Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quoth the maven: "Forever more!"

These edited quotes describe a long-lived worship music tradition. Fill in the blanks.

"I have seen this music go from a ... curiosity to a cool pursuit. Keep it healthy by singing it, loving it, and contributing to its future."

"Nothing is weirder than _______ _______. Its favored subject matter…is stark; its (use) has been obsolete for more than a century. Its notation, in which … squares indicate pitch, looks like cuneiform. Yet it exudes power and integrity. Five people sound like a choir; a dozen like a hundred."

“The tradition was to sing all morning, have dinner on the grounds, then sing all afternoon. Sing all day long… in an un-air-conditioned church, in August, … singing ‘fa, so, la’ … seemed like fun…”

"It's not a religion. It doesn't favor any particular denomination. But when you're singing, it's a religious experience."

“A living tradition changes.  If it stopped changing, it would be because it died.”

“There are three things I like about _______ _______: I like the songs they sing; I like the way they sing them; and, most of all, I like the folks that sing them.”

"Today I seldom hear this music, but when I do, I close my eyes and recall a time when, as far as I knew, the entire world was no bigger and no more complex, …life was simple, defined by daily chores and lived in rhythm with the seasons."… and as the world becomes ever more complex, many yearn for those simpler times.”

I like the idea of "singing scriptures" -- using a tune for the actual words from scripture. That's not done much here, though.
I'm curious about your last observation -- new believers...will choose as their "favorites" the hymns and psalms. The longer they are believers, they tend to gravitate towards … songs... Do you have any ideas/opinions about this phenomenon?” “Good question. I have often thought about why this is so, but to date can only assume that new believers aren't initially so influenced by all the Christian media (TV, Radio, music industry, etc.) The longer they are Christians, the more they are exposed to the Christian marketing and media machine and become influenced by its offerings.”

Nowadays, _______ _______ is considered by most people to be … music, not worship. Singers have many divergent backgrounds and beliefs, even though the vast majority of the songs have a distinct … heritage. It should be noted, though, that some singers do approach _______ _______ singing as worship. A song leader's voice is not amplified. There is no 'audience,' though (congregants) are welcome to sit within a section and just listen if they do not feel comfortable singing. There is no applause after a song. Clapping and other rhythm-making sounds are discouraged. Typically each singer has his/her own copy of (a) _______ _______ book. Each group typically has a number of 'loaner' copies that visitors may borrow - - and sometimes additional copies that can be purchased. Since singers typically own their own copies, many freely make notations in the books, as desired.

A. Gregorian Chant
B. Anglican Hymnody
C. Sacred Harp
D. Lutheran Chorales
E. Life Teen

Of course I'm sure most of you had figured out the quotes were describing aspects of the SACRED HARP shape-note singing tradition of certain sects and denominations that sprouted up abundantly at the very beginning of the 19th. century.
Would any right-minded Christian musician wander into a "shape note sing event" and declare their tradition dead and of no value, much less a vital part of a "living tradition"? Then why do we RCC's demonstrate such little appreciation, or in fact, outright denigration of our musical heritage (I would have said "patrimony" but ....) among ourselves. We RCC's would be outraged if some "English" would trample upon the sensibilities of the Amish openly, or if Hillsong folk insisted upon bringing shape note congregations into the 21st century, yes?
Can we but take a moment, catch our breath, and remember who the heck we ARE?