There and Back Again

Just arrived home from a thirteen-hour trip to Kansas City and back. The young miss had her semi-annual cardiology check-up. I was reading up on her heart condition on a few internet sites Sunday night. Don’t know why I was doing that: I went to bed that night full of worry and feeling sick to my stomach. I don’t usually get that reaction.

She had an MRI using a new machine and/or technique last November, so we saw some amazing views and movies of her heart. Today’s tests were just the EKG and ultrasound. On the latter, she asked for me to accompany. That hasn’t happened in a few years. Why are we still going to KC? As I was driving through Iowa heavy rain this morning and struggling to stay awake after my 5PM caffeine crash this afternoon, I was wondering about that. Brit has a great doctor, and I’m always leery about rolling the dice to find someone nearly as good. The other factor is finding people experienced with the young miss’s condition. Omaha would be a bit closer. But that still takes up pretty much a whole day.

Speaking of back again, I see not only is Archbishop Weakland back in the news, but one musical blogger has posted twice on him today. Nothing like digging up dirt from forty years ago. It must have been a very slow day in the blogosphere. Maybe we’re heading into Notre Dame fatigue. Worse things could happen.

I also have to wonder what’s in the conservatory kool-aid these days. Jeffrey Herbert is struggling to make a case against the publishers and contemporary church music.

Not quite sure how to react to a statement like this:

“Gospel style IS a popular style.”

Well, it is popular. Chant and early music are popular, too. Is it that popularity is a problem?

Last time I checked Gospel music has a significant Christian heritage going back more than a century in the American South and with roots traceable to Africa and the Caribbean. That it’s not Catholic doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as it being not-chant. The exclusive connection of sacred music and chant would seem to be a fairly untenable stance. The phenomenon of specialization is a problem for the sciences. Clearly the arts are not immune from it either.

I don’t see how a church musician can function professionally without a basic knowledge of just about everything. I’m not an organist but I have to be familiar with how pipe and electronic organs function, with the concept of registration, and how they’re played differently from a piano. I feel barely competent with what I know about chant and early music, with Catholic and Protestant hymnody, with Orthodox music, with Gospel music and its descendants, and how they all are related. It’s a mystery to me how anyone can make a living from church music with a narrow skill set: organ but not conducting, singing but not instruments, early music but not modern, and sure, guitar and piano but not classical. And that doesn’t even bring into consideration the disciplines or crafts of liturgy or pastoral ministry.

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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 Ministry, Music, My Family. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to There and Back Again

  1. Fran says:

    So many prayers for young miss and for your family, her doctors and more.

    Fatigue and a slow day are an understatement indeed.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    Try being a music director at a Catholic parish that ministers primarily to African Americans and NOT know anything about gospel music! A very short career that would be.

  3. Liam says:

    Weird. It look’s like Todd’s comment that followed amplified one aspect of mine over at Jeffrey’s was removed…

  4. Liam says:

    Cancel my immediately prior comment – it’s back…

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