ACTION ITEM! Declaration on Sacred Music – Cantate Domino – 50th anniversary of Instruction ‘Musicam Sacram’

action-item-buttonMy friend Prof. Peter Kwasniewski has been part of a project to create a Declaration on Sacred Music – Cantate Domino – on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Instruction Musicam Sacram, promulgated exactly 50 years ago today, 5 March.

This document, signed by numerous scholars, pastors, and musicians, seeks to promote greater importance of the place of traditional sacred music in liturgical worship of God. It points out many deficiencies in sacred music since the Council. However, it also offers constructive suggestions.

Cantate Domino could serve as a starting point for discussion in a diocese or a parish, a kind of examen conscientiae (“examination of conscience”) for renewal of worthy, artistic, sacred music for liturgical worship of God.

You can find it in various languages. You are invited to download it and distributed as widely as you can!  Make sure that your pastors and musicians see this.  Make your bishop aware of it and ask him, respectfully, to give it a chance, to read it.   In English, it is only 5 pages long.  The are dense pages, but there are only 5 pages.

Links to the document and a list of the signers is HERE

I think we can admit that solemn and traditional liturgy doesn’t seem to be Pope Francis’ thing.  However, His Holiness recently addressed a conference for the 50th of Musicam sacram, and said: “Sometimes a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.”

So… let’s do something about it!

¡Hagan lío!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kerry says:

    In the music (sic.) inflicted upon us, maybe Haugen et. al. thought that mediocrity, superficiality and banality were Italian musical terms.

  2. JARay says:

    I so agree. I have downloaded the five pages and I wondered if I could mail a copy to my local Ordinary. I know that those who are my local “musicians” will take no notice of it. They think that music at Mass involves singing hymns. The idea of singing the Mass itself is completely beyond them. We do get some Latin at my local church because we have Benediction every Saturday after the morning Mass. I lead that singing so I know that we have “O Salutaris”, “Tantum Ergo” and “Adoremus in Aeternum”.

  3. jaykay says:

    Bl. Pope Paul VI, of (increasingly) happy memory, issued “Jubilate Deo” in April 1974 (14 April, actually, which was Easter Sunday that year), recommending that sacred chant be restored to its proper place. Too late. I think it sank without trace. He should have done it much earlier – not that it would have been heeded anyway, in the “spirit” of those times. Our school choir was still singing quite a bit of it back then, but it was “dying on its legs”. What an era of general hopelessness that was, in retrospect. Even before I left school, in 1977, it just sort of “collapsed”. They just didn’t seem to care anymore, and that came across to us kids big time. New Springtime my …

  4. Joe in Canada says:

    Is there a copy that lists “we the undersigned”?

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The idea of singing the Mass has been buried, but it is not beyond anyone’s powers.

    Got into trouble lately for pointing out (to an older person raised in the old days, who knew I was not wrong), that there was no huge difference between the current definitions of “choir,” “lectors” and “cantors.” That indeed one could still chant all the readings, and that it was still the default way to do it, as seen at many Vatican Masses. That it would make more sense for readers to be trained by being in the choir, where you learn more Scripture familiarity.

    This came up because the new idea this year was that you could not possibly sit and sing in the choir area if you were also assigned readings, because they were different “roles” and nobody could take different roles in the same Mass. This comes off something that really is in the GIRM, but interpreted in a weird caste way. People take away the real minor orders, and suddenly people start making up stuff to take their places.

    (My argument was fruitless, btw, and really it was a bad argument even if true, because it did not address the problem or the sources of the idea. Which is why I would rather write out responses.)

    What worked was our choir director getting it agreed that the same person should not cantor and read at the same Mass, which is reasonable and sensible, to avoid overload. But liturgically, the thing that matters is that some live body does stuff, not how many ways you divvy up responsibilities.

    (It was also kinda suicidally dumb of me, because nobody wants to hear that their job could logically be subsumed by another and that can be dangerous in parish politics; but I get tired of hearing that choirs are a frill that can be easily cut, and that we singers are dumb bunnies who learn nothing useful. Not that this particular person said it, but I have been to lots of parishes with officials that think it.)

    (But in my defense, it was sprung on me, and I was too stunned to think. Amazing how laypeople are supposed to be all participate-y and empowered, but the more “liberal” folks in charge are always the ones springing draconian rule changes on people at the last moment, without discussion of how to implement it, or whether the rule makes sense. There are churches where the acoustics or the length of journey necessitate a psalmist sitting downstairs away from the choir (at least until one can slip back upstairs at the beginning of the homily), but in a small church hurting for bodies, there is no logistical reason.)

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Sorry for my ramble there. I forgot to say that Mike Aquilina has a great new book out called How the Choir Saved the World. It is basically a brief popular look at music in the early Church, starting before most Western music history texts start and ending at about the time they start.

    Highlight for me was info about St. Ephrem’ s anti-heretic women’s street choir. Yay! I did not know that I could love him any more than for his poetry, but wait, there’s more!

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