Traditional or Contemporary?

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John Ainslie
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by John Ainslie » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:10 pm

Gradual Hymn? Explain, please.

Peter
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Peter » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:20 pm

IncenseTom wrote:The questions of getting the assembly to become more familiar with chant is indeed an issue and in my parish we are only taking baby steps. That is why I would welcome support from the SSG in helping to promote and teach chant, as it did in 1933. I always thought I was born in the wrong decade - I didn't quite realise I was that far out!

I do feel slightly frustrated with what I am currently gaining from the SSG...

It's a great pity it's too late to recommend this year's SSG Summer School, which (like last year's) included workshops on chant as well as on other aspects of the liturgy (both traditional and contemporary, said he trying to get back to the topic :wink:). You would have gained a lot from those. Maybe next year, Tom?

londonchurchman
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by londonchurchman » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:32 pm

dmu3tem wrote:Ref. music in Anglican churches.

Yes, interesting divergencies between what I encounter in the North of England(mainly rural parts of the NW) and what others find in the South and in London; although this is no more than what one would expect, given regional differences in Catholic behaviour.

The divergencies (so far) that rivet my attention are:

[1] The greater awareness in the South of Paul Inwood and other 'St Thomas More' stuff
[2] The decline of the Gradual Hymn - no sign of that in the parishes up here that I know
[3] A consequent adoption of Responsorial Psalmody

However in the Anglican parish church at my mother's home village in Bucks these Southern trends do not seem to apply. They have their own 'home grown' communion setting, a four hymn sandwich (with Gradual Hymn), no responsorial psalmody; and this is reckoned to be quite a vigorous and 'go ahead' church. Perhaps this may be symptomatic of a 'town-country' divide; or maybe one is simply up against the almost limitless variety that seems to surface when you look at particular churches.

It would be worth exploring these divergencies further.


I think there is an element of town/country divide that you have hit on that comes into play here, but in Anglican terms London has generally adopted Catholic elements (Chasubles, reservation of the sacrament, incense) in the central churchmanship division earlier and more readily than elsewhere. Even within London though there are divergencies: for example Islington is primarily low church/evangelical whereas South Camden looks very much like traditional catholism.

londonchurchman
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by londonchurchman » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:52 pm

John Ainslie wrote:Gradual Hymn? Explain, please.


A hymn between the New Testament reading and the Gospel. Interestingly the 1549 Prayer Book and the 1905 English Hymnal both contain the propers for each Sunday which includes the Gradual, translated into English which were chanted at some high very high Anglican churches - and still are at St Cuthbert's Earls Court. Some parishes have a responsorial Psalm and a Gradual hymn and an Allelluia which all makes for a very long service!

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:36 pm

Peter wrote:It's a great pity it's too late to recommend this year's SSG Summer School, which (like last year's) included workshops on chant as well as on other aspects of the liturgy (both traditional and contemporary, said he trying to get back to the topic :wink:). You would have gained a lot from those. Maybe next year, Tom?


Yes, I had noticed, and the chant workshop, as well as others, would have appealed. Thank you for the invitation. It all depends on the week in question, what else is going on, etc. Next year will probably be a no-go as I'm getting married on the 2nd of August!

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Nick Baty
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:46 pm

IncenseTom wrote:Next year will probably be a no-go as I'm getting married on the 2nd of August!
You're far too young and there's plenty of time to cancel!

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:44 pm

Nick Baty wrote:
IncenseTom wrote:Next year will probably be a no-go as I'm getting married on the 2nd of August!
You're far too young and there's plenty of time to cancel!


What, and be ordained instead? :lol:

John Ainslie
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by John Ainslie » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:37 pm

londonchurchman wrote:
John Ainslie wrote:Gradual Hymn? Explain, please.


A hymn between the New Testament reading and the Gospel. Interestingly the 1549 Prayer Book and the 1905 English Hymnal both contain the propers for each Sunday which includes the Gradual, translated into English which were chanted at some high very high Anglican churches - and still are at St Cuthbert's Earls Court. Some parishes have a responsorial Psalm and a Gradual hymn and an Allelluia which all makes for a very long service!

