Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pro-Choice in Worship Music, Part the Second

More or less in response to Jeffrey Tucker's reprint of a Cafe article in this week's "Crisis" online magazine article....

What Jeffrey Tucker passionately pleads for is undeniably truthful and would, in an ideal world stuff the plethora and panopoly of post-conciliar problems back into the Pandora's box. But, as I've reminded him elsewhere, more light and truth need to be shared with both the professionals and the pew people who root for his vision to prevail. The whole truth and nothing but this truth is that the endgame always remains the Latin Graduale Romanum. So far, so good. However, as has been correctly pointed out in these comments already, the Church has been down this rocky road at least twice in its liturgical history- Trent and "Tra le sollecitudini." And the "ideal" solution wafts away soon like incense, save for some remarkably beautiful, exceptional adherents in alpine monasteries, small parishes in Palo Alto, San Diego, Auburn et al, and in small colleges where folks like Dr. Ed Schaefer and others have chosen and been providentially endowed the privilege of implementing the ideal. But back in real, unwashed catholicland, there is a sort of renaissance that approaches the ideal and endgame with the burgeoning catalogue of "chant-based" book resources, the most notable examples in the U.S. including the forerunner "By flowing waters" (1999, Dr. Paul Ford), The American Gradual (Pr. Bruce E. Ford), The Simple English Propers (2011, Mr. Adam Bartlett), The Vatican II Hymnal (2011, Mr. Jeffrey Ostrowski), The Lumen Christi Missal (2012, Bartlett), as well as many other similar "solutions" over the years by Frs. Weber and Kelly, Dr. Tietze etc. The dilemma remains: are these bridges or terminal destination resources for people that must negotiate vastly different worship cultures armed only with the meager knowledge that the popular culture has ensnared upon them? And what's more, we've been here before. What little liturgical reform resulted from Trent was soon forgotten upon the fraternal twin horns of baroque opera forms and an opposite extreme, the singmesse. After 1903 resources such as the Rossini Propers and the Palmer Burgess Gradual hardly made pervasive dents in the now well-ensconsed "hymn sandwich" mentality. We in the church music biz ARE STILL COMPELLED to have to CHOOSE what elixar product will be the parish remedy or poison? You can't still "make this stuff up." For most of us this "wonderful variety" of choice remains a sort of potential "Russian roulette" revolver wherein each chamber is loaded with one of those "silver bullet" solutions I listed above. We can get the pastor's permission to pull the trigger and still not know if we will survive or thrive afterwards. The Latin Mass, OF and EF, and the Gradua Romanum (or Gregorian Missal) remain the only "true" path in intellectual honesty here. We're always going to be in it for the long haul.

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