Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Marty Haugen's Legacy

From an interview of Marty Haugen in the (appropriately-titled) Worship magazine...

[A] chaplain suggested that I apply for a Catholic church job. I said I didn’t know anything about the Catholic liturgy, and he said, well, these days, nobody does—you’ll feel right at home. And he was right.

Pithy. And it gets better.

There is an energy that rises when the presiding minister calls for a response in the sermon and then a musician calls forth a response in the song. The congregation responds, and the choir has a voice, and there are all these voices.

Yah--but that "sermon-response" thing is decidedly a part of the Fundamentalist/Southern Baptist tradition, not to be confused with the Roman Catholic tradition. The difference? Priests are pastors, not "preachers." More important, priests act "in persona Christi," which does not make them "equals" with the Faithful. There's a lacuna in the understanding of the priesthood here, thus, while the 'music' part of the above is more-or-less appropriate, it's misleading to identify one with the other.

I was in my early twenties, like many musicians and also priests who had been ordained right after the Second Vatican Council. We were young and enthusiastic and not that far from the sixties.

Well, Marty, we're now forty YEARS from the '60's.

We still had this vision that the world could be changed and that institutions could be radically changed. If the cardinals and bishops had understood the implications of what they were unleashing, they might not have made all the changes.

Actually, the "Cardinals and Bishops" did NOT make 'all those changes.' They were made largely by LitWonk BureauWeenies--the Liturgeists--although some Bishops must take the blame for allowing this crap.

A lot of Catholic music from that period has now moved into Protestant churches.

As Gomer often said to the Sarge: "Surprise, surprise!!"

I approached composition from the standpoint of music, and I tried to make the text work with the music. But I realized very quickly that that was a distortion of the role of music in worship. What the Lutheran church taught me was how critically important it is that music support the Word. Learning to compose for the text—to make the music support the text—was a long process for me....

(...which may or may not be complete. He doesn't mention Gregorian Chant, by the way...)

Interactive singing, back and forth, creates a dialogue. When we all stand and face the wall and sing in the same direction, there is no give and take between us. When Jesus encountered someone, he looked at the person and invited a response

That little passage demonstrates Haugen's utterly Lutheran understanding of the liturgy and Ordination (again.). I don't question his bona fides--but the statement is simply wrong, from a Catholic point of view. The appropriate 'response' is gratitude and praise for the Sacrifice Christ made for us, and for the Body of Christ given in communion, which is not a 'dialog' in the strict sense. And of course, that "face the wall" thing--it's a mis-statement of 'facing East', towards God, Who will return 'from the East.' The priest leads his flock. He does not ignore them.

On "Praise Teams":

...they may be responding to a perception that the current state of much church music-making isn’t carrying everything that it should carry, that there’s something lacking. There is a sense in many parishes that the way we’ve sung music in the past, although it’s been strong, is not enough now.

As we've mentioned before, the "praise music" phenom is an extension and deepening of the "entertainment" attribute. Haugen's lack of enthusiasm is probably correctly placed.

Unless we face that tension, we run the risk of abandoning tradition and running off who knows where, or abandoning the culture and becoming a museum piece.

That's a false dichotomy, precisely as Benedict XVI foresaw it in the Motu Proprio. The tradition informs the culture, not vice-versa.

The psalms came from all kinds of situations. Some psalms are topdown; they were obviously written and performed by the Levites at the temple in Jerusalem. Other psalms, like the pilgrimage psalms, may have been sort of composed on the way, like songs you sing in the car. A psalm like “I lift up my eyes to the hills” (Ps. 121), for example, sounds like people were walking up to Jerusalem, singing back and forth to each other
The psalms were finally put together by something like a hymnal committee. They said, OK, these are the official songs. Some are the formal high church stuff. Some are the ones that people love. I’m simplifying it, but I think that the process was very much a sifting through, top-down and bottom-up. There are psalms of lament, psalms of praise, psalms of anger, psalms of ecstatic rejoicing, psalms of loneliness and isolation. There are individual psalms and very communal psalms

I'll leave that to better-informed Bibliophiles--but I don't think that Marty has his 'sources' theory correct.

(In concluding, "How to Go About Being a Music Minister":)

Well, what helped me was going back to the Scriptures and then taking courses in theology and seeing myself not primarily as a minister of music but as a minister of the Word and a minister of the peoples’ prayer. And then I asked, how can I use music to do that? I found tht the more I knew about traditions of the past, the more I felt confident that I was on the right track.

Yup. STILL no mention of Gregorian Chant.


Billiam said...

I have a CD of GC. I really enjoy that..

RAG said...

Marty Haugen isn't my favorite contemporary liturgical music composer although I like some of his stuff.

As for the Gregorian Chant, I believe it has some artistic calue when well recited. Otherwise, it's a great sleep aid for people who don't like drugs.