Link to CNS story: "fighting over the liturgy."
  • I understand that Msgr Marini is in a difficult situation.

    Might it be in concord with his statements to pose the following: does the level of willingness to die to self partly depend on whether it's really dying to self or betraying Our Lord?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    It sounds like you've given some thought to difficult situations of the type the questioner wondered about. Can you offer any personal experience of your own, perhaps, for the sake of gaining some insight?
  • Bill,

    Is your question to Noel or to me?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Chris, is your question to Bill or to Richard?
  • Charles (Melofluent)

    Much confusion all round. Must be the result of too much reading of Amoris Laetitia?
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    Pope Francis has insisted that liturgical music for papal liturgies “never go beyond the rite” and force celebrants and the assembly to wait for the singing to finish before proceeding on to the next moment of the Mass, [Marini] said

    Thanked by 1chonak

  • Is your question to Noel or to me?

    Should be addressed to Richard Chonak, our esteemed host.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Chris, you wrote above:
    Might it be in concord with his statements to pose the following: does the level of willingness to die to self partly depend on whether it's really dying to self or betraying Our Lord?

    It sounds like you've given some thought to difficult situations of the type the questioner wondered about. Can you offer any personal experience of your own, perhaps, for the sake of gaining some insight?
  • Richard - et al -

    I will try to anonymize for the purpose of being helpful instead of turning this into a full-throated rant.

    Although I currently live in an EF environment, I have opportunities to interact with OF environments. I am always on the horns of a dilemma as to what is the best thing to do.

    In one parish, EMHC are more-or-less in evidence. These annoy me, and I won't receive from them because I believe that their use is being promoted beyond what the Church allows in her official documents, and because I believe that their overuse is demeaning to the dignity of the priesthood and, therefore, bad for vocational nurturing, not to mention a bad example for our children (everyone's not just mine). When I am occasionally invited to help out with music in an OF situation, I have to ask "how bad will I let it get, since I'm basically hired hands, before I won't participate?" Is the My little Pony Gloria bad enough to exclude myself from the situation, since I have no chance of persuading the organizers that this music doesn't belong at Mass? Or, is it only when Simon and Garfunkel make an appearance that the line has been crossed. Is it a question, as Adam Wood often posits in these types of questions, of doing what I like versus what I don't like -- in which case I should give ground -- or is it a matter of making the liturgy a "mutual admiration society", as my mother-in-law used to call her games with her (then) 3 yr old, and, therefore, the desecration of the House of God?

    I urge all involved to do an examination of conscience. It is simply wrong to allow the gilding of a golden calf, no matter what the regulations "allow". It is, similarly, wrong for individuals to impose their own "personal restorations"(Rome's expression) on the liturgy, whether this is the priest, the head of the liturgy committee, the organist, the choirmaster or (heaven help us) the soloist. By way of analogy, it is right to turn the other cheek, but it is cowardice to deny Christ.
  • I have rarely been put in a situation in which I had to perform unworthy music at mass or any ritual observance. I have been asked to do so, but nearly always have prevailed when pressure (in the form of brides' mothers and such) was applied. I have been prevailed upon to do a few things that were not the best, but most of the time I suppose that I have been fortunate in having had to play only (Ha! only!) the likes of 'How Great Thou Art', or Schubert's Ave Maria, or Mallotte's 'Lord's Prayer', even that rather gauche and absolutely dumb (and illicit!) Christmas refrain-styled Gloria based on 'Angels we have heard...', though these represent only a relatively few times. It is nice, fundamentally, to have the reputation of one whom certain folk know better than from whom to ask certain things.

    This is not to say that I haven't done some music that I would rather not have done but wasn't really 'forbidable' - such as Lucien Diess, Taize, even the rare 'folk song' that wasn't too too bad, etc. (Though doing stuff that isn't 'too too bad' is to step onto a very slippery slope down which the 'not too too' part has a habit, with one's integrity in tow, of vanishing along the way!)

    I was once in a predicament that required the infamous eagle's wings song (indeed, I did not know at that time what it was) and was so distraught during the singing of it that my hands, my very fingers, actually refused to continue playing the notes - so the song continued a capella. This was for a deacon's funeral, after which one of the deacons present was overheard to say 'whose brilliant idea was it to sing eagle's wings a capella: that was beautiful'. I was relieved at this, for I had expected someone to grumble about it.

