In quires and places....

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mcb
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Re: In quires and places....

Post by mcb » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:54 am

(Apologies that this post is on the long side! I've tried to get my thoughts in order, and this is as near as I can get. :? M.)

Maybe the answer is that there's more than one way to do it, and different ways are right for different communities and different occasions. I don't know whether you've ever been to the cathedral where I ply my trade, Merseysider, but I hope you'd recognise us as another place where the people get to sing the bits that belong to everyone. It seems to me that me the most valuable role we can play as a cathedral is to provide a model for good liturgy and music. This (for me) means:

(i) doing things the way they are foreseen in the Missal (and sundry other sources - two that I've spent a lot of time burrowing in are the Ceremonial of Bishops, which says how things should be done in Cathedrals in particular, and the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy which is good on how to do things in ways which chime with traditional devotional practice, but respectably! :) )

(ii) showcasing musical items which could and should be sung in parishes that take their music seriously. I like to think that visitors to the cathedral will react to our music by thinking 'we could do that in our parish' rather than by thinking 'we could never do that in our parish'.

I feel a bit out on a limb, for a cathedral music director, in taking the view I've expressed in (ii). Four years ago I went to what was supposed to be the inaugural national conference of cathedral music directors (it seems to have been the last as well as the first), and an illustrious former colleague gave a talk in which he said that if a cathedral musical establishment performed music that could be sung in parishes, it was failing - squandering the resources which should allow it to be completely different from what goes on in parishes. I can't say I agree with that - if the cathedral is to be 'mother church' in a diocese it should teach by example, rather than simply sounding off in a language its 'daughters' can scarcely understand and couldn't hope to speak themselves.

But what about tradition? I think it's a seriously skewed vision of Vatican II to believe that the liturgical renewal means wholesale redpudiation of our musical heritage. It must be the case that the Church still sees a place for the Palestrina Pope Marcellus Mass or the Duruflé Requiem, as vehicles for public, liturgical, prayer. So works like this can't be confined to the concert hall.

Where, then, is the right place for serious art music to be performed liturgically? Churches where they have the resources to attract musicians of the calibre you need to do these things successfully, which mainly means cathedrals. And when? If I could construct a dream scenario for 'my' cathedral, I'd have inclusive participatory liturgies of the kind we routinely have on Sundays and feast days, and then on other days of the week I'd have the choir singing choral masses to congregations of a dozen or so. Add in sung Prayer of the Church daily too - maybe I'd alternate between choral services and more inclusive liturgies. (Obviously I'd have to pay my singers hefty salaries too, to save them having to work nights because they're singing all day. :))

Why can't it be done? For the reason, sort of, that your fellow MD gave, Merseysider. It's very hard to find musicians with the capability to sing Palestrina and the like (at least with the ease that allows the maintenance of a full-scale repertoire of masses and motets), who also have the commitment to service as musical ministers that accords with the role of the choir foreseen by the liturgical renewal. I'm really astonishingly exceptionally blessed to have the twenty or so musicians who make up my choir, who are there because they do share the vision of these double priorities. But they're exceptional people, and they're not the Tallis Scholars. :) There's plenty of music I'd like to have us perform, which is way too difficult for an amateur volunteer choir like mine. I sometimes have to turn away new volunteer choir members, because they have the right enthusiasm for musical ministry but don't have the necessary musical skills for a cathedral choir; more often, I get new volunteer members who think they are joining the Tallis Scholars, and who don't last more than a week or two, because they don't like the music of Marty Haugen.

So if you can't have a cathedral choir that realises the 'dream' vision I outlined, you can have one, like ours, that goes some way towards it, but has to sacrifice some degree of musical excellence; or you can have a different kind of choir, one that preserves the best of the cathedral tradition, but that has to sacrifice inclusiveness, as a price that (arguably) has to be paid, for being able to preserve and nurture the very precious musical treasures that have been handed down to us. We need them both, I think.

Martin.

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cathedrals

Post by pews2 » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:47 am

[quote="mcb

But what about tradition? I think it's a seriously skewed vision of Vatican II to believe that the liturgical renewal means wholesale redpudiation of our musical heritage. It must be the case that the Church still sees a place for the Palestrina Pope Marcellus Mass or the Duruflé Requiem, as vehicles for public, liturgical, prayer. So works like this can't be confined to the concert hall.]

Why not? The alternative seems to transform churches into concert halls during the liturgy. As cathedrals do, so parishes long to do.

[Where, then, is the right place for serious art music to be performed liturgically?]

