The penny dropped for another musician

The penny dropped for another musician.

At increasingly useful Crisis today I read a piece by a musician about the state of church music today.  His summary: disaster resulted from the degradation of sacred worship in Latin.   Of course it did.  In the Latin Church the loss of Latin is going to have a profoundly negative impact.

Let’s see some of what he has to say.  My emphases and comments:

Abandoning Latin Changed Liturgical Music … for the Worse
DEACON JIM RUSSELL

After 35 years as a liturgical musician, it’s amazing how little I really know about the liturgical music of the Roman Rite.

Then again, what should I expect when my earliest memories of music at Mass tend to involve now-forgotten attempts to make Ray Repp tunes, guitar-group versions of Beatles songs, social-justice-pop-folk songs, and patently juvenile compositions like “Sons of God” and “Here We Are” seem at home in the most august Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? [A good question.  Part of the problem stems from the loss of understanding of the function of music in liturgical worship.  For example, music in these USA was effectively hijacked into the disaster lane after the Council when an advisory board of the liturgy committee of the US bishops conference issued (without authority) a statement that included the catastrophic and false notion that the purpose of liturgical music was to create a truly human experience.  From that point on, with the cover this provided, music swirled ever faster down the pipe.]

When it comes to the “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” I lived the experience. Yet, despite the poverty of my personal liturgical roots, I’m convinced that things aren’t really as bad as some people today might think, in terms of the pre-Vatican II vs. post-Vatican II liturgical-music landscapes.

No. They’re actually worse. [Bingo!]

Why? Because the narrative is not really as simple as saying “we really had our liturgical-music act together before the Council, and after the Council everything collapsed.”

Rather, the more historically accurate narrative sounds like: “we really had only taken the first few baby-steps toward getting our liturgical-music act together in the decades before the Council, and then after the Council everything collapsed.”

It might be fairer to say that after the Council everything certainly changed, if not collapsed. [He’s trying to hedge here.  I’ll stick with “collapsed”.] Or at least that one specific change caused one particular collapse. I’m referring to the seismic shift in liturgical music that arose from the largely unrestrained embrace of the “vernacular” in the liturgy.

[… skipping way down…]

“Attention, All Personnel….!!”

Thus, the Church in the US was treated to the musical “M*A*S*H” unit that was first to arrive on the scene, offering not “meatball surgery” but offering “meatball liturgy.” And it wasn’t very life-saving—at all. As the Mass hemorrhaged its Latin, the wound, scarcely cleaned, received the Bandaid of the banal texts and melodies that at least initially came largely from the pop-folk era previously inaugurated by the 1957-1958 Kingston Trio smash hit “Tom Dooley.” [hence the rise of the sol-called “hootenanny Mass”] By the mid-1960s, the exuberant and carefree folk revival had given way to protest music and politics, and that volatile mix of elements gave us that visceral novelty of “now” liturgical music (so called) in the vernacular—guitars and even banjos mercilessly subjecting the faithful to everything from “Sounds of Silence” to “Let It Be” to Catholic “youth” music like “Wake Up, My People,” “Till All My People Are One,” “Allelu,” “To Be Alive,” and “Joy Is Like the Rain.”  [When Latin was abandoned the door slammed shut on the treasury of the Church’s sacred music.  There was no vernacular music!  So, there was a scramble for something, anything.  That and the fundamental misunderstanding of the role of music in worship resulted in reduction of music to the lowest common denominator (= devastation).]

Now, fifty years later, the discontinuity does indeed seem staggering. It leaves liturgical music in a sort of limbo. The legitimacy of the pre-conciliar effort to restore chant must be reconnected with the legitimacy of the post-conciliar openness to organically growing new liturgical music from that root. [This is what my mentor the late Msgr. Richard Schuler was all about at St. Agnes in St. Paul.]

How much different would things have been if there had been real continuity? Well, I’m pretty sure a young believer like me, destined to be a liturgical musician for more than 30 years, would have benefitted greatly from hearing way more Latin, more chant, more Latin polyphony—anything that would have made it clear to me that these are truly the hallmarks of our Roman-Rite tradition. In my view, it’s not merely a missed opportunity for the Mass itself, but it’s a missed opportunity for me as a Catholic.  [At my aforementioned home parish, on Saturday mornings there was a sung Mass in Gregorian chant, and the entire congregation sang the Ordinary.  There were baskets with the Kyriale at the doors.  After some years, people didn’t need then anymore.  Before Mass, the cantor would say, “Today we are singing Mass IV” (for the feast of an Apostle), and everyone would sing Mass IV.  Easy.]

