Throughout the next year, and until the implementation of the New Translation of the Roman Missal, The Authentic Update will focus on issues surrounding the New Translation and developments in Sacred Music arising from it. I hope you will visit here frequently and join in the conversation as the Church enters into this remarkable period of liturgical transformation.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
An Interesting Point of View
I came acrossthis article by a former Church Musicianvia the "Chant Cafe". Almost more interesting than the article itself are the comments made to it. As bob dylan sang - "The times, they are a-changin'"!
The inspiration comes from Benedict XVI's speech following a concert of Sacred Music at the Sistine Chapel. The complete quote is ... "“All of the selections we have listened to – and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel – agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the ‘Roman school’, constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”
After reading this passage, and a great deal of writing from Benedict regarding Sacred Music, I have come to the conclusion that he has already made up his mind on this question. He clearly believes that an "authentic update" is necessary, and he has clearly said it can "take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony." This past year, we were again reminded of his vision for Sacred Music in Sacramentum Caritatis in which he stated unequivocally...
"In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration. Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons .
Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy."
This, of course is just the latest move in a long process of reform of Sacred Music that is to come from Pope Benedict. Do I know this for sure... of course not! But, I have put together a lot of little dots that together begin to form a picture of large-scale reform. See below for some of the parts of this conspiracy theory of mine!
The definitive treatise on why we need to reform Catholic Sacred Music, written by the definitive author, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1977. This was a mere 10 years after the council, and Cardinal Ratzinger had already recognized the error of our ways! I doubt that he has changed his mind very much on this topic!
This brief letter is simply a formal welcome from the Pope to the participants of the study day on Sacred Music in December 2005. Note how he says, in reference to Pope John Paul's Chirograph on Sacred Music, "In making my beloved Predecessor's request my own, I would like to encourage lovers of sacred music to continue along these lines". This would seem to mean that it is his intention that the Bishops present at this Study Day continue along the course laid out by JPII in the Chirograph. Although JPII is widely percieved as a friend of the progressive... this document would seem to dispute that image! (see below)
Any leftover Folk-Mass musicians who still see John Paul II as the "voice of the people" and a supporter of contemporary Folk-Mass music should take a good strong drink before reading the "Chirograph". This strongly worded document borders on a denunciation of contemporary liturgical music and without ever saying so (as was typical of JPII) reached the conclusion that perhaps Pius X was right.
Of course, no reform of Sacred Music would be possible without the cooperation of the CDW. Would Cardinal Arinze be "on board" for a large-scale reform of Sacred Music? Read this interview, then decide!
What does this have to do with Music reform? Everything...follow me on this one, then read the letter. The only REAL document we have so far in terms of proposing reform is the Bishop's "Directory for Music and the Liturgy" which was sent to Rome in November of 2006 for recognitio. So far none has been given. The Directory comes as a result of the requirement set out in Liturgiam Authenticam that "Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments." The document clearly calls for a directory or repertory (list) of texts. What the Bishops proposed was a procedure for evaluating songs. It is not a bold statemewnt to say that the Bishop's proposed Directory is nothing at all like what is required by Liturgiam Authenticam. And so they sent it to Rome for approval anyway... now read the letter above.