Dubium and Response: Are liturgical musicians required to adhere to the GIRM? NO!
  • A passage in Fr. Turner's book has always bothered me, since it is in direct conflict with the new G.I.R.M.

    This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduale Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) 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.


    I wrote to the USCCB Committee for Divine Worship, and here's my letter:

    Dear Monsignor Hilgartner,

    In a 2012 book, Fr. Paul Turner says: "No official approbation is required for hymns, songs, and acclamations written for the assembly."

    Is this really the case? Here is the entire quote:

    139. Finally, the option frequently taken by many parishes in the United States is “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” (GIRM 48). This option allows singing from the broadest repertoire of liturgical music. It would not support the singing of secular love songs at weddings. When choosing the text and music for the entrance chant, the appropriate song will be one that helps introduce the thoughts of the faithful “to the mystery of the liturgical time or festivity” (47).

    140. The approval of local bishops in the third and fourth options can be formal, but commonly bishops have given at least tacit approval to the use of songs appearing in published worship aids, if not songs composed by local musicians. In 1996 the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy said of music in the United States, “No official approbation is required for hymns, songs, and acclamations written for the assembly,*1 provided they are not sung settings of the liturgical texts of the Order of Mass” (Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter 33 [January/February 1997] 5). Nonetheless, the GIRM gives conferences of bishops and diocesan bishops the authority to restrict the music to be sung in parishes. It is hard to imagine a conference of bishops ratifying the contents of a hymnal song by song, culture by culture, but they have the authority to do so.

    Paul Turner serves as a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
  • Here is the reply, with emphasis by Monsignor:

    Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    I know Paul Turner very well… he is a well-respected scholar and pastor. His point has to do with the local parish and the choice of music for a particular liturgical moment, and he is correct. As I have mentioned to you before, collections of hymns and songs (i.e., hymnals) must be approved for publication by the bishop of the place where they are published. But the “state of affairs” in regard to music for the liturgy in the United States is such that it would be impossible to review every piece of music that is composed for liturgical use… many directors of music compose their own psalm settings, and new pieces for choirs are written and published every year. The law gives Conferences of Bishops authority to restrict it, but the USCCB has given wider latitude, and the guidelines articulated in Sing to the Lord (2007) are given to guide composers in their composition and those who plan/prepare liturgy in the choice of music specifically because the Conference cannot review every single composition.

    While some might want greater or more strict oversight, it is just not feasible in the U.S., and the law allows for discretion on the part of the Conference of Bishops. To do otherwise would be difficult, because a single policy or strict repertoire cannot possibly anticipate the needs of a particular community (including the variety of cultures in our parishes—what languages, styles, or forms of music are appropriate) or the capability of local communities (what musical resources are present, what particular musicians are capable of playing/singing, what music an assembly knows). It’s really the principle of subsidiarity. Be thankful for this flexibility.

    Msgr. Rick Hilgartner
    Executive Director
    Secretariat of Divine Worship
    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
    3211 4th St. NE
    Washington, DC 20017
    Thanked by 2jpal E_A_Fulhorst
  • This seems entirely reasonable. It's a decent presentation of the de facto reality.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    As I have mentioned to you before


    The Monsignor must be a very patient man.
  • The Monsignor must be a very patient man.

