Why is it still up for grabs? (Disorganization in the Church re: music)
  • I am puzzled by something. Why is the universal Catholic Church so disorganized when it comes to liturgical music? Despite all of our books and general instructions, the liturgy varies from parish to parish like a breakfast scramble recipe does between families.

    Of course, I would love nothing more than for bishops to actually take the charge, i.e. http://www.dioceseofmarquette.org/UserFiles/Bishop/PastoralLetter-RejoiceInTheLordAlways.pdf

    The several archdioceses I've been a part of all have their own guidelines on sacred music. There are the VII guidelines, then the USCCB translated that into their own guidelines, and then each archdiocese I've been in has also translated the USCCB guidelines into their own archdiocese. Which means...super watered down guidelines with vague statements, without any mechanism of training or checking in to see if people are actually making an effort towards fulfilling those guidelines. But there is no real leadership, to my eyes, at a macro level (bishops). (I mean, there is leadership, if you want to follow Vatican II documents...but that would require bishops ACTUALLY following through on VII on sacred music.)

    I am lucky enough to be in a great parish with a great pastor. However, one day this pastor will leave. And who knows who will come after him. Whoever it is, can in one day undo a decade of work (work which is devoted to following the Church's teachings and traditions). We can, in one month, shift to guitars and drums, toss out the chant, and put an electric piano in the loft, and shutter the organ. (And I have seen this happen, in one case.)

    I've been in "the game" long enough to understand quite well what level of job security there is and isn't in church music. But one aspect that REALLY should be secure, is an effort to fulfill the directives of Vatican II. As it is, from pastor to pastor, from boss to boss, it is perhaps one of the least secure aspects of my work.

    A long way of asking: Why is there no strong leadership in music at the macro level (that is, all of the bishops)? Why is chant and polyphony still "up for grabs"?
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,783
    It's a case of being careful what you ask for. A refined liturgical sensibility has never been high on Rome's list of desiderata for choosing ordinaries. If it comes-with, fine, but not what matters to Rome, historically. So the bench is replete with consequences of that.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    Why is there no strong leadership in music at the macro level (


    Or in doctrine, liturgy, and additions to the list could go on and on. I think, and YMMV, there is a crisis of leadership in the Church that has existed under most of the post-V2 popes.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Because Theology of Mass as Assembly: it's all about the people, not the liturgy.

    See Cranmer, Luther, Bouyer, Jungmann, et al.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Ben Yanke
  • For reasons.
    image
  • lmassery
    Posts: 249
    Because when given too many liturgical options, we tend to devolve to the least common denominator. If you could imagine the laziest and worst way to fulfill option 4 in the GIRM (another suitable song) it would be secular songs, with Christian lyrics, all the time. That's exactly what we are getting. The letter of the law is too liberal - and that law is bigger than a single Bishop. So in a way it's unfair to Bishops who try to rein in something that is technically not forbidden.
  • The least common denominator oughtta be unique, actually.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Great question, Sarge, one I've asked for decades.
    Imassery is spot on.
    Fresh anecdote- I was playing a casual's gig (Christmas Tree auction) at our diocesan retreat last night. Cathedral DM showed up, hadn't seen him for years. He mentioned that for the next ordination the bishop explicitly requires of him the performance of "Gabriel's Oboe" from the film, "The Mission." Nice music. Appropriate for this, one of the most solemn of liturgies, I dunno. This may be an example of too much "liberty" (aka "license") provided each See.
    Bishops such as Sample, Olmstead, Bruskewitz (ret.), Vigneron, Burke, Slattery et al, are rare gems to find. To articulate liturgical policy to specificity one has to be, well, articulate. And informed, inspired and visionary. Not qualities commonly found in anybody, much less the great besieged body called the bishoprics. And then, you might be saddled with a Mahony or Wuerl, egads. (And Mahony did have a vision, skewed it may have been.)
    A bishop could do worse, working with liturgically savvy priests, to simply require of all pastors that anyone in a position of musical leadership have demonstrable, if not minimal but true skills in performance practice and basic liturgical practicum. That objective is very easily deliberated and accountable.
  • ...it would be secular songs, with Christian lyrics, all the time...


