The Roman Missal - 3rd Edition ... a problem verse or is it?
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    #393 states that While the organ is to be accorded pride of place, other wind, stringed, or percussion instruments
    may be admitted into divine worship in the Dioceses of the United States of America, according to
    longstanding local usage, in so far as these are truly suitable for sacred use, or can be made suitable.

    So I guess my question, is a drum set, electric bass, electric guitar and synth, etc, suitable for sacred use or can they be made suitable. I know that some will say look the words percussion and stringed instrument are right there. They are there, as clear as day. Of course it doesn't say electric keyboard but maybe that is included in organ, who knows?

    I would say that this might be alluding to orchestral instruments but it doesn't come out and say that.
    I wish for once the powers that be would come right out and say what they mean and mean what they say. It would certainly provide the guidance we are all hopefully looking for.
  • It is very clear, "sacred". Is rock music sacred? hardly! So we don't even have to misconstrue that as meaning rock or band music.

    So I suppose, we can assume what they are intending for is more of an orchestrated music. Brass, timpani, strings, when suitable and sacred.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,933
    i think it opens the door to problems. period.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,359
    >>I wish for once the powers that be would come right out and say what they mean and mean what they say.

    Perhaps they did exactly that.
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    -MichaelM, it is very clear to you and I what sacred music is. I do not find rock or pop music sacred in the least. I think that the words heard by a rock musician playing in a contemporary church would think that the music they are playing is sacred music, simply for the fact that they are playing in church and they are being filled with the Holy Spirit while playing it.
    Thanked by 1ContraBombarde
  • Adam is right:
    They DID say what they meant, and what they meant was nothing; that whatever other instruments someone had used over time, or thought suitable, or could be made suitable (WHATever THAT means) were permissable. They mentioned the organ to make us happy but made it clear that they really didn't care. As always, they said exactly what they intended to say: it really doesn't matter (to them).

    Thanked by 1francis
  • The trouble is that most people these days have no concept of "the sacred" let alone "sacred music".
  • I am wondering about the phrase "long-standing local usage". To me, that seems to indicate that if a particular church has, as part of its tradition and history, used whatever instrument, then it may certainly continue to do so. But introducing things that are not a part of the tradition or history (such as a rock band - just using as an example) would not be appropriate.
  • It's true, this instruction is a bit alarming, as it will be used to justify music that is probably more suited for concerts, prayer groups etc. The reality is, even in daily life, we desire to interpret things differently according to our own agendas and ambitions. Whether it be laws, rules, or other things, we all tend to want to bend things to our desires of how things should be. This will be of course, no different, and will surely be used to justify rock music in mass.

    As others have suggested in other threads, the real cure to this problem is teaching the youth, and sowing better seeds of knowledge and sacred tradition of the church, to combat this dilemma. It's only then will change start to become more effective.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Fascinating. Nothing of substance, and with apologies to donr, but remove just one word from the title of this thread and I hear Yoda: "The Roman Missal - 3rd Edition ... a problem verse is it?"
    Thanked by 1donr
  • Yet another frustrating paragraph. There is so much that needs to be cleared up. It seems the more we get "clarity", the more confusing things get.
  • doneill
    Posts: 193
    That's the problem when these things are written by people who have only cursory knowledge of what they are talking about. Ignoring for the moment "made suitable for sacred use" clause, if one took this literally, it would exclude keyboard synthesizers, but would include, for instance, a harpsichord (which is a stringed instrument). All orchestral instruments would be included, as well as a drum-set, but the major question would be with instruments that rely on electronically generated sounds - an electric guitar is a stringed instrument, but relies heavily on electronic amplification. And, yes, what is an organ, exactly? Certainly those pipe organs that are rooted in church history, but what about electronic organs? This is not clearly defined. I agree, this is frustratingly confusing. The "according to local usage" is also not clear, but I suspect that it refers to the long-standing tradition in certain areas of the world of using other instruments in the liturgy (we know, for instance, that Rome's one-time dictum against using other instruments was largely ignored; much Iberian polyphony, for instance, was doubled by stringed and wind instruments). In the end, it really comes down to that "made suitable for sacred use" clause. It's really about beauty, offering our best standards to God, and what is appropriate for sacred worship. So we can't always rely on the laws of the documents - we need to be educators.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,359
    >>we can't always rely on the laws of the documents

    Or use them to beat people over the head with.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Whenever I get into arguments regarding paragraphs like #393 (which is less and less since, let's face it, you're not going to win no matter how right you are), I always ask this question:

    #393 implies that there are instruments that are not suitable for Mass. Can you name some of these instruments? If electric guitars and drumsets are acceptable, what could possibly fall into the "not sacred" column?
  • I'm not so sure, Adam. Many documents, especially the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law, are exactly the kind of weighty books which I would prefer for head-beating.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,359

    This is an example of a "use-mention confusion."

