Skip to comments.The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music
Posted on 01/18/2005 10:13:36 AM PST by siunevada
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"But it should not be an aesthetic experience for its own sake."
Then we have nothing to fear from OCP.
"Sometimes we try to follow a theme, but often its just choosing something we haven't sung in a while, or something moving and reverent for post Communion like Panis Angelicus or Ave Maria."
I think perhaps, based on your response, that I have perceived a real difference. In the Divine Liturgy or the old High Mass, the chanting would have had a purpose as an integral and important part of the sacrifice and thus the words of the chant (which is really everything that is heard in a Divine Liturgy and an old Hign Mass). Whether something was moving or reverent really wouldn't be the issue, though everything in a Liturgy should be moving and reverent.
"In the Divine Liturgy or the old High Mass, the chanting would have had a purpose as an integral and important part of the sacrifice and thus the words of the chant (which is really everything that is heard in a Divine Liturgy and an old Hign Mass)."
Right you are. The High Mass (Missa Cantata or sung Mass) had the Ordinary Chants for the people/choir(Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) sung, using one of several modes, at every Mass.
In addition to these, there were the Proper Chants (Introit, Graduale, Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion). These had their own melodies and varied from Sunday to Sunday and feast to feast.
All of these were integral to the Mass. The hodge-podge of banal songs we are burdened with in today's vernacular services are extraneous to the Mass itself. In almost all vernacular Masses these songs replace the prayers proper to the Mass itself for which vernacular "translations" exist.
These translations occassionally have some similarity in meaning to the Latin Propers from which they were "translated".
Now you see, that's what I was getting at exactly.
We traded a wealth of beautiful, reverent sacred music for shallow pop songs that could be mistaken for the theme songs of 1970's sit-coms.
Sometimes I wonder if those who believe that Catholics are stupid aren't onto something.
It's been years since I've heard "Panis Angelicus" at Mass. I tried to get them to let the kids (mine included)sing it for their First Holy Communion last year but was told, "Oh, they can't memorize that. It's too hard."
Nevermind that MY kid already knew the words ("Panis Angelicus" is included on Luciano Pavarotti's O Holy Night album which we listen to every Christmas season), or that we all sang it for our own First Communions. In fact, I think it was sung at EVERY First Communion ceremony I attended when I was a kid.
I guess they just think the little tykes today are not as bright as we all were back in the day. I disagree.
PS: The songs they DID sing? "Table of Plenty" and "I Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart." BLEEEECHHH. You know it's bad when your Lutheran mother-in-law is clapping away, exclaiming, "Why, it's just like Vacation Bible School!"
I could see in her eyes that she was relieved that this whole First Communion thing wasn't too....(shhhh!) Catholic.
"Why, it's just like Vacation Bible School!"
I have heard an almost identical comment from a converted Lutheran friend in our parish, only she said "...just like the songs in Vacation Bible camp".
She made it clear that these songs would never make it in her Lutheran Church but they were just fine in Bible camp.
We have much of history's best sacred music at our disposal and we buy and use OCP pop-slop crapola.
No wonder so many of us are disgusted with our bishops. I am especially disgusted with my bishop, the publisher-in-chief of OCP.
The problem is that how you worship has a great bearing on what you belive, and vice versa. Most of these new "hymns" contain lyrics that subtely or overtly contradict true Catholic teaching. We sang one last week in my parish that actually referred to the bread as a "symbol"!! And they wonder why so few Catholics believe in the true presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist! Also, the old hymns are often revised to be more pc and less "Catholic". Remember "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty"? Don't look for the line "tho the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see" anymore...it's been rewritten to remove the word and idea of "sin" because its just so, you know, negative (sarcasm).
This is the sort of thing that really ticks me off. It ticks me off so badly that I can't concentrate on THE MASS.
I don't understand why they've done what they've done, and I find myself getting more and more depressed about it.
Was it to become "more like the real world?" To become "more relevant?"
Well, it ain't relevant to me.
Somebody once said that church should be a refuge from the outside world, not a mirror of it, and he was right.
Too bad TPTB in the American Church can't see the wisdom of his words.
Now to the actual subject of the thread. I don't ever remember chanting being part of any Mass I ever assisted at, and my memory goes back 40 years to clear memories of actually participating in the Mass around the time of my First Holy Communion.
The NO had already been introduced. High Mass included singing responses to the Priest in Latin, I don't remember the congregation being part of that, though it is now, at the Latin Mass I currently attend.
We have the Eastman School of Music here in Rochester, NY, which boasts a solid reputation for attracting and keeping talent, and at one of the Latin Masses a few weeks before Advent, an Eastman student played his trumpet at High Mass. It was just him and the organist, though the organist played very little.
The sound of his lone trumpet went right to your marrow. It was the most beautiful music I've ever heard at Mass.
When I soke of chanting at a High Mass, I was speaking of the choir singing Gregorian Chant, though I do remember being at a Lithuanian Franciscan monastery for a Benediction and the monks chanted all of that service. This would have been in the late 50s.
I was referring to the same, when I mentioned I'd never heard it sung.
The only recording of chant I have is a recording by the Tallis Scholars.
I have somewhat low blood pressure, and I can easily tell when it drops, and within a minute or so of hearing this CD my heartrate slows, and I can feel my bp drop. That's the kind of calming influence Chant has on me.
Its really a shame you never heard one or attended one. You know, no matter how Orthodox I am, I'll never forget those High Masses as a Catholic school kid. Ranks of choir members in red and altar boys in black cassocks with white surplices, the head altarboy with a red trimmed cassock, a thurifer and a cross bearer, clouds of incense and of course, the old monseignor with his beretta and magnificent robes. By God, you knew what you were about when you were at High Mass! That will always be my image of Roman Catholicism and the Mass. Its a wonderful memory, too!
Nice post, Kolo. You made me nostalgic for something I've never known.
Have you ever heard Allegri's (1582-1652)"Miserere"? Thats a good one (albeit it repeats very often). Its a mix of Chant and Polyphony.
I haven't, but thanks for the recommendation. I know next to nothing about classical music, but I listen to NPR once in a while and some time ago they played chant and I was really moved by it. So I went to my local Borders listened to few CDs and decided on the Tallis Scholars, it was just what I was looking for at the time.
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