Mass is not supposed to make me musically comfortable—it’s supposed to make me more holy.  [Right.]

Some may say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I’m here to tell you: singing “If I Had a Hammer,” “Get Together,” and “Day by Day” at Mass never, not once, made me feel stronger—or holier. Let’s reclaim our rightful patrimony and try to rediscover—yet again—the liturgical music roots of the Roman Rite.

He did have a hammer and he hit the nail directly on its head.

If you want to know more about how Church music was hijacked, then make some Mystic Monk Coffee (or Tea), and download the following.

A Chronicle of the Reform: Catholic Music in the 20th Century 

This is a must-read for those who are involved in Church music (we all are) and for those who are interested in Church music (we all must be).  NB: The typos are probably a result of the scanning of the text – they aren’t in the originals.

Also, friends, remember these principles:

  • we are our rites
  • change the way we pray and you change what we believe
  • liturgical music is not an add on
  • true active participation must be actual participation rooted in active receptivity
  • liturgical music is an “integrating” element in worship
  • liturgical music must be sacred and artistic

All of this is grounds for thanksgiving for the great gift Benedict XVI gave to the whole Church: Summorum Pontificum.

UPDATE:

One of you wrote to me via email:

I appreciated your latest posting, “The penny dropped on another musician.” It mirrors my own experience and ongoing education regarding the liturgy. Unfortunately, we have the women religious to thank for the acceleration of the degradation of our liturgy as well. I ran across a recording of this “Mass,” the installation of the “Leadership Team” of the western province of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, an order that taught me in grade school. While I should not be surprised, I was still nonetheless shocked by how far these sisters gone in their attempts to dismantle the Roman Rite as prescribed by the Church.

Western Province Leadership Team Installation from Sisters of Charity of Nazareth on Vimeo.

From the very beginning, it’s just plain dreadful, but dreadful picks up speed at 03:45. From 20:15 onward the estrogen-bedraggled priest lets sister read the Gospel. Guess who preaches. More weirdness begins at 34:00 when three sisters do their “installation” thing with stoles and hugs all around.
Check out 1:07:00 for the final “blessing” and… what follows, whatever the hell that is.

UPDATE:

Well… it looks as if the Sisters deleted or “privatized” that video.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Latin, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The penny dropped for another musician

  1. FranzJosf says:

    I was hired as music director for an Archdiocesan Cathedral church in 1986. Only sixteen years after the Council. What they had done was adopt Anglican choral music in English and retained some Latin choral music with dignified liturgical ceremonies. No guitars. (My first Good Friday we did the Allegri Miserere and the Victoria Reproaches; from then on I didn’t have to submit Holy Week music to the Archbishop. But the parishes had all gone to hell and they had their sights on the Cathedral. When I was offered the job, I took a month before accepting. What made me finally accept the position was the words of the wonderful old Monsignor (RIP) who was Rector. Here’s what he said to me: “Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any trash.” LOL. Further he told me that I had the power of refusal. If I said no it was no; however, the music that I did choose would be subject to the approval of the Archbishop for Pontifical occasions, but that even the Archbishop wouldn’t force me to do “Glory and Praise”. I accepted and had a wonderful time. But, oh, the battles I fought over wedding music. When brides, or worse, mothers of the bride, complained to the Rector, he would say to them, “What can I do? Our music director is a dictator!” And then he would laugh. That was the end of it. I was very blessed. But I know that that was rare in those days.

    But the barrage against Cathedral music was constant. People wrote letters to the Ardiocesan newspaper complaining. Then, the next week a letter would appear defending me. That part was fun. We

  2. HyacinthClare says:

    Yesterday, our little amateur choir at our FSSP Latin mass church in Phoenix, Mater Misericordiae, sang the O Quam Gloriosum polyphonic mass by Victoria, Schaller’s Ascendit Deus and Isaac’s O Esca Viatorum. The music is still here. You just have to make it happen. Until our young choir director came a year ago, we had been singing the chant masses as a congregation, led by our schola. Now we know five polyphonic masses and literally dozens of other Latin classics. WE aren’t great; the MUSIC is great, and we rise to it as best we can. If you’re in Phoenix and you’re a soprano or a bass, we need you!!

