Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back After The Holidays

I'm hoping that there will be some news to report on after the Christmas Holidays. It seems that the next big things coming will be either the clarifications on Summorum Pontificum from Ecclesia Dei, or perhaps some kind of action on Sacred Music, either the acceptance or rejection of the Directory, or perhaps the establishment of the curia office for Sacred Music. Although it always seems as though things are "stalled" from our point of view, I'm sure that there is a lot going on that we'll just have to wait to see.
With Christmas/ Holy Family/Mary Mother of God all taking place within a week of each other, and our annual "Epiphany Concert" on January 6th, it will be a little busy for me at the parish, so I'm not planning on posting anything until after January 6th. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my 4 or 5 readers out there!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

NPM announces the new "Music Document"

The following from NPM in their e-mail update newsletter. I may be reading a lot into their language, but it seems that they're not thrilled with this document. The first thing that they say about it is that it is not legislative, perhaps implying that it doesn't really constitute law and perhaps doesn't need to be followed to the letter. It also adds the odd comment that this document will be published together with the Directory for Music and the Liturgy, described as norms for approving texts for liturgical songs, while noting that the Directory has not yet been approved by the Holy See. This was a bit troubling to me... Sing To The Lord cites the Directory as a source for a lot of it's statements, and yet the Directory hasn't been approved yet. If it isn't approved, would the parts of Sing To The Lord that draw from it be cast into doubt? Anyway, here is the NPM "announcement":

"You may now view and download Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship (PDF), a new set of guidelines for music in the liturgy approved overwhelmingly (88%) by the U.S. bishops last month. The document had originally been proposed as a legislative document, but the bishops opted instead to issue it as an official statement of the USCCB, which still required a two-thirds vote of Latin rite bishops.

Sing to the Lord is longer (more than 250 paragraphs) and more comprehensive than its predecessors. It addresses some topics not covered in earlier documents, treats other areas more expansively, incorporates the norms of recent official liturgical documents, and draws on the experience of celebrating the current “ordinary” form of the Mass for the past thirty-seven years.

The USCCB is planning to publish the document together with the Directory for Music and the Liturgy. These official norms for approval of texts for singing at the liturgy were adopted by the U.S. bishops in November 2006 and are still awaiting confirmation from the Vatican.

If this document had proclaimed that pop-style liturgy music was the "new voice" of the Church, that Guitars and Drums should be given equal status as the Organ, and that Chant and Polyphony represent the sounds from a now irrelevant past, NPM would be holding nationwide seminars to instruct Music Directors in its immediate implementation and there would be a special issue of Pastoral Music dedicated to the history of liturgical music since 1970 and the series of events that have led up to this "monumental document" that truly expresses the Spirit of Vatican II. However, this document being what it is, they at least provide you with a web-link so you can read it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Incentive Pay in the Vatican?

I haven't seen this item mentioned anywhere yet, but it seems to me this is something to make note of... a system of "merit pay" for Vatican employees? In a corporate atmosphere, this would be a sign that the CFO senses a lot of "foot dragging" among the rank and file, and is going to start using compensation as a way of lighting a fire under them.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) -

The Holy See Press Office released thefollowing communique at midday today:

"This morning in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a meeting was held of heads of dicastery and other heads of Vatican State andof organizations associated with the Holy See or administratively dependenton APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See). "The meeting was presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio BertoneS.D.B. "It was dedicated to presenting a number of important new measures concerning the salaries of personnel working in the service of the Vatican.

"The principal and most innovative measure concerns the new parameters for the payment of staff (who are employed in a system of ten functional levels), and above all the introduction of 'classes of merit' within each individual level. This novelty brings an element of incentive and remuneration into the Vatican salary system, taking account - within each individual functional level - of factors such as dedication,professionalism, productivity and correctitude.

"Other measures relate to management categories and to Regulations concerning lay management personnel. "All these measures will come into effect on January 1, 2008, though the 'classes of merit' will be gradually applied over time. "It should be recalled that, from January 1, new measures for overtime payments will also come into effect, completing those introduced over thelast few months.

"All these measures involve advantages for staff and, naturally, a greater outlay for the administrative offices, which are invited to follow wise management practices in order to be able to meet these new expenses, which are aimed at improving the treatment of staff."

I find the term "correctitude" to be interesting... would this mean something like "following directions well"? And the greater question is what Vatican employees does this apply to.... hmmm....

Friday, November 16, 2007

UPDATE: The New Music Document is Passed (well...sort of!)

This update from NLM... but it is also important to note that at the present time, nobody has seen a final document! There are other stories out on this and 'm trying to catch up!

"Last night I was called about this, late, and told that it was possible that radically amended and patched up music document would be resurrected and passed as a guideline, replacing Music in Catholic Worship but not having the force of particular law. I didn't catch any proceedings today but Fr. Z says this is precisely what happened. The 88% in favor suggests to him that the results are not all that bad - and certainly if any says anything that resembles what the GIRM or the liturgy constitution says, it will be better. But no one will know for sure what lurks therein until we see a copy." - NLM

Monday, November 12, 2007

Revision of MCW Withdrawn

This report is now third-hand information... coming from EWTN via Jeffrey Tucker at NLM. I will update it if necessary as soon as the whole story is out. This is an important turn of events.
Says Jeffrey Tucker at NLM:

According to EWTN (I didn't watch the proceedings), there are two pieces of news on the the proposed music document that had been scheduled to be considered at the Fall USCCB meeting:

1) It has been downgraded from particular law to advisory, which means that it will not have the same binding status and will not require Rome's approval. (In other words, if it eventually sees the light of day, it will not be accountable to the Holy See.)

2) It has been otherwise withdrawn because there were 100 pages of proposed changes and there was no way it could be tackled at the USCCB meeting. (Which means that it was heavily opposed, and will likely no seethe light of day in it present form)

Please correct this post if it is inaccurate in any respect. I'm only reporting what the news anchor said as best as I can understand it.


100 PAGES OF PROPOSED CHANGES??? What does this mean? I have a pretty good theory on what's up, but I'm going to wait several hours at least and see if anything more comes to us from the reporters who are there.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Msgr. Miserachs speaks out!!

It seems like just yesterday I was saying that the rhetoric surrounding the Sacred Music issue was going to heat up and... VOILA! But it doesn't stop there... Msgr. Miserachs proposed solution is to create a Curial Office with authority over Sacred Music. Now where have I read that before? (see previous posting)

ROME, NOV. 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Perhaps a pontifical office with authority over sacred music would correct the abuses that have occurred in this area, suggested a Vatican official.Monsignor Valentín Miserachs Grau, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, said this at a conference last Saturday, marking the 80th anniversary of the diocesan institute of Sacred Music of Trent, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

The pontifical institute directed by the monsignor was originally established by the Holy See in 1911. It is an academic institution dedicated to teaching and also performing sacred music. But, Monsignor Miserachs said, "In my opinion, it would be opportune to establish an office with authority over the material of sacred music." ( It's important to remember that Msgr. Miserachs is held in great esteem by Benedict, and there should be no doubt that these statements have their origin in discussions with the Pontiff.)


Monsignor Miserachs contended that "in none of the areas touched on by Vatican II -- and practically all are included -- have there been greater deviations than in sacred music.""How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music, that is, of true liturgical music," he lamented. "How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?"( Many of us can't stand it..) It is a great error, Monsignor Miserachs said, to think that people "should find in the temple the same nonsense given to them outside," since "the liturgy, even in the music, should educate all people -- including youth and children."

"Much music written today, or put in circulation, nevertheless ignores not only the grammar, but even the basic ABC's of musical art," he continued. "Due to general ignorance, especially in certain sectors of the clergy," certain media act as loudspeakers for "products that, devoid of the indispensable characteristics of sacred music -- sanctity, true art, universality -- can never procure the authentic good of the Church." (Msgr. Miserachs appears to have his own criteria for a "three-fold judgment")

A reform

The monsignor called for a "conversion" back to the norms of the Church. "And that 'norm' has Gregorian chant as its cardinal point, either the chant itself, or as an inspiration for good liturgical music." (this is practically word-for-word what Benedict said in his address to the Pontifica Academy in October...) He noted that his recommendations are not related to Benedict XVI's document on the use of the 1962 Roman Missal."

