Corruption of Sacred Music (well... at least the replacement of that thereof)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    On another thread we were discussing corrupt music in the church. I was trying to illustrate that sacred music took the most significant hit in its entire history with a papacy in the 60's.

    General Audience, November 26, 1969 (DOL 211)
    “A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.
    “It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints. This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed — perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor.
    “We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect. So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. …
    “It is Christ’s will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.
    “It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values?
    “The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic. Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more — particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.”

    About 50 years... a paradigm shift at these words took place as never before.
  • Not at all meaning to 'split hairs', but Sacred Music is not and cannot be 'corrupted'.
    Rather, non-sacred music has been put in its place.
  • But Paul VI could look back at the musical achievements of the Anglican and Lutheran churches. Could he not quite reasonably hope that composers who could meet the challenge would arise in each major language group; even if not a Bach, or Byrd? And he was working 'in the spirit of the Council'
    SC §121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures.
    Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.

    Note that neither he, Luther, nor Cranmer sought to eliminate Latin completely. He was saying that you cannot make an omlette without breaking eggs, the eggs being the theological truths enshrined in the liturgy, which were inside Latin shells and needed to be opened for the people. You may not agree with his method, but the purpose is not unworthy.
    The result, as sanctioned by our bishops, was a theological and sociological catastrophe.
  • Can we really pretend that "Mother at your feet is kneeling" or Rossini Propers are more musical and suited for the liturgy than the drivel of today?
  • Mother:no. Rossini: another matter. By your implication, the Rossini propers would be drivel: but that is nonsense. Chanting ritual text to formula, especially immemorial formula, is traditional and certainly can have beauty of form. After all it's what is done in the Office.
  • They offend me because we can do so, so much better, and are symbolic of the same kind of Catholic legalism that leads people to run outside immediately after Communion.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Schönbergian - some have the resources, WE do not. We are the type of parish for which GS was intended, even with a press gang we could barely assemble this many male singers.
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    Thanked by 2dad29 Andrew_Malton
  • GS is a completely different ballgame than Rossini, though.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    Can we really pretend that "Mother at your feet is kneeling" or Rossini Propers are more musical and suited for the liturgy than the drivel of today?
    red herring. that was sentimentalism at its worst. (MAYFIK)

    Paul VI (let's face it squarely please) deleted Gregorian Chant. Can we pretend he did not decimate the centuries old tradition of sacred music?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    Thank you MJO for the clarification on the corruption of sacred music... I suppose it should be "corruption of the sacred music space... or something akin :)

    Perhaps it's the mind, hearts and souls of errant humans who have desecrated the art insofar as they haven't a clue about authentic sacred music.

    revised the title.
  • As noted, corruption in the church has been a thing for a lot more than 50 years (it's just the last 50 that eyes have been opened and so it can be thought of as having wracked the institution).

    A corrupt culture will necessarily produce what?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709

    Please note that in 1969 the Pope discarded Gregorian Chant... that is a level of corruption that has NEVER been thrust upon us... and certainly not by the pope himself! Just sayin.

    A corrupt culture will produce bad fruit.

    Here is an apt description of the destiny of 'bad fruit'

    (from the end of the article)

    Unless we quickly bring about the fulfillment of Our Lady’s requests, we must expect to experience the full force of the “If not” portion of Her prophecies: the complete succumbing of the world to Russia’s errors; unimaginably destructive wars; widespread starvation; a ruthless and bloody persecution of the Church; and finally, the wrath of God wiping clean such evils from the earth by the annihilation of entire nations.

    NOTE: today is the 103 anniversary of this apparition.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    MAYFIN is not "sacred music" under the standard definition. It would be properly called 'devotional' music, although cloying, sentimental, tin-pan-alley would be other fitting adjectives.

