On church music

1 06 2011

They transform into entertainment that which has been created for no other purpose than to produce in the Christian soul a holy and salutary sadness.

-a French cleric quoted in the liner notes to the CD: Charpentier: Leçons de Ténèbres du Jeudy Sainct

I am just repeating some thoughts that I have been repeating over and over again for years, but I haven’t brought up this quote in a while, so might as well dust it off and post it.

Personally, I think a Mozart Mass is way more traditional than anything I can sing out of a Liber Usualis. Perhaps, by extension, the St. Louis Jesuits are way more traditional than some choir with a newly found hobbyist obsession with Gregorian chant.

I think “On Eagles Wings” makes the baby Jesus laugh with glee. There, I said it. Break out the tambourines and guitars, and let’s praise Jeeeezus!


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5 responses

5 06 2011
diane

That would be “at least.” May I blame my sticky keyboard?

5 06 2011
diane

I love the music of one of the St Louis Jesuits, at lest. I think his name is Father Powell, maybe? Anyway, he’s the one who wrote “The Cry of the Poor,” “One Bread, One Body,” “For You Are My God,” and “Prayer of Saint Ignatius,” among others. At least he can carry a tune. 🙂

1 06 2011
Bernard Brandt

I think it was Ezra Pound who said The Roman Catholic Church lost its power when its clergy no longer believed the doctrine they were charged to preach.

That quote has been running around my mind for quite some time, too. After much thought, I think it can be more accurately stated thus:

The Roman Catholic Church lost its power when its clergy no longer KNEW the doctrine they were charged to preach.

Mostly, they don’t know Scripture. They don’t seem interested in Holy Tradition. They daily exhibit their ignorance even of the teachings of Vatican II, let alone any of the other ‘ecumenical’ councils. Almost to a man, they can not preach their way out of a paper bag. It seems that their only passion is their vices, which appear to range from simony to pederasty.

And (lest I be accused of being off topic here) they appear to be completely innocent of any knowledge of the Vatican II decree, Musicam Sacram. That estimable text recommended that Gregorian Chant be put at the center of music during Divine Liturgy, particularly the responses between priest and people; that sacred polyphony be preserved; and that (only within that context) the ‘music of the people’ be encouraged.

I have no problem with the St. Louis Jesuits. I’m probably one of the few people who actually remember them on one occasion (back in the early ’70s) serving the mass at the (rich) Manhattan Beach, CA parish that my parents took me to back then. I remember thinking then what good folk musicians they were, quite unlike the musical wannabees who were infesting the choir loft and the front of that church just about every other week of the year.

The problem with ‘pop’ church music is not so much that it is bad (and boy, is it bad!) but that it is corn. Even factory farmers are starting to learn that cattle fed solely on corn develop allergies to it. Would that the R.C. church’s so-called pastors had the sense of those mercenary farmer-businessmen!

1 06 2011
Anthony

I’ve always been had a soft spot for Haydn’s masses, particularly the Theresienmesse (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GOw6z9faLg). Of course, just about the last thing they produce is feelings of “holy and salutary sadness.”

1 06 2011
C. Wingate

Well, tradition means doing what you’ve always done. So if singing advertising jingles in church is what you’ve always done, then yes, “On Eagles Wings” is traditional.

(Not that I have any truck with the “all chant all the time” crowd. And my wife and I disagree about Byzantine chant: she refers to it as “calling the camels’ while I prefer to refer to it as “alien space noise”.)

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