  3. FranzJosf says:

    I was hired as music director for an Archdiocesan Cathedral church in 1986. Only sixteen years after the Council. What they had done was adopt Anglican choral music in English and retained Latin choral music with dignified liturgical ceremonies. No guitars. (My first Good Friday we did the Allegri Miserere and the Victoria Reproaches; from then on I didn’t have to submit Holy Week music to the Archbishop. But the parishes had all gone to hell and they had their sights on the Cathedral. When I was offered the job, I took a month before accepting. What made me finally accept the position was the words of the wonderful old Monsignor (RIP) who was Rector. Here’s what he said to me: “Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any trash.” LOL. Further he told me that I had the power of refusal. If I said no it was no; however, the music that I did choose would be subject to the approval of the Archbishop for Pontifical occasions, but that even the Archbishop wouldn’t force me to do “Glory and Praise”. I accepted and had a wonderful time. But, oh, the battles I fought over wedding music. When brides, or worse, mothers of the bride, complained to the Rector, he would say to them, “What can I do? Our music director is a dictator!” And then he would laugh. That was the end of it. I was very blessed. But I know that that was rare in those days.

    But the barrage against Cathedral music was constant. People wrote letters to the Archdiocesan newspaper complaining. Then, the next week, a letter would appear defending our liturgy and music. That part was fun. We (the Cathedral clergy, choir, and I) made a stir. Then we instituted Advent Vespers and Benediction. The libs hated it. But the people came. Some of them cried during Benediction. To that point the Archbishop had stayed out of the fray. Then, the second year, he called me to his office and said, “I think we’ll have Pontifical Vespers on the first Sunday of Advent. Please make sure Fr. X is master of ceremonies and that he has plenty of servers.” I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I was 28 at the time. To this day I am grateful, deep in my soul, to that Archbishop, now in retirement.

    But the writer is correct. Throw out the Latin music and the Latin Rite, in the solemn form, is emasculated. Would anyone support burning St. Mary Major or Notre Dame to the ground? That’s what they did to Latin music.

  4. Baritone says:

    The situation in the last 50 years feels like an unstoppable downward spiral–a feedback loop–where rejecting truth leads to rejecting beauty and rejecting beauty leads to rejecting truth. I am not old enough to have witnessed which came first or if both appeared simultaneously. What I have observed is the contrast between beautiful liturgy and ugly liturgy, which often seem to accompany solid teaching and squishy teaching, respectively.

    Liturgical music is very close to my heart as a participant in church choirs from my youth at an FSSP apostolate (now a parish). The ancient treasury of music has greatly influenced my spiritual life. As a small return, I have attempted to write a few polyphonic pieces myself: http://www.catholicliving.net/tag/original-composition/

  5. Pearl says:

    20-30 years ago, I had the great honor of knowing Fr. John C. Selner, S. S. I so very much wish that someone with the correct knowledge of music would research the work that Fr. Selner was doing. I spoke with him and heard some of his works (I was even granted the great privilege of using some of his pieces at my wedding). His work was exactly on the correct track when the train wreck of the 60’s happened and he was pushed aside. RIP, good Father! Maybe the renewal you worked for could be very faintly on the horizon!

  6. ChesterFrank says:

    All of that Vatican 2 secular-protestant-folk era music would have been fine if it were preformed outside the liturgy, and outside the Kings court; but on the road leading to the court (the church and Mass). Its fine before and after Mass, but during the Mass it seems the music ministries have simply taken over. I am using Kings court because that is what the TLM is (I think) based on. Who ever saw a Kings court with the musicians standing right by the throne?

  7. rdb says:

    I offered Holy Mass yesterday in a parish. The music sounded like Ethel Merman accompanied by a calliope. This was the supposed traditional Mass. And I think that was their goal.

  8. Lepidus says:

    What is even worse is that all of this was unnecessary. Even if they wanted to go with the exceedingly bad idea of abandoning Latin altogether, the Church still had a plethora of English hymns to choose from. I just pulled out my copy of “The St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book” (1920) and it has around 120 English hymns and covers all the seasons. “The New St. Basil Hymnal” (1958) has around 140 English hymns, and “Catholic Hymnal” (copyright 1933, Imprimatur 1905) has around 400.

  9. Unwilling says:

    The Chronicle of the Reform seems (6/47 pp) to be a wonderfully dense and scholarly resource. I will try to find time to study it all soon. Would it merit listing on the sidebar as one of your “Useful WDTPRS References”?

  10. NoraLee9 says:

    Two notable experiences:

    Christmas Eve, 1983, St THOMAS Aquinas Church, Flatlands, Brooklyn, NY. The Our Father was sung to The Rolling Stones, “As Tears Go By.”

    Funeral for a cousin, St Finbar, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 1995. The recessional was the theme for The Rose.

