An exercise in tact...
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 558
    Say that a person very dear to you absolutely loved your very least favorite piece of church music, the one you thought was most inappropriate.

    Now imagine that you are forced to explain to this loved one, this close friend, why you think that way about this piece that they love.

    Which piece is it, and how would you explain why it seems inappropriate to you?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 477
    I'll bite. If my husband adored that piece "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, and heard it at the 6pm Sunday Mass, and thereafter hummed it day and night and would only go to that Mass, because the organist always plays it...

    Well, in what circumstances would I be 'forced' to explain to him why it is inappropriate? I would probably gently indulge him, as his engagement in Church activities would far outweigh his iffy taste. I would even pretend to sing along if necessary, in order to encourage him to keep going to Mass (he's not actually Catholic in real life, so that play s a part in the imagined scenario). I would basically feel comfortable indulging him in the same way a parent might indulge their child's persistent repetitious love for something like "99 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, One Fell Off and Broke His Head".

    If, one evening, we happened to be having a candle-lit dinner and he said "Gee, I so love that song, don't you think it's the best ever?" I would have to say "Actually, I find it a not-so-Churchy, seeing as it is a secular pop song and about adultery and stuff." And he might say "What? But it's got that amazing refrain, and it's about redemption and..." and I'd say "I know, I know, everybody likes it, but the Church has such a beautiful tradition of sacred music, going back millenia, it's a shame not to feature that treasure, especially at Mass, which is such a holy moment, and also something so ancient and God-given."

    Being as we aren't argumentative, it would probably end there, and he'd torment me (now knowing I didn't love it) by caterwauling it unexpectedly while I'm trying to do taxes or dishes or something, and I'd warble back the harmony just to have a laugh. And then I'd teach him Stella Caeli Extirpavit and get him to give the TLM a try once, and see where things go from there.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079
    Tactful that doesn't involve patient silence or silence equivalents typically requires taking a meta-level perspective.

    If they don't share your assumptions about what the relevant criteria are for choosing church music, you won't be able to *argue* at/with/to them in a way they will find tactful unless one is assiduously resisting the false ego need to Be Right. The most you'll be able to do is engage them with their assumptions governing the conversation (and how, according to their assumptions, you have a different perspective on the music), perhaps tactfully noting that those are not the same assumptions everyone brings to the table, or that the Church itself embraces.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Elmar
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 386
    I'd try to nurture and gently education my friend until the holy light bulb comes on in his head and he has an "ah ha" moment of epiphany. Then I'd look at him squarely in his eyes, smile and say, "welcome to the fold". . . come ye blessed of my Father. "
  • jcr
    Posts: 81
    The discussion that follows any question of the quality of music, and this is especially true of any particular piece of music, almost always degenerates into a "what I like vs. what you like" argument. It is best to excuse oneself from such discussions because the ultimate conversation stopper is "well, it's only a matter of taste, anyway".

    When this has come up in choir situations I have been forced on occasion to pull rank, so to speak, by saying that if it is really only a matter of taste, then I wonder if all opinions are equally valid. The relativist reply is almost always "yes". Gotcha. If this is so, then my opinion is as valid as yours and therefore there is no reason to value it more. Hence, we'll do it my way.

    Seriously, there are arguments for the aesthetic superiority of some music over other music. There are also reasons why we like some music better than others. I confess to liking some music that is not great music and, also not liking some music that I know is great music. Those are matters of taste.

    Such issues of historically rooted, well crafted, expressively motivated, genuinely artistic music are very difficult to talk about with folks who cannot understand that something that has touched them in some way is not good and something that sounds foreign or incoherent is good. It really isn't as simple as that. It's much better to discuss it from a position of "tolerance" and show some empathy for the other guy who doesn't share your erudition and background and is unprepared to discuss this at this level.

    Be careful to avoid giving away too much, though, because a too conciliatory posture leaves you in a bad position and you could be bitten.

    "Be ye kind, one to another" is a good reference to think of in these moments.
  • . If this is so, then my opinion is as valid as yours and therefore there is no reason to value it more.

