Ephphetha

The combox motumaniacs at NLM have taken note of my InsideCatholic piece on Glory & Praise. For the radicals, it’s time to close their eyes, plug their ears, and shout na na na in their worst singing voice. You have only to see how they dismiss Gavin and Liam and spin their own version of sacred music history to assess how far on the fringes of Catholicism reform2 really is. I dare you to test it on the other side of life. The real world, that is. Ask any number of Catholics in any large mainstream parish to explain extraordinary form, summorum pontificum, and reform2. The results would send Roman liturgical traditionalists running for the nearest iconostasis.

I really have to feel for some of them, though. They dandy up their blogs, link great swaths of text from their gurus, and congratulate themselves on self-induced awards, but what is accomplished?

The real world involves exactly what church musicians are doing in their parishes, not the purity of their internet ideologies. How many denizens of the Culture of Complaint can scrutinize their lives in light of the apostle Paul’s charge to the Colossians:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. (3:12-15)

And lest you think I’ve intentionally cut out the “teach and admonish” line in the next verse, read it:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

For reading comprehension purposes, this is usually not interpreted “you teach and admonish all the others.”

The “give and take” to teaching is a problem for some people. Sadly for them, it’s also part of life, including parish life. The internet makes it easy for conservatives to navel-gaze with the best of the rest of us. Hang with your like-minded homies on special message boards and groups, and never cast a wandering eye to what other people are reading or writing. I’m sure that for some, my essay on a conservative web site was like finding a mouse swimming in their morning cup of tea.

When I suggested it’s good for people to get out of their narrow social circles and mingle with unlike-minded people, someone wrote:

More jolting? Yet another 40 years of jolting? This is the prescription? This is some kind of joke?

It’s no joke. If you take the Scriptures seriously, and by extension, the liturgy itself, you have to allow yourself to be jolted. Catholicism doesn’t need turtles and porcupines. Not if we’re taking the Great Commission seriously. It’s not a Latin word, but it’s a great one nonetheless: metanoia.

For people not singing “na na na” tone deaf and blind, I have to give you some sorry news. People actually sing Glory & Praise music. Sorry, but they do. They might sing the more cringe-worthy selections with a bit more strain. And they’ve always seemed to like the songs I sometimes wish would just go away. But it’s part of the great mystery of inspiration. God seems to work with flawed songs in the same way he utilizes flawed people to get the message across.

Let me close with one final hint. It’s clear that most readers of my piece haven’t really read it for comprehension. Aside from a four percent difference of opinion on the usefulness of the Glory & Praise repertoire, the critics really only have one problem with me. I won’t play by their rules.

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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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4 Responses to Ephphetha

  1. Gavin says:

    2 May 2008: the day we agree. Must be a sign of the apocalypse, I guess Pope Peter II can’t be far off.

    My list of what good came out of the G&P movement:
    - New compositions
    - More people became involved in church music
    - Scriptural texts
    - Much more people sang
    - People enjoyed the music

    Ok, let’s remove the context. Let’s say there’s a parish that uses some new compositions, with a great number of people involved in church music singing scriptural texts, and the congregation really enjoys the music and sings with their parts. Is any of this a bad thing? I guess when the rubber hits the road I have never considered it a sign of success when my congregation sings, but it still puts a smile on my face at least.

    BUT WAIT! If that happens because of Glory & Praise, it’s all bad! STOP USING NEW COMPOSITIONS!!! STOP PEOPLE FROM SINGING!!! KICK EVERYONE OUT OF YOUR MUSIC PROGRAM!!! All I’m suggesting is that we could say on Lent I, “If you like ‘On Eagle’s Wings’, you’ll love this Gregorian tract!” But no, if the people like Glory & Praise, we should make sure they hate our music.

    And, as you pointed out, heaven forbid anyone should approach church music in any way but the “blow it up and start from scratch” method…

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  3. Cross posted from NLM, Todd:
    Sigh.
    For the life of me, I cannot fathom the how and why of a debate over concept of the contents of G&P in the 21st century.
    If any commentors in this combox are DM’s like myself, you have some pretty clear criteria that informs us of the liturgical demands upon repertoire choices. If you’re a DM, you should also be versed in both the theoretical and musicological aspects at play when regarding compositional aesthetics. And as it is a clear reality that what the Church regards as true hymnody has been enjoined to other hymnic traditions, (including the liturgical “song”) this demands the DM possess an intuitive, learned expertise in prose, poetry and such literary arts.
    All this leads me to an obvious responsibility and task beyond the simplistic “blow it up and start all over” mantra that is so presumptious. Many parishes such as mine (6000 families) squeeze into 8/9 weekend Masses. But though I could effect the musical transformation of our place into a St. John Cantius, the rest of the elements will never be in place. So what is my obvious responsibility?
    To literally examine each and every single piece of music that is in the parish hymnal/aide (in our case, Breaking Bread) and apply the above criteria towards assigning each piece a quantified, and qualified merit rating. This, of course, is a simple, single parish version of a “white/black list” depending upon each piece’s rating. But I feel obliged to provide the amateur leaders under “my umbrella” a reasonable tool to compare what they consider valuable, and what the publisher’s pushing, to what I, as DM, believe to be worthy of use at worship.
    I stand at the ready in case the day ever arrives that the American bishops say “blow it up, y’all order enough copies of the Graduale Romanum post haste.” In the meanwhile, I could give a ratatouille about the import of the Wise/Repp/Temple era, the G&P/SLJ/WP/Dameans era, the Minnesota “mafia” era (how Joncas hated that term!), the St. Thomas More era, yada yada yada.
    I have to deal with whatever the pastor decides he wants in his pew pocket (and I do try with frequency to keep him aware of new possiblilities beyond the newsprint.)
    So, my ratings spreadsheet/whitelist will have to do for the interim.
    If you all need to agree someone’s gotta be nuked- I’m happy to suggest Landry.
    Our hope is in the Lord: supplying great teachers in liturgics in our seminaries.

  4. Cross posted from NLM, Todd:
    Sigh.
    For the life of me, I cannot fathom the how and why of a debate over concept of the contents of G&P in the 21st century.
    If any commentors in this combox are DM’s like myself, you have some pretty clear criteria that informs us of the liturgical demands upon repertoire choices. If you’re a DM, you should also be versed in both the theoretical and musicological aspects at play when regarding compositional aesthetics. And as it is a clear reality that what the Church regards as true hymnody has been enjoined to other hymnic traditions, (including the liturgical “song”) this demands the DM possess an intuitive, learned expertise in prose, poetry and such literary arts.
    All this leads me to an obvious responsibility and task beyond the simplistic “blow it up and start all over” mantra that is so presumptious. Many parishes such as mine (6000 families) squeeze into 8/9 weekend Masses. But though I could effect the musical transformation of our place into a St. John Cantius, the rest of the elements will never be in place. So what is my obvious responsibility?
    To literally examine each and every single piece of music that is in the parish hymnal/aide (in our case, Breaking Bread) and apply the above criteria towards assigning each piece a quantified, and qualified merit rating. This, of course, is a simple, single parish version of a “white/black list” depending upon each piece’s rating. But I feel obliged to provide the amateur leaders under “my umbrella” a reasonable tool to compare what they consider valuable, and what the publisher’s pushing, to what I, as DM, believe to be worthy of use at worship.
    I stand at the ready in case the day ever arrives that the American bishops say “blow it up, y’all order enough copies of the Graduale Romanum post haste.” In the meanwhile, I could give a ratatouille about the import of the Wise/Repp/Temple era, the G&P/SLJ/WP/Dameans era, the Minnesota “mafia” era (how Joncas hated that term!), the St. Thomas More era, yada yada yada.
    I have to deal with whatever the pastor decides he wants in his pew pocket (and I do try with frequency to keep him aware of new possiblilities beyond the newsprint.)
    So, my ratings spreadsheet/whitelist will have to do for the interim.
    If you all need to agree someone’s gotta be nuked- I’m happy to suggest Landry.
    Our hope is in the Lord: supplying great teachers in liturgics in our seminaries.

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