To the extent that it encourages full and active participation, perhaps in parishes and cathedrals. Serious art music need not be hard to sing, although it often is. Besides, we sometimes say serious art music when we really mean serious European art music. Some European music such as modal plainsong can be carried across cultural barriers relatively easily, and can easily be made participatory. Fortunately it is that style which is held up as "the supreme model of sacred music". Our brothers and sisters from Africa might want to support it with rhythm.

[on other days of the week I'd have the choir singing choral masses to congregations of a dozen or so.]

That might attract a larger audience than a dozen, if well done. Many CofE cathedrals have taken on the role of house of music, with excellent performances. If it were done at a time outside the liturgy, the choir need suffer no interruptions of the performance. During liturgies, on the other hand, the choir might want to join or lead the people in singing to God.

[maybe I'd alternate between choral services and more inclusive liturgies.]

Agreed, choral services are not always the most inclusive liturgies.

[the vision of these double priorities.]

Palestrina is likely to survive with or without cathedral choirs. However, a beautiful piece of non-participatory music can certainly enhance rather than disturb the vital link between people and God during a liturgy. Especially if the time and mood are considerately chosen.

[So if you can't have a cathedral choir that realises the 'dream' vision I outlined, you can have one, like ours, that goes some way towards it, but has to sacrifice some degree of musical excellence;]

Perhaps the musical excellence of a liturgy can be measured partly by the full and active participation of the people. Even in cathedrals, which are often taken to be models for parishes. The Pope wrote of the schola cantorum: "it indeed develops in the assembly the role of guide and support and, at certain moments of the Liturgy, has its own specific role.
From the good coordination of all -- the priest celebrant and the deacon, the acolytes, the ministers, the lectors, the psalmist, the schola cantorum, the musicians, the cantor, the assembly -- springs that opportune spiritual climate that renders the liturgical moment truly intense, participatory, and fruitful." Nicely put.

[/quote]

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Post by contrabordun » Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:20 pm

mcb and pews2 wrote: So works like this can't be confined to the concert hall.

Why not? The alternative seems to transform churches into concert halls during the liturgy. As cathedrals do, so parishes long to do.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but.
.
The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy wrote:114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.

There is just nothing to suggest or imply that this preservation and fostering is to be done in concert halls. Rather the opposite: especially in cathedral churches (i.e., as mcb's ex-colleague was suggesting, cathedrals have a specific mandate to be different from parishes). You may not like it; you may think it contrary to other aspects of liturgical renewal; but I don't see how you can suggest it means anything other than what it appears to say.
Last edited by contrabordun on Thu Nov 18, 2004 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: cathedrals

Post by presbyter » Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:23 pm

pews2 wrote: The Pope wrote of the schola cantorum: "it indeed develops in the assembly the role of guide and support and, at certain moments of the Liturgy, has its own specific role.
From the good coordination of all -- the priest celebrant and the deacon, the acolytes, the ministers, the lectors, the psalmist, the schola cantorum, the musicians, the cantor, the assembly -- springs that opportune spiritual climate that renders the liturgical moment truly intense, participatory, and fruitful."


Which document please? I feel a long post coming on..........

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Re: cathedrals

Post by presbyter » Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:54 pm

presbyter wrote:I feel a long post coming on..........


Before I fail to resist the temptation to write at length about the Sanctus and who might sing it, I just want to make the point that I see this topic not so much in terms of choral or congregational music but more of a question of the possible distortion of the rite.

Don't forget that even Mass VIII was composed at a time when the Roman Canon had become, in effect, a silent prayer and the majority of the faithful were prevented from participation in that prayer anyway by the barrier of the Latin tongue. Both the more melismatic plainsong settings and the choral settings were composed to cover the action of the Eucharistic Prayer and if your memory is a long as mine, we (or the choir - or choir and people alternating) sang the Sanctus - we paused for the elevations [thirteenth and seventeenth century additions to the liturgy themselves] - we sang the Benedictus.

It is the Eucharistic Prayer as a whole that is the important element of the rite here and (without the book to hand - sorry) I would refer you to Fr Gelineau on the subject of musical settings of the entire prayer. The faithful's participation in the Eucharistic Prayer has been restored by the liturgical reform ..... WE offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and living sacrifice ...... Sanctuses aside, how many of the faithful in the pews understand that is what the liturgy is asking of them? (See Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Spiritus et Sponsa etc....

More to follow..............[/b]

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Post by pews2 » Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:30 am

contrabordun wrote:
The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy wrote:114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30.

