Praise & Worship Music
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    So there you have it. the docs from 1903 and the latest GIRM that Fr. Jim Chepponis posted.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,930
    the 1903 motu is IMO, one of the finest in terms of clarity of thought and purpose, and is unfortunately often overlooked and even worse, ignored.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    as well as that of light or loud instruments


    No light instruments?

    So I guess the Lazer Harp is out?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-TF7bgm2jg
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  • Thank you, Fr. Chepponis! That is very helpful. And to everyone else, too. That really was just a tangent. It almost seems as though the church itself really doesn't know what it wants musically. There are so many conflicting documents and interpretations of said documents. I really just have a hard time understanding how something from 1903 is no longer relevant because of A. its age or B. because it was unpopular with the persons responsible for drafting the GIRM, so #393 appeared for the sake of changing it.

    As you can tell, I have a HUGE problem with the use of piano in church. I am forced to incorporate it at two of our four Masses and it sets a HORRIBLE tone for the liturgy, no matter how "sacred" it can be made to be. I would like for people to understand that using it is a large compromise on my part, but with something like what Fr. Chepponis just pointed out, it seems unlikely that message will be heard.

    As I understand it, until about ten years ago my current Parish didn't even OWN a piano. It is amazing to note the differences in the demeanor of the congregation with the organ vs. the piano. It speaks volumes as to why the organ is the accompanying instrument of the church.

    < /rant>

    Anyway, continued suggestions on resisting P&W music welcomed and encouraged!
  • and even worse, ignored.

    EXACTLY! WHYYYY??? *cries*
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    I really just have a hard time understanding how something from 1903 is no longer relevant because of A. its age or B. because it was unpopular with the persons responsible for drafting the GIRM, so #393 appeared for the sake of changing it.


    Like many documents from earlier times, it is not being ignored. It has been superseded by later documents from competent ecclesiastical authorities. GIRM is our current set of regulations by the USCCB, the competent authority on the liturgy. Rome controlled liturgy much more closely at that earlier time. Now that authority has been delegated to the conferences of bishops. Go forth, wail, gnash teeth, and rend garments while in sackcloth and ashes. LOL.
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  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    Ecclesiastical norms can and do change. Canon 20 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states:
    A later law abrogates a former law or derogates from it if it expressly states so, if it is directly contrary to it, or if it entirely re-orders the subject matter of the former law; but a universal law in no way derogates from a particular or special law unless the law itself expressly provides otherwise.

    An ordinary formula by which a later law expressly abrogates a former law or derogates from it is often found at the end of legislative documents: All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Another way for an earlier law to be abrogated: some later law is directly contrary to it. So if an earlier law states that it is forbidden to use a piano at Mass, and a later law states that it is permissible to use a piano at Mass, the later law is what is in force.

    Finally the third way that later law abrogates or derogates from earlier law: the later law entirely re-orders the subject matter of the former law. Such happened - and was not called into question at the time - when the law in Pope St. Pius X's motu proprio was completely reordered and restated in Pius XII's Musicae sacrae disciplina (25 december 1955). (See Pius' reference to an orderly presentation of music norms and responses to new questions in paragraph 1, and the reference to presenting those norms in a new light and strengthened by new proofs in paragraph 3.)

    And, of course, music legislation has again been entirely reordered by Sacrosanctum Concilium and subsequent legislative documents.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    As you can tell, I have a HUGE problem with the use of piano in church. I am forced to incorporate it at two of our four Masses and it sets a HORRIBLE tone for the liturgy, no matter how "sacred" it can be made to be.


    Liturgical LAW (and your interpretation of it) aside - I dispute this.

    My first experience with chanted liturgy was Daily Office at a Franciscan retreat center. The chapel had only a piano (a very warm, mellow grand). It was used to accompany responses and psalm singing, and it was entirely a sacred atmosphere.

    There are good arguments about whether the organ is BETTER, or MORE suitable, or whatever. And to the extent that you understand liturgical law to expressly forbid its use, I get the scrupulosity.

