National Association of Pastoral Musicians magazine archives
  • Twenty-nine volumes of Pastoral Music (1976-2005) have been posted in PDF format on the NPM site, for those interested in the research.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Good way to get rid of that whole "charity" thing if you're plagued with it :P
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Thank you for the info Aristotle. It's good to have you with us!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    If I may demonstrate what I mean: Fr. Gene Walsh likes to evaluate liturgy using the same criteria one employs in evaluating a party: Did I feel welcome? Was I "part of the action"? Did I have fun? How am I supposed to read these without yelling swear words? I'm reading as I type this... Is the pastoral musician a fad, destined to fade away? Well, if they define "pastoral musician" as one whose only goal is to make the congregation have fun, then yes, I'd say we're watching them fade away.
  • If you like articles on cultural relevance and Martha Stewart-like ideas for spicing up the liturgy, have a blast reading all that stuff.

  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Always good to know what the other side is thinking
  • It is an incredible chronicle of folly. Here is the essential history of what happened.
  • And the folly continues. Out of necessity (and not because I agree with even 1% of what they put forth) I am a registered member of NPM, although that may change.

    I received the most recent issue of their propaganda, this time dedicated to "Foundations and Vision: Liturgical Prinicples from Sancrosanctum Concillium."

    Of course, they get most, if not all, of it wrong. First, there is an article by Dom Bernard Botte, OSB (1893 -1980), extracted from his book, "From Silence to Participation" (published in 1988) where he states, "First of all, justice cannot be done to the twentieth century liturgical movement by judging it exclusively on the details of the liturgical reform. . . We must ask whether the movement has remained faithful to its early inspiration. It's the spirit that should be judged, not the letter." (I wonder what Dobszay would say about that?)

    Then, in an article by Keith F. Pecklers, SJ (who, among other things, serves as an "on-air expert" in church affairs for ABC News, according to his bio) takes us on a circuitous and tortured excursion through the landscape of the German Enlightenment. Not unlike a rather sheltered tourist who, while amidst the splendours of Paris or Rome, seeks out a quick bite to eat at the closest McBurger's (or worse, a dog who returns to his own vomit), he shares with us this insight: "Prior to the Second Vatican Council, liturgy was often looked on as an object, a thing. The laity attended or "heard" Mass but largely as passive spectators." Those of you who frequent Fr. Z's blog will recognize this as part of the overly used "party line." Nevermind that STTL comments, as does everyone else with real insight, that interiority is as important as externals. Besides, haven't we beaten the bad translation of "actuosa participatio" to a bloody pulp? We'll get more of that later from another column.

    There's a column by Karen Kane, who assures us that, "Contemporary hymn text writers such as Dolores Dufner, Sylvia Dunstan, Alan Hommerding, Fred Pratt Green, Bernadette Farrell, Mary Louise Bringle, and many others have written texts that are wonderfully poetic (like, say, Farrell's wonderfully crafted, "Come to Set Us Free" for Advent. Take a look at it and try to read through it like poetry without breaking into giggle fits. Go on, I dare you.), theologically and liturgically sound (!?!), and inspiring reminders to the faithful of their responsibility as baptised Christians to be people of the Gospel, people of just living, people missioned to go forth and live as Christ in the world."

    M. Peggy Lovrien quotes Bugnini, who according to her is "one of the key architects of the postconciliar liturgical renewal." Yes, too bad his architecture couldn't pass local building codes. Let's not forget, he was rewarded for his good deeds by being named papal nuncio to Tehhran, Iran. Within the text of her article is a great picture of a pony-tailed female teenager banging away on a drum set during a Mass. The caption reads, " 'Hardcore Catholic' drummer . . ." (I've withheld her name and location, although she's named in the picture.)

    That's just a small sample of the conventional wisdom being held up by one of the wealthiest and most visible Catholic Music ministry associations in the U.S. Doesn't it make you wonder just who is being referred to in STTL at paragraph 51, where it says, "Preparation for music ministry should include appropriate human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation and pastoral formation . . .offered by . . . national ministry associations"?
  • That's just so sad. Thanks for the report. Today's Liturgy came yesterday. Contains a report on Summorum, the upshot of which is that this is designed for a handful of Euro schismatics, most priests can't say it, the Bishop rules in any case.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 752

    Don't throw out the baby with the bath-water. It isn't necessarily damning to the reputation of a hymn-writer to be be quoted with approval in the annals of the NAPM. Fred Pratt Green has an honourable place amongst 20th-century hymn-writers. His work is all the better for his background as a poet, well before he turned his hand to hymns.
  • IanW,

    I won't deny that his texts are very poetic, however, I'm afraid you may have missed the point. Green's name is included in a litany of writers whose texts are being held up as not only poetically beautiful (which in his case is true), but also "theologically and liturgically sound." Green's texts, while beautiful as objects of poetry, may be theologically sound only in that they stick to basic Christian teaching. There seems to be a kind of heterodoxy to his texts, which renders them equally at home in a Congregationalist church.

