Liturgically Inappropriate Music

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presbyter
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Re: On a slightly different tack.......

Post by presbyter » Mon Apr 05, 2004 12:00 am

Peter O. wrote: how do you reconcile the "Marian Months" of May and October with the fact that the Sunday Mass is a commemoration of the Last Supper?


And which liturgical calendar says May and October are so-called Marian Months? I find it very sad that while we seem to have an awareness of the 40 days of Lent (which do not include the Sundays unless one follows the Ambrosian Rite) - we have little seasonal sense of the "Week of Weeks" - 50 days of Easter/Ascension/Pentecost JOY!!!!

Put on Marian devotion during May/October - sure! But please don't confuse them with the liturgical season. I could say much more but then that would need another thread...... 8)

Peter O. wrote:Sunday Mass is a commemoration of the Last Supper?


Sorry Peter but, as mcb suggests, you've got yourself into hot water with that statement - even worth an anathema from the Council of Trent.

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Post by Dot » Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:50 am

My Song Is Love Unknown [includes word "sweet" in last verse!]

I knew I'd shoot myself in the foot with my sweeping statement about "sweet". What a brilliant hymn the above is for Palm Sunday - I echo your feelings about it, Peter. Note - the words are not 19th century, but earlier.

On to the pile of inappropriates, I would add "Sweet heart of Jesus" and "Sweet Sacrament divine" straightaway, in case anyone did not realise the genre to which I was referring.

Dot.

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Post by SOP » Mon Apr 05, 2004 11:03 am

I don't think I have heard those two hymns sung at Mass, at least not for a long time.

But, they take me back to my childhood when we had processions all the time (at least if felt like we did). We didn't used to sing hymns at Mass, we sang them at Benediction or in our processions so singing Marian hymns during May as we were crowning the Queen or having a procession because it was May was fine. Singing those two hymns in June as we were processing for the Sacred Heart or again at Benediction was also fine. Our old hymns were not written to be sung at Mass so perhaps we should not try to fit them in!

We have a Taize evening at my church and a couple of new people came along to the last one. A comment they made which struck a chord was that it was wonderful to have such a gathering that wasn't a Mass. I know exactly what they mean.

Back in the 90s I was involved in a music group at a University Chaplaincy and the priest there liked processions. Felt strange at first and we were all a bit self-conscious but ... when the chaplaincy was closed and we had our last Mass there we were happy to process around and although that procession included walking along the benches, it was a fitting end to our community!

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Post by admin » Fri Apr 14, 2006 8:38 am

Looking at the site stats and we've been picked up here. These older posts are still being read…
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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by AntoineDaniel » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:42 pm

Some folks may find this video interesting: http://www.ccwatershed.org/video/10686215/?return_url=/psalms/

. . . it gives quotes from various Popes and recent Church legislation about what styles of music should be used at the Holy Mass. Pope Benedict was not included, as everyone knows he's in favour of Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, etc.
St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us!

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:56 pm

I wouldn't take this too seriously, Antoine. It's quoting parts of documents rather than the whole. The presenter quotes from Pius X's Tra le Sollecitudini which forbids wind instruments at Mass. Don't know about you, but I can't imagine Christmas or Easter without two or three trumpets and a trombone. The same document prohibits women from singing in choirs – to follow that would see end an to many church choirs here in the UK. Pius X was calling for the people to be allowed to sing again "as they did in former times", a clause usually ignored by one or two cathedral musicians I can think of who seek to promote choral music over the song of the assembly. They're rather like those right-wing commentators who use Leviticus to condemn homosexuality while simultaneously tucking into a prawn salad.

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by nazard » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:02 pm

The game of selectively quoting church documents is a very widespread practice. Another is using extreme interpretations to support one's own view. Just like your example from Leviticus we have musicians and others who pick and choose among the church's requirements, finding reasons, for example, to totally reject the idea that congregations should be "able to sing the parts which pertain to them in Latin..." I think that it would be helpful if the church would give us a new document setting down more precise rules and guidance. This would have issues with being future proof. For example, Inter solicitudines asks us not to use operatic music. Opera has, for some people, been replaced by West End/ Broadway musicals. Are these just examples of yet more opera, and is Pius X asking us to avoid them too? I don't suppose the idea of using "folk style" at mass had even occurred to him, and rock music was probably beyond his wildest dreams / nightmares.

As a matter of interest, does Inter solicitudines forbid women from singing in choirs altogether, or just in choirs singing from the presbyterium (if that's the right word)?

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by mcb » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:25 pm

nazard wrote:The game of selectively quoting church documents is a very widespread practice. ... I think that it would be helpful if the church would give us a new document setting down more precise rules and guidance.

No, in the end it's not about reading an instruction manual or following the rules. If that's the source and summit of our involvement in the sacred mysteries, then we're spiritually dead.

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:49 pm

Nazard, I don't think you'd find any documents to help reject the idea that the assembly should sing in Latin.

On the subject of women, Pius said in Tra le sollecitudini that singers in church have "a really liturgical office, and that women, being incapable of such an office, cannot be admitted to the choir" and that boys should sing the upper parts "according to ancient custom of the Church". I know there was an E&W document at some time in the late 60s (can't lay hands on it right now) which said women could sing as long as they weren't in the sanctuary and, wherever they were, they shouldn't be robed. And there were several examples of churches with a robed male choir at the front and disrobed ladies at the back! :oops:

I don't know about you, but I've often found that people who make liturgical decisions based solely on rules and regulations, have very little sense of how to prepare music for the liturgy. They will quote ad nauseum documents like the Motu Proprio of Pius X, mentioned above, which say we should preserve the rich heritage of polyphony but will manage not to see the bit about the assembly, rather than the choir singing the liturgy.

