Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The Saint Vincent Camerata Scholars have produced a CD of sacred choral music from the Renaissance that will be distributed internationally by Jade Music, a division of Milan Entertainment of Paris/Los Angeles that specializes in the production and distribution of sacred music. It is entitled, A Blessed Day Has Dawned, Sacred Choral Music: Palestrina, Laude, Gregorian Chant.
Fr. Stephen Concordia, O.S.B., the director of the Scholars, said that the Christmas-themed CD revolves around a Motet and Mass composed by famed Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). “In Palestrina’s very first published collection there appears the motet “Dies Sanctificatus” composed for Christmas Day. In his last published collection there is an entire Mass based on this motet. It’s likely that Palestrina was capitalizing on the popularity of his Motet”, Fr. Stephen explained. “This Mass is an example of a very common, and very popular form at that time, the “imitation Mass”, which uses melodies from a pre-existing composition as the basis of every movement. In Palestrina’s time composers were very careful that their music be perceived as subservient, and since this technique creates a kind of unity through the successive moments of the ritual, it achieves that,” Fr. Stephen continued.
The Palestrina Mass is at the center of the CD, but other styles are also present. “We wanted to fill in the other Mass parts in Gregorian chant: the Introit (entrance), the Alleluia, the Gospel of the day, and the Communion antiphon. This evokes what a Renaissance Mass might have sounded like, with some parts sung in polyphony, and others chanted.” Fr. Stephen said. Three “laude sprituali” from the Oratory of San Filippo Neri open the CD. “These are compositions by contemporaries and associates of Palestrina” Fr. Stephen explained. “These were written in a popular style for the informal gatherings of the Oratory, but they, like the Gregorian chant, harmonize well with Palestrina’s composition,” Fr. Stephen said.
The Camerata Scholars have performed the works on the CD previously at both the Saint Vincent Basilica and at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Two Saint Vincent College students, Brian T. Myers, a senior music major from Saint Mary’s (Elk County) and Julie M. Pomerleau, a senior psychology major from Jeannette – are members of the group. The music was recorded in the Saint Vincent Basilica in August by Joshua Guenther, a baritone singer in the group who also works as a sound engineer for WAOB Radio in Latrobe.
This book contains chant settings in Latin and English, in square notation, for the Order of Mass and the Ordinary of the Mass (i.e. it contains no settings of the Proper). It contains variant settings of the Pater Noster so that it can be used equally in the United States, the UK and Australia.
Mr. Barlow has informed us that Solesmes is offering a 50% discount for orders of 50 or more. The book retails at €25.
This volume is a very exciting sign of progress in our present chant revival. Nothing like it has come before from Solesmes.
Monday, November 28, 2011
This is my take on "yesterday...."
First Sunday of Advent-Lectionary: 2
READING 1 IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Now that “it” has come and is another day and date for the books, despite many invocations, pleas, approbations and no small measure of anxiety and arrogance from all sides over the implementation, what struck me about yesterday were these readings. How they indict any and all who regard God in or as an abstract? How much energy that could have been directing serving God’s people truly in need was wasted by hardened hearts who seemed so convicted that this liturgical priority was the paramount missio, and abandoned both the word and deed that are our true gospel imperatives? And how could any critic, pro or con, not call upon Him to help them discern the nature of their service, and how best to realize their relationship to “the tribes of (His) heritage.”? Heritage is so much more than inheritance. It is about relationship not value. And how many relationships have been injured by putting the Lord on hold during the years of this rancorous conference call?
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Does anyone remember about the man who climbed to the roof of his house as it floated down and away in a river during a raging storm? He eschewed the help of a neighbor who called from a rowboat; “No, I’m fine, God will save me.” Then he sent a police rescue motor-launch elsewhere, again declaring “I’m fine, God will save me!” Finally, when a Coast Guard helicopter dropped a rescue basket, he waved them off, shouting “I’m okay, go on, God will save and rescue me!” His house soon dissolved into the deep and he drowned. At judgment, he cried to the Lord, “God, why did you forsake me and not save me when I was so faithful?” “My son, what did you expect? I sent you a rowboat, police and a helicopter!”
In the midst of the storms of mistrust, intrigue, doubt, perseverance, did no one remember that MR3 did in fact tell us “I AM come down. This is, and always has been awesome what you can do in My Name.” But don’t argue over boats, helicopters, earthly authority or ingenuity, opportunities seized or missed. Do not wait in your indecision, call upon Him and then trust. It’s called “faith.” It is one of the greatest gifts.
Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.
Behold how angry we all likely got at some point. And we own no such right, as “we” are not “He,” we are sinful. And don’t rest upon any laurels that anyone’s side has prevailed. “All our good deeds are like polluted rags….”
If we are clay, and clay we are, then He will write His Name upon us time and time again, until time is no more. Time isn’t measured in decades, half-centuries or even millenia. We are the clay, we are not the potters.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The changes are few compared with the overall effect. There was a new decorum, a new seriousness. The words are said to be more opaque but the real-life experience in the opposite. The new text peels back the cloudiness that has shrouded the Catholic Mass under the old translation and its attempt to make the incredible so commonplace. At last we have a real match between the language we use and the things we believe. Both are now serious and robust. There is no more of that disunity we had become used to after all these decades.
As I’ve thought about this throughout the day, I’ve realized something I had not fully understood before. And perhaps this explains why the tiny opposition to this Missal is so vociferous and noisy. Here is the thing: the new translation has given the Mass a cultural transplant. I hadn’t known that this would happen ahead of time. But these small changes, the more complex language, the longer sentences, the heightened formality - all of these have a cumulative effect in eliciting a certain kind of intensified belief structure and comportment.
