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"...