A question of image

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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sidvicius
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Re: A question of image

Post by sidvicius »

That's more or less where I'm coming from - no-one's mentioned anything about dumbing down because that isn't the issue. More significant is a name which means absolutely nothing to many, or suggests either a liberal or conservative group ethos (pertaining to music and liturgy in the church) depending on who you talk to, and either way, it's wrong.

That's quite serious - it means something about SSG is sending out all the wrong signals. While I don't think it's anything the society needs to get too worried about 'with immediate effect', it's encouraging to hear board/members are prepared to address this.

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VML
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Re: A question of image

Post by VML »

Catholic Association for Liturgy and Music would make us CALM.

JW
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Re: A question of image

Post by JW »

It's just occurred to me that, if the Society wants a patron, there seems to be precious little choice when it comes to musician saints. In fact I can't think of anyone except St Gregory and St Celia - and I don't think there's much evidence that they were dedicated musicians. Can someone put me right - or does being a musician disqualify one from sainthoold? :shock:
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docmattc
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Re: A question of image

Post by docmattc »

contrabordun wrote:The point is that the Society's external image apparently does not reflect what the Society actually does. 4 questions follow:

1. Does this matter?
2. If so, do we care?
3. If so, do we know what sins of omission or commission have brought this situation about?
4. If so, what can we do about them?

If 'the name of the society' is one of the answers to (3), then 'change it' is a fair candidate for (4).



The reaction I've had almost universally from those who know nothing about SSG is that name gives the impression that we're the 'plainsong preservation society' and perhaps that is the cause of some of the recent flack from a certain constituency who seem to believe that restoring music to how it was in that (mythical) golden age of pick-a-number years ago will de facto solve all the church's problems. Maybe our name gives the impression that we too should advocate this retrograde movement but the reality is that 'alive in the church today' means preserving what is good from the past whilst embracing the new.

The kind of bad liturgy that we were accused of purveying certainly happens and is probably more widespread than we'd like to believe. As there is no other figurehead, SSG gets to be the whipping boy to take the blame for this sort of bad practice. What we really need to concentrate on is reaching those parishes where music and liturgy is stuck in a time warp and helping them out. I suspect there are a great many of these parishes up and down the land for whom the whole canon of Catholic music is contained within the covers of HON (a publication I'm stunned to discover is still on sale!). I can think of a relatively senior cleric who once told me "the problem with Laudate is it doesn't have the Israeli Mass in it."

This bad practice isn't deliberate or malicious- it exists because there is so little formation available, and equally I suspect, very little appreciation of a need for said formation among many parish musicians. Mass settings like American and Israeli, and hymns like that scapegoat of the 1970s 'Bind us together' are still in use because 'they're in the book, so they must be OK' (and of course, inspite of what some may think they are not actually hated by every single Catholic other than 'liberal musicians').

If our name creates a perception that SSG is "not for me" then its a barrier to engaging with those well meaning but ill-informed musicians who most need formation and we should perhaps consider a change, and we should certainly clarify what we really are. My guess would be though that the problem is much more deep seated than just our name. If we were the 'we're here to support your parish musicians society', it still wouldn't bring the members flocking in.

We need to think seriously how we can best provide formation in more parishes, changing our name may or may not hep that, but certainly raising our profile can't hurt us in this aim, nor in the one Contrabordun raises.

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Re: A question of image

Post by Copernicus »

docmattc wrote:The reaction I've had almost universally from those who know nothing about SSG is that name gives the impression that we're the 'plainsong preservation society'

At least some people take a contrary view: witness the discussion in the comments following this entry on the New Liturgical Movement blog.

My thoughts are (i) that the very great merit of the name Society of St Gregory is the way it boldly asserts mainstream, orthodox status for the SSG and its activities. This is as it should be. In comparison, a title embodying e.g. the term pastoral musicians, in my view would imply a willing embrace of marginal status.

And (ii) that if the SSG attracts hostility from the fringes, it must be doing something right. It wouldn't hurt the Society at all, it seems to me, if the attacks were to continue for as long as Mr Thompson's attention span holds out. And then we should do something to remind him of our existence. :-) The upshot could only be that a few more people who might currently think of the SSG as the plainsong preservation society will realise that it isn't.

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Re: A question of image

Post by Peter »

Copernicus wrote:... The upshot could only be that a few more people who might currently think of the SSG as the plainsong preservation society will realise that it isn't.

Yesterday evening I mentioned to SSG to a casual acquaintance, a church organist lamenting the 1970s dross he's required to play, and had the reaction "Oh, that's the plainsong society!", so the message clearly hasn't got through to him. Unfortunately I wasn't able to pursue the conversation any further though I did give him the URL of the Society's website.

VML wrote:Catholic Association for Liturgy and Music would make us CALM.

If we're looking for alternatives, "Society for the Promotion of Excellence in Catholic Liturgy" gives the acronym "SPECL" - OK unless you're a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, in which case "The Speckled Band" has more sinister connotations!

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musicus
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Re: A question of image

Post by musicus »

Peter wrote:Yesterday evening I mentioned to SSG to a casual acquaintance, a church organist lamenting the 1970s dross he's required to play, and had the reaction "Oh, that's the plainsong society!", so the message clearly hasn't got through to him.

People have long memories, parishes longer still: in the early years after 1929, the epithet would not have been totally unjust. I wonder how many members have spotted the reference to the Society in the Foreword (1930) to Plainsong For Schools Part 1 (cited by John Ainslie on page 53 of English Catholic Worship. In fact, all of chapter 3 of ECW and much of the rest of that excellent book puts our present discussion in context very well). It is going to take something seismic to shift that perception.
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Reginald
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Re: A question of image

Post by Reginald »

It would be ironic if we were able to ditch the plainsong connotations just in time for the plainsong revival...the teacher in me knows that if you stand still long enough things come full circle again. You go from fuddy-duddy to cutting edge at the stroke of a pen from the Department of Curtains and Soft Furnishings!

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musicus
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Re: A question of image

Post by musicus »

Reginald wrote:...the Department of Curtains and Soft Furnishings!

Wonderful! I shall lose no opportunity to taunt my local authority colleagues with that one :twisted:

(Explanation for non-UK readers: DCSF = the UK government's Department for Children, Schools and Families.)
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Nick Baty
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Re: A question of image

Post by Nick Baty »

Reginald wrote:the teacher in me knows that if you stand still long enough things come full circle again

I teach in an FE college.
Overheard at our back-to-term staff meeting on Friday:
She: "...people with disabilities."
He: "Sh! You mean disabled people."
She: "I thought that was offensive."
He: "Well it was last year but apparently it's OK for them to be disabled people again."
She: "Oh, I see."

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