Monday, October 29, 2012

That was odd!

Happily waiting in my office email was a message from a lovely follower wondering if I was okay. It seems my blog had been "disappeared." Hmmm. So I clicked on its icon in bookmarks, boom, "This blog has been removed due to some unusual activity." Hmmm, squared. So, it provided some options which I exercized, which then exorcized whatever "unusual" activity (I'm sixty-one, pretty much incapable of unusual activity nowadays) had initiated the interruption. So, it seems I'm back in business. Thank you, TOB, for your kind note. I'm fine, BTW. The Raiders have won two games in a row, the Giants took the series, I'm praying for all the folks on the East Coast and here's hoping we'll resume with some articles after this very busy liturgical week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to not do crazy? Please Heloise, help!

"Cause...who doesn't, after all, want to go 'UP'"?
Over four decades of continuous service to the Church as a musician, mostly in a directorial or managerial situation, I don't suppose I'm at all alone in declaring that such as us encounter people of 360 degrees of uniqueness, even on a daily basis. The Church's existential Body (that would be all souls) has always been attended by some sort of institutional and physical apparatus, apparati (?) such as "magisterium, heirarchy, basilicas, houses of worship etc) in which we conduct the various enterprises of prayer, praise, alms collecting/distribution, sacramental activities and rituals, catechesis, et al. But the existential Body clearly has been identified as our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, Himself! Tada, easy! But the corporeal body, eh, not so much clarity there.
Happily we, the Church, have arrived at a moment in history where we're (the BIG We) not ideologically at war with other faiths over literal geographical territory, as in the Crusades or the Irish troubles. We do face some monumental global issues as regards the commission given to us by Christ, but that has been the case from day one of His public ministry, if not from day one of the universe. It's enough to drive a believer crazy if you try to unwind the rubberband ball of problems strangling the societies of peoples all over the world.
Back to dealing with people every day. As a person who is irreparably a Type A, temperamental artiste, pain in the keister windbag, I've somehow still managed to earn a modicum of respect for various talents and insights into the various communal aspects of my family, professional and recreational lives. Most of my life I blustered and bloviated (thanks for that one, O'Reilly) my way through various crises and turmoils, wailed and sobbed unrelentingly through others, laughed or joked as if to dodge the bowling ball heading towards me, etc. And those are over the small stuff.
When Big Stuff drops from the sky like an existential asteroid, somehow a "Down Ego, down" yield warning keeps me quiet and calm, so that I can focus, get perspective, and react positively and soundly. I wish that was the way I could approach the small, petty and political stuff that, as I've gotten older, seems to be more prevalent. I find myself becoming Ed Asner/Lou Grant/the old grump in "UP" more often than not, and I don't recognize my inner heart that's always yearned for kindness and goodness.
What do old fogey megalomaniacs always charge others with: "Why are those people messing with me?" "Why can't these people be more like me and follow the darn rules?" And so forth. But the problem, which is probably lifelong in its stranglehold, is beginning with the word "Why." Well, dummy, "Because." Or more accurately "Because they will, they can and they do!"
I've only got one systematic response mechanism when "stuff like this" gets semi-serious, and that's to keep a draft file of letters I'd relish to send to someone who's peed on my petunias. And other friends have suggested that I learn how to just "not do crazy." And my natural response is, b-b-b-but these people won't get things done right, so they just call me!

Help me friends. How does one not do crazy in the modern church business?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Brian Wren hymn text, Part Two

1. Here hangs a man discarded,
    a scarecrow hoisted high,
    a nonsense pointing nowhere
    to all who hurry by.
2 Can such a clown of sorrows
still bring a useful word
when faith and love seem phantoms
and every hope absurd?
3 Yet here is help and comfort
for lives by comfort bound,
when drums of dazzling progress
give strangely hollow sound:
4 Life, emptied of all meaning,
drained out in bleak distress,
can share in broken silence
our deepest emptiness;
5 And love that freely entered
the pit of life's despair,
can name our hidden darkness
and suffer with us there.
6 Christ, in our darkness risen,
help all who long for light
to hold the hand of promise,
till faith receives its sight.

