Diocesan Music Committee

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presbyter
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Diocesan Music Committee

Post by presbyter »

The Archdiocese of Birmingham is setting up a committee for musical and liturgical formation. Four of its members are also members of this forum.

The committee has a constitution (approved by the Archbishop and his Canon Lawyers) which I could send a copy of to anyone who might be interested.

What's happening in your diocese?

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Crumhorn
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Interesting...

Post by Crumhorn »

Very interesting...

In our diocese we do, of course, benefit from the advice of Stephen Dean who is our diocesan music advisor. Problem being that some people either don't or won't listen to his advice... :roll:

Pacabella and I are SSG reps for our diocese, but so far more full of good intentions than actually doing anything. We know and like Stephen, so in our case I suppose a good first step would be to get together with him and see if/how we can help spread the word.

I like the idea of a Music and Liturgy committee in principle, but wonder whether it runs the risk of becoming just another talking shop/paper producing machine in practice. Hope it does work, though, and maybe offers a lead for other dioceses to follow. Good luck, Birmingham!
Crumhorn
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John Ainslie
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Post by John Ainslie »

In Westminster we have a Liturgy Commission, chaired by Fr Allen Morris, and, among its various committees, a Music Committee, chaired by Ian Coleman, of which I am a member.

The first job of the music committee has been to try to discover what is being sung at Sunday Masses in parishes and what help is needed to do it better. Slowly a database of lay contacts is being built up and a picture is emerging, but we still have details of only 38 parishes out of 220 - and these are probably the most musically active. If you reading this are a Westminster parish musician and suspect that I do not know about you, please reply to this.

We are running a big music day featuring Marty Haugen - sorry for the commercial - on Saturday 12th November at St Gregory's College, Kenton (booking required: contact jane.porter@orange.net), which unfortunately clashes with the SSG AGM at Westminster Cathedral Hall the same day.

Good luck, Westminster and East Anglia!

docmattc
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Post by docmattc »

According to its website, my diocese (Hallam) has a Council for Liturgy made up of 6 people (Bp, adult education, schools and music advisers among them). I have no idea what it does though. I've been in the diocese 14 years and don't recall ever seeing any output from the 'Council'.

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Post by organist »

Southwark rejoices (??) in a music committee which does not represent "traditional" music at all. The diocesan choir takes part in major celebrations but there is no agreement with the cathedral musicians at all. It's a very unhappy situation and I don't go to Chrism Mass any more. I enjoyed Chrism Mass at Westminster cathedral this year far more than I ever did at Southwark. The real problem was that after the celebration at Southwark the priests went off in a huddle, the choir went somewhere else, etc. Another thing the committee does not support anything it has not organised! So they have the information of who to contact but will not share it. If SSG put something on, we could not get it publicised through their mail out. It's crazy and just plain wrong - very "dog in the manger".

oopsorganist
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diocesan stuff

Post by oopsorganist »

Hi Organist

I used to go to school opposite Southwark Cathedral! Over the road from the old Bedlam Hospital!

My pal just said she went to Mass at Southwark and was surprised that they did not sing 'owt.

In our diocese we have a named liturgy person. In the Directory. I have been to hear his Mass. Very very good. Loads of stickers for him! Unaccompanied singing led by priest with spontaneous harmony for Gospel Alleluias and Great Amen. Four hymns.

We also have two Diocesan musicians who are able to lead workshops but i only just found this out and am looking forward to seeing them do this. We have loads of choirs at the Cathedral with scholarships and such, all very good. Never been to the Cathedral. Must get there some time. Some workshops are organized for schools and there was an afternoon for organist's technique but I missed that as I would not know where to find such an event. I'm not much of an organist anyway and probably beyond help. Lessons on how to be on the right page may be useful to me.
uh oh!

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Post by organist »

Dear oopsorganist,
I reckon your friend was unlucky as there is singing at most Sunday Masses at the cathedral with good organ playing and excellent girls and boys choirs. Do visit Leeds cathedral - we have sung there and enjoyed it although at that time the choir could not see the altar! Let's hope it's better now! And I'm sure that workshop for organists was meant for people like you - do go if another comes up!

dmu3tem
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Diocesan music committees

Post by dmu3tem »

