“The Second Vatican Council is very clear”

Andrew Cichy and others speak on liturgical music.

“We are faced with the problem of a secular genre being mapped onto sacred circumstances. So, in a sense, whether the music is classical or contemporary doesn’t matter, it is equally possible in both of those ambits to do something which is liturgically inappropriate.” 

Mr Cichy said some forms of classical music are not suitable for the liturgy, including Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus. 

“If you actually look at the form of the work, the style, the gesture, it’s an opera aria in all but text, and really that is no more appropriate liturgically than something that apes a pop ballad,” he said. 

“A Waterford crystal wine glass, in itself, is beautiful and well crafted; however, one would never use a Waterford crystal wine glass as a chalice, because it is a secular drinking item. What we use in Mass is not secular.”

Much more here.

41 Replies to ““The Second Vatican Council is very clear””

  1. Perhaps someone conversant with the relevant legislation could inform Todd that the problem of secular music has been addressed again and again throughout the Church's history. It's not a brand new idea that has been invented by the CMAA. It's an ongoing, recognized problem that has, in times past, been addressed by bishops and popes.

    I think maybe the Second Vatican Council also addressed this–right?

  2. Todd, every time you say "the people," I feel you must have typed "the publishers," but spellcheck automatically changed it.

  3. I'm not sure I understand. Are we discussing the Catholic Church, or Congregationalists? Are we an apostolic Church, or a bunch of loosely affiliated evangelicals?

    In any case, your argument would have much more credibility if it weren't for the affiliations of major pastoral music conventions and major music publishers. Follow the money if you want to know who is in charge.

  4. Cichy would confine Franck's Panis Angelicus to the concert hall. Well, I can think of worse ways to evangelize. But it is pure subjectivity to classify this piece as an opera aria, and a dualistic canard to say that all things secular are to be excluded from liturgy. All things used in liturgy have their secular antecedents; it is their use in liturgy that makes them sacred. The fact that this piece has been used, in fact demanded, regularly in liturgical worship for a century and a half is vetting enough for me. Whether the author would chose it or not is his aesthetic business. This strikes me as really a debate about soloists at Mass, which, as far as I'm concerned, was settled when we gave solo cantors the vast bulk of our liturgical music business, the vast bulk of which is sung at silent congregations. Given a choice, I for one would much prefer this exquisite piece to the usual modern pop bilge, thanks very much.

  5. I once sang Panis Angelicus before mass and a parishioner came up later and told me she loved my Ave Maria.

  6. "The fact that this piece has been used, in fact demanded, regularly in liturgical worship for a century and a half is vetting enough for me."

    Can the same be said about Mendelssohn's Wedding March? Will it be said about On Eagle's Wings come its sesquicentennial, a hundred fourteen years from now?

  7. Kathy: "Charles, would you ask Todd to pass the peas?" Yes, ma'am. Todd: "Charles, would you ask Kathy to pass the salt?" Yes, sir.

    Are we discussing the Catholic Church, or Congregationalists? Are we an apostolic Church, or a bunch of loosely affiliated evangelicals?

    In a practical sense, a case could be made that in reality they are one and the same. Conceptually and ideally, this should never be the case. But neither the American publishers nor the USCCB/ICEL/Curia have concerned themselves with any coherency towards providing we musicians with authoritative collections. Follow the money, indeed and absolutely. The publishers' vested interest is as much tied to solvency as it is to mission. The institutional church's coffers are monitored and administered by eyes of agents with every other agenda in mind other than how the Church worships.
    It's not about passing peas or the salt, it's about passing the buck of responsibility. And we are left to sort it out at the table. Maybe one day we'll become the Waltons. But as things stand, we will remain the Bickersons for a long stretch, I fear.

  8. Once, when we sang at a local parish, we sang both an Elvis spiritual (How Great Thou Art) and a Gregorian Chant (Salve Regina) in the same Mass. It's funny, but as I fremember it now, the flow of the Mass was quite nice, and "the people" loved it. Neither one was published by a church publisher. One was from a parlor hymnal and the other was from the Liber Usualis.