    Christian lyrics would be an improvement in some cases...
  • It's still a question because wise pastors know the power of music, and just how much it can upset people.

    There are styles of music which many on this forum regard very highly, but which I find do not lead me anywhere near worshipping God. There are styles despised by many on this forum, which I do find lead me to worship God - and I've also noticed that looking for other people who like and actively practise these styles is a fairly good indicator of whether I'll find friends in a particular parish.

    YMMV, but this is how things have worked for me.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,110
    It is a huge topic, but I am coming to believe that it in not a matter of following documents and directives. The reason the directives are not followed is that we have confusion in our theology of the Mass and Communion. We have a bunch of documents from before and after the council that seem to reflect this ambivience. Just one example: Musicum Sacram: "Gregorian chant is to be given pride of place" STTL: "The singing of the congregation is to be considered before all else". Huh?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    D, well said and precisely why what we do is a solemn undertaking.
  • STTL is a document of the American bishops, so --- no offence intended --- they have for years been trying to be both Catholic and American at the same time, and can't figure out which one takes precedence. Did the same thing with Humanae Vitae..... did the same thing with condemnations of slavery.... did the same thing with (laundry list).
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    It's still a question because wise pastors know the power of music, and just how much it can upset people.


    But so does preaching authentic Catholic doctrine. Upsetting people shouldn't be metric #1 for a pastor's job success

    For that matter, Christ upset people himself, and let the rich man go away sad after upsetting him (not watering down and pandering for the time being to bring him back or meet him where he is). He did the same in John 6.

    Smaller, purer church, smaller, purer church, smaller, purer church...Long live Pope Benedict.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,802
    You say that as though it were something he advocated, rather than merely predicted.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • There are styles of music which many on this forum regard very highly, but which I find do not lead me anywhere near worshipping God. There are styles despised by many on this forum, which I do find lead me to worship God - and I've also noticed that looking for other people who like and actively practise these styles is a fairly good indicator of whether I'll find friends in a particular parish.

    I think it's less about "style" and more about trying to do what the Church asks of us as musicians. I'm sorry to hear that you've felt put down by those who are trying to do what the Church asks of them. This does not mean that we shouldn't keep trying to do this, just refrain from putting anyone down.

    True liturgical music is meant to be not just expressive of my own relationship with God, but formative: the music that the Church holds out to us as proper to the liturgy should be forming the way we worship, not the other way around. The music, in turn, serves the liturgy, not my own sense of style or what I find adds to my personal experience of worship.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    We have a bunch of documents from before and after the council that seem to reflect this ambivience. Just one example: "Musicum Sacram: "Gregorian chant is to be given pride of place" STTL: "The singing of the congregation is to be considered before all else". Huh?"


    Doesn't this mean the priority ought to be teaching the congregation to sing Gregorian chant?
  • I will say that Sing to the Lord has done me NO favors in winning people over to believing that the church values Gregorian chant! People excerpt it to shore up their position that chant should have no place in the church *smh*

    @JulieColl:
    Doesn't this mean the priority ought to be teaching the congregation to sing Gregorian chant?


    Yes!!
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I've never had occasion, nor do I expect, to refer to STTL. Pointless.
    Yeah, USCCB, I said "Pointless."
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    STTL does a great job of being everybody document. All it does is reinforce what people are doing. Doing something crazy? You can find a spot endorsing you. Doing chant? There's a few token lines in there for you too.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Doing something crazy? You can find a spot endorsing you.
    Where in STTL is there an endorsement of "doing something crazy"?
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • for starters
    Nope. Nothing about STTL endorsing "doing something crazy" in that thread from 2007.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    People who want to do crazy things can find their justification anywhere --- not that they need it.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    People who want to do crazy things can find their justification anywhere --- not that they need it.

    That doesn't give us an excuse to give it to them anyways.

  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Doing something crazy? You can find a spot endorsing you.

    Where in STTL is there an endorsement of "doing something crazy"?


