Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Church Music Making a Return to Church!?!! UPDATE

The Vatican recently sponsored a colloquium on the topic of Sacred Music, and a forceful address was given on the topic, as reported by Chiesa (arguably the best Vaticanista news-source.) Some excerpts:

With concise and concentrated arguments, Miserachs argued forcefully on behalf of the revival of Gregorian chant, beginning with the cathedrals and monasteries, which ought to take the lead in this rebirth.

And he called upon the Church of Rome finally to act “with authority” in the area of liturgical music, not simply with documents and exhortations, but by establishing an office with competency in this regard, as it did for example with the pontifical commission dedicated to the Church’s cultural heritage.

In other words, Bishops should take the lead, and "National Music Commissions" should be dumped--or at least subordinate to actual Church music people in Rome. Can we finally say buh-bye to NAP(AL)M, whose principal guest speaker here in Milwaukee was the repulsive Fr. Richard McCormick?

Fr. Grau is nothing if not two-fisted:

In fact, the almost outright ban on Latin and Gregorian chant seen over the past forty years is incomprehensible, especially in the Latin countries. It is incomprehensible, and deplorable.

Latin and Gregorian chant, which are deeply linked to the biblical, patristic, and liturgical sources, are part of that “lex orandi” which has been forged over a span of almost twenty centuries. Why should such an amputation take place, and so lightheartedly? It is like cutting off roots – now that there is so much talk of roots.

The obscuring of an entire tradition of prayer formed over two millennia has led to conditions favorable to a heterogeneous and anarchic proliferation of new musical products which, in the majority of cases, have not been able to root themselves in the essential tradition of the Church, bringing about not only a general impoverishment, but also damage that would be difficult to repair, assuming the desire to remedy it were present.

You may wish to read that again. He's taking no prisoners, Fr. Haugen-Haas StLouieJebbie...

Gregorian chant sung by the assembly not only can be restored – it must be restored, together with the chanting of the “schola” and the celebrants, if a return is desired to the liturgical seriousness, sound form, and universality that should characterize any sort of liturgical music worthy of the name, as Saint Pius X taught and John Paul II repeated, without altering so much as a comma.

How could a bunch of insipid tunes stamped out according to the models of the most trivial popular music ever replace the nobility and robustness of the Gregorian melodies, even the most simple ones, which are capable of lifting the hearts of the people up to heaven?

We have undervalued the Christian people’s ability to learn; we have almost forced them to forget the Gregorian melodies that they knew, instead of expanding and deepening their knowledge, including through proper instruction on the meaning of the texts. And instead, we have stuffed them full of banalities.

Some of you know that I have said that, exactly, many, many times. We have insulted both adults and children in our pews, with no apology or remorse.

We must respect the proper order of things: the people should chant their part, but equal respect should be shown for the role of the “schola,” the cantor, the psalmist, and, naturally, the celebrant and the various ministers, who often prefer not to sing. As John Paul II emphasized in his recent chirograph: “From the good coordination of all – the celebrating priest and the deacon, the acolytes, ministers, lectors, psalmist, ‘schola cantorum’, musicians, cantor, and assembly – emerges the right spiritual atmosphere that makes the moment of the liturgy intense, participatory, and fruitful.”

The impoverishment forced by the "participate-or-die" crowd--meaning, of course, that ONLY singing, jumping, hugging, and clapping is "participation" is asinine--but de rigeur at the "church music/liturgy" schools.

A work of formation is necessary. And how can we form the people, if we are not first formed ourselves?

The general congress of the “Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae” was recently held at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, addressing this very topic, the formation of the clergy in sacred music. For years now, seminarians and men and women religious have lacked a real formation in the musical tradition of the Church, or even the most elementary musical formation.


True sacred popular singing will be more valid and substantial as it takes its inspiration from Gregorian chant. John Paul II took as his own the principle asserted by Saint Pius X: “A composition for the Church is all the more sacred and liturgical the more its development, inspiration, and flavor approaches the Gregorian melody, and the less worthy it is the more it distinguishes itself from that supreme model.”

To belabor the obvious: Chant is the musical patrimony of the Church. Even the Anglicans (not to mention Bach, Beethoven, and Britten) understood this and USED Chant melodies as inspiration or foundation for some of their works. What Fr. Grau says is that Church music which ignores Chant is about as useful as modern American history without reference to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

And the persuasive power of Gregorian chant will reverberate, and will consolidate the people in the true sense of Catholicism.

I swear: I'm reading the speech, pasting, and commenting WITHOUT LOOKING AHEAD!!!

Summarily, our Archbishop has another task on his plate. Oremus pro Timotheo!! Oremus pro Papa!!

UPDATE: It is entirely possible that the speech excerpted above was given strictly for the benefit of the Pope--that is, that like all bureaucrats, the speech-i-fier understands that Popes come and Popes go, but bureaucrats always remain. So it's "ear candy." However, what the bureaucrats do not understand is that the informed and energized LAITY can be even more forceful than the Pope.


Neo-Con Tastic said...

"He who sings prays twice"
-St. Augustine

Let's see the change! Viva la Revolucion! Who's going to impose these traditionalist beliefs besides the few parishioners that believe them?

And on a side note about your rhetoric remark about not teaching the Constitution and Bill of Rights - that's already happened.

Fidei Defensor said...

I hope these changes are made. Its downright embarassing when a non-Catholic comes to church with me and then after Mass they say "hey we sing the same songs as you guys!"

Anonymous said...

Ah, defensor, it's much MORE embarassing when you go to another denomination's service and their musicians blame you for the "Catholic" crap that has infiltrated thier hymnals.