  9. Watch it, Cleveland….George Beverly Shea may do a Jacob Marley on you for assigning his hymn to the King.

  10. I don't see any need to be the Bickersons. I'm pretty sure, no wait, absolutely sure, that I don't check Todd's blog every hour or two to make sure he hasn't posted his own point of view, so that I can jump right in there and disagree with him. Why Todd frequents this board, whose premises he denies, is beyond me.

    It's not dialogue. It's disruption.

    Anyways, Charles, I think we're in agreement on the substance here.

  11. Todd, we're not at church right now. We're discussing ideas. Or, some of us would like. to without these constant rather infantile interruptions.

  12. Indeed we are. (X-post comment at MSF edifies the point.)
    What should have been (painfully) obvious to the fine Dr.Episcopal maaestro is that the moment the conceptual rationale occured about a "Dylan/Bono/Elvis/Puccini" Mass as liturgy was the precise moment it was never going to be true liturgy.
    Concertizing as an evangelical tool is admirable. A Dylan Mass is a kissing cousin to a Barney the Dinosaur Mass.

  13. "At some point, we should set aside the discussion of genre and talk about applying good judgment to programming music"

    That's the point – you seem to be on a crusade to gad about the world telling everyone (including the Pope, AB Sample, and sundry other persons) how your judgement is more informed than theirs.

    You're not selling us on your product either. As Kathy says, we would like to do without your interruptions.

  14. But that begs the question – where does "good judgment" come from?

    I think the reform2 people want to inject some level of objectivity to the conversation, and given that the Church (the teaching part of it, anyway) has something to say about it, they listen more to this than the other voices out there, many of which are not particularly in tune with what the nature of the liturgy demands,

    Naturally this won't please everyone, hence the "spoiling someone else's party" (aka R2ers are "meanies"). But that's OK – trying to please everyone not only never pleases everyone anyway, it almost always results in mediocrity.

  15. Yeah Todd, disagreement of any stripe, no matter how polite, is not welcome here. Toe the line, or else.

  16. Dwayne Bartles,

    This isn't at all true. Disagreement of most stripes, especially if it's polite and without mischaracterizations, is very welcome. There is no line to toe. It would be great if these comboxes became places where people could think together and change their minds because of reasonable arguments. Todd's constant petty interventions only serve to put that process on hold.

  17. Cichy also makes verboten 'all intstruments used in secular culture.'

    Sloppy wording, or a condemnation of violins, cellos, oboes, and trumpets?

  18. Todd, 80% of what you post is just to say "there are no rules". It's kind of sad. You post your own little dogma time and again, which is ultimately self-contradictory. It's making noise but not engaging anything. Well, it's time to just stop. Really, repent.

  19. So, being completely serious here, why do you insist on visitng and commenting on sites that clearly are not in line with your thinking (for years and years!).

    "Not selling anything"!!!

    Then why subject yourself, and us, to this?

  20. “A Waterford crystal wine glass, in itself, is beautiful and well crafted; however, one would never use a Waterford crystal wine glass as a chalice, because it is a secular drinking item. What we use in Mass is not secular.”

    Hmmmm… "one" might not, but "some" would.
    A member of the liturgy committee at one parish, when Redemptionis came out, insisted, "Oh, they just mean not to use a glass from Kmart, crystal from Marshall Fields would be okay."

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  21. Todd, this would seem (somewhat) sincere, without the ad hominems, if your own remarks were substantive. They're not. Someone mentions Vatican II, a Council you know well, and instead of referring to the Council, you simply say whatever contrarian thing pops into your head. You don't refer to anything outside of your opinion. And you do this MULTIPLE times per comment box.

    We have no way of developing in-depth conversations on important matters, which is what many of us would like, because every substantive point that is made is answered within seconds with some version of, "Well, you're wrong. There's no objectivity."

    Whether or not your purpose is to completely distract the rest of us from having a decent conversation about matters in which we are deeply invested, that is the effect of your many, many, many comments. I'm sorry if it hinders your personal growth. Maybe you would like to email Jeffrey Tucker every single time you feel an urge to post on this board, and have a rousing conversation about the same exact thing over and over again.