    But the outright assertion that the piano IS NOT AND NEVER CAN BE an appropriately Sacred instrument is ridiculous.
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  • Like many documents from earlier times, it is not being ignored. It has been superseded by later documents from competent ecclesiastical authorities. GIRM is our current set of regulations by the USCCB, the competent authority on the liturgy. Rome controlled liturgy much more closely at that earlier time. Now that authority has been delegated to the conferences of bishops.
    ...and Fr. Krisman's very informative post.

    THIS is the AHA! moment I was looking for. Okay. So my mind is a bit less boggled.

    Go forth, wail, gnash teeth, and rend garments while in sackcloth and ashes. LOL.


    Believe you me, I shall.

    the outright assertion that the piano IS NOT AND NEVER CAN BE an appropriately Sacred instrument is ridiculous.


    I'm not sure it's entirely ridiculous. Extreme, definitely. But, I think that discussion is probably better left to the thread already examining the value of both instruments. Perhaps my feelings stem from the fact that I am in a very acoustically live church that can seat 800-900 people with a small Yamaha grand. (I very much dislike the sound of Yamaha pianos.) In my experience, the congregation immediately shifts their focus toward singing and toward the Mass with the organ, whereas the piano typically elicits a much more casual atmosphere far less centered on the liturgy. Maybe it's my playing. Who knows?

    I am hardly new to church music, but I am still very new to sacred music and being responsible for reading and understanding legislation so THANK YOU for your responses. This is very helpful.
  • Funny. This is the featured article on CanticaNova right now. I only skimmed it, but it seemed relevant.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    What you need is a sultry cantor in a cocktail dress sprawling on top of that piano. That would bring some life to the psalms and give new meaning to "All Are Welcome." LOL. I am with you on the Yamaha pianos. Never did like them.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    Perhaps my feelings stem from the fact that I am in a very acoustically live church that can seat 800-900 people with a small Yamaha grand. (I very much dislike the sound of Yamaha pianos.) In my experience, the congregation immediately shifts their focus toward singing and toward the Mass with the organ, whereas the piano typically elicits a much more casual atmosphere far less centered on the liturgy. Maybe it's my playing. Who knows?


    It's your playing. And possibly the literature. (Like - think about what things get played on the piano and which on the organ.)

    The problem is that while the organ is sacred by default, the piano requires a deliberately sacred way of playing in order to function well in liturgy. A style very few people I know can manage.
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  • The problem is that while the organ is sacred by default, the piano requires a deliberately sacred way of playing in order to function well in liturgy.


    I sense an article brewing.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    I can't do it. That talent is beyond me.

    My brother on the other hand...
    Thanked by 2bkenney27 CharlesW
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    If your budget allows, hire a piano tech to voice the hammers on your piano. Yamahas are inherently bright and percussive. I, by default, hate them. When jazz was my main focus I spoke negatively about them often ... even in that percussive musical context they are annoyingly bright and tingy.

    Anyway, see if you can get it voiced. When I interned as a piano tech a few years back I was given a project of -somewhat- rebuilding a 6' 3" Yamaha grand. With new hammers (probably not in your budget) and careful voicing, it actually sounded like a decent piano. "Smokin'!", as one of my piano professors reviewed it.

    Different sounds in different scenarios though. Never liked Chick Corea simply for the fact that he plays them, and so his "sound" is unnatractive. Then again, Brad Mehldau gets a nice sound out of them. A lot of it is the player, a lot is also the instrument.

    See about getting yours voiced. When working on those pianos and a/b'ing two Yamahas, one mellowed down and the other in its "natural" state, it was (jazz reference, heyo!) Night & Day.
  • Oh! That might help. I hadn't considered that.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    Also - simplify.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    You could also just smash it.
    634 x 413 - 109K
    Thanked by 2bkenney27 CharlesW
  • Seems legit.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,413
    You could also just smash it.

    And that could well be wrong. I'd hate to come home and find my 1930's vintage Steinway smashed to bits.

