13 Reasons Even a Member of a Mega-Church Could Never Buy Into P & W

And most of his reasons for eschewing so-called ‘contemporary’ worship give evidence of its equal unsuitability to our Catholic worship, the superficiality, the manipulation, commercialism, over-emphasis on the performer…
Jonathan Aigner, a Methodist musicians, writes at “Ponder Anew” on the Evangelical “channel” at Patheos, (a site I mostly avoid because something about it provokes intense dyspepsia in my computer, so be warned)
The common Catholic variation on his number three objection seems even more egregious, ISTM:

I never joined because it comes from the wrong sources. The best of the church’s hymnody was written by pastors and theologians. It was crafted by poets and scholars. The result are texts of high quality. But the industry in its quest to be marketable only has room for marketable people who write marketable songs. It entrusts sacred storytelling to many with dubious credentials as artists, poets, or theologians.

Some of the most widely published, shilled and used “Catholic” songs, (they are often not really hymns,) are the work of, not dubiously credentialed theologians, but OTHER-credentialed theologians, people who cannot possible create texts which reflect our Catholic beliefs because they do not share our Catholic beliefs.
Some of these at least have the integrity not to claim to be Catholic, but nominally Catholic or not, some seem to me to seek to change Catholic teaching by inserting their own “sung theology” into our liturgies.

Anyway, interesting piece.
(The combox has an insight into the whys and wherefores of judging an appropriate volume for the, uh…. band.)

“The Sacred Liturgy Exists to Glorify God, Not Man”

Monsignor Charles Pope looks at funerals, and the misguided approach that has so damaged the Faith, (actually I could say it has, “Damaged the Liturgy, Damaged the World,”) and with which I’m sure, many of us in sacred music have had to contend.

There are many problems, both sociological, and liturgical, that combine to create an environment that not only obscures Catholic teaching on death, but often outright contradicts it.

He identifies four major issues.
Confusion about the purpose of a funeral can, lead to such situations as

  people arriv[ing] at the parish to plan a funeral, presuming that the funeral should be all about “Uncle Joe,” [and since] Uncle Joe’s favorite song was My Way… we want a soloist to sing it at the funeral.

I’ll admit I have played and sung music at funerals and memorials of which I am not proud…. you?

Inquiry Regarding a Capital Idea

I noticed in the lovely Introit hymn Kathy Pluth provided for the new memorial of Pope St. John Paul, one line would be completely indecipherable…
And made His gifts in him increase
… and the whole rather confusing, were it not for her utilization of the venerable custom of capitalizing personal pronouns referring to the Godhead, members of the Trinity, the Church as Bride of Christ, etc.

Quick poll, do you use this method to render a bit of extra reverence to the Lord?
If so, in conversational writing, (bloggage, memos to your pastor,)  and/or more formal matters, (essays for publication, poetry, hymns.)
I had a third grade child once tell me how happy he was that I had gone through all copies of a psalm we were singing from The Dread Gather and “corrected” the psalm verses, because “it makes God important.”

I’m curious, does anyone know when and why this stopped being the general custom of the Church, at least in English?
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the Vatican website observes the tradition. Paul VI, or the Vatican on his behalf, does in Humanae Vitae, but not in at least one motu proprio, St John Paul not at all, I think, (please correct me if that’s wrong.)

I was going to check a few hymnals, and then I remembered that GIA tried to excise all male pronouns anyway….

Even That Free-Spirit, St Francis of Assisi Knew Liturgy Called For Splendor

On the eve of St Francis’ feast day, an interesting interview in the National Catholic Register with a professor of sacred music at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He touches on music at the University, and music in the Franciscan tradition. (I don’t think I knew that Jacopone da Todi was Franciscan.)

Franciscan University has a vibrant musical life. There are two university choirs: the Schola Cantorum Franciscana and University Chorale. A small army of volunteer students leads and participates in bands and choirs, which provide musical leadership for multiple daily and Sunday Masses in the chapel. We have at least two student-led a capella, groups in addition to a string quartet; and, of course, it’s never hard to find a student playing a guitar outside on a sunny day. There are many forms of music here, for various times and places. “Diverse and healthy” is how I would describe it.
For liturgical music specifically, there are few places I’m aware of that have a similar program. If you walk into Christ the King Chapel here, you’re likely to hear one of two different types of song — chant-polyphony and classic English hymnody or guitar-led “praise and worship,” music with compositions that are both more recent and more Catholic. What’s conspicuously lacking is music from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, which is so common in American Catholic parishes.