Our choir sings from the front of the nave so I was able to watch people today. For the first time that I can ever remember, I looked up and saw the eyes of 100% of everyone there looking up at the altar. Truly, this was a first. At the Incarnatus Est at the creed, 100% of the people there bowed their heads. At the end of communion, 100% of the people there were kneeling with heads bowed in prayer. I cannot remember ever seeing this kind of unity of purpose.
For whatever reason, the responses were louder than I’ve ever heard them from this congregation. More people attempted to sing. And clearly everyone was paying close attention to the words. The readers, even without instruction, seemed to have a new dignity in approaching the sanctuary, and a better cadence about how they read. In general, there was a sense that what we were all doing was important, significant, and serious - and this sense was not something imposed on top of the Mass but rather flowed from its essence.
You could say that this is because it is all new. Perhaps this explains part of it. But there is more to do than that. The language of the new translation is a different form of English than you would ever hear someone use in conversation. It cannot be mistaken for the usual blather we hear from television, radio, store clerks, and coworkers all day. It is the language of liturgy and that causes us to sit up and take notice. it causes us all to behave.
I can tell you, it is much better in real life than it is on the flat page. I would say that this is even true of the chants, which are much better in use than in practice. The Kyrie was effective. The Memorial Acclamation was very good. The Sanctus, which I had previously not been disposed toward, was remarkably good and nicely balanced with the style and approach of the rest of the Mass. The Agnus worked too. I think I can be happy with these Missal chants for a long time, and whereas I used to grant certain criticisms of the opponents of these chants, I’m now a believe that these are exactly what we need.
I suspect that many people who had doubts coming into this project have changed their minds already. In the New York Times today, Fr. Anthony Ruff is quoted with extremely critical remarks to the journalist: "The syntax is too Latinate, it’s not good English that will help people pray," But on this blog today, he writes: “It all went quite well at the abbey, and I was struck by the beauty of the liturgy.... Overall, I liked it much more than I expected.”
Excellent. I’m sure many people felt the same way. Actually, so far as i could tell, most people seemed very excited about the whole thing. Most Catholics attend Mass in something approaching what a friend of mine calls “a vegetative state.” It’s true enough. It’s been true for years. To put matters bluntly, most Catholics have been bored out of their minds at Mass, and I think this might have something to do with the plainness and mundane quality of the language. With that stripped away, the boredom factor seemed vanquished.
An older gentlemen after Mass opined that he felt a strong sense of relief, like a bad chapter in the history of Catholicism had been closed and a bright new one had opened. “Well, we went full circle, didn’t we, and we are back to where we were in 1965.” There is a certain sense in which this is really true. It is a fresh start for the reformed liturgy, a fresh start for the postconcilar English-speaking Church, and a fresh start in our lives as Catholics. I’m so grateful that I’ve lived to see it.
The people who were involved at all levels in the production of this Missal are required as a matter of a vow to remain anonymous because they were working for the Church and not for themselves. Still, I would like to congratulate each one of them. What they did took courage. It took daring and guts. It requires something truly heroic to stand against the winds and prevail in this way. It takes special people to embrace something so profoundly counterculture and push it all the way to reality. They did it and we are all grateful to them for it.
If anyone is reading this who stopped going to Mass long ago, please consider coming back. You will find something wonderful, something completely out of this world.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Advent is a time for new beginnings. It is the start of the Church’s liturgical year, and this Advent also marks the implementation of a new English translation of the Roman Missal throughout the world. Exactly 38 years ago, the first-ever edition of the Roman Missal, entirely in English, rolled off the printing presses and on to the altars of the English-speaking Catholic world. Its advent signalled the resolution of almost 10 years of flux, during which the liturgy of the Mass had made a transition from a Latin text established by the universal practice of centuries to vernacular translations of a newly assembled missal prepared by scholars following the Second Vatican Council.
The missal contains a wealth of liturgical treasures with many orations dating from the first millennium, together with prayers of more recent composition. The texts of the Advent season are particularly rich and are predominantly taken from ancient sources. A striking theme which emerges in the first days of Advent sets the tone for the whole season. It is the notion that we are hastening to meet Christ. The liturgy makes frequent reference to the three comings of Christ: first, in time, in the Incarnation which we recall during the Advent/Christmas cycle; secondly, at his Second Coming and for each person at the moment of their death; and thirdly, for us all continually by his grace.
To those who have despaired that nothing will ever improve, those who have believed decline is somehow written into the fabric of our times, take notice: a dramatic improvement has in fact happened, seemingly against all odds. Authentic progress is possible with work and prayer!
With the basic structure in place - what can you do so long as the language of the liturgy is not right? - the question arises concerning the next step. What is stage two of the reform? The music issue is most certainly next on the list. Aside from the text, this is the issue that deals most substantially with the core of what we experience at liturgy. The core question is whether the music at liturgy is there to provide popular entertainment and inspiration or whether it is there to honor God by giving a beautiful and solemn voice to the liturgical texts themselves.
The Vatican seems to be alert to this issue. Early in the fall of 2011, Pope Benedict issued a motu propri that reorganized the Congregation for Divine Worship. To what end, no one knew for sure. Now it has been reported that the Congregation will establish a new "Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission” that will begin to take up the music question. Adam Bartlett has linked the two events and speculated that this was the reason for the shakeup, to finally do something about the problem that everyone knows exists but few have the willingness to confront in any kind of legislative way.
We can hope for much more than the usual generalized declarations that Gregorian chant should have first place at Mass, that not all music is appropriate at Mass, and that the style of music should be an extension and development of the chant genre. Those points are excellent ones, to be sure, but they have been made again and again for decades, even centuries, but nothing really changes. They are on the verge of becoming platitudes, slogans without real operative meaning. There are several reasons for this: they are too vague and subject to interpretation, people do not really know what it means to give chant pride of place, and it is impossible to develop and extend something you do not know anything about in the first place.
