Lenten Polyphony
  • tomsavoy
    Posts: 10
    In the Extraordinary Form during Lent, Ferias, and Ember days throughout the year are there any restrictions on the use of polyphony? There has been a preference for such recently expressed around here. Is this a matter of personal taste of the priest or actual rubrics? If the latter, I'd enjoy knowing the sources. As Lent contains some of the most beautiful polyphony ever written, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.
    Many thanks, colleagues!
  • davido
    Posts: 257
    Of course not
  • Tom,

    It depends what you mean by "are there any restrictions".

    Polyphonic settings of all the Propers exist for all the Sundays of Lent, and I won't be at all surprised to find more, besides.

    There are some (hereabouts, but also in the wider EF world) who advocate for no polyphony replacing Gregorian chant propers, but will tolerate those same polyphonic settings at the same Mass, as incidental rather than integral. There are no rubrics, to the best of my knowledge which require the restriction of polyphony such that it is not sung in Lent. (How one could foster and promote the treasury of sacred music while banning it, for example, is a puzzle I won't solve for you.)

    On the question of personal taste, there are some clerics (happily, now, few in number) who hold to the principle that the choir should sing nothing polyphonic because it will sissify the Mass. The time of year is irrelevant to those who believe thusly, so the fact that it is Lent is merely a pretext, if someone claims that the Church bans polyphony in Lent.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,839
    In the EF, with the large influx of converts and those form the N.O. looking for greater reverence, over the last 15 years the choice of music has not had to conform to a fixed idea. Previously many people attending the EF remembered the 'good old days' at "St. Venerabilis" and so everything had to conform to a memory of how things were in the 1950's.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,983
    De Musica Sacra ... :
    17. Sacred polyphony may be used in all liturgical functions, ... .

    Mediator Dei §62 :
    ... one would be straying from the straight path were he to ...; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    And I would also add that there is an odd exclusion of contemporary polyphony where some seem to think only renaissance polyphony is acceptable to the mass. That is also erroneous. Now I will grant you, that there is a lot of polyphony that is not befitting the mass... works that are somewhat experimental or avant-garde or atonal... often composed for a means to their own end and draws attention to itself rather than to the glory of God.

    This is a difficult subject to address as there is much confusion in this area of thought. And right along with that goes the paying of non-Catholics to sing in a Catholic mass. God wants praise from the hearts of his faithful true and pure (“Worship in spirit and in truth”) It might be said the simple chant from one or two devoted hearts that accomplishes this is more acceptable than 40 professional singers on hire giving a “stellar performance.”
  • It might be said the simple chant from one or two devoted hearts that accomplishes this is more acceptable than 40 professional singers on hire giving a “stellar performance.”


    Indeed. It might be said with a high degree of accuracy.
    Thanked by 2francis CCooze
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    The ways of God's grace are inscrutable. I've had non-Catholics who chose to sing in a volunteer choir setting (and have known non-Catholics who were paid to sing in a professional choir) and who clearly derived spiritual benefit from the experience, perhaps leading to conversion.

    But if we are really going to make that kind of a distinction, why stop there? "Musicians should do what they do purely and simply for love of God. Catholic, non-Catholic - doesn't matter. No paid musicians at all."
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    @Incardination

    I understand that God can use the means of hire for a way to conversion, but I myself feel it is a very fine line that quickly slips down a slope and I would approach it very carefully. I would require them to at least be Christian and seeking to live a moral life.

    Catholic musicians (professional) rightly deserve to receive wages just as they harken back to the Levitical order and it requires a lot of time to serve the worship of God in the best manner possible.

    Unfortunately, the present modern(ist) church has totally lost sight of the value in the worship of God and it enlists anyone with the slightest interest in strumming a guitar to fulfill the role that belongs to a most serious and necessary Levitical mandate.

    ...and, unfortunately, the priesthood has been reduced to the same, with no requisition for purity of heart, hence why we have the apostate condition at the highest levels.

