CCTLS 9: Musical Formation

Good musicians don’t grow on trees. John Paul II knew that, as did his predecessors. Vatican II endorsed the musical formation of the clergy:

9. In this area, therefore, the urgent need to encourage the sound formation of both pastors and the lay faithful also comes to the fore. St Pius X insisted in particular on the musical training of clerics. The Second Vatican Council also recalled in this regard: “Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiate houses of studies of Religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and schools”[SC 115]. This instruction has yet to be fully implemented. I therefore consider it appropriate to recall it, so that future pastors may acquire sufficient sensitivity also in this field.

In the task of training, a special role is played by schools of sacred music, which St Pius X urged people to support and encourage[TlS 28] and which the Second Vatican Council recommended be set up wherever possible[SC 115]. A concrete result of the reform of St Pius X was the establishment in Rome in 1911, eight years after the Motu Proprio, of the “Pontificia Scuola Superiore di Musica Sacra” (Pontifical School for Advanced Studies in Sacred Music), which later became the “Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra” (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music). As well as this academic institution, which has now existed for almost a century and has rendered a high-quality service to the Church, the particular Churches have established many other schools that deserve to be supported and reinforced by an ever better knowledge and performance of good liturgical music.

A hundred years ago, or even forty, the setting up of a music school would be assumed to be a resident/bricks-and-mortar thing. I doubt this is possible or truly necessary. Conferences, seminars, and even colloquia serve this role nicely on a few levels for different people. Charles and others: thoughts?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Chirograph for the Centenary of TLS, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to CCTLS 9: Musical Formation

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    Brick and mortar institutions are still needed to meet the demands of certified degree programs, but learning is a life-long endeavor and therefore the mobile means of instruction you mention have great value. The trick of course is to get the local parish powers to see the importance of such endeavors. If a young potential cantor in a parish is blessed with a pleasing voice but has had no musical training, the parish should assume the financial responsibility to ensure that training transpires.

    In my area, however, forty percent of parishes can’t pay their bills so being optimistic about parish involvement in ongoing education requires a disposition and persistence usually attributed to saints.

  2. Hi Randolph, great to meet you in SLC!
    Todd, I will be trying to carve some time to post at Cafe about this very subject as it came up in many conversations at SLC, namely if “endowed” (in whatever sense of the word is appropriate) parishes and cathedrals would offer musical/performance learning opportunities for the at-large faithful on a regular basis that are sequential and truly beneficial. Apparently there are not a few of us doing that. We just had our first session this last Tuesday night. When we first publicized the sessions, we would have been happy with an ideal enrollement of eight. Thirtytwo people of all ages showed up, most of them unknown to us in formal music ministry! More later….

    • Liam says:

      Basilicas should have this as part of their mission in return for the lovely large cocktail stirrer and bells they get.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    I guess i am fortunate. My parish ( has an annual music budget (including salary and benefits for the MD) of $125,000, up $5,000 at the beginning of the new fiscal year (July 1). The MD was hired 2 years ago after a nationwide search in which there were 72 applicants from all over the country, and 2 from outside the US! We pay an excellent salary, access to Archdiocesan benefits, a relocation allowance and a housing subsidy. Yep, that costs money. BTW, this is a parish of 400 active members (members, not families.)

    More importantly, however, is the parish’s history of enthusiastic congregational participation in the musical aspects of the liturgies. Visitors and new members inevitably tell that they were attracted to and, in the case of members, encouraged to think about joining the parish based on their experience of vibrant, active and HAPPY participation of the people in the pews in the music. When the choir takes the summer off (after Pentecost and then back in October) it seems to make no difference in the quality of the music. Granted, a couple of paid professionals help lead the congregational music each weekend mass, but even that would not be necessary except in introducing new music.

    People will got to where they are led when it comes to musical participation. But they need the experience in order to integrate themselves into active participation.

  4. JM, somehow it’s in m’ noggin’ that you’re a member of MHR up in the city. That, if so, makes your account even more remarkable given all the “other stuff” that’s always dusting up the airwaves.
    Let me know when you need DM!
    What a world where I would relish working either with FRAJM at St. J’s, or at MHR! Wonderful.

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    Yes, I am.

    We have a new pastor. During the medical leave of the former one and the arrival of the new one (7 months) the Vicar of Admin for the Archdiocese of SF was acting pastor. We think he came to the job with a great degree of trepidation, in light of the “other stuff” that happens regularly. However, by his own public admission, he has been “blown away (his words)” and is now one of our biggest fans.

    The new MD seems to be delightfully happy. Sooner or later, however, he too will move on. Then it will be back to the hiring board, so to speak.

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