What the commission really needs to take on is the issue of the Mass texts themselves. Can we freely dispense with them and replace them with texts of our own composition and choosing? Or must we defer to the liturgy as we have received it and ennoble that liturgy with music appropriate to the task? This is the real question. To put the matter plainly, the Vatican needs to rewrite its own legislation as regards music. It must make the propers of the Mass the mandatory sung text. Mandatory. No exceptions. It must absolutely forbid them to be replaced by something else. This change in the legislation alone would do far more than yet another cautious statement about the lasting value of the Church’s treasury of sacred music.
To review the history here, the idea that the propers of the Mass can be displaced has absolutely no precedent in the history of our faith. I can hear the critic now attempting to correct me on the point: “before the Second Vatican Council, we never sang the propers; at Mass, we sang various hymns at the entrance, offertory, and communion, and it is no different today.”
That’s true enough but here is the major difference. When the people were singing hymns in preconciliar times, the celebrant was saying the propers of the Mass. He said the entrance antiphon, the communion proper, and so on. They were not neglected completely; they were part of the Mass but at low Mass, they were restricted to the priest alone.
There can be no question that a major ambition of the liturgical reform was to do something about the problem that the low Mass had become the primary form of the Mass that nearly all Catholics experienced week to week. The goal - and this comes through in the writings of the liturgical movement dating back to the early part of the 20th century - was to raise the bar and make every Mass a sung Mass. The Mass was no longer to be the private preserve of the celebrant but rather those prayers and those propers were to be publicly shared and made part of the audible experience of the Mass for everyone..
For this reason, it really was a catastrophic concession that the propers of the Mass can be replaced by the other songs that we alone decide are appropriate substitutes. The concession was made as an afterthought, the option four that was thrown in to deal with the unusual contingency, but it proved to be a moral hazard of the worst sort. It quickly became the norm, and suddenly we found ourselves in an even worse position than we were before the Council convened. Not only were the propers not sung, they were not said either. They completely dropped out of the picture.
Many people have pointed out that the new edition of the flagship hymnal of the GIA, called Worship, contains for the first time an index item that draws attention to the entrance antiphon for Mass. People have sent this to me and said it represents progress. I suppose it does. But consider the irony. A mainstream book of some 1000 pages that purports to offer music for the Mass has a few inches in the way back that actually addresses the sung proper of the Mass - and this is cause for celebration? It’s incredible to think that this is what it has come down to.
If you want to see a vision of the future, take a look at Jeffrey Ostrowski’s Vatican II Hymnal. Here we have one book that is all about music and all about the liturgy, a book in which the two are not separate but a united whole. The propers of the Mass are there in English and Latin, along with the readings and plenty of music for the whole of Mass. It also provides some traditional hymnody but clearly as supplemental material designed to enhance our experience at a Catholic people and give us additional music with which to praise God. The balance is correct here. The title itself sums up the point: this is much closer to what the Council fathers envisioned.
I’ve not previously mentioned another visionary project by Adam Bartlett, the Lumen Christi Missal. What I appreciate most about this book is the clarity of vision, which comes through in the stunningly beautiful typesetting. As I looked at the first draft, I thought: this is so advanced, so effervescent, so solid. I stammered a bit at realizing what I was seeing here. It offers a serious challenge to the way we think of the sung liturgical structure. It gives us readings, the text of the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum and Roman Missal, musical settings of the Mass ordinary, Psalms (including weekday Psalms), plus weekly antiphons from the Missal and seasonal antiphons (primarily from the Graduale Romanum, but also from the Missal and Graduale Simplex) for entrance, offertory, and communion. These antiphons are through-composed with the idea that the assembly can participate in singing them if the propers are not sung in their fullness by the schola. There are no occasional hymns; 100% of this book is drawn from the liturgical text.
In some way, I would say that Adam’s book is really the first music book that takes seriously the ordinary form of Mass in English as a ritual of the Catholic faith with a voice all its own, and it is a voice that it is serious, substantial, and special. There is not a hint of nostalgia in this work (not that nostalgia is always bad); rather, we see here a settling down of a uniquely conciliar vision for how the liturgy is to be conducted in light of both tradition and the need for development. How many parishes will be bold and (dare I say) progressive enough to embrace this project? Already, there are many people who have signed up to receive notification when the project is complete. Perhaps it will end up in 2% or 5% of the best parishes. Fine. That’s a great beginning. I predict that this could be the beginning of something wonderful in our future.
In any case, these are two of many such projects underway. They are in in their infancy, and it will be some time before we begin to see them used more broadly. They all point the way foward. Gregorian chant, yes, but with a practical and realizable strategy going forward. These books move us beyond slogans toward real practice. As the Vatican commission fires up its work toward a musical reform, these books need to be widely circulated as models for how to tackle stage two of the reform of the reform.
I just listened to it and I think my quotation might be a bit confusing. Where I'm caricaturing the paranoid thoughts of the Missal critics, it nearly sounds like I'm offering my own point of view. I'm not entirely sure if listeners will figure this out or not. In any case, such is the way of radio. As I point out all the time, you take a great risk anytime you are interviewed for something like this. In general, the journalist did an outstanding job.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
One of the huge mistakes musicologists and historians make is not realizing how LITTLE has been preserved through the centuries. They need to realize that we currently possess mere fragments, many of them preserved by accident. Yet, historians and musicologists so often forget this fact. So often, they make the terrible mistake of looking at what has survived and making assumptions based only on these things. A more sensible approach is to realize and admit that we have very little, and what has been preserved does not necessarily represent the entirety of (for example) the Gregorian repertoire.
More at The Propers, Installment 6
"In Africa", the Holy Father explained, "I saw a freshness in the 'yes' to life, a freshness of religious meaning and hope, a holistic vision of reality where God is not confined to that positivist perspective which, in the final analysis, extinguishes all hope. This tells us that the continent contains reserves of life and vitality for the future, reserves upon which we can rely, upon which the Church can rely."
