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Catholic Northwest Progress
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March 19, 1965     Catholic Northwest Progress
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March 19, 1965

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8--THE PROGRESS FHday, March 19, 196S Christian Culture Series (Unit !! Chapter XIII) the People Sing T. PIUS X, in that revolutbnary document which " we have been citing, established standards for church music which have helped very much to clarify our thinking on this matter. "Sacred music," he says, "must, therefore, pos- sess in the highest degree the qualities which charac- terize the. liturgy, particularly holiness and goodness of form. From these two qualities will spontaneous- ly arise a third quality, universality. Sacred music must be holy, and therefore must exclude everything that is secular, both in itself and in the way it is per- formed. It must be true art, since otherwise it cannot have on the minds of those who hear t the influence which the Church desires when she admits music into her liturgy. But it must at the same time be univer- sal, in the sense that while every nation is permitted to include in its church repertoire the special forms which may be said to constitute its native music, Still these forms must be so subordinated to the gen- eral characteristics of sacred music that they may leave only a good impression on anyone who hears :them, no matter from what nation he comes" (Article 2). 1. Discuss the three qualities that music must have in order to be acceptable lot use at liturgical celebrations. Musical Tradition of. the Church At fixst glance these requirements would seem so exacting that few compositions could measure up to them. Actually, very many have; as the Council says Article 112), "the musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure .of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art." But for a variety of reasons this treasure has been largely a hidden one, known to musicologists and some connoisseurs, but not to the people as a whole. Music of the compositions have been settings of a Latin text, so that the meaning of the songs has not been readily understood, if at all; consequently, the beauty of the compositions could not be generally appreciated. Then, too, we have not had among us a sufficiently large number of properly trained musi- cians who could as pastors, choir directors, and or- ganists, educate us to a discriminating taste in sacred music. We were often misled into thinking a composi- tion acceptable simply because it presented a relb gious theme, and we did not stop to question whether the presentation were good art. In many cases we have made favorites of pieces that were quite World- ly, or weakly sentimental, or just plain bad composi- tions from a musical standpoint. However, contemporary taste in music is rising steadily because of more general education and be- cause television, radio, records, and tapes have made it possible for us to listen to good music more fre- quently. And if the Council's recommendations (Ar- ticle 115) about the teaching of music in seminaries and Catholic schools are followed, we can expect a similar refinement of taste in sacred music to come about. 1. Why has the musical tradition el the Church been largely a hidden treasure? 2. Why have many el the musi- cal compositions used in divine services been el poor quality, and what is the outlook [or the [uture? Restoration of Congregational Singing It is evident that the Council wants singing re- stored as the people's usual way of participating in any sort of religious service'. "Religious singing by the people is to be skillfully fostered, so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and re- quirements of the rubrics" (Article 118). This will include the responses and the Ordinary of the Mass, as well as a share in the processional chants. It will also include participation in the sac- raments and sacramental (examples would be wed- dings, baptisms, confirmations, funerals, the distribu- tion of ashes, palms, candles, etc.). Then there would be devotions of various kinds, retreats and missions, Bible services, and so on. We shall sing psalms and other lyrical selections from Holy Scripture, texts taken from the liturgy, oc- casional pieces from other sources, and hymns. For a time at least, probably, we shall be singing hymns rather than other things, and our Catholic repertoire of good hymns in English is not large. Un- doubtedly we shall continue the borrowing from Protestant sources which has already begun, with happy results. Many of the hymns which we called "traditional" (although a few were even a hundred years old) will be quietly but firmly interred, even though there be wails of protest from some corners of the church. A hymn, to be acceptable as religious singing in church, must be good on three counts. It must be orthodox in its theology, an artistically competent piece of poetry, and a well-constructed, singable melody. Mr. Paul Hume, in his amusing and helpful book, Catholic Church Music (N.Y. Dodd, Mead, 1956) has a chapter on hymns which would clarify many popu- lar notions on this subject and explain why some hymns are good and some are hopelessly bad. We may hope that our composers, following the directive of the Council in Article 121, will provide for "the actLve participation of the entire assembly of the faithful" by giving us hymns for all the sea- sons and feasts as well as for special occasions. It will take long years, no doubt, to build up a full rep- ertoire; there will have to be much sifting and win- nowing. But it is a real privi.lege for a musician to place on the lips of God's people songs with which they can express suitably their praise and love. 1. How extensive will congregational singing be i[ the directives el the Council are carried out? 2. In general, how well have our traditional hymns measured up to required standards? 