I freely confess I don’t get the notion that Catholic liturgy has become protestantized and this is a bad thing. I don’t get it on two levels.
There is in biology a principle of convergent evolution. Two totally unrelated animals, say the red fox and Australia’s thylacine, developed very similar skull shapes. Why? Both are predators adapted to catching prey of a certain size. Jaws, teeth, eyes, olfactory sense, brain size are all similar.
So the Vatican II bishops urge more Scripture at the liturgy. A liturgy of the word looks like a non-sacramental protestant word service. Were Catholic bishops of the 60′s copycats? Or does it make theological and pastoral and spiritual sense to structure the Word thus: reading, psalm, reading, alleluia, gospel, homily, creed, and intercessions. Would it make traditionalists feel better to start out with the homily? Or omit one or more readings entirely? Maybe we know the answer to that one.
The complainers seem to me to be like the squid criticizing humans for stealing their concept of the eye. Or human beings deciding that they don’t like copying the squid, so they want something less optimal just to be different.
Human beings praying to God have developed many practices that resemble convergent evolution: monasticism, celibacy, meditation, sacrifice, initiation rituals, funerals, chant, priesthood, and rites of passage, to name several.
And so what if the Consilium looked at protestant word services and decided, “Hey! This format works. What don’t we adopt it for ourselves?” Christian liturgists have been doing this from the time of Egeria and long before and after. Rome stole Form I Reconciliation from the Irish.
The other aspect I don’t get is the notion that protestants developed guitar groups and Catholics copied them. Catholic guitar groups are not protestant ideas. They are populist ideas.
Organists have always been in the minority of musicians. For at least four hundred years, if not longer, there have been more violinists than organists. In the sixties, the guitar was hugely popular in western society. People wanted to be like Elvis, the Beatles, or PP&M, or somebody they knew at school who got all the girls. Or guys.
The guitar has many inherent advantages over the pipe organ. First, it is portable. You can bring it into a religious ed classroom like Ray Repp and many others did. Second, it is moderately easy to gain a basic competence playing it, though maybe that semi-competence can go to one’s head. Third, it plays well with others, like singers, flutes, harmonicas, saxophones, and even orchestras. 3a: it can play at other people’s houses, and the pipe organ is pretty much bound in its own home.
While it wouldn’t surprise me that some Catholics copied evangelicals in guitar-styled worship, I suspect it was organic development combined with copying other Catholic parishes.
Where does Marty Haugen fit in all of this? Marty is part of a progression from religious ed guitarists, to the mimeographed lead sheets of the St Louis Jesuits, to the wakening of the music publishing engines of the 70′s. Marty Haugen fits the progression in two main ways and a few minor ones:
His music was among the first to integrate the piano (and the organ to a lesser extent) back into contemporary music. For the first time, mainstream guitar groups were better equipped to lead congregational singing, and the bar was raised for singers (three- and four-part music) as well as the variety of instruments a music director could call upon in the parish.
Two, his was among the first published music for ensembles to attend to setting the psalms and the service music of the Mass. The eighties saw a great development of music for psalmody, picking up on the old traditions of the gradual and applying it in a liturgical way. Contemporary music in the eighties also forged ahead where the old Mass did not and could not go: music for the rites, especially RCIA, funerals, anointing, and the sacraments.
I might also add that he was one of the first to revive a sense of hymnody, and also employed plainsong long before “reform of the reform” became pc-speak for traditionalist musicians.
So when Tony suggests that, “The preference for Mr. Haugen’s music is symptomatic of something much more insidious and pervasive,” I don’t want to suggest that this opinion “unwelcomes” him in any way. But my sense of the truth would insist I call out the statement as ignorant.
If Tony might be suggesting it is possible for church musicians to reside happily in any sort of comfort zone, heaven forbidding they move to the next letter of the musical alphabet (“I” or “J” perhaps) then I would agree this is a bad state of affairs. Some guitar groups never moved beyond Joe Wise and Ray Repp. Some never moved beyond the Jesuits. Some are still stuck in the 80′s. Some are frozen in LifeTeen. By the same token, conservatory musicians have their own hangups and comfy fortresses.
The Church does not benefit from such as these. Such music may be competently or even artistically played. But a lack of growth is symptomatic of a carelessness that does not fit or suit the Christian life. I’m not speaking of novelty or creativity for its own sake, but of the openness to continuing conversion, and of the search for God wherever we may encounter the Divine. The message of the Scriptures pounds away that we should include the unexpected in our search. Even protestant liturgy, when the path leads to it.
Anyway, what are good Catholic souls doing with knowledge of what a protestant liturgy is like? Y’all shouldn’t know a darn about such things, and even if you do, you probably don’t know a darn about it.