He has been working on this project for several years now and has begun posting sample engravings from his code in both the style of the 1908 Graduale (no rhythmic signs) and in the manner of the 1961 Graduale (with episemas). His plan is to post engravings of all five Gregorian propers each week as we proceed through the new liturgical year. Please be sure to bookmark this site, and follow his progress.
Andrew has done all of this work for no payment, and is asking no payment in return for his work. He has undertaken this magnanimous task only for love of the Church and the sacred liturgy.
You can help him by proof-reading these engravings and reporting errors in the comment box at the Caecilia Project blog. If enough eyes pass over these engravings there is great hope that the entire Graduale, accurately engraved, could be available to the world freely in source code that can be processed in endless ways, for use in endless applications. Imagine the possibilities for us and for future generations of Catholics!
I personally would like to see him post the source code each week in addition to the one-off PDFs. You might enjoy playing around with it at Richard Chonak's online GABC processing tool where you can experiment with different fonts, sizing options, and so on.
Thank you, Andrew, for this wonderful work. Future generations of Catholics will thank you!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
This year, the program is being opened up even more and in two ways. The presence of a far larger and more diverse faculty makes it an ideal place for professional musicians. At the same time, the extensive programming and lectures make it possible for people who do not intend to sing all week or even at all to enjoy the events and learn. Both of these changes are new. The idea here is to make room for people who do not necessarily want to sing all day every day. There will be classes on every topic you can imagine, and extensive opportunities for socializing and learning.
I haven't mentioned the main extraordinary thing actually. The location is Salt Lake City. The venue is the Cathedral of the Madeleine. This place is absolutely among the most beautiful liturgical spots in the United States if not the world. The Cathedral has been fully opened up to us, as has the wonderful choir school that is connected to the cathedral. In so many ways, this move represents a glorious new epoch for the sacred music colloqium and for the CMAA - and for sacred music generally!
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, wise virgin, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of Divine love, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, apostle by thy zeal and charity, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who converted thy spouse and procured for him the crown of Martyrdom, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true Church,
Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who didst unceasingly see thy guardian Angel by thy side, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who didst mingle thy voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who by thy melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, illustrious Martyr of Jesus Christ, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, who during three days dist suffer most excruciating torments, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke thee, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles, Pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students, Pray for us.
We salute thee, O Virgin, who didst give thy blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
God glorified Saint Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.
Let us pray: O Eternal God, Who didst give us, in the person of Saint Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days, like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise Thee and bless Thee forevermore in eternity. Amen.
Monday, November 21, 2011
A few months ago Pope Benedict released the motu proprio Quaerit semper which reorganized the CDW, relieving the office of the duty of handling cases of the validity of priestly ordinations and marriages, and now we see a reason why this may have been done. The new Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission is now freed up to be able "to promote the training of priests, clerics and catechists, starting from the bare basics," and it will aim "to revive a sense of the sacredness and mystery of the liturgy."
The last instruction on sacred music to have come from the Vatican was Musicam Sacram in 1967, which contains many aims and directives that are still unfulfilled. Should we expect to see a new Vatican instruction on sacred music from this new commission with the CDW?
Tornielli closes his article recalling that 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and 2013 the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Has the time come for an official clarification on the council's true vision of sacred music? You can be sure that we will be following the work of this commission very closely. We should all pray for the successful establishment of this new commission, and for its success in helping guide the new era of liturgical renewal that is before us, especially as the English speaking world embarks forward this coming week into the new translation of the Roman Missal.
Read Tornielli's piece in its entirety here.
This year, I decided to do some volunteer work at a couple of local parishes, mostly so that my son could learn to sing chant!
We've been using Arlene's responsorial psalms exclusively. They are so beautiful, so faithful to the text, expertly pointed exactly as the psalm tones ought to be sung, and the children love them and sound beautiful singing them.
Thank you so much for making these psalms available to the world!
If you are feeling generous and want to help bring the complete see to print, use this widget. Thank you!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Having been so intimately involved in the process of the translation of the Missal, he is sure to offer some powerful insights into these newly translated texts.
Something to consider is that for those who have been attending Mass celebrated in English according to the Missal of Paul VI for the past several decades, next Sunday is the first time that you will hear the ancient collects of the Roman Rite with clarity and integrity. The collects, in particular, were one of the most poorly translated portions of the liturgy in the 1973 ICEL translation, and many times even these were not heard because of the use of the composed "alternate collects" of the old ICEL.
Many graces surely await us on the First Sunday of Advent when the texts of the liturgy will shine forth with clarity and purity, emanating spiritual depth and theological truth.
I would love to see a similar effort take place with the sung propers of the Mass, another part of the liturgy that has been largely neglected and obscured in post-conciliar era.
Thy Word features:
Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;
Fr. Dennis McManus, chaplain and associate professor of theology at Georgetown University;
Chris Mueller, composer of sacred choral music at Columbia University Catholic Ministry and
Fr. Jonathan Morris, parochial vicar at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York City,
author, contributor and analyst for Fox News.
The broadcast of Thy Word will air this weekend internationally and the
domestic broadcasts will air at the following dates and times:
Tue, 11/22, 11 PM EST
Sun, 11/27, 6 PM EST
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The first thing is to get over the intimidation factor. Most of these people do not play any instrument and they do not read any form of music. They feel like they lack expertise, which is why they long ago gave up trying to give pointers to the pastor or the hired musicians. They are outgunned and outclassed, they assume, and don’t have the wherewithal to take on the parish establishment.
(Actually, many priests feel this way. They worry that because they can’t play piano and can’t speak the puzzling language of musicians, they can’t really exercise any real authority over the music in the parishes, so they have to leave it to the experts. They fear the topic and worry that by dipping into it, they will be shown up. Truth be told, musicians often count on this and even try to manipulate these fears.)
