Will Jeffrey Take the Bait?

A very stimulating discussion is in progress at the Chant Cafe on liturgical music. A side discussion on Sing to the Lord, has elicited a challenge: do a  Catholic Sensibility-style discussion on the document there. Invite comments through the lens of chant musicians, but open the boxes up to broad commentary from all.

Go on over and encourage my friend to do it. That way I won’t have to do it here.

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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.
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14 Responses to Will Jeffrey Take the Bait?

  1. Joyce Donahue says:

    Todd, you seem to be holding your own quite well!

    After reading through all the legalistic badinage, all I can say from a pastoral point of view – what about the entire purpose of entrance music? My understanding of the song that accompanies the procession is simply that it gathers the voices of the faithful into one voice to unify them and lead them into their proper role in worship. No more, no less.

    Whenever I have experienced a choir-only gathering (our cathedral liturgies, because there is no visible song leader and no invitation to sing are those de facto) the people stare, talk among themselves, etc, but are not particularly engaged or unified by such an entrance. It seems more about “us and them” – the entering ministers and the people in the pews – and less about “us” together.

    It pains me that the rubricists are so divorced from where people in most parishes are and that they see the mainstream of American Catholic music as inferior. For the rest of us, discussions like that in Chant Cafe seem quaint ivory-tower irrelevant exercises in solipsism. All I can say to those people is “knock yourself out!” By far the majority of Catholics are not in their corner – and most of us will not pay much attention to all the hot air expended on such discussions.

  2. Joyce, I respectfully suggest you not mischaracterize and even indict your fellows at the Cafe as “rubricists” or “quaint ivory-tower” solipsists based upon that post and combox thread, or many others there. I’ve acquired so much anecdotal evidence at colloquia and from blogs such as Cafe and Sensibility that stand as stark refutation of your assessments. Most of “us” manage to fold into the existing musical and liturgical repertoire and templates at our parishes those items that have been deemed (remember that Church time is measured in centuries) INTEGRAL to our rites. The major skeptics in this process inevitably are our clergy, not the faithful, as I’ve never heard one complaint about a chanted proper in nearly two decades. I’ll save that for another discussion.
    What does that mean, to fold in? Well, using the example of “O come, all ye faithful” at Christmas. After consulting the pastor, we structured the Entrance so that the common three English verses would accompany the formal procession and incensation of the altar, and when the deacon placed the statue of the Infant King into the creche manger the choir would seemlessly sing the choral, homophonic proper by Richard Rice which was in the same key. As the deaconed returned to the altar, ALL again seemlessly returned to conclude singing the hymn to “Adeste fideles.” Normally. a choral/chanted Introit is relegated to prelude status out of fealty to the pastor’s taste.
    The communio is another matter. Because Holy Communion is offered in both forms, we have an elaborate and exorbitant EMHC program. After the fraction, it is almost five minutes duration for chalice and ciboriua distribution after the celebrant receives. So, we’ve folded in Communio proper, most times choral homophony 4/1 over a chanted, and predominantly in English. Then we transition to the hymn processional while the choir and congregation receive. Etc.
    Another wonderful evolution for me personally was that, finally at long last, after a concert hint a week prior, the pastor invited the congregation to chant the Snow “Our Father.” As he did so invite, he gave me an acknowledging glance. A week prior, after a rousing closing number at our annual concert, he made some remarks and then asked me if we had an encore. I nodded yes, and I simply intoned the Snow, which all then took up, even non-Catholics to my observation.
    Joyce, this isn’t pedantry. I’ll allow that there are blogsites that portray and proffer the smaller, purer and frillier Church ideology. But Jeffrey Tucker did not design the Cafe to be as such.
    Todd, I believe, would be the first to concur that we adherents of the Cafe are not some museum poseurs. We’re in it. We’re on your side, because its our side as well.
    God bless you and thank you for the opportunity to address your concerns.

  3. Sorry for my many spelling, syntax and typo errors. Only one cup of joe in the gullet, and it didn’t fire up the neurons at the time.

  4. Anne says:

    “All I can say to those people is “knock yourself out!” By far the majority of Catholics are not in their corner – and most of us will not pay much attention to all the hot air expended on such discussions.”

    That’s the truth!

    I don’t hate chant. I love it actually.But to me the sound of the praying assembly singing out together is even more beautiful then perfect choir only Gregorian chant. The singing may not be in tune or perfect,or a great composition…but it is real.

  5. I’m happy for you, Anne. How are things at RPI? PS4 still riling up the masses there?

  6. Anne says:

    Thanks Chuck! Nice to hear from you too!

  7. Jimmy Mac says:

    Psalm 100:1 – “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” I find that joyful noise of vigorous enthusiastic congregational participation infinitely superior to letter-perfect choir presentations. If I want a concert I’ll pay and go to one. I want congregational worship, with all of its warts and bloopers.

  8. Joyce Donahue says:

    Chuck, thanks for your response. I am willing to consider standing corrected in my judgment. However, my indictment of “irrelevant” to the mainstream stands.

