Pope Benedict has proposed what I have called his “Marshall Plan” to renew Catholic identity. This must involve a reading of the Second Vatican Council in continuity with all the other Councils, not as a point of rupture. That goes for our liturgical worship, which is a sine qua non for Catholic Christian living.
Gregorian Chant was specified by the Council as the Church’s sacred liturgical music, first and foremost.
Who are we if we ignore that?
Some bits from a longish piece in Canada’s National Post with my emphases and comments:
In the search for the Voice of God, some believe Gregorian chants are preferable to folk music
Charles Lewis Apr 22, 2011
When Philip Fournier sings a line of Gregorian chant, it hangs like a puff of smoke in the air before it slowly dissipates above the empty pews below.
The sound, listening to it live from a distance of just several inches away in the choir loft at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Toronto, is ancient, elemental. The sound originates in his abdomen — a line of text that flows out like a wave, sung in tones that are dark and rich. The words are in Latin. It is not a song so much as prayer that is sung. [Exactly.]
Mr. Fournier, with his ragged sweater and perpetual five o’clock shadow, is part of a small cadre of traditionalists for whom singing Gregorian chant is an attempt to restore what they see as the real music of the Catholic Church [They are in good company. The Second Vatican Council also thought that.] — sounds that go back to the time when King David sang psalms in the temple.
If they had their way, they would storm the parish churches and hurl all the guitars and drums into the street because they believe substituting modern music for ancient music has eroded worship. [Do I hear an “Amen!”? I remember the old quip that the true renewal of the liturgy will begin with the breaking of the last guitar over the head of the last ex-nun minister of Holy Communion. Facetious, I know. Some guitars are very valuable and have their proper place.]
“Rather than work with our tradition, they took the easy way out,” said Mr. Fournier, who was raised in Maine and has been the director of music at St. Vincent de Paul for three years. “I have been repulsed by what I have experienced in the Church. Going to mass should be more profound and of a greater depth than what you experience day to day.” [Do I hear another “Amen!”?]
He grew up in the 1980s, when folk masses and other forms of “music of the moment” were the norm. “At the time I knew it was weak and didn’t match the little I knew about the faith.”
Now, Mr. Fournier works with both lay singers and seminarians who attend the nearby Oratory of St. Philip Neri — a 400-year-old congregation of priests and brothers who have always incorporated sacred music into the liturgy. The Oratory oversees both St. Vincent de Paul and Holy Family.
David Domet, another Toronto choirmaster who has worked with several parishes, said Catholics have been so disconnected from sacred music that they no longer understand the richness of their own tradition. [“Amen!”?]
“Gregorian chant as we have it today is the closest thing we know to what Jesus would have sung and heard himself in the Temple in Jerusalem,” he said. [That could very well be true. In any event, Jesus would not have heard “Gather Us In”… except perhaps during the time He spent in the harrowing of Hell.]
The appeal of Gregorian chant is undeniable. During a service, it adheres itself to the mass — moving with it hand in hand in perfect harmony. [When Chant CD’s are released they not rarely make it onto the popular music charts.]
He began the choir five years ago out of a desire to create more authentic Catholic music, but also to flee “the drivel” he was hearing in some of his neighbourhood churches.
The priests at the parish were not initially thrilled about having Gregorian chant brought into their church. [It’s almost always the clergy and religious who are the dinosaurs.]
“One priest said, ‘This is all archaic. We don’t want to be Catholic icicles frozen in another time,’ ” Mr. Mundra recalled. [He would rather be, what… a drip?]
“You have beautiful architecture, beautiful music, beautiful windows — the evidential power of beauty,” he said. “All human beings respond to beauty. So you also need beautiful music.” [The key word there is “beautiful”. But he left out another key word “sacred”.]
Now the choir is flourishing. The number of people in the pews for the Saturday evening service is up, and the choir has solidified into a unit.
Even Mr. Mundra’s mother, Marie, has joined the choir.
She, too, had longed for music that matched the holiness of worship. She had been a Carmelite nun years ago and was eager to regain some of the reverence of worship.
“We went to mass one day as a family and we heard all this terrible secular music. And then going home we heard sacred music on the radio,” she said, laughing at the recollection. “There are people out there who want to hear this, but they are not being given a chance. This will be the music we will hear in heaven.”
I cut a few large chunks out. Read the whole article there.
This, friends, is the key to the NEW EVANGELIZATION.
We must renew our liturgical worship. Liturgy is doctrine is daily life.
WDTPRS KUDOS to this parish in Toronto!