Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The importance of Gregorian chant"

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VERBUM DOMINI OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI

70. As part of the enhancement of the word of God in the liturgy, attention should also be paid to the use of song at the times called for by the particular rite. Preference should be given to songs which are of clear biblical inspiration and which express, through the harmony of music and words, the beauty of God’s word. We would do well to make the most of those songs handed down to us by the Church’s tradition which respect this criterion. I think in particular of the importance of Gregorian chant.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 30 September, the Memorial of Saint Jerome, in the year 2010, the sixth of my Pontificate.

12 comments:

Chironomo said...

This is a critical connection to be made... that Chant is the most direct expression in music of the Word of God. I still don't understand why there isn't stronger language on this aspect of the liturgy. Sacramentum Caritatis made essentially this same plea, that Gregorian Chant should become the primary musical form in the liturgy. If so, then why is it not MADE so? A completely new Mass can be introduced in 1970, it can be mandated with the stroke of a pen that English become the language of the liturgy rather than Latin, a new translation of the Mass can be mandated to begin use in November of 2011, and Episcopalians can become Catholics by decree... and yet I keep hearing "well, there's no way to mandate something like what music is used at Mass". Realy????

Kathy said...

The document mentions Gregorian chant only once--but "hymns" 6 times.

Granted that the hymn references are mostly metaphors. Scripture is likened to "a polyphonic hymn," for example.

William Mahrt said...

I see in this excerpt only the word "song." This could easily be a translation of "cantus," which can also be translated as "chant," as in "cantus Gregorianus." The translation as song is unfortunate, because the problematic musical dichotomy in our liturgy today is expressed by the difference in English between song and chant.

David Anthony Domet said...

Dr. Mahrt, you are correct; the translation will continue to work against us. I was going to forward this on to a Pastor where I am Cantor and then I saw "song" and figured now, what's the point? Why can't they, or the Pope himself, just come out and say, "the Proper of the Mass is to be sung!"

tdunbar said...

from the latin text (Vatican pdf):


f) Cantus liturgicus biblice inspiratus
70. Ad valorem Verbi Dei quod attinet in celebratione liturgica, cantus quoque in momentis a proprio ritu praevisis est ponderandus, cantum clarae biblicae inspirationis provehendo, qui
per verborum et artis musicae consonantiam Verbi divini pulchritudinem exprimere valeat. Hoc in contextu opportunum est ut vis conveniens tribuatur illis cantibus quos traditio Ecclesiae nobis praebuit quique hoc criterium observant. Peculiarem mentem ad Cantus Gregoriani pondus vertimus.246

tdunbar said...

and, just for fun, from the Spanish text:

f) El canto litúrgico bíblicamente inspirado

70. Para ensalzar la Palabra de Dios durante la celebración litúrgica, se tenga también en cuenta el canto en los momentos previstos por el rito mismo, favoreciendo aquel que tenga una clara inspiración bíblica y que sepa expresar, mediante una concordancia armónica entre las palabras y la música, la belleza de la palabra divina. En este sentido, conviene valorar los cantos que nos ha legado la tradición de la Iglesia y que respetan este criterio. Pienso, en particular, en la importancia del canto gregoriano.[246]

Jeffrey Tucker said...

Sure enough, Dr. Mahrt is correct: in this one passage, cantus, cantum, cantibus, Cantus Gregoriani

tdunbar said...

I love Gregorian song :)

tdunbar said...

Gregorian songs are proper

tdunbar said...

I especially like my gregorian songbook since it has much more scriptural songs than what my evangelical friends use.

OK, I'll stop :)

Kathy said...

Haha. What I meant was that the document as a whole mentions "hymns" six times.

Two of these expressions occur during a discussion of the chanted hymns integral to the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite.

Btw, how does one access the Latin text online?

tdunbar said...

Kathy:
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/index_en.htm