There is just nothing to suggest or imply that this preservation and fostering is to be done in concert halls. Rather the opposite: especially in cathedral churches (i.e., as mcb's ex-colleague was suggesting, cathedrals have a specific mandate to be different from parishes). You may not like it; you may think it contrary to other aspects of liturgical renewal; but I don't see how you can suggest it means anything other than what it appears to say.


The quote does not appear to contrast cathedrals with other churches, and it says nothing against concert halls. The stated emphasis seems to be on the right of the whole body of the faithful to active participation. Great music can be consistent with, and even foster, that right. It would be poor consolation for an ordinary churchgoer to think that their exclusion from active participation was helping to preserve great art music. Even more so if they realised that the preservation of great art music does not require cathedrals.

My papal quotes were taken from a chirograph, available at many sites online including:

http://www.adoremus.org/0204OnSacredMusic.html

This discussion is probably of more than academic interest to many parishes and dioceses, wherever good or excellent musicians are available.

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Post by contrabordun » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:12 pm

pews2 wrote:Many CofE cathedrals have taken on the role of house of music, with excellent performances. If it were done at a time outside the liturgy, the choir need suffer no interruptions of the performance. During liturgies, on the other hand, the choir might want to join or lead the people in singing to God.
Is this implying that, eg, Choral Evensong is not a liturgy? (Or am I wrong in thinking that liturgy is a generic term for all forms of worship?).

pews2 wrote:The quote does not appear to contrast cathedrals with other churches
Yes it does. Otherwise the phrase "especially in cathedral churches" is redundant. It doesn't say "especially in churches" or "especially in concert halls" - let alone "solely in concert halls" - it says "especially in cathedral churches". What else can it mean?

pews2 wrote:and it says nothing against concert halls.
I didn't say it did. I said it says something about churches, and that what it says is that what was to happen in churches was to include the preservation and fostering of what it called the treasure of sacred music.

pews2 and mcb wrote:So works like this can't be confined to the concert hall.

Why not?
Art 114 answers this question. If the Council had intended "works like this" to be confined to the concert hall it wouldn't have said that they were to be used in churches. This whole concert hall issue is just a total red herring. The Council, in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, was setting out what the Church was to do in its liturgies. The clue is right there in the title. It isn't a Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy With Some Suggestions for Desirable Concert Programming For The Next Century Or So.

pews2 wrote:The stated emphasis seems to be on the right of the whole body of the faithful to active participation. Great music can be consistent with, and even foster, that right.
Completely agree. I think the issue is of balance. On the one hand, the requirement for active participation requires us to involve the congregation as much as we can. On the other hand, a goodly proportion of the "treasure of sacred music" (both extant and to come) cannot be sung without prior preparation by people willing and able to devote time and effort to it, and is therefore not going to be sung by the congregation. We have to balance two somewhat conflicting requirements, and I guess that where pews2 and I part company is in identifying the appropriate balance point.

Just to say where where I'm coming from, I'm not arguing that it would be appropriate to use all of Papa Marcelli on a regular basis at Sunday mass in St Ethelreda's By The Gasworks. For a parish, I think a reasonable practical pattern is to rotate round a stock of three or four congregational settings of Ky, Gl, Sc/Ben, Meml Acc, Amen and Ag, together with Psalm and Gospel Acc, plus a couple of hymns, and a choir item or two (Offertory / Communion). Art 114 gives cathedrals have a licence to set the balance differently, with more emphasis on choral music, but not to the exclusion of the congregation.

pews2 wrote:It would be poor consolation for an ordinary churchgoer to think that their exclusion from active participation was helping to preserve great art music.
This is a very black and white view of the situation. It assumes we can have only one or the other, when we should be doing what we can to achieve both.

pews2 wrote:Even more so if they realised that the preservation of great art music does not require cathedrals.
Maybe not, but the preservation and fostering , (which I interpret to mean the continuation and development, am open to alternative interpretations) of this "treasure" does require that it be used in the context for which it was originally intended. Which, for most of it, is in the context of the mass. Otherwise we might just as well put the whole lot up on Napster and have done with it.

pews2 wrote:This discussion is probably of more than academic interest to many parishes and dioceses, wherever good or excellent musicians are available.
Couldn't agree more. But in order to maintain a supply of good, excellent (or even ordinary, such as myself) musicians, we have to get away from the zero-sum mentality that every choral item constitutes an infringement of the congregation's active participation. Why would any potential choir members / MD's /instrumentalists / organists bother making the huge investment of time to learn their craft when the output is immediately attacked as 'elitist' or 'exclusive'?
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Post by mcb » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:17 pm

pews2 wrote:The stated emphasis seems to be on the right of the whole body of the faithful to active participation. Great music can be consistent with, and even foster, that right. It would be poor consolation for an ordinary churchgoer to think that their exclusion from active participation was helping to preserve great art music. Even more so if they realised that the preservation of great art music does not require cathedrals.