'Nova et vetera,'" he urged, "the treasure of tradition and of new things, but rooted in tradition."
Monsignor Miserachs suggested that contact with tradition should "not be limited to the academic realm, or concerts or records." Instead, "it should become again the living song of the assembly that finds in it that which calms their deepest spiritual tensions, and which makes them feel that they are truly the people of God." (In other words...it's not enough to merely say that this should be so and continue having Sacred Music relegated to concerts and "special events"... it needs to be the normative music in Catholic worship every Sunday)


Well... let's see where this goes.... I'm going to stick to my predictions and will add that Msgr. Miserachs is probably at the top of the short-list to head up a curial office for Sacred Music.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reforms to Come-Part VI: The Year Ahead

In just a little less than a week from now, the Bishops of the United States will meet, and among the items for discussion and approval is the document Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship. This document, originally intended to be a revision of the 1972 Music In Catholic Worship has transformed into a much larger project than when it began and, I believe, with far greater implications than anybody is attributing to it at this time. With the approval of this document by the USCCB and it’s submission to the Holy See for recognitio, we will be witness to the beginning of the end of the liturgical music nightmare of the last 40 years.

Understand that I am going out on a limb here… it is easy to just post news that has already happened on your blog and feel good that you are spreading the truth or whatever. It is an entirely different matter to commit to predictions with the kind of tenacity that I’m going to commit to these three. So here they are. Listen up.

There is going to be a transformation of the discussion/ debate concerning music at Mass within 6 months. Further still, there is going to be a radical transformation of this issue and how it is discussed. The transformation will become apparent this next week with the Bishop’s vote on Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship, although I will qualify that by saying it is not the document itself that will bring about the transformation. Rather, this document is going to serve as a kind of epitaph for the last 40 years of liturgical music, putting a good face on it and speaking lovingly while affirming that it has passed on, paving the way for what will follow. The key feature of this document is that it will affirm that the directives of the Second Vatican Council concerning music need to be clarified, and that future development of music needs to be guided by the principles set forth in the council documents themselves.

There will be a definitive statement from Rome concerning Sacred Music at some point in the next 18 months. Ok… so there have already been plenty of statements from Rome concerning Sacred Music in the last 40 years, so how will this one be different? It will be different in that it will set out the Second Vatican Council’s vision of contemporary Sacred Music as a continuation of the Church’s traditions and heritage as exemplified by Gregorian Chant and Sacred polyphony, and will “clarify” what “novelties” of the last 40 years are worthy of that heritage and which are not. This document will promote the right implementation of the council’s vision and a renewed connection to this heritage with the introduction of the new Missal translations and the composition of new settings of these texts. I’m saying 18 months because of the role of the new Missal translation which could be delayed until 2009.

There will be a new Curia office to oversee Sacred Music established within a year. This is not my prediction alone and this has been out in the ‘sphere for several weeks now. What I will add is how I think it will fit into the big picture. Just as the Bishops, until recently, had authority over the use of the Traditional Latin Mass in their jurisdiction, they currently have jurisdiction over the approval of music, instruments etc. Just as with the TLM, they failed to use this authority in a way which serves the liturgy, and so as was done with the TLM, this authority will be taken from them and given to a curial office that has specific interest in the issue and possesses the necessary knowledge to make informed judgments independent of self-interest. The goal of this office will be to re-establish the “universality” of the Church’s Sacred Music and to develop resources for liturgical music.

And so… these are the three that I’ll commit to for now. There are other things that I think will happen as well, such as the gradual weakening of the influence that publishing companies have on Sacred Music, and the move away from “volunteerism”, or as I call it, “amateurism” in Sacred Music towards a greater emphasis on professionalism. These however will be less identifiable and slower moving, so it’s hard to set a time frame for them.

The question now is, what are the odds that I’m right? Check back in a year or so and we’ll see….

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bishops to Consider "New" Liturgical Music Statement

This came from Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service. I don’t know quite what to make of it. Either the author is confused and/ or misinformed about the document(s) cited in this article, or else there is something going on “behind the scenes” that has been let out of the bag here. The question that has to be asked here is “Is there now only ONE document from the BCL concerning music, rather than the two documents that have been projected, namely the Directory for Music and the Liturgy and the revision of Music in Catholic Worship?” If what this article says is accurate, there has been a radical change of course on this project, and I can only give an educated guess as to why this has happened. - Chironomo

Emphasis and Comments are mine:

Bishops To Consider New Liturgical Music Statement

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. bishops will consider approving an updated version of a 35-year-old statement on liturgical music when they convene Nov.12-15 in Baltimore for their annual fall general meeting. (presumably he is talking about the revision of Music in Catholic Worship)

The proposed document, which like the original is named "Music in Catholic Worship," (as recently as October 12th, the BCL news release had said that this document was titled “Sing To The Lord: Music in Divine Worship") deals with many of the issues the 1972 statement addressed. But it also promises to have within three years a directory of liturgical songs for use in U.S. parishes. (Interesting: the directory of liturgical songs is part of a separate project, the “Directory for Music and the Liturgy”, sent up to the Holy See for approval last November following it’s approval at the 2006 Bishop’s Synod in Baltimore)

The planned directory (again, this would be referring to the Directory for Music and the Liturgy) is an outgrowth of the 2001 Vatican instruction "Liturgiam Authenticam" ("The Authentic Liturgy"), which called on each bishops' conference to compile a "directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing." News about the directory appears in the first appendix of the proposed statement. (This is very much news to me, and I’ve been on this issue pretty closely… if true, this would imply that the Directory has been combined with the revision of MCW to form one comprehensive document. Or it could simply mean that there is a report/ summary of the proposed Directory included as an appendix in the MCW revision)

While "greatly blessed" by the contributions of composers and the hymnody that has resulted since Mass in the vernacular was first permitted in 1964, the proposed document says, "the use of liturgical songs has not, however, been without certain challenges." (Certain challenges? Like… the challenge of listening to most of it?)

[Liturgical songs, it adds, "should be doctrinally correct," pointing to "tendencies toward doctrinal compromise" in individual songs, such as:

* "The doctrine of the blessed Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three divine persons."

* "The elimination of archaic language should never alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song."

" 'Liturgiam Authenticam' gives the directive that 'if (liturgical songs) are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided,'" the proposed document says.

According to the norms outlined in the proposed update to "Music in Catholic Worship," "the approval of liturgical songs is reserved to the diocesan bishop in whose diocese an individual song is published."] (all of this in brackets was from the Directory for Music and the Liturgy… my question stands, is this from the MCW revision, or from the description of the Directory in an appendix? Have these two documents been combined?)

Three principal publishers of liturgical music are based in the Chicago Archdiocese: GIA Publications, J.S. Paluch Co. and the Paluch-owned World Library Publications. Another leading liturgical music publisher is OCP, formerly called Oregon Catholic Press, which is part of the Portland Archdiocese. (again, an issue from the Directory)

The "Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs," as the core repertory would be called, is to be included in all commercially published participation aids in English used in U.S. dioceses. (another feature of the Directory!)

(!)Ten drafts of the updated "Music in Catholic Worship" were produced before the proposed document was submitted to the bishops for their consideration. It was prepared by the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Liturgy; Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., is outgoing chairman of the committee. (That’s a lot of drafts…)

"Charity, justice, and evangelization are thus the normal consequences of liturgical celebration," the proposed document says. "Often our participation in the liturgy is imperfect. Sometimes, our voices do not correspond to the convictions of our hearts. At other times, we are distracted or preoccupied by the cares of the world. But Christ always invites us to enter into song, to rise above our own preoccupations and to give our entire selves to the hymn of his paschal sacrifice." (Fluff at its best)

The proposed document adds, "Singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the liturgy." (this was from MCW) It adds elsewhere that "musical instruments in the liturgy are best understood as an extension of and support to the more basic instrument which is the human voice." (This is the same kind of tiresome statement that MCW was famous for. What does it mean? Are instruments to be considered important? Are they only for special occasions? Do they serve a specific function, and only that function? Are there some instruments that are not permitted in Sacred Music?)

While it says the use of Latin should be fostered and that Gregorian chant has "pride of place" in the liturgy, this needs to be balanced by "the important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor and liturgical musician." Each of the three judgments – liturgical, pastoral and musical – "must be taken together with the others," it adds, "and no judgment is sufficient on its own, nor does any one judgment prevail over the other." (This is weak and clearly biased against the use of Latin, particularly as regards Chant)

It also recognizes the talents necessary to participate in liturgical music ministry.

"All pastoral musicians – professional or volunteer, full time or part time, director or choir member, cantor or instrumentalist – exercise a genuine liturgical ministry," the proposed document says. "Musicians who serve the church at prayer are not merely employees or volunteers. They are ministers who share the faith, serve the community and express the love of God and neighbor through music." (so where is the part about talents required to serve as a musician?)

Composers, it says, "must respect the integrity of the approved text," (from where do the approved texts come… this was an issue from the Directory for Music and the Liturgy) and may make only "minor adaptations" to approved liturgical texts and only with the approval of the U.S. bishops' liturgy office. (Here again, parts of the two documents seem to be combined, a statement on the obligations of composers from the revision of MCW and the list of approved texts from the Directory for Music and the Liturgy… I’m getting a feeling that something is up here…)

The proposed "Music in Catholic Worship" also encourages the use of music in Catholic schools.