 Not certain I get this – “praise and worship” music that is “more Catholic” than what? than the “chant-polyphony”? or than the stuff of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s that he mentions in the next sentence?

Anyone familiar with and care to comment on the musical praxis at Steubenville?

Polyphony and Chant and Latin at Mass — at WYD????

No, not every Mass. But at those “in English”….
I don’t know about you, but it was at a busy time for me, and I’ve never paid much mind to World Youth Days, and any time I did happen to turn on EWTN it sounded like a pop concert or a county fair was going on. It can be depressing. And being depressed by Catholic liturgies makes being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh [me] a reason of that hope which is in [me] more difficult, you know?
But I had forgotten reading this last spring.
Fr David Friel, (whom many of you will know from Colloquium,) has a report over at Corpus Christi Watershed to gladden the heart.

It was revolutionary. I am speaking about the music used at the major English-speaking catechesis sessions…. During the days leading up to the main weekend events with the Holy Father, WYD pilgrims attend morning & afternoon catechesis sessions…. Not surprisingly, one of the largest groups of pilgrims at every WYD comes from the English-speaking world, so there is typically one very large English catechesis center. 
Typically, these Masses feature pop concert-style praise & worship led by an on-stage band. This year, however, the preparations for these large-scale liturgies were entrusted to the Dominican Liturgical Centre in Kraków. Fr. Lukasz Misko, OP was invited to serve as Director of Music for the English-language liturgies, and he, in turn, invited fellow-blogger Christopher Mueller to serve as conductor for all of these liturgies (as he announced here). The result was an experience very different from the norm.
Notably, not a single hymn was sung during Mass. Praise & worship songs were used throughout the day at the arena, before and after Mass, but no garden variety metrical hymns or songs were sung during Mass, from the Sign of the Cross to the Final Blessing. This, in itself, is revolutionary. 
During the entrance procession, offertory, communion, and recessional, a variety of musical forms were used. Most of the music at these points were responsorial texts written in four parts. A Gregorian alleluia and the Pater noster were chanted each day, and the first piece during communion each day was in Gregorian plainsong. The polyphonic pieces included: Jesu, Rex admirabilis (G.P. Palestrina), Anima Christi (Stefan Stuligrosz), Lift Me Up, O Jesus (Jacek Sykulski), In Te, Domine, speravi (Hans Leo Hassler), Per Crucem Tuam (Piotr Palka), Salve, Mater Misericordiae (arr. Mueller), Adoremus in aeternum (Gregorio Allegri), and Totus tuus (Msgr. Marco Frisina).
The Mass setting used each day was the Missa Orientalis by Jacek Sykulski. This was sung in four parts, and the text (interestingly for the English-language catechesis center) was in Latin.
On the final day of catechesis, Chris and his wife, Constanza, led a breakout session entitled: “How to Promote Polyphony and Chant at Your Parish.” For many of the pilgrims, this was their first experience of chant and polyphony. One hopes that some of them have been energized to learn more and to bring the music of the Church back to their parishes….
This sea change is not insignificant. It means that the project of advocating truly sacred music within the present liturgical movement is bearing practical fruit. Even three years ago, at WYD 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, no one would have expected what transpired at the Mercy Centre in Kraków.
That the Dominican Liturgical Centre was placed in charge of the English-language liturgies is an enormously important step. That Christopher Mueller was selected to serve as conductor is equally important. These surprising choices would not have been possible some years ago. What graced decisions they turned out to be! 

Read the rest over there. Me, I’m going to go see what I can scare up on Youtube, etc.
Reason for our hope!

OT, Beauty in Sacred and Profane Arts

Apparently a pop singer wore this gown for a television appearance this past week.