But the people who flock to Westminster Cathedral to hear the choir singing jewels of Renaissance polyphony are presumably 'ordinary churchgoers' too? Perhaps their presence does indeed indicate an acceptance of a more passive role; and perhaps the 'consolation' is quite a rich one?

The reason cathedrals and other major churches can play a distinctive role in preserving sacred music is that it surely matters whether the music is offered as prayer or entertainment. I've heard Allegri's Miserere sung in concert, and I heard it sung (and indeed my choir has sung it regularly over the years) in church services on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and one of those is an experience of prayer while the other isn't.

Maybe it comes down to the definition of 'active', if that's the correct translation of actuosa. Can listening to a choral Sanctus be a sign of active participation in the Eucharistic Prayer? I think the answer's probably yes - not normatively, and only in the cause of fostering music of exceptional artistic merit. I wouldn't do it on a Sunday or a feast day, but if I had the resources maybe I would at other times.

M.

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Post by presbyter » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:43 pm

Excuse me please musicus if I sound a bit like a mod here - but can I try and shift the discussion away from the art/choral music debate (of course art/choral music has a place in the liturgy, if one has the resources to sing it, and it can engage the attentive listener in prayer, rather than just being a decorative adjunct to a celebration).

But what about the Sanctus? We dont sing the Sanctus because a document tells us to ..... the document tells us to because......

Anyone apart from me fancy that approach?

(Still thinking about a long post on this..... what's the word limit?)

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Post by pews2 » Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:24 pm

contrabordun wrote: Art 114 gives cathedrals have a licence to set the balance differently, with more emphasis on choral music, but not to the exclusion of the congregation.


Fully agree. Art 114 appears to urge all churches (including and especially cathedrals) to cultivate choirs, but this must remain consistent with the active participation of the people.

Why would any potential choir members / MD's /instrumentalists / organists bother making the huge investment of time to learn their craft when the output is immediately attacked as 'elitist' or 'exclusive'?


Because the more able and well prepared a choir, the better can it serve as a guide and support to the people's active participation in the liturgy.

mcb, people of all sorts (including tourists) might flock to exquisite choral performances because exquisite music can stand on its own anywhere, in or out of church.

The more musicians and composers recall the importance of active participation, the more likely they are to enhance it by their efforts. A near-professional choir can be inclusive of the people and a bungling parish choir can be exclusive: no telling. It helps if the choir sees its main role as being a guide and support to the people. A choral party piece or two would then probably be welcomed even more.

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Cathedrals and parishes

Post by VML » Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:40 pm

Changing the subject a little: In 1986 Clifton Diocese borrowed Salisbury Cathedral for a Mass celebrating that Marian year which I think was supposed to represent the bi-millennium of the birth of Our Lady.

I was overwhelmed by the singing at the offertory of the plainsong Salve Regina. The place resounded with that wonderful prayer which I hadn't heard sung for years. It's not a very common offertory piece and is not normally sung at Mass anyway, so it has remained a memory, until the last few weeks when I wondered if it would be appropriate for our parish golden jubilee Mass on the evening of 8th December.

Our PP said yes, but it would be better at the end, so teaching it to the parish has been the project of the last few weeks. I sing it from the lectern during the prep of the gifts; as a prayer it seems a good preparation for Advent, the second coming and our jubilee, and I have also recorded it for parishioners who want to learn it better. The participation is getting better by the week, and we should be able to fill the church with the sound on the feast of the Immaculate Conception with an appropriate evening prayer, sung by people who are just discovering it.

I put this here just to show that what happens in cathedrals does eventually inform some parishes even if it takes 18 years!

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Post by Dot » Sat Nov 20, 2004 8:46 pm

In the past few months I have sung for the deanery at Mass on three special occasions: the Byrd four-part Mass, Mozart's Coronation Mass and Fauré's Requiem. On each occasion I did not hear any feelings of exclusivity expressed. If it were Sunday after Sunday, or big feast after big feast, maybe so, but for special anniversaries and the like, I am happy to play some part in
preserving and nurturing the very precious musical treasures that have been handed down to us.