Well, if you think about it, music in the Catholic Church was sustained for more than 1000 years by singers only (no people who play instruments) and none of them could read music because there was no music to read (the musical staff wasn’t invented yet). These 1000 years sustained the chant tradition by singing and listening, that is, learning “by rote.” So these people who consider themselves to be “musically illiterate” are in excellent company.
The great challenge of being a singer for liturgy is all about being able to declaim a text with confidence and pitch stability. At liturgy, there is only once chance to sing “Lord, have mercy” at the Kyrie or “Holy” at the Sanctus. These are the scariest moments for any singer at the Catholic Mass, the times when we fear messing up, the times when the heart bounds and the fingers get cold.
To sing these intonations again and again with confidence is the great challenge. The singing is exposed. The singer music break the silence, which itself is beautiful. Indeed, it is hard to improve on silence. You need a pitch your head and the first time you really vocalize that pitch is the very time when you must start singing “for real.” Will it be there? Will it sound funny? Everyone will be staring and you if you are up front, and that itself is alarming.
Fear strikes at the last instant. This is called the “choke.” It happens to the best. The more experience you have, the less chance there is that this choke will happen. The only way to gain experience is to sing and thereby risk messing up. But this must be done. Be ready to bury the ego and jump.
So how do you prepare? Do it in private spaces. Seize on the words “Lord, have mercy” and sing them to the pitch in the Missal, the first three notes of the major scale. Try it in the morning. In the shower. In the car. In your office. At home walking from room to room. In front of a few people, and then by yourself again. Do this 10 times whenever possible.
Experiment with different articulations, ways of breathing, volumes, and different starting pitches. Sing it in as many different ways as you can. Then settle on the one way that makes the most sense. Do that again and again. Try to become louder. Sing with the mental image that your blowing dust off a desk five feet away. Then imagine you are singing for a large concert hall. Pay careful attention to the way you begin, remembering that this is where the flubs occur.
In less than a week or two, using these approach, anyone can develop a competent voice for liturgy. Of course the conditions will change once you are in front of a hundred plus people but then you will at least have some experience to draw on.
Experienced singers will look at what I just wrote and think: this is crazy. Who can’t sing three notes? Well, experienced singers do look at it this way. But in all the teaching I’ve done over the last year, I’ve found that the ability to stand up and sing three notes without accompaniment, with a pitch that travels from imaginary to real in a instant, and to do it with strength and conviction - this is the hardest of all things that new singers can learn.
And guess what? Most singers in the Catholic church today cannot in fact do this! And this is because they haven’t tried, much less practiced. Instead they depend on the three great crutches of singers: accompaniment ooze to give them comfort, microphones to enable them to sing shyly with more breath than pitch, and sheet music to hide their face so they don’t have to look up and out.
If you can sing three notes in Church without these three crutches, you are will immediately be better than most all singers in the Catholic church today.
Most of the challenge is mental. But mental is a big deal when it comes to singing. In the backdrop of all of this stands the gigantic industry of recorded, professional music that trains us all to believe that music comes from tapes, iPods, iPhones, speakers in stores and cars, and only the most amazing professionals in the world would ever dare to stand in front of an audience and sing. If we believe that, if we go along with what the current culture of music production is telling us, we would never sing in Church.
But look what the Church is asking and has always asked. Every single parish is expected to raise up enough singers from within the parish to cover all the liturgical needs of the Church in that one microcosm. All the texts of the liturgy are to be sung by a local human voice or many voices.
What this means is that your parish needs you. It doesn’t need more karaoke stars or pop idols or electronically produced instruments. It needs human beings who are aware that they have been given a gift of vocal production and that they are being called to use that gift as an offering back to God. And this means: the voice alone. The voice alone must be capable of rendering all the sung texts of the liturgy.
This is the skill that must be practice and eventually mastered. You can start right now wherever you are.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
People have grown old and died waiting for an accurate English translation of the Missal of Pope Paul VI. Most Catholics under 40 years of age have never been able to participate at Mass said according to a faithful rendering of the official Latin text. This injustice to the People of God is now being rectified, and not before time.
The imprimatur for the first full ICEL Missal in England was given by Cardinal Heenan in October 1974. The introduction of the whole Missal was not necessarily immediate. In England and Wales, the former, and much better translation of the National Liturgical Commission (NLC), known colloquially as the "Wheeler Missal" after Bishop Wheeler who played a significant part in producing it, remained legitimate as an alternative. In the September-October 1975 issue of Faith Magazine, Fr Holloway wrote: "To my mind, it is a blessing that our Bishops have not yet allowed ICEL complete and total dominion, although for how long can NLC hold out?" In fact, it did gradually fall into general disuse, although some priests carefully retained copies of the Wheeler Missal. In recent years, they have become as gold dust for younger clergy. (It is still legitimate, I suppose, until the first Sunday of Advent, though I wonder whether anyone has even remembered to mandate its suppression.)
Early Criticisms of the Old ICEL
Though the NLC Propers could be used, the Ordinary of the Mass had to be ICEL. Criticisms of ICEL in the early days therefore often focussed on the texts of the Creed or the Eucharistic Prayers. Even so, this was in the days long before the first web browser was invented, and the reaction was slower than we are accustomed to now. People did complain about the translation, focussing on its banality and lack of a sense of the sacred. Latin Mass (even in the new rite) had become a rarity by the mid 1970s and so it required an effort to get hold of a Latin Missal to compare the texts. As more and more interested Catholics did so, there was a sense of outrage at what was missing, changed or simply invented. In 1979, Christopher Monckton, then Editor of the Universe, focussed the complaints of many of us in his widely influential paper for the Association of English Worship, published in this magazine (Dec 1979) as "Caught in the Act. A Conspiracy of Errors." (He compiled a list of over 400 such errors.)