    In my experience in two dioceses in Illinois, I have only rarely met a parish liturgist with the kind of academic background and familiarity with the documents that the people on Chant Cafe all seem to have… and we are NOT a poor area of the country by any means. Pastors here are simply not hiring and paying professional liturgists. They are looking for good musicians. Most parish musicians read liturgical magazines, go to an occasional conference or workshop, but have no professional training in liturgy. They usually do not split hairs over rubrics. They program what the community will bear – and the most important issue besides liturgical appropriateness is whether or not the people will sing.

    In some cases, that may indeed mean a seasonal chant but in most places I have never encountered anything more arcane than the “Pange Lingua” or one of the two most familiar chant settings of the Agnus Dei. Beyond that, far and away, parishes I have been in, visited and experienced in other ways rely almost solely on metrical hymns – in combination with contemporary songs and the very occasional chant.

    In my own parish, we have cantors who chant the Christmas and Epiphany Proclamations (in English) and the Exsultet in English and Spanish. That, frankly, is about as complicated as it gets – and this is musically a pretty good parish. No one here would even know what was meant by “chanting the Propers.”

    And, lest you think I only find the CC people “ivory tower” – I went to the Notre Dame summer liturgy conference a few years back and found those who think the only music should be traditional or modern-composed organ-based four-stave hymns to be just as out of touch with the reality in my area, where most parishes mix a few of those in, but for the most part rely on contemporary music (and no, it’s not the Glory and Praise folksy stuff.)

    The sound of people (including the teens) singing loudly and enthusiastically “Jesus Christ, You are My Life” or “Canticle of the Turning” – or their prayerful and heartfelt singing of “Now is the Time” or “There is a Longing” show me that they are giving unmistakable outward signs of participation.

    One thing I have noticed, when the music is “rousing” or particularly heartfelt and appropriate, there is a direct relation to how enthusiastically the people participate in the spoken responses of the Mass. That tells me that when the music “reaches” their hearts, something happens that translates into a more active participation in the prayer of the Mass.

  9. Todd says:

    I have to agree with Joyce’s observations on pretty much everything: pastors, parish musicians, Notre Dame, and the expression of faith in contemporary (and occasionally others) music that is based on Scripture, liturgically appropriate, and inspires a faith-filled response. That response, as I’ve seen it in many parishes, is outward, but also reflective of an inner spirituality, and often leads to apostolic action in the world.

  10. Again, I celebrate the successes that you all, Joyce, JM and Todd, describe. And I’m likewise sure that should you personally encounter a worship experience in a parish or colloquium experience such as I have after four decades of eclectic practice (which I still program for certain applications) that you would celebrate that inspired, faith-filled response as well. I, too, have seen that in parishes out west, and there are so many young faces present, who live apostolic lives and witness to our traditions and commissions with joy and vigor.
    Whisper voice, Todd: don’t tell my CMAA buds, but I just purchased and gave a young HS senior in my ensemble a new acoustic/elec. Ovation this evening as I see “light” in his soul, and I’ve known his family and siblings since being a choral teacher for them at my old school. I just asked him to never stop loving the Lord and serving Him in the faith. Do you think Noel will garrotte me with Elixers next June? ;p

  11. This is for your consideration. Tonight our deanery will celebrate a final memorial Mass for our deceased bishop. Below is the Order of Music. In the Chant Café and Catholic Sensibility blogs, Todd and I both spoke to the issue of “percentages” in so far as programming with FCAP in mind, while also adhering to the hierarchy of options, and their presumed assignments to all, congregation or choir/cantor. This is fairly typical of how I program what amounts to our weekly “Missa Cantata” in the OF. I’ll make notes preceded with an asterick “*” to indicate normative or exceptional programming.

    Order of Music-Dec.29, 2010
    Memorial Mass: His Excellency John T. Steinbock
    Prelude: KYRIE ELEISON (from “Pavane”) Gabriel Fauré *choral prelude rare
    Introit- “Requiem aeternum” chanted *generally this is sung prior to hymn
    Entrance: THE STRIFE IS O’ER (Victory)

    Responsorial: Respond & Acclaim Ps. 22/23 * R&A is S.O.P.
    Gospel Accl.plainsong “Alleluia”modeVI

    Offertory:“Out of the depths” from “By Flowing Waters” Dr. P. Ford
    CANTIQUE DE JEAN RACINE Gabriel Fauré *generally no Offertorio nor choral anthem. Congregational hymn generally sung at Offertory.

    Eucharistic Accl.Mass of Creation Acclamations* MoC never used by my choirs, this is out
    of consideration for congregants from other Masses/Parishes /Agnus Dei-plainchant

    Communion Procession: Antiphon: “Domine quinque”*normally sung in English
    I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE/YO SOY EL PAN DE VIDA

    Communion Anthem: JUST AS THE DEER (Sicut cervus) Palestrina

    Recessional: “In paradisum”/
    JOY TO THE WORLD/DICHOSA TIERRA (Bishop’s favorite hymn/carol of all time)

    So, does this pass muster for percentages, or….?

  12. Joyce Donahue says:

    Sounds wonderful for an episcopal funeral – and appropriate, good quality choices. (Wish our cathedral measured up to that!) Thanks for sharing.

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