    I posted my correspondence several months ago. As a matter of fact, it was not in regard to this particular question. This semantic notion of "collection" vs. "individual composition" is made nowhere in the G.I.R.M. How ridiculous that somebody can sing a heretical song so long as it's not in a collection. Please.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    SAC, the horns of the dilemma are a brain burner for sure. But as always, it seems premised upon an either/or fulcrum, and let's face it, we in the states (if not everywhere) aren't anywhere near a listening, aware culture in order to advance the conversation among all ecclesial constituencies so that "progress" can be finally put on the table. Pardon the pun, but outside of the appointment of Cdl DiNardo and the official push towards improving homiletics, items of concern to us were again resoundingly tabled last week at the Baltimore USCCB conference.
    In thinking about it before responding it dawned on me that many Sees have subordinate priests as directors of the Office of Worship whose interest in what I'll call a CMAA agenda is purposefully non-existent and who also surround themselves with musicians (nice people all) in advisory capacities, neither of whom are truly qualified to assess the artistry or viability of the works of local composers (from genius to inane) who would think to submit their music formally for approval. (That's a dovetail of another thread.) So, in realpolitik, adherence much less faithfulness to the licit, prevailing documents about liturgy, remains a very tenuous strategy for deliberating "change" at a diocesan or parish level.
    What I'm finding over these last few years is that enlisting the vocal support from parishioners who take the time to comment of their appreciation towards some sort of coalition voice that they would pass onto the pastor in whatever ways they choose. That and doing what I can do has changed the landscape quite a bit since I came under Mahrt's tutelage.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    I think all, or certainly most, of us are too well aware of the music situation in U.S. parishes. It is a waste of time to continually bother the overworked Monsignor with questions he has already answered. Laws governing every situation don't exist, and the monitoring resources and staff are not there to enforce them even if they did. I know, many of us would like different answers. We will not likely get them. I have decided to do as much musical good as I can in my own parish. I can't do anything about the others.
  • Adam Wood, I had the same thought as you.

    SanAntonioCatholic, the law doesn't permit "heretical songs" to be sung. The Conference is prudently declining to attempt detailed enforcement, instead leaving it to local decisions. What could be more normal? Can you run a red light just because there's no policeman watching?
  • The answers I am reading seem to be saying that most people here understood the distinction between "collection" and "individual song" except me. How did you learn this? In other words, can you show me the printed source I should have consulted that explains this? Thx.
  • SAC,

    You're right: I don't see any authorization in the GIRM or any other written source for the distinction between individual song and a collection of songs. However, as others have already explained, Msgr. Hilgartner's office can only do what is humanly possible, and to that end, he makes a practical distinction between the two.

    Maybe it's something like the cop on the highway who can't pull over every last person who is speeding, so he has to make a practical determination that he will try to get only those who got 10 mph or more over the speed limit. True, he has no real authority to (in effect) change the speed limit, but he can only do what's possible. Sometimes the law just can't be enforced as written.
  • Put another way, your headline is a bit misleading - just because the USCCB can't police every last liturgical act in the United States, it doesn't mean that liturgical musicians are somehow exempt from liturgical law.
  • The problem with local enforcement is when the Ordinary or his subordinates are not well formed in liturgy. The fact that the CDW saw some problems with Sing to the Lord indicates, at least to my amateur eye, that they are recognizing that there are serious problems. Pope Benedict XVI certainly recognizes this, or else he would not have wanted a division on liturgical music created within the CDW.

    Rich_enough, I worked in the the Texas House long enough to know that if lawmakers wanted a loophole closed, they would find a way to do it. The problem is that, in our case, the loophole is large enough to drive a double-decker trailer, have the Titanic sail through it and have an airbus fly through it.

    I did find something rather interesting from the Lineamata that the Fathers of the 2005 Synod used:

    In other responses some lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.


    If the bishops from around the world recognize that this problem exists, why aren't they doing something about it? It seems to me as though OCP and GIA are holding the USCCB hostage. Even before Sing to the Lord was written, the USCCB had a powerpoint presentation detailing a lot of the problems with the music used at Mass. Unfortunately, none of these were addressed in Sing to the Lord.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 633
    They aren't doing something about it for the practical reason that they currently have other roaring fires that need their attention first.

    It bothers me too...but that is the reality.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Spriggo Gavin
  • I posted this on my blog last week. It sprang forth from my frustration with the substandard music my parish is using (Spirit and Song).

    An Open Letter to the USCCB

    Your Eminences and Dear Bishops:
    Grace and peace in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    These initial weeks of the Year of Faith leave much for the Church in the United States to pray about and ponder. The results of last week’s Presidential election may lead many of us to assess the strength of our Catholic identity. It is interesting that while many of our Catholic faithful may know the platforms of particular political parties, not a few are probably unfamiliar with the basic tenets of our Faith.

    This should certainly be a cause for genuine concern, not only for you, as our archbishops and bishops, but, for us, as lay Catholic faithful, as well. The question at hand is an urgent one: What do we do to restore our Catholic identity?

    The answer that I propose is two-fold: re-infusing the sacred back into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and strengthening our Catechesis. These two go hand in hand.