With this hymn, meant to be sung with the famed “Passion Chorale” of Hassler/Bach (mis)attributions, the melody so profound that we associate with “O Sacred Head, surrounded” and the B Minor Mass, we encounter quite the opposite sensibility from the wedding hymn.
Again, if memory serves, I believe I’ve only employed this text once at liturgy, most likely the Good Friday Service way back in the day.

There are likely a ton’s worth more semantics problems with which anyone who takes up this hymn text at worship would have to reconcile. For example-
“a man” ….”scarecrow”…..”a nonsense”

“clown of sorrows”….”useful word”… “faith and love and hope….absurd”…. and so forth.
Discuss away, please. Has its window of use passed? Can we reconcile such poetic license with the disciplines of text (psalter based or verbatim quotes) that we now profess as clearly the principle option?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

When Who Says "Jump," do we sing "How high?

The following commentary is based upon an article published today in CRISIS (online) MAGAZINE today by Jeffrey Tucker entitled "Musical Corruptions Continue Despite Vatican Intervention." It can be accessed here:

Never let it be said that Jeffrey minces his thoughts. Nor do I for that matter. But allow me two observations that we two have personally discussed pertinent to two major points in this article that, to me, are glaringly obvious by their omission here.

One, on the brick by brick road to liturgical OZ, Jeffrey himself endorsed an erstwhile quick fix to engaging congregational participation in the Latin chanting of the De Angelis Gloria as arranged by our mutual friend and chant expert, Aristotle Esquerra. This arrangement employs the same antiphonal "refrain" by relegating the congregation to cadentially inserted repetitions of the famed 5-5--3-2-1 incipit intoned by the celebrant. This was circa 2005-2006. This came to my attention via Jeffrey's mention of it at Musica Sacra or NLM. There's nothing wrong with his now revised opinion. But to not own up to that accomodation then, and to launch a serious salvo towards other composers and their publishers without that disclosure damages credibility somewhat. And while we're on the Missa de Angelis...

Two, is not the interpolation of polyphonic portions that are poorly invented by local Roman composers into the de Angelis Gloria as "performed" by the Sistine (Screamers!) Choir* and which otherwise mangle a noble and simple rendition by the people's choir and all other congregants at Papal Masses in St. Peter's an "occasion of liturgical sin" (?) much more magnified and deliterious to worldwide sensibilities than the local singing of the incipit as refrain Jeffrey so villifies? IMO, what happens at St. Peter's to this day also, ironically functions as musical, not textual , troping. Oops. Troping, if only understood by novice liturgists or musicians from the content of Jeffrey's article, would seem a modern invention, doubtless led by the apostate Haugen! Nothing could be further than the historical truth of the acccretion of tropes to emerging liturgical texts in the first centuries. One of the undergraduate level examples is the obvious approbation of the sometimes secular use, sometimes pagan use of "Kyrie eleison." That one form of the Penitential Rite still prefaces that with an invocation is a result of troping the Kyrie. This is old news and basic.

We just need to paint our opinions with less broader and more intellectually honest strokes.

It also was with no small sense of irony and humor that a related link on the CRISIS site under JT's post was on Cdl. Bartolucci's address of the state of sacred music!

The Neo-Hymnody of Brian Wren-Part One

When love is found and hope comes home

Sing and be glad that two are one.

When love explodes and fills the sky

Praise God and share our maker's joy.

When love had flow'red in trust and care

Build both each day that love may dare

To reach beyond home's warmth and light

To serve and strive for truth and right.

When love is tried as loved ones change

Hold still to hope though all seems strange

'Til ease returns and love grows wise

Through listening ears and opened eyes.

When love is torn and trust betrayed

Pray strength to love 'til torments fade

'Til lovers keep no score of wrong

But hear through pain love's Easter song.

Praise God for love, Praise God for life

In age or youth, in husband's wife.

Lift up your hearts, let love be fed

Through life and death in broken bread.

(Brian Wren, copyrighted Hope Publishing)

This last Sunday’s OT and Gospel Scriptures quite thoroughly articulate the Christological ethos that defines the sacrament of marriage. In the last few weeks there’ve been a number of cumulative events that Wendy and I have shared that made hearing the readings three times over the weekend and even more intensified joy to us as we approach our fourth decade together.