    It all must be returned to proper order, starting at the top.
  • Incardination,

    The principle purpose of singing music at Mass isn't for the singer to derive spiritual benefit from the singing. Similarly, the purpose of the priest in offering the sacrifice of the Mass isn't principally to gain greater holiness for himself, for else, both positions would be entirely egocentric. Marriage and the priesthood are called (sometimes) social sacraments because they exist to be exercised for the good of the community even more than for the benefit of the ordained man or the married couple.

    Now, as to paying musicians, since the purpose of singing (or playing the organ) at Mass is to glorify God, and since in the EF the texts are prescribed, it is only dignum and justum that the musicians spend time learning to sing them properly, and it is, similarly, dignum and justum that the work they have done be properly remunerated. I won't go so far as to say that because they make beautiful music they should be beautifully remunerated.

    For the benefit of any not familiar with the terms, "dignum" and "justum", these are two ways of being right. One is "fitting", and the other is "legally proper", according to the law given us by God.

    Francis,
    . I would require them to at least be Christian and seeking to live a moral life.


    You have the Second Vatican Council on your side, although the Council fathers go further than you do: they require that anyone who fulfills a liturgical ?munus be a Catholic known for his upright life. Hence, armies of Un-necessary Ministers of Holy Communion shouldn't include anyone known to be divorced-and-remarried, and lectors shouldn't be those who use their mouths to speak ill of the Church.
    Thanked by 3francis CCooze RedPop4
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    Chris, I never stated that the "principle" purpose of singing at Mass is to derive spiritual sustenance - immaterial whether that is for the people in the pews or for the singers.

    However, that doesn't prevent non-Catholics from adoring God within the construct of the Catholic Liturgy, and our purpose DOES extend beyond the primary purpose of increasing the honor and glory rendered to God by our music. I will agree that it is a fine line as Francis indicates in his response. On the other hand, there is a fine line in being overly critical of that participation as well... which was the analogy I made about paying musicians (I am paid, I'm not making a true argument against it).

    Virtue is in the middle; all things can be taken to extremes on one end or the other.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    @Chris Garton-Zavesky

    You have the Second Vatican Council on your side, although the Council fathers go further than you do: they require that anyone who fulfills a liturgical ?munus be a Catholic known for his upright life. Hence, armies of Un-necessary Ministers of Holy Communion shouldn't include anyone known to be divorced-and-remarried, and lectors shouldn't be those who use their mouths to speak ill of the Church.
    I am in total agreement with you- -I was only attempting to be charitable toward the cause of Incardination and his efforts... believe me... I am not on the 'side' of VII (or better, it's lax abuse) in any way whatsoever.
  • Incardination,

    It's quite true that virtue is in the middle between two vices, because it is the proper balance, neither too much nor too little. That's not what's at stake here. There isn't a choice between awful music (on one side) or non-Catholic musicians (on the other).

    Furthermore, while there are secondary purposes beyond the worship of God -- for example, the instruction of the faithful -- whatsoever fulfills the secondary purpose at the expense of the primary is, surely, wide of the mark.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    Sorry, Chris. I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    I can agree that there is a line... but I'm not prepared to automatically exclude singers who, from all outward appearances, are devout and respectful from taking part in singing the Liturgy simply because they are non-Catholic. I don't see it as automatically detrimental to the primary purpose of our music. I think that it is JUST as important to be careful of crossing the line on one side of the question as it is on the other - hence virtue in the middle of two extremes.

    Your choir, your choice. That's your prerogative. Conversely, my conscience is clear on my choices in this regard.
  • Incardination,

    I recognize an honest disagreement when I see one, and I won't press the point. My first Catholic parish directing position came my way when I wasn't yet Catholic. My involvement in the program had little to do with my becoming Catholic.

    At present, I'm not directing a choir, but when I next am in such a position, I shall make every attempt to uphold the highest standards.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    I think defining that line is harder than some people may wish to believe.