"Catholic grade schools and high schools, which sometimes have students from several parishes and a variety of faith traditions, should minimally help all of their students to become singers," it says. "Singing should be a regular part of the school day. ... In this way students will be introduced to music they will sing throughout their life, and they will be better prepared for the eventual role as adult members of the worshiping assembly." (This would appear to imply some type of mandatory Music Education in Catholic Schools. This has been proposed for seminaries in several documents, but this is the first time I’ve seen this proposed for Catholic Schools at the primary/ secondary level)

It cautions against the use of recorded music with limited exceptions: an outdoor procession and, "when used carefully," in Masses with children.

On some of the practicalities of liturgical music, the proposed document says:

* "Choir and ensemble members should dress in albs, choir robes or other clean, presentable and modest clothing. Cassock and surplice, as clerical attire, is not appropriate for choir vesture." (Wow!)

* "Professional directors of music ministries and part-time pastoral music ministers should each receive appropriate wages and benefits that affirm the dignity of work." (Wow again..)

* "Churches and other institutions should budget sufficient funds for the purchase of music necessary for the proper celebration of the liturgy. They also have a legal and moral obligation to seek proper permissions and to pay for reprinting of published works when required."

* "The acoustics of a worship space should be resonant so that there is no need for excessive amplification of musical sound in order to fill the space and support the assembly's song." The use of sound-absorbing building materials should be avoided, it adds. (This final sentence was left out of the version that appeared in the Florida Catholic where I first found this article.)


Alright, I’m not sure what to conclude from this. If the author has a preview copy of the MCW revision,(and these copies have been distributed so that is possible) then I would have to say that it seems that the two documents have been combined into one. From that you can further draw the inference that the Directory for Music and the Liturgy, sent last November to the Holy See for approval, was not approved and sent back. Did the BCL think at that point that it would be redundant to work on two separate projects with the same purpose? Is that why the MCW revision is more than twice the length of the original document, as has been noted in the BCL press release?

The author presents some pretty specific passages in quotes, leading me to the conclusion that he has an advance copy (N.B- this would not be a final version by any means!). The mention of “approved liturgical texts” is interesting as well. The compilation of a list of “approved liturgical texts” was mandated by Liturgiam Authenticam. The creation of such a list was rejected by the BCL, and the Directory for Music and the Liturgy proposed in its place an approval procedure for specific songs according to a set of criteria, some of which appear in the above article. Is the creation of a list of approved texts back in the document now? If so, the main point of the Directory as sent to the Holy See last November would be moot since it was to circumvent the need for a list of approved texts. It could well be that in an attempt to salvage at least some of the Directory, parts of it were incorporated into the revision of MCW, and the list of approved texts will be undertaken separately. This would be a major change in course for this whole issue.

There has been a lot of chatter in the last few weeks about initiatives addressing Sacred Music coming from Rome, including the formation of a curial office to oversee Sacred Music. There is clearly action being taken on the issue, both in the USCCB and in Rome. Recent statements from the Pope and other “high-placed officials” would indicate a greater role for the Church’s musical tradition of Chant and Choral polyphony, consistent with other facets of liturgical reform being undertaken at this time. We will have to watch what comes from the November Bishops meeting on the MCW revision and the subsequent move from Rome on its approval for an indication of what will come next. I will go out on a limb here and suggest that there may be less room for compromise on this than the BCL would like, and if the proposed document doesn’t meet the criteria, the whole issue may be handed over to a newly formed “Congregation for Sacred Music” in the curia.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reforms to Come- Part V: A New Curial Office

Sandro Magister ("Inside the Vatican") writes this excellent piece which verifies what I have been saying here for the past 6 months: There are big things coming down the pipeline in regards to Sacred Music. My last post commented on Benedict's visit to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the comments he made there and what they were really saying. Today, Magister's articles cites these same comments and fills in the blanks and connects the dots.

Emphasis and (comments) are mine:

A New Musical Season Opens at the Vatican...And Here’s the Program: Pope Ratzinger seems to be stepping up the tempo. The curia will have a new office with authority in the field of sacred music. And the choir of the Sistine Chapel is getting a new director.

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 18, 2007 –

In the span of just a few days, a series of events have unfolded at the Vatican which, taken all together, foretell new provisions – at the pope’s behest – to foster the rebirth of great sacred music.

1st] - The first of these events took place on Monday, October 8. On that morning, Benedict XVI held an audience with the "chapter" of Saint Peter’s basilica –...The pope reminded them that "it is necessary that, beside the tomb of Peter, there be a stable community of prayer to guarantee continuity with tradition."...One example the pope gave to the chapter of St. Peter’s was the celebration of the liturgy at the abbey of Heiligenkreutz, the flourishing monastery he had visited just a few weeks earlier in Austria.

In effect, since just over a year ago, Gregorian chant has been restored as the primary form of singing for Mass and solemn Vespers in Saint Peter’s basilica.The rebirth of Gregorian chant at St. Peter’s coincided with the appointment of a new choir director, who was chosen by the basilica chapter in February of 2006.The new director, Pierre Paul, a Canadian and an Oblate of the Virgin Mary, has made a clean break with the practice established during the pontificate of John Paul II – and reaffirmed by the previous director, Pablo Colino – of bringing to sing at the Masses in St. Peter’s the most disparate choirs, drawn from all over the world, very uneven in quality and often inadequate (Hopefully, this will mean an end to the "Peter's Way" choir tours that are both ridiculous and deserving of ridicule!).Fr. Paul put the gradual and the antiphonal back into the hands of his singers, and taught them to sing Mass and Vespers in pure Gregorian chant. The faithful are also provided with booklets with the Gregorian notation for Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and the translation of the texts in Italian, English, and Spanish. The results are liturgically exemplary celebrations, with increasing participation from a growing number of faithful from many nations. (as should be expected)

[2nd] The second event took place on Wednesday, October 10, again in Saint Peter’s Basilica. The orchestra and choir of Humboldt Universität in Berlin, conducted by Constantin Alex, performed the Mass "Tu es Petrus," composed in honor of Joseph Ratzinger’s eightieth birthday by the German musician Wolfgang Seifein, who was present at the organ. Make no mistake: this was not a concert, but a real Mass. Exactly like on November 19 of last year, when in St. Peter’s the Wiener Philarmoniker provided the musical accompaniment for the Eucharistic liturgy celebrated by cardinal Christoph Schönborn, with the Krönungsmesse K 317 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (The Missa "Tu es Petrus" is an exemplary work of contemporary Sacred Music that will be referred to often as the example of what contemporary Sacred Music can be.)

[3rd] The third event is Benedict XVI’s visit to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, on the morning of Saturday, October 13. (see my previous post) Here he confirmed that "three characteristics distinguish sacred liturgical music: sanctity, true art, and universality, meaning its ability to be used regardless of the nature or nationality of the assembly." (This has been noted often as a necessary part of true Sacred Music, that it be universally applicable). And he continued:"Precisely in view of this, ecclesiastical authorities (Bishops) must devote themselves to guiding wisely the development of such a demanding genre of music, not by sealing off its repository, (Say, by the creation of a "core repertoire of traditional music"?)but by seeking to insert into the heritage of the past the legitimate additions of the present, in order to arrive at a synthesis worthy of the high mission reserved to it in the divine service. (Read carefully what follows...) I am certain that the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, in harmonious agreement with the congregation for divine worship, will not fail to offer its contribution for an ‘updating’, adapted to our time, of the abundant and valuable traditions found in sacred music."

This expectation could soon be followed by the institution, in the Roman curia, of an office endowed with authority in the area of sacred music. It is already known that, as a cardinal, Ratzinger maintained that the institution of such an office was necessary. But Benedict XVI has also made clear his preferences in regard to the type of sacred music that should be promoted.In his speech to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the pope mentioned the name of only one living "maestro" of great sacred music: Domenico Bartolucci, 91, who was seated in the front row and whom the pope later greeted with great warmth. [Read this carefully.]Bartolucci was removed from his position as director of the papal choir of the Sistine Chapel in 1997. And his expulsion – supported by the pontifical master of ceremonies at the time, Piero Marini – marked the general abandonment in the papal liturgies of the Roman style, characterized by great polyphonic music and Gregorian chant, of which Bartolucci is an outstanding interpreter. The only group that remained to keep this style alive in the papal basilicas of Rome was the Cappella Liberiana of the basilica of Saint Mary Major, directed since 1970 by Valentino Miserachs Grau, who succeeded Bartolucci in this role. Miserachs is also the head of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, to which the pope has entrusted the task of "guiding wisely the development of such a demanding genre of music". (I think we can all surmise the direction that this will be going now..) Bartolucci and Miserachs: this is Benedict XVI’s dual point of reference, in Rome, in the field of liturgical music.

