So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Square peg; round holy. Alien soundcraft in the Mass.


Dear praise—and—worshippers and lovers of adult contemporary liturgical muzak, the following rhapsody advocates an abandonment of artistically impoverished liturgical music.

Glossary of Terms
  • soundcraft: quasi-music; alien species counterpoint.
  • noodling: incessant instrumental or vocal blather; a cacophony of rehearsed or unrehearsed excerpts and improvisations.
  • noisemakers: quasi-musicians who misuse whatever skills, rudimentary or otherwise, that they possess to produce soundcraft.
  • ditties: something resembling a song; sonic junk food; opposite of sacred songs and chants.
  • ars celebrandi: the the art of proper celebration of the Mass.
  • participatio actuosa: actual participation in the Mass; interior orientation and receptivity to God.
Mismatch, mishmash, mis-Mass

When will we Catholics admit that we do not do well contemporary pop liturgical soundcraft? Nor should we. Evangelical protestants we are not. Sure, there are a few accomplished Catholic pop-devotional music types plying their trade. Praise and worship soundcraft, however, is not suitable for the sanctuary. Devotional music soundcraft is not liturgical music. The music of the Latin Rite (Roman Catholicism) is chant and sacred polyphony, cuisine not fast food.

Moved by the Spyryt Spyrup Syrup

Roman Catholics, with notable exceptions, of course, have largely abandoned the true sacred music of the Church for sad attempts at making worship "relevant". More precisely, Catholics have been subjected to debased music since the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo Missae) was promulgated and subsequently appropriated by those who, possessing a malformed sense of worship or a deformed religious aesthetic, project(ed) their poorly formed tastes on to the Mass.

One could argue that the saccharine hymns of the 19th and early 20th Centuries were/are just as debased as many modern ditties. The weakest hymns of that period are still far better, in terms of harmony and composition, than most contemporary "worship songs".

De gustibus non est disputandum.

"Modern" texts and tunes commonly heard at Mass are a travesty. A first year student of harmony would receive a failing grade were he or she to compose something on par with the cotton candy we hear most Sundays.
Squealing amplifiers, poorly tuned guitars and pianos, two fisted piano playing... yikes! The liturgical rock band dominates the Mass. Ten minutes of silence before Mass evaporates because of the typical last minute rehearsal and chatty musicians noodling in the sanctuary or in close proximity to it.
Mass is, as a result of the shenanigans, more shopping mall than Mass.
"They [Bishops] shall also banish from churches all those kinds of music, in which, whether by the organ, or in the singing, there is mixed up any thing lascivious or impure; as also all secular actions; vain and therefore profane conversations, all walking about, noise, and clamour, that so the house of God may be seen to be, and may be called, truly a house of prayer."—Pope Pius IV, The Council of Trent, Sesion XXII, Sptember 17th, 1562. h/t Catholic Quotations
Wholly Holy Holey Mass
The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.—The Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium #116, December 4th, 1963.
Many human noisemakers (a.k.a., soundcrafters) try to fill the silences in the Mass—the holy silences—with projections of their own lack of comfort with silence. They forget, or have never been informed, that those "holes" in the Mass are holy holes, and not really holes at all. They are spaces for God and man to commune. One's intimate communion with God is nurtured by God in those silent moments. Those silences have always been there in the Mass. In the older Form of the Mass, silence is frequent.
GIRM 45: Silence
45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. [Sacrosanctum Concilium 30; Musicam Sacram 17] Its nature, however, depends on the moment when it occurs in the different parts of the celebration.
1. For in the Penitential Act and...
2. again after the invitation to pray, individuals recollect themselves;
3. whereas after a reading...
4. or after the Homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard;
5. then after Communion, they praise God in their hearts and pray to him.
Even before the celebration itself, it is a praiseworthy practice for silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner.
The interior participation or orientation lauded by the Second Vatican Council is given opportunity to be engaged in the silences wherein the soul reposes and listens to God. Heart speaks to heart, as Blessed John Henry Newman would say.

A brief digression: ars celebrandi and actuosa participatio.
In Sacramentum Caritatis No. 38, Pope Benedict XVI pays special attention to what it means to participate actively in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and how ars celebrandi fits into this:

Ars celebrandi
38. In the course of the Synod, there was frequent insistence on the need to avoid any antithesis between the ars celebrandi, the art of proper celebration, and the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful. The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio. (114) The ars celebrandi is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; indeed, for two thousand years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9) (115).
Cardinal Ranjinth takes this section as his launching point, explaining just what the Holy Father means in this particular section:
The Holy Father thus seemed, in the first instance, to indicate the need to adopt an ars celebrandi in order to celebrate well the liturgy, while at the same time insisting on the fact that “full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful” cannot be realized without that. In other words he seemed to indicate that actuosa participatio [actual participation in the liturgy] could not really happen unless the harmonious, beautiful and orderly celebration of the liturgy was insured. Without a properly understood and effected ars celebrandi, liturgy would probably end up being merely a series of meaningless, chaotic and insipid actions. He affirms this emphatically, when he states that “the primary way to foster the participation of the people of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio” (ibid).—from Lex Orandi Lex Credendi blogspot.

The liturgy of the Church is a participation in and must be modeled upon the heavenly liturgy of the angels.1Peter5 Blog
There are many fine Catholic composers of authentic sacred music. Check out the Oasis of Sacred Music and Liturgy page here at this blog, or click HERE:

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