    Would you accept a Catholic choir member in a state of mortal sin? What about ones inwardly questioning their faith or "cafeteria Catholic"? Those with less than orthodox opinions on certain matters? It seems to me that to draw a black and white distinction is rather academic.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    It could also exclude Catholics who question if Pope Francis is pope, among other things.
    Thanked by 2Jeffrey Quick Gamba
  • Schoenbergian,

    Perhaps a distinction is in order, so that Fr. James Martin doesn't get his oar in here. There is a fundamental difference between someone whose sins are mostly or wholly private and someone who trumpets his "differences" with "policy", as if the perennial teaching of the Church can change.

    Unless he were to broadcast this fact, I wouldn't know that a choir member were in mortal sin. Unless he voiced the concerns and took the position that most articles of faith were up for negotiation, I wouldn't know if he were "inwardly questioning" the faith. Those who are publicly dissenting from the teaching of the Church, on the other hand, can and should be excluded because the office they otherwise embark upon is incompatible with their public state.

    Now: should we have all choir members (or lay lectors or......) sign an oath of loyalty to the Magisterium? I would support such a measure. Should choir masters take into account their singers' needs to get to confession (instead of running rehearsal right up until the Mass is about to start?) Certainly. Should cantors (or cantrices) who edit the texts of the psalms and hymns so as to be "more inclusive" be swiftly removed from their posts? Absolutely.

    None of what I've written can fairly be construed to be promoting a Pharisaical position. Quite the contrary. The Pharisees enforced the rules at the expense of the truth, which is very nearly the photonegative of what I'm proposing.


    Liam,

    If the Holy Father would act more like a Holy Father, other people wouldn't be having (or expressing) those doubts.

    Thanked by 2francis RedPop4
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 866
    Would you accept a Catholic choir member in a state of mortal sin? What about ones inwardly questioning their faith or "cafeteria Catholic"? Those with less than orthodox opinions on certain matters? It seems to me that to draw a black and white distinction is rather academic.


    This brings on a sense of deja vu, as I'm fairly certain we've had this debate before...

    Honestly, though - if you wouldn't pay the people in your choir, but instead choose to pay (even Catholic) "outsiders" to fill your choir, then why do you have the members you do? Are you hiring extras to hopefully cover the sounds of who you already have?
    Are you confident that even your well-rounded musician members are so devoted that they won't at all feel like you are slighting them by not offering them anything for their devotion and time? We should all give of our talents freely to the Lord. Sometimes, it's hard to convince our spouses that that really is the best way to spend Mass for years, without "anything to show for it."

    There is no reason to exclude some beautiful polyphony during Lent.
    You don't have to stack the deck and tackle 8 or more parts, just to have something amazingly beautiful.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw francis
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 275
    Honestly, though - if you wouldn't pay the people in your choir, but instead choose to pay (even Catholic) "outsiders" to fill your choir, then why do you have the members you do?


    Perhaps I have 25 sopranos, 50 altos, 40 basses, and 1 tenor all excited to volunteer to sing good music week after week, but there are no more tenors in the pews, and we don't want to sing SAB forever and ever? Or perhaps because I want to be sure I have at least a serviceable ensemble every single Sunday, without denying parishioners the chance to learn to sing sacred music well?

    Duke Ellington said: "There is nothing to keeping a band together. You simply have to have a gimmick, and the gimmick I use is to pay them money!"

    God wants praise from the hearts of his faithful true and pure (“Worship in spirit and in truth”) It might be said the simple chant from one or two devoted hearts that accomplishes this is more acceptable than 40 professional singers on hire giving a “stellar performance.”


    I thought we sorted out the Donatist controversy years ago.

    I can't imagine I am the only one for whom there are one or two Masses a year at which I realize I am 100% filled with true and pure thoughts, and consumed by zealous joy to "serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song." The other hundreds, I sit on the bench filled with all manner of mean sentiments toward the organ tuners, the homilist, the custodian, the thurifer, the funeral director, and disappointment in my choir, in my playing, in the music I've selected. I make my way through snow, rain, heat, gloom of night to the church because I like having electricity in my house and gin in my glass. Many a priest I've known feels similarly.