I first took notice of the texts of Brian Wren in the ‘70’s. No specific recollection of how, save for a vague sense it was attached to my enchantment with all musics Celtic, and I perhaps made an association with Wren’s “When love is found” via its clever linking to “O waly waly.” And, of course as wedding stipends were a precious commodity in that point of our family economy, “selling” this hymn was a far improved cry from the current faire of Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer Than,” Ken Loggins’ “Run, River, Run,” or the ever ubiquitous John Denver “Annie’s Song.” We had pretty much employed the song using the first two and last verses only for weddings. But for congregational use at Masses such as 27 Ordinary B, or theme-attached sermons as a hymn of the day, I’ve often pondered the reception, comprehension, assimilation and “buy in” by congregants when invited to join in singing this text.

I’m speaking particularly to whether the situational depictions of verses three and four represent universally acknowledged “snapshots” common to the experiential trajectories of all or even most marriages? Sure, one could allow that most marriages, or any serious relationships for that matter, undergo great periods of stress, change and reformation. It is also obvious that the trial of betrayal and the torment that results is likely more common to all than not. And it is true that Christ only offers a sure path to recovery and wholeness. But, are these the sorts of “intimate” encounters that need to attend the final conclusion that life praising God and sharing faith as a salve that should be found and expressed communally in our hymnody? What’s your take?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Unison or SATB Ordinary usage strategies?

For just over a year our primary Schola has led the singing, really the chanting, of the Mass of St. Therese of Liseaux by Fresno composer Royce Nickel (available at Corpus Christi Watershed.) Royce's Mass uses traditional note values, but it became obvious that the quarter note functioned much more sucessfully as a punctum, and that their were "semiological" concerns that would be resolved through  examining the phrasing and declamation. Though we function very well as a going SATB concern, there were many issues to consider about introducing the setting at only one Mass out of about fourteen English services scheduled among our four parishes. We do not have pew pockets, we use OCP's BB/Unidos-United Missals racked and picked up and after Masses, and creating a Mass leaflet seemed impractical. And, of course, we knew that the acquisition (or not) of the Glory to God would indicate a general acceptance. So we opted for the unison chanting of the soprano melody for all movements.

For almost a year, and for the first time in twenty years I functioned as a "cantor" at an "epistle side" ambo close to the choir, with perfect visual access to the schola, organist and congregation, as well as the celebrant. And as much carping and harping about "animateur gestures" by songleaders, I used a sort of combined method of chironomy, intend to both provide the congregation with visual anticipation of the ascension and descension of melodic phrases, as well as phrasing,  cadences, etc. It actually worked quite well and I'd say we started clearly hearing the folks clearly within a month's time.

But now that we've entered the second year (more or less coinciding with the school year) we've had the consistent choral forces to render the piece in SATB. So, I traded places with my wife for the last three weeks. She mentioned to me today, though, that despite the congregation being fairly fully actively singing hymns (you can see them below next to the "S" designation) she thought that they shied away from the usual solid block of sound on the heels of the choir, and ascribed that to the difference of having a soprano cantor versus a baritone/tenor. And, it can't be discounted that whenever we sing a more involved hymn or piece in SATB, it is somewhat expected that the congregation relies as much upon the unison choir as it does the organ, and there will be a drop-off in volume.

Has anyone else experienced these circumstances? I know the issue of male v. female "lead voices'" effectivenss has long been debated. But as many of us are moving towards Jeff Ostrowski's "Sherwin Mass," or Mueller's "MR3," or the Bancks' setting, what strategies did you think worked best to encourage acquisition and then consistent response for these more demanding, but congregational settings?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

27 Ordinary, Ordo

Back to our Scheduled Programming!

I'm going to conclude my analysis of what contents of OCP's Breaking Bread pulp hymnal have some merit worthy of any interested party's attention. I didn't mention in the first post that I'd obviously not chosen to include any standard hymns, chants or songs that are more commonly presumably known and sung across the Anglophone sphere of churches. I also chose not to consider the "psalter" and "ordinary" setting portions of the book, simply because other than "Jubilate Deo" we do not use those in our parishes. And I wish I could state that the woeful track record of OCP editorial decisions about which of their catalogue ordinary offerings makes the "big book" league has improved, but alas I can't.

