Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where did I put that Permission from the Ordinary...??

While reading the recent music guidelines from the USCCB, a thought occured to me that applies to many other liturgical documents as well.

When a document specifies that "X" can be done with the permission of the local Ordinary, shouldn't that permission be explicit? Maybe a copy of such permission posted on the website of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, or at least on file at the Chancery offices?

This thought occured to me because of the following scenario. In the past several years, and over the next few years, there will be a larger than average number of Bishops being replaced in Diocese' across the country. The "progressive" liturgical view generally holds that if a document says that "X" can be done with permission of the local Ordinary, then that permission would be extended implicitly, as though this were just some formality in the language. It is also readily observed that most of the liturgical actions modified by such permission tend to be of the more preogressive bent (extraordinary ministers, female altar servers, guitars and drums in church, outdoor Masses, etc...). Shouldn't the Ordinary's permission on these issues be a matter of public record? And shouldn't a new Ordinary be able to revoke such permission if they disagree with it?

The issue that brought this issue to the fore with me is the guitars and drums in the church. Musicam Sacram, which remains the definitive document on Sacred Music says the following, after the pronouncement of the Organ as the principal instrument for use in the liturgy, :

"The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship, given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority, provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful."43

63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.44

This seems to be saying that in order to use instruments other than the Organ, the "competent territorial authority, presumably the Bishop, would need to give his consent. That consent can be given "provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful." The passage then goes on to give some parameters for giving this permission, most specifically noting that instruments that are commonly considered suitable for secular music only are to be "altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions." In order to give permission for such instruments to be used, the "competent authority" would have to make a pretty persuasive argument for how guitars and drums are not commonly considered instruments associated with secular music. I would like to see that argument....

The point I'm getting at is this: Is there anywhere in the United States where a Bishop has actually issued such permission, and if not, could such permission be requested by a Music Director who wants to have such permission in hand to do his job effectively? A lot of liturgical abuses occur because we assume there is permission to do them. Maybe we should start asking for some of this in writing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Chant Project: UPDATE

After my first ad ran the second week in several parish bulletins around the Diocese, I am up to EIGHT respondents in one parish, four respondents in another parish, and three other respondents, one of whom is not even Catholic, but read the ad in a friend's bulletin.

EIGHT people in one parish... I am starting to find this interesting! None of them are choir members or involved in their parish's music ministry recently. They are ALL very enthusiastic and anxious to get started.

I have gotten in contact with a person I spoke with last month at our Diocesan Music Committee meeting. He was asked by the Pastor at an area church to coordinate the music for the TLM at their parish which is celebrated on alternating weeks. He was concerned about finding people that would want to be involved. This parish is rather close by the parish from which I have gotten the best response. I think we might be able to help each other out...

And so I will repeat the advice that was given by both Jeffrey Tucker and Scott Turkington at the Chant Intensive this past June.... go and get scholas started in your area. Work out the details once you get going, but JUST GET THEM GOING!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Chant Project

Following the CMAA Chant Intensive and the Colloquium this past June, a call went out to return home and start a chant schola. A number of the participants have started an e-mail group to share stories and ideas and keep everybody posted about the progress in our respective homelands. It seems that people are taking this seriously. I know I am. Here's my project as it stands right now.

I began by casting a wide net. I sent out e-mails to place the following ad in every parish bulletin in the Diocese.

Cantate Domino! Come join us in the Church’s sung prayer, Gregorian Chant! We are now forming a group to learn about and sing Gregorian Chant using the Solesmes Method. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary, just an interest in beautiful music and prayerful singing. Interested? Contact (my name) by phone at (my number)or by e-mail at (my e-mail).

OK... sorry I had to leave out my info there... the internet can be a scary place. No time and/or place was mentioned in the ad.... I wanted to see what the interest was, and where the interest (or resistance) was going to be. The results were interesting. Of the 18 parishes I sent the ad to, 3 parishes ran the ad "as is". Another three contacted me and asked for more specific info about time and place before they would run the ad. Fair enough.

I recieved 4 responses from one of the parishes (including a husband-wife response), 3 responses from another parish and one from the same parish who said he would be interested if the group were to meet at or near that parish. There were two responses from the third parish so far... the ad is running again this week at all three parishes. I am ecstatic! So it's not huge numbers... why am I ecstatic? NONE of the respondents are members of the choir at their parish or involved in the music program, although most of them have musical experience and some prior interest.

One is a former Benedictine with past experience in Chant and in Latin. Another was a Music Director at a Lutheran church for 20 years and is a recent convert to Catholicism. One is a 57 year old man who was an altar server as a young boy and who spoke about his devastation as a 13 year old when they stopped singing chant and using Latin at Mass. Another is a current RCIA candidate who is excited about learning more about her new faith. Only one of the respondents was aware that there is any kind of movement towards this in the church. The word needs to get out folks!

I have decided to make this (for now) a six-week "course" in basic chant skills, followed by the formation of a permanent schola by those who are interested. When I firm up a place and time for the first of these groups, I will send out a second bulletin ad to the 7 or so parishes within a reasonable distance (this is a huge Diocese... about 3 hours across North to South) with the hope of adding another few people to the initial group of respondents. with the addition of me and my wife, that would make about 8 or 9 persons. Not too bad to start.

I am thinking modestly... maybe taking on an easy Mass setting, a Gloria, the Pater Noster, Ave Maria and maybe an easier chant hymn or two (adoro te devote, Jesu dulcis memoria). After that, who knows.... I haven't planned that far ahead yet! But we're getting started, and I have become convinced that is the most important step.

One other thing. I did not run this ad in my home parish bulletin. For now, I'm keeping this project separate from my job. I think Jesus was wise in saying that no prophet is recognized in his home land. Maybe by round three or so....