    Our Roman liturgical music does not admit much individual expression. If I am going to a Baptist or Pentecostal church, sure, it's noteworthy that the singer on stage used to be a mafioso and is now an evangelist and now is going to tearfully sing "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling". But if I am going to Mass, I know the chant for today is on page X of the Gradual, and I want to hear it sung skilfully by well-trained voices. Who they are isn't part of the equation, just like I don't care who the celebrant is, if he's been properly ordained, sings well, and says the black and does the red. They are getting themselves out of the way and celebrating the rite the Church has given us.

    I don't know if the stonemasons who built our church were saintly or depraved. Probably they were both at the same time. But they knew what they were doing, and created an environment where we can worship. Their skill is what matters for the people who have to sit inside; if they were the purest of people, but didn't know how to build an arch that could hold, I don't think anyone could seriously claim the church would be better off with their ignorant piety. There's a reason we don't have choirs of newly-baptized babies, the purest souls this side of heaven – they don't know what they're doing.

    .........

    This whole thread has a strong stink of "ewww, yucky gays; we can't have them around here with their gross lifestyle." Did we just forget about #2358 in the Catechism, or...?
    Thanked by 2Schönbergian CGM
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    "I don't know if the stonemasons who built our church were saintly or depraved."

    Well, they were . . . masons!
    Thanked by 1RedPop4
  • Gamba,

    The thread is about Lenten polyphony, in the context of which someone asked about whether it is kosher to have non-Catholic musicians singing or otherwise serving leading roles in the public worship of the Church. Your reference to #2358 apparently missed my observation about the difference between contumacious public sinners and the rest of us, which has no necessary connection to those who suffer from the confusion referenced in #2358.
  • Our Roman liturgical music does not admit much individual expression. If I am going to a Baptist or Pentecostal church, sure, it's noteworthy that the singer on stage used to be a mafioso and is now an evangelist and now is going to tearfully sing "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling". But if I am going to Mass, I know the chant for today is on page X of the Gradual, and I want to hear it sung skilfully by well-trained voices. Who they are isn't part of the equation, just like I don't care who the celebrant is, if he's been properly ordained, sings well, and says the black and does the red. They are getting themselves out of the way and celebrating the rite the Church has given us.


    On the one hand, I'm inclined to agree with you, but if a non-Catholic and or contumacious public sinner is singing, while his work may be technically proficient, it is (nevertheless) lacking an important element: non-hypocrisy.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    Chris, I'm sorry but you are taking something with a very fine line and bludgeoning it to death.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    There is absolutely no comparison of hiring souls to build a church or even the altar with those who minister within the walls. Total ruse.

    So is the Donatism argument. We WANT the Catholic sinners in the priesthood and the choir... I is one! But we should also require (expect) them to be striving to live what they profess as one also. Availing oneself to Confession (and the sacraments and prayer in general) is VERY VERY VERY important as a Catholic choir member and a priest. Fleeing from sin should be one’s disposition, not excusing or ignoring the state of one’s soul.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 866
    This whole thread has a strong stink of "ewww, yucky gays; we can't have them around here with their gross lifestyle."


    Does it, really? Wow, I've apparently lost my ability to read between the lines.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 636
    In former times, there were rubrics in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum prohibiting polyphony during Passiontide, Advent and Lenten ferias, and Requiem Masses. Given the number of polyphonic compositions for those occasions, it's safe to assume that the prohibitions were either outright ignored or considerably modified by local custom, legislation, or indult.

  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 110
    I don't know of any restrictions in recent times (or former times, for that matter, though madorganist has just said that in former times there were restrictions.

    I like to look at it from this point of view:

    Since chant is the music which contains the three qualities of sacred music to the highest degree (according to Pius X at least), let's take a look at the chant Mass settings in the Graduale Romanum. There are recommended settings to be used for the different ranks/types of days - Eastertide, Solemnities, Doubles, Marian feasts, Green Sundays, Semidoubles, infra Octavas, Simples, ferias per annum, Advent/Lent Sundays, Advent/Lent ferias, and the Requiem Mass.

