THE GATHERED LITURGICAL ASSEMBLY:
This passage of Sing To The Lord is roughly eight sentences long, although you might envision it as much longer reading Funk's review. He begins this section with a summary of the main points:
Sing to the Lord identifies three concerns that have faced the assembly over the years but are presented as current and containing some new urgency: division in the assembly, the musical formation of the assembly, and introducing new music.
I would first argue that these are not concerns that have faced the assembly, as I doubt that very many members of the assembly even think about such things, but rather these are concerns that have faced those who prepare the music liturgy in a parish. He goes on....
Regarding division, Sing to the Lord poses interesting questions for those studying this document: What divisions exist in your parish community and which of them can be overcome by congregational song? How can the faithful shun any appearance of individualism or division?
So what does Sing to the Lord actually say? Let's see...
Because the gathered liturgical assembly forms one body, each of its members must shun “any appearance of individualism or division, keeping before their eyes that they have only one Father in heaven and accordingly are all brothers and sisters to each other.” (SttL 25)
That's all. I don't see where this poses any questions, let alone these particular questions. I will say there is a certain amount of vanity in the question he poses: "What divisions exist in your parish community and which of them can be overcome by congregational song?". What must someone think of themselves to consider that their music can "overcome divisions" in a parish community? Sheez...
The second question has an answer, and a rather obvious one though it is doubtful that Fr. Funk really wants to go there: "How can the faithful shun any appearance of individualism or division?" That's an easy one. We don't sing "Calypso inspired" music because there are folks from the carribean in the assembly, and we don't sing "Mariachi inspired" music because there are Hispanic folks in the assembly, and we don't sing "Negro Spiritual inspired" music because there are African-Americans in the assembly: We sing Catholic music because that's what we all (ostensibly) are! It's amazing, given the way that so much "contemporary liturgical music" partitions the people in the assembly by ethnicity, that Fr. Funk would have the nerve to even ask this question. The million dollar question is, what is Catholic Music? The obvious answer to that question is the reason that Fr. Funk doesn't want to go there.
His analysis continues...
When discussing musical formation, the document notes that " singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the Liturgy...The musical formation of the assembly must be a continuing concern in order to foster full, conscious, and active participation"(26). Musicians, priests, deacons, and Bishops are invited to participate in the musical formation of the assembly. The study question at the parish level, of course, becomes how.
Before I comment, let's take a look at what SttL actually says about this:
26. Singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the Liturgy. The people are encouraged “to take part by means of acclamations,responses, psalms, antiphons [and] hymns. . . .”40 The musical formation of the assembly must be a continuing concern in order to foster full, conscious, and active participation.
First, I find it interesting that Fr. Funk leaves out the second sentence which says "The people are encouraged “to take part by means of acclamations,responses, psalms, antiphons [and] hymns." Now why would he leave that out? Let me see...the most important thing the assembly sings is the acclamations, then the responses to the priest's invocations, then the response to the psalms, then the Antiphons (What's an Antiphon? Hmmm...maybe he doesn't want anybody to ask that question...)and hymns. What??? No "songs" ....no "Gathering music"? Sheez...
Again, I looked and looked and looked some more, and nowhere could I find that "Musicians, priests, deacons, and Bishops are invited to participate in the musical formation of the assembly." It's just not there. Not that it's a bad idea, it just seems to be inserting something that's not actually there. As such, it is not really a useful "study question" to figure out how to accomplish this... there are other more pressing matters that could use our attention.
For instance...let's see how Fr. Funk ends this insightful analysis:
Regarding the introduction of new music, the document suggests that "A pastoral judgment must be made in all cases." (27), particularly when deciding how often and when to introduce new music. Unfortunately, the document doesn't provide more specific guidelines on how to go about this, but it includes that pastoral judgment remains the responsibility and challenge of the parish musicians and clergy reading and studying Sing to the Lord.
OK... does it really say all that? Let's see...
27. So that the holy people may sing with one voice, the music must be within its members’ capability. Some congregations are able to learn more quickly and will desire more variety. Others will be more comfortable with a stable number of songs so that they can be at ease when they sing. Familiarity with a stable repertoire of liturgical songs rich in theological content can deepen the faith of the community through repetition and memorization. A pastoral judgment must be made in all cases.
Hmmm...alright... it does say that "a pastoral judgment must be made in all cases", but that is the last thing it says, and even then it is a qualification statement. The main point of this section is the argument for a limited and stabilized repertoire of music for Catholic Worship, the very thing that was called for in Liturgiam Authenticam and which the Bishops were supposed to produce in the Directory for Music and the Liturgy. Since the very concept of such musical regulation is anethema to the commercial liturgical music industry, it isn't surprising that Fr. Funk glossed over this particular issue. What a shame.
I also find it interesting that Fr. Funk laments that the document fails to provide specifics about what music to introduce, and how to introduce it. Perhaps he hadn't gotten to section 74 which says: (my highlights in bold)
74. The Second Vatican Council directed that the faithful be able to sing parts of the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin.70 In many worshiping communities in the United States, fulfilling this directive will mean introducing Latin chant to worshipers who perhaps have not sung it before. While prudence, pastoral sensitivity, and reasonable time for progress are encouraged to achieve this end, every effort in this regard is laudable and highly encouraged.
75. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered. “The assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Proper of the Mass as much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.”72
When the congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well. As an easier alternative, chants of the Graduale Simplex are recommended. Whenever a choir sings in Latin, it is helpful to provide the congregation with a vernacular translation so that they are able to“unite themselves interiorly” to what the choir sings.73
Wow! It says what the church documents ask us to introduce to the assembly, how to introduce it, gives some VERY specific examples, and even some more advanced examples to introduce once those have become old hat! It then goes on at length to suggest alternatives that the choir may do on occasion, or if your choir is not up to the Propers in the Graduale Romanum, suggests that you might try those from the Graduale Simplex first! And... it even reminds you that when your choir sings the Adorate Deum on the Third Week of Ordinary Time, you need to provide a vernacular translation for the assembly so that they may "unite themselves interiorly".
Sheez... how specific is that?