Why I Hate the Latin Mass

I hate the Latin Mass. More specifically, I love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but it grates on my nerves to hear it referred to as “The Latin Mass.” Of course, it’s factually correct; the EF actually is in Latin. but every time I hear it, it feels incredibly defeatist, which starkly contrasts it with that other Mass, where we obviously use English (I mean, why wouldn’t we?). </sarcasm>

To use this term raises the flag of defeat, signaling that we are not going to be following what the Second Vatican Council said about the matter. It signals that we’re content with keeping the Latin for those loony trads at the EF Mass which just happens to have the most inconvenient time in the schedule. It signals that we’re happy with the status quo, regardless of how we got here. It signals that they don’t care about what the church says about the issue. It signals that we care more about our own shallow understanding than faithful obedience.

It signals defeat, and I’m frustrated by it. It’s time to push on, not back down. Despite the common practice in the past 50 years, the Roman Rite is the Latin Mass.

§ 36.1: Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

§ 54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. […] Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

-Sacrosanctum Concilium 

Do Teens Actually Want Sacred Music? You Betcha!

Last year at a diocesan youth rally, I was blessed to able to direct a schola of about 15 young people as we sang the Graduale Simplex chants by Fr. Weber, a few traditional hymns, and the Jubilate Deo ordinary (our bare minimum of repertoire as Catholics), as well as one or two authentic Gregorian chants, as an organist friend of mine accompanied things on an electronic organ I brought with me (instead of a piano). All of them sung beautifully, and the celebrant also chanted all of his parts, making it a fully sung Mass.
But the most fascinating thing came afterward, when the event evaluation forms came in from both the youth and the youth ministers that accompanied the youth. Many of the adults and youth ministers (particularly the older ones) said that they didn’t think the youth were ready for the sacred music and that because of this, we should go back to guitars the next year.

On the other hand, out of all 350 teens, none of them wrote anything negative about the Mass or it’s music on their eval forms. NONE of them, out of 350 teens. The contrast between the adults’ preferences and those of teens could not be sharper.

Now before you get the wrong image of who they were, this was not a Juventutem meeting. It was not a hall full of traditional, homeschooled teens. These were 350 average teens from all around the diocese. Very typical of teens in your confirmation programs all around the US. For lack of better words, very average.

When they filled out their evaluation forms for the weekend, they asked for more Latin, more chant, and said they can’t wait for next year so they van experience the same thing. Some even said that it was the most beautiful Mass they had been to in a long time. But the best thing? One favorite parts for many of the teens was the sacred silence. Not the (extra-liturgical) praise and worship sessions that were held during the weekend, not even the swimming, water slides, or the speakers, but the silence at the Mass and at the evening of almost three hours of adoration during which almost everyone received the sacrament of confession.

From every measure I can see, it’s not that the youth weren’t ready to receive the music proper to their rite, it’s the adults weren’t ready to hear it themselves, and were projecting their view of the world on the teens.

Next time you hear someone say that youth don’t want sacred music or beauty, or if you say it yourself, think twice. So again I ask: do teens actually want sacred music? You betcha.

Spem in alium – polyphony for 40 voices

This piece, Spem in alium, by Tallis, contains 40 distinct voice parts. Forty voices.
For those of you who haven’t sung in a choral context or aren’t familiar with the terminology, a standard mixed choir would sing pieces in 4 voices (musical lines), or maybe challenging piece in 6 or 8. This one has forty. Specifically, it’s scored for 8 choirs of 5 voices. 8 full choirs all singing different music to form one larger work. Definitely over the top, and definitely too cool to pass up.

Also, the score is available here if you like to read along.

Musica Sacra St. Louis 2014 Conference: Mid-February

For those in the Midwest US, there is an upcoming chant workshop with CMAA personalities Dr. Horst Buchholz, Scott Turkington, and others in St. Louis. The conference will take place Thursday evening, February 13, through Saturday, February 15.

I understand the registration is on the low side right now, so if you’re interested, please check out the information below and register soon!

Conference Registration | Conference Schedule

What is the Musica Sacra St. Louis Conference?
The Fourth Annual Musica Sacra St. Louis is an opportunity for all with an interest in Sacred Music to deepen their understanding, proficiency, and application of Chant and its contemporary adaptations. In addition to the chant classes, time is also devoted to prayer.

The Musica Sacra Conference not only studies Gregorian Chant, a centuries old tradition of music in the Latin Church, but also English chant. New English works will be highlighted during this year’s conference.

The 2014 conference will be presented by Mr. Scott Turkington (Director of Sacred Music, Holy Familiy Church & Holy Family Academy, Minneaoplis, MN), one of the foremost American scholars of Chant, and Dr. Horst Buchholz (Director of the Office of Sacred Music, Archdiocese of St. Louis).

The conference will take place Thursday evening, February 13, through Saturday, February 15.

This year, Dr. Buchholz and Mr. Turkington will discuss how Chant can be used as an effective vehicle for teaching choirs to sing, especially children’s choirs.

Why Chant?
First and foremost, Chant holds “pride of place” in the treasury of Catholic Sacred Music. In addition, Chant is a great resource you can use to teach singing to children, beginners, or choristers who have difficulty with intervals in their music. The conference will present workshops on using Chant, combined with solfege, to teach how your choir the fundamentals of singing the intervals between the pitches (such as the difference between Do and La).

A special session of the conference will be dedicated to English Chant.

Even if Chant is not the primary musical style of your parish music program, it is a wonderful tool to use to enrich your program.

Where will the conference be located?
This year, the Musica Sacra St. Louis Conference will be located at St. Louis University’s Manresa Center in Mid-town St. Louis. The center provides ample meeting space for our classes, comfortable break areas, a beautiful chapel, and overnight accommodations.

How much does the conference cost?
Total tuition for the conference is $125.00/person, which includes all sessions, materials, and dinner on Thursday evening. Single day registration is available at a cost of $75.00. Overnight accommodations at Manresa Center are available for $70.00/person ($35.00/night, must be purchased for two nights).

Where can I find more information?
To receive more information about the Musica Sacra St. Louis Conference, as well as view a preliminary schedule, please call 314.373.8227. Email inquiries can be made to music@cathedralstl.org

What’s Wrong about Casual Clothing at Mass

After seeing Kathy’s post, I decided to write my response to it!
Understandably, Kathy covers more about women’s dress for Mass then mens’ dress for Mass. I do agree that women don’t have to dress with formal business dress for Mass, since women have so many more options where they can still dress up without being as formal.
That being said, I do disagree (somewhat) with her use of the word casual. I understand what she is trying to say, but while a lot of Sunday Mass appropriate dress could be considered casual, I certainly not all casual dress appropriate for a Sunday Mass. Guys don’t have to go with business dress to dress up for Mass (though that’s often just the easiest). Guys still have options to dress up without simply wearing a suit and tie.
You could go with a button-up, sweater, and tie (bow ties are my ties of choice, but regular ties work too). Even just a button-up and tie alone is good. And throwing in a good hat is always a good finisher. Again, there’s many more options to change things up. What guy doesn’t look more classy in a nice hat?

If by casual, you mean something like this, by all means, dress casual for Mass.

But when many people say casual, they picture bermudas and flip flops, which is most certainly not appropriate for a Sunday Mass.

You don’t have to wear a full 3 piece suit every Sunday (though I sometimes do) to still dress up for Mass. You don’t have to wear a tux. But I don’t know if I’d say casual is the right word. We should be giving our best for the King.