Monday, July 25, 2011

Reaction to SEP

If you want a dose of parish reality, have a look at this CatholicForum thread on the SEP. If you are among those who think that the SEP is really too simple, this forum is enlightening to say the least. If it is your view that parishes should just jump immediately from contemporary songs to the Liber Usualis, read this thread. What we learn here is that there are vast barriers (too many to list) that stand between the existing reality and the sacred music ideal - and that the SEP has offered up a serious challenge to Catholic parish musicians. But at least the challenge is there.

Also keep this in mind: at the recent NPM convention attended by 3,000 plus Catholic musicians, the opening speaker invited everyone to join him in the most common non-strophic hymn in the Catholic world: Ave Maria. Only about 1/4 of the people in attendance could join in. This is pure speculation but I would suggest that this represents progress over 10 years ago, a time before the Parish Book of Chant and the many youtubes and digital resources that have been evangelizing for the chant. What this means is that among Catholic musicians who care enough to attend an event on the subject, only 1 in 4 know the most basic chant popular in existence, one that uses a core text of the faith.

This is represents not only a loss of a sacred tradition but a loss of Catholic musical identity. This is where we are today. The good news: there's nowhere to go but up.