Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Missal Chant Bans

Ever since my post on the growing diocesan-level bans on the Missal Chants - the bans take the form of mandating a one-year use of some commercial setting, thereby obligating parishes to spend money and prohibiting parishes from using other settings such as those from the actual Roman Missal - my inbox has been slammed with reports from around the country. A typical email looks like this:

Our diocese has also “banned” the missal chants and mandated the use of a different setting. It is quite a bit more difficult to sing than the missal chants would be had they been used. Oddly enough the people who are mandating are the same people who typically say we can’t use chant because it is too difficult for people to do.

In my mind this is an example of the subtle disobedience you often find among liturgists. While the church has not required the use of the Missal chants, she has been pretty clear in expressing that she would like people to do so. Chants were composed, embedded in the Missal itself and made freely available for quite some time. Opportunities for study have been abundant. How have liturgists responded? “Well – that’s all nice – but we’re going to do this instead.” And of course “this instead” is more of the same old same old in spite of some pretty clear signals that a change is being requested. I expect that, over time, the Missal chants will win out but it will be a slow slog in some areas, my own diocese being one of those.

Again, any sector of art that must rely on forced imposition rather than on winning hearts and minds is not long for this earth.