Showing posts with label Liturgical Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liturgical Music. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rebuilding Catholic Culture: Church Music and the Fad of ‘Folk’ Style

Edit: We've heard of stories where a Liberal priest has changed his ways, but Liberal nuns never seem to abandon their tedious catch phrases and rote incantations about openness, diversity and caring. But here's a nun who couldn't take it any more, who stood up against the... err, well, you get the picture in an article from CNA:

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J. *
I will never forget that moment! Flinging off his eyeglasses, he glared at me, “Sister, what have you done to our music!” I froze.
It was my first year at NYU as a graduate student of musicology, and I was enrolled in Professor Gustave Reese’s course, Medieval and Renaissance Music. He was the world’s leading authority on these two musical periods. An American Jew, a Renaissance Man, he loved the sacred music of the pre-conciliar Church. In a sense, he was its custodian. For him, musical analysis was de rigueur except for the Ave maris stella, “a honey of a piece.” When Reese blurted out his question to me, it seemed as if he had been storing it up for years. How could we have banished its musical culture, the most consequential result of the post-conciliar Church?
Effect of Music on the Human Spirit
From ancient times, people of every race and color have held that music, more than any other art form, is the most intimate expression of human feeling. According to the Ancients, music imitates the states of the soul and has the mysterious, even magical power, to influence a person’s behavior and to form moral character. We are affected by the kinds of music we experience. On the day of John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963, Beethoven’s second movement of the “Eroica” Symphony accompanied the cortege on its way to Washington’s St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Beethoven had dedicated the symphony “to the memory of a fallen hero.”
The Fathers of the Church agree with the Ancients. Sacred music proposes to lift up the the whole person to Christ likeness. Throughout the centuries, men and women have become converts through the beauty of liturgical music.
The Decline of Quality
Common sense dictates that not all music qualifies as suitable for divine worship, for the chosen music sets the atmosphere for the liturgy. The music expresses, reflects, and mediates the saving mysteries of Jesus in symbolic ways. It is the locus where the human and sensory realities meet the divine and spiritual. According to Sing to the Lord, the musical judgment of sacred music requires musical competence, (and) only artistically sound music will be effective and endure over time. To admit to the Liturgy the cheap, trite, or the musical cliché often found in secular popular songs is to cheapen the Liturgy, to expose it to ridicule, and to invite failure (USCCB, Sing to the Lord, #135).
The deciding factor about sacred music is its quality. Quality has two meanings: (1) Quality as the essential and objective character of something, and quality in man-made things, the condition for excellence; we value quality of life, quality time with family and friends, and quality of character; (2) Quality in man-made things, the condition for excellence; we choose quality in food and in clothing. In a long but important comment by Barbara Tuchman, Quality is the investment of the best skill and effort to produce the finest and most admirable result possible. Its presence of absence in some degree characterizes every man-made object, service, skilled or unskilled–laying bricks, painting a picture, ironing shirts, practicing medicine, shoe making, scholarship, writing a book. You do it well or you do it half-well. Materials are sound and durable or they are sleazy. The presence or absence of quality characterizes every man-made object and service, skilled or unskilled. Quality is achieving or reaching for the highest standard as against the sloppy or fraudulent. It is honesty of purpose as against catering to cheap or sentiment. It does not allow compromise with the second-rate but reaches for the highest standards. Quality can be attained without genius (Barbara Tuchman, “The Decline of Quality,” New York Times Magazine (November 2, 1980, 38-39).
Link to kathnews...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Corpus Christi Music Group Promotes Chant in the Wasteland

Music for the Masses
Corpus Christi Watershed Wants Sacred Song Back in Church

Read more: here.

Even a brief excursion through the online pages of Corpus Christi Watershed’s website tells you one thing: The Catholic Church’s ancient forms of sacred music are not dead.

For everyone who laments bongo-drum-driven pop Christian guitar ballads at Sunday Mass, take heart: Corpus Christi Watershed is leading a revolution of young, fresh-faced and extraordinarily talented musicians and composers who are on fire with the love of traditional sacred music.

Since 2007, this Texas-based nonprofit organization has tirelessly promoted Gregorian chant and polyphony for use in the liturgy by offering thousands of scores, recordings and training videos online, 99% of which are free of charge to the user. The goal is simply “to assist artists in their service to the Church.”