    More to the point, though, and in reference to the truly important matter of when is 'following orders' or 'turning the other cheek' given precedence over 'following Christ' and obeying the express will of the Church: I am of the existential persuasion that God's gifts to musicians include a musical conscience, which, at the same time, is a liturgical conscience. This musical conscience is indelible and inviolable. It is always wrong to not 'be true to one's self', to disobey one's conscience, and to participate in what is in obvious (and, often, intentional or deliberate) disregard of the Church's will. Alas, though, as I remarked somewhere else recently, too few of us (and I include myself) are made of the stuff of St Thomas More or St John Fisher. We have all bent from time to time more than we would wish to have because we liked our work, our particular opus Dei, and had no wish not to have our contract renewed (unless we had another all sewed up).

    Whether of 'necessity' or not, though, it is an objective sin (would you prefer 'misdeed'?) to betray one's conscience. It is a vile wickedness on the part of one's superior (or any other man or woman) not only not to respect it, but to require one to betray it. Aside from the fact that there are many, many, very many, absolutely wonderful pastors and superiors, there are far too many who think it an absurd calumny that a musician should have a conscience in the matter of music. Such men do not desire (let alone respect) real musicians who are incorruptible in the guardianship of their God-given talents and knowledge, and sensitivities, but prefer musical prostitutes (note that I avoided the 'wh-' word) who will play and direct anything, and do so without so much as a frown or whimper. Anything, even if it is the opposite of what the Church proposes as Normative, can be asked of such 'musicians'. In requiring musicians to play unfortunate music, or in disallowing certain music that the Church requires to be 'fostered, preserved, and cultivated', such men are really liturgical outlaws: they do not do that for which the Church has given them authority to do; nay, they do and impose that for which they have no authority, for which authority does not exist (does not exist because authority to disregard or counter the Church's wishes is non-existent) - this is the formal definition of a tyrant.

    Yes, emphatically, when one betrays one's conscience one betrays Christ. When one pleases others rather than respecting one's conscience one betrays God. Indeed, St Augustine (of Hippo) has said in his Confessiones that to please men rather than God is fornication. When one pleases those who are pleased to disobey the Church they are accessories to the impious, and betrayers of Christ and the Church. It is, is it not?, the nature of sin that the more one commits it or participates in it the more seared the conscience becomes and the more effortless the commission of it becomes; and the more easily excuses come to mind so that, finally, all ability to resist the reprehensible will be observed to have evaporated. We church musicians, heirs of the Biblical Levites, these days walk a tight wire who care, and care deeply, about the worship of Christ and the aedification of his noble people. If, heaven forbid, one reaches the point at which one can't even resist betraying the musical conscience that one had, something within, a beautiful endowment that God put there, will have been destroyed.

    O Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • Addressing more specifically the words of Msgr Marini which Noel gives us to consider, it is noteworthy and expected that he feels that all deference should be to the priest, even when he may be objectively, um, 'out of step' with the Church's teaching with regard to music and liturgy. This is to be expected isn't it? And, in 'real life' probably everywhere in the world, this dynamic represents existential reality.

    I'm not 'exactly' countering this in toto, for, indeed, this is for the most part as it should be - but there are ancillary 'should be's', among them someone (such as bishops??? such as musicians and parishioners themselves???) to expect (and if necessary impose) that their priests will themselves be obedient to the preservation, fostering, and cultivation, of that music which the Church is on record as explicitly wishing and requiring.

    There is no reason that priests, any more than the rest of us, should get a free ride when it comes to instituting obediently the Church's desires concerning music and sung liturgy. Nor any reason that their people should not hold them accountable in these regards. They are not gods. They are in persona Christi for an hour or so periodically throughout the week when celebrating sacraments and rituals. Other than this they are quite fallible and, often, willfully ignoring or forbidding those very things which they do have specific authority to see to. There are far too many priests who love nothing more in heaven or in earth than being obeyed, but who, themselves, are poor, incredibly poor, examples of liturgical and musical obedience. 'What's good for the goose is good for the gander' - nor should we shrink from impressing that upon them.

    Msgr Marini, perhaps 'betwixt a rock and a hard place', painted an idyllic picture of holy concord. However, he did not venture to address the more fundamental realities in parishes throughout the world, nor even begin to note that The Church expects something in the way of fidelity to musical and liturgical Norms from priests and bishops, a fidelity from too many of whom it does not receive, and, for some strange, very strange, bizarre, reason does not insist upon. (Don't we all know that if 'Rome' really wants something Rome will get it? Don't we know that if bishops and priests really want something they will get it?!)