Sacred Silence Tom Booth/Jenny Pixler Perhaps too obvious a pleading prayer, but the intent and effect of the setting works

Laudate, laudate Dominum Christopher Walker A veddy British, triumphal refrain (Lift high the Cross), in Latin. The verse texts overwork a sort of militant church ethos, but I'm not particularly bothered by that.

Thanks be to God Stephen Dean A "meat and potatos" text, also with a British flavor that has a mixolydian great final cadence.

The Lord is my Light Walker Chris Walker's forays into neo-Celtic strains now and then, but not with this lovely setting alluding to Ps.27.

Be Still My Soul Finlandia (Sibelius) What should be numero uno Funeral Hymn rather than OEW, SMOG or HGTA

O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts Jesu dulcis memoria I'm sure Kathleen Pluth could refine Ray Palmer's Bernard of Clairvaux hymn, but it still works as is.

There is nothing told about this woman Rv. Christopher Willcock, SJ One of the most unique and tender Marian texts married to an equally tender, yet strong tune.

Exodus 15 Whitaker-Sullivan If Ms. SW were among the Hebrews across the sea, they'd be singing this melody!

Friday, October 05, 2012

A Debt of Gratitude to Jeffrey and CMAA

I want anyone reading this to know that the circumstances that culminated with a parting of the ways between myself and Chant Cafe, and perhaps by extension to relationships to certain colleagues and friends in the CMAA family, do not reflect anything other than a fundamental philosophical difference of opinion concerning the content of Jeffrey Tucker's article, "Why we must chant," in which he articulated quite passionately about the act of sacred chanting proving a potent force for personal and communal transformation. I can and have testified to that truth and reality in the six plus years of my association with CMAA, and have Jeffrey, Arlene, and particularly William Mahrt among so many others to thank for helping light the path to my personal revelation that, among all the ways one can pray and praise to one's Creator, most Beloved and arbiter of my soul's destiny, "chant" is paramount in my heart.
I have to say that though I understand there may be much from Islamic chant traditions that, besides still sharing "DNA" strands among the history of sacred song in the Holy Land among peoples of the Book, I am personally disabled and distracted by the larger dissonances that differentiate so many profound and irreconcilable dogmatic problems between Judeo-Christianity and Islam as "belief systems." I can't and won't apologize for this confession, just as I would not demand from the Imam who stood before a packed audience in our parish hall and blithely, if not blatantly, expiated how Islamic theology subsumes the Person of Jesus Christ to a revered, but penultimately all too human culmination of prophecy that would be fulfilled finally elsewhere in history and time immemorial.
This is no criticism of Islamic theology nor belief, nor ritual practices of which Jeffrey rightly extolled. But I would think that someone might just ponder the irony of how we Catholic Christians verbally eviscerate each other within many circuses of media every hour of every day, and then once in blue moon pause to remind ourselves to consider the true meaning of "in all things, charity," then there's more quiet murmuring about the rhetoric of "charity" and we then resume our internecine warring. Yet and still, we are commanded by Christ, the Logos present before time, to be tolerant and charitable to all who give offense. I accept that, even as it relates to very large existential dynamics between the human instrumental institutions that guide each and all of us towards achieving true discipleship. But as I mentioned elsewhere, the eschatological "endgame" of our respective theologies are fundamentally and I fear permanently at odds. Our "lex orandi, lex credendi' as I perceive the discipline has a much different resonance than with other religious belief systems and practices.
Chant is huge to most all of the great traditions, as natural and necessary to living as breathing. And there might be much to be gained and learn from following those sinews of commonality. But what texts we sing amount to much more than "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony....It's the Real Thing..."
Again, Mr. Jeffrey Tucker is a gentleman and scholar, both qualities I seldom exhibit. I think that I will  breathe a bit easier out of the "echo chamber" here and there, and likely others will also sigh in relief as well. Thank you, Jeffrey.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

What is POSITIVE in the current OCP books?