*[4th ]The fourth event, which came shortly before the first three, was the replacement, on October 1, of the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations.To replace Piero Marini – who will go to preside over the pontifical committee for international Eucharistic congresses – the call went out to Genoa, to Guido Marini, who’s close to his predecessor in name, but to pope Ratzinger in substance.The removal of Piero Marini leaves unprotected the man he had brought in, in 1997, to direct the Cappella Sistina after Bartolucci’s dismissal: Giuseppe Liberto. As director of the choir that accompanies the papal liturgies, Liberto is not the right man for the current pope. It’s enough to read what was written about him in the authoritative "International Church Music Review" by an expert in this field, Dobszay László of Hungary, in commenting on the inaugural Mass of Benedict XVI’s pontificate:

"The election of pope Benedict XVI gave hope and joy for all who love true liturgy and liturgical music. Following the inaugural Mass on the tv-screen we were deeply moved by Holy Father’s celebration and sermon."As the Mass went ahead, however, we became more and more unhappy with its musical feature. Most of what was sung is a very poor music; Gregorian chant was not more than pretext for a home-composer to display himself. The choir cannot be proud on anything except the old nimbus. The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organplaying like in a second-rank country parishchurch!"
The poor quality of music was the consequence of another fault: the awkward and arbitrary fabrication (by Marini?) of the liturgical texts (proprium), that practically excluded the ‘precious treasury of Church music’ (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium). A formula missae selected from the proper of the Roman Liturgy could have good influence on the music, too. Somebody, however, got again onto the path of vane glory and conceded to the temptation of voluntarism. Our happiness has been spoilt."

The director of the "International Church Music Review," a publication in four languages, is Giacomo Baroffio, a towering scholar of Gregorian chant and the head of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music before Miserachs.* * *

[5th] One final event must be added to the events already mentioned, one that provides background for all the others. It is the promulgation of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," by which Benedict XVI liberalized the ancient rite of the Mass. (Despite the constant insistence by some that this document will have "no real effect on most Catholics", nothing could be further from the truth!) It is increasingly evident that with this decision, pope Ratzinger wanted to make it possible for the modern liturgies to regain the richness of the ancient rite that they are in danger of losing: a richness of theology, textual form, and music. It is no accident that maestro Bartolucci’s first words to the pope, during their brief conversation on Saturday, October 13, were a "thank you!" for the promulgation of the motu proprio.

Monday, October 15, 2007


My emphasis and comments

VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 2007 (VIS) -

This morning, Benedict XVI visited the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the headquarters of which has recently been completely refurbished, at the initiative of the Holy See (!) and thanks to the support of various benefactors including the "Fondazione pro Musica Sacra e Arte Sacra."

At his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, and by Msgr. Valentin Miserachs Grau, president of the institute. The Holy Father paused a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament in the institute's church before moving on to the library, which has also been restored recently.

In his brief address Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that sacred music, as Vatican Council II had made clear, "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a
necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy." (Note the Vat. II reference immediately... this is intentional)

John Paul II, said Pope Benedict, "observed that today, as always, three characteristics distinguish sacred music: its 'sanctity,' its 'true art,' and its 'universality,' in other words the fact that it can be presented to any people or assembly. (This in itself calls for a music radically different from the status quo...and now he cites the words of a previous Pope... he's going somewhere with this...)

"Precisely for this reason," (Ahaa!) he added, "the ecclesial authorities must undertake to guide (I think we can conclude from this that B16 was NOT pleased with the "Directory for Music and the Liturgy" as a response to the directives in Liturgiam Authenticam)... the development of such an important form of music, not by 'freezing' its heritage (Again, I think the approach the Bishops took in the Directory has been rejected at the highest level...) but by seeking to combine the legacy of the past with the worthwhile novelties of the present (ouch!), so as to achieve a synthesis worthy of the exalted mission [sacred music] has in the service of God. (This has been Benedict's view expressed consistently in his writings, that modern Sacred Music must develop from within the tradition of the Church's past Sacred Music: Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony. This synthesis would begin with the establishment of a canon of liturgical texts as was called for in Liturgiam Authenticam, and would continue with the establishment of formal standards to be used for liturgical compositions. This approach was rejected by the Bishops in the "Directory", and it is clear that the alternative they proposed was not satisfactory to Benedict. )
"I am certain, "Benedict XVI concluded, "that the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, in harmony with Congregation for Divine Worship (this is something new...!!), will not fail to contribute to an 'aggiornamento' ... of the precious traditions of which sacred music is so rich." (Could we perhaps see a document coming from the CDW with the assistance of the Pontifical Institute concerning Sacred Music... this would be a MAJOR repudiation of collegiality.)
With the revision of Music In Catholic Worship due to be presented at the November General Assembly of Bishops, this appears to be a strong suggestion of the direction that needs to be taken in all future documents concerning music. I have been looking for some evidence that the Directory for Music and the Liturgy is a dead letter... I think I have found it here! Pope Benedict has made it very clear that music is central and of primary importance in the liturgy. This is an issue that is close to him personally and he will not let it "slide"...

Monday, September 17, 2007

From the Archives...

I found this article in an online "crawling" archive... I must have missed it when it came out! I think it is referring back to the concert at the Sistine Chapel when he made his now famous "Authentic Update" remark... there were three different articles, all from Australia, that were different versionsof the same report.
POPE BENEDICT has called for an end to electric guitars and modern music being played in church and has demanded a return to traditional choirs and Gregorian chants.
The Catholic Church has been experimenting with new ways of celebrating the Mass to try to attract more people.
The recital of the Mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy. In Spain, the Mass has been set to flamenco music. And in the United States, the Electric Prunes produced a "psychedelic" album called Mass in F Minor.
However, the use of guitars and tambourines has annoyed Pope Benedict, who has a love of classical music.
"It is possible to modernise holy music," the Pope said at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci, the director of music for the Sistine Chapel.
"But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."
The shift to more traditional forms of music comes as Australian bishops have voted in principle to accept a new English translation of the Mass that the Vatican favours as being more faithful to the original Latin text.
The argument about music is part of a wider debate over whether to return to a Latin Mass. If Latin Masses are not reintroduced into common practice, few Catholics will know the words to the Latin Gregorian chants that the Pope advocates.
The Latin Mass was restricted in the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s, on the grounds that it was deterring worshippers from going to Church.
Pope Benedict's conservatism is becoming more apparent, a year after his election.

I find this interesting because there was another article a little further down the archive from November 2006 that mentioned the possibility of a Motu Proprio on music, quoting a source "close to the Vatican"... this is the first I've ever heard of this! This was about the same time as the USCCB was proposing the "Directory for Music and the Liturgy"... I wonder if maybe there was some confusion, or if this was a leak that was then silenced... hmmm?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Interview With Susan Treacy

An interview from the Athanasius Contra Mundum blogsite...

Dr. Susan Treacy is a professor of Music and the chair of Music at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. She has a long background teaching music and Sacred Music.

1) How did you come to the appreciation of true Sacred Music, as understood by St. Pius X's Motu Proprio (Tra le solicitudini)?

I guess you could say that I have always appreciated true Sacred Music, even before I knew about St. Pius X's Motu Proprio. I am a convert to the Catholic Faith (since 1990) from the Episcopal Church and am a classically-trained musician. I grew up singing in our church choir, where we sang good music regularly, and I fell in love with liturgy from an early age. I was a kid when the Vatican Council II was in session and I remember thinking, "Why did the Catholic Church drop the Latin Mass, with all its beautiful Gregorian chant and sacred choral music?" There was a period in my life where I was away from God, but thanks to His mercy I had a conversion to Christ.After my conversion to Christ there was a time right before I became Catholic when I tolerated, out of obedience and without total enthusiam, the pop-style music that has dominated the post-Vatican II Church. However, since I was not yet Catholic, I never actually had to endure it in church. Actually, one reason I postponed entering the Church was because of my ambivalence towards the music and liturgy found in typical Catholic parishes. I actually did not know what the true teachings of the Church on sacred music were, according to the documents of Vatican II, until 1991. Also, I did not know that there were any Catholic parishes where good music was still done. All that changed when I read the documents, and when in 1991 I started attending the Sacred Music Colloquium, held by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA).

2) In your professional opinion, has the Church in terms of practical effect essentially spurned Sacred Music in the last 42 years?

Theoretically the Church has never spurned sacred music, but in terms of practical effect it would seem that this has happened. I am sometimes frustrated when statements are issued by the post-Vatican II popes that, rightly, promote Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, but do not "name names." In other words, they do not name specific types of music or specific types of musical instruments that are unacceptable for liturgical use. That said, I do believe that Pope Benedict XVI has something up his sleeve for sacred music. With what I know about his love for music and about his way of teaching and reforming, for example, with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, I believe that he will fuel the sacred music revival that is already going on.