    If the Church's will were a reality in our parishes, Gregorian chant in Latin and English, our patrimony of choral music, organs, hymnody, fine choirs, congregations that can will really sing with confidence, priests and people celebrating fully sung liturgy, and more would be commonplace throughout the Church. Far from it! They aren't. What should have been the Vatican II Church does not exist. So called and self-styled 'Vatican II' people are not really Vatican II at all. The fault is that of the hierarchy and the presbyterate, and our seminaries - and the people are counseled, as always, to be docile. Msgr Marini could have done much better in service to Justice - and in service to the Church's recorded expectations about liturgy and music.

    In closing, permit me to note that I know, have known, and have met, priests of a profound sanctity such as was literally astonishing, in whose very presence one could have abided speechless all the days of one's life, whose wisdom and grace, not to mention humility, were almost beyond comprehension. For them I am thankful, deeply grateful. They are believable as Christ-like to those who come saying as did those Greeks of old, 'Sir, we would see Jesus'. I only wish that there were more of them.
    Thanked by 2ClergetKubisz Elmar
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    So, in brief, you call for 'conscientious objection.' We agree.

    One of the benefits of Jesuit education was gaining a healthy skepticism about the "knowledge" inherent in Holy Orders. And that goes for the hip-and-modern priests AND the traddy priests, IYKWIMAITYD.
  • The best way to inculcate obedience is to demonstrate it. This is why bishops such as Conley, Bruskewitz, Barber and a few others have such thriving dioceses. The bishops are known to take seriously the teaching of the Church, not merely as a set of things to teach, but also a way to live.

    Therefore, the best way to encourage liturgical discipline is to practice it.

    Let it be noted, however, that children are taught to obey legitimate authority in all things not sinful and not sinfully commanded.
  • Well said, Chris - BUT
    It is difficult (if not in many situations impossible) to live and demonstrate obedience to the Church, let alone one's conscience, when one's superiors insist on one participating in and enabling their own disobedience. Such was the tenor of much of my remarks above. Further, I would insist that forbidding chant, Latin, and other things liturgical that the Church is on record as requiring to be 'preserved, fostered, and cultivated' is not 'legitimate' authority - nor, actually, 'authority' at all. Authority implies 'authenticity' in relationship to an authentic paradigm (all three of these words share the same root!), the paradigm in this case being the Church's own desiderata of Normative liturgy and music. Which leads one to observe that requiring, imposing, disobedience to the Church's own expectations is neither legitimate nor authoritative. Rather, it is the polar opposite of both. Such persons who hold power and position are not authentic, not authoritative, not 'authority', but fit the definition of 'tyrant'. One obeys them not because they are 'legitimate authority', but because there may be stiff penalties for not doing so, and because the Church does not require authenticity in the governance of those whom it places in power. Certainly not with respect to music and liturgy. It seems to me quite obvious that there is an objective, ontological, difference between 'authority' and 'power'. We are, as you say, well advised to obey the former, but have no moral obligation with respect to the latter. Motivation by the urge for self-preservation perhaps, but no moral obligation at all.
  • Jackson,

    I completely agree that there is an objective, ontological difference between power and authority.

    A priest friend of mine has noted that the Devil's triumph at Vatican 2 is to make obedience to legitimate authority disobedience to Tradition.

    Such are the times in which we live. Power may coerce (as has always been true) but only authority can command.

    Prudence requires that we (in our morally and legal right position) do not become what we so (rightly) despise.

    We may not be able to stop the evil, but we don't have to cooperate with it.

  • mahrt
    Posts: 517
    There is a matter not directly addressed. The musician is an expert in music, the priest is not. Therefore, it is the duty of the musician to educate the priest on these matters, with deference, but firmness. This involves mastering the ecclesiastical documents concerning music in the liturgy. A deferential question,"can you cite chapter and verse supporting that? can sometimes diffuse an objection (it can also exacerbate the issue, it must be admitted). The fact that seminaries have done so little in education on music means that the task may be difficult

    As to the matter of the music making the priest or congregation wait. Pope Benedict has said that at some points in the liturgy, the music IS the liturgy. The music is there to enhance the participation of those listening; the priest's duty is not just to wait, but together with the congregation, to use the music to enter into the prayer of the liturgy.
  • A deferential question,"can you cite chapter and verse supporting that? can sometimes diffuse an objection (it can also exacerbate the issue, it must be admitted).

    I don't think this is something I would ever be able to get away with doing. At least not in the situation I was previously in. If I had said that to my priest, he would have been very upset, and likely dismissed me from the position outright. His view was that he shouldn't have to discuss his decisions with me: if he said so, it was. Period.

