Catholic musicians gathered to blog about liturgy and life
This is awesome. Evangelization through beauty! Thumbs up for those three men who shocked the American Idol audience with Catholic music.
It is interesting that a song written by the composer of Jesus Christ Superstar(music) and Phantom of the Opera, among other London and Broadway hits, and performed on an inexpensive and gaudy reality/talent show should be lauded as an example of Catholic beauty. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
To previous comment. The origins of this song came from a 13th century Latin hymn and has been used in Catholic funeral liturgies over time. If London and Broadway used it in their music, it confirms that the beauty of this song which came thru the centuries appeals to the soul – notwithstanding- whether they realized its origins or not.
Ugh, that setting…
Ann, Are you speaking of the Latin text or the music that Andrew Lloyd Webber used in the Requiem for his father when you sourced this piece as 13th century? I am familiar with the unique tone of the Dies Irae in many classical pieces, but I was not aware that the music in Webber's piece was derivative, as well.
Really, you thought this was from a Broadway musical? The man in this video is correct when he commented that the secular world has no idea of the origins and history it left behind and ignores. You may want to step back and contemplate your thoughts before closing your heart. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. You must have an open heart and mind and soul to see the beauty of God.
Gilbert, I am not closing my heart. I do not object to guitars at mass, nor processional banners that to some look like puppets or flying fish, I do not consider most of the post Vatican II hymns as banal trifles with no connection to the liturgy of the mass. I do find it objectionable, however, when an excerpt from Andrew Lloyd Webber's mass for his father, performed in a setting totally removed from its spiritual source is held up as an example of catholic beauty merely because it is performed in Latin and bears but a passing similarity to the Gregorian Dies Irae. That, my friend, is chutzpah.
It was a bad and grotesquely oversung arrangement of a Lloyd Webber piece ( for female soprano and boy treble) which has a certain saccharine charm in the original but doesn't even set the correct text which is of course "Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem". This is the second time this month that this has been held up as traditional Catholic music. Check out Gabriel Faure's "Pie Jesu" if you want to hear how it should be done.
I don't mind LW's stuff but when someone acclaimed him as the greatest composer for the musical theatre of the 20th century I could only assume they had never heard of Richard Strauss, Giacomo Puccini, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers, to name but a few. He is one of only two musicians to be elevated to the peerage, an honour that was denied to Edward Elgar and only given to Benjamin Britten at the end of his life.
Although it's not appropriate for the liturgy, for this kind of show, why not? I think it's still beautiful in the midst of all the pop music. This might lead some people in the audience to get interested in real sacred music and even to the liturgy.
Appropriating Mr. Voris as a spokesperson as to what constitutes "sacred, universal and beautiful" is a mistaken proposition in the first place. Nuff said.
Charles, this is not about "Appropriating Mr. Voris as a spokesperson" — it is about posting a post of an interesting video. Why the drama?
Maybe you will forward me your black list and I can alert everyone who never to mention or post?
The only drama and, might I add, snark being added to the discussion did not eminate from me, Jeffrey. I simply said what I meant, no more, no less. Your response is quite personal, though, and surprising.
I'd like to go out on a surprise limb and laud both JP's and Charles's comments here. As for the composer in question, I thought he peaked with Joseph and trailed off from there.
I thought the point of the video was not the musicology of Michael Voris, but rather his theological point, taken quite directly from St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 5th Article of the First Part of the Summa.
Beauty is convertible with Goodness, which belongs pre-eminently to God. Beauty is Goodness under the aspect of attraction. We are drawn by God's beauty to desire Him above all else.
This is why, in all normal eras, liturgy is beautiful, because liturgy is supposed to show forth God, Who is beautiful. People expect this of liturgy. The expectation is part of the "sense of the faithful," and when people complain about ugliness in liturgy, it isn't because they like to complain, but because something that is supposed to be there is missing.
That is a critical observation with which I concur, Kathy, and I wasn't ignorant of it. Your second sentence/paragraph is of paramount importance. I simply found that choice example, presumably by Mr. Voris, was ill-suited to thoroughly represent the Thomistic ideal. The three young tenors could have easily received the same intense ovation from the crowd and panelists by daring to do Nessun dorma, and that would have been eaten up by them. The very bald, non dramatic reality is that Voris didn't go deeper and kept his metier in the cheap seats of "America's Got Talent" rather than "Into Great Silence." Is he going to cite the Electric Prunes or Mister Mister for having co-opted "Kyrie eleison" as an example of how the Church kept Koine Greek alive for not only beauty, but for exploitation? I got the theology. I got the message. But Voris doesn't have the cred of Barron to go deep. YMMV
So he made a good and important point. (Not as well as I did, perhaps! Just kidding.) It's not Barron, ok, but it's in the right direction. He's not just talking to people who do this sort of thing, but to a lot of "conservative" Catholics who haven't bought into Beauty yet. I'm not an overall fan of The Vortex, but as a RotR musician, I appreciate this kind of shout out. It's diplomacy, and on our behalf.
