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.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

Usually, Hitchcock provides pretty good coverage of the USCC meetings.

This should be interesting.