    Sacrosanctum Concilium reminds us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the “source and summit” of the life of the Church. I humbly submit that the Mass is the most important, most sacred act that the Church engages in because it is her greatest treasure. Yet, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Holy Sacrifice, sadly, is not without its shadows. In 2004, Redemptionis Sacramentum sought to correct these shadows; however, some of them persist.

    Perhaps, the USCCB could, I humbly suggest, conduct a survey to gauge the progress our liturgies have made since the promulgation of Redemptionis Sacramentum. If problems persist, maybe the Congregation for Divine Worship could send officials to assist dioceses and parishes that need support. This may take additional resources, but, it is an investment that is well worth it because it involves no less than Christ, Himself.

    Along the lines of strengthening our worship, the issue of the music used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass needs serious and dire consideration. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, noted with concern in his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, that

    “Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129).”

    Although the USCCB made a statement on music through the document, Sing to the Lord, problems with the music used in our sacred liturgies remain. Not a few compositions in English and, in many cases, in Spanish, do feature the particular musical genre that the Holy Father warned against. When the new Roman Missal was promulgated last year, there was hope that the music would be elevated to fit the sacred texts of the prayers, but, as I have experienced it, this has not been the case. There is a strong disconnect, in many cases, with the nobility of the prayers and the musical settings that are used. We are also not using the Propers of the Mass; instead, we are making the fourth option, hymns, the default setting. The Church gives us magnificent texts to use, but, in many cases, we are not using them. While independent composers and organizations have taken it upon themselves to set the Propers to chant, it seems to me that the mainstream publishing houses have not seen fit to give these pieces the place they deserve.

    The lyrics of many of the songs used at Mass are also problematic in that they emphasize more the horizontal aspect (i.e. social justice) than the vertical (God). Prior to releasing Sing to the Lord, the USCCB had made a Power Point presentation calling attention to this particular problem; however, a review of the music published by the two main publishing companies indicates, at least to me, that the problem persists. Some of the lyrics feature watered-down theology that does not accurately reflect our Faith.

    If we hold to the axiom, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi”, then how and what we pray at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should reflect our belief, our Faith. This is where Catechesis enters into the discussion. I live in an area in South Texas that identifies itself as Catholic; however, much remains in evangelizing our faithful. Protestant sects, the Jehova Witnesses and the Mormons have, sadly, made inroads. Catholics who are, perhaps, not properly catechized, have strayed into these particular denominations. In many cases, catechesis ends after the Sacrament of Confirmation has been imparted. Along the same lines, my area of South Texas is also heavily Democratic. However, when I have engaged some of my fellow Catholics and Democrats, I have found that, while they know what the party stands for, they are not well-versed in the Faith. They are not aware of the five non-negotiable principles. I believe that catechesis is a life-long process. We can never learn enough about our Faith.

    Your Eminence and Excellencies, I am not a degreed theologian; I am just one of the faithful in the pews. I spent much time in prayer and reflection before I put my fingers to the computer keyboard because these are issues that are paramount to our rediscovering our Catholic identity. Too much time has been devoted to social justice matters and other concerns and not enough has been given to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Catechesis. While it is certainly important to have an authentic Catholic voice in the Public Square, we must also give greater importance to the basics of our Faith, the Holy Eucharist and the Church’s Teachings. The Holy Father cannot do this alone. All of us need to collaborate with him, to be co-workers in the Truth. Granted, there are many bishops who have made great strides in the area of restoring the sacred nature of the Liturgy, but, all of us need to work together, hierarchy and laity alike.







  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    The problem is that, in our case, the loophole is large enough to drive a double-decker trailer, have the Titanic sail through it and have an airbus fly through it.

