Wedding Voluntaries -- Specific Differences?
  • Everybody knows that you cannot have your favorite rock anthem or operatic love theme played, even instrumentally, at your Catholic wedding. The reasons are obvious.

    However, you can have some pretty secular stuff played, instead. Royal river cruise serenades, for instance. So, what is the specific reason why something like Alla Hornpipe should be permitted, but contemporary, quasi atmospheric, alyrical pieces, which are not quotes of popular airs or anything of that nature, would not be permissible as preludes, etc.? Yanni's works, for instance, or the wordless stylings of Jim Brickman?

    For argument's sake, assume the parish in question allows and uses piano regularly.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.

    From "Tra Le Sollecitudini".
  • So, once more, how does George I's river cruise party mix fare better than more subdued, meditative, contemporary selections? Or does it?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,083
    The Water Music might be suitable as a recessional piece after Mass, but it wouldn't be fitting during it.
  • Actually, this is a very good question arising from a very perceptive gaze. I have thought many times, but never shared it with anyone, that there is really no reason that secular music of past ages should be any more acceptable at mass, or in connexion with it, than secularly inspired music of our time. Objectively, the one should be as objectionable as the other. Of course, the music for 'George I's river cruise' is far better music than, say the fare one is likely to hear on a river cruise of our day, but still, it really isn't sacred music, nor does it have a spiritual dimension (nor was it intended to have!) such as one rightly expects of music within or associated with the mass. The church is not the place for unbridled gaiety before, during, or after mass. All this leaves us holding a bag full of favourite wedding music by Handel, Charpentier, Stanley, Moret, Elgar, and on an on, which, if one really thinks about it, doesn't really belong in church. This bag of music belongs at the reception. But! Some of it is in such gloriously fine taste and has such a fine ceremonial gravitas that, surely, it does belong - but it doesn't - but we will play it just the same whilst rightly castigating lesser, tasteless, and definitely unceremonious music of recent times. Such is logic brought to bear on Nihil's question. If we were to hang a painting within a church it would be of a religious subject, it would be the finest art we could afford. It would not be a Watteau picnic or van Gogh's Starry Night, beautiful and tasteful as these are. So it is with music. It must be religious or excite the religious intellect and emotions. It must be spiritual food, an icon in sound.

    In my selections for voluntaries for church ceremonies I tilt heavily to plainchant, chorale, or hymn tune cantus firmus literature. For other pieces balancing out what is in effect a pre-wedding recital I choose from literature that was or was likely written to be played at mass, such as canzonas and such from Frescobaldi's era, English voluntaries, German praeludia, and so on. Taste is everything. But even every thing that is tasteful is not appropriate for church - to wit, operatic masses and similar organ music.

    The finest of musical craft, being inspired, is an aural icon (or, not to mix languages, a phonic icon), an icon in sound. I observed this long ago. All music played in church, whether within mass or connected to it, should have something of an iconic dimension which reflects or relates the sacred. With organ music it may be anything from a Titelouze cantus firmus piece to a Howell's psalm prelude. With such music there is more to it than mere 'music'. Like an icon, it reveals something ever so faintly of what lies beyond even while its subject, like that of icons, may be what is or was here and now. It is 'other'.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,174
    I have pondered this at times, too. Luckily weddings are so few and far between that I don't think about it often. Also, with weddings, it seems that a certain amount of "lesser of two evils" comes into play: If the bride is still undecided about whether she wants "Hallelujah" (Not the Handel, the other one) or the Minuet from Eine Kleine Not Music for her bridal procession, I would enthusiastically go with the latter. Both are inappropriate, but one is more inappropriate than the other.

    The problem is all of these "wedding planning" web-sites and the like: they are not tailored for Catholic ceremonies, and I have seen some with blatant errors: claiming that the Offertory comes after the Communion. And these "Catholic" couples, of course, haven't been to church since they were confirmed 15+ years ago, and don't know that the form is wrong -- I've had arguments about this. These sites give suggestions for music that might be all well and fine when your ceremony is done by a JP in a corn field with the music played by someone's iThingy, but are completely innapropriate at a Catholic wedding. And it's hard to try to catechize someone about sacred music when all they want is THEIR music at THEIR ceremony done the way THEY want it. (I have heard brides complain the the organ make the music sound too "churchy", funny how that happens.)

