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….


Dad29 said...

That move from 'volunteerism' to 'professionalism' may be a challenge when FTE salaries remain in the low $20K to upper $30K range.

And then there's the question of ability--not only in judging appropriate music, but in actually making it happen with a choir.

Scelata said...

Glad to see you posting again.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Chironomo said...

Scelata... I've been a bit busy lately... but with all the new stuff happening with music, I'm going to try to keep up from now on. I also have another blog... a little more specialized, called the Authentic Update... you can link to it from the main page here. It will deal exclusively with what I believe is the coming "Authentic Update" (Benedict XVI's words...) of liturgical music. I hope you will vsit me there as well. Thanks!