Is Archbishop Sample's pastoral letter on sacred music dead on arrival?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 205
    https://youtu.be/4-o9P4DnrPI?t=3121

    The link above is to an OCP webinar in which company bigwigs answer questions about their music and resources. The final eight minutes (starting at the link) are devoted to the publisher commenting on Sample's recent letter on sacred music.

    Summary (not my opinion) in case you don't want to watch the video:
    1) The letter is a teaching document, not a juridical one having the force of law.
    2) Issued by Sample as the archbishop of Portland, not as the head of OCP's board of directors.
    3) Intended only for the Archdiocese of Portland, applicable nowhere else.
    4) OCP publishes for an international market, not just for Portland. Serves the universal Church, not just Portland.
    5) OCP has measures in place to ensure the quality and appropriateness of music.
    6) OCP already provides resources for parishes that want to fulfill the expectations of the pastoral letter. Breaking Bread has three chant style Masses. Breaking Bread has more traditional hymns than any other hymnal out there. St. Meinrad antiphons.
    7) OCP shares Archbishop Sample's concern for excellence in liturgy.
    8) The letter doesn't change what OCP will be publishing. OCP is committed to partnership with the archbishop in the common goal of liturgies that conform to the mind of the church and promote full, conscious and active participation, which is the aim to be considered before all else.

    I see those comments as strong deflections against the implementation of the pastoral letter, especially the remarks that the letter doesn't have the force of law and isn't applicable beyond Portland. I think that disregards that the letter is mostly a summary and proposed application of universal liturgical law in other Church documents. Sample wasn't saying much that hadn't already been stated by the universal Church.

    So I encapsulate the publisher's remarks as, "If you really want to follow the letter, okay, we have some things that can help you, but it's not necessary to pay attention to the letter and we're not going to change what we're doing."

    I conclude Sample's letter is dead on arrival in Portland.
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 55
    It sounds like a response to a congressional inquiry where they want to say, "we're already taking care of the problem which we don't really believe exists but we need to blunt any criticism in advance, so... nothing to se here folks".

    I'll believe Apb. Sample's are being implemented when I hear news postings about individual parishes in his see applying his directives with pride and joy.

    Until then... "watch this (or THEIR) space".

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 1teachermom24
  • BGP
    Posts: 210
    Numbers 5 and 7 are absolutely hilarious.
  • Yikes! What a deceptive, sniveling response from that OCP executive!

    I like the part where he says that Archbishop Sample's Pastoral letter was meant to "highlight" how OCP is “already providing” what the Pastoral letter desires…yeah, right…

    The fact that he publicly admits (several times) that people see this letter as being "in opposition" to OCP is quite telling … i.e. the very fact that he says those words. He then struggles mightily to spin this perception, but it's too late.

    And he stresses the fact that Sample's position in OCP is “ex officio”…
  • OCP administrators are probably wondering what to do with 926 brand new Dan Schutte songs if they follow the Archbishop's teaching letter.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    OCP administrators are probably wondering what to do with 926 brand new Dan Schutte songs if they follow the Archbishop's teaching letter.


    This winter has been cold and wet. That give anyone ideas?
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,743
    What other than such insouciance would one expect from known philistines?
    There are other publishers to patronise.
    (Though, when it comes to 'Catholic' publishers, it is 'slim pickings'.)
    Take your money elsewhere.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,174
    OCP has measures in place to ensure the quality and appropriateness of music.
    hahahahaha

    Yea, and I have measures in place to avoid OCP
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,743
    Interesting, isn't it, that words such as 'excellence', 'quality', and 'appropriateness', etc., have wildly different references or meanings depending on who is using them and what who has in mind when using them. There has to be a degree of facetiousness, cultural idiocy, moral ambivalence, and intellectual dishonesty when using a word such as 'excellent' whilst having the likes of Mr Haugen and (even worse) company in mind. Either all that or they really are daft.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Incardination
    Posts: 640
    There are other publishers to patronise.


    The public domain is wonderfully liberating in that regard. :)
  • JaredOstermann
    Posts: 386
    It depends - many people seemed hopeful that Sample would single-handedly destroy the evil empire of OCP upon arrival in Portland. If that is the only successful outcome, then yes the letter is dead upon arrival. However, I would look at it differently. The publishers are for-profit companies and taking them down or improving them directly would be a major undertaking - one marked by both civil and ecclesial legal fights and general acrimony and uproar. I don't think that is the solution, and I don't think this letter meant to grapple so much with OCP as with parish practice.