    Ask me sometime about the Dancing Altar Girl Massacree of 1994 in Syracuse and how I fled to the Traditional Mass.

    At a funeral for

  11. FrAnt says:

    And heaven cried.

  12. frjim4321 says:

    Well, the presider chanted the presidential prayers, which was pretty good.

    I’d like to do that, but I am not much of a singer.

    [Your use of presider here is, for the first time, appropriate.]

  13. thomistking says:

    We in English speaking counties are blessed to have quality vernacular liturgical music in the form of Anglican chant (what a strange twist of providence). It is possible to use this in the Novus Ordo as a bridge back to Latin chant and the traditional Roman rite.

  14. APX says:

    Thomistking,
    Are you talking about legitimate Anglican chant, or psalm tone sung in English? Even our Anglican Use Ordinariate doesn’t do Anglican Chant.

  15. L. says:

    “The music sounded like Ethel Merman accompanied by a calliope.” There’s no business like show business!

  16. Cristero says:

    In the not too distant future,
    next Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy, A.D.
    There was a Sister named Susan,
    pretty different from you and me.

    She worked at Gizmonic Worship and Leadership Institute,
    Just another Nun in a shapeless Hillary Pantsuit.
    She did a good job of wrecking the liturgy and the worship space.
    but the Traditionalists didn’t like her, so they shot her into space.

  17. Moro says:

    (shiver) ugh. That was horrid. And sad. Clearly they haven’t gotten over the 60s an 70s. That opening hymn, if you can call it that covers it all. And people wonder why women’s vocations to religious life are down 90%?

  18. Eugene says:

    Regarding the video:
    I could not make my way through it.
    Two thoughts come to mind:
    1) pant suits and lots of grey hair all around
    2) there is NO FUTURE here, compare the congregation of this “mass” to the typical congregation of the extraordinary mass – there are no young people, no young families with young children, – but it doesn’t matter to these lost in VII la la land types, they have destroyed much of the faith and they continue to live in their own world of make belief and anti patriarchy/establishment ___l ___t

  19. Maelwys says:

    I notice there are no younger women there looking forward to the days when they’ll get to jiggle and sway their way around the altar with a stole. The priest somehow observed the opposite of reality when he said he saw the profile of the living church in the pews. It looked to me like few people in the pews will be living twenty years from now. I was about to ask if they never ask themselves why God has cut off their spiritual ability to reproduce, but then it dawned on me that they don’t care about reproducing. They’re chiefly in this to comfort and affirm each other.

  20. lmgilbert says:

    Father, You wrote: At my aforementioned home parish, on Saturday mornings there was a sung Mass in Gregorian chant, and the entire congregation sang the Ordinary. There were baskets with the Kyriale at the doors. After some years, people didn’t need then anymore. Before Mass, the cantor would say, “Today we are singing Mass IV” (for the feast of an Apostle), and everyone would sing Mass IV. Easy.

    This reminded of an extraordinary account at The New Liturgical Movement on May 7th, in an article remembering Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci:

    Domenico Bartolucci was born in Borgo San Lorenzo, a tiny village near Florence, on May 7th, 1917. His mother was a farmer and his father was a workman, but also sang in church, though not as a professional. At that time, every village, no matter how small, had an extraordinary musical activity, with choirs, bands, lyrical companies, and of course, the musical activities connected with liturgy in the Catholic Church.

    From the days of his youth, Domenico demonstrated a double vocation to music and to priesthood. As a baby he was immersed in the musical world of the Catholic Church, as he recalled in one place:

    “When I was a boy I remember that the people used to sing in church. They sang at Vespers (all from memory: the antiphons, psalms and hymns); they sang at devotional functions (Way of the Cross, Marian devotions, etc.); they sang in processions (the Magnificat, Te Deum, Lauda Sion, and other hymns); they sang even at Solemn Mass sometimes. (When I was a boy, each Sunday at my little church there was a Solemn Mass, and on normal Sundays the people sang by themselves.) I used to sing too, either behind the altar with my father, who was the parish cantor, or with the people in the pews whenever there weren’t cantors behind the altar. The people sang: they sang in a loud voice, a song that centuries and centuries had handed down to them, a lusty song, severe and strong, that the children had learned from their elders, not at school desks or examination rooms but by constant habit, in the continuous practice of the Church. How can I recall without a still-living emotion the participation of all of people at the Liturgy of the Dead, and especially in the Obsequies? Everyone, I mean everyone, belted out the Libera me Domine and then the In Paradisum and then the De Profundis…! Everyone! And the music, that gorgeous music, attained an unmatchable power; the last, deep, hearty farewell to the dead as he left the church where countless times he had sung full-throatedly the praises of God! The people sang!”