    In another situation, simply mentioning the titles of the documents was enough to get someone to back off, but this person was not clergy. The trick there was that this person thought she knew better than I did what the Church norms were for liturgy, then I started quoting SC and the GIRM, and she had no clue they even existed.

    As for diffusing an objection from clergy, I think asking for justification would simply be met with firm insistence that the priest is the boss and the musician should just do what he's told. I think this also has to do with the relative experience levels of the people involved: if you have an older priest and a younger musician, the priest could resent the question as a kind of insubordination, and could simply reiterate his legitimate authority and refuse to discuss the topic. If it was a younger priest with a more experienced musician, say, someone who has been in the parish significantly longer than the priest and is well respected in the community already, the priest would be more likely to give the request some consideration and be open to what the musician has to teach him.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I have, from time to time, played Ave Maria, Beagle's Wings, and the Mallotte Lord's Prayer. Although the pastor insisted the Mallotte not be used in place of the prescribed Lord's prayer. I don't use any of this music on Sundays, but only for funerals. I have concluded that fighting over the body of a deceased relative isn't worth it. Generally, there might be at most 30 people at one of those funerals to even hear any of those pieces. For the sung Ordinary, I have used the ICEL chant mass since 2011. The congregation no longer knows any other English settings. The pastor doesn't want to spend money for new hymnals, so I use what I have.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    Remember kids, you should always follow your conscience rather than authority… unless your conscience tells you to follow Church teaching.
  • .
  • I think there is a very real problem with the "professional salaries" that are offered for music directors in many parishes, at least in the US. They are not professional level at all, especially when one considers that other professionals often make much more. It must also be stated that if you desire a truly professional salary, then music probably isn't your best choice, because there aren't many opportunities to be paid a truly professional level salary, in accordance with one's training and experience, even though many parishes will advertise to the contrary.

    It is also worth mentioning that you cannot serve God and money at the same time.

    I wonder what kind of irreconcilable differences the the honorary Dr. Romeri is now having to reconcile in his new position at the Crystal Cathedral. Maybe he has decided it is possible to be professional after all if one wants a professional salary.

    Please tone down the sarcasm. These are ad hominem statements and do not contribute to the reasonable discussion of this topic, which is already an emotionally charged hot-button issue around here.
  • .
  • Someone is spot on in asserting that playing or directing whatever 'the boss' wants to hear is professional. If, that is, he has in mind 'the world's oldest profession'. And we know what that is. And playing anything 'the boss' wants is the musical equivalent of it. It is, in fact, the unprincipled musicians who make things difficult for the rest of us; not vice-versa. Philistines all!
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    It is a good thing to clearly understand what the job requires before you take it. If those requirements are spelled out, it is unprofessional to take the job and not meet those requirements. If you don't like the requirements, don't take the job. You don't have a right to take the job and further your own agenda, if that agenda is different than what you agreed to provide.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • .
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    There are similar issues in some other professions. A pastor may overrule a DRE about curriculum issues for parish religious ed; he may overrule a parochial school principal about school policies. And of course pastors are subject to the directives of bishops, and priests don't have the option lay people have, to negotiate or at least get a clear policy statement about hot-button issues before taking the job.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    this topic [...] is already an emotionally charged hot-button issue around here.
    Not surprising. The discussion started with a proposal for an examination of other people's consciences. I think in other contexts it's called "virtue signaling". :-)
  • If doctors of music et. all are going to whine and complain in their positions and throw tantrums over music selections, then why should priests and finance committees commit professional salaries to them


    Musicians shouldn't demand exorbitant salaries, but that's another can of worms. Musicians shouldn't whine, but again, that's a different question.

    Clergy (as popes remind us) are servants of the liturgy, not its masters.Since priests are supposed to be responsible for the beauty brought to the worship of God, even if they don't like the people charged with executing that they should commit professional salaries to those they assign the duty of using their competency to adorn the liturgy fittingly.

    Those charged with the duty of music at Mass should be exemplary Catholics, because anyone charged with a liturgical office should be.

  • If doctors of music et. all are going to whine and complain in their positions and throw tantrums over music selections, then why should priests and finance committees commit professional salaries to them?

    Nobody on this forum has ever suggested that we openly rebel against our pastors, and it has been my experience that the kinds of actions you have described are rare, if they happen at all.

    Act professionally and a culture in which musicians will be treated professionally, and salaried professionally, will develop.

