Monday, July 12, 2010

B-16 and the Liturgy, and Liturgical Music

Some interesting stuff coming from a liturgical conference held in Ireland.

...After tracing some of the philosophical reasoning behind the Pope's thinking Twomey concluded with five principles which would find resonance in the later speakers. (1) Liturgy is for all- truly catholic but not always uniform. (2) It may be simple but never cheap. (3) Participation goes beyond mere external manifestations of activity. (4) If liturgical music is purely utilitarian it's actually useless. (5) A 'purification process' needs to be applied to musical material drawn from other cultures....

Fr Uwe Michael Lang presented a paper, too.

Summarising across the centuries, between the two Benedicts, [XIV-XVI, 1749-today] Fr Lang outlined five consistent concerns; (1) The actual use of the textual material proper to the Mass. (2) The problem of the theatrical pushing the text away from God centeredness (including the appropriate use of instruments in worship). (3) The continuing concern for intelligibility. (4) The length of individual pieces in relation to he liturgical action. (5) The revival of the chant repertoire.

I find it humorous that today's 'liturgical musicians,' with $50K worth of amplifiers, speaker systems, MIDIs and percussion-sets--and often with 4, 5, 0r 8-person caterwauler arrangements, will tell you that a Mozart orchestral Mass is "just too showy." Uh-huh.

Another speaker mentioned a recurring theme of B-16/Ratzinger:

At the essence of the paper was the identification of spiritualization as being essential to the Holy Father's understanding of chant. This he sees not only in the varied origins of the chant genre being brought into a cohesive spiritual form but also in a Christological sense by the which the chant itself participates in the incarnation of the logos; 'Christ the Word of God, incarnate in sound.'

...something which Ratzinger mentioned in a 1985 lecture for the International Congress of Church Music in 1985 or so. It's not an easy concept to internalize.

And James Macmillan, a brilliant Scottish living composer:

...concentrated on the problem of the value of 'beauty' and it's general neglect, indeed deliberate exclusion of the concept, from much liturgical consideration in recent years. In the context of the general alienation that occurred between Church and professional musicians, in the 1960s, Macmillan touched on the misinterpretation of participatio actuoso that has prevailed and also noted the considerable pressure he had recently been subjected to from 'modernist liturgists' in relation to his own work for the forthcoming Papal Visit to Britain.



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