Sunday, February 20, 2011

One from column A, one from....oh nevermind!

In the commentary section of Jeffrey Tucker’s provocative post, “Catholicism Grows Up,” one of our faithful UK friends, Ian W. amplifies one of Jeffrey’s own comments, stating “Nor does a cathedral musician's claim that all is right with the world mean that it is. One only needs to inspect the Cathedral music lists to realize this.” As much as I can understand the sentiment of Ian’s contention, I am also startled over how easily any of us might overlook the potential injury our words may let loose upon our colleagues and peers with a sardonic slight, or a disparaging word based upon a one-dimensional perspective.


I remember visiting a brand new cathedral whose exterior architectural design dismayed me upon my initial viewing. But entering the interior enabled me to re-assess the skepticism and prejudice that lurked in my mind as result of that first glance and reaction. And while taking in the whole of the “house” with interest and energy, I was able to apply a sense of understanding and empathy as I perused the previous Sunday’s worship aide and musical selections, aka “the music list.”

Who among us that has been charged with administering repertoire choices for congregational singing hasn’t had some sort of cognitive dissonance, or cosmic collision with the reality that implementing our own tastes, visions and praxes will necessitate a nascent, starting-from-scratch reformation from the disparate remnant elements of previous “shot callers?”

But what I call into question is the merit of free associating what is “wrong” by the mere inspection of “music lists” that presupposes no other criteria than those choices. Can we literally be assured that our convictions about adherence to standards of art, legislation of styles, sources of texts, primacy of options are the only factors at play for the soul(s) that make these choices daily, weekly and according to seasons? A cliché is a cliché for a reason. “All politics are local.” Now, if an informed observer such as Ian, is privy to the vagaries and specifics of the local cathedral music ministry where the weekly repertoire reflects a particularly stagnant or egregious attitude towards liturgical proprieties, I would hope that the observer would consult with local parishioners, clergy or musicians to inquire as to their assessment, rather than manifest dissatisfaction in that most catholic of manners, the ubiquitous, inarticulate complaint.

In framing this post, I originally thought it would be best to display one of my lists (we’re not a cathedral, but we would qualify as a megaparish) and then conduct an autopsy this afternoon after the fact. But as the thought came to mind, an autopsy isn’t an appropriate term to describe looking at these choices. One should forensically approach these choices as they were intended, to provide living worship from living worshippers to the One Living God.

Even among our own CMAA adherents, it is proven fact that we are all on various degrees of maturation towards the paradigm of worship practice that Dr. Mahrt and his precursors have unflaggingly championed. Think about it- even in parishes and cathedrals where the EF is offered, there are options among the forms of the ritual which require specific and sometimes different types of music, chant and polyphony to be sure, and occasionally hymns. In the OF, should a parish striving to discern RotR, directors have a panopoly of vernacular chant and proper options that weren’t even dreamt of a decade ago, not to mention the S.O.P. of whatever is in the pulp or hardbound hymnal in the pews. Furthermore, to presume that even full-time, professional and experienced directors of music have no other personal, hierarchical or other aspects that inform their weekly deliberations is unrealistic, and perhaps mean spirited if wholesale condemnation is the objective.

So, I offer my music “list” for this, the Seventh Sunday of Ordered Time for your consideration and deliberation.

Read these bones, these tea leaves, this menu and offer your snapshot of “how the world is” in just one parish in California. Your reflections will be respected, or moreso, reflect the respect the level of criticism that is provided. As we were reminded last week, speak as if “your yes means yes, and your no means no.” And I will try to remember to respond by going one more mile to understand our “failings.”

The “S” Mass is our “traditional choral” Mass, the “E” is our contemporary “ensemble" Mass.

Introit: S “Lord, Your mercy in my hope…” Simple Choral Gradual/R.Rice E The American Gradual/B.Ford

Entrance: S O FATHER, ALL CREATING (Aurelia) E STAND BY ME (Kendzia)

Opening Rites: S Kyrie-plainsong/Oecumenica-Culbreth E Kyrie(Sleeth)/Dancing Day Gloria-P.Ford

Responsorial: SE Respond & Acclaim

Gospel Accl.: S plainsong “Alleluia”modeVI E Sleeth setting

Offertory: S CHRIST BEFORE US (Suo gan) E THE SUMMONS (Kelvingrove)

Eucharistic Accl.: S Oecumenica/Agnus Dei (plainsong) E Holy/Christ/ Amen /Lamb (Sleeth)

Communion Procession: S “I will tell all…” Simple Choral Gradual/R.Rice E The American Gradual/B.Ford S JESU, JOY OF OUR DESIRING (Bach arr.)  E PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS/ORACIÓN( Temple )

Communion Anthem: S PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS (Mark Hayes arr.) E DWELLING PLACE (Foley)

Recessional: S organ postlude E IF GOD IS FOR US  (Brown)