  22. Hi, Charles–
    The system mistook some of your comments for spam. I'll see if I can get them to appear.

  23. Well, you can only rehash basic differences so much before reaching a point of diminishing returns. At some point the process doesn't provide any new insight, but it interferes with other, more diverse contributions. We don't want things to get stale, so I'm going to see if I can have the system put any contributions you submit into moderation.

    Of course if you want you can respond to Cafe articles over at your "Catholic Sensibility" site. We do have a link to it here, so that'll lead some folks over to discover your insights.

  24. The terrible moderation over there is why I'm disappointed to see similar authoritarian tendencies on display here. "First they came for Todd Flowerday …"

  25. Concerning Panis Angelicus: "If you actually look at the form of the work, the style, the gesture, it’s an opera aria in all but text, and really that is no more appropriate liturgically than something that apes a pop ballad.” Please correct me if I'm wrong (and I know we will!) but wasn't that particular piece intended to be sung while the priest recited the Sanctus? I was listening to a Mozart Gloria from one of the missae brevi on Sunday on my way to Church. Not medative and transcedent but stereotypical Classical period. And don't get me wrong: huge Mozart/Classical period fan right here!

    So where does that leave us? I think the much of the problem with contemporary Catholic music is that it DIDN'T evolve from a secular precursor: It just popped (forgive the pun) into being post-1965ish. There was no/ little thought as to how to make it art. My thoughts…

  26. Hi, Charles–
    The system mistook some of your comments for spam. I'll see if I can get them to appear.

    "Howls of derisive laughter…" I'm afraid that many more than just the "system" mistake my comments as spam!
    John O, your commentary above and mentor Richard's on the "soloist' modality being problematic are spot on. Two little observations-
    *At some unknown moment in the second millenium of the Church, the sheer novelty of organum, parody cantus firmi, hocket (I just thought of that as I'm suffering bronchitis) etc. provided worshippers with a specific opportunity for distraction away from the active worship. Entertainment entered and has prevaied, one way or the other, ever since. If Allegri's MISERERE wasn't a commodity, why'd is pope sequester it, eg.?

  27. *Contemporary, popular Catholic music, I contend, did effort to evolve from secular precursors, most notably the Beatles, Paul Simon and James Taylor (for a few) as pinnacle exemplars. Trouble is, the Church isn't the Cavern Club in Liverpool as a place for artistic evolution as a petrie dish. There has been real and true inspiration to be found among that genre of "church music," but its scaffolding for presentation was so hastily and dishonestly perpetrated, that practicioners as individual arbiters just gave up and reformed themselves into the Hatfields and McCoys.

  28. Before we get too up in arms about a soloistic mentality, we should remember the Gradual chant and the Alleluia verse. Both soloistic and virtuosic in nature. In other words, there is nothing inherently wrong with solo singing during the liturgy. The question is how it's incorporated, and whether the soloist is in the spotlight in a way that detracts from the liturgy. Of course, remember why the Gradual is so named – it was sung on the sanctuary steps (gradus), front and center.

    To the specific example of the Panis Angelicus, I think the original comment is way off-base. Cichy was apparently trying to make a point, but picked a very poor example. Panis is not virtuosic in any way, and is syllabic. If it's like anything it's like a hymn. If he had picked Mozart's Laudate Dominum, we might have been able to have a conversation…
    Ignorance on his part, or just the first piece that come to his mind? Not sure.

  29. GIRM 48 seems to permit the schola alone to sing the Introit (or the priest alone to recite it). At least in the edition currently on usccb.org.

  30. Todd, you continue to perpetuate the myth that it is "out of keeping with conciliar reforms" to have the choir sing alone at the processional chants. And I will continue to repeat the fact (as in: not my personal opinion) that the Church explicitly allows for the choir to sing the Introit, Offertory, and Communion texts – whether in the chant repertoire or another setting. And if you are tempted to spout off the party line about certain paragraphs being better than others and certain paragraphs being compromises and better ignored, then please save your breath. Not interested.