    This gets to the heart of the issue for me: your definition of professional, and the fact that we seem to have two different definitions going on here. The first, is that of a "professional code of conduct," which is generally a set of rules that govern people who are professionals. That is not the same thing as being a professional, since, in your own words, RPhillips, that the "world's oldest profession" is not a profession at all, since it cannot be inhabited by professionals given the use of "professional" to refer to someone who abides by a "professional code of conduct" which in most modern cases would forbid the type of behaviors exhibited and required by the "world's oldest profession." has the following on professional used as a noun:

    10.a person who belongs to one of the professions, especially one of the learned professions.

    11.a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs:
    a golf professional. expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.

    13.a person who is expert at his or her work:
    You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.

    So, it seems that what makes a professional is someone who is a learned expert in his field, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant, in a field frequently engaged in by amateurs. This takes the liberty of expanding #12 to include "an expert player" as being a person who plays or sings music in addition to the explicit sports reference.

    The consummate professional in his field must be all things named above: teacher, consultant, performer, and contestant. How we would be contestants as musicians, I'm not sure, unless it refers to something similar to performing for masterclasses, taking auditions, etc. The other three are more easily identified: 1. as musicians, we are all teachers, as it is part of our world to pass on our craft to others, 2. as musicians we are all consultants, as it is part of our society as musicians to give constructive criticism to one another and help each other make the greatest music we can; in the specific cases to which we are referring, to make the greatest music possible for the glory of God, and 3. as musicians, we are naturally performers, as performing music is what makes us musicians by definition. If we fail to do any one of those 4 things, we are not acting as a professional should, according to the definition of a professional. If we fail to teach or consult, then we are not acting as professionals. If we fail to perform, then we are not acting as professionals.

    So, then how do we get to a situation where musicians are seen as professionals and treated as such? As RPhillips said, by acting as professionals: teaching, consulting, performing, and "competing."

    I agree that a professional must submit to authority, however you cannot abide abuse. Authorities are not infallible, either, and they make mistakes all the time, some of which border on sacrilege or heresy, depending on the individual situation. A professional would be remiss if he did not point out a mistake to his superior, and make his own professional thoughts on the matter known. I would view this as failing to serve as teacher or consultant and therefore, in that sense it wouldn't be professional to not speak up, of course with the required respect and tact due the office you are addressing; this is what our esteemed Dr. Mahrt was referring to in his post on the matter. It is then up to the authority to make the final decision, weighing all the factors involved. You also may bring something to light that nobody else had the courage to say. You don't do the boss any favors by being a "yes person," because then they're not getting the most out of you, and you're not helping them be the best they can be. Most administrative types won't mind hearing any particular point of view, but it's the behavior of the employee after the fact that makes the difference. Sometimes, it is better to "do first, and protest later," as ideally once the superior makes the decision, the matter should be resolved.

    You, as a professional, then have the choice of whether or nor you accept the decision made by the authority. If you accept it, great, move on. If you don't, then you have another choice: obey or resign. That's what Dr. Romeri did: acted as a professional and resigned instead of fighting and making a big scene about it. As a professional, you have the right to choose to whom you offer your services, and if the situation changes, even to rescind those services. You will have to accept the consequences of those actions, which is also another trait of the professional person. So, if you choose to withhold a dissenting professional view in order to preserve a paycheck, then instead of serving your profession, you are indeed choosing to serve money, and those who possess it.
  • If you feel that it is somehow against God's will to play music your boss asks you to play at Mass, do you what your boss asks, then go to confession.

    If you have to go to confession after obeying your boss's instructions, then either 1. your boss's instructions were not moral to begin with, and/or 2. you need to get away from that boss.
    Thanked by 1Torculus
  • This entire thread is precisely why I'm seriously considering chucking my music profession and the DMA I slaved for (and underwrote with my own money) in favor of a completely different career.

    It's also why several very talented young organists I know (one of whom I have the pleasure of teaching) will never darken the doorstep of a Catholic Church.

    If I have to choose between my professional integrity, my financial stability or the welfare of my soul, guess which one wins.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW francis
  • I've considered it, too, David, you're not alone.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I am too old to change careers, and have retired from the careers I previously had - neither was music. I did and do church music as a side activity. But I, too, have about had enough. When I leave this job, I will never work in another Catholic church.
  • David and Clerget -

    It saddens me to read of your current feelings in this matter, but I understand them vividly. I am even sadder over the piteous cultural climate in our Church which gives rise to them. David speaks of 'professional integrity'. There are many, too many in the Church, in and out of holy orders of all ranks who haven't the soul to comprehend what musical 'integrity' would be, let alone that 'integrity' of any degree has anything at all to do with being a 'professional' musician - least of all in the Church. This is not only sad, it is unholy.