The main point of his article was that the ICEL translation (of the Ordinary of the Mass) was not only banal, nor even simply erroneous; Monckton demonstrated that it was marred by systematic omissions, and systematic doctrinal defects. The words sanctus and beatus had been passed over in almost every place where they occur in the text. As he observed, "there was only one point at which the translators must have found it all but impossible to omit the word "Sanctus" and that is in the SANCTUS itself." They could hardly have expected the priest and people to say: "____,____,____," My own favourite example of desacralising is the translation of the text in the Roman Canon "accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas et venerabiles manus suas" which is properly translated in the new ICEL as "he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands." The old ICEL has "he took the cup."
Monckton also drew attention to the theologically grave problem of the text's playing-down of sacrificial language, eliminating the distinction between the offering made by the priest and that made by the people, and losing the notion of Christ as victim. The most glaring example is the phrase ''sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam" in the Roman Canon, which is simply omitted.
Ever since Monckton's article and others like it in the late seventies, it has been an open secret that the translation was bad, and needed to be replaced. Even at that time, with the text not six years old, the Chairman of ICEL indicated that it was to be subject to a careful and painstaking re-evaluation; it took eighteen years for a new text to be presented to the Holy See. By 1998, however, many things had changed: Pope John Paul's papacy had matured, and the Congregation for Divine Worship, after a series of other good prefects, was now run by Cardinal Estevez. In his letter to ICEL, the Cardinal gave 114 examples of specific flaws in the proposed text, saying that the list "cannot be considered in any way exhaustive." He specifically noted "It appears, indeed, consciously or unconsciously to promote a view of sacramental and ecclesiological theology that contrasts with the intentions of the Holy See." Among the many defects, he noted the dropping of the words sanctus and beatus: the "careful and painstaking" eighteen year re-evaluation did not seem to have achieved very much.
Before offering his cordial good wishes in Christ the Lord, Cardinal Estevez wrote:
"... this Congregation considers it may be helpful to recommend that there be a complete change of translators on this project and that a new, independent and definitive English version be made afresh from the Latin texts."
Not long afterwards, in 2001, the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam was issued, insisting that
"the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet."
The following year, ICEL was reconstituted with due acknowledgement of the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and the process of translation began for a third time. The growing use of the internet, especially in social networking, meant that through the debates of the US Bishops' Conference (commendably held in public session) the general Catholic public became increasingly aware of just what thinking was behind what was coming to be known by consensus as the "lame-duck translation", an expression popularised by Fr Zuhlsdorf who has spent many years analysing "What does the prayer really say?" both in his column for The Wanderer and on his popular blog. When Bishop Trautman of Erie complained about unfamiliar words being used, bloggers jokingly vied with each other to include the words "ineffable", "wrought" and "gibbet" into ordinary posts. The opposition to the more sacral language was characterised as objecting to "them fancy words."
A Great Relief for Priests and People
Now, after several decades, we finally have an accurate translation of the Roman Missal to use for the celebration of Mass. During the lead-up to its introduction, some of the liberal Catholic press has been acting in a way reminiscent of the "phony war" of 1939. They have not been issuing gas masks and practising air raid drills, but from the hysteria of some articles, you would think that extra first-aiders should be trained. I am not exaggerating here. The Tablet actually posted an article on its website in which the author suggested that asking children to say in The Confiteor "through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault" while beating their breasts, was a form of psychological child abuse. Wisely (perhaps realising that this foolish comment trivialised real child abuse) The Tablet took the article down.
Most ordinary Catholics who are still actually going to Mass will not be troubled by the changes to the text, except for stumbling a bit for the first few weeks and accidentally falling into the old ICEL from time to time. The priest can do a lot to help in the reception of this change. If he is obviously enthusiastic and positive, the people will be encouraged in their faith, and can benefit from the catechesis that he gives in his ordinary preaching, looking at topics like sacrifice, grace, humility, and the sacredness of the Liturgy, to give a few examples of doctrines that show out much more clearly in the new texts.
For the minority who take an active interest in the Liturgy, read Catholic articles and follow news within the Church, I suspect that the people who are delighted by the new ICEL will far outnumber those who are opposed to it. For priests who are faithful to the Church, and have been aware of the errors and deficiencies of the old ICEL, it will be a relief and a joy to be able to use a worthy text for the celebration of Mass in English. For the 27 years of my priestly life, I have been using a lame-duck text that dumbs down the theology of the Mass and prevents me from giving to God the reverence due to Him in the words of the prayers prescribed by the Church. I rejoice that the students I have taught, who are being ordained this year will begin their priestly ministry with a worthy text.
Unfortunately, there has been little progress on the question of copyright to the text, which belongs to the local Bishops' Conferences. The cards which have been produced by the major publishers have various problems because of conditions imposed by the National Liturgical Committee. They imply or state that the offertory prayers must be said out loud, that the sign of peace is compulsory, and that Holy Communion must be received standing. They are also unwieldy because of ICEL's insistence that the texts must be printed according to "sense lines." (This constraint also make the Missal itself waste acres of white space.) Last year, when the "phony war" ponderously urged elaborate preparation for priests to be able to use the new texts, I pointed out at one clergy meeting that I had done the preparation many years ago by taking English O-Level. The stubborn insistence on "sense lines" is surely a form of that "infantilisation" which was fostered by the collaborative ministry enthusiasts but is so decried nowadays.
Paradoxically, since Summorum Pontificum, it is easier to obtain high quality pdfs of the texts and music for the extraordinary form of the Mass and the Divine Office than for the ordinary form in English. There will undoubtedly be an underground movement to share electronic versions of the text so that booklets and leaflets can be produced and distributed on the internet free of charge. (There is already a text of the newly-translated Missal available on Wikispooks) It would make sense for ICEL and the English speaking Bishops' Conferences (or any one of them) or the Holy See itself to put an official version of the text out into the wild under a licence that allowed non-commercial copying with the caveat that the text itself should not be modified (it is in fact much easier to verify the integrity of an electronic text.) Hunting people down for copyright violations is a waste of time that could be better spent supporting the work done by enthusiastic Catholics free of charge for the love of God.
