What makes some songs acceptable for use in church, and others not?
  • Chrism
    Posts: 725
    What are the correct ASL signs for those two expressions?


    Raising the unrelated question of, what happens at the Introit, Offertory and Communion at Masses for the Deaf? Does anyone know?
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,909
    I think that many of the points made here are quite valid. My own take on this is that the definition of acceptable music for the church has changed for various reasons, not the least of which is that someone thought it would keep people in the pews and/or bring people back to them. That is, in my view, one of the chief concerns of the clergy: to pack the pews on Sunday. It sounds trite, I know, but it's a huge job for them, since evangelization is one of the main purposes for the Church. However, I think that there is an irrational fear involved: that if we take away some or all of what was conceded in V2, people will leave in droves again (as they possibly did leading up to the changes of V2), and one of those changes that they don't particularly care about is the music. I've noticed that many Priests don't care what type of music, or how, is performed at Mass, as long as it fits the liturgy (makes sense at the point in Mass where it should be performed, and contains no texts contradicting Church teachings; and is performed at the proper time, according to the rubrics in the Roman Missal). That being said, they DO want music at Mass. If they had the choice between allowing music that would be less than ideal, or having no music at all, they would choose to have music that is less than ideal. I think they realize also, as we all do, that music is an important part of the liturgy, and serves many purposes: not the least of which is appealing to "taste." As much as we would like to deny that it has anything to do with music in church, it does: the faithful (and even the un-churched) will, as we all know very well, choose a specific parish, and even Mass time, due to the music they hear (or even the specific musician!), all based on "taste."

    So here's my take on what makes the music acceptable:

    1. It must have Christ the Lord, our God as its focus.

    2. Its text must not contradict any Church teaching.

    3. It must be performed in a reverent manner, as an offering to God.

    4. Its performance must be as technically and musically proficient as the abilities of the performers allow.

    The performance of traditional hymnody by a trained musician/organist will meet all of the above requirements, however, they also leave room for some of the P&W typed music, as some if it actually does meet the above requirements, especially 1 and 2. The problem I have with much of the praise band stuff is that it does not meet requirement 1.
  • makes sense at the point in Mass where it should be performed, and contains no texts contradicting Church teachings; and is performed at the proper time, according to the rubrics in the Roman Missal

    Lugsury! We yoosed te drëeam of havin' muusic perforoormed accorden te t' roobricks.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,914
    Once they were finished, one of the kids started a call and response shouting match with all the kids as if we were at a sports stadium which got faster and faster until it was reduced to shouts and applause.


    Somewhere in his writings, Cdl. Ratzinger referred to "frenzied" (or similar) reaction to music NOT fit for worship. Music-inspired or not, "frenzied" doesn't comport to activity appropriate in a church.

    Egads.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,914
    if we take away some or all of what was conceded in V2, people will leave in droves again (as they possibly did leading up to the changes of V2)


    Nope. There was no exodus prior to VatII.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,390
    Nope. There was no exodus prior to VatII.

    BUT THERE WAS ABOUT TO BE! THE YOUTH! MODERNS! AAAAAHHHH!
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    Interestingly, the ASL for "King" is the same as "Lord" except you use a K-hand rather than an L-hand. If you use a C-hand, you've signed "Christ." Seems a nice display of the idea that Christ is King!

    Raising the unrelated question of, what happens at the Introit, Offertory and Communion at Masses for the Deaf? Does anyone know?


    The few Masses I have attended for the Deaf did NOT reference the Propers. Everything else happens as it would at a Mass without music, (eg. "Blessed are you Lord God..." et al) including a truly Responsorial Psalm where the lector signs the Antiphon of the psalm and then the entire congregation signs it together.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,000
    dad29... B16 he talks about that in his article, "Liturgy and Church Music."

    http://media.musicasacra.com/publications/sacredmusic/pdf/liturgy&music.pdf
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,390
    The (now transferred) priest at my home parish was ASL fluent, and would occasionally say Mass in English and ASL simultaneously. When I think about how beautifully solemn and reverent a "contemporary" styled (whatever) Mass can be- that's in my mind.
    Thanked by 1bkenney27
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Anyhow...

    So by some of this logic and documents cited, even my typical "toccata" for a postlude or "prelude" for a prelude (or whatever) would not be appropriate. Are preludes, postludes, and instrumental "filler" music only acceptable if they are actually based on something that has a religious theme? (Or what?) What if someone plays an improvisation that has no title and is not based on anything at all? That's technically not sacred music...
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,390
    marajoy- I think you know it when you hear it.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    This discussion has taken many turns: concerts in churches, choir tour agents, propers, "P&W" (according to about a thousand different definitions), whether things like a Bach Toccata are appropriate at Mass, sacred/secular vocal music at Mass, etc. We seem to have returned to organ music.

    Consider the following. When Olivier Latry improvised on the ascending major second (and descending minor second) of a Parisian fire engine siren at the end of a Sunday Mass, was it “secular” music inappropriate for a church? But if the intention of an organist is to offer his or her improvisation as a gift to God, not seeking the praises of his or her listeners, can it be considered sacred?