    Of course, settings for cantor/congregation or choir/congregation are great too. And hymns are permitted. There are many options. As long as you don't categorically rule out particular options based on your personal agenda, and ignoring explicit liturgical legislation, you'll be fine.

    Put another way, you saying that we should not (ever) do choral introits is just as baseless as certain people saying we should not (ever) do hymns. Unity does not mean uniformity.

  31. "Todd, 80% of what you post is just to say "there are no rules". It's kind of sad. "

    Yup, agreed. But the theme and variations continue… over and over and over. Talk about an echo chamber.
    THE PEOPLE don't need professional lay liturgists to interpret (tweak) the Council for them. Because
    We (many of us)

  32. Your interpretation contradicts the plain meaning of the GIRM text.
    Introit is designated as a dialogue, limited to that form? Liturgical chants sung by the schola are performance pieces? Ummm, no.

    THE PEOPLE don't need professional lay liturgists to interpret (tweak) the Council or the GIRM for them.
    We (many of us)

  33. And the response is to delete all comments on the thread? The push-back burns! Now, if this had been a forum of well-meaning parish musicians less-familiar with the documents (or perhaps a liturgical workshop), Todd or some other liturgical "expert" may have been able to carry the day and influence parish policy for years down the road with a glib comment that we shouldn't do choral introits, offertories, or communios. That is the really disturbing thing here. It is absolutely imperative that we get the folks in the trenches at least somewhat familiar with the documents.

  34. I think it would be fair to mention that Todd reflects upon the upshot of this (and so many other thread) article's outcome at his blog. If one is inclned….
    My thoughts about the outcome posted there I cross post here, just for the record:

    Well, I certainly lament the direction things took in that particular article thread, Todd. It abets my perception of, as you say, further entrenchment and intransigence. I am now skeptical of the medium, once a source of joy, learning, sharing, etc., that seems to have devolved into black holes rather than portals to enlightenment.
    I'm very uneasy of late that "church people" of all stripes now feel empowered 24/7 to pass assessment upon each other based upon caricature, typologies, myopic perspective and general tight-assedness. That someone of Mr. Osterman's quite capable intellect would finally and exasperatingly declare that they, (who're they?), the great unwashed, only need to be EDUCATED so as to arm them against the indoctrinations of "salesmen" like Todd Flowerday, and not recognize that he, Osterman, is advocating indoctrination(!) sums up the frustrating nature of the medium.
    We, you and I, everyone else too including good Liam, keep having the same ol same ol conversation over and over again about this insanity. And yet we seem equally disinclined to wean our own selves from this engagement.
    From your chronicles of the Ignatian process, what are we learning about ourselves in relation to each other and to Jesus from these estrangements?
    One codicil from your post: the "stuffed Communion" you described is exactly what goes on at Masses with my two choirs, and our congregations have never once, individually/corporately, demonstrated any pushback. Of course, as you and I have always concurred, skill in performance practice is a huge mitigator. But I have no inclination to defend it to you or Mahrt or Screwtape, much less sell you on it against your skepticism.
    We, if we're dedicated and professed to be "all that we can be" in Christ and in ministry, will always be targets for lauds and derision both, because we're front line people, not those cowering in the trenches. Amen, so be it.

  35. I disagree with the notion that Panis Angelicus is an opera aria. The melodic structure and the whole sense of the piece is completely appropriate for liturgical use, within the guidelines of the Catholic Church for solo and choral music.

    I will admit that many singers butcher the piece and add so much vibrato, rubato and schmolzato to their performances that it can sound like a bad opera aria.

    An overly emotional performance of any kind of music, or music that aims to stir our primal urges (suggestive jazz or rock rhythms) are essentially inappropriate. Syncopation, in early music or in the folk music of Hispanic cultures, does not seem to conflict with the reverence that is at the core of many of their hymns and Mass settings.

    It is difficult, and dangerous to make generalizations. Every piece should be examined for its overall intent and impact before being used in a Mass or service.

    I would love to get our congregation to the point where could argue about the appropriateness of Panis Angelicus. When I see the terrible music that has been served to them for the last 20 years, it seems like it will take years to restore balance.

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