3) Do you believe that the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict will help restore Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony to the Liturgy, or has the talent and ability been lost through neglect?

To continue my thoughts from Number 2), I would say that, yes, I believe that the Holy Father will do this. Simply by issuing the Motu Proprio, he has assured that Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony will have a home because of its inextricable link to the Traditional Latin Mass and the Divine Office. Certainly, Gregorian chant is not as widely taught and practiced as it was before the Council, but there is an exciting revival going on, thanks to CMAA and many others. You can find out more about it at the CMAA website or at the New Liturgical Movement blog

4) How hard is it for either the priest or a nascent choir to learn sufficient Gregorian Chant in order to sing a Missa Cantata or a Solemn Mass?

usical talent is helpful, of course, but desire is also extremely important. The CMAA is sponsoring a workshop for priests in October at Saint John Cantius Church, in Chicago. The priest's parts are very simple, encompassing a range of four notes, at most. A good temporary solution for a choir just starting out to chant the Proper chants at Mass is to sing the psalm-tone Propers arranged years ago by the Reverend Carlo Rossini and recently republished by The Neumann Press. After the choir becomes accustomed to chanting these, they can proceed to the true Gregorian Propers, as found in the Liber Usualis or the Graduale Romanum. The Communio is a good place to start because it is the easiest of the Proper chants. After that, try the Introit and then the Offertory. The most challenging Proper chants are the Gradual and the Alleluia.

5) You previously taught at Franciscan University of Steubenville, which has a reputation or "orthodoxy" in all things Catholic. How would you describe the liturgical music there, and do you perceive that there was/is a positive reaction on campus either amongst students or faculty and staff to Summorum Pontificum?"

Praise and worship music" is the most prevalent type of music at liturgies in Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University. When I taught there the Schola Cantorum Franciscana was gradually able to make some inroads with Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. My admirable successor, Paul Weber, is carrying on that tradition. As for the reaction at FUS to Summorum Pontificum, I can't really answer, as I have not recently been in touch with anyone there. I do know, however, that there are a number of faculty who would be happy about the Motu Proprio. Also, there has always been a contingent of tradition-minded students at FUS.

6) In your experience and in your professional opinion, is charismatic music and the instruments it makes use of suited to a truly Catholic liturgy?

No. They are eminently suitable for personal use, or for a prayer meeting or a festival of praise, but they have no place in Catholic liturgy, which is solemn and sacred. If one truly understands the Faith and the liturgy through the Church's eyes, he will see this. As Catholics we believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church, therefore we should be yearning to do what our Mother asks and to love what She loves.

7) Are there any documents that support the use of piano, guitar or bongos at modern celebrations of liturgy?

Not that I know of. The documents, from Vatican II to the GIRM 2003, do not recommend these instruments, but the documents are somewhat ambiguously worded, so that proponents of these instruments could rationalize their use. Again, it's a question of "naming names."

8) In the current climate at Ave Maria, do you find the student body in general favorable to Sacred Music? I notice that the University has the Novus Ordo in Latin several times a week, are you able to sing Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony for those Masses?

I believe that there is a lot of interest in sacred music at Ave Maria University. We have a Men's Schola Gregoriana of approximately eighteen members and a Women's Schola Gregoriana with about the same number of members. The AMU Choir has about 60 members this semester, and there is a Chamber Choir of about 16 members. This year we are starting a new, dedicated liturgical choir to sing sacred polyphony at Mass, The Oratory Singers, an elite choir of 12 members, several of whom have won the first scholarships in our new Choral Scholars Program. We will also be offering an organ scholarship each year. We offer a BA with a concentration in Sacred Music, and also a Sacred Music Minor. Last year's freshman music theory class had six students; this year there are 22. Remember, this is a new university with about 500 students, and we are just at the beginning of the fourth year of our Music Major program. Every Sunday there is a Novus Ordo Latin Mass at which the Schola sing. This semester the Latin Mass is at 8am, and at that the Men's Schola chants Proper chants and leads the congregation in the Latin responses and Ordinary chants. There is also a small, student-directed vocal ensemble that provides sacred choral music. The Women's Schola does the same thing at the Noon Mass, even though that Mass is said in English. When Feasts and Solemnities fall on weekdays the Schola are there to chant; an example would be yesterday, September 8th, when they chanted for the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity. Next Sunday will be the debut of The Oratory Singers, who will sing sacred polyphony every week at the Noon Mass.For more information, please visit our departmental website which is a work in progress; more is coming soon on music ensembles, new faculty, the organ and Sacred Music-related topics.

9) Concerning Summorum Pontificum's legislation on the Traditional Liturgy, the chaplain at Ave Maria University said the following:
It may happen that a priest wishes to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, a Mass in accordance with the Roman Missal of 1962, commonly called a “Tridentine Mass.” This may be out of personal preference or in response to requests from the faithful. In accord with the provisions of “Summorum Pontificum,” the Holy Father’s apostolic letter given “motu proprio” (“on his own impulse”), arrangements will be made beforehand through the Chaplain’s Office to celebrate properly the Tridentine Mass in the Ark Chapel or in the Library Chapel. At the present time, the Tridentine Mass will not be available in the “Ballroom.” Since the Ballroom is the location where the official public Masses take place, is it fair to suggest that the chaplain is saying there will be no official public celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass

I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Certainly, there will be plenty of people attending the celebrations of the Traditional Mass, once they begin, but officially, I guess, these celebrations might be considered private Masses if they are not held in the "Ballroom" chapel. Some people were concerned about this very thing.And are these chapels mentioned fitting places for the Traditional Mass? The Library chapel is not yet ready for use and I have not seen the Ark chapel, which, I believe, is in the Student Union building. As an aside, the Library chapel will have the best acoustics for music of any of these chapels.

10) Will you be able to lead a schola for the Traditional Latin Mass? Or will the said celebrations be Low Mass only?

I have not been told whether the Traditional Masses will be Low Masses or whether they will be a Missa Cantata (probably not a Solemn High Mass, for lack of many clergy who sing). I have alerted my Schola that we might be chanting at the Traditional Mass.

11) Is there interest among the student body at Ave Maria for classical sacred polyphony such as that expressed in Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria, Desprez or Tallis?

Yes, I would say so. The students have already sung works by all these composers, except Desprez, and they love the music. My esteemed colleagues, Dr. Timothy McDonnell and Mr. Lynn Kraehling, as well as myself, are eager to do as much of this music as possible.

12) Do you find that resistance to Gregorian Chant and Polyphony emanates from the lack of real musical erudition and appreciation in American and contemporary European culture?

More young people are starting to know and love the Church's heritage of sacred music. The lack of musical erudition and appreciation (for higher culture) is something that has long been an undercurrent in our country. The fabrication of the "teen culture" and the advent of rock music certainly contributed to the lowering of cultural standards in the United States. The "progressive" response to Vatican Council II seemed to be the "kiss of death" for Catholic culture, especially in its efforts to cut Catholics off from their cultural patrimony. American pop culture has unfortunately infiltrated Europe and Asia, as well. Most Catholic young people born after Vatican II are not to be blamed for their lack of musical erudition and appreciation (for higher culture). They have been deprived of their true culture.Consequently, do you believe a reintroduction of Sacred Music into Church life might influence a renaissance of classical learning amongst the youth?I believe that this renaissance has already begun, thanks, in large part, to the home-schooling movement. This grassroots movement amongst the laity has given impetus to the work that the CMAA has been carrying on for years in its efforts to preserve and foster the heritage of sacred music. Another exciting development is the youth movement, Juventutem, which was born in 2005, in preparation for World Youth Day at Cologne. A major component of the movement was the first-rate sacred music prepared and sung by the young people at their traditional liturgies during World Youth Day.

13) At a 24 June, 2006 concert of sacred polyphony in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict made the following remark:
“All of the selections we have listened to – and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel – agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the ‘Roman school’, constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”

Why do you suppose that Catholic media did not air this more, and that music directors, universities, Bishops, parish priests and choir directors throughout the whole Church did not act on this and begin a study of Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony?

They didn't want to. I think that there are a multitude of reasons. Many of these people just let these changes happen because they were a part of the revolution in our society. Now, even if they realize that they personally would rather have good music, they don't have the courage or the industriousness or the faith to make the effort to act on the words of the Holy Father. They don't, on principle, want to do what the pope says, and they are afraid to challenge their people. Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony are so counter-cultural! There are, of course, many faithful Catholics laboring behind the scenes, lovingly promoting this priceless treasure. May their number increase!

..... There are so any excellent points made in this interview that I wouldn't know where to begin. Ms. Treacy shares my very strong suspicion however that B16 has something "up his sleeve" concerning Sacred Music, and her very shrewd observation that the problem with past "posturing" towards supporting actual Sacred Music by previous Popes has been the failure to "name names..", to come out and say that not only is this music appropriate, but this music over here is not appropriate. I agree with her feeling that that is soon to change...