    Like a_f_hawkins, we also used Rossini for some (not all) of the Propers. After 2 hours' rehearsal, adding another 30 minutes to prepare/polish Liber Propers is asking a lot from volunteers, most of which are 30 minutes from home.
    Thanked by 1Joseph Michael
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709
    There is no need, really, to apologize for utilizing Rossini propers... they do not fall into the category of 'sappy religious', but are an extension of sacred music, even if in a very simple formula.
    Thanked by 1Joseph Michael
  • francis - Yes Paul VI severely reduced the amount of Latin chant, including well performed Gregorian chant. but he also said 12Oct1973 DOL.522 "It is important to preserve, at least in certain centres of specialisation, the heritage of of sacred music and song that belongs distictively to the Latin Church" & "to keep in the repertoire of customary liturgical song at least the several texts that have always and everwhere been sung in Latin and Gregorian chant ... Gloria Credo and Sanctus are examples"
    So - 1) ensure there are pockets of full preservation, and 2) keep a little bit everywhere. Hence the booklet "Jublate Deo", with its request that bishops ensure that every member of the faithful know at least a minimal repertoire of the congregational chants. Bishops evidently disregarded him.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • It's hardly a red herring when that was what was sung in most Catholic parishes in North America. The notion that, before Vatican II, the Church was a treasure trove of high culture is simply a fallacy. If we want to be taken seriously as a movement, we need to stop idolizing the past for its own sake (especially when it wasn't so rosy) and instead look for the best possible solution that's available today. I'm confident that will never lead us back to the 50s, Fr. Rossini's blacklists, and the other sentimental trash that so many "traditionalists" seem to long for while abhorring the modern equivalent. (Not pointing fingers at anyone on the forum, but I've definitely seen this attitude from PiPs.)
  • I linked it before, but Orson Wells makes a very succinct case for the Borgia Papacy.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,259
    AFH, unless there was later specification, "at least in certain centres of specialisation" could very easily mean concert venues, and "that belongs distinctively to the Latin Church" is not the same as "in the Latin Church's liturgy."
  • CCooze - From his establishment of Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae (CIMS), on November 22, 1963 (and hence CMAA, formed as the American affiliate of the CIMS), just six months after he became pope, through to writing directly to every bishop in the Latin Patriachate with a personal copy of the booklet Jubilate Deo, I see no deviation in Paul VI's commitment to sacred music.
    Paul VI in his addresses and exhortations consistently refers back to SC either directly or to MS quoting from it.
    MS#52. In order to preserve the heritage of sacred music and genuinely promote the new forms of sacred singing, "great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutes and schools," [SC#115] especially in those higher institutes intended specially for this. Above all, the study and practice of Gregorian chant is to be promoted, because, with its special characteristics, it is a basis of great importance for the development of sacred music.
    MS is the current set of music directives, though modified by GIRM/GIRL for the chants between the readings. MS went through 12 drafts to reach published form, Bugnini describes the eleventh as mainly Pope Paul's own revision of the tenth.
    MS#20. Large choirs (Capellae musicae) existing in basilicas, cathedrals, monasteries and other major churches, which have in the course of centuries earned for themselves high renown by preserving and developing a musical heritage of inestimable value, should be retained for sacred celebrations of a more elaborate kind, according to their own traditional norms, recognized and approved by the Ordinary.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    MS is the current set of music directives

    Some here will argue with that, of course.

    By the way--and yes, I'm picky--"....Large choirs existing in.......should be retained for...." (etc.) Maybe Bugsy Bugnini's magic-eraser rephrased what was originally written, but it's hard to find '....and sing the musical heritage.....' in that graf you quote. Yes, it's implied.\

    Regardless, the Bishops have done what they have done for centuries: ignored Roman writings. The Church perseveres despite (most of) its Bishops.
  • ...despite (most of) its Bishops.
    And yet, we continue to address the ones who are self-serving laws unto themselves as 'Excellency' and 'Eminence', terms of deep respect which they don't come close to deserving. They are wolves in sheep's clothing.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CCooze
  • AFH, it seems PaulVI is mostly quoting Tra Le Solecitudini in what you've referenced above. Almost word for word.
  • ServiamScores, I do have 'a bit of a thing' about two points made by Trent, but not implemented. One was that partaking in Communion should be the norm, the other that the texts of the Mass including the readings should be frequently explained to the congregation. Pius X had tackled Communion, or at least started the process; and tried to free the texts from operatic concealment. I think Paul VI saw partial vernacularisation as necessary to uncover the texts. No doubt he was well aware of the perils of mandatory total vernacularisation, unlike, perhaps, Abp. Sheehan of Baltimore.
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  • Indeed. I find it so fascinating that Sac.Con. specifically states that the ordinary should have retained full latin (and mind you this part is proper to the congregation). I certainly believe that the readings which are to be proclaimed to the people should be in the vernacular (even if this means presenting them side-by-side with the vulgate). The rest, however, is so easily understood with the guidance of a simple missal or worship aid for anyone who cares enough to follow that closely.

    I just read large swaths of TLS to my schola last night. A few of them seemed a bit shocked (in a good way) at how clear his directives were and how far the modern church has strayed from them. I made it very clear that this was going to be a foundational/guiding document for all music selections going forward, and that consequently some of the old standards would be put to pasture, not out of animosity for the music itself, but out of a desire to more closely conform our work to the mind of Holy Mother Church. (Basically, 'brace yourselves kids... there's gonna be a lot more polyphony and a lot more latin'. — fortunately, I've been working these things in for the last two years so the transition shouldn't prove too much of a shock.)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709


    I use TLS as the theological basis to any sacred music program. It is certainly the most clear and aligns itself with the long standing magisterium.