    And, in my experience, nearly all brides are bridezillas: some just exude it more than others -- the fewer "No"s to her demands the better, for your sanity and your stipend. (The more times I've had to say "No" to a bride, the more likely it is for someone to have "forgotten" my check.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,832
    The Water Music is suitable for a lavatory interlude.
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    The thing Water Music and such has going for it, is that no one currently living was there for its original and secular use. The link between secular and sacred is forgotten, except by Jackson whose memory of past events makes me estimate he should be around 900-years-old by now. ;-)

    My parish uses weddings as a source of income, which is among the reasons I contract them out to another organist. Not worth the trouble at any price. We have had priests who handsomely supplemented their incomes with wedding revenue.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,832

    Well, that music still has *lots* of secular use.

    * * *

    We need a species of music called: Wedding Involuntaries or Wedding Compulsories.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • Maybe architecture can be a helpful point of reference. There is nothing inherently sacred about a Corinthian column - in fact, the origin is pagan (or at least, public secular architecture). Yet, we are fine with a Corinthian column in a church - it is simply an elegant and functional way to hold up a roof. Yes, we may see the exact same column in the state capitol or town hall, or a quasi-pretentious restaurant (say, Cheesecake Factory - more columns than you can shake a stick at). But it doesn't bother us when it plays a central role in our church building (in fact, we consider ourselves lucky if in a church classical enough to have columns). I choose the Corinthian, although there are many other examples, because my Cathedral features these prominently. In fact, the organ console has its own mini-Corinthian columns modeled after the big ones in the nave!

    Why is this ok? One line of reasoning is that the original secular and pagan associations have faded into the past, leaving only the association of monumental elegance for the Corinthian column. Something architects are happy to exploit in secular and sacred buildings, and elegant restaurants.

    I think something similar is at work with some of classical music's "greatest hits". The association is solemnity, elegance, beauty - which is valuable at a wedding, or at an important reception or state dinner. The music transcends the sacred/secular distinction. Which is probably much closer to the cultural situation at the time when these pieces were written anyway. And why this would probably be at the very bottom of my list of hills to die on in the church music world...
  • I would just add - what would actual "sacred" non-texted music look like anyway, if we had to define it? Monophony or chant-based repertoire only? Contrapuntal, to mirror polyphony? But there is nothing inherently sacred in a fugue (or secular, for that matter).
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CCooze
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    I have a volume from my teens called "Catholic Wedding Music," approved by his excellency Whats-His-Name in the diocese of Wherever. It contains postludes by Sister Mary Never-to-Be-Remembered that sounds like an Irish jig. The book is full of such. Music can be "Catholic" and truly awful.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    Sorry, I should have been more explicit.

    From a letter from the CDW concerning concerts or music played in Church outside of the Liturgy.

    "In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or
    promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place:'
    The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the other hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context.

    Music composed with a secular intent has no place being played in a Church at any time. Let alone during or surrounding a Liturgy such as the Nuptial Mass.

    One line of reasoning is that the original secular and pagan associations have faded into the past, leaving only the association of monumental elegance for the Corinthian column. Something architects are happy to exploit in secular and sacred buildings, and elegant restaurants.

    The problem is that here, you're considering an accident divorced from the whole, the substance. While a corinthian column might exist in secular buildings as well as churches, it's the intent, context, and form of the whole—not merely that part—that determines whether that whole is a cheesecake factory or a romanesque church.

    Certainly, if a piece of religious music contains a trope from a secular piece, it can "baptise" that trope within the context and intent of the whole, much like a corinthian column in the context of a Roman church (though here again, the Tra le sollecitudini Chant rule applies), but music of a secular composition and intent has no place in the liturgy or Mass at any time, any more than Mass belongs in a Cheesecake Factory at any time.

    TLDR: According to Church law, music composed with secular intent has no place in the Church at any time, ever.
  • Actually, I have a fascinating book about the origins of Corinthian columns and all the other aspects of Greek architecture. The columns are not merely secular in origin, but are representative of groves of tress, as in sacred groves, in which primitive religious rites and sacrifices were held. Every detail of Greek architecture, from dentils to metopes to egg and dart molding, every last detail, has reference to animal sacrifice. That these were the elements of Greek architecture of the classical era, the literal building blocks of temple architecture, attests to the permeation of their own religion in every aspect of the lives of these people. Folloing this example, then, perhaps only the Gothic is appropriate to express the Christian faith, for, of all styles, it and it alone has reference to the Christian narrative of history and being. Well, maybe Gothic and Byzantine.