It's been a few years since the article "The Hidden Hand Behind Catholic Music" posited that the most egregious malefactor in the Liturgical Industrial Complex could only be Oregon Catholic Press. First I saw the title, I smiled at the subtle hint of a sort of Sicilian La Cosa Nostra, "Godfather," inference. Their initialed acronymn, OCP, generally seems to be regarded by most of the "independent" forums and blogsites as if were gang grafitti tags splayed on the outside walls of a church! You can almost feel the blood pressure of some writers bubbling up, reddening their faces and widening the whites of their eyes when the mere mention of "OCP" pops up. Then, inevitably, someone reminds everyone that, like it or not, OCP is not likely to go away quietly into that dark night.
But, as I've done in the past, very few people ever take the time to actually  comb through the major OCP English hymnal/missal books, looking for merits rather than targets to demerit.
So, take a look at the first half of the current year (2012) Breaking Bread from #1 to 500 for hymns, chants and songs you may have missed when perusing, or likely not perusing through the book. In subsequent articles I will finish the 2012 BB. But I'm also going to try to include an article in which I'll share my opinion of some pieces of music that OCP regretably has dropped from their congregational offerings, real editorial lapses of judgment.
Then feel free to share whether you think it's worth the effort to put up with some of the dross, or even better, drop those dessicated oldies and work towards infusing some of these into the rotation.

Title of piece Hymntune/Composer Merits for usage
The ICEL (English Mass) setting composite, arr. Fr. AW Ruff, OP Like its Latin predecessor, Jubilate Deo, from which portions are based, the setting is meant to be universally inculcated at all churches, cathedrals, basilicas, missions should be mandatorily implemented by all rectors, pastors, bishops and abbots as SOP when needed.
Respond and Acclaim Mr. Owen Alstott Also a controversial commodity in the Gradual/Psalter/Responsorial category. But after decades of use, almost an imperative because of its inclusion in the Missal cantor the verses without ego and overwhelmingly poor declamation or dramatics.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus Janet Sullivan Whitaker Ms. SW's very semitic melody complements the Aramaic cry beautifully. The verses require a choir or soloists to project, in all ways, the prophetic texts with authority. do demand surety and stability to be successful.
Creator of the Stars of Night Conditor alme siderum chant!
Of the Father's Love Begotten Divinum mysterium not truly Gregorian chant, but chant! OCP should mirror it with the Latin text opposite
Once in Royal David's City Irsy One of the great Anglican carols, noble and stately
Child of the Poor/What Child Soper/Greensleeves A very accessible partner song, Soper's text might seem preachy, but its theological merit is obvious
Led by the Spirit Kingsfold/B.Hurd-text A Lenten compliment to the famed "I heard the voice of Jesus" text. No objectionable text issues.
Transfiguration Fr. Ricky Manalo A borderline inclusion; the melody has to be acquired, and its semiolgy, or syllabic emphasis is clunky because of the many intervallic leaps. But those leaps pay off well in the refrain "Praise and glory…"
Christ is arisen Dr. Randall DeBruyn A strophic allusion to the Easter Sequence with a quite appealing, dignified melody. The full effect of the actual sequence text is somewhat diluted, but for parishes that don't chant, it works nicely.
Two were bound for Emmaus Dr. Bob Hurd/Kenmare This text qualifies as one specifically as a "Hymn of the Day" candidate. Hurd's other "Emmaus" text, In the Breaking of the Bread, dropped the very personal disciplereinforcing reminder of this post-Easter encounter.
Three Days Thaxted (Holst); M.D. Ridge text A mini-documentary alluding to the chronology of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection; not an insult at all to the monumental hymn based on Holst's tone poem.
God We Praise You Nettleton; C. Idle, text Nettleon is one of the iconic hymntunes, the text paraphrases the Te Deum, what's not to like?
Here at this Table Janet Sullivan Whitaker JSW's text is "light years" beyond that of the ubiquitous, obnoxious "Gather us in." It also can function other than an Entrance "chant" (ha ha) but, as appropriate, an offertorio or communio
As We Gather at Your Table Nettleton; C. Daw, text Nettleton again, short text which is a plus for "accompanying" the entrance procession without needless time extension.
Sacramentum Caritatis Rv. Dr. J. Michael Joncas Absolute proof that Joncas, author of "On Eagles' Wings," is a master composer. OCP should print the whole hymn rather than just the Latin.
These Alone are Enough Dan Schutte The King of "3/4" sing-songy can also tap into a deeper, if somewhat emotional, melody and text combination that congregations should be offered for their consideration. This is one of those.
For Your Glory Reigns Berberick and Walter There are so many neo-Celtic, modal songs in that sing-songy category, that it is too easy to dismiss a real heir apparent. Though its chorus has an arena-anthem feel, the text and melody are wed well.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Myths, Truths, Facts, and Irrelevancies from Cal Cath Daily Combox article