    From the average person's perspective, most of the "feast day" settings (1-10, 12-15) do not vary too much in terms of being elaborate, though from my own perspective there is a bit more elaboration in the 1-10 range than the 12-15 range. Similarly, there is not much difference in complexity between Mass 11 and Mass 17, the two Sunday settings. However, most laypeople (if not all) will be able to tell a difference between any of these and Masses 16, 18, (ferial days) and the Requiem Mass.

    There must be a specific reason why any of these Mass ordinaries are recommended for certain feasts/Sundays, and there seems to be an obvious reason why 16 and 18 are recommended for ferial days, and for why there is the Requiem Mass setting. These days are just meant to be different - more simple, less complex - so as not to take away from Sundays or feast days. I am sure others would be able to give better, more convincing explanations, but I am sure you all get the point.

    And so you probably see where I am going with this, but all I mean to say is that it doesn't seem as fitting to use polyphony on ferial days. It seems that there are many traditional parishes these days (by that I mean traditional/EF Mass parishes) that have everyone thinking you can't have a Missa Cantata without adding in (or replacing the chants with) polyphony. Similarly that solemnities require a polyohonic Mass ordinary and/or proper. None of these things are true... But again, all I mean to say is that if, in the current traditional Mass climate, we use polyphony as a measure/degree of solemnity, it would seem to make sense to limit it, if not omit it entirely, on lesser liturgical days, particularly on ferias.

    The same goes for Requiem Masses, based on the fact that the ordinary chants that are given are very simple.

    I know this response doesn't take into account that any of the Mass ordinaries in the Graduale are permitted to be used any time (any time a particular text is called for at least), or - as a couple have pointed out here, to my understanding - that certain ferial texts (propers) have been set to polyphony, and therefore that in the history/tradition of the Roman Rite my response doesn't hold water. Yet I believe it is a legitimate view to hold.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • RedPop4
    Posts: 23
    The thread is about Lenten polyphony, in the context of which someone asked about whether it is kosher to have non-Catholic musicians singing or otherwise serving leading roles in the public worship of the Church. Your reference to #2358 apparently missed my observation about the difference between contumacious public sinners and the rest of us, which has no necessary connection to those who suffer from the confusion referenced in #2358.


    Of my six singers, five choristers and a cantrice (THANK YOU for that lovely word!), one of my men is not kosher, but he is Jewish. He is a friend of my former cantrice (twice in one post!!!) who is now an alto in the choir. At this point, in an ordinary form parish, but making small strides (I am not a huge advocate of the E.F. but recognize all that it stands for and does) in going back to our musical patrimony bringing with it the beauty and reverence all Masses deserve, I needs must embrace whoever presents themselves for service.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    "Musicians should do what they do purely and simply for love of God. Catholic, non-Catholic - doesn't matter. No paid musicians at all."


    Whoever said this never met St. Paul, who said, "The workman is worth his wages."

    Such an opinion, for all its pretended high standards of godliness, means: "I don't care about music."

    People who say such things disqualify themselves from the discussion.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    chonak, you clearly missed the point.

    It was pointing out the absurdity of one ridiculous statement (universally excluding non-Catholics from singing in a Catholic choir because they are apparently incapable of being pure and faithful in their praise of God) by making another (if singing should be purely from love of God, why pay the musician?).