Read more, here...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

David Haas' New "Song" to Our Lady: Music to Abuse Liturgies By

David Haas

David Haas has been a long-time cacophonous purveyor of heresy and blasphemy. What's particularly scary is that they let this man teach High School students at a pretty expensive elite school.  What's even scarier is the man's getting paid by the Church to destroy the Church.  He's also an enemy in the use of "exclusive language", advocating its removal from parishes as reported here at Catholic Media Coalition:

David Haas: Contemporary Church music composer who published Dear Sister God, and presented a music workshop at which he and his ex-wife, composer Jeanne Cotter, informed the participants of their “duty” and “responsibility” to purge their parishes of “exclusive language” in the liturgy.

You might also know his work if you're unfortunate enough to attend "Mass" in the NO in North America with tortuous ditties like this.  This particular anthem is guaranteed to torture the unwary traveler.  It says, ominously, "you are mine."   Creepy.  In any event, if it does anything effectively, it's that it conveys the heterodox leanings of Mr. Haas   This particular piece features a Jesuit and a chick named Sister Bubbles, and we're not making this up:

 Now, over at the ever-effeminate and faux-Benedictine   Pray, Tell Blog, he's airing out his most recent steaming composition offensive to pious ears, and probably God and Our Lady, right here.  Note the agonizing attempt to work with the inclusive language and connect with a more ancient hymn..  \
Hail, Holy Mary, Queen of Peace, O Maria!
O Fragrance of God’s love increase, O Maria!
Mother, servant of God’s grace, [one of the commenters thought this line would offend someone]
Womb for Christ, holy birthing place, First disciple, we embrace:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina! 
Hail, Holy Mary, hope for all, O Maria!
Your song of justice is our call, O Maria!
Poor and broken are held high,
Mercy will intensify,
God’s reign you personify:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina!
Hail, Holy Mary, you inspire, O Maria!
With you, God’s presence we desire, O Maria!
Vision, wisdom, you instill,
You, the “Yes,” God’s holy will,
Faith and courage, you fulfill:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina!
Hail, Holy Mary, strength and trust, O Maria!
O Woman, singer for the just, O Maria!
Mother, model, faith supreme,
Pregnant bearer of God’s dream,
Peace and justice is your theme:
Salve, Salve, Salve Regina!

No wonder males stay away from church until they have children.   What's really laughable is how Father Ruff OSB and his commenters over there are trying to play this off as a link between tradition and more contemporary forms of music.

Here's some commentary from the Musica Sacra Forum, which gives some hilarious commentary, calling this "hymn" a politically correct Salve.  Very funny.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reflections on the Liturgy

by Jonathan Bennett

The sacred mysteries on Earth are reflections, shadows of the ineffable mysteries of the faith, and allow the senses something of a taste of that which cannot truly be perceived by the senses- the incomprehensible is made comprehensible to the limited capacities of man's condition through the rites of the Church. Herein we encounter the commerce of Heaven and Earth, the natural and the supernatural, where, as God was made Man so that man might know God, the faith becomes manifest in tangible forms so we might know the faith.

The liturgy is meant to give a temporal vision of Heaven. How could the sublime and complex rites of the sacred ministers- clothed in sumptuous vestments, bathed in clouds of incense and illuminated by innumerable candles- as they attend to the altar amidst the celestial hosts brought forth in lavish iconography, to the voices of a multitude of choirboys raised in the ancient chants which echo the never-ending praise of the seraphim surrounding the Throne of God, not impose itself in a most magnificent way upon the mind and the senses? Is this not a foretaste-though still inadequate by far- of the Beatific Vision, of eternal contemplation of God?

What a difference then is the state of the liturgy in our own times. Even amongst many traditionalists the liturgy is the subject of much sad neglect. When the priest stomps about the sanctuary in muddy boots, vested in cheap polyester vestments, speeding through the Latin prayers and performing his sacred office in a manner so routine as to strip it of all outward dignity, within a church lacking in any beauty or adornment (or if there is an actual attempt at artwork and ornamentation it is gaudy and banal), the faithful may perhaps be excused for hearing Mass not out of piety but out of obligation, whilst the Divine Offices are relegated to the private prayers of the clergy (meant to sanctify every hour of the day, they are more often than not said all at once, or in two or three sittings at convenient times) and all but ignored by laity.

This of course is neglect in the extreme and not a general accusation, and in some cases more reflective of local conditions than intent, but serves to illustrate to what extent the liturgical patrimony of the Church may be diminished. In other cases it is most certainly intended (the author himself has heard, on no small number of occasions, diatribes against great solemnity and lavish ceremony, interestingly much akin to similar arguments from the Jansenists of previous centuries) and there are those who would pride themselves on the trappings of a persecuted sect- hurried Low Masses at ungodly hours of the day, in tiny isolated chapels, with plain vestments and vessels- out of choice rather than necessity. It might be well to recall the Curé D' Ars, the most austere of priests for whom the vestments could not be rich enough, nor the sacred vessels ornate enough for the service of the altar.