California Catholic Daily became the third Blog organ to reprint a now somewhat incendiary article by Jeffrey Tucker that I've commented upon twice already (below). But the toxicity levels that have been engendered both at the second reprint, online "CRISIS MAGAZINE" and at Cal Cath Daily comboxes compels me to respond with some perspective that neither Mr. Tucker (though he is an accomplished choir and chant director at his parish, but not a parish Music Director) nor the legions of unhappy people of all bleeding stripes seem to grasp as reasonable realities that must, like all symptoms, be first isolated and then identified before a prognosis and regimen of recovery is undertaken by doctor, patient and support people.


Myths: "Another bad fruit of the “spirit” of Vatican II is that any song or type of music is suitable for Mass."

The myth is simple in that this statement has never been universally true. There are, to be sure, thousands upon thousands of anecdotally true accounts of music abuse to the Divine Liturgy. But this was not a result of VII, or any so-called spirit or smoke therein.

"It would also be better if there were no music when receiving Holy Communion so that people could pray in the quite. (sic) "
No, the Mass is, according to every major liturgical document and as far as tradition informs us, essentially one entire song of dialogue exchanged between God and His Faithful, using the Word given us, as the Holy Father in so many books and encyclicals reminded us, come primarily from the Psalter, the Psalms. Quiet Masses, Missa lectas, even Low Masses (with/without hymns) are all subsets of the solemn High Mass, in a word, a “sung” entity. Those who insist that “their private prayer time” should not be infringed upon by the communal song of a congregation or a decent choir demonstrate a lack of basic sacramental theology, which Pope St. Pius X and many of his forebears in that office have tried to bring to the people for over many centuries. Musical abuse of the liturgy extends much further back, also in centuries, than the last fifty years. Back in the “Bells of St. Mary’s” days, folks simply said “Offer it up.” Now, if someone claims the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as licitly theirs to modify at their whim and will, they should be willing to call themselves Protestants.

"Those who love both God and music are overjoyed when we worship with our most moving music, and those of us who are appalled by so much of what passes for music these days long for the days when it was all so masterfully chosen and sweetly presented."
Those days were no different than these days. In fact, I’m rather sure after four plus decades of doing this with (if needed) degrees in sacred music literature, that the actual performance abilities of those choirs under professional (in both senses, dedication and career) directors has actually improved after Vatican II. School choirs in lofts singing as best they could the Requiem is a nostalgia. Films from the thirties to this day also offer what seems a pervasive beauty that, in reality, rarely existed in the pre-conciliar years. The book by Tom Day, WHY CATHOLICS CAN’T SING, clearly cuts both ways. There were no golden days in the first half of the twentieth century in Catholic U.S.A. One must do one’s homework before waxing nostalgic.

"Why seek to recover? Post-Vatican II music is uniformly awful."
The indignity of such an ill-informed, nee ignorant declaration doesn’t deserve a proper response. It’s simply not the case. Such an opinion can only be spoken by someone who can’t be bothered by facts, or to find the truth. But for the lazy of heart:

"There is no silence at any time, except while the homily is spoken. Even when two communion hymns are sung, and there are still people in line, they must be playing instruments. Silent prayer is not allowed."
I am very sympathetic to this plea. However, if that abuse does exist at your parish, I respectfully invite any parishioner to speak to the pastor about GIRM (rule) 45, that mandates silence at three specific points of all Masses. If you receive no satisfaction, document that, take that to the chancery. If that is not responded to properly, file your document grievances to the Vatican, attention the commission Ecclesia Dei. There is no wiggle room on this one.