    If we improve parish practice, even incrementally, we will force the publishers to either improve their offerings or lose profits and relevance. They will forget their outdated agendas and follow whichever way the wind blows in the church, or go out of business. The real key is displacing the publishers as the source of FORMATION for parishes (it's a circular conflict of interest for a sales-based company to also claim to form people in what they need to buy). I think of the laughable GIA quarterly, with liturgical music suggestions conveniently cross-referenced to the GIA catalog!

    Letters like Sample's do not, in themselves, force any change. They are, at best, a useful tool and support for those pastors and musicians trying to effect positive change in their parishes. At the least, a musician or pastor can point to the letter and say "look: our bishop has something to say, and it runs counter to our prevailing practice. Maybe we can re-think some things."

    And while some may scoff, the very fact that OCP and GIA have increased their chant-based and traditional offerings at all is a sign of change. They are just businesses, and they will make what people want them to make.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    I never buy anything from OCP and don't intend to. But the above post is correct, those publishing houses are businesses and will offer what sells. The key is to dry up demand for their products by changing what parishes use and purchase. OCP, GIA and others will provide what the market wants.

    GIA Quarterly: Always a good source of humor, if nothing else. With articles by those who consider themselves liturgical musicians with little evidence to support that claim. They are "pastoral" musicians, whatever that means. I would hope they become "pastured" musicians, because out to pasture is where most of them belong.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,342
    I suspect that music is not on the check list for apostolic visitations. If our parish had ever been asked for evidence that the congregation could sing tunes from Jubilate Deo or the Missal we would have a fall back in case, as last week, the organist thought wrongly that there was a visiting choir song group.
    {aside} OCP is legally not for profit, surpluses are used for charitable purposes.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    {aside} OCP is legally not for profit, surpluses are used for charitable purposes


    Another aside: I have wondered how much of their surplus goes to pay for sex abuse cases? Wondered charitably, of course.
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 71
    The following were apparently Archbishop Sample's assertions to the Board of Directors(I have no reason to believe the speaker is a liar in that regard): 1) The letter is a teaching document, not a juridical one having the force of law.
    2) Issued by Sample as the archbishop of Portland, not as the head of OCP's board of directors.
    3) Intended only for the Archdiocese of Portland, applicable nowhere else.

    So I don't think we can view those as an interpretation of OCP that allows them to ignore the letter that Archbishop Sample otherwise expects them to follow by altering their materials. I am not a fan of OCP (Owen Alstott work excepted). Glad to see they do offer chant materials and traditional hymns etc. I would hope music directors at parishes I attend would lean toward WLP, Cantica Nova and as noted above, especially to the public domain (as well as the generous and free resources at CMAA and Corpus Christi Watershed). All this for the OF.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Virtually all pastoral letters are DOA, regardless of subject matter. Bishops may spend a lot of time writing them, but really, they don't get read, not in this day and age.

    That doesn't mean it's not worth it for him to write this; it is. But realistically, very little will happen on any level.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW toddevoss
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,705
    For the same reason, I've tried to caution people who disagreed with aspects of it from making too much of it.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 335
    Musical prostitution is alive and thriving. In any organization and institution where cover-ups, misdirection and double speaks are commonplace, (not to mention other forms of abuse), all based on greed and the fanatical insane drive to indoctrinate a "new religion," such musical whorings will never die out until the day of final judgment.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    I would hope they become "pastured" musicians, because out to pasture is where most of them belong.


    OK, so they belong in a pasture. And the product of pastured critters........is the same as most of the product in those hymn supplements!!

    Charles, I think you done yourself proud!!!!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    .is the same as most of the product in those hymn supplements!!


    Preach it! It's the truth!
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    Ken of S, "greed" is not the right term. After all, that's one of the 7 deadly sins, and I seriously doubt that anyone at OCP rakes in a salary worthy of the term "greed."

    That said, you have the germ of it, as did Jared (above): follow the money!!
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,743
    ...worthy of the term...
    They most certainly are worthy of the term, 'greed'. They sell trash for profit, do it knowingly to people who are gullible enough to buy it. Their business is built on the sale of unworthy music to uneducated and undiscriminating people. This is greed - and fraud fed by greed.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 205
    The real key is displacing the publishers as the source of FORMATION for parishes (it's a circular conflict of interest for a sales-based company to also claim to form people in what they need to buy).