    Certainly this improvisation was not based on the latest hit tune on the radio. I doubt that most folks present for that Sunday Mass (perhaps even many of the bombardiers themselves) detected Latry’s musical motive. Again, given the right intention of the organist, can this improvisation be considered sacred or, at least, something beyond the purely secular? You can judge for yourself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmlW_cdG88s
    Thanked by 2Gavin ZacPB189
  • Adam,

    How did he manage to hold the host and speak at the same time?
    How did he manage to hold the chalice and speak at the same time?

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,390
    How did he manage to hold the host and speak at the same time?
    How did he manage to hold the chalice and speak at the same time?


    ASL can spoken one-handed. I believe (but I could be remembering this wrongly) that he would hold the elements in his left hand and sign with his right. I imagine there was also slightly more picking-up-and-putting-down than usual.

    I don't know if it was strictly kosher or not, but I would think if ever there were a case for rubrical flexibility for pastoral concerns, this was it.

    (This wasn't ASL-as-token-inclusiveness, BTW- we had a fairly substantial deaf Catholic population in that Diocese. Many parishes had interpreters for at least one Sunday Mass. A few times a year, the deaf community gathered at one parish or another (more often, mine) so that they could celebrate together in their own language.)

    I think the thing that made an impression on me is that it isn't easy to speak English and sign at the same time (ASL's grammar is closer to French than to English). So the whole Mass slowed down to a focused pace of careful deliberation. I always looked forward to those Masses.

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,382
    ASL is historically derived from French Sign Language.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • The prohibition against secular music at church concerts is one rule that I would feel perfectly comfortable breaking.


    And words like these instigated Vatican II's fall from grace.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    Adam is correct. While you can sign with one hand, it's not entirely correct or encouraged.
    If I remember correctly, the priest would sign the words of consecration with the host/chalice on the altar, and then elevates it.

    I actually found it interesting that you said your priest did both simultaneously, Adam, because in all my training and classes we were always told never to do that. (Even the professors, if they were Hearing and teaching a class in both languages, would have an interpreter.) This is exactly because of the reasons you cited. For instance, while the priest was saying "We proclaim your death O lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again," he would have to be thinking and signing something along the lines of "YOUR DEATH ANNOUNCE, YOUR RESURRECTION ANNOUNCE, UNTIL YOU RETURN." I'm not sure what the official ASL text is, buy this demonstrates my point. That priest would be giving his brain quite a workout!

    EDIT: It looks like the ASL is something like "LORD, FIRST TELL ALL YOUR DEATH, SECOND TELL ALL YOUR RESURRECTION, CONTINUE UNTIL YOU COME AGAIN." I'm a little out of practice and it's hard to tell from the camera angle exactly what he's signing.

    This site has a few videos for interpreters to become familiar with the RM3 for those that are curious: http://site.adw.org/interprepter-training
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 843
    I actually have an archival copy of the gesture book to accompany Hi God, if anyone's interested!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "ASL is historically derived from French Sign Language. "

    I recall hearing it's derived from native American languages? I was probably mistaken.
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    No, he's right. French Sign Language is the basis for ASL. (Fun fact: We still sign hello with a b-shape as a nod to the French "bonjour.")
    Thanked by 2Gavin Adam Wood
  • Marajoy and Fr. Krisman attempt to return to the topic...

    Fail!

    In response to marajoy, I would reiterate my point above - when an instrument plays its (necessarily) untexted music, it must play something. The abstract forms of prelude, toccata, fantasia, etc. are at their heart a "sounding" of the instrument. Even more concrete forms, such as canon, ricercar, fugue, etc., can be based on a freely-composed melody. The point being, an artful sounding of the instrument can be appropriate for liturgy or concert, when it does not reference or quote obvious secular themes or styles. As long as the music is free of secular associations, the judgment call is a musical one - is it a good piece for the liturgy, or maybe a disruptive virtuoso showpiece?

    To my mind, one might just as well be fussy about flowers being embroidered into vestments, trees incorporated into stained glass windows, ceilings painted in bright colors, or the jubilus being added to the Alleluia. Does every sort of artistic offering in sacred space need to contain an explicit sacred text or reference?

    To Fr. Krisman's point, it is hard to know the intent of the organist. I have known a number of organists with improv abilities to die for, who do things like this because they are bored, or to be funny. At the same time, since siren noise regularly intrudes into sacred spaces, I can see a case being made for artfully elevating mere noise into a glorious improvisation.
    Thanked by 2marajoy CHGiffen
  • Oops - forgot to mention Frescobaldi's famous and elevation toccatas. Often, they are explorations of some pretty far-out harmonies and dissonances. Mystical, or Inappropriate?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,390
    "ASL is historically derived from French Sign Language. "

    I recall hearing it's derived from native American languages? I was probably mistaken.


    This is somewhat accurate, actually- in the same way that English comes from German, but is also influenced by Latin (and everything else). Sign Language is not an artificial or invented language anymore- it evolves just like any other language.

    And from what I can tell, ASL (at least in normal, non-academic settings) is being influenced by American English grammar more and more, as well as other forms of gestural language. (I once witnessed a group of Hip-Hip "thug-life" deaf people converse in an amazing patois of ASL and gang-sign/hip-hop-dance-move. It was AWESOME.)
  • bkenney27bkenney27
    Posts: 444
    Marajoy and Fr. Krisman attempt to return to the topic...

    Fail!


    Hahahaha, Sorry. I'll stop now.