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Friday, 28 May 2010

Sing a Different Song... PLEASE

The Bow-tied one hits it outta the park.

It most mostly about the musical possibilities necessarily presented by the new translation, new musical possibilities for good or ill.

I shan't (should that word have 2 apostrophes in it?) sha'n't reprint the entire thing, I wearied long ago of checking out what "improvements" the Masses I am forced to sing or asked to program would undergo (more power to the tireless JT that he has not), the specifics just make me sad, I don't actually know all the Ordinaries Jeffrey mentions, and I am happily out of the getting-people-to-participate business for the time being.

More about that later, but how this kind of clarity on the subject is needed!
Above all else, there is the core principle, said to be derived from "the documents," which must never be violated and which must serve as the guiding force: it must inspire vigorous singing among the people.

Now, there is something remarkable about this doctrine. It has been elevated above all other considerations for some forty years now. And yet, if you saunter into nearly any parish on Sunday morning and observe what is going on, you will come away with an impression of people barely engaged at all, and certainly not singing with vigor. Most stare blankly ahead, enduring it all with pious patience. It reminds of some version of the old joke about the Soviet economy that the workers pretend to work and the party pretends to pay. In the case of Catholic liturgy, the musicians pretend to inspire participation and the people pretend to participate.
Being "out of the getting-people-to-participate business" for the time being has afforded me, (putting aside what it has not afforded me, since I can't afford... well, never mind,) the opportunity to observe different assemblies in different regions from different perspectives and I can state categorically, this is by and large true.
Yes, yes, I know, your parish is different, someone will say.
In fact, someone did say to me not long ago. Having sat amongst his actual congregants, I can tell you, (though I cannot tell him,) that he is deluded.

There is a quick fix, of course -- Aristotle's (I think I'm giving the correct credit,) "Stadium Mass."

That's the equivalent of what too many places tried 4 decades ago, (I had though them apocryphal, I learn to my utter woe, not so, not so...)

"Lamb of God" to the tune of Edelweiss, "hymns" sung to the tunes of Michael Rowed the Boat..., Skunk in the Middle of the Road, and She'll Be Comin' "Round the Mountain...

But I am begging that every pastor, chancery and liturgy committee do the right thing, not the easy thing.

I have been saying for years that major progress could be made if the bishops' conferences would require that any hymnal or missallette published be required, absolutely required in order to earn episcopal approval or imprimatur, or whatever, to use the Sacramentary chant in the "Order of Mass" not whatever setting of the Ordinary the publishers were hawking.

It sounds, from JT's words, as if the "official" setting from the Missal must be included by publishers, but not necessarily in the Order of Mass, which I don't think can be effective. The presence, buried in all the offerings of Gather, of the components of the "Jubilate Deo Mass" or Missa Primitiva, or whatever you want to call it was immaterial with the GIA-owned Massive Cremation being given pride of place, and made to look like the "official" music of the Mass.
Interestingly, the US Bishops have required that all materials produced for Mass include the chants from the Missal directly. This has never been done before. To me, this suggests some impatience at the top with the domination of Catholic liturgy by commercial publishers. They are trying to take the liturgy back. It might not work and there have already been many missteps but at least the mandate suggests that someone knows there is a problem.
We can hope.
We can pray.

(Oh, and one last nod to this zinger: One wonders about the point of revisions when faithfulness to the existing texts has not been a feature of existing settings.)


Aristotle A. Esguerra said...

Hm…Guess I have to rejigger that setting for the new translation, too.

At least the Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei remain unchanged. :¬)

Scelata said...

I think beside the New Music Reading session, the Colloquium could find time for a Snark Singing session, the Stadium Mass would be the centerpiece... hmmm.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Charles said...

G, I don't think the Snark Session would uphold CMAA's impeccable repute, but I could totally get behind an impromptu singaround where we could call out a tune, agree upon a style, like street corner doowop, and belt out the ditties in never-before imagined ways. "Okay, "Make Me a Channel" in Bobby McFerrin "Don't Worry Be Happy" mode. Uh one ana two ana...