    BG, that is so apt an analogy I couldn't help but think of the scene in HOT SHOTS PART DEUX when the code transmitter tries in vain to get the attention to the rescue guerillas that they've been discovered by Saddam's guards, and finally shouts into the microphone "The Bloods and Crips have raided the liquor store!"
    But its the USCCB who ratted out by remanding all liturgical agenda to the sees of.....tada-Portland and Chicago!
    Thanked by 1benedictgal
  • I think it's quite irrational to expect the USCCB to police every piece that is ever written and is ever played or sung at Mass. The only way that I can see to reduce the heretical or inappropriate music at Mass is to train up a generation of sacred musicians who wouldn't create such music in the first place, and a generation of clergy who would stop an errant musician from allowing it at Mass. Then educate the congregations to be aware of what is proper at Mass and proper theology in texts, so that if both clergy and musician falls down on the job, they can properly take the steps to address the matter through the proper channels (to the pastor, then to the archdiocese, then to the USCCB, then to the CDW). This isn't going to happen overnight. We can't expect it to. But I think it wise not to waste our energy in nagging the good Monsignor, who has more than enough on his plate. Rather, we need to focus on what we do in our parishes and our dioceses. We need to focus on how we raise our children and how we educate our choirs. That's going to be the only sure-fire way to eliminate inappropriate music from the liturgy.

    Adam S.
  • The problem, as I see it, is that the USCCB spends too much time on social policy (economy and immigration come to mind) than it does on the sacred liturgy and catechesis.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,764
    Even that isn't the issue. We happen to live in an enormous country.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    bg, I am sometimes a follower of St. Henny Youngman's take on things - 'take our bishops, please.'
  • I'm quite surprised by the tenor of many remarks in this discussion, to the effect that "the bishops couldn't possibly review all music or be expected to make a list," etc.

    This is evidently fallacious. As we know, in the past white lists and black lists were drawn up -- committees can always be constituted when they are sincerely desired, and there are plenty of sound (mostly younger) theologians and musicians out there who could vet texts and even, I dare say, evaluate musical styles to give a preliminary evaluation of whether the music fits the oft-repeated criteria of magisterial documents.

    But more importantly, if the Bishops actually cared about implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium, Sacramentum Caritatis, etc., they could in fact mandate that starting in Advent 2013, at least two of the propers of any Mass for which singing is intended to be used are to be chanted either in English, Spanish, or Latin; that the repertoire of hymns programmed for liturgies be at least half classic in nature (which could be defined as prior to the Second Vatican Council, in order to draw upon our great heritage, as the Council demanded, while the other half would, in most situations, be drawn from post-conciliar collections); and that organ music should be restored and cultivated wherever possible, in preference to music performed on other instruments.

    I'm not saying all this represents my ideal (it's still much too incoherent). I'm merely saying that if there were a genuine desire to bring about a sea change in parish practice without simultaneously throwing away the general custom, it could certainly be done. The bishops this past year have been sending all around the country bulletin inserts that defend religious liberty and the Church's pro-life teaching. Isn't it amazing? When something really matters to them, a lot begins to happen.




    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    Be careful what you ask for. What is more likely if that two propers rule were imposed is that more Masses would simply be said without any music, and lots of Catholic musicians would be unemployed.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    I agree the bishops could make a list of acceptable music. Would we live long enough to see it? The USCCB is a bureaucracy with committees out the gazoo.
  • I totally reject the idea that it is "impossible" that the USCCB could approve collections of Mass propers and a decent amount of good hymns.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I agree with ProfKwasniewski and SAC. If they wanted to advance the cause of true sacred music, they could. And if that were the case, they would start by not putting out documents like Sing to the Lord that have to be directly slapped-down by Rome because they go against the missal's rubrics (which are quite clear).

    It's not just that they aren't doing positive things for sacred music and liturgy, they seem to be actively hurting the cause.

    Another great example is their newsletter on the Holy Thursday feet lavabo. The missal says men only. Rome later clarified making it abundantly clear that it was males only.

    Yet the USCCB leaves up that little newsletter article online allowing women to be washed, an article that is used again and again to justify it, even though it has no authority.

    It's things like this that make me loose my faith in the USCCB, liturgically speaking.

    And don't even get me started on the CCHD, which appears not to have been fixed yet.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Not to mention their previous documents on sacred music. Get a load of this:

    Music in folk idiom is finding acceptance in eucharistic celebrations. We must judge value within each style. "In modern times the Church has consistently recognized and freely admitted the use of various styles of music as an aid to liturgical worship. Since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy and more especially since the introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy, there has arisen a more pressing need for musical compositions in idioms that can be sung by the congregation and thus further communal participation.

    Music in Catholic Worship, no. 28


    I think this judgement has already been passed, and folk music doesn't fit in it:

    "Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple. The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone."