I could go on but I’m boring myself. My point, however, is that we all know one or three institutions who use documents to preserve their choral tradition (excellent) but do as at the expense if the assembly’s song (bad, wrong and annoying). Yes, there are documents to support the assembly always singing the Sanctus, for example. But do we really need to be told this: surely one can feel it would be, quite simply, wrong for the choir to burst forth at this point with the Sanctus from Byrd's Mass for Five Voices.

And, now I’ve posted, I see that MCB has beaten me to it!

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:51 pm

Back on topic, I read recently about a "traditionalist" priest who, on the Feast of the Assumption, chose Hail, Queen of Heaven for the communion procession!

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by nazard » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:14 pm

I was obviously not as clear as required. I operate a very pragmatic line in liturgical music myself, being very much limited by the resources available. Fundamentally it is similar, but much simpler than, to MCB's Salford lists on his blog in that it consists of english ordinaries and hymns with an occasional proper in english or latin, and an occasional piece of the ordinary in Latin from the Kyriale. Everything is limited by a very small choir, none of whom can read music and a congregation who take a long time to learn anything new. I would like guidance, and even a few rules, because I am often under pressure, particularly from elderly ladies of the retired hippy generation, to play some very odd things, which I would consider unsuitable, and which have produced an adverse reaction in the past. These same people believe that the vatican council banned the use of latin, and accuse me of faking the documents when I produce them. I would therefore appreciate a modern guidance document to read aloud from at meetings.

Nick, I also don't believe that a document exists telling us not to sing in latin. That does not prevent people from arguing against it even on this board. I assume that your disrobed ladies at the back did not take that too literally.

MCB, I don't know what inspires you to the particular liturgical views you hold, but your listings seem to suggest to me that you obey the rules as far as their confusing nature allows. However, not everyone is brought to that position just by following their own views. Are you saying that anything goes so long as your understanding of liturgy inspired it?

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:32 pm

Nazard, I don't use much Latin in my parish quite simply because the assembly couldn't cope with it – and they did, indeed, try. Our small group of singers has occasionally managed something simple like Mozart's Ave Verum or his Jubilate Deo. In each case, the response from the assembly has been, "Loved that Latin thing you sang!" In other words, they love listening to it but aren't too keen on singing it. Fair enough! (There's a full list of what we do here: http://immaculatemusic.blogspot.com/)

From what you write, you use very little Latin indeed so I fail to see what your elderly lady hippies could object to.

I used to get requests for all sorts of "odd things" but they've stopped recently. I suspect it's because, in recent years in our parish, people had a limited repertoire.

Take funerals as an example. Four or five years ago the request was always for I Watch the Sunrise or O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder. Nowadays, the requests are more likely to be for Farrell's Unless a grain of wheat or her All that is hidden, sometimes for Taizé's Jesus Remember Me and, recently, "that Latin thing" which happened to be Mozart's Ave Verum. On two recent occasions, the bereaved have phoned to ask for a particular set of acclamations – they haven't known what they were called by they've hummed them to me and said, "Mum always liked that..."

Perhaps, in time, your hippy ladies will widen their views slightly. If not, might the solution be to give them a good hard smack. In charity, of course!

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by mcb » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:07 pm

nazard wrote:MCB, I don't know what inspires you to the particular liturgical views you hold, but your listings seem to suggest to me that you obey the rules as far as their confusing nature allows. However, not everyone is brought to that position just by following their own views. Are you saying that anything goes so long as your understanding of liturgy inspired it?

Nazard, I don't suppose we're really speaking at cross purposes here. Of course we need principles, and the rules are there to ward off egregious abuses. But in reality practitioners have to bring not only (i) familiarity with GIRM or the Ceremonial of Bishops or Celebrating the Mass, but also (ii) a broader understanding of what liturgy is and what it's for, as well as (iii) a sensitivity to the local situation and a willingness to adapt organically rather than by disruption and confrontation. (To say nothing of (iv) musical skills and (v) encyclopedic acquaintance with established and emerging repertoire!)

My point in response to yours was really that the remedies we need most now to my mind concern (ii) much more than (i). We have a fine set of documents and teaching materials capably setting out what we should be striving for in our celebrations. The problem is that people have never heard of them, and wouldn't know what to make of them if presented with them. Much more important to teach people the fundamental principles that underlie the rubrics, than merely to police their adherence to them.

Besides, unfliching adherence to rubrics can stifle legitmate and necessary creativity. It's a profoundly ahistorical view of liturgical history to think that liturgy always comes in a rule book from Rome. It wasn't Peter who said do this in memory of me! Huge parts of our liturgical heritage come to us not from Rome but from other parts of the Christian world. If the benchmark for successful faithful liturgy were adherence to Roman edicts, how could that ever have come about? Liturgy in the form of slavish enactment of rubrics makes us into robots; we're supposed to be alive.

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:14 pm

Nice!

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Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by nazard » Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:59 am

I have never thought about the purpose of liturgy. Without a stated purpose it is difficult to say what is and is not suitable. I normally reject music because it is too difficult, too banal, the words are vacuous or heretical or the musical style is sufficiently extreme so as to upset a proportion of the congregation. Occasionally I do not use a piece of music because the words and the music convey contradictory ideas, e.g. the Anderson clapping Gloria, which sets the words "Have mercy on us all" to a tune which suggests jollity. A good statement of the purpose of liturgy would be helpful and might take this thread somewhere useful. Does anyone know of a good document, preferably online, and preferably an official church document, which would explain the purpose of liturgy?

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