In any attempt to (de-)legitimize the ontological authority intrinsic to the notion of Mass Propers “as such,” we have to take into account the neo-Platonic view that positions music as representing an instantiation of some NP-complete quantum reality (or, array of probabilities – to be more exact).
It’s really not worth denying, at this point, that paradigms of authority which posit a ubiquitous resourcement are at least partially to blame for the crisis which has accompanied the 20th Century Liturgical Movement. More controversial is the precise nature of this (to my mind) relativistic nihilism, and the extent to which an all-pervading Freudian rationalism has destroyed all possibility for meaning within a Novus Ordo context.
Unsurprisingly, the critics of this viewpoint seem blissfully unaware of the cultural implications of their rhetoric: it’s one thing to offer semiology as a useful metaphor for understanding Trinitarian doctrine, it’s another thing entirely to suggest that such an understanding is native to orthodoxy, much less a Patristic requirement.
There’s no pleasing some people, I guess.
Given the impossibility of a true semper et ubique, what, then, should our response be as “pastoral” musicians within a framework of meta-orthodox scholarship?
First of all, I don’t want to suggest that anyone operating in a less-than-ideal psychic landscape isn’t adhering to a radicalized understanding of complexity. No one is being ex-communicated from the Reform of the Reform just because they programmed Javanese Gamelan in place of a chanted Ordinary. At the same time, it’s helpful to understand the Benedictine altar arrangement as an analogy to our present situation: who am I to judge?
Nevertheless, forward movement on key aspects of the ante-concilliar agenda can happen, even if compromises have to be made on minor issues of tuning, rhythm, and Petrine supremacy. Taking into account the racist undertones of our Anglo-centric ideology (Hispanic Ordinariate, anyone?) wouldn’t hurt, either.
All that being said, the endgame is clear: We cannot consider the verticalization of the liturgical focus and the horizontal aspect of the monastic epismata to be in conflict.
Of course it’s a mystery: That’s the whole point.