Could I draw attention to the fact that such committees have a very long history reaching right back into the nineteenth century. The original inspiration came from the Society of St Cecilia, founded in 1867 by Franz Xavier Von Witt to promote plainchant and Renaissance polyphony. This published lists of 'Approved Music' which also included lists of music that was thought to be inappropriate. Some English Dioceses adopted these lists and attempted to impose them on the local missions. The most notable example of this was the Diocese of Beverley. In 1903 Pius X, in his motu proprio Tra Le Sollectudini required all dioceses to form music committees so as to regulate the content of parish music and drive it in the direction of a diet of plainchant and Renaissance Polyphony. Some dioceses responded not just by creating such committees, but by publishing 'Lists of Approved Music'. The first of these was produced in the Diocese of Salford in 1904. Others followed from Liverpool (1906 and 1911), Westminster (1906 I think) and Lancaster (1929). The Salford list was drafted by a committee of plainchant and Renaissance Polyphonic specialists (e.g. Terry, Bewerunge, Allen, Norris) and was closely modelled on the list produced by the Irish Cecilian Society. In other words musical policy was taken over by a particular musical pressure group with a specific musical agenda. A further consequence was the narrowing of musical options available and a decline in the production of new music -though other factors (notably the behavior of publishers and the tightening up of the law of copyright played a part too). The result was that less new music became available to English Catholics in the half of the twentieth century than was produced in the first half of the nineteenth century, as anyone who examines the contents of old collections of music in individual churches will discover. Note that this was despite the fact that the Nineteenth Century English Catholic church was only about a quarter of the size (numerically speaking) of its early twentieth century counterpart and had far less money and infrastructure (in the shape of churches, schools, religious houses etc).
In view of the fact that, at present, official policy on many aspects of church life (not just music) seems to be moving in a conservative, 'traditional' (e.g. the drive to revive the Latin Mass) and more authoritarian direction it might be pertinent to consider the implications of developing diocesan musical committees in the light of this past history.

Thomas Muir
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presbyter
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Re: Diocesan music committees

Post by presbyter »

dmu3tem wrote:......... In other words musical policy was taken over by a particular musical pressure group with a specific musical agenda............ In view of the fact that, at present, official policy on many aspects of church life (not just music) seems to be moving in a conservative, 'traditional'.....................direction it might be pertinent to consider the implications of developing diocesan musical committees in the light of this past history.

Thomas Muir


Thank you Thomas for the historical insights, some of which I was aware of.

The Birmingham Committee's Constitution (and commentary thereon) - click my website and you can read it - has been deliberately written in a manner that should exclude any particular pressure group imposing its will on the diocese as a whole and I'm sure the Archbishop would immediately disband it should it even tend towards that direction. We are Catholic by nature and catholic in musical outlook and we do know that we are dealing with very sensitive and emotive issues. We are not, as it were, "Liturgy Police".

If Rome really does put pressure on the Bishops to come up with a "play list", don't you think that a Bishop might appreciate a Committee which will have consulted throughout the diocese and worked sensitively with clergy and laity before that happens?

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Diocesan Music Committee

Post by organist »

One interesting thought from Thomas's helpful contribution is the amount of music for SATB in old music libraries whereas there has been a marked move towards unison singing. At one Southwark event I attended, we were told at the rehearsal to practise the harmony in our bathrooms as there was no time to do it then! Yet ages were spent on Marty Haugen items! Similarly the one bit of plainchant "Veni creator" was given very little attention! The pendulum can swing too far in one direction if a music committee is not balanced and given some guidance from above.

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Diocesan Music Committee

Post by quaeritor »

....but to go back to the beginning (with apologies for late arrival), good news, Presbyter, but how would the humble parish choirmaster get to hear about this new committee (well, not very new any more, I realise)? I guess it was just by chance that the "last post" link when I stumbled as a newcomer into the forums home page was alluringly entitled "Diocesan Music . . . ". - out of 210 topics. What serendipity! - but surely there must be a more reliable way. (Btw, the old Liturgy Centre page has reappeared after a long absence, but points inscrutably only to itself.)

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Re: Diocesan Music Committee

Post by musicus »

organist wrote:The pendulum can swing too far in one direction if a music committee is not balanced and given some guidance from above.

My italics - LOL! :lol:

But seriously, thank you, Thomas. It is vital that we learn from the past, and it's great that there are scholars like yourself to remind us of what has gone before.
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
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diocesan music committee

Post by organist »

And I don't just mean our bishops and Rome I'm thinking Holy Spirit here! :lol:

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Post by Peter O. »

It's been a long time since I've visited the forum but, having read the posts above, I feel I have to make my mark too. In my diocese the music network extended to over 170 contacts with the database being updated every two years. Every year the committee would run at least two workshops with a specific music-in-liturgy focus plus a weekend residential [including a guest speaker] for parish musicians, and a diocesan choirs' festival. Not to mention regular visits from well-known musicians such as Stephen Dean, Chris O'Hara and others. On top of this the music committee had teamed up with both the NNPM and RSCM to put on ecumenical music workshops [John L. Bell is booked for this year]. The committee even met together for a full day each year to reflect on and discuss its work. The committee was even being drawn in to the planning for the Rite of Election and Chrism Mass [and planned and directed the music for the Mystagogia Mass]. Having recently stepped down from the committee I was shocked to discover that the newly appointed Chair of the Diocesan Liturgy Commission had disbanded this excellent group at the very next meeting - mainly, I gather, because the committee members were unhappy with the proposed re-structuring to be imposed on them without any option for negotiation. I served with this group for 8 happy, energetic years. There is no doubt in my mind that, with a newly re-activated Liturgy Commission, there was a need for the committee to re-appraise it's role in serving the diocese but ... talk about throwing out the baby with the bath-water!

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Re: Diocesan Music Committee

Post by quaeritor »

presbyter wrote:The Archdiocese of Birmingham is setting up a committee for musical and liturgical formation. ....

....What's happening in your diocese?


Does anyone know what happened to this committee? . . or to Presbyter for that matter (his PM link seems to have disappeared - as have also all details of members of the committee from its website).

Q

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