Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Inanity With a Master's Degree

Found in a local Parish bulletin:

I Is For Me Or We?…

About ten years ago, I recall having a number of rather heated discussions
with people in Catholic music ministry regarding the use of the pronoun, “I” in
liturgical music. Every workshop that I attended sneered at the use of this
pronoun for it did not correctly reflect the nature of our liturgy, which is
communal prayer. “But,” I argued, “how can one enter into communal worship if
there is no personal relationship with the Lord?”

This was really a very good question, and I continue to ask it, however, my
context is different. My experience has shown me that I need to heed the call of
St. Paul to “pray without ceasing”, and this prayer is both private and communal
in nature. We are also encouraged into our “prayer closets” and to seek time
away with the Lord, just as Jesus often did. These are ongoing acts of prayer
and worship that can be as natural to the rhythm ofour day as breathing, thus,
prayer without ceasing.

But when we gather on the weekend, our Sabbath, that is the time for the
prayer of the community. We are called together to hear the stories of our God’s
love for us; we are challenged to reach out in the name of Jesus; we are fed and
nourished in the Eucharist; and we are sent forth to love and serve the Lord. It
makes sense in that context, to sing “psalms and hymns and inspired songs”(St.
Paul again!) that reflect the Body of Christ.

This is where things get a bit messy from the language viewpoint. If we
were gathering 2000 years ago, the use of the word“I” in our music would simply
reflect the entire community. This is the manner in which it is used in psalmody
and in music of the African American community.

In both these instances, the pronoun, “I” is communal and speaks the soul
of the community. We, however,live in a society that is very much driven by the
philosophy of the individual over the community. Contemporary songs that use
this pronoun outside of the reference to scripture or ethnic music tend to speak
to the “prayer closet” experience, or the “you and I, Jesus” understanding of
relationship. This is not bad or wrong, but it does not do much justice to the
understanding of the liturgical act as communal. Thus, you may find that we use
relatively little music that has “I” language, unless it is scriptural, when we
gather for our liturgical celebrations

The author of this piece, a woman "Director of Liturgy" was awarded an M.A. in Liturgy by the Milwaukee Seminary this past Spring. Evidently she was not graded on composition, nor on grammar..

Beyond that, the author evinces a shocking ignorance of the Psalms. The 'use of the [pronoun] "I" in psalmody of 2000 years ago' meant EXACTLY what it does now. It's first person, singular. So testified Rabbi David Fohrman, anyway, after I emailed him to determine if he was aware of any justification for this "Liturgy Director"'s assertion. Her similar remark about "the African-American community" is suspect, as well.

Beyond all of that, the argument she encountered with principled and thinking Church musicians had nothing at all to do with the "I/We" strawman she uses. In fact, the controversy over using such text has to do with a few ditties ('hymns' would accord them a dignity which is undeserved) that directly quote God. "I Am the Bread of Life" comes to mind immediately. This is a direct quotation of Christ--it is CERTAINLY not appropriate for the congregation to assume the 'voice of Christ' while singing 'psalms, hymns, and inspired songs.'

Please--go back to your closet. Examine and understand history. And continue to avoid "I" until the accurate translation of the Latin Credo becomes required in the United States.


Anonymous said...

I know this woman and the work she does. She is born of fashion design and is barely functional on guitar. She is in charge of liturgy(you should see her decorating), but I have been told she is not a "Eucharistic" person. These types of folks in the Catholic Church are interesting and are legion. Liberal, democrat, poor understanding of Church history after hours and hours of sitting at our wonderful seminary. She doesn't like the Church's stance on homosexuals, women, sexuality etc.... and is working on getting all that changed. She could barely breathe when our new pope was elected. You know the rest. It is highly likely she was the only person in St. Dominic's parish to read this piece after likely spending hours on it and sharing her wisdom with other staff members. Most of the folks like her show their lack of any knowledge when they open their mouths and/or write. I applaud you for disecting it.

Anonymous said...

I also know this woman and I have a great deal of respect for her. If you have issues with her, why not give her the courtesy of talking to her,face to face, instead of bashing her behind her back?
See you at the music convention!

Dad29 said...

To #2 Anonymous:

About a year ago, the woman wrote an even more flawed essay (believe it or not) in which she demonstrated that she is also unaware of the definition of the Mass (the one that's easiest to look up--in the CCC.)

So I wrote a three- or four-page letter to her which pointed out, inter alia, that the definition SHE was working with would lead to serious problems. My letter included pertinent quotations from various individuals, including Cdl. Ratzinger.

Apparently the poor woman is over-worked, as she did not have time to respond. SHE chose not to engage in a civil dialogue.

Enjoy the convention.

Dad29 said...

One more thing, Anonymous #2: as a courtesy, I did point out the blog entry to her.

Note that she is STILL overworked and cannot take time to respond.

Anonymous said...

#1 Anonymous
Why are you such an angry person?

Dad29 said...

Practice, practice, practice.

Is lassitude your strongest personal quality?

Dad29 said...

Finally, you've ruined my day.

For years and years I have worked hard to be "divisive," (pronounced with the sniff, please, dear.)

Now I find that people take that as "anger."

Drat, double-drat, and rats.

Drawingboard, I return to thee...

Anonymous said...

I am told that honesty is my best quality.