Friday, September 7, 2007

British Musicians take a "gamble"...

This is both humorous, and informative as well...

British musicians send pope iPod nano packed with modern church music
By Simon CaldwellCatholic News Service
LONDON (CNS) -- British musicians recorded the classic Irish hymn, "Sweet Heart of Jesus," in a calypso, disco style and sent it to Pope Benedict XVI on an iPod nano.Pope Benedict might like it, or he might become the first pontiff in history to throw an iPod into the trash.The musicians' intention, however, was to soften the pope's attitude toward modern church music.The gift is from contemporary Catholic songwriters Jo Boyce and Mike Stanley, and it features a new album of classic hymns reworked in modern forms of music. The duo has used instruments such as pianos, saxophones, guitars, drums and synthesizers to recreate centuries-old works in laid-back gospel, folk, funk, soul and lounge-music styles.The album, "Age to Age," was downloaded onto an iPod and sent to Pope Benedict in the hope of gaining a "papal seal of approval," said a Sept. 4 press release by the Catholic Communications Network of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
The move is something of a gamble given that Pope Benedict, an aficionado of classical music, said in 1996 that rock music was not very uplifting for the soul and certainly did not belong in church.Last year, Pope Benedict said that "an authentic updating of sacred music cannot occur except in line with the great tradition of the past."But the artists see the new album as a chance to demonstrate to Pope Benedict just how good modern church music can be."We wanted Pope Benedict to hear how some of the more traditional songs can be interpreted in a contemporary way without doing an injustice to the truth they contain," said Stanley.
Boyce added: "There is much talk in church circles at the moment about the inappropriateness of contemporary instruments like drums and guitars in favor of the more traditional sounds of organ and choir."However, our experience over the last 11 years suggests it need not be an either/or situation, but rather both/and -- what really matters is the standard of musicianship and the ageless truth it seeks to express," she said.Stanley and Boyce, based in Birmingham, England, also have contacted Apple Inc., the manufacturer of iPods and the controller of a large percentage of the international digital music download market, in the hope that it may offer Pope Benedict some free downloads from its online iTunes store.Stanley said: "We'd be delighted to know that the pope enjoyed our versions of classic hymns. But it got us wondering what he listens to himself. My guess would be classical or choral music, but it would be fascinating to find out what other tunes he would add."
The album, which will be released Sept. 15, features "Soul of Savior," written by Pope John XXII some seven centuries ago, and "Make Me A Channel," based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, recreated as soul ballads."How Great Thou Art," written by a Swedish pastor after he was awestruck by a walk in a thunderstorm, is reproduced as a rousing folk duet, along with "Be Not Afraid," written by the Jesuit Father Robert Dufford and billed by Boyce and Stanley as one of the best-loved hymns in the United States(!?).The complete digital collection of Boyce and Stanley recordings on iPod nano have also been sent to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor of Westminster, who, like Pope Benedict, is a classical pianist.Pope Benedict is already the owner of an iPod; last year, a group of Vatican Radio employees gave him a device loaded with Vatican Radio programming and classical music.It included musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky. The stainless steel back was engraved with the words "To His Holiness, Benedict XVI" in Italian.

.... a gamble indeed! Did they consider that this might be a chance for Benedict to get to hear what passes for Sacred Music in so many places? Another possible reply from the Pontiff could be..."Well, I was going to approve the Directory for Music and the Liturgy without any changes, but then these two guys sent me this iPod..."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What can we expect from The Directory for Music and the Liturgy

There has been, for some time now, a certain degree of controversy surrounding the variety of forms and styles of music used at Mass in a great many Catholic parishes in the United States, as well as other English speaking countries. Many of these criticisms are well founded, while others are more rightly matters of preference or personal taste. There is always concern among the Church hierarchy that such controversy, if left unaddressed, leads to strife and division among the faithful, and it is precisely this concern that has brought about a series of actions from the Holy See addressing the issues of liturgical music both generally and specifically.

One of the actions which you may have read about this past year in any of the widely circulated liturgical music publications such as Pastoral Music or Today’s Liturgy is the Directory for Music and the Liturgy, a series of guidelines developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and submitted this past November to the Holy See for its approval and recognitio. Reactions to this document in several of these prominent liturgy publications has been mixed, and the issue deserves some discussion, beginning with a better understanding of the document itself , some history of the issue and a look at what changes may be coming.

To address a wide variety of issues surrounding the liturgy that had arisen in the years following the Second Vatican Council, each Pope has promulgated documents called “instructions” which clarify points in the documents set forth by the Council which were either left unaddressed, or which have been found to be ambiguous. The most recent of these “instructions” was issued by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 2001; Liturgiam Authenticam the Fifth Instruction for the Right Application of the Conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy. This document serves as the definitive clarification of many questions regarding the 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy- Sacrosanctum Concilium. One such question which has been at the root of many of the most persistent controversies is the specific norms for composing new liturgical texts in the vernacular (English) language. While the norms for translation of approved Latin liturgical texts into English were put in place, the norms for texts composed originally in the vernacular were less clear, as was the process by which such texts would receive approval.

With the revision of the Missal in 1970 and the designation of optional choices for some of the sung liturgical texts such as the introits and graduals, an unforeseen problem arose. The question was whether or not the hymns substituted for the introits and graduals had to be drawn from approved liturgical texts as well, or since they were originally composed in the vernacular would be subject to less restriction. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was unclear on this point, and the assumption was made that they were not subject to the same law governing approved liturgical texts. Subsequent compositions of new music for the liturgy in the ensuing years made this same assumption, and lyrics to “religious songs” for Mass were not generally regarded by most as liturgical texts. However, while this view became widespread, it was not by any means universal. By contrast, a great many prominent liturgists and musicians adopted the view that since the optional texts are in fact substitutions for approved liturgical texts in the Mass, they too must be approved liturgical texts. Their view was more consistent with the liturgical norms of the Church historically speaking, where the texts sung at Mass are always designated and approved liturgical texts, and they maintained that the composition of such texts in the vernacular should require a distinct process for approval rather than simply eliminate the need for such approval.

The conflict between these two contrasting views had not resolved itself some 30 years after the promulgation of the 1970 Missal, and at the request of many Bishops as well as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Pope John Paul chose to address it specifically in Liturgiam Authenticam with the following passage:

6. The composition of new liturgical texts in a vernacular language

106. Regarding the composition of new liturgical texts prepared in vernacular languages, which may perhaps be added to those translated from the Latin editiones typicae, the norms currently in force are to be observed, in particular those contained in the Instruction Varietates legitimae.75
An individual Conference of Bishops shall establish one or more Commissions for the preparation of texts or for the work involved in the suitable adaptation of texts. The texts are then to be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the recognitio, prior to the publication of any books intended for the celebrants or for the general use of the Christian faithful.76

107. It is to be borne in mind that the composition of new texts of prayers or rubrics is not an end in itself, but must be undertaken for the purpose of meeting a particular cultural or pastoral need. For this reason it is strictly the task of the local and national liturgical Commissions, and not of the Commissions treated in nn. 92-104 above. New texts composed in a vernacular language, just as the other adaptations legitimately introduced, are to contain nothing that is inconsistent with the function, meaning, structure, style, theological content, traditional vocabulary or other important qualities of the texts found in the editiones typicae.77

108. Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the "Day of the Lord", the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity.78
If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided. Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. (LA 6; 106-108)

Although it may not be entirely clear to someone unfamiliar with reading Church documents of this sort, this passage very decisively sides with the second group and confirms that texts used in place of those from the editiones typicae (official liturgical texts) must also be approved texts with a recognitio from the Holy See (sec. 106). It goes a step further in section 107, clarifying that such texts must be consistent in “function, meaning, structure, style, theological content, traditional vocabulary (and)… other important qualities,” with the corresponding texts found in the editiones typicae. Lastly, in section 108, it specifies that sung texts belong to this group of texts, and mandates that the Bishops Conference “provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing.” This “directory or repertory” of English language texts would be analogous to the specified Latin texts of the editiones typicae in providing a canonical body of texts on which original compositions for use in the liturgy would be composed. This “directory or repertory” of texts is then required to be submitted to the Holy See for the required recognitio. In November of 2006, as required by Liturgiam Authenticam, the USCCB submitted the Directory for Music and the Liturgy to the Holy See for recognitio.

