Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Battle Over "Cantus" for New Translation

Not surprisingly, the battle is joined over the term "cantus" (chant) in the new translation's instructions.

In this corner:

"Our interpretation of 'chant' is in using the word 'chant' in a generic way, a translation of (the Latin) 'cantus,' 'that which is sung," said Father Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Divine Worship.

When the church uses "chant" in the General Instruction, Father Hilgartner told Catholic News Service, it is "really talking about what texts are sung, not the musical form."

Well, Father, it IS an 'interpretation.'

In the other corner:

"It has been kind of been under the radar, it's ebbed and flowed in history. Mass propers have been staples since the seventh century," said Jeffrey Tucker, a proponent for the use of chant with the new missal. Tucker, who sings in a schola in Auburn, Ala., is a blogger, assistant editor of the journal Sacred Music, and publications director of the Church Music Association of America, a group Galipeau called "small but loud."

Galipeau works for a major pamphlet-missal publisher; his derogation of CMAA is, perhaps, inspired by his employer's revenue-stream requirements.

So what's Tucker talking about with these "propers"?

In liturgical terms, "proper" refers to texts used for a particular day, feast or rite. Each Mass includes verses from Scripture as entrance antiphon and Communion antiphons. However, in current U.S. practice, they are most often used when there is no music for the Mass -- and even then not always included -- and, when included, almost always recited.

Actually, each Mass also includes a Proper Offertory versicle, not to mention a specific Gradual and Alleluia verse (usually sung after the first and second readings, respectively, in the Ordinary Form Mass.)

Galipeau prefers evolutionary sophistication, you know.  (Raise the little finger when at tea.)

How music is used at Mass has evolved since Vatican II, according to Galipeau. He identified the 1970s as "when the terminology of the 'four-hymn syndrome' began to be challenged. Basically, it was 'Music in Catholic Worship,' the (U.S.) bishops' first document on music after the council, that said it's the acclamations at the Mass that have the priority -- the Holy, the Eucharistic Acclamation. Instead of singing four hymns at Mass, we need to change our thought completely and sing the Mass."

Amazing.  "Sing the Mass" but maybe not the actual, specified, TEXTS for singing, such as the Propers.

The MCW document has been superceded by another USCC document (Sing to the Lord) on the same topic; the newer one is obviously written by two very different camps.  In his critique of STTL, Prof. Mahrt, a highly-credentialed student of sacred music (and a performer, as well) says this:

As a matter of principle, I would suggest that “progressive solemnity” does not properly serve the sung liturgy, since it omits the singing of certain parts of the Mass which should and could be sung and thus gives up on the achievement of a completely sung service. The result is what I have called the “middle Mass,” neither high nor low, in which the beautiful and purposeful differences between the musical parts of the Mass are overshadowed by the more obvious differences between the spoken and sung parts

Thus, Music in Catholic Worship was flawed to some extent in the beginning by ignoring almost all the Liturgical Movement's work of the late 1800's/early 1900's--and STTL, while an improvement, does not really hit a home run, either.

Galipeau's "....sing the Holy and acclamations" language wears bell-bottoms.

And, with no sense of irony whatever, Galipeau appeals to "tradition" (!!!!) of ~30 years' duration:

Galipeau, in a July 11 post in his "Gotta Sing Gotta Pray" blog, said that at his majority-black Chicago parish, "I just don't think this whole argument about the singing of the propers will ever amount to a hill of beans to these parish people. The people have grown accustomed to singing hymns and songs at the entrance and at Communion from a wide variety of traditions. ... A different antiphon every single Sunday might be a bit too challenging for Catholics."

Galipeau does not provide a sou of evidence for his assertion, nor does it occur to him that he COULD use a small group to sing the propers.  Who knows?  Maybe the congregation will figure it out and sing along.

The USCC guy comes back to 'splain it all:

Chant has a legitimate place in Catholic worship, Father Hilgartner said, but "there's room for other legitimate cultural adaptations, which includes the form that music for liturgy takes." He added the word "song" was removed from the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal because "it sounds secular, even when it's preceded by 'liturgical.'"

Well, he's right, in the main.  Hymnody is certainly an ancient practice, as is psalmody (which IS the foundation of Chant.)  But if we place "cultural adaptations" before the actual liturgical law ans recommendations, e.g., propers and chant, we have trouble.

Much more here, with even finer distinctions and argumentation.


Aristotle A. Esguerra said...

"A different antiphon every single Sunday might be a bit too challenging for Catholics"

We already have that.

It's called the Responsorial Psalm…

Anonymous said...

The new text of GIRM 48 is NOT a translation, it's an adaptation. When an adaptation is approved, it becomes particular law.

Universal law says to follow particular law in such cases. The Universal law is the latin version (which can be translated into English), and the particular law is the adaptation as written in English. The content of the particular law would be expressed by the meaning of the English words, just like the content of the universal law is expressed by the meaning of the Latin words.

So, the latin term 'cants' doesn't seem to matter in this case, since the text of GIRM 48 doesn't come from the Latin (universal law). It is the meaning of the English word "chant" that expresses the content of the adaptation/particular law, which is to be observed.

For a better explanation: http://www.chantcafe.com/2011/07/reflections-on-2011-girm-part-i.html