Latin II

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Nick Baty
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Latin II

Post by Nick Baty »

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presbyter
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Re: Latin II

Post by presbyter »

Nick Baty wrote:There are plenty of comments on here about "active participation" by listening. But isn't that a bit like telling.....


:oops:

Errrrrrm - well no. The first is praying. The second is grave matter for the confessional.


:oops:

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Re: Latin II

Post by asb »

Nick Baty wrote:Quoting Reginald from the Latin thread:

Reginald wrote: we really need to address the issue of why anybody who wants to sing a chant or two in Latin is looked on with such suspicion in certain quarters


I am one of those people who looks on with suspicion – not because I have anything against (or for) the use of Latin and chant but because those who espouse it most dearly appear to lock it into another agenda (again, not the good folk on this site who are having an interesting debate).

One cathedral musician, at a recent public meeting, made quite outlandish jibes at the Society of Saint Gregory and composers from the Thomas More Group. And there have been comments (from a few) on this message board that those of us singing Farrell, Inwood, Walker, Tamblyn et al are, somehow, living in the dark ages. Latin and Chant are, apparently, the way forward.

I have no objection to people singing chant or rock 'n' roll, in Latin, English or Hindustani – whatever floats their spiritual dinghies. But I am concerned that, after 40 years of hard work and some (although not enough) progress being made in encouraging congregations to sing – and to enjoy singing – there is a movement around which seeks to stem the tide.

After all, life is much easier for the musician who doesn't have to worry about the assembly – if he has the necessary forces he just selects a mass by Mozart, Haydn, Fauré or Kodaly and rehearses it with his choir for as many hours as is necessary.

At the other end of the scale, the parish with fewer resources might opt for something metrical from the back of the hymnbook and hope nobody notices that the words aren't quite right. Again, far from desirable.

For decades now, SSG members (and many others) has steered a course which, musically and textually, places them in the centre ground – and leaves them open to verbal stick from both the above mentioned groups.

But this is a course which demands meticulous attention to detail: planning well ahead in an attempt to build a congregation repertoire of good quality music (with the right words). It means getting to know the assembly, sensing what they do and don't like, nurturing them, befriending them.

If there is a choir or other ensemble available, that becomes a second task – building their confidence and ability, helping them to lead the assembly, using their skills to add harmonies and descants but, still, with assembly at the forefront.

So what's with this movement towards Latin and chant to the (unspoken) exclusion of the assembly? And why is it coming from cathedrals which could be setting an example of good liturgical practice? I've seen postings on here from establishments which claim they use a chant Sanctus so the people can join in – but when I've visited I've been greeted by a silent congregation
We are talking Catholic here! :lol: Seriously - does not the fault here lie with the congregation? I have had similar experiences at Westminster - except when it was Sanctus VIII!

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Post by asb »

Nick Baty wrote:I would disagree. Congregations are not one solid lump – they are fluid, made up of many people. If a whole congregation remains silent then the fault is likely to lie with the musicians:


Is this not as much of a generalization as you perceived my observation to be? :?

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Post by asb »

I think you are missing the point here, one way or another. You castigated my generalization, and replaced it with another. that was my sole point. :x

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Post by Reginald »

Blimey - you close your eyes for a few hours and you're already 20 posts behind!

Nick, to clarify the double-headed axe I'm grinding here...I'm very involved with the liturgy at our local Catholic Secondary, and you can see from some other posts of mine (Chant based Eucharistic Settings in "sounds off") just how eclectic my tastes are - and by implication how eclectic a range of music our kids are now singing. I wouldn't ever dream of trying to give them a diet of chant alone, but I know that they are now quite happy to go from Shiney Jesus to Orbis Factor and back again. I just believe, really passionately, that we shouldn't exclude chant from our repertoire because we have an obligation to the Church to make sure that we all know it. I have to say that I'm really pleased with what we've achieved at school - the 4 hymn sandwich is now 3 (we dropped the last hymn and thereby had the best end to a Mass in memory) and we now sing the Mass, rather than the bits around its edges.