    I think that statement by Jared is right on target. Bishops and pastors who care about sacred music in parishes have to provide formation for parish musicians in chant and polyphony themselves or get someone knowledgeable and enthusiastic about that music to do it for them. You can't rely on OCP or GIA to do it, and you won't get it at the major conferences, whose workshops and liturgies are just commercials for the big publishers' new products. Give parish musicians exposure to basic chant and the simpler polyphonic repertoire, provide workshops on how to sing it and direct it well. It's not enough to say, "I encourage you to use Jubilate Deo or ICEL settings," or whatever. You have to show musicians how to do it well, you have to start simple so they gain confidence and get buy-in from their congregations. People have to hear it sung well, otherwise they hate chant and think it's boring. Then when the basics have been attained, expand the repertoire. It will be slow-going.

    As someone else mentioned, a vast repertoire is available for free... easily on the internet and in printed collections. Many people don't know about it or where to find it or how to make use of it. Bishops and pastors need to form parish musicians in these things. Bishops and pastors need to be more proactive. Like Archbishop Sample's letter is great, but he needs to follow up with musical workshops offered regularly throughout the archdiocese to enable parishes to implement the Church's vision.

    Begin to cut off OCP and GIA by teaching musicians about chant and simpler polyphony and how much of it is available for free.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    No, MJO, that is "fraud."

    Greed is the inordinate love of money. Some moralists say that it could also be the inordinate love of goods (consumerism.)

    Selling tinfoil while representing it as gold is different.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,743
    On a more calm and reflective note, Jared is spot on.
    All we can do is to be good examples where we are and to all with whom we come into contact. In that vein it is good to keep in mind when teaching our choirs or others that it is wise to dwell on what is good and not to spend precious breath and time lamenting what is bad. Always be positive and dwell on the positive.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 335
    dad29 - We are both correct. However, my usage of the term "greed" is in regard to the willful intention by some clergy in keeping congregations in a contented modernist state of happy-clappy and with geetar profane pop-rockish-folksy-radio-market place muzak mentality in order to placidly milk the mesmerized faithful of their monies. THIS intent is the basis for my use of the term greed. Sheet music companies over the decades have rarely ever made vast fortunes. But keeping a congregation happy and hypnotized through mediums that they are already familiar with IS a recipe for gathering in the sheaves of currency. Why do I say this? I have heard this from too many clergy including bishops over my 40+ years ministry in church music. It is willful, intentional, contrived, deceptive and fraudulent.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,495
    OK, this is a webinar for everyone, not just the AD of Portland, which means that for most of their customers, the Abp.'s letter is "a nice idea" at best. It doesn't follow from this that the letter is "dead in the water" in Portland.

    Everyone wants to Abp. to come down hard on OCP. It's been pretty obvious that that isn't going to happen. Hawkins may have hit the nail on the head: follow the money.

    Sorry, guys, I'm not taking the blackpill just yet.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    Ken, I'm inclined to characterize those "pastoral practices" as fraud, too; but I'd go along with "sacrilege."

    We could perhaps compromise with "simony," the taking of money (buying and/or selling of sacred things). Here, the priest is facilitating the sale of false salvation....for the sake of paying the mortgage.

    The problem I have with "greed" is that greed is a personal vice, not a 'corporate' one.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 335
    dad29 - I agree except I've seen both personal and corporate greed.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,700
    We are treading into the hotly-disputed territory of "sinful structures"--an invention of the modernists within the Church.

    But I get your point overall.
    Thanked by 2francis irishtenor
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,174
    Structures are not sinful... people are. Individuals. And individuals need to be held accountable.
    Thanked by 2irishtenor dad29
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 115
    It is simply bizarre to assert that the letter does not have the force of law in the Diocese of Portland. For example:
    3] Hymn and song texts must conform to the teachings and doctrines of the Church, especially with regard to the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Any texts which promote teachings which are ambiguous or contrary to the Faith must be retired from the parish repertoire. It must be sadly acknowledged that some hymns in approved hymnals, music issues and missalettes do not reflect Catholic theology and should not be used.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • ref_scottref_scott
    Posts: 89
    "[Entrance and Communion Antiphons]...there is a lot of interest in that." Lol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,342
    It must be sadly acknowledged that some hymns in approved hymnals, music issues and missalettes do not reflect Catholic theology and should not be used.

