New Directions

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New Directions

Post by dmu3tem » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:58 pm

This is picking up on the thread with the same name in the Liturgy section.

I recently purchased a Priory CD remastered recording of the Papal Mass officated by Pope John Paul II in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Looking down the programme I noted just how many major 'new directions' in English Catholic church music making had been taking place in the 1970s after the introduction of English translations of the Mass during the late 1960s culiminating with the 1973 ICEL texts.

Here is a list of some of them:

[1] A congregationally orientated approach to singing in Mass, as opposed to the pre-Vatican II emphasis on choirs.

[2] The wholesale adoption of repertoire from the Protestant hymn singing tradition - some of the earliest symptoms of which can be found in the 1940 edition of The Westminster Hymnal.

[3] A similar willingness to use anthems (e.g. an item by John Rutter) from the Anglican cathedral repertoire. There was also a Brass fanfare by William Walton.

[4] The use of instruments other than the organ in church - in the Mass at Liverpool a Brass group with timpani was used. This seems commonplace now but was quite novel in Catholic circles at that time (the C18th-C19th tradition of using orchestras having withered in the early C20th partly due to Pius X's Motu Proprio of 1903).

[5] Settings of the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamations by Philip Duffy.

[6] Philip Duffy's Mass included an integrated setting of all the principal components of the Eucharist i.e. the Holy Holy, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen - a strategy now officially endoresed in the composers guidelines for new Mass settings issued by the Bishops Conference.

[7] Folk hymn settings accompanied by electric guitars etc - although at Liverpool these were only performed during the ceremonies outside the cathedral after the Mass was over.

It is also pertinent to remark that there were some older characteristics e.g. the concept of Catholic music with an English 'face' - hence the singing of Byrd's (not Palestrina's) singing of Tu Es Petrus.

The interesting question now is to ask: 'What new musical directions are being taken as a result of or coinciding with the introduction of the new ICEL translations last year? '

If, as I suspect, the answer is 'not much' it is worth asking [a] Why? [b] Are any 'new directions' being taken now really a reversion to older musical approaches? (For example many of the new Mass settings I have seen use a format popularised by Dom Gregory Murray from the early 1950s onwards - a 'hymn style' Mass using fairly conventional block four-part harmony.)

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Re: New Directions

Post by alan29 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:37 pm

I was a member of the cathedral choir at that time - heady days indeed. It gave me a model that I tried to bring to parish liturgies when I left the choir ....... the idea that the liturgy is a function of the community gathered there, that the assembly has a right to certain texts by virtue of their baptised status, that instruments can be an ornament, and that a choir is a wholly optional extra that should not presume to "hog" texts that rightfully belong to the whole assembly, that all kinds of music can have a fitting place in worship. And most importantly that all engaged in liturgy should strive for the heavens.
It was a time of exploration of possibilities and opening-up to new influences. Somehow I doubt that those responsible for the new words would welcome that. But I might be wrong.

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