    That is, you could use the document to hit someone with, but mentioning the document is unlikely to score any worthwhile wins.

    A similar issue is expressed as "the map is not the territory," to which I would add: it's not the car, either.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Motyka
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    Andrew, I would say the Kazoo might not be fit for the Liturgy but it is a wind instrument and might sound sacred in a crowd of kazoo'ists.
  • Adam,

    My use-mention confusion was not confusion. It was my inability to take anything seriously for very long.


    What is it about the kazoo that makes it fit for the liturgy? Is it more appropriate than the drumset? Why or why not?

    I'm asking rhetorical questions there. I think it's important to get people to consider why certain instruments should be considered inappropriate for use in the liturgy. Sure, #393 can be twisted to allow pretty much anything, but let's take the glass-half-full approach. #393 also says that inappropriate instruments exist.
    Thanked by 2Gavin Adam Wood
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    My point would be that some one, any one of some sort of authority needs to not worry about offending someone and simply state, "I'm sorry but the kazoo is just not worthy of playing during the Liturgy. No matter how much you like to play it and you think it sounds sacred. It simply sounds like blowing wind past the sharp edge of a blade of grass only worse."

    What we need is more direct verbiage. Simply stating wind instruments and percussive instruments are ok is lame. It can be taken out of context by anyone.

    I would be in favor of a directory of sorts, a reference to what words mean. So every time a new GIRM comes out and it states "stringed instrument", there would be an asterisk pointing to a reference. That reference would then states something like the following.
    * In the Diocese of the United States stringed instruments are intended to mean orchestral instruments such as the violin, viola, etc. and not stringed instruments such as accoustic, electric, steel, etc guitar that is suitable for Rock, Country, Jazz or Pop, etc styles of music. In some settings where there are no other musicians available to play anything but the guitar, great care should be taken that the music played does not sound like the genres listed above.

    This could and should be done by the USCCB.
    We need to start a petition or something of the sort.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    But what if the USCCB doesn't believe the kazoo is inappropriate for the liturgy?
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I think most of the forum readership is familiar with the concept of "aboriginal" vocal production. That is, where a significant amount of exhalation pressure is consciously applied by a singer upon the folds of the larynx which results in a pushed, reedy, formant timbre that can be, at once, loud-pure-devoid of harmonic overtones and difficult to describe. This sort of singing method came to a heighthened attention with the Bulgarian State Radio Women's Choir albums in the eighties, later on via the film "Cold Mountain" displayed the primitive beauty of the shape note singing tradition, which musicologists have documented for over a century. To an untrained ear used to western classical and popular solo and choral styles, aboriginal choirs tend to sound quite similar, no matter whether from the tidelands of Mississippi, the savannahs of Africa, the hills of Southeast Asia and Australia, or the islands like Tahiti, not to mention, again, Bulgaria. Why this geographical/musicological excursion?
    I wonder if contextualization has to be part of the discussion of the validation of instruments at worship just as much as the voice. To say that the vocal technique above is invalid, or faulty would be incorrect prima facie, perhaps even if a form of chanting used the style. Look at Corsican chant for such an example. Tens of you might be lining up to say, whoa there, the scenes in the film, "The Mission," explicitly show and we have tons of written documents that the physical ability to chant with vocal ease was also taught successfully, and there's exquisitely sung chant from the four corners of the globe on record everywhere. Of course there is. But, it doesn't necessarily mitigate the value of an "unusual" timbre or technique being used validly at service, does it really? No one here's particularly stressed out about using a gemshorn, a serpent, or a shawm in medieval context.
    So, why the constant drum beat demanding the "black list" of instruments? Isn't the dilemma similar to the way I think a supreme court justice replied about the definition of pornography?
    "I don't think I can actually define it, but I know it when I see it."
    Thanked by 2Gavin doneill
  • Maybe this reference from Musicam Sacram can help:

    62. Musical instruments can be very useful in sacred celebrations, whether they accompany the singing or whether they are played as solo instruments.
    "The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lift up men's minds to God and higher things.

    "The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship, given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority, provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful."43

    63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.44

  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,414
    Actually, reedy sounds have a wealth of overtones. Compare that sound with the sound of a pure sine-wave oscillator which is, by definition, devoid of overtones and is generally perceived as flute-like. Bulgarian and other slavic folk-style singers sing with voices that emphasize higher partials rather than suppress them.

    On your pipe organ, play music with just a stopped flute at 8ft. The stopped flute only produces the 3rd, 5th, and other odd-numbered partials, which fall off quickly in intensity, much like the chalumeau register of a clarinet, which also has no second partials. Then compare the music played with stopped flutes simultaneously at 8ft, 4ft, and 2ft (if available). This has more overtones and will sound, amazingly enough, less flute-like. Lastly go back to just the 8ft stopped flute and add a IV or V rank cornet to get a sound that is much more reedy sounding.

