When was the golden age?

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Nick Baty
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When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

Interesting interview with Jeffrey Tucker in National Catholic Register about music for the new texts: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/singing-the-mass/

Leaves me pondering on a few points:

1) Why do some MDs see the argument as "Gregorian chant verses Christian rock" as though there was nothing else?

2) Is it true that "if you ask the average Catholic what kind of music is integral to our liturgy and ritual, most will mention Gregorian chant"?

3) When was the golden age Tucker and other keep referring back to?

4) Why is the argument so polarised?

alan29
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by alan29 »

A couple of thoughts. I played sweet Sacrament Divine at a funeral yesterday. It was lovely to be reacquainted with the tune ...... but the words :shock:
A local parish provides a Tridentine Mass every Sunday - bishop's orders. Christmas morning was two wobbly ladies singing De Angelis and some standard carols. And a congregation that just reached double figures.
I wonder how many parishes sang any of the spendid plainsong ordinaries (not counting you know what.) Or anything other than Credo III. And how many sang any of the propers at all? No, it was dumbed down (to use a current descriptor of the present state.)
Not golden at all.

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Nick Baty
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

I suspect my own childhood memories are from the very parish which Alan mentions (although I don't quite remember the Tridentine Mass there).

Music was at 11.15am Mass only – the other Masses had no music at all. The repertoire alternated between Missa de Angelis and Trotman (later Gregory Murray). The psalm (and response) was sung to the same tone every week (same for all seven psalms at the Easter Vigil). And, of course there was a hymn sandwich. The memorial acclamation and amen were not sung until much later and this resulted in the teenage me being scolded for "lack of respect for the Mass".

There was choir which sang Ette's Hodie Christus Natus Est, Terry's Hosanna Filio David, Turner's(?) Haec Dies, Franck's Panis Angelicus and a Portugese Ecce Panis Angelorum.

When, in the early 70s the youth group grabbed a few guitars there was an extensive repertoire of Blowing in the wind, Ee Gum ba ya, and Give me hair on my head keep me scratching. :(

HallamPhil
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by HallamPhil »

Nick, do you remember
Christ, what a hymn what a terrible choice,
What an incredible waste of a voice!

we've come a long way since then and there is plenty of worthy music in the middle ground between the supposed poles.

docmattc
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by docmattc »

To quote Bishop Roche in his Summer School keynote:
Bishop Arthur wrote:"I [would like] to emphasize that the practice of singing the Mass was lost to us a long time ago and probably never regained any prominence in post-Reformation Britain."


So in Britain, if there was a golden age at all, it was at least 500 years ago.

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Nick Baty
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

HallamPhil wrote:we've come a long way since then

Or have we? When the poles see nothing around the equator I wonder if we've actually travelled any distance at all.

In 1965, John Hoban, editor of Church Music, wrote: "The future of Church Music is in our hands. If we are vigilant and demanding we may lay the foundations of something great. But if we are not, we shall open the door to an influx of shoddy little ditties."

The foundations of "something great" were indeed laid. But those "shoddy little ditties" have somehow still fought their way in. And it is these which are cited to criticise everything which is perceived to be wrong with liturgical music today. Forget the fact that you never use Colours of Day or If I were a butterfly at Mass – in some quarters, if you don't sing chant and polyphony then you must be.

alan29
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by alan29 »

But there is plenty of stuff going on in the middle. Parishes which sing musically literate stuff based on the scriptures. It doesn't have to be "I look at Jesus/the Sacred Heart and He/It looks at me" tat.
As ever the extremes try to make the most noise and are generally wrong.

HallamPhil
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by HallamPhil »

I do think we have come a fair distance. For instance in Laudate we have a liturgical song book which represents so much that is good and includes a balanced range of material. I agree however that there are some who may consider that if we are not singing plainsong and tudor anthems then we must be singing the dross with which they attempt to ridicule us.

Perhaps the time has come to gather people together to share what we find to be good and worthy of our present liturgies and to produce a statement of intent and to enlist signatures of support. Currently there is an invitation-only forum of Catholic Church Music Directors which, in approaching most cathedrals (and London churches with a particular bent), expects to find people of the same narrow mind and experience. Not all cathedrals or 'significant' churches will share these 'aspirations'. Some, including my own, seek to support the singing of the assembly as a priority advanced by the Church. I also seek to ensure that the music I choose can serve as a model for what can be achieved in the parishes. This cannot be the motivation behind some of the music chosen for some of the Papal Visit liturgies and recent Christmas broadcasts.

I would wish to affirm some cathedrals in the musical competence with which the Directors of Music operate but I would strongly question the music they choose from liturgical and pastoral standpoints. And this lack of direction is seemingly supported by extraordinary funding, substantial enough for at least three to have described themselves as 'superpowers' ... hardly the language within a Church seeking to model itself on the vulnerable Christ.

Summer schools and conferences are worthy and beneficial gatherings but the real sharing I am seeking only really happens privately at the bar. Do we need something more intentional? Perhaps something might spring from the 'New texts' meetings but this will depend upon who attends and their motives for attending. In the meantime I fear the public lampooning of Catholic church music will continue as long as good pastoral musicians in the parishes and elsewhere are silent about their ministry.

Happy New Year or should I say 'ad multos annos'?!

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Nick Baty
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

Couldn't agree more with all the above – apart from the comment about Laudate: Having the book does not guarantee use of the contents in so many parishes. It's the philosophy which needs to be broadcast.

Are the three "superpowers" the three which produce the least-liturgical music?

HallamPhil
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by HallamPhil »

But the job of Diocesan Music Advisers is to enable parishes to open the pages they wouldn't normally use. There's grounds for another rant, Nick ... how many dioceses have these?

alan29
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by alan29 »

Superpowers is not the language one should hear from liturgists.

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Nick Baty
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

HallamPhil wrote:how many dioceses have these?

Those which have "superpowers" mostly don't! Others – like Clifton, Brentwood and Hallam – do.

Alan
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Alan »

HallamPhil wrote:Perhaps the time has come to gather people together to share what we find to be good and worthy of our present liturgies and to produce a statement of intent and to enlist signatures of support.

I agree. And, since not all dioceses have a director of music and not all cathedrals recognise their role as being exemplary, let us be sure to encompass parish musicians too. Although my own adopted parish - Holy Redeemer, Pershore - was founded by Mgr James Crichton, he was no great lover of church musicians, and nor have some of his successors been either; nonetheless, we do our best to prepare good and worthy music as a vehicle for the people's praise, assisted by one cantor and the organist/pianist. I am sure that the majority of SSG members are serving their parishes in a similar fashion.

Alan Smith

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Nick Baty
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by Nick Baty »

Alan wrote:since not all dioceses have a director of music and not all cathedrals recognise their role as being exemplary, let us be sure to encompass parish musicians too

I feel sure there would be no differential in HallamPhil's proposal. What matters is a shared philosophy.

HallamPhil
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Re: When was the golden age?

Post by HallamPhil »

alan29 wrote:Superpowers is not the language one should hear from liturgists.


I certainly did not intend to suggest that these were liturgists. I do not think we would recognise them as exemplary liturgical or pastoral musicians but at best they are certainly fine musicians. I agree that 'superpowers' is inappropriate language but this is the term 3 cathedral music directors seemed proud to accept as a descriptor. I don't suppose the coming New Year will bring about a change in resolution on their behalf so the rest of us need to be more proactive in advocating the expression of Church we find more consonant with the liturgical norms.

Mele kalikamakakao!

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