These qualities [sacredness, beauty, universality] are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently, the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity.
On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.
The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone.
Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.
St Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini paragraph 3
The musical tradition of the universal church is of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part or integral part of the solemn liturgy
Constitution on the sacred liturgy, 112
The church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services
Down the centuries, Gregorian chant has accompanied liturgical celebrations in the Roman rite, has nourished men's faith and has fostered their piety, while in the process achieving an artistic perfection which the Church rightly considers a patrimony of inestimable value and which the Council recognized as 'the chant especially suited to the Roman liturgy.'…Those who are trying to improve the quality of congregational singing cannot refuse to Gregorian chant the place which is due to it.
Pope Paul VI (voluntati obsequens)
"Among the musical expressions that correspond best with the qualities demanded by the notion of sacred music, especially liturgical music, Gregorian chant has a special place. Saint Pius X pointed out that the Church had 'inherited it from the Fathers of the Church', that she has 'jealously guarded [it] for centuries in her liturgical codices' and still 'proposes it to the faithful' as her own, considering it 'the supreme model of sacred music'.
Pope John Paul II (The Fitting role of Sacred Music in the Holy Liturgy)
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.
Pope Benedict XVI (Speaking in the Sistine Chapel following a tribute concert to Dominico Bartolucci, June 24, 2006)
This collection of quotes says the church treasures chant
. Yes, multiple options are available in GIRM, however, I can find no quotes like the ones above which speak so highly of anything in Laudate, the Celebration Hymnal for Everyone, Hymns Old and New, or any other more 'mainstream' UK catholic music collection, even though all of this music is approved and satisfies the requirements of GIRM. The only 2 specific collections GIRM names are the Graduale Romanum
and the Graduale Simplex
. I therefore feel that GIRM places special importance on these collections. Of course, parish musicians are free to choose other music, but as I have mentioned (several times now), this can lead to people skewing the liturgy and give it one particular slant or another and avoiding chant all together if it doesn't suit them. This should not happen. I think the church has been clear that chant ought to be always included.I am arguing for a move towards using more music which the church holds in this high regard
, and less music which is chosen by individuals and runs the risk of creating wildly differing liturgies in different parishes, with different camps and followings, and certain Music Director's hailed for this or that, when the focus should always be on the Lord. This is what chant allows us to do. That is what I meant by "chant as the ideal", and the "church promoting chant in her wisdom" (even though other options are available) when referring to GIRM.