Sunday, July 18, 2010

Music for the Mass: A Good Insight

Jeff Tucker is an indefatigable crusader.

...In our own times, we have extreme problems in the area of both style and text. The undisputed understanding that had been with us from the earliest centuries has been smashed by convention and culture. A tiny proviso of the Missal of 1969/79, one that permitted the propers to be replaced by other “appropriate songs” unleashed a kind of chaos that reminds us of what the bishops gathered at Laodicea must have faced.

But contrary to what many people think, this is not just a postconciliar problem. Legislation from the 1950s permitted vernacular hymnody, with no regulation of texts, as part of Low Mass in special circumstances (this practice was widespread long before). Many of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council actually sought to put an end to this problem and thus did the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy put such a strong emphasis on singing Mass texts and on Gregorian chant.

...The core point that needs to be emphasized: not just any music is appropriate for Mass any more than just anyone’s scribblings are entitled to be called the Word of God. When Luther decided to take on the Catholic Church, he produced his own Bible that raised fundamental questions about the canon of books. And when modern secularists seek to debunk settled Christian teaching, the wave silly Gnostic texts around. So too, the opponents of sacred music can be found hocking their own texts and their own musical styles that have nothing to do with the treasury that Vatican II called on us to preserve and pass on to the next generation.

Ratzinger made the same point in a different way when he referred to Sacred Music being 'the enfleshment' of the Word.

We are concerned, however, that someone may see this directive from Laodicea and take it too seriously:

The singers, regarded as more than mere hirelings for an occasion, could not visit taverns

There could be a serious crisis of singer-availability...

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