In a way, the liberals are right to fear the new (corrected) ICEL text. They do not want any change in the status quo because it will inevitably provide an opportunity to make other changes, most notably to the music that is used for the Mass. If parishes begin to recover the idea of a sung Mass, rather than a Mass at which things are sung, that will be a great improvement to the celebration of the Liturgy. Once bumped out of the groove in which we have been stuck for decades, it will be easier for parish priests to take up some of the reforms which have been encouraged gently by Pope Benedict, to be frightened no longer by traditional vestments and vessels for Mass, by the possibility of at least some celebrations of Mass being ad orientem, or by gently moving away from anti-liturgical informality.
During the decades in which we have been lumbered with the lame-duck translation, much has changed in the Church: some of the changes have ironically been a matter of people continuing to do the same thing. Those who as youngsters were attracted by the folk choir and have remained in it, can sometimes now look like the ageing rockers who play at teatime in seaside pavilions in the summer. They may still harbour the pious hope that young people will be attracted by matey liturgy and jolly tunes. The sad reality is that in most parishes there are hardly any young people left after the Confirmation course has finished. The ones who do remain will stay because either through a miracle or the providence of God they have received some formation in the faith: they want the truth and they want to worship God. Some school chaplains or diocesan youth centres have tried hard to move towards better and more catechetical music for worship but the danger remains that this is of transient appeal and can become quickly outdated and a source of amusement unlike the perennial sacred music of the Church which was actually mandated by Vatican II.
The debate over whether liturgy or catechesis is most important for saving the faith of the young has taken a new turn in the recent revival of the Liturgical movement. The Liturgy has been rediscovered as itself a source for theology, and therefore also for catechesis. This certainly does not mean that the Liturgy is primarily a school assembly: making it such is one of the problems that we have to overcome. Rather, the priest in his preaching, and the catechist in sacramental preparation can use the texts of the Liturgy to illustrate the faith. This will be much easier with the new (corrected) translation which succeeds in preserving the dogmatic content of the prayers. Shortly after the time of the publication of the lame-duck translation, Faith movement produced a pamphlet called "The Liturgy: a catechism of Catholic doctrine." This showed that even in what was a bad translation, the basic doctrines of the faith could be found in the text. Now everyone is talking about the opportunity for catechesis that the new text presents.
Important though this is, it must be accompanied by a recovery of the sacred in the Liturgy: especially in the celebration of Sunday Mass, and even more crucially in the celebration of the school Mass. Many active young Catholics have found the numinous in the usus antiquior and have become attached to it, much to the bewilderment of older Catholics who remember the heady days of the seventies with nostalgia. Whatever the process of mutual enrichment between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of Mass (as desired by Pope Benedict) will hold for the future, the present position of young Catholics is that they are going to keep or lose the faith through what they experience in the Mass celebrated at their parish and at their school. The new (corrected) translation offers us a definitive moment of action (the local centre of spirituality would doubtless call it kairos.) Archbishop Nichols told the clergy of Westminster on the 9th of June last, that "the Liturgy forms us, not us the Liturgy." I agree with him and would add that right now, we need to seize the opportunity to change more than simply the translation: clergy of orthodox faith who love the Church must take the risk of insisting that they will submit themselves to the Liturgy, eradicate informality, correct abuses and (if not literally then at least symbolically) turn towards the Lord. Whether in English or in Latin, we are in fact going up to the altar of God. And He is the one who gives joy to our youth.
For the average American Catholic in the pews, the upcoming changes to the text of the Mass might mean little more than memorizing a few new prayer responses.
But when the revised translation of the Mass sweeps into churches across America on the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 27), it will bring with it a slew of new missals and hymnals -- and perhaps a whole new (or old) style of worship.
For the last 40 years, there has been some leeway for "mild paraphrasing of texts" when singing parts of the Mass, said Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, who heads the committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that is responsible for approving all liturgical books, including hymnals and missals.
But, said Hilgartner, the instructions with the new Roman Missal "are much more clear that musical settings are only approved when they follow the text strictly."
The new English translation of the Mass, meant to reflect the original Latin text more closely, is the product of eight years of work by an international commission of bishops. The final text was released this summer, and churches across the U.S. must begin using it on Nov. 27.
The textual changes do not affect hymns or other stand-alone songs that can be inserted in the order of the Mass, but they do affect the prayers that are sung or recited at every Mass, called "ordinaries."
That means composers have had to write completely new musical settings or adapt old ones for the ordinaries. According to Hilgartner, the musical options are as diverse as before, ranging from chant to contemporary styles. READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Many people subscribe to seasonal and annual missalette services for nothing else but the Sunday Lectionary readings and for daily Mass antiphons. So many pastors, musicians and parish administrators who I've talked with absolutely loathe the idea of continually having to purchase and dispose of these booklets not only for the continual cost that it is to their parish, but also because it makes a common practice of habitually destroying the printed Word of God.
So I've been asking myself, "what do parishes really need for daily Mass?" The common practice suggests that what is needed are the texts of the Entrance and Communion antiphons and of the Responsorial Psalm, all of which are customarily recited at daily liturgies.
We have now decided to include these daily antiphons for all daily Masses throughout the year in the Lumen Christi Missal and find that this will be a relatively painless task and could ultimately save parishes loads of money while enabling them to upgrade the dignity of the resources they place in the pew.
The Church is asking us at this moment in history to increase our singing of the Mass. I wonder if the simple chanting of daily Mass antiphons with a parish's most dedicated membership, students, and so forth, might not only heighten these daily celebrations, but allow for the fruits of this prayer to begin to influence Sunday Masses as well.