    Action please, not just words 'sadly acknowledging' a problem. It's no good writing a law saying 'don't be naughty'.
    Thanked by 2MarkB hilluminar
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    So .. OCP has headquarters in a diocese where parishes will be able to buy only a subset of their products .. Next will be announcement of reorg with rename to Oregon[Christian]Press.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,342
    Sorry, above I am being unfair to Archbishop Sample. The publication of this pastoral letter is action, which of course we can expect to be followed up. I hope that as the archbishop travels around his diocese he will check on the understanding of this guidance, and instruct his clergy on how to implement it. He does say resources and catechesis for the propers will be provided to parishes.
    However, in my view the need is greatest in the smallest and least resourced parishes, like the one I live in. We could just about cope with something like John Ainslie's 1969 Simple Gradual*, but AFAIK there is nothing in English, By Flowing Waters is way beyond us.
    *which was rendered inoperative by the changes in the calendar, published about a fortnight later!
  • WillWilkin
    Posts: 27
    Businesses cater to their market, selling what the customer wants. I don't blame private publishers for the condition of Catholic music. Rather to me it seems the church itself must take responsibility for forming their musicians in a way that assures liturgical music will meet the standards as defined in authoritative church documents. I wish there were scholae established by the church, perhaps at the diocesan level and made known to all the parishes as a resource for musical guidance and as an opportunity for aspiring church musicians to educate themselves according to the standards of the church as defined in authoritative church documents.

    An anecdote of the problem: My 19yo son is taking organ lessons from a church organist employed by a Congregational church who we met at a Catholic retreat house. At the time my son and I were also singing in our local Catholic parish choir. But the pastor of our parish declined to allow my son access to the church organ for lessons or practice, so he has been doing those things at a local Lutheran church where the pastor there gave him a key. A few months later, at a local potluck dinner-meeting of our local chapter of the AGO, the DM from an Episcopal church offered my son a paid position as "Organ Scholar" at his church --apprenticing him to play service music every Sunday and at some other services. So we quit our parish choir (and the 4-hymn mass, drawn from WLP "Word & Song") and now I sing much finer music in a much finer choir at an Episcopal church where my son has already played one of his own compositions at Communion and where the DM is a very fine choral conductor and composer of liturgical music.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,954
    I hear ya and understand fully. In some Catholic parishes, it seems they don't want good music and are obstinately proud about it.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen eft94530
  • Carol
    Posts: 454
    This is a very sad state of affairs! Some moves are being made in my large diocese to offer chant instruction, but opportunities are few and far between and for a fee. Seems to me if the church wants chant, they shouldn't charge you to learn. Money is not a hardship for me, thanks be to God. But the principal of the thing makes it stick in my craw. Pay to learn what you should have be hearing and learning all your life, so you can then volunteer.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen irishtenor
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,720
    the pastor of our parish declined to allow my son access to the church organ for lessons or practice


    What's the thinking here?

    Fear that an unsupervised teenager will damage the organ, or injure himself and (either way) cause the parish embarrassment and expense?

    Resentment at the idea that someone might get the benefit of using the parish's goods without paying for access?

    I've heard complaints about clergy who run the church as though it were a corporation, but perhaps the thinking is down at the level of a petty shopkeeper (petty in more ways than one).
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,743
    ...I don't blame...
    I do, and do so vehemently. There are many ways of making a living: being a machinist, being a teacher, being a physician, or being a plumber, or an electrician, or an artist or a grocer; or, on the other hand, 'just making a living' by selling cigarettes, profaning people's minds with rock music, or selling very poor 'religious' music while suggesting that it is appropriate for Catholic worship. No one has a gun held on him or her when deciding how he or she is going to make his or her living. There are in this life high roads and low roads, and each man and woman decides which he or she will follow.

    Businesses such as OCP and the others make a conscious decision that they will appeal to the basest of emotions and the most undiscriminating people rather than offering and marketing for these same people what is better for worship and better for themselves. Such philistines see only $$$ without feeling any moral responsibility to their patrons, and will stoop to almost anything for those $$$. They are well dressed musical prostitutes, musical dope peddlers.