    We continue to receive news of developments giving encouragement that things are changing for the better. Young priests of a more 'traditional' bent. Youth and a younger generation who are more open to traditional values. I really do think that this is real, and it is heartening; but the landscape remains dominated by those who are going to defend their turf of mediocrity and ignorance to the last man and woman.

    Stalwart missionaries in this barren land are worth their weight in gold (though they are too often paid in lead), and, I think, must have a special calling. Further, would it not be sad that a if priest or a congregation were desirous of the ministrations of a talented musician faithful to the Church's paradigm and none could be found? But, lacking such a place, self respect and musical integrity are heavy prices to pay. Music is the highest and most profound of the arts. It is a gift from God. Integrity in the practice of it should not be lightly surrendered - least of all in the kidnapped name of 'professionalism'.

    Thanked by 2dad29 ClergetKubisz
  • Blessed is he who endures to the end.
  • "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Mt 5:3-10
  • A little germane food for thought from a certain devout Orthodox believer -

    Surely, taste is a moral category.
    - Igor Stravinsky

    Tradition: a real tradition is not the relic of a past irretrievably gone; it is a living force that animates and informs the present. ... Far from implying the repetition of what has been, tradition presupposes the reality of what endures.
    - Igor Stravinsky, in Poetics of Music

    (I commend Stravinsky's Poetics of Music to all. It is a discourse, actually a series of lectures, on the nature and sanctity of music written with a rare and unimpeachable intelligence.)
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor hilluminar
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Lofty thread.
    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
    Deja vu, again.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • .
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • There is no way to discern what does, or does not, constitute real tradition. The merits of tradition can only be judged from the perspective of whoever is evaluating it - thus it is an opinion.

    You're painting with a broad brush here. Please be more specific, because it seems that these statements could be interpreted as denying the Tradition of the Catholic Church, which was a major way the faith was handed down before Scripture was codified, and stating that it is only "opinion" that the Church handed down certain tenets of the faith through what is termed Tradition. Again, we probably have a discrepancy in the definitions.

    I would argue that yes, there is a concrete way to discern what constitutes a tradition. Again, here is the dictionary definition of a tradition:


    1.the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice:
    a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.

    2.something that is handed down:
    the traditions of the Eskimos.

    3.a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting:
    The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.

    4.a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.

    5.a customary or characteristic method or manner:
    The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.


    (among Jews) body of laws and doctrines, or any one of them, held to have been received from Moses and originally handed down orally from generation to generation.
    (among Christians) a body of teachings, or any one of them, held to have been delivered by Christ and His apostles but not originally committed to writing.
    (among Muslims) a hadith.

    7.Law. an act of handing over something to another, especially in a formal legal manner; delivery; transfer.

    I would posit that the simple fact that there is a dictionary definition of what a tradition is means that it's not "just opinion:" it has to meet the definition or it's not tradition. That being said, there are many practices in the Catholic Church that are definitely traditions, examples of which can be given upon request because they are too numerous to name at this time.

    There is no guidance from Holy Scripture on what does, or does not, constitute real tradition when it comes to music, or for that matter, the morality of any particular taste in music.

    Correct. Scripture does not give us any guidance regarding the Church's traditions for music. However, it is worth stating that it doesn't have to be in the Bible for the Catholic Church to pass it on as a traditional practice. We are not Sola Scriptura, so we have Scripture AND Tradition: together; one does not trump the other. Again, please reference the above definition of tradition. Per that definition, there is absolutely guidance from the Church as to what constitutes tradition in music. That tradition has been identified and passed down throughout the centuries of the Church as chant.

    Don't we think that if Jesus had meant to achieve the salvation of humanity through music, he would have done so? With clear instructions on what to sing, how to sing it, when to sing it? Maybe even a composition or two? He turned water into wine, so he certainly could have turned his disciples into a perfectly tuned choir. Jesus did not give any guidance whatsoever on music or music traditions.

    I think that these statements are second-guessing the Lord, and His intentions. This argument seems to point to your next statement as support for why you think it really doesn't matter what kind of music we have in the church environment:

    Jesus did not give any guidance whatsoever on music or music traditions. What he did do was give us guidance on how to live.

    Are you meaning to suggest that it doesn't matter what kind of music we have in the church environment?

    are we not guilty as music directors or musicians in whatever capacity, of becoming disciples who argue about whose music is better in the kingdom of heaven?