In the parish my axe is somewhat different. Nice lady, stuck in the early 1970s chooses the music for our sung Mass, which can only be every 3 weeks or so because we can't have music without her, she doesn't want to do it more often and Fr. only has 45 minutes to do the 10 minute drive to the next Mass if we sing! Mass settings are anathema, but every now and then I've managed to water down the 4 hymns with a Gospel Acclamation or a Sanctus (not chant - usually Walker). On the 2 out of 3 Sundays when there is no singing - ostensibly because of a lack of musicians - we could very easily fulfill the obligations of our diocesan pastoral plan (that we should sing at least Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus) by doing them in chant in either English or Latin - and I don't really care too much which. Our PP, who has a great voice and can hold a tune, could chant "The Lord be with you" and we could reply etc. Instead I'm told any of the following; that we don't want to go back to how the Church used to be 'in the dark ages', people don't want to be hanging around at Mass because they've got things to do and (bizarrely given that I took my pseudonym from an organ playing hero of mine in a place just South of Fleetwood) that I shouldn't play for Mass on my own because you can't play anything modern on the organ - picture the shades of frustration when with one breath you're told that you're too old-fashioned and with the next you're told that you're too modern!!!!!! :evil:

All I want is a bit of balance - it's not too much to ask is it? I like my Walker, Farrell, Inwood et al, and I like the odd bit of chant. We won't be using much from the Graduale Romanum any time soon - but I want to know that somebody is lest our Grade 1 Listed Liturgy gets demolished and replaced by a supermarket or car park!

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Post by asb »

Nick Baty wrote:I wasn't castigating anyone – sounds painful. I am asking how the fault can possibly lie with the congregation which is a gathering of individuals. If they're not singing they cannot be held collectively responsible.


Agreed - but there is nothing to stop 1 individual from giving it a go. That may get the others started! I have that at my church when there's no choir or cantor sometimes; they don't start, and if i mention it, i get told "We were all waiting for someone else to start"!

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Post by dunstan »

asb wrote:
Nick Baty wrote:I wasn't castigating anyone – sounds painful. I am asking how the fault can possibly lie with the congregation which is a gathering of individuals. If they're not singing they cannot be held collectively responsible.


Agreed - but there is nothing to stop 1 individual from giving it a go. That may get the others started! I have that at my church when there's no choir or cantor sometimes; they don't start, and if i mention it, i get told "We were all waiting for someone else to start"!

In my sister's parish the readers of the day are responsible for starting things off like the entrance or communion antiphon. Perhaps that should apply to singing when sans MD.
It's not a generation gap, it's a taste gap.

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Post by contrabordun »

hmm, I can see a nationwide shortage of readers developing if we go there...

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Post by asb »

We are a universal Church. Latin is not a language in regular everyday use anywhere. What better way to unite everyone?

One doesn't hear much about Esperanto these days. Did anyone ever take exception to that?

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Benevenio
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Post by Benevenio »

Whether you like it or not, English is fast becoming the universal language. For those whose mother tongue is not English, English is almost always the first second-language that is taught. Esperanto never was. Given the universal nature of the English language, arguably, then, it is better that:
  1. the Church concentrates on English, a language that almost everyone has some comprehension of rather Latin, a language that almost everyone has no comprehension of. That would be a much more positive way of uniting everyone: a common understanding (which will increase over time through worldwide teaching of English) rather than a common ignorance (which will deepen over time through worldwide lack of teaching of the Classics).
  2. the Church tries its hardest to get an English Mass which makes sense to English native speakers (at least on a linguistic level).
Having said that, I quite enjoy singing Latin (and some other languages too), mainly down to my educational background. Studying the Classics is something I have never regretted, making me appreciate the roots of the other languages I have learned over the years and the richness of English, as well as its shortcomings!

Nick, is that a good enough reason - pleasure in what we are doing?
Benevenio.

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Post by asb »

I'm sorry, Benevenio, but why not tell Rome they are wrong rather than those of us who are merely trying to observe the regulations of the hierarchical (whether we like it or not) Church to which we belong.

I hasten to add that I wholeheartedly advocate a mixture of styles, and would not in any way advocate a 100% latin diet. But Sacrosanctum Concilium is, to my mind, quite clear, in that it must, and should be used, even at a minimum level.

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Post by Benevenio »

Rome have been known to be wrong. Especially with the benefit hindsight… Even some Roman Catholics think that!

I think you and I are broadly in agreement over how much should be used. Bu we've not yet really addressed Nick's question, which is why?

Just as with children "because I say so" is a very weak argument, that they soon see through. Simply saying "because the documents of Mother Church says so" is equally limp.

For me, the universality of language doesn't hold water either, which was the fundamental point of my opinion expressed earlier.

If we musicians are to observe the documents, we cannot merely impose them on people; it is more that we need to lead them to want to do what is said. That involves answering the question 'why?' The answers that are along the lines that it is part of our heritage, it is fun, God is not English and so on are better than others so far postulated. IMHO. :wink:
Benevenio.

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Post by contrabordun »

Those answers are indeed - to lots of people, including him, me and, I gather, Nick - sufficient reasons to do so - but Nick's question is still unanswered unless those are also Rome's reasons, which I rather doubt..

