Monday 28 November 2011

Anything Goes

The days of "Anything goes" are now over
when it comes to music at Mass!

So says Jeffrey Tucker over at The Chant Café, drawing our attention to the fact that the New Missal has a change in the instructions on what music can be sung at Mass. Hymns - however good or bad - are not a part of the Mass. The chant of the Missal - Scripture laden and hallowed by centuries of Christian prayer - is the focus of music within the Mass.

The new translation of the General Instruction removes the discretion from the music team to sing pretty much whatever it wants. The new text, which pertains to the new translation of the Missal that comes into effect on Advent this year, makes it clear beyond any doubt: the music of the Mass is the chanted propers of the Mass. There are options but these options all exist within the universe of the primary normative chant. There can be no more making up some random text, setting it to music, and singing it as the entrance, offertory, or communion.

True liturgical reform has been trying to get us to use chant as the mainstay for centuries.

In the 17th century Blessed Cardinal Tommasi, "Prince of Roman Liturgists", tried to encourage it, introducing it into his own church.

Pope Pius X tried in 1903 with "Tra le Sollecitudini":

Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the suprememodel for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down thefollowing rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.

The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone.

Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.

The Second Vatican Council was in accord with the same desire in the document on the Sacred Liturgy "Sacrosanctum Concilium":

16. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

Can we hope that it will no longer be anything goes but that pride of place will once more be given to the chant urged on us by Pope Pius X, Vatican II and the new Missal?


Richard Collins said...

I'll take Ella's version but leave Vatican II's.
Her initials are, of course,

Andrew said...

What a wonderful thought - but I'm afraid that the reality will be quite different - most parish 'musicians' (and I suspect lots of clergy too) have never heard of the G.I.R.M. let alone read it!!

Film Buff - Not said...

The days of "Anything goes" might be over when it comes to music at Mass but does the new translation mention anything about watching films during Mass. My PP has installed projector screens above the altar and during the sermon he announced that we would be watching a film. He then sat down in one of the front pews and we were treated to a short film which was supposed to enhance the message of his sermon. I cannot tell you what it was about because I refused to look; instead I bowed my head and recited the Rosary. Perhaps the General Instruction could be amended to exclude the showing of videos during 'Mass'.

Elizabeth D said...

I agree about chanted propers and have spoken up repeatedly at my parish in favor of that and using the ICEL Missal chants that are in the new Missal. But a quibble, the Missal chants or the chanted English propers are not "Gregorian chant" which is specifically the traditional music that goes with the Latin text of the Mass. It's sometimes possible to adapt the melodies to the vernacular text of the Mass, or create something similar, but Gregorian chant itself is what is in the Liber Usualis or the Graduale Romanum.