    Just because a musical instrument is inappropriate for use at Mass does NOT mean it should be destroyed, when it may well be of significant musical value in other contexts.
    Thanked by 1Chris Allen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    And besides that, if you ARE going to destroy a piano, you should probably light in on fire and launch into the night on a catapult.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F92FQdnLlSc
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    CHGiffen, I agree. The comment was (not obviously enough, I guess) sarcastic. I have had good experiences (not ideal, but good) when using the piano as a liturgical instrument.

    (Forgive me Pius X, for I do still prefer the organ)

    And being a pianist by trade, I of course love a good piano. And a bad piano. And all pianos that are not digital. But some that are.

    Yadayadayada
  • Blaise
    Posts: 439
    I will admit: what passes as "praise and worship" music in the Catholic Church is pretty cheapie compared to the Protestant ones.

    A good Protestant work is "Refiner's Fire". (I was actually starting to think this might sound well on the organ....and maybe even sung SATB :) ) I used to go to Baylor University, and that song was even used at our campus ministry Masses (replete with guitar and piano, of course).

    A typical, "good" Catholic work would be something like "Go Make a Difference". I don't hear very much musical content in there at all. All I hear there is a lot of screaming....."Go make a difference, you can make a difference......"

    Let's not compete with the Protestants. They can do it much better than we can. Let's get back to what we do the best. I find it ironic that the Latin Church, once known for producing the best music in the West, is now notorious for making the worst in the world. The irony is that these old musics are being showcased in concert halls everywhere, at a school of music near you, while be driven out of the very place where it was once prominent. So when people want to hear the best, they go to a concert, but when they go to divine worship, they hear the worst which the Church's composers can manufacture.

    That is the argument I would make to my pastor, if I was in your shoes. We Catholics do a pretty shoddy job of the affair. Sure, one might argue if there is no reason why we can't use Protestant music. But what I am going to suggest that if Catholics cannot do a good job of manufacturing our own works, then said genre may very well not be appropriate for the liturgy. As for canonical arguments, I am not a canon lawyer, so I cannot argue well (or at all) based on ecclesiastical documents. I will respectfully submit that I think my argument above is sufficient.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,930
    Excellent article by Gary Penkala. Thanks for posting.
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  • I'd sooner play a 3 rank positive organ than a keyboard or piano but sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got.

    Now to figure out how to make a 16 rank organ from the 1870s make a decent rendition of "Shout to the Lord" ...
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    As Marie-Claire Alain said when told a certain organ couldn't play Bach, "Then play something else." She also added that one has to respect the integrity of the instrument. Granted, she had the talent and ability to play anything. So if your 1870s instrument doesn't play that particular selection - I have never heard "Shout to the Lord" btw - then play something else.
  • I have never heard "Shout to the Lord"


    It's every Christo-pop song you've ever heard since 1993.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW ZacPB189
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    Apropos Adam's point, there is indeed a way to play piano for sacred liturgy; I've certainly witnessed it. The same principle as for organ accompaniment for sacred liturgy: to support but otherwise stay out of the way so that the instrument does not upstage the voices. The consequent accompaniment techniques for each instrument are different, but the principle is the same. (And, of course, I've certainly witnessed organists who don't grasp the principle either.)
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    A few years back, we had to remove all the Great division pipes for ceiling repair and painting. The loft was full of scaffolding and we had to move down front, which we all hated. We made it ok using a Roland piano and continued on with liturgies. Was it ideal? No, but it worked. I played just enough to support the singers. Not being a very good pianist to begin with, I couldn't do the fancy stuff, which worked out well. We were all glad when the organ was back in operation.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,349
    sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got

    Or, in other words, "you gotta love the one you're with"?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    Or, in other words, "you gotta love the one you're with"?


    Well, there is love, then there is convenience. Not quite the same. ;-)
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,357
    Not being a very good pianist to begin with, I couldn't do the fancy stuff, which worked out well.


