Musical Mischief Managed

Thanks to Brian at Catholic Radio 2.0 and my musical colleague Jeffrey Tucker for an enjoyable experience chatting about the liturgy this afternoon. You can hear the discussion. This being the internet, Brian’s archives make it available for you to listen anytime.

Personally, I thought Jeffrey and I did a bang-up job, despite no bloodletting. I felt for Brian, dealing with a late guest for the first half of his show. I almost rang him up then, but I figured it wouldn’t be seemly to jump the gun on the second-half segment. As it was, when Fr Fessio did show up he rather distorted church history a bit to make his points. I told Brian it would have been interesting to lock horns with him.

Rather a lot is made of the principle of organic growth in the liturgy. And while it is mentioned in SC 23, it is not described as being an absolute norm by the council bishops. Indeed, the earthly aspects of the Roman Rite are designed for the sanctification of the people. Active participation is a far more significant principle, repeated in SC often, and mentioned in other council documents.

If the reform2 movement is indeed based on such flimsy documentation, I feel confirmed in the sense that it only makes sense to talk about liturgical reform, period. There is no argument that post-conciliar liturgical reforms were poorly implemented in many communities. While some reforms themselves were ill-conceived, the natural process of evaluation, prayer, and further study should be enough to correct problems as they arise. And that was the process the Church employed, as we’ve seen in the follow-up liturgy documents of Vatican II.

Father Fessio mentions in his segment that options in the Roman Missal have contributed to the bad liturgy since the Council. I could not disagree more with either his assessment of their purpose or the result. Options are provided in the Mass and in the rites to permit a priest to lead and celebrate the liturgy in harmony with the particular spiritual and pastoral needs of the communities they serve. Providing ten Eucharistic Prayers is not an exercise in creativity as much as it is a recognition that the particular words of the Roman Canon are not as important as the flexibility of making a local judgment that in some times and some places, other options are simply better.

Brian led off his radio show with a quote from John 17, in which Jesus prays for unity. We Catholics often confuse unity with uniformity. The Church is not richer for having all its clergy and people pray the same prayers in the same language every day. That would elevate those words and that language to a status of an idol: placing things, not God, above the needs of the people.

In my segment with Jeffrey, he criticized the Haas Gloria used at my parish and many others. I haven’t heard the recording of it in many years. I think Jeffrey makes a better point about the music being sing-songy. That’s why I take the piece at a faster tempo and my musicians and I pretty much play and sing it in one rather than in three.

I may have to invest in a digital recording device. I know my wife would probably shoot me for expanding this blogging hobby in a new direction, but it strikes me that some of you would be interested to actually hear what passes for music in my parish or on my instruments.

Be honest: what did you think of the program? Would something like that fly on Catholic Sensibility?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Liturgical Music, Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Musical Mischief Managed

  1. jeffrey says:

    Todd, it was a GREAT pleasure to be on the show with you! In so many ways, you have so much to contribute, and hearing you talk gave me several “ah ha” moments. Despite our differences, we are musicians who have so many of the same struggles and deal constantly with the difference between practical realities and ideals. I sincerely hope that we have more occasions to visit in the future. I felt like we had barely gotten started when the show ended! Anyway, I happy you accepted the offer to be on, and glad that I did too. It was a real treat, and I especially admire that you did this given all that you have been through in the last weeks. thank you again!

  2. I’m going to listen to the program later in the day, Todd, as this was one Gehenna of a performance loaded weekend in my neck of the woods (Thank you, Mr. Roker.)
    Jeffrey, himself, owns the proto digital recorder, the Edirol. Used it with great success at last year’s CMAA in DC.
    However, I’ve found that the new Zoom recorder is EXCELLENT and its street price is only $200!
    I’ve used it to record my parochial kids’ numbers for their Spring Concert, and it’s unbelievably clean. Better than my old Sony MiniDisc. Gonna post those recordings on our school site soon.
    Let you know what I think of the talk later. I, like you, appreciate Jeffrey’s charity as well as candor.

  3. Gavin says:

    Get a Zoom H4. Even if you don’t use it for blogging, get an H4. Those things are invaluable for any and every circumstance. Use it to record performances, Masses, sermons, lectures, or as a practicing aid. I can’t recommend it enough.

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