Monday, December 26, 2005

More on Chant

While Mgr. Miserachs-Grau's bona fides are suspect, his commentary on the question of liturgical music (specifically, Gregorian Chant) is direct and to the point. Many observers can make the point that Miserachs-Grau has been in his position since 1995--meaning that 10 full years have elapsed before he 'came out of the closet' so to speak. Nonetheless, a few excerpts from his Zenit interview are in order.

As to why his remarks of a couple weeks ago were applauded:

I believe...that there is a general opinion that coincides on the necessity of recovering Latin and Gregorian chant, which is the chant proper to the Church. Gregorian chant has been abandoned and left to concert halls and CD's when its proper place was and is the liturgy.

On current "musical" offerings (the Haugen-Hass/StLouis mess of pottage):

I think that new musical products, in the majority of cases, have not learned or have not been able to root themselves in the tradition of the Church, thus dragging in a general impoverishment. It is incomprehensible, especially in the Latin countries, that Latin and Gregorian chant has been pushed aside in the last 40 years. Latin and Gregorian chant form part of tradition -- and they have been amputated. It is like cutting the roots …

Whether Catholics are too STUPID to learn Chant:

Before, people knew how to sing the basic songs in Latin. Today, it seems that efforts are being made to make them unlearn what they knew. It is obvious that we cannot propose they learn the entire repertoire, which contains 5,000 pieces.

What "actuosa participatio" means IN CONTEXT:

In liturgical chant the assembly does not have to be the only protagonist. A certain order must be kept. The people should sing their part and the rest should be done by the choir, the chanter, the psalmist and obviously the celebrant.

Whether the question of music in the liturgy has been resolved:

No. For some time, we have insisted on this point. Our institute does its job, but it is only an academic institution, not a normative body and it thus has no say in these affairs. A Vatican body is needed that would directly oversee the matters of sacred music.

John Paul II stated that the musical aspect of liturgical celebrations cannot be left to improvisation or to the free will of the people. It should be confided to a concerted direction and the respect for certain norms. Authorized indications are awaited and this concerns the Church of Rome, the Holy See.

While it is true that there is no "Vatican-based" governing body, Mgr. Miserachs-Grau elides a few things which are important to the discussion.

First off, there IS an international body of genuine Church Music experts which WAS directly commissioned by Paul VI to recommend, advise, and serve as a standards-creation/maintenance group: the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae. The people who are part of this have absolutely luminous academic credentials, and are published. They pay a great deal of attention to the writings and speeches of the current Pope on the topic of liturgical music, too--not just to 'dead white men.'

Secondly, Mgr. M-G overlooks the pernicious and obstructionist activities of, ah, "genealogically-challenged" 'national' music commissions (such as the one maintained by the USCC) and their similarly-begotten children, the Diocesan music/liturgy commissions. Here in the US, at least, one can easily make the case that members are selected for their outstanding qualities of historical ignorance, revolutionary inclinations, and malformed musical sensibilities. This has been the case in this country since the Revolution of 1966 which enshrined Rembert Weakland OSB (a Cdl. Jos. Bernardin lackey) as the domestic tin-god of church music. Aside from Sr. Theophane Hytrek OSF (+) and Fr. Larry Heimann, members of the US 'establishment' have simply not met any standard of excellence. (I'd be perfectly willing to be corrected here--but am perfectly willing to argue the cases on an individual basis.)

What about folks like Paul Salamunovich? Roger Wagner? Cal Shenk? Ted Marier? Mgr. Shuler? ALL (save Shenk) were Knights Commander of St. Gregory, an honor not given because of purchase, but rather for real capabilities and real accomplishment.

So, yes, Mgr., there's a lot of work to do. Perhaps you should telephone CIMS' President and ask for help. It would be a very good start.


malleebull said...

Greetings Dad29,

My response to Mons Grau can be found here:

Season's Blessings.


Dad29 said...

Thanks. Interesting 'read.'

How're things Down Under?

PS: get that Chant ready for the Aussie WYD. We expect no less than that for B-16.