Traditional or Contemporary?

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oopsorganist
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Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by oopsorganist » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:19 pm

I was being driven around Wakefield this day and saw an Anglican church (think it was anyway) with the above services on a prominent sign.
9.15 Traditional
10.30 Contemporary
How would you describe your service if you chose to parade it in such a way?
Mine would say " Circa 1970 with the occasional Victorian hymn that nobody sings, plus Acclamations. ( Wall to wall Victorian dross at Christmas).
I wondered if the vicar at that church had different outfits for the both services.
uh oh!

JW
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by JW » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:37 pm

I have to say that I struggle with such adjectives. Would you define 1970's music as traditional? Music which is that old surely can't be contemporary?

Isn't the whole Liturgy of the Mass a tradition that is being developed in the light of contemporary thought?
JW

oopsorganist
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by oopsorganist » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:21 pm

No I don't think 1970 is contemporary - I would have to add to our outside sign - Occasional comedy moments due to Keyboard accidents.
(I accidentally turned on some kind of rhythm thing when I started to play the final hymn - luckily my apprentice was able to fling away his guitar, leap the music stand and switch it off, all within 8 beats, whilst I just sat there looking confused).
uh oh!

promusica
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by promusica » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:50 pm

We could write books about the comic element due to these accidents! For another topic, maybe. Ours is a good mix of contemporary and traditional at the 11.00am Sunday mass. This thankfully results in a good mix of ages and tastes within the choir and congregation. The later mass is labelled as a "Family Mass"; there is a music group that is definitely contemporary, in a praise-and-worship style. I am unsure of the usefulness of these labels: do families not attend the other masses? Is there a not-so-subtle encouragement given to families to solely attend the "Family" Mass? Likewise, the "Youth" Mass, which seems to dissuade people of a certain age from attending... Do we ever hear of a regular "Middle-Aged" mass? What signals would it send? Not yet in that category, but fast approaching!

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:23 pm

I also struggle with these types of 'labels', primarily because they create divisions and 'camps' of different people who prefer one thing or the other. This is my big problem with hymns. Even when one (or a group) has (have) considered the readings, very often 4 hymns are effectively plucked out of the air. On a weekly basis I find myself thinking things like, "Ooo, I'll put this hymn down to keep this group of people happy", or, "I'd better put down a more modern hymn as the other ones are all Victorian trite". Many people, including most in my parish would hail this as offering a wide variety of styles to suit everyone, but it is just not the way it should be at Mass.

If we embraced chant more fully (I know, I've gone about this before - sorry), then all of these arguments about hymns, and traditional verses contemporary, and keeping certain people happy, and family masses, and solemn masses, and youth masses, etc, etc, etc, would all become irrelevant and go away.
The Mass is the Mass is the Mass - and to chant the Propers is the most authentic form of music available. This is the goal we should all be striving towards, and I firmly believe this should be a key aim of the Society of St. Gregory. To do anything else, is less authentic and is to deny the people access to the Proper texts.

Of course, we will never get there because too many composers have the market 'stitched up' and congregations, and yes, parish music directors, seem addicted to replacing the Propers with their music. This is especially sad when all of the chants are freely available.

Sorry about the rant - start of term tomorrow.

As for the sign outside my parish, not exactly sure what it would say ...... but there would almost definitely be something on it about a rather ratty, frustrated, organist.

alan29
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by alan29 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:17 am

Ours would say "Music eclectic and accessible...... words, less so."

johnquinn39
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by johnquinn39 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:51 pm

IncenseTom wrote:If we embraced chant more fully (I know, I've gone about this before - sorry), then all of these arguments about hymns, and traditional verses contemporary, and keeping certain people happy, and family masses, and solemn masses, and youth masses, etc, etc, etc, would all become irrelevant and go away.
The Mass is the Mass is the Mass - and to chant the Propers is the most authentic form of music available. This is the goal we should all be striving towards, and I firmly believe this should be a key aim of the Society of St. Gregory. To do anything else, is less authentic and is to deny the people access to the Proper texts.

Of course, we will never get there because too many composers have the market 'stitched up' and congregations, and yes, parish music directors, seem addicted to replacing the Propers with their music. This is especially sad when all of the chants are freely available.'


I'm not sure if the above is true.

I think that replacing hymns which have become well-loved, owned by the congregation, and used as prayer, would generate a gigantic arguament.

Is chant really the most authentic form of music available? -- Is there something unauthentic about the music of Joncas or Farrell, for example? Or any new type of chant that might emerge?

The proper texts, in my view, are often better served in metrical hymn, or popular chorus form. In fact, many 'new' texts (for example, Bob Hurd's 'Vidi aquam' ) are far higher in scriptural content than the Propers performed 'as is'.