    If you read further, I was very clear that I'm not making that as an actual argument.
    I will agree that it is a fine line as Francis indicates in his response. On the other hand, there is a fine line in being overly critical of that participation as well... which was the analogy I made about paying musicians (I am paid, I'm not making a true argument against it).
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    Yes, Incardination, I understand that it wasn't your POV; consider me as joining you in contending about how wrong-headed it is.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • madorganist
    Posts: 636
    the absurdity of one ridiculous statement (universally excluding non-Catholics from singing in a Catholic choir because they are apparently incapable of being pure and faithful in their praise of God)
    I have mixed feelings about this and will offer scattered thoughts rather than a conclusive argument one way or the other. Church documents recognize both liturgical choirs (men or boys, may be vested and in the sanctuary) and choirs of the faithful, which cannot sing from the sanctuary. We read in De musica sacra et sacra liturgia that
    The laity also participate actively in the liturgy by virtue of their baptismal character which enables them, in their own way, to offer the divine Victim to God the Father with the priest in the holy sacrifice of the Mass itself.
    I cannot think of any part of the liturgy sung by a liturgical choir that cannot be sung by a lay "choir of the faithful." Furthermore, I'm unaware of any part of the liturgy sung by the choir that could not, at least in theory, be sung by the whole congregation. Are non-Catholics present as Mass or other liturgical services allowed to sing as part of the congregation? If the answer is yes, why should they be excluded from the choir? Does it matter why a non-Catholic wishes to sing at Mass? On the other hand, it would be going too far to say that non-Catholics have a right to participate in the liturgy, even merely as part of the congregation.

    Choir membership is more exclusive than congregational participation because it requires a certain aptitude (matching pitch, blending, etc.) plus availability for rehearsals, of course with stricter standards in some places than others. Do non-Catholics belong in a choir of the faithful? The currently prevailing ecclesiology, if I'm not mistaken, regards all of the baptized as in some sense within the Church even though not in full communion. (Whether we agree is irrelevant to this particular discussion.) What about unbaptized persons who in no way profess Catholicism or any form of Christianity? One FSSP priest, when asked about hiring non-Catholic singers, said an argument could be made that as long as there were at least one Catholic in the choir, the others merely supplement that one member of the faithful. Many would find that argument unconvincing. But it is not all that uncommon for some Catholic churches to host guest choirs, usually from local colleges or high schools, to sing for Mass. What if there is not a single Catholic in such a choir? In what way can they be regarded as a choir of the faithful?

    In the few places where there is a vested men/boys choir, should a unbaptized person (and one who is neither catechumen nor candidate but rather an unbeliever) be admitted? Or one who has apostatized from the Catholic faith? Could such be admitted to a lay choir of the faithful? Is it a slippery slope to barring Catholics who are not separated from the Church but nevertheless unable to receive sacraments, such as those in irregular marriage situations? Would prohibiting them from non-sacramental participation in the liturgy (assuming no scandal would ensue from admitting them) serve anyone's best interest if they otherwise met the requirements for membership in the choir?

    My personal experience with paid singers in Catholic contexts is that even if their musicianship is beyond reproach, those who aren't themselves Catholic (or already in RCIA or seriously considering it) just aren't "into it." For example, they rarely arrive early and are usually the first to leave at the end of Mass. Sometimes they are noticeably fidgety or agitated during services when not actually singing for long stretches. They don't exactly contribute to the spiritual unity of the choir! On the other hand, practicing Catholics in the same capacity are often every bit as dedicated as the best volunteers. Maybe every case has to be handled on a individual basis. There's some guidance in Church documents as far as general principles to apply, but maybe nothing so clear-cut as to be one-size-fits-all. I think it is reasonable and fair to say again that non-Catholics do not have the right to participate in the liturgy, but nearly all over the world, those of good will are welcomed to do so. We would probably also find near-unanimous agreement that it is preferable that anyone singing in church actually believe the words being vocalized. Beyond that, maybe we would have as many opinions as forum members, ranging from "all are welcome" to "only Catholics in the state of grace."
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,109
    We would probably also find near-unanimous agreement that it is preferable that anyone singing in church actually believe the words being vocalized.
    With Passiontide approaching I have some little reservations about that.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    MadOrganist, you are quite correct that there are arguments to be made on both sides, which is why I think it is a fine line. I can appreciate someone deciding either way in his / her particular situation - no qualms about that what-so-ever. But to try and make a universal statement that it is always wrong or always right is to ignore the complexity of the situation.