    Pope Pius X, Tra le Sollecitudini, 1903
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    As has been mentioned often in the last couple of days, CMAA is us. So is the church. Our republic is us. And so on. I'm down with Professor Ted on trumping the notion that the USCCB is essentially incapable of articulating restorative prescriptions inwhich readily verifiable common problems, unhealthy circumstances, and even abuses could be mitigated globally. We still could put a woman on the moon. We can and have harnessed the physical processes of nuclear physics for good and ill, even re-created a lab version of the singularity big banging in Switzerland! Heck, we've convinced millions of people to fork out $125 or much more for a coffee maker that brews half a cup of joe. And every so often a hundred plus church princes manage, with some humble prayer and assistance of the Holy Spirit to discern who God chooses to shepherd the One True Church. Doubters, get a grip.
    On the other hand, the Church as a living organism presupposes a composite physiogimony; I know this because the Bible tells me so. So, Jeffrey Tucker's observation of the flexibility of Mgr. Hilgartner's response to SAC as being an optimistic, positive response is not only correct, but necessary to sort out how we approach and think about divergence.
    What we basically have been playing out of late, writ large, is the Siamese Twins sort of bipartisanship model. "Chang" demands that his perspective on how to operate their enterprises is founded upon absolutism and revealed law which aligns with natural law. "Eng" rejects Chang simply because he "demands" Eng's compliance. Eng insists upon consensus, experimentation, observation, and coexistence. Their destiny appears only to be an attraction of derision, mockery and revulsion in the atmosphere of the circus. Please remember I cite this only as a model.
    There has to be some initiative to move the inert. Unfortnately there's less incentive built into the culture in this era: a congress deadlocked with the lowest amount of passed legislation in recent history; a confrontational model between executive governance and special interest groups (Wisconsin governor vs. SEIU and teachers union); civil disobedience sans a coherent ethos (Occupy Mvmt. etc.); and a furtherance of fractionating a "union" based upon class, race, gender, religious influence, and life issues while also appealing for their vote (or actually proxy) upon the fulcrum of one side: unemployed yet entitled takers; or the other- capitalist rich job creators and producers and their over taxed middle class minions. This is simply toxic, static, disabling, and ultimately ridiculous and an embarrassment.
    So plopped down in this morass of failed democratic principles is the thing we call the Holy Roman Catholic Church, not a republic indeed, but also not exactly equipped to act like a federal government either, really?
    My pastor thinks one of the major root issues stems directly from the mechanisms by which bishops are newly appointed, transferred and elevated and then ensconsed. Well, that may be a worthy problem the Church will need to confront universally, but it doesn't help us in the meanwhile. But I bring this up to point out that where a bishop articulates a clear vision of his own ecclesiology, the people seem coalesce around him, schools and parishes are revived, seminary numbers rise, evangelization increases dramatically. And so forth. Exemplars of this might be the retiring Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NB., and Jaime Soto of Sacramento, CA. Their modus operandi's can hardly be called identical. But they're leading.
    So, as I mentioned briefly in another post, it seems to me that it wouldn't at all be very difficult for any bishop to convene a council of pastors that he trusts to give him their true skinny on who's got the stuff together in liturgy and music, and provide said bishop with some candidates who would be asked to work with him, or his proxies under his periodical review, towards a thorough examination of those priority issues in the lit/music domain and then crafting strategies and timelines for their remediation. And I maintain this must be a diocesesan level enterprise, not metropolitan, not regional, not national. I will illustrate how choosing a national panel of experts to craft national mandated policies will fail, and miserably so.
    Around 1997 or so, a group of eminent musician/composer/scholars/liturgists formed an ad hoc group known as the Snowbirds. Their deliberations were sound, their consensus full and their philosophies were clear. But, to no small extent, all of that stood in opposition to an earlier convocation of like peoples at the Milwaukee symposium. How would this play out. The Snowbirds advocated the systematic, expert deliberation of an ultimate White List project that would eventuate in a totally approved and mandated national repertoire and presumably a national hymnal. Mgr. Mannion was a member of the Snowbirds and I posited this question to him at the 1999 national NPM:
    At some point consensus and trust by the faithful will be lost when the reality that the experts opted for "When in our music God is glorified" at the perceived expense of the now and forever absent "Pescador de hombres." And such tensions could be construed and amplified over whatever the table of contents eventuates as.
    But, if the territorial and demographic aspects that are typical to the local diocese are given some respect in the local process of expert deliberation, then a sort of unveiling process to "stockholders" by a united panel, priests' collective and, of course, the bishop himself, at which the laity and others could have their input noted and formally considered, and responded to as needed. And if the process is collegial and transparent, but also informed by universal principles of VII documents, earlier documents and the raison d'etres of our traditions examined in a positive light, then a worship book, some combination of hymnal/missal could serve that diocese in many ways for many reasons for many years.
    I don't think this is naivete on my part. I cannot know the exegencies of how things are done in Wasilla, Alaska versus Lafayette, Louisiana. But there have to be qualified people in all of these "jurisdictions" who would readily jump at the prospect of crafting a comprehensively positive worship repertoire that would endure.
    I mean, damn, isn't the Explorer satellite still moving towards the outer reaches of our solar system? And we can't agree on songs?
  • Since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy and more especially since the introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy, there has arisen a more pressing need for musical compositions in idioms that can be sung by the congregation and thus further communal participation.