  21. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Jim,

    with all due respect, but in the absence of physical limitations such as present to our Holy Father –

    if you want to sing, I humbly suggest just to sing. What is worth doing is worth doing badly. And I guess every singer, at least from the non-professional ones, was laughed at and critisized to the ground when he first tried.

  22. majuscule says:

    The priest in the video sounded so tired.

    I won’t comment on the rest…

  23. eymard says:

    Excellent article, and fantastic resource in the “Catholic Music in the 20th Century” attachment. Thank you, Fr. Z!

    I was fortunate to have sung in the boys choir in the Chicagoland area (Ascension in Oak Park) from 1962-1964 under the direction of Alois Trnka, whose selections and arrangements served as a template for the Chicago Archdiocese. He was also first cellist at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But by the time I was a freshman at Quigley North Seminary in 1965, the hootenany Mass was in ascendancy, and I lost interest. My neighbor was Peter Scholtes, who penned the Kinston Trio-like infamous classic “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.”

    A highlight in those Ascension choir days was a concert in which every boys choir from the Chicago diocese assembled for a concert on the stage of the Airie Crown Theater stage in the original McCormick Place (before the fire that detroyed it in 1967). It was an amazing logistical and artistic achievement to get all of those young men in one place at one time joined in one voice, and I can find no record, no report of this performance anywhere, alas.

  24. un-ionized says:

    Fr. Jim, go ahead and just belt it out. My orchestra teacher said, “If you can’t play good, play loud!”

  25. Christine says:

    The music at my parish is…not good. As a non-musical lay person (new to this parish to boot), I pray for better music, but other than that, I don’t know what someone like me can do.

  26. JustaSinner says:

    They play music at Mass? I thought it was Muzak with a healthy dollop of Oasis ‘Wonder Wall” tossed in so the “youth” could relate…oops, Justin Bieber? Oh heck, Chainsmokers?

  27. OldProfK says:

    The video seems to have been blocked now (“privacy settings”). Ah, well, I think I have the general picture.

  28. amenamen says:

    The enormity of liturgical abuse gets lost in the banality.
    The poor dears seem to treat the Mass no differently from shuffleboard and Bingo.
    Organizing a good shuffleboard tournament also takes time and skill, but no one would mistake it for divine worship. Bingo has rules, but no great solemnity to it.
    Some people find Bingo fun. But mostly, it just passes the time.
    They seem tired and bored, especially the priest, just going through the motions.
    Every alteration to the sacred liturgy was once an act of radical defiance, but after a while, it is just part of the routine, the same old, same old.

    Convent Masses would, apparently, not be valid or licit unless both candlesticks were on the same side of the altar. You never see any variation in these rubrics. Never.
    From the moment when the blaring voice first booms into the microphone, interrupting the loud, casual conversations in the pews, there is never an indication that this event is anything but the usual routine, practiced and scripted, but not particularly well executed.
    “… WINE? … If we could please take our places? (BANG, BANG, BANG. It is on.) WELCOME EVERYONE. IF WE COULD PLEASE TAKE OUR PLACES. WELCOME TO THIS EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION, AND THE INSTALLATION RITUAL … (three minutes later) … BY SINGING ‘A PLACE AT THE TABLE'”. “PLEASE REMAIN SEATED …”
    The weird entrance song and shuffle-dance is strangely reminiscent of the 1965 Motown hit, “Stop, in the Name of Love” by the Supremes, as it might be performed at a high school 50th anniversary reunion.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPBkiBbO4_4
    Very nice effort, girls. Nice graduation gowns, too. But it’s not Diana Ross, even in her seventies.

    The feminist editing of the Scriptures is pretty routine (an angel would never say “Men of Galilee” to the Eleven Apostles).
    The priest seems to have made his peace with the way things are. Just sit back and let them do what they are going to do. No sense wearing all of those extra vestments, like a chasuble, much less a cincture. No sense saying all those extra prayers, like the Confiteor, or all those prayers at the preparation of the gifts. No sense reading the Gospel, or preaching.

    One begins to expect the routine editing of the responses (“… for the good of all GOD’S church”). They most likely have not used the approved texts in decades. And one begins to expect the use of a CD player for the recessional … um … song. No one would expect the dear sisters to be able to play actual steel drums, or to sing that Easy Listening Reggae … thing … at the end.