    No. Because that's not what we're talking about. We are discussing the maintenance of traditional practices within the Church, and how to best deal with situations where you are asked to abandon them, often without explanation. We have clear, explicit documentation from the Second Vatican Council that outlines what liturgical music should be like. This is part of the Tradition of the Catholic Church: nowhere is that information to be found in Sacred Scripture, yet it still forms part of our patrimony, and is part of the long established practices of our faith. On the subject of music not really being discussed in the Bible, I will posit the following question for your pondering: if Scripture doesn't tell us what kind of music, or when or where to perform for the liturgy, how then did Catholics for centuries know, other than long established and passed down traditions, how to sing the Mass, and do it in relatively the same manner from generation to generation?

    We ignore the fact that Jesus gave us no guidance on music, and ignore the very words he said which should guide our conversations and conduct. The sermon on the mount is among other things a very good guide on how to be a music director...and on how to be professional with those we work with and work for.

    Again, you seem to suggest that because it's not in Scripture and Jesus didn't directly say anything about it THAT WE KNOW OF, then it doesn't matter what kind of music we have in the liturgy. The fact is, we don't know everything Jesus told His disciples. We don't know if He did or didn't address the issue of music. I have, however, learned from an esteemed colleague, Dr. Mahrt, who I believe learned this from a Jewish rabbi that the Gregorian Psalm Tones predate Christianity, and are related to old Jewish chants, such as those Jesus and Mary would have known in their time. I have addressed that claim already.

    Also, and again, you use that word "professional." I have already given my discourse on that as well.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
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  • henry
    Posts: 242
    Amen! Our Lord values obedience to one's superiors.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    I, for the most part, have given up the profession of sacred music on account of my conscience, the lack of respect and honor of authentic sacred music and those who serve its cause, and the inherent inability to support my family based upon what the norms and guidelines for compensation within the church support.

    It is a sad day when the best thing you do, and what you were created to be, is an impossibility because of clericalism, lack of knowledge of tradition, lack of understanding about sacred music and the sheer ignorance of those in the clergy who play a beat to a different drum than the one they should be playing.

    Blind obedience is NOT a virtue. Professionalism is NOT a bend over backwards proposition, nor a bend over forwards position. If you spit your conscience and knowledge of truth to the wind, it will come back into your face.

    There is a way to educate the uneducated, be he priest, bishop or pope. With humility and a kind word, you can win his soul and a good man will see reason. Otherwise run away fast.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    @clerget: One suspects that "Rphillips" is a troll, someone who is a lightweight in understanding of musica sacra, and chameleon for the sake of a paycheck.

    BTW, ask any Orthodox Jew exactly what Christ and the apostles sang at the Last Supper. They'll sing it for you. It's called 'tradition.'
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Now, tut-tut, @dad29. The Forum Etiquette Guidelines (peace be upon them) remind users not to make accusations of bad faith -- for example, calling someone a troll. So please refrain from that.
    Thanked by 3Vilyanor Jahaza JL
  • Clarification of several rather bold assertions in a comment above is in order, lest they should be accepted as truth by some unwitting soul. Otherwise, I think it imprudent to continue in a disputation which seems to be a dead end.


    On the matter of what Jesus and the disciples sang at the Last Supper, it is almost universally accepted in the scholarly world that this 'hymn' was, in fact, most likely one of the Hallel psalms (CXIII-CXVIII) associated with Passover. There can be no doubt that it, like any and all psalms (indeed, all of Holy Writ) would have been sung. 'Psalm', of course, derives from the Greek which indicates a text that is to be sung. ('Psalm' and 'hymn' are, in fact, almost interchangeable translated designations in the New Testament for most anything that was sung.) The music would have been not unlike that associated with temple worship, which would have been, to our ears, rather oriental, a species of speech song, a cantillation somewhere betwixt speech and what we would call song.