Wow! Definitely OTT, in my book. If you're going to have a hymn in the Liturgy of the Word, let it be a Gospel hymn after (and reflecting on) the Gospel, in the Methodist tradition. That could provide an opportunity for a substantial response from the assembly to the highpoint of the LoW, rather than just a muttered 'Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ'. It would also liberate one from the notion that one ought to introduce the 'theme' of the readings in the Entrance Song. Only last week we had a visiting priest who sang a few lines of 'What a friend we have in Jesus' as part of his homily - quite tunefully, too... A really good Gospel hymn might even be better than Father's homily! :lol:

londonchurchman
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by londonchurchman » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:15 pm

John Ainslie wrote:
If you're going to have a hymn in the Liturgy of the Word, let it be a Gospel hymn after (and reflecting on) the Gospel, in the Methodist tradition. That could provide an opportunity for a substantial response from the assembly to the highpoint of the LoW, rather than just a muttered 'Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ'. It would also liberate one from the notion that one ought to introduce the 'theme' of the readings in the Entrance Song. Only last week we had a visiting priest who sang a few lines of 'What a friend we have in Jesus' as part of his homily - quite tunefully, too... A really good Gospel hymn might even be better than Father's homily! :lol:


Agreed! I know that the Lutherans (in Germany) have a "Hymn of the week" after the Gospel reading that is linked to the Gospel theme and is mandatory in the same way as the readings.

Southern Comfort
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Southern Comfort » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:26 pm

John Ainslie wrote:If you're going to have a hymn in the Liturgy of the Word, let it be a Gospel hymn after (and reflecting on) the Gospel, in the Methodist tradition. That could provide an opportunity for a substantial response from the assembly to the highpoint of the LoW, rather than just a muttered 'Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ'. It would also liberate one from the notion that one ought to introduce the 'theme' of the readings in the Entrance Song.


This is quite often encountered in France, where the hymn or song does not just "comment" on the Gospel but on the entire Liturgy of the Word. It is sung during the Presentation of the Gifts, replacing anything else that might otherwise be done at that point, and forms an effective link between Word and Eucharist.

Howard Baker
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Howard Baker » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:36 pm

"The main place should be given to Gregorian chant, all things being equal...." (GIRM) What do you take 'all things being equal' mean here?

Southern Comfort
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Southern Comfort » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:43 am

Howard Baker wrote:"The main place should be given to Gregorian chant, all things being equal...." (GIRM) What do you take 'all things being equal' mean here?


This is GIRM 41, but SC 116 (Vatican website version says) from which the GIRM quotation comes says: "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."

One question is whether "pride of place" is the same thing as "the main place". It would seem not.

A further question is whether "other things being equal" is the same as "all things being equal". Once again, the answer is probably negative.

Interestingly, the E&W 2005 version of GIRM had "All other things being equal" and "pride of place" in para 41. Versions of GIRM prior to 2000 did not have this quotation at all (in para 19, the equivalent section). It was added in 2000 as one of many "political" amendments to GIRM.

To get to Howard Baker's point:

"Other things being equal" can mean "If the use of the chant is congruous with the remainder of the celebration". It is important to remember that the original SC statement was issued in a context where it could be assumed that all celebrations of the Mass would be in Latin. That is no longer true today — one "other thing" that is certainly not equal. In fact there is a case for saying that Gregorian chant only has pride of place in celebrations which are predominantly in Latin. In the case of vernacular celebrations, can it be said that giving the chant pride of place is congruous with the celebration? This is not to say that chant cannot be used at all in vernacular celebrations — far from it — but pride of place is something else.

What happens if the "tone" of the celebration is "alien" to the chant? Think of a celebration which makes use of praise and worship-type music. Is chant congruous, or will it stick out like a sore thumb? (I deliberately avoid the question of whether praise and worship music is suited to the liturgy either....)

Other considerations might be the liturgico-musical forms used during the Mass. In other words, is Sanctus XVI really an acclamation as we understand it today? Is Gloria XV really a joyful hymn of praise? Or what about the participation of the people? Both GIRM 41 and SC 116 mention this in relation to other forms of music, but it applies just as much to Gregorian chant. Before the Council, we celebrated an essentially static, non-participatory liturgy. Since the Council we have a dynamic, participatory liturgy. One could say that "other things being equal" has a very different meaning, now that the liturgical context in which we celebrate is so completely different. Indeed, because things are so different, it is questionable whether other things can ever be equal again.

dmu3tem
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by dmu3tem » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:47 am

Are we not in danger of getting off the original point?

I thought the questions originally posed were:

[1] What do we mean by 'traditional' and 'contemporary' music in a church context?

[2] What, specifically, do these terms mean in an 'Anglican' context?

'Traditional', whether Anglican or Catholic, seems 'relatively' easy to define:

[a] Catholics = Plainchant, Pre Vatican II repertoire e.g. Westminster Hymnal, Renaissance Polyphony, choral publications by Cary and Co (e.g. Turner Masses).