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presbyter
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Post by presbyter »

contrabordun wrote:but Nick's question is still unanswered unless those are also Rome's reasons, which I rather doubt..


Well here are some of Rome's reasons:

I quote the letter of Cardinal James Knox - then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship - sent to all Bishops world-wide on Easter Sunday 1974. It was the occasion of the publication of Jubilate Deo, that small collection of chants which are recommended for universal use by the faithful.


"Several times recently, the Holy Father has expressed the wish that Catholics of all nationalities should know some Latin chants for the Mass, for example, the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei. In response to this we have prepared Jubilate Deo which contains a 'minimum' repertoire of such chants....

.... I should like to recommend to your initiative and judgement the effort that this document represents to foster the wishes of the Council: It should be arranged that Catholics can sing or say together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that belong to them. (SC 54)

When the faithful gather for prayer they illustrate the variety that is present 'from every tribe, language and nation'. They also emphasise a fundamental unity in faith and in the bond of charity. That there is variety is evident. The number of languages used at Mass, the songs and hymns in local vernaculars, all express the same faith but also what is unique in the religious experience of each people. Both these things find their legitimate expression in the liturgy, in harmony with the culture and traditions of a particular community. The use of Latin and Gregorian Chant, however, will serve to underline the unity of the Christian People in a particular way, and a way that seems quite reasonable. The chant of the Roman Rite has fed and supported both faith and devotion in the liturgy which it accompanies. The artistic worth to which it has attained alone is a good reason for it to be considered an inheritance of immense value to the Church. The Council, moreover, recognises Gregorian Chant as proper to the Roman Liturgy.

One of the principal aims of the Liturgical reform has been the promotion of liturgical singing, to allow the people to express the festal and fraternal character of the liturgy. 'The Liturgy is a nobler thing altogether when it is sung, with the ministers fully participating, each according to his degree, and with the full participation of the people'. (Musicam Sacram 5) This particular aspect of the reform is important to those who are concerned in it but its presentation involves certain difficulties. This Congregation therefore renews its appeal to promote and increase congregational singing.

As far as songs and hymns in the vernacular are concerned, the reform is an occasion to use one's faculties, inventive spirit and pastoral acumen. Poets and composers therefore are encouraged to put their energies at the service of this cause to build up a corpus of popular music worthy to be used in the praise of God, in the liturgical action; worthy, also, of the faith it expresses as well as being of sufficient standard artistically. This reform has opened up new avenues for church music and hymnody to explore. 'We await a new flowering of religious music today, so that in each nation we can worship in our own tongue without losing the beauty and expressive power of a music that fully belongs to our language'. (Paul VI to an international music conference in 1973)

At the same time, however, this cannot and does not repudiate the past. It tries to 'guard it carefully'. (cf SC114) This means evaluating the contents of our highly cultured and artistic tradition and fostering those elements within it that outwardly express and serve the unity of believers. To have a minimal repertoire of Gregorian chant would be fully in accord with this need and would make it easier for Catholics to associate themselves in worship both with their brethren of today and of past centuries. For this reason then, the encouragement of congregational singing must consider Gregorian chant seriously.

....... During this coming Holy Year (1975) many Catholics of different nationalities. languages and origins will be celebrating the presence of their common Lord, side by side.....

Lastly, particular attention to the balance between vernacular music and chant must be paid by those whose vocation it is to be more closely involved in the life of the Church and to understand it more fully. That is why the Pope (Paul VI) recommends that Gregorian chant be preserved and used in monasteries, religious houses and seminaries as a chosen form of singing and as an element of the utmost cultural and educational value. Furthermore, 'the study and practice of the chant is of great importance as the foundation of an education in Church music, because of its unique qualities'. (Musicam Sacram 52)..........."


And then from the preface of the Vatican Edition of Jubilate Deo

....Gregorian chant may well remain the bond which, in the name of Christ, brings together into a unity of heart, mind and voice a great diversity of peoples. From out of multiple tongues and rhythms there arises a trajectory into unity - in magnificent manifestation of the profound harmony in the one, true Church. As Saint Ambrose said, 'What a grand bond of unity becomes clearly evident when a multitude of diverse peoples sing in unison! The fingers of a musician may strike wrong chords at times, but not here - for among God?s people it his Spirit who is the master musician, the Holy Spirit who cannot fumble'.

May God bring this our common resolve to blessed fulfillment so that the praying Church throughout the world may. by its delightful and sacred songs, sing in joyous unison with the choirs on high.

----------------------

In all this, nobody is saying we have to sing a lot of chant/Latin. Jubilate Deo is not a large volume at all.

And another reason for keeping some Latin, which nobody has mentioned so far, is that it is still the official language of the Western Church.

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