    Perhaps it's more indicative of the author's attempt to validate (or valorize?) the weak texts of folks like Farrell by including Green's name among them. Most of these text writers display a decided slant towards the heterodox, or infuse their texts with so much narcissism (texts where we sing love songs to each other, about each other, rather than to God, about God) or are so slanted, preachy-screechy, and politically charged with "social justice" of the feel-good variety that they can hardly pass the tests of being "theologically and liturgically" sound. If you look carefully at any "mainstream" hymnal from the "Big Three" Catholic music publishers (GIA, OCP, WLP/Paluch), you'll see statements in the front that read, "Published with ecclesiastical approval" or similar words. To the best of my knowledge the only way a text can be considered theologically sound (free from doctrinal error, etc.) is if it has received a "nihil obstat" and "imprimatur." Have any of the texts of these writers, including Green, received any such scrutiny and official approval?

    At the core of it, the texts we sing in the liturgy should be from and for the liturgy, not "inspiring reminders to the faithful of their responsibility as baptised Christians to be people of the Gospel, people of just living, people missioned to go forth and live as Christ in the world", to quote the columnist. Those are the fruits of the liturgy, not the purpose of it.
  • People should watch out for personal attacks. Fr. Gene Walsh was my seminary choirmaster and spiritual director. He was an expert in Gregorian chant who one day got the word that next Fall's masses would be in English. There was almost no music written to use. He got Robert Twynham to write much beautiful music which we sang at St. Mary's Seminary. A few years later another translation came out and instantly Twynham's music was obsolete. How well would you have done in the circumstances? The thing that impressed me about Fr. Walsh's workshops, at which I sometimes assisted, was that people sang and prayed as never before at the Mass which followed. The Spirit of the Lord was there. I didn't care much for his writings; he was at his best as an extemporaneous but very well prepared speaker. Fr. Walsh was a giant of a man who does not deserve to be insulted. It is too bad that Church music has declined so badly since the 60's, but it wasn't his fault.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 752

    I couldn't agree with you more. We need to be discriminating in our criticism (hence my remark about Fred Pratt-Green, above, the point of which seems to have escaped David :-) ). The blunderbuss approach makes very entertaining reading in a blog or newspaper column (e.g. Damian Thompson), but this forum is a different creature.
  • There is a lesson in all things. You have to know the devil to fight the devil.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 752
    I think that's what they call "gnomic".
  • IanW

    I understand your call for discrimination in our criticism but let's be fair here. My criticism was not of Fred Pratt Green, nor of his texts, it was of their suitability for use in the Catholic liturgy, and the NAPM columnist's attempt to suggest that they were.

    Once again, I point out that he was a Protestant, writing for the Protestant Church. Also, my points regarding "ecclesiastical approval" and the lack of a "nihil obstat" and "imprimatur" are certainly valid and valuable points of discussion on this blogsite. I hardly see that my comments constitute a "blunderbuss" approach.

    (If it's not permitted to infuse our discussions and commentary with a bit of sarcastic vinegar on this blog, such as in my first entry - a review of the articles in NPM- then we are a very dismal bunch indeed!)
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 752

    The broad-brush of your poetic and theological condemnation of a diverse list of 20th-century hymn writers was short on detail and long on assertion. It amounted to a reference to one work by one of them, and a collection of punctuation marks in parenthesis. If you're going to name names, you need to be more specific than that. You followed this up with an unsupported charge of "a kind of heterodoxy" against Pratt-Green's texts and the charge that he was a Protestant. Not only does this lack rigour and courtesy, but it only manages a near-miss on the key point, made here and elsewhere, that one of the failings of the post-conciliar liturgical activists was their emphasis on extra-liturgical texts, at the expense of liturgical ones. Moreover, their choice of hymns and worship-songs tended to avoid distinctive areas of Catholic faith, e.g. the BVM, the Saints, the Real Presence. It is in this emphasis and selection that we find a tendency to heterodoxy on the part of the Catholic liturgists, and not necessarily in the texts themselves. In other words, you're loosing your arrows at the wrong target.

    ps Happy Christmas!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,343
    Can one person do the research and report in synopsis to the rest of us?
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,197

    Your indictment of me lacking rigour and courtesy notwithstanding, Pratt Green was an ordained minister of the Methodist church in Great Britain, hence my "charge" that he was Protestant. His work was primarily in crafting texts for use in the Methodist hymn repertoire at a time when more socially sensitive and aware texts were needed by that denomination. By definition, texts from any source other than the Catholic liturgy are "heterodox," that is, not in keeping with the orthodoxy (or by extension the orthopraxis) of the Catholic Church.

    The point of my admittedly colorful and sarcastic commentary on the Pastoral Music Magazine articles was to point out the fact that the NPM, together with a willing group of publishers and self-proclaimed "experts" are still trying to keep the church stuck in a post-concilliar paradigm that is being proven to be outdated, much to their consternation. It was not my intention to insult the integrity or quality of Pratt Green's work (who received only a single mention in the article in question), but rather to point out exactly what struggles we, who are dedicated to a reform of the reform, are facing and will continue to face. Just as Nick B stated above, we need to know the devil to fight the devil.

    Let me openly apologize if my first entry and its follow ups in this thread offended your sensibilities or that of the other members of this forum. Having said that, I would add that rancour, such as your suggestion that my style was more appropriate for newspapers, comparing it with the likes of Damian Thompson, or accusing me of discourtesy and lack of rigour is of itself lacking in courtesy.
  • David, your comments have been perfectly civil and intelligent. no need for apologies.