    There is a lesson here...
  • At funerals here, we allow anything - within reason. So we end up singing things that we don't sing on the weekends, such as "Be Not Afraid," "On Eagles' Wings," etc.

    Sometimes a Communion song requested will be such as that it only really works on the piano, so I go downstairs. But that puts me down there for the Agnes Dei (chant) as well. So I accompany the Agnus Dei on the piano. I play very sparsely, just hitting the chords, and for an intro I state the theme an octave up. It is very effective and sometimes I think actually sounds better accompanied on the piano.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    I do not have a piano background, other than the two years they made me take in college. I learned to play on the organ and have never called myself a pianist. But like Adam indicated, simple is better when using piano for liturgy.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    bkenney27: ... the Church's teaching and documents on Sacred Music.

    See the Forum Discussion
    Liturgical Music Document Literacy Challenge

    The posts to this Discussion reminded me of my
    extensive hand-typed material at ...
    http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1504#Item_18
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,930
    I dont believe there is any instrument on which Bach cannot be performed
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    I dont believe there is any instrument on which Bach cannot be performed


    Yes, but is it on an instrument anyone would want to listen to? I can imagine a kazoo ensemble making hash out of "The Liturgical Year." There are some other instruments that you theoretically could play baroque music on, but the result might not be so great. In my own experience, well-designed and built organs play several types of literature well. Others are such niche instruments they are limited in what they can do.
  • Ha, ha. I was imagining the Well-tempered Clavier on kazoo.
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  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    I was thinking of "Sheep Ducks May Safely Graze Sit."
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  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,655
    Ducks May Safely Call
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,413
    Geese May Safely Honk
    Frogs May Safely Croak
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    In Ducky Jubilo
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The horror......the horror....
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,102
    I think the mash-up is supposed to be "Ducks May Safely Wade in The Water".
  • The kazoo comment is funny, because I had to rewrite some pieces and for fun I put the instrumentation for kazoo, hurdy gurdy, conch shell and jaw harp and then I waited to see if my singers noticed when I handed the pieces out to them (It should be noted that I didn't actually use those instruments)

    But on to the matter of playing the piano. We use the piano and when I do use the piano I never play exactly what is on the page or play it in the style as an organ. If I did it wouldn't sound quite right and wouldn't have the effect I was looking for. I always change it to a more a pianistic style. And if you do it right it can sound amazing. It has its drawbacks though. When our organ died on us I had to play the piano for everything and now I always get asked to play more piano because they like my interpretation so much.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,930
    Charles

    Was specifically referencing the organ. I would enjoy listening to Bach on any organ, even a theatre organ.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,930
    Sheep May Safely Ignore Catholic Music
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    Was specifically referencing the organ. I would enjoy listening to Bach on any organ, even a theatre organ.


    I thought as much. I have heard some theater organs that had a core of more traditionally voiced pipes within the instrument.
  • Once again, this is a question that would never have to be asked in an Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church where they refuse to accept or find any appeal in protestant trends to influence their liturgy.

    The true problem with the Latin rite Catholic Church since the time of the reformation is that particular laity and clergy in it are constantly willing to entertain the use or find attractive certain protestant novelties.

    There's always been abuses and heresies, but imagine if protestantism had never occurred??? wouldn't that be amazing, to not have that influence! Even though it typically persecutes christians at least a bit, Islam and other religions are not as annoying, in that they are too different to seriously influence Christianity.

    It's quite sad.

    Although, of course, the exception is to acknowledge that the Lutherans and Anglicans do retain some positive liturgical influence to the extent that they , especially these days, preserve certain catholic elements.

    If most Catholics could associate Praise and worship music as being wrong because it is a recent protestant novelty than this thread would not be here. I await that day to arrive.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,593
    The Latin tendency for innovation started centuries before there were any Protestants. Changing the sign of the cross from right to left, a departure from ancient practice, was a definite innovation condemned by the pope at the time - Innocent III if I remember correctly. Innovation is a time-honored Latin practice. If enough people do it wrong for long enough, it becomes tradition.
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