    What about non-Catholics who are becoming Catholic? (I had one such situation earlier this year.) Do we exclude them from taking part at Mass? I don't know of any church that would tell Catechumens they must leave before the Credo as was done in the first centuries. What about non-Catholics who are - to all appearances - devout and respectful of the Liturgy, even if they are among the first to leave at the end of Mass?

    In the EF, the principal part of what we (i.e. the choir in particular) do is to increase the honor and glory rendered to God, through our participation musically in the Liturgy. That is not achieved through the beauty of our music, but simply by uniting ourselves to the celebration of the Mass (Office) as part of, in the name of, with the voice of the Universal Church. In that context, non-Catholics may sing but can't really contribute - they can't truly "participate" as members of the Church. On the other hand, we necessarily have a secondary aspect to what we do as a choir - to draw souls to Christ. This secondary aspect IS at least somewhat dependent on the beauty and perfection of what we do musically. In this context, non-Catholics can certainly participate and contribute to what we do... and our efforts in this regard extend to all present, Catholic or not. Put succinctly, our effort to draw souls to Christ is not limited merely to Catholics.

    We - all of us Catholics, musician or non-musician alike - have an obligation to convert non-Catholics... an obligation in charity and justice. Our efforts don't have to be overt. They can be by example, by simply sharing the nature of who we are as Catholics with those non-Catholics.

    If our focus - as a choir - is merely on "music"... then we miss the boat whether our group is purely Catholic or mixed. But if we use rehearsals to periodically underscore the true nature of what we do in choir; if we use time (here and there, certainly not every rehearsal) to illustrate Faith through our musical action, this would seem to be an excellent opportunity to potentially draw the non-Catholic into the Church.

    As for "commitment" or "degree of investment" in what we do, I've asked people to leave choir who are not truly invested (as demonstrated through not being committed to rehearsal or through ongoing attitude). I apply those standards to anyone taking part, Catholic or non-Catholic.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen madorganist
  • May I make a distinction which is, in my view, important?

    There is a difference between singing/saying everything as if one were a believer in the state of grace and actually participating in the Mass.

    An analogy from the stage might be helpful.

    Paul Scofield famously played Thomas More and Charles VI (if I counted correctly), but playing those parts, even fervently, didn't make Paul Scofield either a saint or French, or royalty for that matter. Similarly, when Gregory Peck played Msgr O'Flaherty, no one received actual absolution from him, and Peck didn't gain the gift of ordination. BY CONTRAST, even when Fr. Miguel Augustin Pro was dressed as a dustman, he could forgive sins and celebrate Mass.

    Non-Catholics who physically attend Mass can verbally (or musically) make all the responses, and can take all the proper postures, and still not participate in the Mass.

  • Incardination
    Posts: 833
    Non-Catholics who physically attend Mass can verbally (or musically) make all the responses, and can take all the proper postures, and still not participate in the Mass.

    Yes, I agree. That was the point of:
    they can't truly "participate" as members of the Church
    in our primary role as a choir.

    On the other hand, they most certainly can take part in the secondary aspect of what we do as a choir. Our efforts at drawing souls to Christ are not relegated to those in the congregation, but is as much directed to those in the sanctuary and those in the loft itself as it is to those in the pews.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 636
    With Passiontide approaching I have some little reservations about that.
    Do you care to elaborate?
  • Richard will speak for himself, but I understood him to mean, "We don't really want people to mean "Crucify Him!" all over again, even as Masses are cancelled in dioceses internationally.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,109
    Bingo Chris.
    My current project is englishing Vulpius' Passion. There's a bit of a double game going on with "Hail King of the Jews!"
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • madorganist
    Posts: 636
    "We don't really want people to mean "Crucify Him!" all over again, even as Masses are cancelled in dioceses internationally.
    But surely we do want them to believe that the scriptural account they're taken from is factual and inspired by the Holy Ghost!
  • Absolutely, but that's not the same claim, at all.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 636
    I said believe. Mean was someone else's take on it. I'm unsure what the claim in question is.