Jeffrey Tucker at NLM fumbles a bit on the eve of the replacement document for Music in Catholic Worship. The reform2 crew seems dismayed because …
Word on the street is that the new document on music from the USCCB retains the threefold judgment on music in liturgy: liturgical, musical, and pastoral. This is unfortunate because this test confuses more than clarifies. The major problem is how to weight these concerns.
This test is hardly confusing, and the weight of the concerns is obvious: take the judgments as they are given. In other words, just read the document sections 26 through 41. If you don’t want to sully your bookshelf with inconvenient teachings of the Church, just look it up online.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody has actually leaked the new document, so Jeffrey can’t be sure it doesn’t make it more clear. I don’t think another generation of traditionalists will be reared with MCW as a scary bedtime story. An adult consultation with what the document actually says: that would be more helpful.
Do you think the NLM folks have a problem with any of these quotes? They are all part of the sections on the three judgments:
To admit the cheap, the trite, the musical cliche often found in popular songs for the purpose of “instant liturgy” is to cheapen the liturgy, to expose it to ridicule, and to invite failure.
(Musicians) must find practical means of preserving and using our rich heritage of Latin chants and motets.
The choice of sung parts, the balance between them, and the style of musical setting used should reflect the relative importance of the parts of the Mass or other service and the nature of each part.
In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.
While there is no place in the liturgy for display of virtuosity for its own sake, artistry is valued …
A well-trained choir adds beauty and solemnity to the liturgy and also assists and encourages the singing of the congregation. The Second Vatican Council, speaking of the choir, stated emphatically: “Choirs must be diligently promoted,” provided that “the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs.”
Or even a direct quote from a Vatican liturgical document used in MCW 40:
The instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship, issued September 5, 1970, encourages episcopal conferences to consider not only liturgical music’s suitability to the time and circumstances of the celebration, “but also the needs of the faithful who will sing them. All means must be used to promote singing by the people. New forms should be used, which are adapted to the different mentalities and to modern tastes. The document adds that the music and the instruments as should correspond to the sacred character of the celebration and the place of worship.”
Remember when we looked at Liturgicae Instaurationes this past summer? The roots of the three judgments are found in that document. Section 3 is the source of the reference in MCW. Curious how Musicam Sacram is trumpeted as gospel, but other post-conciliar documents are virtually ignored by liturgical conservatives.
I guess it’s hard to read past the titles. Heck, most conservatives would take one look at the cover page of Inter Oecumenici and without cracking the text, write it off as modernist pandering to Protestants.
Serious liturgists, church musicians, and scholars of those two disciplines know they have to go deep into the Church’s documentation. In other words, do serious theology.
If you need evidence on what passes for scholarship in some circles, look at bits of the discussion on the MCW thread at NLM: “Or perhaps you put green pea soup in a thurible, lit it, and inhaled …” or “we’d be luckier if the USCCB would just shutup …”
One commentator sums up the reform2 credo:
I guess if the document is bad we can read it, critique it, kill it, and keep doing what we are doing. We have the momentum on our side – but we have a long way to go.
Indeed. And this from a self-identified priest.
Let’s not kid ourselves. For many dabblers in liturgical music, it’s not about the liturgical, musical, or pastoral judgments. Those things can be danged hard to understand and apply. Much easier is the Personal Judgment, backed up by the maximum possible proof-texting from Vatican documents that have an intelligible title.
Go read Jeffrey’s editorial. He does remark that a misapplication of the three judgments is a problem. His caricature of their abuse does have some faint roots in the truth of it: that parish musicians and even – gasp! – clergy sometimes misuse the three judgments and superimpose their own Personal Judgment.
The truth is, there are a lot of people sleeping in that bed.