  29. Joe in Canada says:

    This might cheer up those of us who can’t see the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmtyGUqGzSw

  30. edm says:

    I have to wonder why people insist on blaming The Protestants for bad music in the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the drivel was composed by Roman Catholics for the liturgy “in the spirit of Vatican Two”. Don’t be so quick to point the finger…

  31. Kerry says:

    During Holy Week, Father organized Tenebrae at 0600 for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and made it clear that it was to be in English. (Latinaphobia is passed aurally.) Those who attend the Latin low mas were the bulk of the attendees. However, during one of the practice sessions, someone interrupted us, asking for Father J., and, come now. Later we learned that he had heard the confession of, let’s call him Jack, about 89, and away from the church for 44 years.
    He came to Tenebrae the following morning, and the Thursday 0830 Latin mass. This writer heard him talking to A., saying, “…and these people are always grinning”. (Father has no server for this mass, so it is done as a response mass from the pews.) Jack then asked how he could learn to pronounce the Latin, the sounds of which he remembers, but can’t quite say. He’s a very sweet man.
    During Lent, said above friends and I chanted the Attende Domine from the pews as people were exiting. And last Sunday the Veni Creator Spiritus. Seems like a place from which to start. We are looking forward to the Te Deum; sort of a Chant Mob.
    Good news I suppose.

  32. mattg says:

    I hope the pulling of the video indicates that they are at least embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. Or better yet, fearful of us.

    I pray that one day, they will come to fear the Lord. The Last Things will be upon all of us before we know it, and somehow I don’t think, “I dedicated my life to being an angry God-hating feminist, and Fundamentally Transforming the Church” is going to go over all that well at Judgement.

  33. mattg says:

    I would also note the preponderance of funeral videos on their website: https://vimeo.com/scn/videos

  34. Grant M says:

    I’ve attended Anglican Communion Services that used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Anglican Chant, and I’ve also seen videos on YouTube of the Byzantine and Coptic Liturgies chanted (ad orientem) in English: so it seems that the introduction of the vernacular need not lead to pop music, unless other hidden agendas are at work.

  35. PTK_70 says:

    Having read through well over half of the chronicle which our genial host commended, my short summary and take-away is this: the foundation for the renewal of church or “liturgical” music, which was laid in the first several decades of the 20th century, perdures. This foundation, this “root stock,” includes Sacrosanctum concilium and Musicam sacram. Clever actors with a theological agenda surreptitiously grafted a tree, which didn’t belong, on the otherwise healthy root stock. The fruit has proven wretched, baneful.

    Ergo, let the imposter tree put cut down and thrown to the fire. Let a good tree, which produces healthful fruit, take its place and be grafted onto the root stock.

  36. PTK_70 says:

    Sorry, that should read: Ergo, let the imposter tree be cut down and thrown to the fire….

  37. PTK_70 says:

    Having now read through the entire chronicle, I should like to highlight the following, which starts on page 44. It seems as important today as it was in 1990:

    “Certain distinctions must be learned in this country about music for worship. They are clearly indicated in the documents. First, the difference between music intended as liturgical music and that intended as religious music must be established. When composing for the very words of the Mass or the hours, one is creating music which is itself pars integrans, an integral part of the liturgy itself….

    “Secondly, religious music, as distinguished from liturgical music, truly has a place both within the liturgy and in paraliturgical and extra-liturgical services, as well as in gatherings apart from formal worship. Through the centuries the Church has encouraged such pious activity. The medieval world was filled with compositions in both Latin and the vernacular that were religious and prayerful. Some, indeed, found their way into the liturgy as hymns and sequences. Others remained always as non-liturgical compositions…..

    “Other religious music, especially what is known today as folk songs, or pieces in ballad style,…has no place in services within the church, either liturgical or non-liturgical. The texts are not taken from the sacred scriptures or from liturgical books as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy orders. The music is not in a serious artistic style. Rather these pieces, good in themselves, are best used in gatherings outside the church, meetings of youth groups….”

    The song “Joy is like the rain” comes to mind. I have no particular affection for this song, never having heard it in my youth. Yet, for someone who learned it in a second grade classroom, this song may evoke strong and healthy memories. So let it be sung in Deacon Dave’s living room amongst a group of young folks sitting on the floor, gathered for Bible study/prayer/fellowship.

    Christian fellowship is surely in itself a good thing. It’s just that parishes have been trying too hard to artificially fold it into our liturgical worship, into our Masses, to the point where we end up with neither fellowship nor good worship.