    This is such...@!#$. IF this were true, then they would be commissioning composers to create music in the old style or a new style that would be suitable for use in the sacred liturgies.

    What they've got now musically is equivalent to a priest saying Mass while chewing gum (or tobacco here in the south, with a brass spittoon next to the altar and another one at the pulpit so he could punctuate his words with expectoration) with his boogie board leaning against the wall, wearing jeans with holes in the knees, barefoot, wearing a tank top.

    The aural picture should match the visual picture. When they fail to match the mind becomes frazzled.

    image
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    I would much rather have too little regulation than micro-management. Our cause is gaining followers, and a bottom-up solution, I believe, is preferable at every level -- whether you are concerned with a parish or the entire Church. Work on your own corner of the sky -- your family, your friends, your schola, your parish, your diocese. It's much more productive than waiting for the bureaucracy to come around.

    Unless, of course, you are part of the bureaucracy. Then, by all means, work on it!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,764
    For better or worse, the Church puts a high value on peace.

    Incidentally, Charles' mention of Siamese twins refers to the Bunker brothers.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Darn, that jerk is so esoteric!
    What's depressing is that i didn't need to google their first names. I never knew them as the "Bunkers." Sounds like a sitcom, which I'm sure their life wasn't.
  • "automatic" and "instantaneous tacit approval" for any & every piece of music composed by any man, woman, or child? I think not. This is completely contradicted by the General Instruction. The good monsignor can only give his personal opinion here. Asking the committee itself would be a completely different matter.
  • ProfK and others make a valid point: the bishops could regulate liturgical music more closely if they really wanted to. Fifty years ago there were many diocesan liturgical commissions dutifully approving music for mass, and perhaps that could happen again at some point. But getting individual bishops to be more aware of liturgical issues is hard enough, without getting the whole conference on board.

    However, the original question concerned the national bishop's conference. True,they could reorganize their priorities, but in the meantime they simply don't have the resources to review everything being sung in the thousands of parishes across the land.

    The larger question is what will actually get us to the goal of better music. I would contend that a top-down bureaucratic solution is probably the least effective one, if this means that it is pursued without the corresponding education and formation at the local level. That's where the CMAA comes in. We can only do so much about the USCCB, but we can and should do many things locally.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    If you bore with my excruciatingly long post, there was a schema in it. Does anybody think that the diocesan level solution just could be the ticket out of the malaise?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,075
    For those of us who have practiced the task and craft of liturgical music in parishes for anything over 20 years, the fact that these discussions are going on at all is a good sign. In 1986 I attended a meeting in a northeastern city well known for "charismatic' Catholic experiences. Questions were brought up regarding the quality of music and those who asked the questions were shouted down as "snobs" and "elites". As I was young and impressionable, I knew that something was not "right" but could not say exactly why. It was quite clear from that meeting that my graduate level musical education and theological training did not mesh with established church practice.

    Flash forward to now and I walk with glee when I see these discussions. And my archbishop is aware of these discussions also.