    Jared makes an interesting point about architecture. It is another facet of my above point about art not being appropriate just because it is good art. We shouldn't play just any music that is good music if it isn't sacred in character, if it doesn't reflect that we are on holy ground, in sacred space.

    Actually, Charles, I'm not 900 years old, nor do I think that I should want to be. Already, with each passing day, this world is becoming less and less familiar and alien to all that I believe and wish to relate to. When I was around fifteenish my grandmother said 'this is not the world I grew up in'. Perhaps I am not alone in understanding just what she meant.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    Actually, Charles, I'm not 900 years old, nor do I think that I should want to be. Already, with each passing day, this world is becoming less and less familiar and alien to all that I believe and wish to relate to. When I was around fifteenish my grandmother said 'this is not the world I grew up in'. Perhaps I am not alone in understanding just what she meant.

    Have often thought the same.
  • ON THE OTHER HAND. Another thought indicative of the endless yin and yang of pros and cons to which this matter, like many other matters, gives rise. Throughout history, as is well known by Christians and their detractors, the Church has chosen to 'baptise' various events and items that are or were of secular, even pagan, origin. We are all privy to the knowledge that Christmas and Easter (not to mention other feasts and things) were taken over by us and baptised by us. How often do we contemplate that we should'nt be celebrating Christmas because pagan rites once were celebrated at the same time? Hardly ever. It is notable, even, that the pagans are now reclaiming their feast day, though, not for any religious reasons, but in honour of the god of lucre, gift giving and commerce, and his sister, the goddess of secularity and no religion at all.

    So, we may borrow, we may adapt, we may steal, but only that which is of genuine service to God, his people, and his worship. Genuine service means that music which is wondrously crafted, has an ecclesiastical gravitas, does not (or no longer does) excite emotions or thoughts of the secular realms, and is iconic of Christian spirituality and belief, and of a Godly frame of mind.
  • Vilyanor -

    Thanks for this response. The CDW document is interesting, but I do wonder about the canonical force of each and every sentence within it (especially where no supporting documents are cited). For example, in paragraph 6:

    "Any performance of sacred music which takes place during a celebration, should
    be fully in harmony with that celebration. This often means that musical compositions
    which date from a period when the active participation of the faithful was not
    emphasized as the source of the authentic Christian spirit (SC n. 14; Pius X Tra le
    sollecitudini) are no longer to be considered suitable for inclusion within liturgical

    Extremely vague (references an entire document, no less!), and displaying at best a failure to give any guidelines for how to judge suitableness. At worst it could demonstrate a lack of understanding on the part of the writers of what makes something suitable. I.e., in reality the time period a piece dates from is irrelevant, regardless of the disdain with which you view that time period - what matters is the characteristics of the music in question (text, instrumentation, scale, style, etc.).

    Similarly, the paragraph you quote (#8) takes a simple statement from canon law, and expounds on it in a way that is...intellectually incomplete and unsatisfying. Particularly:

    "The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content."

    And yet, then entire liturgical history of the Church is packed with examples of appropriating things which in their original intended use were not for Christian worship. Such as (drumroll please) the PIPE ORGAN itself! I am not intellectually satisfied with a document that holds up intended use as the key criteria, and then talks glibly of pipe organs.

    Not to mention, the idea of non-texted music having inherent extra-musical 'content' is a very complex one that has been debated for a long time.

    There are so many other wrinkles here - not enough time to go into them all. What about Protestant music (e.g. Bach Lutheran chorale preludes). Close enough to Catholic worship for government work? What about non-texted organ music written to interest an aristocratic patron in Weimar (i.e. many major Bach preludes and fugues)? If Bach is ok, do his Vivaldi concerto transcriptions make the cut? How about his trio sonatas? Is a trio sonata only ok if it is explicitly titled "church sonata"? What about music written for use in church by non-religious composers (i.e. no sacred intent)? What about a piece on Biblical texts, written for a civic singing society and premiered in a concert hall? What about an organ piece stylistically identical to a "sacred" organ piece, but without an association? In other words, can we only use Bach's fugue on the Magnificat, or does that piece baptize other fugues by association?

    I could go on, but the point is: there is more nuance here than a black and white "sacred intent" definition allows for. "Sacred" is not a passive concept, in the sense that something is magically, instantly sacred forever. It involves an active, human and historical process of "setting apart" for use in the worship of God.

    Maybe what the document is - clumsily - hinting at is theatrical music (music for a specific secular context). And yet - Schubert's Ave Maria...and what about Bach/Gounod? A student composition exercise. Or the Faure Requiem...or...

    All of that said, I think the SPIRIT of canon law, and of this document, makes sense. I would not schedule a performance of a Bruckner symphony in a church. However, as much as we might like a black-and-white assessment, judgment, critical thinking, and discernment are required to deal with the myriad real-world questions and applications.

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,689
    Indeed, it's often those who harp on the "original intended use" who rail on the other hand against so-called 'operatic Masses'.

    Of course one would never schedule a Bruckner symphony in church: the parking issues are almost unimaginable. But I've already drawn attention elsewhere to a memoir of churchgoing around 1900 in Vienna.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    Jared, I agree with much of what you're saying, but I also think that you're trying to make too much of an argument from complexity. Just because there are grey areas or areas of discernment doesn't mean that the basic principles are invalid, anymore than they are when bioethics gets sketchy. You do concede this more or less in your last paragraph. In many circumstances (as in the music of Palestrina, Victoria, Byrd, etc.) it's easy to tell that the intention of the composer is to compose music for the Catholic Mass, or at least something very like it. And if the music itself is fitting (meets the standards of TLS of measuring up to Gregorian chant), then it passes. The further the piece in question is from these standards, the more reluctant we should be to allow it to have a place in the Church or the Liturgy.

    You're right that not-textual music complicates things considerably. And justifiably so, since instrumental music was universally condemned for a significant portion of the Church's history, and remains so in the East (please correct me if I'm wrong, Charles). Given that one of the standards of Liturgical music is its approximation of chant, the use of instrumental music in the Mass should be limited and we should therefore be extremely discriminating when choosing instrumental music for Mass.

    Everything resembling the examples cited by Nihil would instantly be eliminated by the broad strokes of the law. There might be more complexity when it comes to Bach or Beethoven, or even Mozart's orchestral Masses (for the Mass, in this case, I can't see why any of the particular tough cases you mentioned couldn't be used outside of Mass, excluding blanket terms like fugues-by-association), but I'll let you professional choirmasters discern that in accordance with a well-trained conscience ;)

    The paragraph on participation is quite reasonable if you have the context of a proper understanding of participation as a participation in the act of God. "Concert Masses" where the schola sings throughout the course of the Mass with little reference to the liturgical action would fall under this. Even the polyphonic Sanctus would not be excluded, if we have the correct understanding of participation.

    And yet, then entire liturgical history of the Church is packed with examples of appropriating things which in their original intended use were not for Christian worship. Such as (drumroll please) the PIPE ORGAN itself! I am not intellectually satisfied with a document that holds up intended use as the key criteria, and then talks glibly of pipe organs.

    This is a category mistake. You're talking about an instrument, rather than the effects produced by that instrument, which can be good or bad, fitting or unfitting. The intended use of the pipe organ (instrument) is categorically different than its product (music), which can vary, and thus this argument is categorically inconsequential to this discussion.
    Thanked by 1JaredOstermann
  • Not that we haven't done all sorts of "secular" instrumental pieces in my parish for weddings, but with the newly promulgated translation, we've made congregational song the new norm for the processions and don't even list instrumental as an option. We haven't had anyone go through the process with the new norms yet, so we'll have to see how well it plays out (lead balloons, anyone?).
  • Vilyanor - Thanks for this. I don't think I'm going down rabbit holes, though, with the complexity argument. The myriad complexities don't tell me that the proposed rule ("original intended use determines sacred vs. secular") has many exceptions. Rather, they suggest to me that the proposed rule itself is flawed.

    The operative word here being "original". I actually think the pipe organ example highlights this well. The original intended use of the pipe organ was not liturgical. However, the *current* intended use of *some* pipe organs is, in fact, liturgical. There is nothing inherently sacred about the pipe organ, either in its original intended use, or in it as a mechanical construct, or in its current cultural associations. We currently have theater organs, recital hall organs, symphony hall organs, house organs, etc. And yet, we put some organs in churches for liturgical use, thus rendering them sacred instruments. The same could be said of corinthian columns and many, many other architectural and artistic artefacts in our churches (such as Romanesque arches and domes). The proposal from the CDW seems to be that music is the ONLY human cultural artefact that cannot be appropriated for liturgical use (or even brought into a sacred space), unless its original intended use was for liturgy. This seems overly restrictive to me, and it seems to go well beyond the letter and spirit of canon law.

    Of course, with texted music we have a clear point of judgment - is the text sacred in nature? But even there, the "original intent" clause would disqualify many, many pieces, from the Faure Requiem to the Schubert Ave Maria, to the Brahms German Requiem. It would seem that the ultimate judge of suitability is the musicologist, able to sift through documents and find out how pieces were premiered. And there is a very thorny question - does the intended sacred use have to have been specifically Catholic liturgy?

    With untexted music we are even further from any substantial criteria for judgment. Because a composer three centuries ago wrote one sonata (literally a "sounding" of an instrument) for chamber and one for the church, we are supposed to believe that one piece is inherently unsuitable for use in a church today. One is immediately tempted to propose a "drop the needle" ear-training exam for the writers of the document! Frankly, the CDW document seems to be built on an anachronistic conception of sacred and secular art where music is concerned. In fact, a Baroque composer might choose to write a french overture as the opening of a sacred work or a secular suite. Or write a secular cantata. Or a Renaissance master might write a polyphonic secular song. Or include a secular melody as the cantus firmus for a Catholic Mass setting. Or re-text a secular polyphonic piece for use in Mass. Untangle that one!

    Now back to my Holy Week prep. First, an Easter prelude and postlude: Bach Clav. III Prelude, a mish-mash of french overture and italian concerto. And postlude: Clav. III St Anne Fugue, beginning with stile antico treatment of a Lutheran chorale tune, and ending with a lovely Gigue! Then, Beethoven - Hallelujah from Christ on the Mount of Olives, premiered at a theater in Vienna. As well as the Randall Thompson Alleluia, composed for the Tanglewood festival! And some excellent Lutheran hymns. :)

    Thanked by 2MarkS Vilyanor
  • To be clear, I am not mocking concerns about appropriate music. Simply poking holes in a standard of suitability that does not make sense in theory or practice.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    I think the pipe organ usage timeline is ..

    200s BC invented
    xxx AD used in roman circuses
    500s last coliseum
    757 from east to west
    812 organ in chapel
    1800s teaching studios concert halls municipal halls
    1900s movie theaters

    What we have is a 200 year period of non use for secular purposes
    followed by almost 1000 years sacred use
    followed by commercial expansion in to secular uses.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 388
    Again, I don't think you can use the pipe organ as an example anymore than you can say a chisel was originally intended for secular use. It rather depends on what you're making with the tool :P

    I still hold that it makes sense. If there are many pieces that are unclear, it probably only means that very little instrumental music should be used in the liturgy, which would fit with TLS and the Church's musical patrimony throughout most of Church history, and personally, I think it'd often be better to have silence in many places where people feel the need to add instrumental organ playing. In a concert or outside of Mass, the possibilities are considerably wider.

    Good luck with your Triduum!
    Thanked by 1JaredOstermann
  • Eft's tmeline is roughly accurate - as the skeleton he intended it to be when he wrote it. Missing are some essential details. The organ's history is in our time beginning to resemble the history of some Christian holidays (holy-days) that we absconded with from the pagans, which the pagans are now making every effort to reclaim, though not in Jupiter's or Odin's name, but the name of a pure and shameless secularly driven commerce and freedom from religion.

    Specifically, as Eft makes clear, the organ is fast becoming a secular instrument as well as a sacred one - even though most organs continue to be built in churches. By way of clarification, though churches continue to build impressive instruments they are increasingly catering to the organ concert public and attracting impressively skilled concert organists to their staffs. St Paul's, K Street, in Washington is but one of quite a number that might be included.

    Truth be known, even this is not entirely a new development. The renaissance and baroque eras knew the town council, not the church or its vestry, as the hirers of musicians for their churches and the securers of organs for their churches which were, it was to be hoped, more impressive than the ones in neighbouring towns. The organ was the greatest technological marvel of those times and any town of any means wanted a fine example of one. (It remains an impressive technological marvel in own own times, and will ever remain so despite the devious efforts of organ simulacra manufacturers to cast it as an antiquated heap so that they can sell more bundles of wires, circuit boards, and tuned buzzers, which they market as digital (wow! digital!) organs, to astonishingly credulous people who somehow swallow that this is an improvement.)