    No, the blame is theirs for choosing to pander to the lowest common denominator rather than educating it. Their lack of moral compass is evident in their response to Archbishop Sample's letter. When an archbishop makes the effort to offer his people guidance in worship that is indeed 'in spirit and in truth' it behooves all to take it to heart. Instead, the OCP nabob dismissed the good archbishop's letter with shameless insolence.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 335
    I totally and completely agree MJO.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,174
    I also totally agree with MJO
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    Joining the totality, completely. MJO is spot on.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • WillWilkin
    Posts: 27
    Whatever judgements any of us have regarding the private publishers, I reassert my main idea that it is the responsibility of the church as an institution to form their clergy and musicians in a way that results in the mass and other liturgy (here especially including the music which is an essential dimension of the liturgy) being celebrated according to church standards. I wrote above of my wish for "scholae established by the church, perhaps at the diocesan level and made known to all the parishes as a resource for musical guidance and as an opportunity for aspiring church musicians to educate themselves according to the standards of the church as defined in authoritative church documents." If the church as an institution wants something better than what the mainstream publishers are selling, official church scholae at whatever level could create better hymnals and missals and make them available to all parishes in print form or even as free pdf downloads that could be printed and bound at local print shops. I am no expert on these things, so probably there are already better sources of music available than those being complained about here, but it seems to me to be ultimately the responsibility of the bishops to ensure there is sheet music and musical training in accordance with official church standards. But for whatever reasons, instead there seems to be a lot of parishes acting as customers of private publishers selling music that does not satisfy those standards. Exactly why is that happening I wonder?
    Thanked by 3MarkB Elmar mattebery
  • MarkB
    Posts: 205
    Yes, the bishops and pastors who are not acting to improve the quality of worship and music in parishes are either ignorant (and therefore unfit for their spiritual role as shepherds) or they are knowingly complicit in the degradation of the Church's worship (thus also unfit but more morally blameworthy).

    People in this thread have previously remarked about the importance for dioceses and parishes to wrestle FORMATION in sacred music and liturgy away from the music publishers and the workshops and resources they provide.

    It's like public schools versus charter schools. The major music publishers are akin to the public school teachers' unions, intent on preserving their near-monopoly and resistant to changes that threaten their power and influence. CMAA and other sacred music proponents are like charter schools, doing things independently and successfully without the unions' help.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 252
    OCP's shameful shrieking, like a child who just got its toy taken away, does nothing to detract from Archbishop Sample's letter. Though we all hoped he would decapitate OCP, that is beyond the power of one bishop. This is about as good of a start as we could ever hope for.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins dad29
  • Elmar
    Posts: 109
    If the church as an institution wants something better than what the mainstream publishers are selling, official church scholae at whatever level could create better hymnals and missals and make them available to all parishes in print form or even as free pdf downloads that could be printed and bound at local print shops.

    And, not to mention, a few $$$ are needed to fund such a project.

    Our diocese does not even have the money to for church music staff (nor for anything else, they sold the bishop's 'palace' and the office buildings and moved all this into the former seminary). There is only one (out of seven) diocese left in our church province that offers any meaningful support and formation for church musicians.

    Everyone in the field agrees that we desperately need some replacement for the 30-year-old (6-out-of-7-diocese) hymnal - any volunteers???
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,342
    Exactly why is that happening I wonder?
    I attach the beginning and end of the Music Planner put out by the Liturgy Committee of the Archdiocese of Southwark.
    In fairness, note that our colleague @tomjaw can operate in this diocese.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,174
    Our diocese does not even have the money to for church music staff (nor for anything else, they sold the bishop's 'palace' and the office buildings and moved all this into the former seminary). There is only one (out of seven) diocese left in our church province that offers any meaningful support and formation for church musicians.
    NuChurch theology will be their own ultimate demise
  • hilluminar
    Posts: 109
    a_f_Hawkins, I was just wondering where exactly does Abp. Sample say that "resources and catechesis for the propers will be provided to the parishes"? I have not run into this statement previously, and I am in his diocese. It would be wonderful if he provided such a thing. Would that every bishop would provide such.

    Also, I agree with you that "the need (for resources and catechesis for the propers) is greatest in the smallest and least resourced parishes". These small parishes are the most overlooked.

    As far as coping with Propers in English in an easy format, have you looked at John Ainslee's English Proper Chants (available on Amazon)? They provide easy versions of the Entrance and Communion Missal Propers that are really well done. Also, they have good accompaniments so that a small (or big) parish's piano player (or organist) has something they can actually read off of that sounds rather "Catholic". That can save you the headaches of having a piano player making up their own accompaniment, and coming off sounding like blues, reggae, calypso, or jazz.

    Or, Peter R. Johnson's Entrance, Offertory, and Communion Propers, in English, are chant in modern notation, and very easy. They can be downloaded for free on the web.

    The Lalemant Propers, available from Corpus Christi Watershed are very easy, and in English, but they are taken from the Roman Gradual rather than the Roman Missal, and so frequently won't match the Missal Propers printed in the disposable missals that most parishes use. Now if you had the Jogues Missal at your parish, the Lalemant Propers would be perfect.