This not-long speech/essay has all the right stuff.
...The primary and exclusive aim of the liturgy is not the expression of
the individual's reverence and worship for God. It is not even concerned
with the awakening, formation, and sanctification of the individual
soul as such. Nor does the onus of liturgical action and prayer rest
with the individual. It does not even rest with the collective groups,
composed of numerous individuals, who periodically achieve a limited and
intermittent unity in their capacity as the congregation of a church.
The liturgical entity consists rather of the united body of the faithful
as such - the Church - a body which infinitely outnumbers the mere
By and by, he gets to senses.
...You may be familiar with the old adage that the eye is the gateway to
the soul. I have always found this a particularly persuasive idea, for
it recognizes the fundamental fact that there is something deep within
each of us that responds to beauty.
...the liturgy is not solely visual, but rather engages all the senses, and
in the same way it is not only corporeal but it also has an irreducible
spiritual element. The liturgy therefore heightens in us an awareness
of the intrinsic relationship between beauty and truth, just as it is,
of its nature, constituted of these elements and should clearly become a
vehicle for them when we celebrate it.
Central to the Christian revelation is the teaching that ‘faith comes
from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ (Romans 10,17). In
that sense, it is not only the eye which is the gateway to heaven, but
in a very real way, the ear too
...which brings him to music, specifically music for worship:
...liturgical chant is first and foremost cantillation, a song which arises
from the text, a song which is essentially a heightened proclamation of
a verbal message and which takes its emphases from the natural
accentuation of the text and finds its melodic rhythm from the cadence
which is already within the words.
OK. That's very solid ground. So what happened? Was it "Vatican Two"?
[By roughly 1965] the Pastoral Liturgical Movement, as it had become, had largely
abandoned the principles which motivated Dom Guéranger and the renewal
he initiated, in favour of influences which are more broadly ecumenical
and introduce into the Roman Liturgy elements which are more commonly
found outside the Catholic Church. Nowhere was this influence more
keenly felt than in the realm of liturgical music, for the principle
that a repertoire of liturgical chant which had been proper to the Mass,
at least in its most solemn celebrations, was largely and almost
universally set aside in preference for music which might be most
accurately described as ‘non-liturgical’ in character, given its
frequent lack of dependence on liturgical or biblical texts and its
introduction into our liturgical celebrations of a voice which is in
many ways alien to the spirit of the liturgy.
This is the modern-day inheritance of the ‘Low-Mass’ culture which
envisages a largely spoken liturgy punctuated at key moments by
IOW, it was long, long, before VatII that all this stuff started. And he's not gentle in condemnation:
...If it is true that the past forty years have established something of a
hermeneutic of discontinuity with regard to liturgical chant, to the
extent that our authentic and most ancient tradition is widely seen as
alien and unfamiliar and musical genres previously unthinkable in a
liturgical context are commonly considered acceptable and even
desirable, then we have truly lived through the most extraordinary
revolution which has impoverished our understanding of the mystery we
celebrate to the same extent as it has decimated the number of our
people who regularly participate in the celebration of the Mass.
Put another way: if there's nothing particularly special about the Mass, why go?
The essay is not nuanced; one could spend an entire four-year education on the topic(s) he addresses. But the liturgical movement begun by Guardini is renascent today, for good reason.
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