Perhaps what has suffered most from this liturgical minimalism is the Church's immense treasury of music. Not only is the full repertoire of Gregorian chant neglected- in efforts to maintain congregational singing, an early twentieth century novelty for most of the Latin Church, it is often the most simple chant settings which are employed- but choral and polyphonic compositions are regarded as too complex and time consuming for choirs to manage (in fact many Masses and individual pieces were written for a small number of voices for the very purpose of making them accessible to smaller choirs) while orchestral settings, such as those by Haydn, Mozart and Gounod, are unthinkable. Even organ preludes and interludes (not to mention the full organ Masses of the French tradition) are frowned upon in some locales, reputedly for "distracting" the faithful from prayer. Choirs themselves have long been bereft of their hierarchal structure and laicized (no longer even to be found in the actual 'choir' of the church, but in the loft), and in all but a precious few cases have abandoned the once-proud tradition of boy choristers in favor of women to provide the higher voices.

In a like manner has art and architecture declined. From the modernist extreme- that is, those churches of recent decades which on first glance would make one think an airplane crashed into a museum of modern art- many traditionalists have fled to another entirely, in the form of chapels better suited to the Amish than Catholics. Is the answer to near sacrilege (or worse, as exemplified by some of the recent additions to the Stephansdom in Vienna) really to be found in iconoclasm? Fortunately those who really believe so are likely a minority; unfortunately however the majority appears to find their answer deep in the tradition of that golden age of Elvis, poodle skirts and Americanism- the 1950s, from whence comes those almost-infuriatingly cutesy depictions of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, and statuary which resembles sugar candy. Your humble writer finds himself at loss as to whether or not he should concede the excuse that gaudy is better than nothing in that same capacity for which the Church was once the greatest patron of all the arts.

Of course such excuses hinge on two oft-spoken claims. First, that it is just not possible to have "nice things" in this day and age. Tasteful art, let alone entire churches, is a hefty expense and decent choirs demand an amount of time and effort nobody seems to have. That is to say, idealism be damned, it is just not practical to expect such things even if the faithful would treble their efforts should they be made to know just what might come it. Second, that doctrinal orthodoxy is superior to external form, and that this somehow justifies liturgical minimalism. To the former, the author answers that it is better to trust in Providence than to trust in fatalism. To the latter, that the faith cannot be made distinct from form and action- liturgical form is the faith made manifest and is inherently to doctrinal orthodoxy.

In bygone days it was a noted fact that even some of the worst of sinners and the most lacking in faith would attend the liturgy, if not for any remnant of pious inclinations then for the aesthetic beauty of the ritual. Contrary to the belief that the sacraments are rewards for the faithful and virtuous and that the Mass is the privilege of an initiate few, is it not to be hoped that simply being in the presence of the celebration of the sacred mysteries might produce medicinal effect and that these persons may receive even a small amount of grace? Though the very same may be said for all- truly blessed is he who has such faith that it does not need to be strengthened by anything external. Here we perhaps see a part of the motivation of our ancestors in all those centuries of building massive, opulent churches filled with imagery and statues and such things as to delight the mind and raise it from the drudgery of life to thoughts of the supernatural.

What this inadequate and humble writer dares to suggest is that crucial to restoring all things in Christ is the restoration of a liturgical spirituality which sees the august rites of the Church as the living manifestation, the resplendent garb of the Catholic faith and the theurgic act which elevates the mind and soul beyond this mortal coil and brings us into the very presence of God. This demands a perception of the liturgy as something no less than the centerpiece of a Christian society, the fountainhead of all art, the sanctifier of every aspect of earthly life and the means through which we may enter into eternal life, worthy of all the pomp and splendor it is possible to bestow upon it.

Posted on the Feast of the Seven Holy Founds of the Order of the Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a.D. MMX

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Petulant Vatican Bureaucrat Criticizes for Circulating Encyclical on Music

Kreuz circulates what spokesman Fr Lombardi says is a fake encyclical on sacred music, Musicam Sacrum Fovere conceived to please conservatives and earns the scorn of the Liberals at Radio Vatican who then proceed to make simpering accusations about their supposed association with National Socialism and the USA based server they use, "to avoid prosecution under German Law".

Link to original ...

Original PDF File of Musicam Sacram Fovere in Latin...