    If you want to hear a pure sine-wave sound, try listening to a theremin, played preferably without its excessive vibrato.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 703
    I've found that line to be very problematic. Sure, we can use it to justify our position on which instruments are correct to use. But then everyone else can use the SAME line to justify their position. It's ambiguity at its finest! It also opens the door to statements such as this (which someone said to me before): "[insert instrument] has been used in a church before, so therefore it's suitable for sacred music."
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,359
    please note, the text says:
    >>by common opinion and use

    it does not say:
    >>in the opinion of those highly trained in Sacred music and according to the use of those experienced in its venerable traditions
  • The reality is, it isn't ambiguous. They have obviously made their decision regarding what can be used in the mass. GIRM states it, and so does that line. Now moving on from there, it does say "Sacred" so we need to define Sacred. Does hammering away at electric guitars away with distortion produce "Sacred"? What is "Sacred"? How do we produce Sacred for the Holy Mass? I think that is where the issue will be drawn from. Does it distract from the Holy Mass? There is where you can fight back against that.

    For hundreds of years, the Organ and Singing have been used in the mass, with no trouble. Young people grew to love great music done with skill on the organ. Why is it that we have it wrapped up in our mindset now, that adding drums, electric guitars with distortion, tamborines, etc..... are better, and what the youth want? Where did that come from? I am curious to discover the why's to all of that. Probably most of us on here grew up loving great and skillful organ music, hymns, propers, chant. What changed?
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    Well I keep getting people tell me that we are to sing a joyful noise on tamborine and cymbal as stated in the psalm. So they feel that if it was good enough in the days of David it should be good enough for us as well.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,350
    Great idea!

    David danced before the Ark of the Covenant as it was being translated from one place to another.

    Let us therefore note:
    (1) The situation was a one-time procession, not the sacred liturgy.

    (2) David danced immodestly dressed (2 Sam 6). Has anyone suggested repeating that practice?

    (3) Nobody danced before the Ark when it resided inside the tabernacle of the Lord or in the Holy of Holies. Considering that men were struck dead after merely touching it, this is not surprising.

    (4) According to pious legend, the Ethiopian Orthodox still have the Ark of the Covenant. If anyone from here wants to go there and dance, let them try. I would recommend writing the phone number of the nearest US consulate on one's hand.
    Thanked by 3donr CHGiffen Gavin
  • Do they, indeed? Is this reliable, or accepted. Or is it legend?
    One has heard many tales that allow as how it is hidden and yet to be discovered in any of a number of underground caverns around Jerusalem, including under the Dome of the Rock.
    This has fascinated me since reading about it as an adolescent in the Adventures of Richard Haliburton.
    Is there, really, any seriously and reputably accepted locale at which the tabernacle is thought likely or definitely to rest?

    As an aside, some may want to go to our Lady of Walsingham's website in Houston and view our tabernacle, designed solely for us. It is a 'replica' of the Tabernacle, complete with carrying rods and cherubim, and bears the Alpha and Omega of the Hebrew alphabet on the doors. It's quite beautiful, and simple.

    Back to the original topic: is there now a reputable theory (or knowledge) as to its whereabouts? Recovering it would, of course, be a wondrous thing.
  • donr
    Posts: 949
    We have no need for the original tabernacle. The Virgin Mary is the new tabernacle which contained true bread from heaven, the actual WORD of God and we no longer have a need for the staff because Christ was hung on a piece of wood that produced the greatest miracle of them all. The original tabernacle does not contain the true presence of Christ that we all have in our parish churches at this very moment.

    I guess I understand the historical value but in all actuality ... we simply do not need it any more.
  • How true: we do not need it. But...
    We do not NEED relics of any kind... but.....
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    I'd theorize that God has hidden the Ark from our view, because He knows that we would tend to focus too much on it. And how can Christians reach the ends of the earth if we're tied so strongly to a single physical object? I think it's brilliant that God has given us something which can be replicated at all places and for all time.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,597
    Second Maccabees says in 2: 4-8

    It was also in the writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. And Jeremiah came and found a cave and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense and he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: "The place shall be unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be specially consecrated.

    Given the Jewish attachment to the ark, I always thought that Solomon giving it to the Ethiopians was a pretty fishy story. Pretty unlikely, I think.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,350
    The Ethiopian church claims to maintain the Ark in a church in Axum; one monk of the community there is appointed guardian to it and has access to it. It is not shown publicly. Whether the artifact is authentic or a reproduction is not known.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,597
    History Channel has presented a couple of programs on the Ethiopian ark. Interesting, but authentic? My money is on Jeremiah.