Uhrmmm….sorry this is way off topic. Ms. Pluth, I thought Mr. Voris did a very good job interviewing Dale Ahlquist (who was the epitome of affable bonhomie), re. the possibility of a 'St.' G.K.Chesterton. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFf7fujXq1w
Josef Ratzinger wrote extensively on this idea of beauty leading to God, converting the heart etc. I admit to having shivers when I heard those voices…who cares who wrote the music. Mozart wrote beautiful music but he was a Mason. Yes, Faure's is better but it wouldn't fly on this show.
You don't start feeding a baby coq au vin – you begin with simpler things until the baby matures and develops a palate. Just so, to a roomful of people who do not have highly developed musical taste can this song be considered beautiful. For any of us to look down our noses at those who are making an effort (any effort) to try and elevate the taste level of the general public is **backwards** and counter-intuitive. We should be happy that a roomful of pop-culture fans were moved by a piece of almost-classical music with ancient Latin text – even though said text is not properly set. If I'm not seriously mistaken (which I am not) I do believe that was his main point. Take it for what it is. No wonder they think we're all obnoxious snobs.
Consider also how many parish music programs would be greatly improved by a cheezy setting of a sacred text, replacing their current cheezy settings banal or even corrupt texts.
Precisely! The people in that audience wouldn't grasp Faure. Even though it is beautiful, they don't have the ear to understand it and it would be just so much noise to them. Once they've gotten comfortable with cheezy, you give them something less cheezy and they'll appreciate it. And go on with decreasing said cheez until they love Byrd and Tallis.
I yield. Grampa's now eaten the soup provided, and will slip back under the covers without a mumblin' word.
Mr. Culbreth – I do feel like you have tried to elevate this post into something it is not. I will say that I feel you have missed the point. It is not about comparing and contrasting and debating and discussing what anyone thinks/feels/believes is "beauty" or legitimate beauty or any such other thing that you are trying to paste onto the point. The point – I feel – is quite simple. At the risk of beating another dead horse I'll go back to the food metaphor and try not to belabor it too much. Most people love junk food. They don't like broccoli. Although broccoli is wonderful and nutritious they don't eat it. For those people in that audience to give them the musical equivalent of gorgeous organic artfully prepared broccoli would still be gross and they wouldn't like it. So – to cite Kathy's cheezy reference – you might start them out with broccoli covered in gooey fast-foodish cheese. Granted it is not the best and it might not even be a gateway to the best. BUT…(and here is the point, I believe) it's better than no broccoli at all.
Addendum — and again, you have made the conversation so complex that it is difficult to try and speak to the issue — but…..having encountered something "almost" classical and nearly liturgical and kind of religious, the next time they encounter something classical/liturgical/religious maybe they won't just take a pass like so many do. You must remember that the presenter has made an example of the most basic kind. An audience of the **completely** uninitiated getting excited about what "sounds like" (tugs on ear) the real thing. And now that we have gone all the way around Mrs. O'Leary's barn, I give. If you can't see the point then…oh well.
The importance of beauty should be self evident.
Perhaps as man as "evolved " with technology and luxury he has also "devolved".
What attracts people to a buddhist monastery is the beauty of the symbols and chants.
If Roman Catholics can't compete with the beauty found in paganism from the evil one, what hope is there?
The Orthodox/Catholic East has not lost sight of this important truth.
All one has to do is participate in any traditional folk art/folk music /dance festival to notice this. The free Smithsonian Folk-life festival that is held every July in Washington, DC shows that cultures who do not keep beauty alive in them collapse and are replaced by one that does keep it. The elaborate costumes and even paschal candles present from this years featured country of Hungary was quite marvelous.
A Church Liturgy can not be outdone by the secular Folk arts.
To past opinion. The roots of this songs came from a Thirteenth millennium Latina hymn and has been used in Catholic memorial liturgies eventually. If London, uk and Broadway used it in their songs, it verifies that the attractiveness of this songs which came thru the hundreds of years attracts the spirit – notwithstanding- whether they noticed its roots or not.
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