Surely, if it were wrong, some document would have proscribed their use.

I have also sung in Allegri's Miserere in a concert performance, where the words of Psalm 51/50 were printed in the programme for the audience to follow. There was a very profound reaction from some who had never heard this setting before. If we relinquish the power of great music to move people's spirits, we have lost something precious.

Dot

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Post by contrabordun » Sat Nov 20, 2004 10:54 pm

My copy has
GIRM wrote:31. The Gloria is an ancient hymn in which the Church, assembled in the Holy Spirit, praises and entreats the Father and the Lamb. It is sung by the congregation, or by the congregation alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or in alternation.
The Gloria is sung or said on Sundays outside of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and in special, more solemn celebrations.


won't speculate about why you can't find it :twisted:

does that multitude of options imply that if choir and congregation are singing it, they must do so alternately? If so, I shall have to take back everything I said about liking through-sung Glorias...

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Post by Chrysostom » Sun Nov 21, 2004 9:14 am

The underlying problem is that we still haven't assimilated the fact that the post-conciliar liturgy is a very different animal from its pre-conciliar predecessor.

Before, the congregation were passive spectators who expected to be uplifted in prayer, and even (cf. Salzburg at the time of Mozart) entertained. Today, it is the whole body that concelebrates.

That being said, you cannot simply use music today that was designed for a totally different kind of liturgy. It doesn't fit. We need much more discernment about how and what we use in today's liturgy. The days of filling slots with beautiful music, just because it is beautiful music, have gone. If we have learnt nothing else, surely we now understand that music in the rite has a function and is not there simply to beautify the proceedings, add solemnity, uplift the assembly, etc.

No one has yet mentioned - so I will - another underlying problem: the fact that many musicians working in Catholic cathedrals do not in fact understand all this because - wait for it - they actually aren't Catholic. This is not meant as a pejorative statement, simply a factual observation. Many of our Catholic cathedral musicians are in fact Anglicans, whose approach to liturgy, and to cathedral liturgy, is very definitely not post-conciliar. This isn't their fault, of course. It's how they were raised. But for them to say (as they often do) that they know what is appropriate for Roman Catholic cathedral liturgy, and make musical excellence into an end in itself, makes it harder to dialogue with them. They have the fullness of the truth, you see, and nothing that a post-Vatican II liturgist can say to them will make them change their mind. [Someone asked further up this thread whether Choral Evensong was a liturgy. Well, of course it is. It's just not a Catholic liturgy, either in its form or in the way it is executed.]

It's exactly the same problem as a trained singer who does not want to switch off the operatic tone production when being a cantor in church. These singers have been told that this is the best, if not the only proper. way of using their voice; so they tell you that it wouldn't be right not to offer their best to God by using their voice in a different way. What they fail to realise is that the best way of using one's voice is not something that can be determined in the abstract but is conditioned by the context. In other words, it all depends on what the singing is for. In the case of the cantor, it's to enable/facilitate/elicit the singing of the assembly, not to produce music that is as perfect as it can be when judged by the canons of performance standards.

So, too, with Anglican musicians working in Catholic cathedrals. Unless you understand what the music is for, you won't use it well.

Having said all that, I also want to emphasise that it is possible to have the best of both worlds - sublime choral music and sublime assembly participation. Anyone who visited Clifton Cathedral in the first half of the 1980s will remember what that could be like. (Unfortunately Clifton is not like that today....) But usurping the role of the assembly in the cause of sublime music is not the way to do it. A choir singing a polyphonic Sanctus is in breach of liturgical law - let's be straight about that. The rite has changed, and so must our music.

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Post by pews2 » Sun Nov 21, 2004 10:00 am

Chrysostom wrote:The underlying problem is that we still haven't assimilated the fact that the post-conciliar liturgy is a very different animal from its pre-conciliar predecessor.

Before, the congregation were passive spectators who expected to be uplifted in prayer, and even (cf. Salzburg at the time of Mozart) entertained. Today, it is the whole body that concelebrates.


Well put. For many, the Eucharist is an aid to their faith. For some, it is the slender thread by which their wavering faith hangs precariously. Sublime as Mozart may be, his music is no substitute for the sheer presence of the King of Kings, to whom perfect praise is offered by even the least of the assembly - praise with all of their being including their voice. A great choir with great music can and often does help the people to sing to God, as you suggest.

A choir singing a polyphonic Sanctus is in breach of liturgical law - let's be straight about that.


Unless the polyphonic Sanctus is easy for the people to join in with.

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