    The nearest extant examples in our tradition would be the tones for prophecy, epistle, and gospel, plus those for collects and prefaces, even the exsultet. Notable, too, would be some of our psalm tones, which are known to be direct descendants of formulas typical of the temple's music. Indeed, to this day the Jews of Yemen sing psalm CXIII to a likeness of our tonus peregrinus, long associated in the Church itself with that very psalm CXIII, In exitu Israel. A moment's reflection will bring the realisation that as psalm CXIII is traditionally associated with our tonus peregrinus, it may, then, have been very similar to what Jesus and his brethren sang. Too, it is reasonably inferred by a number of scholars that Jewish music was inevitably the subject of cross-pollination with Aegyptian temple music. This Semitic chant-cantillation was the primary influence on early Christian singing, bearing fruit in the Syrian churches, and from there to the West. Our Western liturgical chant (commonly called 'Gregorian') is a direct descendant of these eastern traditions, a fact borne out in the obvious orientalisms in appreciable portions of the Gregorian repertory, particularly the most ancient tracts and some of the more ecstatic graduals, not to mention literary attestations. And, from there, I think, every music student knows the subsequent development of the Western musical tradition from this chant, chant which no less a musical luminary than Mozart et al. recognised as the bedrock of all our music. How exciting that this bedrock rests in the soil of temple music formulas! How more exciting, yet, that these formulas were known and sung by our Lord himself and that our own plainchant is related to them!

    So, contrary to what was rather audaciously asserted above, we know quite a lot more than 'nothing' about what Jesus and the disciples' 'hymn' may have sounded like and what it was. While on the subject we may note that when Jesus recited psalm XXII on the cross he would have (painfully) sung it. No one of Jesus' world would at any time not have sung sacred writings. Further, it may be asserted with relative certitude that when Jesus famously read the scriptures before the elders he would have chanted them, for so holy was Holy Writ held by the Jews to be that to have read it in a spoken voice rather than sacred cantillation would have been thought all but blasphemous. (And, to some of our minds, that continues to be the case.)


    Next, on the matter of tradition: the above assertions about what is and isn't tradition were, likewise, rather audacious, if not foolhardy. Tradition is most certainly not 'opinion'. Yves Congar, in his masterful Tradition and traditions, likens tradition to the enfranchisement of our ancestors. As many will know, the very word is from the Latin tradere, meaning 'to hand down': it is that ancestral gift which is given, passed, from one generation to the next. A people without traditions are a spiritually poor and culturally dead race - a gruesome fact well-known by conquerors who wish to destroy a people by erasing their language and traditions. (There are parallels of this in the behaviour of not a few in the Church, lay and cleric, male and female alike, in the years following the recent council!)

    A people who have dis-enfranchised their ancestors have committed cultural and spiritual suicide. They are, literally, 'at sea', rudderless in the storm of history. Tradition is the crown, the corona, of any culture, especially a religious one. Tradition is the carrier of what is believed, what is reverenced, what is fundamental to the human spiritual condition. Tradition is identity, one might say, the DNA that gives to the next generation the spiritual formation that had been 'handed down' to the last one. Without it, one is free to create from whole cloth his and her own existential construct - another thing which has obvious parallels in the post-Vatican II Church. When one reduces tradition to opinion, when one lies and says of a council that it 'did away' with things that, rather!, it explicitly directed should be preserved and fostered, one has not only disobeyed the only real authority, but enfranchised him- and her-self to be the arbiters of a bleak traditionless, inauthentic and non-authoritative ruin - the very relativist vacuum that Emeritus HF Benedict warned against.

    Some traditions bear what is fundamental, one might say de fide, to our Church. These are Traditions with a capital 'T', being the Church's teachings, divinely received, about the sacraments, holy orders, moral teachings, scripture itself, all that was commanded by Jesus himself, or was handed down directly by the Apostles, things that are immutable, fundamental to the faith. Others enjoy a lower case 't', and may be anything from clerical celibacy, ritual, wedding rings, cruciform churches, any given hieratical language, vesture, Christmas trees, making the sign of the cross, distributing Maundy money, chalking 'CMB 2017' over the door of one's home, and on and on. But, even the non-capital traditions carry spiritual blood and may serve as anchors, or pillars, along our life's way. They, often, are mirrors and illustrators of their upper case cousin Traditions. While 'Traditions' are indelible and changeless, 'traditions' may from time to time change or give way to new developments, but none of them are to be scorned or set aside lightly lest harm be done to individual or societal psychic health and identity. One should be wary of those who hold traditions or, even worse, Traditions, in a less than respectful reverence. As for being so untutored as to think them 'opinions'? How unfortunate - unfortunate for that mind and for all who are subject to its influence!
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,039
    when push comes to shove, a professional music director must check his or her ego at the door and do what his or her boss requires.

    Professionalism cannot be equated with or reduced to the rather simplistic notion of "doing what the boss requires." Nor is it the same as earning a professional level salary. These points seems so obvious to me that I don't see the need to explain them. And it's a false dichotomy to imply that the only alternative to this is to "fight" with one's boss.