The music team I serve on are certainly not addicted to replacing the Propers with our own music. In fact, James Biery's setting of 'This is my beloved son' is beginning to catch on with the choir & congregation.

johnquinn39
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by johnquinn39 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:57 pm

Tom, if you can direct me to any Propers on the internet that have the remotest singability or musical interest -- please let me know.

Best wishes,

John

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:18 pm

johnquinn39 wrote:Tom, if you can direct me to any Propers on the internet that have the remotest singability or musical interest -- please let me know.

Best wishes,

John


John Ainslie created some Lenten Communion Propers last Lent and made these available via this forum.

The Lalemant Propers and Simple English Propers are both freely available in English. A quick google will find them. Yes, I know I have been ticked off for using these before, but I would repeat that Leeds Cathedral use them (as well as another parish I know in the Leeds Diocese with a strong liturgical tradition), and I have heard James MacMillan talking about them in which he said his parish use at least one a week. If the Liturgy Office seriously disagrees with their usage I would ask for some sort of directive banning them or making them workable for England and Wales, otherwise, I see them as a step towards providing authentic music for the Mass and will continue to use them.

Here is a link to the article by James MacMillan discussing Chant (amongst other things): http://www.faith.org.uk/Publications/Ma ... Music.html

And here is a link to MacMillan's church website where he links to many of the freely available Propers: http://thechoirofstcolumbas.com/liturgi ... ss-proper/

I also believe that the Graduale Simplex and Graduale Romanum are available for free download - again I only googled these a while ago.

In terms of singability and musical interest, that is subjective, and I would suggest that this could lead down the road of groups/ factions/ camps as mentioned above, although I would say that my parish choir are making small but steady advancements in their ability to tackle this repertoire.

I would repeat that to chant the Propers is the ideal towards which we should all be striving and while others might judge hymns/ worship songs/ other little ditties as more singable or musically interesting they are not as authentic as the chanted Propers.

I hope this encourages you to chant the Propers. Best wishes.

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contrabordun
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by contrabordun » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:34 pm

IncenseTom wrote:I would repeat that to chant the Propers is the ideal towards which we should all be striving

Can you justify this objectively?
Paul Hodgetts

Southern Comfort
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Southern Comfort » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:54 pm

IncenseTom wrote:The Mass is the Mass is the Mass - and to chant the Propers is the most authentic form of music available. This is the goal we should all be striving towards, and I firmly believe this should be a key aim of the Society of St. Gregory. To do anything else, is less authentic and is to deny the people access to the Proper texts.


I am afraid this is simply incorrect. The Propers are no longer "proper" in the way that they once were because we now have several options. The choice today is to sing either the antiphon from the Graduale Romanum, or the antiphon from the Graduale Simplex (which will be different), or another chant or song that is appropriate to the liturgical action, the day or the season, and whose text has been approved by the Bishops' Conference.

Promoting the chanting of "the Propers" as "the most authentic form of music" is simply untenable. The Propers are one option among several — nothing more. Authenticity does not enter into it.

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musicus
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:25 am

What Southern Comfort says about the Propers is correct. What IncenseTom says about them used to be the case but is no longer. Wishing it still were so - however earnestly and sincerely - does not make it so.

I choose to underline this only because I would not want any less experienced or less confident parish music leaders to think that they were somehow letting their people down by not providing them with chanted Propers.

And whatever might be meant by 'authentic', it is not a word that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal uses about music. Naturally, being a Roman document, it emphasises the status of the chant as primus inter pares (first among equals), but is emphatically inclusive of other music styles and genres:

41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful. [GIRM, 2012]

Those last two provisions should, of course, be applied to all the music we use, including the chant. Different congregations will satisfy these provisions in their own way, with their own choice of music.
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alan29
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by alan29 » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:38 am

Thank you SC and Musicus for making that crystal clear. It needs repeating over and over.

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Gwyn
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Gwyn » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:13 am

Might we be guilty of applying too broad an interpretation to "...or another chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year," ?
Some places see this as licence to simply have hymn (which may or may not be appropriate).

JW
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by JW » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:27 pm

It's worth recalling that the 'Propers' used to be sung by choirs, not by the people. I suspect they were dropped as part of the drive for greater participation by the people at Mass. Congregations could not be expected to learn new chants each week, indeed many religious houses and seminaries couldn't cope so they didn't sing all of them every week.

If you want people to sing at Entrance, Offertory and Communion Processions, then hymns are a good way of achieving this.

Although we may knock the banality of some hymns they have a resonance with people. I'm playing for a Nuptial Mass on Thursday. The hymns are to be: Colours of day, Let there be love shared among us, the shiny one, and One more step along the world I go. There seems to be something about school hymns that touch people.

As parish music directors, are we guilty of adversely affecting people's worship by imposing our own advanced musical taste? Gwyn's point about unsuitable hymns is aptly made, but there should be no problem if the Music Director is suitably 'formed'.
JW

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