Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Silence Speaks Volumes

The most recent edition of Pastoral Music (August-September 2007) is a fascinating read for those who are accustomed to the usual fare given in this publication. Nearly the entire edition is concerned with musical reform, however the concept of musical reform is never mentioned…not even once! Instead, there seems to be a movement here to make it seem as though all of these innovative ideas are coming from the minds at NPM.
Michael McMahon, President of NPM, pens a curious look at the Directory for Music suggested by the Bishops in November of 2006 in “Establishing Criteria for Liturgical Songs”. From the outset, he misses the point entirely…. Liturgiam Authenticam doesn’t call for establishing criteria for liturgical songs… it calls for establishing a fixed repertoire of liturgical texts to be used for singing. There is a huge difference, which apparently the Bishops missed as well. Giving him his due, however, he does point out that the Bishop’s document has been submitted for recognitio as required, but that “as of July 1st, the U.S Bishops were still waiting to hear back from Rome.” I think this silence from Rome speaks volumes.

I would suggest that they have heard back from Rome already, in both Sacramentum Caritatis (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 –no.131) and in the letter to Bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificam (The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.) Both of these documents were issued this year, following the Bishops submission of the Directory, and both set forth a vision of what the music in the liturgy should be (in the case of summorum pontificam, the vision is to enact what was intended in Musicam Sacram). But I’m pretty sure that the author is well aware that while these two documents were not intended as responses to the Bishop’s efforts, they answer the question nonetheless.
After examining all of the criteria set out in the Directory, and suggesting strategies for directors to build a parish repertoire using these criteria, McMahon’s article ends with a cautious note to the reader: “If and when the Vatican issues the recognitio of the Directory for Music and Liturgy, be sure to check the NPM website for information and resources.” There seems to be some doubt, as there should be, that the Directory will even be approved since it doesn’t really fulfill the requirements of Liturgiam Authenticam, so it may be a little premature for them to be suggesting ways for parish directors to implement the suggestions in the Directory. And besides, all of this seems insincere since the NPM would never support the propositions in the Bishop’s Directory if the status quo were an alternative, although they are surely hoping that it will receive recognitio knowing that the alternative would be a repertoire of texts dictated by Rome. After Summorum Pontificam there are few people who are willing to say with any conviction that “He would never do that!”.


Scelata said...

Thanks for posting about this.
I don't read PM as I don't care at this time to contribute to NPM, (though people I trust tell me they are getting better,) so I wouldn't have seen about it otherwise.
"there seems to be a movement here to make it seem as though all of these innovative ideas are coming from the minds at NPM."
I suspect the HOly Father is of the mind that he is more interested in getting things done than in getting credit for doing them.
Who knows? perhaps the next innovative ideas to spring from the minds at NPM, (and behind whihc they will put the weight will and cash of the Liturgical-Industrial complex,) will be the Propers, or giving pride of place to Gregorian chant, or eschewing the unmitigated gall it takes to presume to alter the words of the Ordinary of the Mass.... well, I can dream, can't I?

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Chironomo said...

I get a subscription to PM as the Director at my parish... I have likewise avoided giving money to NPM. Stay tuned in the next day or two for my rundown of the article on "Songs About The Assembly"... it is both unbelievable and even slightly humorous.

Brian Michael Page said...

I don't waste my bucks on NPM either (nor does my parish). I do, however, get an Adoremus membership as a parish benny. So on a monthly basis I'll find the latest Adoremus Bulletin on the organ bench, addressed to me at the church.

Leave it to NPM to twist the demands of the Church for their convenience. Having been a regular on their message boards for a good seven years or so before getting das boot, I know of their BS first hand.


Dad29 said...

Brian, you should get the parish to pop for a membership to CMAA (and thus, the quarterly publication: Sacred Music.)

Chironomo said...

Thank you for visiting and I hope you will return from time to time. Dad is right in noting that CMAA is probably the best "Bang for your buck" as far as Sacred Music Organizations go. I too recieve the Adoremus Bulletin, and have contributed several articles to them over the years as well. Helen H. is a wonderful editor and does a fine job of keeping all of us up to date on things liturgical. As for NPM, I doubt that they will be able to adapt over time, and will continue to defend the best(?)in progressive liturgy long after it is on the way out. We can all at least enjoy the entertainment of watching them self-destruct.