    You who are young, rejoice in this time. I really feel that we are at the beginning of something great and powerful. Yes, there will be struggles, ups and downs and nay-sayers. But to read and hear such discussions. They are the answer to my prayers. I know I will not live to see anything near a completion, but these facts remain. There are earnest musicians, priests and theologians who are openly questioning recent and past practice. One can come out into the "sun" and debate what really is the spirit of V11 without fear of being seen as a luddite. Their numbers grow everyday. Proof is all over the landscape of the church.

    A little perspective from the older generation of struggling Catholic church musicians.

    J'ai du pot!!!!

    Pax et bonum.
  • You're right: I don't see any authorization in the GIRM or any other written source for the distinction between individual song and a collection of songs.

    Put another way, your headline is a bit misleading - just because the USCCB can't police every last liturgical act in the United States, it doesn't mean that liturgical musicians are somehow exempt from liturgical law.

    I'm sorry, but I just don't see how that makes any sense. Are there regulations in the GIRm or not? Are they to be followed or not?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    Just my own experience, but those who want to do the right thing, don't need regulations. Those who don't want to do the right thing, wouldn't follow them to begin with.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Ah, the old "Inestimabile Donum" of the Sierra Madre:
    Badges?.....Badges! We don't gots to show you no stinking badges!"
  • @SAC: Lack of enforcement does not (morally) exempt a person from following the law.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 633
    I think we can all safely agree that the music sucks in many parishes. So fine. What are you personally doing to make the situation better?

    Complaining without taking action is useless at best and extremely counterproductive at worst.

    If you can't do anything at your parish...go to another parish. Go back to school. Start a garage band schola. Don't just sit there...DO SOMETHING.
  • In my case, that would necesitate a trip outside of my diocese to either San Antonio or Corpus Christi. And yes, I have tried to do something, but, it is not easy.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Jenny
  • It’s really the principle of subsidiarity. Be thankful for this flexibility.


    EXACTLY. Really, do we want the Bishops making hard-and-fast choices on music? The people that they have in the chanceries and in the USCCB would probably just say "Ok, from now on, no music except Gather and Flor y Canto."
  • Obedience will solve things? 'Twas obedience that done the deed, or so says Geoffrey Hull. Last thing we need is to reignite the specter of top-down imperialism or legalism.

    The harder, better way is to give individual bishops swirlies until they cry uncle. Then at least the obedience is manageable and, well, from a pre-existing solemn vow of a religious before God and man.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,764
    Lax enforcement of a regulation is not the same as abolition of the regulation.
  • What really needs to happen is to get more priests on board with the mind of the Church on these matters. Things get no where pretty fast when the pastor doesn't like sacred music. It seems in my experience that this is the case more often than not. And let's ourselves not forget to pray for the Church.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,764
    Sorry, E.A., I think there's a canon against giving a bishop a swirly.
  • Complaining without taking action is useless at best and extremely counterproductive at worst.

    I would argue that it is actually valuable to know and understand what is in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. I find Secretary Hilgartner's response extremely bizarre, but perhaps others see the matter diffferently.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,006
    I would argue that it is actually valuable to know and understand what is in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.


    I agree. My pastor expects me to be familiar with it, and to follow it. Granted, it doesn't lay down Tridentine anathemas for infractions, but it isn't written quite that precisely. It isn't a replacement for any musician's lack of professionalism or good taste.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I find it instructive that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to lead more by example than by issuing laws and demanding their enforcement. He realizes, I think, that all the laws on the world will do little good without education, liturgical formation, and a living image of what good liturgy should be. Laws and punishment do have a role to play, but I would argue that their effectiveness is quite limited, and can even be counterproductive, if people do not know why the law should be followed, i.e., what good the law is aiming at. Every parent knows that "Becuse I said so!" is not a good long term plan to train your children.
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 633
    SanAntoniaCath...what does my statement have to do with yours?

    Complain all you want...as long as you are also doing something productive to improve things.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • OK, are we all in agreement about the change that has been made?

    General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 2011:
    This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduale Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) 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; (5) Any song, with any text composed by anybody without any approval as long as the song does not appear in a "collection.".
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    One could make the case that the USCCB doesn't take the time to approve #3 collections in the first place--ergo, a #4 song being "similarly approved" actually means not approved at all.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood