three-year cycle repeats? (Has anyone gone back to her previous "Year A" columns to see if they're the same as what we see now?)
  • Yeesh, Jeffrey....
    First some sort of Seinfeldian "atheist" connotation; and now "Gnostic tempatation?" Whazzup wid dat?
    Let's just think about it (Today's Liturgy) at some sort of primal level- it is just a support system that shills for its company's product line. The quasi-intellectual articles, IMO, are akin to those articles and interviews of yore in "Playboy." You know, "Uh, yeah, I read that article by that guy that, uh, said the TLM was some sort of golden calf...Oh good, I can do "Parable" again this Sunday!" (The real centerfolds are those weekly bailout suggestions.)
    I actually think GIA's counterpoint is more blatantly and patently commercially oriented. And spare me Dr. Moleck, someone please.
    Sorry, a bit catty. My bad.
  • On the accompanied Eucharistic Prayer, the original Mass of Creation featured a full accompaniment for a sung Eucharistic Prayer III. A few years ago, it was all the rage in my diocese with priests who liked to sing (and crank up the wireless). I've also heard spoken Eucharistic Prayers with an "atmospheric, Windham Hill-like" piano underpinning.

    And Charles is right. The articles in Today's Liturgy are intellectual cover. Occasionally one of them is good. Mostly people using the planning lists which feature OCP composers at the top and have a nice little form you can copy to hand out to the choir. When I was in an OCP parish, I used the suggestions at CanticaNova instead, shopping my way through "Breaking Bread," which does have good hymns buried in there.

    Elaine Rendler-McQueeney used to teach the NPM Pastoral Liturgy Institute with Paul Covino. Victoria Tufano and David Anderson (both from Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, Illinois) took her place in 2005.
  • "And Charles is right."
    Dearest MaryJane, I just showed that to my wife! She said, "That's nice, dear." Then she walked away.

    I've wondered, tho', if a celebrant is capable of singing the sacramentary EP after the preface accurately and in G dorian, what would be "bad (not ILLICIT, we already know that)" with an accompaniment that harmonically embeds the chant in a (roughly) Gm- F- Dm -C canon, which would presumably be followed by a Sanctus tonally centered in F major or G Minor?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,765
    Am I misunderstanding something, Charles? I thought the prayer immediately preceding the Sanctus was the preface.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I actually think GIA's counterpoint is more blatantly and patently commercially oriented.

    Isn't that the point? GIA seems to say "here are our products, and these are times you might use them in the liturgy." OCP is more covert, and seems to say "here is the liturgy, and these are songs you should choose." That 9 out of 10 times the suggestion is published by OCP (and never, say, from the Graduale Simplex) is bad enough. But this magazine has actually taught generations of parish musicians that there is such a thing as a "Gathering song" (a what?) a "communion meditation" and a closing hymn of sorts (what do they call it? the "sending forth"?) while at the same time removing the Offertory from the Mass propers. I have actually been "corrected" in parish liturgy committees by people who have said "We don't use the term 'offertory' any more. It's called the 'preparation of the gifts.'" I of course then open my post-Vatican II edition of the Gradual and point and say "Then what do you call this?"
  • "Gathering Song," etc. are all New Speak to me. Heck, everybody except the latecomers is already gathered. I just can't say things like that. What's wrong with "opening hymn"? I've given scripts to cantor/announcers to train them out of this. To me, coming up with these names is part of making things different and "us" oriented. And it also reminds everyone that liturgy (to many) sprang miraculously from the earth in 1967 or so. Those old names like "offertory" remind us of something we'd rather forget. When I attended the Pastoral Liturgy Institute in 2005, I was annoyed and amused that the history of liturgy began with the Second Vatican Council. Not one single word about anything before.

    Sorry about your wife, Charles. Perhaps you could carry my comment in your wallet and show it to strangers.
  • Ya know I was thinking Sursum corda, but brain dead and head cold-itis demonically possessed my typing fingers, MJB.
    My wallet already looks like George Costanza's....sigh. By the time I could find your quote amongst the wad of cellulose someone will have absconded with my stolen shopping cart full of bags of aluminum cans!
    Anyways, what about the underlaying harmonic accompaniment, all things in the PREFACE being poifect?
  • Don't forget that dreadful setting of the EP in the Mass of LIght. Back before I had my personal epiphany on church music, I played bass for the college group at Mass. I saw the chords and the tune and immediately thought "country song" and played it accordingly. It wasn't long afterwards that I came to my senses.
  • From GIAmusic.com: "Mass of Light" (included in the Creating God collection)

    It took me a minute to parse "Creating God" so that "God" was not the object of the verb "Creating".
  • As a follow up, I heard back from Elaine, who appreciated my comments and found them thoughtful. I must give her all credit for being such a good sport about this. It's hard to be criticized and respond so magnanimously.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I doubt I'm the only one who's curious what Elaine had to say, Jeffrey. (I do understand, though, that it was a private communique.)
  • oh just what I wrote. It was a very nice note.