The Lumen Christi Missal will include simple, through-composed Responsorial Psalms for every liturgy throughout the year, and we're considering pointing the daily antiphons to be sung to simple psalm tones, a la the methods used in the Mundelein Psalter. The MP has a track record of proven success. Do you think that a similar approach to the antiphons of daily Mass would be a welcomed upgrade to our current practice? Feedback welcome!
The interview was mostly on the new translation but half-way through there is an interesting discussion on music in the missal and beauty and truth in music.
You can listen to the entire interview here.
Reports are coming in that Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix has promulgated a policy on Communion under both species much less restrictive than a document released earlier. It will be interesting to see if the Diocese of Madison will follow suit. “There has been much needless hurt over this issue,” Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares has stated.
People all over the blogosphere were quick to turn to Church documents to support their positions for and against Olmstead’s now reversed decision. I was one of them, and even posted some of the pertinent documents in a post on Chant Café. As I watched the commentary on this issue develop, I came to realize something which frankly makes me quite uncomfortable. Everyone could appeal to authoritatively binding Church documents, without modifying or falsifying their meaning, for their position.
So this begs the question: what is the proper hierarchy of documents related to the liturgy? Theologians before the Second Vatican Council often used a system to rank the relative gravity of theological propositions: de fide divina, de fide ecclesiastica, and so on. That system has disappeared, and so there is a lack of clarity as what the weight of a papal encyclical is as opposed to, oh, for example, a note of the Vatican dicastery Iustitia et pax, or a comment made by the Pope in an interview on an airplane and an instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
This is not just a question for theology or liturgy nerds. Its answer is vital to communion in the Church. Now that Pope Benedict XVI’s principle of the hermeneutic of continuity has become the cornerstone for what some see as a proper interpretation, not only of the Second Vatican Council, but of everything in the life of the Church, we have to ask: how do we establish that hermeneutic?
Where the principles of establishing that hermeneutic are reversed, that reversal is going to be played out in ways which can engender confusion and ill will. When the Visitation of female Religious in America was announced, there were some Sisters who said that religious life had to be interpreted according to Gaudium et spes, while others said according to Perfectae caritatis. The Sisters who honestly reformed their communities according to the former have been treated with suspicion for not conforming to a certain interpretation of Perfectae caritatis. We can argue over how the reform of religious life was carried out, but was either principle false?
It would seem to me that, if we view Church documents as becoming more explicit as time goes on, then precedence should go to the most recent document. One assumes that with each successive document, the Church becomes more specific. If we take this to be the case, then the permission in MR 2002 for Communion under both species has to take into account 2004 Redemptionis sacramentum, which places Communion under both species in the context of the prohibition against the unnecessary multiplication of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, that also hearkens back to the 1997 document On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest. Then the question becomes: which is more important: that the faithful receive under both species or the avoidance of the unnecessary multiplication of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion?
(An aside: Yet seeing the most recent Church document as more explicit, and thus the driving force for interpretation, would mean that the Missal of St Pius V should be seen in the light of the Missal of Paul VI, and not vice-versa, contrary to what seems to be the thrust of Summorum pontificum and Universae ecclesiae. So which is it?)
Different people come down on different sides of the priority of MR 2002 vs, RS 2004 question, and that drives their response to what Olmstead did originally in Phoenix. The question of priority of document drives the answer to alot of questions.
I am reminded of the fact that, outside of the United States, both Communion under both species and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are comparatively rare. The Roman Pontiff in his Masses employs neither. Do those two facts have any meaning at all, or are they aberrations from what should be the norm? And if they are aberrations, why are they allowed to continue?
Against the bewildering plethora of liturgical documents in different times and places, with no discernible ranking as to their weight and authority, we have several levels of actual practice, which are in turn sometimes enshrined in law. We have the practice of the Roman Pontiff, we have the norms of the Universal Church, the norms of the Episcopal Conferences, the norms of individual Ordinaries, the policies and praxis of individual pastors, then of individual celebrants, and then the idiosyncracies of all of them. In turn, again, we have the multiplication of endless options in the liturgical books themselves for everything under the sun, and then the reality that there are many priests and communities that just do whatever they want.
There are some who argue that this is how the Church is supposed to be. The nature of the Church and the liturgy is such that all of this diversity is part of her constitution. The Church and the liturgy must be in eternal flux, just as the human experience itself.
There will be those who will gloat over Olmstead’s retraction of a policy barring Communion under both species. Who knows to what extent popular pressure or guidance from other Bishops or the Vatican had something to do with that volte-face. But in essence, it seems to me to be a Pyrrhic victory at best. The liturgical reform at present is a collection of competing rites, books, authorities, documents, and personalities. Those who see the retraction as a vindication of their position, and those of us who maintain that both the previous proposed and the now current policy are legitimate exercises of episcopal authority under the present liturgical law, do we not have to ask ourselves a more pressing question? Why does this situation exist, in which so many possibilities exist which are all equally legal and valid, and consequently set us all at each other’s throats?
The answer to this question cannot be discovered in denunciations of clericalism or papal authority, or appeals to one theological idea over another. We have to go back to basics: What is the point of the liturgy and how does it build up the communion of the Church? Guided by the Holy Spirit, may the entire Church, under the guidance of the hierarchy, untie the knots the liturgical reform has wrought in the life of the Ecclesia orans.
We are almost fifty years out from Vatican II. It is time for the growing pains that inevitably come with change and reform to stop. It is time for the heresy of formlessness which has characterized the last fifty years of liturgical chaos to be anathematized. It is time that we find a way in which the entire Latin Church can actually celebrate the liturgy in a way which respects diversity, but does not at the same time threaten the bonds of communion within the Church.