Thursday, April 17, 2008

On the Papal Mass in Washington DC

Tune: Be Not Afraid

When the pope came to America
Went to Washington DC
He had multi-culture forced on him,
music of profanity.
Have they never read a word he wrote
Or heard what he has said?
Have they more authority than he?

Rules be obeyed!
Can’t we have reverent music?
Come, learn some chant
It’s not as though you can’t.

When Communion sounded so profane
I did not think it was odd
that I craved a Margarita when
I should have prayed to God.
If inebriation’s sober, then it should not sound like this.
Lex orandi, lex credendi’s true!

You shall chant the Pater Noster
And the walls will not fall down
You’ll have reverence in the liturgy and never see a clown
You will learn to sing the Credo and you’ll not burst into flames
You will sing the music of the Church

Blessed are the ones who see the church as unity.
Jesus never prayed we celebrate diversity!
Latin’s how we speak in foreign lands
So all will understand
Many though we are, we sing as one.

Tune: Holy, Holy from "Mass of Creation"

If we'd only, on-ly sung
hymns in Latin, Mass with chant
half of the time we've sung all that Haugen,
We all could sing the Sanctus!
Blessed are they who give pride of place to the chant.
They all can sing the Sanctus,
They all can sing the Sanc---tus!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Museum of Bad Liturgical Music

Stained Glass

I found a great site today, thanks to a link on Father Joe's Blog:
It's the Museum of Bad Art! I'm inspired to begin a Museum of Bad Liturgical Music, but where to begin? Could your parish be a local branch?

Part of the problem is that the Church keeps telling us what she wants, but won't be too specific on what she doesn't want. Still there's talk of the cult of the banal, and Sacramtum Caritatis says this:
"Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided."

As Msgr. Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music said, "But the reforms of the past had to deal with forms of music that were, perhaps, "excessive," but formally correct. But much of the "music" that is written today ignores, I will not say the grammar, but even the ABC´s of musical art. In the more or less critical situations that we have considered, there was never a degeneration like the present one."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Humility of Excellence

Rembrandt: Saul and David Web Gallery of Art
The National Catholic Register has an article today that suggests that no music at Mass is preferable to "weak music marked by commercialism." Further, the author writes that a mass with no music takes on the virtues of humility and poverty.

I must agree that, given the choices above, even I would prefer a silent Mass. But let us never consider that these are the only two choices available. Good liturgical music must be our only choice. And it must be nurtured by pastors who are knowledgeable and courageous, and led by musicians who are prayerful, trained and talented. It sounds simple, but such a pastor and music director working together are nearly as rare as hen's teeth.

So where do we start? First, train the future priests, and teach, speak and act with charity and truth to pastors and parishioners who don't know the difference between Bob Dylan and Palestrina.

Second, learn the documents. Know what the Church, the Bride of Christ, desires in liturgical music.

Third, rid ourselves of the baloney we were fed in the sixties that told us good musicians were performing, and that paid musicians weren't dedicated. Performance is common accusation made of trained and competent musicians who do traditional music (chant, organ, hymns and polyphony), and it is often made by untrained musicians who enjoy contemporary popular liturgical music. It is a criticism thoughtlessly handed off as if musical incompetence were a badge of spirituality. “Performance” here implies a lack of humility and an intended edification of self.

Sacred music played or sung well draws one's attention away from the performer and points it toward God. Unskilled musicians attract attention only to themselves. Musical competence is not incompatible with a humble, prayerful and praise-filled spirit. If it were incompatible, surely the musical tradition of the Catholic Church, which requires competence to sing, would not be considered any sort of treasure, much less a treasure of inestimable value. Musical competence is not incompatible with participation and it is not incompatible with ministry. Indeed, musical excellence is the result of a God-given gift that is humbly, carefully and obediently cultivated through study, diligence and endless hours of practice. In liturgy, musical excellence willingly submits to the needs and desires of the Church.

As far as poverty, how many rich liturgical musicians do you know? To dedicate one's life to serving the Church through its rich musical tradition is the next best thing to a vow of poverty! Many liturgical musicians have as much training as your doctor, and the good ones practice and pray every day. They need to make a living making music for God and in the service of the Church, or they waste their gifts and years of study, working their "day jobs." See that they're paid a fair wage, and they will help heal your soul through what Pope John Paul II called "the beauty that saves." (Letter to Artists, 1999)

It's not a simple recipe, but when did the Church ever ask us to take the easy way out? As Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote in “Singing the Lord’s Songs" (First Things, Oct. 2000), "There is nothing mere about the beautiful." We can have beautiful music, humility, and even poverty (just don't impose poverty on the musicians). Dare we offer less?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Gregorian Chant Released from "Pride of Place" and Put Back in Liturgy!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kill Me Now!

“Kill me now.” For if this be our exile, what shall our consolation be?

“All my life I have been taught that we live in the true Church, that all the means of grace are ours, and that things essential to the Church’s life were lost by Protestants at the Reformation. And yet this morning I endured the wretchedness of that first Mass, only to experience in Protestant worship the most breathtakingly beautiful liturgy I have ever seen. I don’t understand.”
--From Fr. Jay Scott Newman's new blog.