[b] Anglicans = Merbecke (Renaissance style plainchant - virtually the same as that known to Catholics up till the 'Solesmes revolution' of the late C19th-early C20th), Hymns Ancient and Modern, English Hymnal, Anglican Chant, SATB Anglican Church Choir repertoire up to about the early 1960s (thereafter the position becomes more hazy as you are up against questions about whether you regard music by say Matthias as traditional or contemporary. You can argue this either way: traditional = Matthias writes mainly for the Anglican Cathedral Choral tradition; contemporary = Matthias uses 'modernist' (by the standards of the 1960s-1970s) choral techniques.

'Contemporary' is much harder to pin down, as my remarks about Matthias suggest. Two possible approaches:

[1] Contemporary might mean music in a modern popular idiom. This might be broken down into two strands:
[a] 'Folk Music' as developed from the late 1960s onwards. Now appears in many places to be 'going out of fashion': so is it 'contemporary' in the literal sense of the word?
[b] Taize-St Thomas More approaches as found, for example in many OCP publications. This is a style that emerged at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s. Lots of music is still being composed in this idiom, so in that sense it might be regarded as 'contemporary'. However, as it is a style that is now about '30 years old', it might no longer be seen as 'contemporary' as it is not developing very fast in terms of developing new compositional techniques. Rather the reverse, given its partial retreat from combining orchestral instruments and guitars etc with congregations, choirs, cantors and keyboards/organs.

[2] Contemporary meaning the use of 'modernist' compositional techniques. This can look very dated, as 'modernist' techniques can mean the use of atonality (an early C20th device), sca-fra, boxes and lines and other paraphanalia associated with Classical modern music from the 1950s to the late 1980s. Very few traces of this style appear in much church music. However, if we define 'contemporary' as meaning current 'classical' techniques associated with musical revisionism then we get music by people such as Arvo Part, John Taverner, John Rutter, Karl Jenkins et al. These are styles forged from the late 1980s onwards and they have had some impact on choral music especially. Again one could argue that this is no longer 'contemporary' since the 'style' is over 20 years old.

Now you will see that these definitions leave a large body of church music out of the equation. Here are some areas:
[a] Straight Congregational Mass settings on the model of Dom Gregory Murray's People's Mass of 1950 (I think). I saw several new examples in this idiom with the introduction of the new 2011 Ordinary Mass translations.
[b] Gelineau/Bevenot Responsorial Psalmody. An idiom developed in the 1950s. Currently it now seems to be being extended to other elements of the Mass Proper often spliced stylistically with St Thomas More techniques. This latter development then does seem to be new and therefore warrants the term 'contemporary'.

The key questions then seem to be:

[a] When we say 'contemporary' do we mean literally the music being written now regardless of style?
[b] Or do we mean 'contemporary' in a stylistic sense, even if the music may have been written a long time ago?

Note too that an important 'driver' behind all this is liturgy. If music changes with liturgy then we can expect a church music style (and output) to proceed in 'fits and starts'. Great surges of 'new music' coming out with each significant change in liturgy followed by periods of 'consolidation' - or is this another word for 'stagnation'? By this text English Catholics ought to ask whether the new Mass translations are leading to a new repertoire of music, and if so whether this is stylistically innovative. If the answer to this question is a cautious 'no' we then have to ask why? (and should we necessarily be disturbed by such a 'failure'). If Catholic composers are responding we can then ask another question: To what extent are their styles diverging from those used by current Anglicans?
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musicus
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:28 pm

dmu3tem wrote:Note too that an important 'driver' behind all this is liturgy. If music changes with liturgy then we can expect a church music style (and output) to proceed in 'fits and starts'. Great surges of 'new music' coming out with each significant change in liturgy followed by periods of 'consolidation' - or is this another word for 'stagnation'? By this text English Catholics ought to ask whether the new Mass translations are leading to a new repertoire of music, and if so whether this is stylistically innovative. If the answer to this question is a cautious 'no' we then have to ask why? (and should we necessarily be disturbed by such a 'failure'). If Catholic composers are responding we can then ask another question: To what extent are their styles diverging from those used by current Anglicans?

I really don't see why a new translation of the same Latin text should imply or require musical stylistic innovation. However, if it did, perhaps we should ask what kind of musical style would be appropriate. In the case of the present translation, something 'retro' might be called for.
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IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:14 pm

musicus wrote:In the case of the present translation, something 'retro' might be called for.


Oooh - sounds right up my street!

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