    Well, for starters, there's the direct contradiction of the GIRM:

    188. When the Agnus Dei is sung repeatedly as a litany, Christological invocations with other texts may be used. In this case, the first and final invocations are always Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

    And this:
    149. The addition of refrains to the Glory to God is permitted, provided the refrains encourage congregational participation.

    Last time I read the VII documents, it said no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. The wording of this document doesn't even try and hide it: added refrains and jumps are an addition not found in the texts of the Mass, and are an addition.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,606
    Ben, be careful...

    Lots of composers have added repeats in texts of compositions of the Ordinary. Would you really want to banish this piece from ever being sung in the context of Mass?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP4y1CsiADk

    Repeating things is not the same as "adding" or "removing" things.

    Also I believe STTL has changed paragraph 188 in future printings and official online documents.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    I don't know about "crazy" unless it is in the sense of odd, different, or unusual. The problem with all these documents is "optionitis." You can do this, or you can do that, but on the other hand you can do those, or you can do something else.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Mathew, repeating sections is different than jumping around entirely. But as for pieces that depart significantly from the official text, yes, I'd hold they shouldn't be used. But what you show above is completely different than "in gloria dei patris, amen, gloria in excelsis deo"
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,728
    "in gloria dei patris, amen, gloria in excelsis deo"


    ...which is how the Gloria in Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" ends. Yes, it's great stuff! No, one doesn't use it for Mass.

    It's clear from the text that STTL was written by two different camps (or people.) It's full of contradictory instructions; Mahrt analyzed it correctly when it first appeared. We are in the Church of Confusion--a special sort of temporal punishment which--I suppose--beats eternal punishment.

    Right?
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,110
    For a good ciritque of this document, read Mahrt's article.
    I heard for 'advisors, they had Mahrt and...Bob Hurd.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Credo in Mozart's Coronation Mass.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 370
    Every Church document and every part of Scripture must be read in the Analogy of Faith, that is, in the context of all the rest of the Church's writings and teachings. If STtL seems to contradict other writings, such as Sacrosanctum Concilium, it must be reinterpreted in accord with those other texts, especially given the Ecumenical primacy of SC. It's not the other way around.
  • @Vilyanor: Yeah... Try explaining that to a large (very angry) committee that believes STTL supercedes any Vatican II directives because it comes from OUR bishops and it's in OUR country and we should sing OUR folk music, etc.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Well, Sarge, perception v. reality in these here U-nited States of Murica is not an unheard-of commodity. And as long as option fours remain in force and available, we can't claim an absolute high ground as being truly defended by Vatican legislation. Just saying.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    If you think you are "defended" by the Vatican, I have a bridge to sell you. LOL. The Vatican has turned authority for such matters over to the conferences of bishops. It is now their ball game played on their court.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • A bridge? Someone called for a bridge?
    Bridge hotel for sale
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,054
    Bonniebede, the link wouldn't open and Norton blocked it for malicious attacks. It must have been a bridge too far. ;-)
  • ; - >
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Hey bonniebede, are you in real estate?
    I thought you were selling a bridge before/during the Synod.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • A close read of STTL actually distinguishes the "congregation" and the "assembly," and makes it very clear that the schola or choir, while part of the assembly, is not a part of the congregation, and that the liturgical role of the choir is not to lead the congregation in singing.

    The bishops admit that, according to VII, choirs ought to exist, and that choirs exist primarily to sing things that congregations don't...VERY helpful.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • Ha, you remembered.
    No but always ready to let a sucker fund my choirs.
  • @ Ben:
    Smaller, purer church, smaller, purer church, smaller, purer church...Long live Pope Benedict.


    The problem with "smaller and purer" is that human nature being what it is, we'll get smaller... and eventually someone will come around and gum up the works, and we'll lose the "purer". Smaller/purer is kind of what the Protestants tried and look at them, they multiply by division looking for that elusive "purer"!

    In my 57 years I have yet to stumble across perfection even though liturgically, the Solesmes Benedictines I hang out with have "nice" down to an art form.

    Alas I am afraid we're stuck with a choice between big and messy, or small and messy. I'll stick with big and messy! We'll have to wait 'till heaven for the "pure" part.

    Ora
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood