Routley on American Liturgical Music, 1979

I was researching some hymn texts for an upcoming parish event, and pulled out the 1979 edition of A Panorama of Christian Hymnody. That volume has sat on my shelf for far too long in between brousings. I ran across Erik Routley’s commentary on “American Folk Hymnody.” What do you think?

erik routleyVery often (text and the tune) are skillful and trenchant. The best known of these pieces probably are James Thiem’s ‘Sons of God,’ Ray Repp’s ‘All peoples clap your hands,’ and Peter Scholtes’ ‘They’ll know we are Christians by our love.’ It is, like its English counterpart, informal hymnody, and not infrequently the doctrinal and scriptural content of these modern ‘Gospel Songs’–for that is what they are–is impressive. In others there is a tendency to stray into romantic ecumenism and a somewhat unfocussed zeal to serve those deemed to be underprivileged. At their worst they are crude, and it is probably fair to say that the Roman Catholic communities in America, with their sudden need for new hymns, have been the most vulnerable to the assaults of commercialized hymnody of this kind. That fact should not too much prejudice a reader against the whole genre, which at its best has brought much vitality to American worship.

a panorama of christian hymnody

For forty years ago, I think this assessment is spot on. In many posts here, we’ve detailed the songs of the “generation” after Thiem, Repp, and Scholtes. I don’t think pre-conciliar Catholic hymnody quite matches the depth of Scriptural content.

The comment on “commercialization” could be made today–and it still is in many quarters, some of which would likely not be “impressed.”

The book has a “new” edition, about ten years old. Link here.

Dr Routley’s image above is from this page which also includes a brief biography and a few additional links.

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Amoris Laetitia 1: The Joy of Love

amoris laetitia memeAs always, I recommend reading the actual document Amoris Laetitia. That said, the synod bishops were inclined more to joy than depression over the state of marriage in the world:

1. The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an  inspiration to the Church.”(Relatio Synodi (18 October 2014), 2) As a response to that desire, “the Christian proclamation on the family is good news indeed” (Relatio Finalis (24 October 2015), 3)

I noticed a few headlines on facebook and the google along the lines of “five points to hear about from me” or “ten takeaways that you can have too.” I think the very first paragraph here sets the tone. Marriage and family is good news. One might also say it has the substance of joy. What do you say?

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Amoris Laetitia Outline

amoris laetitia memeI’ve been avoiding the morning’s commentary on Amoris Laetitia. In searching for the link to the actual document, I did notice a few headlines and the usual google snippet (like from the NCRs) … “skip the first three chapters” … “puzzling” … and the like.

As with any church document, if there is sincere interest, take some time and read the whole thing. 100% understanding is irrelevant. See what strikes you: take the approach of Lectio Divina.

If you wish, you can do that here. I think I’ll begin up to 326 posts over the next several months. We’ll see where that goes. I might be doing it as much for my own discipline of reading and reflecting on the document as for anyone who might be lurking or commenting in the boxes.

I did copy out the table of contents, and interspersed, a few comments of mine.

The Joy of Love [1-7]

Chapter One IN THE LIGHT OF THE WORD [8]
You and your wife [9-13]
Your children are as the shoots of an olive tree [14-18]
A path of suffering and blood [19-22]
The work of your hands [23-26]
The tenderness of an embrace [27-30]

Psalm 128: I don’t know why there would be counsel to skip this. Biblical grounding is a hallmark of Church documents for at least the past fifty years.

Chapter Two THE EXPERIENCES AND CHALLENGES OF FAMILIES [31]
The current reality of the family [32-49]
Some challenges [50-57]

Chapter Three LOOKING TO JESUS: THE VOCATION OF THE FAMILY [58-60]
Jesus restores and fulfils God’s plan [61-66]
The family in the documents of the Church [67-70]
The sacrament of Matrimony [71-75]
Seeds of the Word and imperfect situations [76-79]
The transmission of life and the rearing of children [80-85]
The family and the Church [86-88]

The longest chapter includes a reflection on 1 Corinthians 13. Though not written in its day for married couples explicitly, it has become the go-to passage for more wedding couples than any other:

Chapter Four LOVE IN MARRIAGE [89]
Our daily love [90]
Love is patient [91-92]
Love is at the service of others [93-94]
Love is not jealous [95-96]
Love is not boastful [97-98]
Love is not rude [99-100]
Love is generous [101-102]
Love is not irritable or resentful [103-104]
Love forgives [105-108]
Love rejoices with others [109-110]
Love bears all things [111-113]
Love believes all things [114-115]
Love hopes all things [116-117]
Love endures all things [118-119]
Growing in conjugal love [120-122]
Lifelong sharing [123-125]
Joy and beauty [126-130]
Marrying for love [131-132]
A love that reveals itself and increases [133-135]
Dialogue [136-141]
Passionate love [142]
The world of emotions [143-146]
God loves the joy of his children [147-149]
The erotic dimension of love [150-152]
Violence and manipulation [153-157]
Marriage and virginity [158-162]
The transformation of love [163-164]

I notice that section that begins with AL 136: six numbered paragraphs on dialogue. Misunderstood by many to mean negotiation with an eye to agreement, dialogue is essential. “Two words” do not become one word, necessarily.

Chapter Five LOVE MADE FRUITFUL [165]
Welcoming a new life [166-167]
Love and pregnancy [168-171]
The love of a mother and a father [172-177]
An expanding fruitfulness [178-184]
Discerning the body [185-186]
Life in the wider family [187]
Being sons and daughters [188-190]
The elderly [191-193]
Being brothers and sisters [194-195]
A big heart [196-198]

This looks like a good chapter for clergy and other ministers:

Chapter Six SOME PASTORAL PERSPECTIVES [199]
Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today [200-204]
Preparing engaged couples for marriage [205-211]
The preparation of the celebration [212-216]
Accompanying the first years of married life [217-222]
Some resources [223-230]
Casting light on crises, worries and difficulties [231]
The challenge of crises [232-238]
Old wounds [239-240]
Accompaniment after breakdown and divorce [241-246]
Certain complex situations [247-252]
When death makes us feel its sting [253-258]

Note the first and last subheadings in chapter seven …

Chapter Seven TOWARDS A BETTER EDUCATION OF CHILDREN [259]
Where are our children? [260-262]
The ethical formation of children [263-267]
The value of correction as an incentive [268-270]
Patient realism [271-273]
Family life as an educational setting [274-279]
The need for sex education [280-286]
Passing on the faith [287-290]

I like the appearance of one of my favorite pastoral verbs, to accompany:

Chapter Eight ACCOMPANYING, DISCERNING AND INTEGRATING WEAKNESS [291-292]
Gradualness in pastoral care [293-295]
The discernment of “irregular” situations [296-300]
Mitigating factors in pastoral discernment [301-303]
Rules and discernment [304-306]
The logic of pastoral mercy [307-312]

Chapter Nine THE SPIRITUALITY OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY [313]
A spirituality of supernatural communion [314-316]
Gathered in prayer in the light of Easter [317-318]
A spirituality of exclusive and free love [319-320]
A spirituality of care, consolation and incentive [321-325]
Prayer to the Holy Family

A concluding prayer, just as we saw in Laudato Si’. How often does that conclude a Church document? Is it a peculiarity of Pope Francis, or a needed innovation for future documents to model?

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | 1 Comment

Breathe and Pray

EV 2016In only the second parish I’ve served in 28 years, I have a dedicated room for music rehearsal. This is nice. For the one-Mass events–Easter Vigil (above), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Simbang Gabi–it’s too crowded. Before Sunday Mass, it’s fine. Singers meet there about 30-45 minutes before Mass begins. Some opinions follow …

Before Mass everything should be familiar. No new warm-ups. No long lectures. No new voice parts or instrumental arrangements. Unless a homilist has a request, no surprises. I try to remember to run first one or two pieces they do well. If there’s a trouble song, then we hit that. Unless I hear something drastically bad, I keep all the comments positive. We pray about 15 minutes before Mass. Then I send them out.

Considering my own perfectionistic tendencies and the nervousness I detect in some of my singers my sense is that the mid-week rehearsals are the time to learn and polish. Whatever I get on Saturday night or Sunday is a result of a relaxed and confident group of musicians. A group that has also taken time to breathe and pray.

By the Easter Vigil (above), they were probably reaching ear fatigue with my “theme” of the week: breathe and pray. Do those things, take time for them, and everything else falls into place.

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14th Amendment

The political posts on facebook keep coming. I noticed this week that a few haters of a certain politician were going bananas on her comment regarding the rights of the unborn. For people in my country, the matter in question is covered by the US Constitution, Amendment #14, section 1. It reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

As far as I understand it, this is the essence of how a mostly-GOP nominated Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade in 1973. One must be born in the US (or naturalized) to be a citizen and to enjoy the freedoms listed above and equal protection. Is that a problem? I guess we have to blame the Republicans again–they controlled Congress when this amendment was passed and sent to the states for approval.

As far as I understand it, this is why some pro-lifers have recognized that a constitutional amendment is needed to outlaw abortion, and why repeated challenges to state abortion laws are dashed on the existing amendment.

Two or three people on fb remarked that a person was evil for certain comments against the unborn. This is false. Such comments might reveal a naïve hopefulness about law. Or just plain mean-spiritedness wrapped in pro-life clothing. Either way, I don’t have any real hope it will stop.

Posted in Commentary, Politics | 7 Comments

Readings for Sacraments, End of an Era

Computer_monitorWith yesterday’s Micah 6 posting, I’ve come to the end of the Reconciliation Lectionary series here. It’s a long one, but still a distant third in popularity compared to weddings and funerals.  Those two combined generate at least 90% of the traffic to this site. Some of that is just a quick glance. In and out, as far as I can tell.

I suppose I could do a series on Sunday Mass readings, but there are a lot of other people putting more thought, prayer, and energy into that. I recommend going elsewhere for that.

Another thought is to do readings for ministry to the sick, anointing and Communion. But at this point, I think not.

My foils on the conservative side of Catholicism can take heart, I suppose. Given that ninety-plus percent figure, it doesn’t seem I’m poisoning that many young minds or seducing them away from orthodoxy.

For the first time in a decade, there is no active series here at CS. Maybe that will change tomorrow and some form of dialogue will continue. Who knows? Discernment is still open-ended regarding this site. Once-a-day posts and occasionally a number two have continued. Maybe that’s my sense of not wanting to break a record of several hundred days in a row of scheduling something on this site.

I think it’s safe to say that when I do shutter this place, there won’t be another blogger taking over. If you visit someday and find that the wedding and funeral pages are anchored on the main site, you’ll know I’ve decided to go on hiatus.

The landscape of blogging sure has changed since Facebook, Twitter, and the Elections of 2008 and 2013.

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Micah 6:7-15

mary-the-penitent.jpgContinuing from the first part of Micah, chapter six, we come to the conclusion offered by the prophet on the question of what should we do to be just, in the right, or “good” in God’s eyes. Earlier the prophet recounts salvation history in brief, then asks a key question. With verse 7 the questions continue:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

“Love is a choice,” two friends of mine once titled the worship aid at their wedding. We sometimes fail in the choice to love, but that does not negate our promise. In the eyes of God, can we say that we love the good? That last key line of Micah 6:8 is vital: we walk with God, but we walk in humility. We walk prepared to pick ourselves up after a stumble, or determined to seek God if and when we feel lost.

An earlier edition of the Rite of Penance just gave verses 1-6 of this chapter as an option, but the latest version adds these, up to almost the end of the chapter. An examination of conscience, if you will, for criminals, liars, and cheats:

The LORD cries aloud to the city
(It is prudent to fear your name!):
Hear, O tribe and city assembly,
Am I to bear criminal hoarding
and the accursed short ephah?
Shall I acquit crooked scales,
bags of false weights?
You whose wealthy are full of violence,
whose inhabitants speak falsehood
with deceitful tongues in their mouths!
I have begun to strike you
with devastation because of your sins.
You shall eat, without being satisfied,
food that will leave you empty;
What you acquire, you cannot save;
what you do save, I will deliver up to the sword.
You shall sow, yet not reap,
tread out the olive, yet pour no oil,
crush the grapes, yet drink no wine.

What a warning. To think that a person won’t reap the rewards of their work: that’s rather un-American. Would an American congregation be prepared to receive this reading? The homily connected with this passage may well be a barnburner. What do you think?

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