The designer is one Michael Cinco, a Filipino, and the images he used are drawn from and inspired by the windows of Paris’s Sainte Chapelle:

“Liturgy Breaks the Bounds of the Sanctuary”

The ad orientem kerfuffle, in the wake of Cardinal Sarah’s address, has if nothing else, shown how passionately people on all sides of the matter care about Liturgy.
And this is only right, (as the Eucharistic Liturgy, the fons et culmen of our Faith will, after all, save the world.)
At First Things, Leroy Huizenga, Chair of Human and Divine Sciences at the University of Mary in Bismarck,  wants to

remind readers that the issue of ad orientem posture isn’t merely a minor matter of moment for fastidious liturgical nerds, as if the Mass were a mere matter of aesthetics [for] liturgy breaks the bounds of the sanctuary and affects all that we do and indeed the wider culture as it brings God’s people to God. The cultivation of culture—first, among Catholics themselves, and then outwards from there—depends on a proper cultus, a liturgy in which God is sought and found.

He has a good summation of the current state of affairs and links to some of the most worthwhile commentary to be found on Those Interwebs.

“Therefore now and for ages unending, with all the Angels, we proclaim your glory…..”

Reading “It’s Time for a Nobel Prize for Mothers….” via Facebook and wondered, is there a Facebook button for lovelovelovelovelove?
And this goes for Fathers as well.

Which then set me to thinking, one of the aspects of the CMAA Colloquium closest to my heart, an aspect which I lovelovelovelovelove, is that in the offering of worship to the Trinity mystically occurring in the company of the angels and saints, it is when this is accomplished with, and accompanied by great music, devoutly sung that I sense most strongly and surely the proximity of my late parents, and not only of them, of my beloved parents, but of all who have gone before us in Faith.
I feel such unity, feel something so beautifully, profoundly to be true that I cannot even speak of it, my voice fails me, I can only think it or type it.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus!

Millions, billions, TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS of voices….
And year after year at the Colloquium I have these experiences.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you, CMAA members, Cecilia, Anne, Dr Mahrt, Janet, Wilko, Scott, Jonathan, Kathy R, Kathy P, Bishop Conley, that soprano who stood next to me, you mosaic artists from decades ago, Episcopal Cathedral of St Louis, David, ChantCafe contributors, Eric at the desk, you people who kept the organization going during the lean years, Arlene and Msgr. Wadsworth and everyone else from other years WHOIREALLYMISS, Fr Keyes, I’mrunningoutofbandwidth….

In Praise of the Delightful Book of Psalms. Balm for Our Spiritual Health

It is a truism in musical theatre, (apart from opera, which is through composed,) when our emotions are too “big” to be spoken, we must sing them.
St Ambrose knew that:

    Moses, when he related the deeds of the patriarchs, did so in a plain and unadorned style. But when he had miraculously led the people of Israel across the Red Sea… he transcended his own skills (just as the miracle had transcended his own powers) and he sang a triumphal song to the Lord. Miriam the prophetess herself took up a timbrel and led the others in the refrain: Sing to the Lord: he has covered himself in glory, horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

     History instructs us, the law teaches us, prophecy foretells, correction punishes, morality persuades; but the book of psalms goes further than all these. It is medicine for our spiritual health. Whoever reads it will find in it a medicine to cure the wounds caused by his own particular passions ..
     And as for the power of prophecy – what can I say? Other prophets spoke in riddles. To the psalmist alone, it seems, God promised openly and clearly that the Lord Jesus would be born of his seed: I promise that your own son will succeed you on the throne.
     Thus in the book of psalms Jesus is not only born for us: he also accepts his saving passion, he dies, he rises from the dead, he ascends into heaven, he sits at the Father’s right hand. The Psalmist announced what no other prophet had dared to say, that which was later preached by the Lord himself in the Gospel.

The Death of the Proper Religious Funeral

Excellent piece in the Spectator of the value of liturgical rites for the dead, from an Anglican POV.

Today’s emphasis is more on celebrating a life past than honouring the future of a soul. While I am not averse to a celebratory element, the funeral is morphing into a spiritually weightless bless-fest. 

Having “done” or attended my share of Masses of Christian Burial where there was a need for me to explain why Little Drummer Boy, Somewhere Over the Rainbow or Toora-loora-loora might not be the best choice for the Offertory procession; or where Mardi Gras beads were distributed, (not with the usual quid pro quo from the ladies, at least); or where the eulogist told a slightly bawdy story or toasted the deceased by popping open a malt beverage, may I salute those of you, priests and musicians, still in the trenches, and thank you for “proper religious funerals,” where the “ancient formulae” offer,

liturgical material which reassures us that the man with the scythe will not have the last word.

(All the above examples of dysliturgy, by the way, taken from life.)