    I use this occasionally to reply to "all people go to heaven". I suppose they might, but they might be in Hell, too. Who am I to judge?
    Thanked by 1jcr
  • noel jones, aagonoel jones, aago
    Posts: 6,558
    It's simple, "only hymns that have passed the test for an Imprimatur are permitted to be sung at the Liturgy of the Hours or at Mass."

    Why would people sing anything at Mass that does not reflect church teaching...and ignorance is not an excuse. And that's how to answer this.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins tomjaw
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 354
    Noel, hymns or hymnals today do not receive Imprimatur or Nihil Obstat anymore at least I don't think they do. I know older hymnals before Vatican II have those credentials. Is that what you ment?

    Nihil, perhaps the best approach would be to consider how you would want someone to explain that the hymn you like is inappropriate.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,016
    Don9of11, you are correct - there are no imprimaturs in modern hymn books, unfortunately. There are however clear statements in the Missal like
    GIRM 48. This chant is sung ... In the Dioceses of the United States of America there
    are four options for the Entrance Chant: ... another collection of Psalms and
    antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, ... another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day,
    or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. ...
    It is reasonable to ask for evidence of this approval, before allowing a text to be used. In fact it is a grave dereliction of pastoral duty to permit a text to be used without checking.
    Opportunity for Fr. Krisman to assert that if it is published by OCP it has ipso facto approval throughout the USA.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 354
    a_f_hawkins, I've seen this before and im no expert on this but to me its a blanket statement which suggests that nobody really looked at anything or the responsibility is being passed down to the local Bishop. Older hymnals not only had imprimaturs but letters from Bishops giving there approval and requesting so many copies be sent to them. I also feel there should be one set of approved chants and psalms that way no matter what pew missal you pick up, it's going to match word for word what the cantor is singing. I don't understand why a parish would spend good money on pew missal or hymnals with all the readings and psalms for the church seasons and then the MD uses something totally different (duh).
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079
    Additionally for the US, the the Conference of Bishops also deferred to the ordinaries of the dioceses in which the publisher is.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,016
    Liam - Yes, however I think the faithful have the right to know the name of the bishop, books should be explicit about who authorized them.
    Don9of11 - one set would be too restrictive, I feel. Holy Mother Church has two sets authorized in Latin, as GIRM says GR and GS, plus authorized translations (where they exist) into English/Spanish/... . It has always been acceptable for Diocesan Bishops to authorize additions to this core repertoire, we do not want liturgy to be over rigid, and that judgement call lies with bishops. Which is why there is the misquote about Hell being paved with the skulls of bishops.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079

    That would be nice, but it will have zero to do with a successful response to the question initially presented. IT would be more likely to induce a response of (eyes glazing over) among folks in the pews who are not aware of being aligned with any particular regiment in the liturgical music wars.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 827
    Our previous bishop took music very seriously. He went so far as to forbid some of the music the Hispanic Masses were using. It helped that he was a fluent speaker of Spanish (he was from Puerto Rico).
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,016
    Liam - the rules are not about tunes, just texts. It might be difficult to rule against YooHoo OEW on theological grounds, a question which has been debated on this forum more often than neccessary.
    Actually there are English texts of the antiphons with explicit approval, Weber's Propers for one, in England&Wales the Processional by Society of Saint Gregory. Each of these covers Sundays and universal Solemnities. They have lacunae for local solemnities, such as our titular St Maughold (also national patron), & St George is very widely celebrated, just to name a couple from the last few days.
    Also the office hymns have explicit current approval, and some of them may be alius cantus, actioni sacræ, diei vel temporis indoli congruus. And then there is a vast body of old hymns with an imprimatur.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,079

    I don't dispute any of that. I only caution that any of it will likely induce glazing of the eyes to someone who one wants to persuade on the initial question presented unless that person happens to be of a personality type attracted to delving into rule systems (if it were my nephew who is waaay over on the spectrum, it might work IF church music were of any interest to him, but sadly it is not).