However, this document as submitted is not without controversy itself. A number of Bishops perceived this directive from Liturgiam Authenticam as a wholesale criticism of the vast body of music currently in use in parishes nationwide. Under a strict reading of this Instruction, the vast majority of these songs and hymns would likely be denied approval, and several Bishops suggested that due to the large number of songs in use (conservative estimates put the number at between 8,000 – 10,000 titles, including songs used that are not specifically Catholic) the process of approving them individually would be onerous if possible at all, and as such a set of descriptive guidelines for use at the local level might be more effective. However, it is precisely because of the large number of texts currently in use that Liturgiam Authenticam states “…if they (sung texts) are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided.” In other words, the very large and constantly increasing number of texts is the problem, so to claim that a solution cannot be reached because of the large number of texts is a bit circular.

The final version of the Directory took a compromise position, proposing a process by which an individual Bishop would, with assistance from a national body of liturgical experts and musicians, approve those texts which are used in hymns and songs published in his Diocese through the application of a set of guidelines which would ensure that the texts are “consistent in ‘function, meaning, structure, style, theological content, traditional vocabulary (and)… other important qualities’, with the corresponding texts found in the editiones typicae.” Additionally, the Directory proposed that within three years, the USCCB would devise a “core repertoire” of essential Catholic hymns which would be required to be included in all published hymnals approved for use in the Catholic Church. The contents of this core repertoire were not specified in the Directory, and it was not specifically outlined how this repertoire would be determined.
Even the proposed guidelines are vague, and it is not entirely clear how they could be applied in a meaningful way. The USCCB issued a press release soon after the November meeting in which they specified the following guidelines to be included in the Directory:

• Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from doctrinal error
• The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given place should reflect a balanced approach to Catholic theological elements.
• Liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about the faith which are untrue
• The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons
• Any emphasis on the work of the members of the Church should always be balanced by an appreciation of the doctrine of grace and our complete dependence of the grace of God to accomplish anything
• The elimination of archaic language should never alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song.

Even an amateur Church musician could find so much wiggle room in these guidelines as to make them practically ineffective. For instance, the second guideline concerning repertoire reflecting a “balanced approach to Catholic theological elements”. This guideline would have to be applied by the Music Director, not the Bishop, and even then, does this simply mean that the hymnal used has to contain a variety of selections that reflect this balance? What if the Director chooses to use only those selections that present one specific approach? Is the use of gender-neutral language and female God imagery a legitimate approach to Catholic theological elements that would have to be represented in all hymnals? The guideline concerning the Doctrine of the Trinity states it should “never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons”. Does this mean that replacing 3 out of 5 of those “pronominal references” would be OK since that wouldn’t be consistent? Why not just say “The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the replacement of any masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons.” It seems to me that these guidelines were written specifically to appear as though they would impose some high standards, but when actually applied to the music in question would have little, if any actual effect.

Although on its own, the Directory is a commendable document in terms of addressing many of the troublesome issues facing liturgical music, a chief criticism of the Directory is that it ignores the directives of Liturgiam Authenticam which are themselves a definitive solution to the problems presented, and proposes instead a different solution with no real plan for its implementation. This same tactic was taken by other committees within the USCCB in response to mandates from Liturgiam Authenticam regarding the translation of the Missale Romanum and other liturgical books, and on each occasions the Holy See and the CDW refused recognitio for proposals which did not follow the mandates of Liturgiam Authenticam very closely. This being the case, the question of whether the Directory for Music and the Liturgy will be approved remains open, and the longer the wait, the less likely it is that such approval will be given.
And so at this time, there are three possible outcomes to the situation, and it is the speculation concerning these outcomes that is fueling the rhetoric which has dominated articles in liturgical magazines for most of this past year. The possibilities are as follows:

The Directory is approved as is with no changes.
This would be the course of action favored by many, but would seem to be the least likely for the reasons noted above. If it were approved, its implementation would be highly problematic as well, possibly requiring something like a moratorium on new music while the vast body of existing music is reviewed, and the scope of the process would mean that in practical terms, the Bishops of Portland, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois would be given the full-time position of approving liturgical song texts since the two main publishers of music are located in their dioceses.

If the Directory were approved without changes however, the effect on music at the parish level would still be considerable. The guidelines, even as described above, would still restrict from use a large number of songs, and since the criteria were developed from a generalized summary of characteristics of traditional Sacred Music texts, the songs restricted would be almost entirely from the repertoire of contemporary liturgy music. While the Bishops letter accompanying the Directory insists that it is not intended to produce a “white list” (list of exclusive approved songs), it may in fact result in a “black list” of songs that have been in previous published hymnals but which are now restricted from use. This would be necessary since many parishes would continue using previously purchased hymnals after the implementation date of the Directory. It isn’t clear how the Directory would apply to choral music used at Mass, although it would seem to be implied that this also would be required to meet the same criteria as music published in hymnals. Parish Music Directors would be required to have a solid working knowledge of the Directory as they would be required to apply the principles in it to all music used at Mass, and a likely outcome would be a major reduction in the resources available as many publishers will simply opt out of the Catholic Music market because of the lengthy and inconsistent approval process.

The Directory is approved, but with changes indicated by the Holy See
Although it might seem that this would be a “second-best” option for those who are pushing for the first option, the resulting Directory could in fact end up being far different from what was proposed. The Holy See could approve the Directory and its overall structures, but could, for instance, insert additional criteria for evaluation. In the “Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist – Sacramentum Caritatis” promulgated in April of this year, Pope Benedict addresses Sacred Music in the following passage:

“In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that "the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love" (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything -- texts, music, execution -- ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).”

Since the Bishops extended the scope of the criteria outlined in Liturgiam Authenticam to include not only the evaluation of texts but the evaluation of complete songs in the Directory, the Holy See could choose to designate additional evaluative criteria addressing musical form, style and genre. This could include specific formal requirements for compositions based on whether they were to be used as Processional, Offertory, Communion, etc. Such formal requirements are already in existence and were codified in Pope Pius X’s motu proprio Tra le solicitudini from 1903, and are likely what Benedict was referring to in the above passage where he suggests that the texts, music and execution (performance) “ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons”. Other criteria pertaining to musical style could be drawn from the clear preference for Gregorian chant and the Church’s traditional musical-liturgical patrimony as is clearly indicated in Sacramentum Caritatis. The result would be a much further reaching reformation of Sacred Music and in many respects, when combined with the introduction of the new Missal translation, could effectively eliminate nearly all music currently in use.

The Holy See rejects the proposed Directory and instructs the Bishops Conference to submit a proposal that is in conformity with the requirements of Liturgiam Authenticam.
Although this option would be a serious setback for all parties concerned, its appeal to collegiality and consistency with past actions of the Holy See in regard to these issues make it the most likely option in my opinion. The current situation regarding the recognitio for the Directory for Music and the Liturgy is nearly identical to that of the translation of the Missale Romanum in 2006. In the course of that project, similar concerns about the “pastoral advisability” of making such substantial changes to texts which had become customary were voiced to the Holy See and the Congregation for Divine Worship, and it was suggested that other, less disruptive criteria for translation be substituted for those indicated in Liturgiam Authenticam.

The following letter from Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to Bishop Skylstadt, the President of the USCCB regarding those suggestions provides a clear indication of the likely response from the Holy See regarding the Directory for Music and the Liturgy. Concerning the suggestion that other criteria be substituted for those indicated in Liturgiam Authenticam for the translation of the Missale Romanum, Cardinal Arinze replies in the following letter;

Your Excellency,
With reference to the conversation between yourself, the Vice President and General Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, together with me and other Superiors and Officials when you kindly visited our Congregation on April 27, 2006, I wish to recall the following:

The Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is the latest document of the Holy See which guides translations from the original-language liturgical texts into the various modern languages in the Latin Church. Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives. This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is therefore not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam. If, however, there are difficulties regarding the translation of a particular part of a text, then this Congregation is always open to dialogue in view of some mutually agreeable solution, still keeping in mind, however, that Liturgiam authenticam remains the guiding norm.

The attention of your Bishops’ Conference was also recalled to the fact that Liturgiam authenticam was issued at the directive of the Holy Father at the time, Pope John Paul II, to guide new translations as well as the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, to bring them into greater fidelity to the original-language official liturgical texts. For this reason it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. Where there are good and strong reasons for a change, as has been determined by this Dicastery in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum as well as other important texts, then the revised text should make the needed changes. The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.
Requesting Your Excellency to share these reflections with the Bishops of your Conference I assure you of the continued collaboration of this Congregation and express my religious esteem,

Devotedly yours in Christ,
+Francis Card. Arinze

In effect, this letter sets a precedent for the recognitio of all proposals originating from Liturgiam authenticam, and that precedent precludes approval of any proposals that “do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam”. The Directory for Music and the Liturgy is a far greater departure from directives than the proposed Missal translation, and based upon the Holy See’s reaction to that proposal, I find it difficult to imagine that the Directory would be approved in its current form. If this were the case, the USCCB would be obligated to submit an actual “repertoire of texts”, that is, a list of approved texts, not songs, that would become the basis for liturgical music in the English speaking Catholic Church. The result here would be a situation more analogous to that of Sacred Music prior to the Second Vatican Council, in which new compositions consisted of new musical settings of specified liturgical texts. While this would preclude a great many songs currently in existence, it would ensure a certain theological fidelity in all future liturgical music that does not currently exist.

