The bishops had before them a document on sacred music proposed by the USCCB’s liturgy committee, headed by the outgoing Erie Bishop, His Excellency Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman.
The document was originally intended to establish particular law. As such it would have required a 2/3 majority vote and then the recognitio of the Holy See.
However, at the suggestion of several bishops, Bp. Trautman’s committee is proposes this document as an official statement of guidelines of the USCCB. This is similar to what the conference did with Built of Living Stones, which replaced the earlier dreadful Environment and Art in Catholic Worship. Thus, the new document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship is designed to replace Music in Catholic Worship.
Since the proposed document will be merely guidelines, a simple majority of bishops could passed it and it would not require the recognitio of the Holy See.
I was a little anxious about what the USCCB (BTW… every go review Apostolos suos) might do with something as important as sacred music. If there is anything that needs good guidelines, it is sacred music. I am sure most of the readers of this blog will agree. Nevertheless, I shudder with the horrors my imagination conjured. So, the fact that this document is not going to establish particular law is a good thing.
However, consider that the document, if it is eventually passed in the form of Guidelines, would not need the approval of the Holy See.
We all know that in the past even guidelines were taken as if they had the force of law. Think of the disasters that resulted from the NCCB’s ghastly Environment and Art in Catholic Worship and various other now obsolete unofficial documents. And Built of Living Stones contains a deadly error in its notes in translating the Latin of GIRM 299 which concerns the position of the altar. Even though the Holy See issued a clarification about what GIRM 299 means, and even explained the Latin grammar, Built of Living Stones makes GIRM 299 sound as if it requires that Mass be celebrated versus populum. GIRM 299 doesn’t and the CDWDS clarified that. But there it is in the conference’s document.
Thus, I wonder what interesting little things will be in this new document on music.
Had the document on sacred music remained proposal for particular law of the conference, Rome could have gotten involved with the content.
Now that it is proposed as guidelines, the bishops will not have to send it to Rome fopr approval.
Food for thought.
I also want to know if any consideration was given to the fact that the Roman Rite is now considered, at least juridically, to have two forms, an extraordinary use and an ordinary. Does the document deal with this important new dimension of the Church’s liturgical life?
Does it consider Summorum Pontificum and the 1962 Missale Romanum at all?
I don’t know, but I suspect it doesn’t.