    Following the example of earlier town councils, the nineteenth century saw a brisk business in providing mammoth organs for town halls; nor were the rich satisfied until they had organs in their Hudson Valley palaces and 'cottages'. Yes, organs can be found in the unlikeliest of places, so much so that many (even some of our colleagues on this forum) seem to think that the organ is a secular instrument whose presence in churches has a dubious claim to legitimacy. Au contraire, an organ anywhere besides a church is not altogether less absurd a pilfering of dignity than a clown wearing episcopal vesture. It is musical lese majeste. I make an exception for legitimate concert halls. In Europe, in stark contrast to the few in this land, every concert hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Vienna's Musicverein, and London's Royal Albert Hall, to name but three of very many, has a respectable organ.

    Here is where we must 'draw the line'. It is the secular usage which is burdened with a dubious claim to legitimacy! The organ, the king of instruments, despite its origins, is the instrument of the King of kings and lays claim to an existential relationship with the Lord of lords and his Church than to which no other instrument can lay even a tenuous claim. But for the Church the organ would have disappeared with the demise of the Roman circus, Roman military, and ceremonial surrounding the Roman emperor. It was the gift of an organ by the eastern basileus to Charlemagne which determined its continued existence and its identification with the worship of God, an identification that trumps any and all other rather presumptuous defilements of its majesty by musical idiots and their gullible, foolish, publics.

    Yes, indeed! The hydraulus' tale was of quite an evolution from its humble origins at the hands of a Graeco-Aegyptian engineer, Ctesibius by name, three centuries before the birth of our Lord. God chose to become not just any man but an humble one born amongst beasts in a tiny village. It is fitting that the instrument singularly and existentially identified with his worship was humble in its infancy and speckled in its path to his sacred courts - speckled, just like the people he has redeemed.

    All of which the Second Vatican Council made clear as day. Not a single other instrument was so much as mentioned in all its storied pronouncements.
  • Great discussion! Too bad it's Holy Week and there's not more time.

    Yes, the organ and the music it makes are two different things. But they are both human artefacts. Let me be clearer with the parallel, though:

    A pipe organ is a human artefact not originally intended for use in liturgy, that has been re-purposed for that use. Now it is appropriate for liturgical use (even, held in highest esteem by the church).

    Similarly, an instrumental or vocal piece not originally intended for liturgical use (of course, assuming appropriate content) can similarly be re-purposed for liturgical use, thus becoming appropriate for liturgical use.

    Music is, to my mind, not the sole human cultural artefact that must be forever judged by its original intended use and context - and never re-purposed. Especially not instrumental music.

    I would also point out that the "original use" criteria does not just create many difficulties with instrumental music. There are many, many instances where texted sacred pieces would have to be ruled out for liturgical use (or even inclusion in a church concert!) because of their original intended use. For example, the Faure Requiem. But there are many other examples. Handel's Messiah...Schubert's Ave Maria...the list goes on and on.

    The judgment criteria proposed by the CDW is, simply, too restrictive. It displays a lack of understanding of what music is and how it is composed (e.g. composers using identical material for sacred and secular pieces). It is antithetical to the whole Catholic approach to interacting with and baptizing culture through the ages and still today.

    Finally, I would be cautious about an overly dubious approach to instrumental music. Certainly, it is of lesser importance than texted music. But there is (or was) a long tradition (validated by official church rulings) of using the organ as a valid stand-in for the liturgical recitation of texts. Thus the organ verset tradition in France, Spain, Italy.

    The elevation toccata tradition also seems to be more than just "filler" music during liturgy.

  • Why should we regard mere 'things' in a more stern manner than people themselves. Easter is upon us and many, very many, will be baptised or become Catholic whose original intent in life was never to be Christian - and certainly not Catholic Christians. If we can baptise people we can 'baptise' whatever seems meet for our worship - we not only can, but have done so with regard to many cultures throughout history. (I did say 'whatever seems meet'. This rather obviously lets out love songs from broadway musicals and similar stuff that have no liturgical or theological references.)
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor eft94530
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    In the "believe-it-or-not" category, I just turned down one potential wedding member's request for Beatle's songs. I'll take 'Water Music" any day over that.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577

    Documents On The Liturgy 1963-1979 Conciliar, Papal, and Curial Texts (pages 129-133)
    DOL 37 (29 December 1966) SC Rites, Press Conference
    A Bugnini regarding the Declaration of 29 December 1966
    there would have to be a great deal of sacralization before that kind of
    music can legitimately cross the church threshold.

    Maybe for example .. 200 years of desuetude.