At this time, there is no indication of the status of the Directory from the Holy See. Organizations such as NPM have suggested a voluntary adoption of the criteria set forth in the Directory in preparation for whatever reforms may be forthcoming, although this seems to be a bit premature since the eventual reforms could be quite different from what is being proposed. A more helpful approach might be a review of your parish’s music liturgy in regards to its conformity with the liturgical norms set forth in Sacrosanctam conciliam, since Liturgiam authenticam serves to clarify the norms in that document, and the eventual content of the Bishops proposal will necessarily have to conform to the “right implementation” of this document. Such a review would be an extensive and perhaps painful process in many parishes, however the result would be of greater value than the continued following of directives which could soon become obsolete.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gather Us In... and we'll do all the rest!

Returning to the August –September Pastoral Music magazine as a rich source of commentary… and this particular issue is indeed rich, I’d like to say a few words about the article from Roc O’Connor - SJ, titled Gather Us In: Songs About The Assembly. The article is too long to completely reproduce here, and if you would like to read the entire article, it will be necessary to obtain a copy of Pastoral Music magazine on your own as the article is not reproduced online anywhere that I have found yet.

The opening paragraph of the article sets the tone for this “reflection”:

I want to reflect with you about disputes that have arisen concerning the theological adequacy of some of the song/ hymn texts that U.S Catholics sing at Mass. Some criticize a number of contemporary liturgical lyrics for focusing too much on the assembly rather than directing attention to the praise of God. In this way, and possibly in other ways, some lyrics allegedly fail the test of Roman Catholic orthodoxy. So let us consider the following questions: Is it appropriate for the assembly to sing about itself, that is, for liturgical songs or hymns to be self-referential? If so, when or under what circumstances? If not, then is any self-reference appropriate at all in liturgy?

To begin, with all due respect to Fr. O’Connor, this brief opening statement sends up some “red flags” and creates several dubious “red herrings” (I’m not sure if there is really a plural of “red herring”, but bear with me). The red flags are easy to identify: The omnipresent enemy identified by the word “some”, as in “some criticize a number of contemporary lyrics…”. The phrase “test of Roman Catholic Orthodoxy” begs the question… what is that test, and how does it differ from a “test of Roman Catholic belief”? Even the use of the word “disputes” in the opening sentence sets up the argument as one between two equally valid opinions, which it is not.

Then there are two questions asked which guide the reader into a convoluted and eventually false argument. The first question, “Is it appropriate for the assembly to sing about itself, that is, for liturgical songs or hymns to be self-referential?” sets up an untrue definition of identity between “sing about itself” and “self-referential”… a sense of identity which is used later to defend horizontal lyrics on the basis that they are as equally valid as other “self-referential” texts in the liturgy. The second question, “Is any self-reference appropriate at all in liturgy” leads the reader to either accept the specific horizontal lyrics as part of a larger group of “self-referential” texts, or to engage in a wholesale criticism of the liturgy as self-referential.

And so Fr. O’Connor continues:

To the extent that self-reference seems to be the sticking point in criticism of song and hymn texts, several other aspects of Mass should also appear somewhat “awkward” in this regard. The way that some presiders choose to implement the penitential act should be up for scrutiny as well as some of the official texts for this introductory rite – notably the Confiteor. So, too, if self-reference is an issue, should we take a look at the texts of some responsorial psalms as well as at some approaches to preaching, which would seem to offend the standard of avoiding self-reference. It does not seem completely honest to single out some liturgical lyrics that are self-referential and classify them as unsuitable without taking a more thorough inventory of our entire liturgy. The question remains, however, as to whether or not self-reference establishes a valid “stance” in liturgical lyrics.

Well… It likewise doesn’t seem completely honest to continue to use self-referential as a term that is interchangeable with in first person. While I certainly agree that the way in which some presiders conduct the Gathering Rites and later, the homily, are certainly something that should be looked at, it is just plain weird to try and claim that the Confiteor and the Psalms, examples of liturgical texts written in first person, are “self-referential” in the same way that Gather Us In, Anthem and Sing A New Church are self-referential. The issue isn’t whether they contain the words “I” or “We” or “You” or “Us”…. The issue is to whom is the text addressed… in the case of the Confiteor (at least in the actual Confiteor rather than the truncated version which currently appears in our liturgy) the text is clearly addressed to God and is a prayer asking Him for His forgiveness through the intercession of Mary and all the Saints. As for the Psalms, they too are addressed to God by the Psalmist, albeit in a very personal way.

Compare this to the texts being defended in this article, correctly termed “horizontal” insofar as they are both spoken by and addressed to the assembly. While they may indeed be about God, it is only insofar as God is made present through OUR coming together. We are, through these lyrics, truly “singing to ourselves”. Compare the Confiteor, for instance, to the text of Anthem, one of the songs mentioned by name in this article.

We are called, we are chosen.
We are Christ for one another.
We are promise to tomorrow,
while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder,
we are sower, we are seed.
We are harvest, we are hunger.
We are question, we are creed.

Theological problems aside (we are creed?)… the song is clearly addressed not to God, but to each other, a fact made obvious by the phrase “We are Christ for one another”. The rest of the song continues as a litany of us telling each other what we are. How is this at all like the Confiteor, other than the Confiteor at one point proclaiming to one another that we are sinful? Or the Psalms? Or compare another song mentioned by title in this article, “Sing A New Church” to other liturgical texts within the Mass:

Summoned by the God who made us
rich in our diversity,
gathered in the name of Jesus,
richer still in unity

Let us bring the gifts that differ
and in splendid, varied ways,
sing a new church into being,
one in faith and love and praise.

Radiant risen from the water,
robed in holiness and light,
male and female in God's image,
male and female, God's delight.

Trust the goodness of creation;
trust the Spirit strong within.
Dare to dream the vision promised,
sprung from seed of what has been.

Bring the hopes of every nation;
bring the art of every race.
Weave a song of peace and justice;
let it sound through time and space.

Draw together at one table,
all the human family;
shape a circle ever wider
and a people ever free.

Again, casting aside the purely theological criticism concerning a greater richness coming from our own unity as opposed to God’s grace given us from being gathered in Christ’s name (Summoned by the God who made us rich in our diversity, gathered in the name of Jesus, richer still in unity.), and the claim that we can sing a new church into being through our own individual “gifts”, it is undeniable that this text is sung by the assembly and is addressed to the other members of the assembly so as to espouse our own virtue and goodness. Is there any other text in the liturgy (official text, to use Fr. O’Connor’s own term) that can even approach the kind of arrogance in these words? The answer is NO, whether they are in first person or not!

The tactic being taken by Fr. O’Connor is more than slightly transparent but much less than even slightly effective. First, group the clearly horizontal lyrics in with other non-horizontal lyrics in first person, and reclassify them all as self-referential. Then create an argument comparing all of these self-referential lyrics to liturgical texts in the first person, and claim that if first person liturgical texts are acceptable, then all first-person song lyrics must also be acceptable, including those that are also specifically horizontal.

I find it even more curious that Fr. O’Connor tackles this subject without ever addressing the specific texts being criticized. Purists aside, few would claim to have any problem with many of the hymns cited in the article as being “self-referential”: We gather Together, Ubi Caritas, The Magnificat, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say, Lift High The Cross… the list goes on. These are among the hymns that he groups into the “Self-referential” category. Also placed in this category though, are the actual few texts deserving of being criticized as horizontal: Gather Us In, Here We Are, Anthem and Sing A New Church.

The impression this leaves with a reader not familiar with the “dispute” is that all of these songs are being criticized because they in some way are songs about us, or songs in which we personally address God as opposed to texts of purely scriptural derivation. If Fr. O’Connor really wants an example of something “not completely honest” perhaps he should look more closely at the way he has presented this issue to those not familiar with it.

In the end, this all comes back to the proposed “Directory for Music and the Liturgy” which is sitting in Benedict’s inbox still awaiting a recognitio. All of the articles in this edition of Pastoral Music seem to be saying “See, we don’t need a list of approved texts! We know exactly what Sacred Music should be now. Ok, we’ve tried to get away with using song texts at Mass to promote our own theological views and advance our own liturgical agenda, but we understand now that we have to have beautiful music, so we will do that without any guidance from Rome. Really. Trust us…”.

In the same way that so many tried to influence the Motu Proprio with hit-pieces demonstrating why it was unnecessary, the defenders of progressive liturgical music are now trying to influence the Holy See’s response to the Bishops proposed Directory in the same way. We should pray that, as was the case with the Motu Proprio, Benedict listens to all sides and then does what is right.