"The Church has centuries of music appropriate to the Liturgy, and the one person who has the responsibility to choose that music for Mass is the pastor, or the priest who will be offering the Mass on that particular Sunday, for his Mass."
Again, with sympathies towards the deeper meaning of this complaint, each celebrant reserves the canonical right to oversee the music chosen for Masses he offers. That is not quite the same as "to choose." But, anyone who has eyes to see, ears to hear in this era, knows that the modern priest, if truly engaged, spends tremendous amounts of time with pastoral duties in hospitals, homes, his office, various meetings of the canonically required councils as well as other parish enterprises such as religious education et al (Our parish has 73 -different mission-based ministries and organizations.) And, if they have an ounce of energy, then they still fulfill their obligations to offer Mass, keep the Office, hear-confessions, anoint the sick, communicate to the dying and bed-ridden. A modern pastor who actually is engaged will also then surround himself with competent “surrogates,” such as a professional, Catholic musician, whom he trusts will put into place his vision and preferred repertoire of worship music. My job would be a cakewalk if any of our priests were actually capable of choosing music for worship. It’s simply not the case in modern life.


"Stop the clapping people…..It just encourages more clapping when the musicians respond with a hearty “Thank you, thank you”. Ugh!"

"Give Glory to God and block your ears if you don’t appreciate the talent or lack of talent that the people are trying to use to Worship Him. +JMJ+"
Amen, again. Better yet. Stop complaining and help in any and all ways to improve your parish situation. For every dedicated singer and musician I have in my program, there are likely nine others who, for whatever reason, decline to commit themselves to the discipline it requires to maintain a great musical ministry.

"Why is the Pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir so bad?"
Because, like everything else that gets everyone hot under the collar, the “politics” or better yet, the “exercize of power” is perceived by church insiders, whether lay or clerical, as being more important an interest than actually ministering to people is pastorally healthy ways. The incompetency of Capella Sixtina in the last century is both legend and fact. And it is testimony to the reality that there were no golden eras in recent eras. One of their former maestros, recently presented his red hat by HF Benedict XVI for a lifetime of service, personally butchered the presentation of Roman Catholicism’s greatest composer, Palestrina, every time he directed one of the master’s great Masses or motets. You can hear better renditions of Palestrina at St. Anne’s in San Diego or St. Stephen’s in Sacramento, other CA. parishes if you look, and likely the local public high school. If one really wants to talk about putting on a “show” tune into the next broadcast from St. Peter’s and REALLY listen to the pope’s choir. I personally think their bellicosity aged John Paul the Great much more than he ever let on. My opinion.


"As long as the Bishops continue to cave in to the Oregon Catholic Press and its acquisitions as a virtual monopoly over American liturgical music, these efforts at remediation won’t go far."
At USCCB Plenum Meetings, presidents from Archbishop Gregory to even Cardinal Dolan have systematically and with casual consensus of the majority tabled or remanded the “problems” of hymntexts and other musical concerns to the bishoprics of Abp. Vlazny and Cdl. George, which also happen to be the homes (Portland/Chicago) of OCP and GIA/WLP respectively. Efforts by few bishops such as Abp. Vigneron (from a conservative POV) to Trautman (progressive) were dismissed immediately after they’d made motions regarding the use of propers, or in Trautman’s case, a call to review the 3rd edition of the English translation of the Missale Romanum.


"EWTN has been going downhill for years ever since the imprudent decision of Mother Angelica to step down over a decade ago."
EWTN has demonstrated, until very recently, very little interest in actively promoting the improvement of “liturgy” per se. Interviews with Tucker, great programs infrequently such as produced by Corpus Christi Watershed that don’t cost EWTN a dime have just now made a blip on their radar. Their daily conventual Mass has struggled (at what cost?) to present at best an incoherent liturgical praxis with it’s tippy toe back and forth between the OF in Latin one moment, and English the next.