3. What may we reasonably expect el composers o[ sacred hymns? Regional Musical Traditions Sometimes one hears the objection that Amer- icans are not, by and large, a singing people, and that it is futile to expect us to take naturally to reli- gious singing. It does seem true that there is not the enthusi- asm for spontaneous group singing which existed some years ago. Perhaps it is so easy to listen today to professional entertainers that we have stopped providing our own entertainment; perhaps we have even become a little self-conscious about our own ef- forts. And, so far as singing at Mass is concerned, we Catholics have a very long tradition of silence to overcome. However, our people have sung together, and with gusto, at popular devotions, novenas, and so on. Even men have been observed to sing, and to enjoy singing, when the organist has pitched the note too high for them! With the proper encourage- ment and the proper choice of music, it should not be difficult for us American Catholics to take our place in the centuries-old tradition of singing Christians. The Council's desire to adapt the liturgy to local and national cultures extends to sacred music, too. It recognizes (Article 119) that musical traditions differ with d,fferent peoples, and because "these traditions play a great part in their religious and social life," music that is familiar to each people should be em- ployed. It will help them to form their attitude tow- ard religion and make their worship seem a part of their own culture. This should lighten the task of missionaries, who are now to learn the traditional music of the peoples to whom they are sent (Article 119), and who will be able to make use of it even in the formal worship of the Church. 1. What is to be said oj the objection that Americans are not, by and large, a singing people? 2. Is there any authentic American music that might be adapted /or use in our public worship? Use of Musical Instruments The Council echoes the judgment of the Popes when it says that "the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and higher things" (Article 120). However, the organ is not the only instrument to be allowed a role in di- vine worship. "Other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial auth0rty, as laid down in Articles 22, No. 2, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments re suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, that they accordwith the dignity of the temple, and. truly contribute to the edkficaton of the faithfd" (Article 120). Drums and other percussion instruments which would seem quite out of place in our churches might have a very helpful function in, for instance, Africa, as the well-known Missa Luba has shown. It is good that the judgment on such matters is to be made by the hierarchy actually on the spot. 1. What norms are laid down [or the use el msical instruments in divine worship? Professional Musical Directors The musical renaissance envisioned by the Council for our parishes will never come unless pro- fessional directors of music are trained, hired, [ven encouragement and freedom, and paid in accordance with their education, their talent, and the cont:ibu- tion they make to the parish worship. The parish budget must include generous e)pen- diture for this as a matter of course. Too often aere has been provision in the budget for everything ex- cept the music director. In no way should the gen- erosity of volunteer organists and choix directom be depreciated, but they are rarely professionals, and professionals are as necessary in this highly techtical ield as they are in the classroom, or at the altar Relf. m Here, as in almost every department of life, we get what we are willing to pay for. And if we sh'ink from using shoddy vestments or altar furnishing in our churches, we should be equally dissatisfied with second-rate music in the worship of God. 1. How valid is the author's plea jor use o[ prolessional directors o[ music in parish worship? Some Things To Do I 1. Open and close future meetings of your grotp with the singing of a hymn. 2. Sing at home, with members of your family, some of the hymns being used in your parish wolship. :  : ;h;L';';h:'tiihqihiLtiqtL1[1[1[qi1111T1ir11IH1iI1iii1H1 IllHIllll1111tllHIllllllll11!fllll[llflllmlm/mln/ " (New Horizons in Catholic Worship, a book from which the discussion text for the 1964-65 ChristiartCulmre Series is taken, was written by Rev. William J. Leona'd, S.J., and Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leon A. McNeill, M.A. Publkhed in 1964 by the Liturgical Commission, 445 N. Emporia, Wichita, Kas., 67202, the booklet is available for oneto nine copies for 75 cents each or for 10 o more copies for 60 cents each. The booklet is also sold at all Cathob" book stores in the Archdiocese.) I:ill! ':: : Hhlll!l:'t !)!]![qh;ihH1]t1111ib]III1T[itiFTIIm][1[IIII[IIIII]I[II$[mI[ "We Shall Overcome" Hymn Expresses Civil Rights Hope These two photos, taken Tuesday dur. ing the Mass of Reparation in St James Cathedral for the expiation of the vio- lence to Negroes in Alabama, *shows those attending how they express their spiritual feeling in song. The Mass, focusing on an active con. gregational participation, was preced. ed and concluded with the singing of the nationally-used civil rights hymn, "We Shall Overcome." THIS SERIES OF CCD ARTICLES ARE PUBLISHED THROUGH THE KIND COOPERATION OF THE FIRMS LISTED -IERE [ ST. FRANCES / CABRINI IHOSPITAL [ Founded in 1916 by !t America s First Citizen Saint !I To Serve All Citizens i / Madison Street at Terry Ave. ] Seala 1 r MU 2 O 50 O | BALLARD BLOSSOM SHOP 2001 N.W. Market St. Seattle SU 2-4213 BONNEY-WATSON FUNERAL DIRECTORS 1732 Broadway Senile EA 2 0013 THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS WINE White-Henry-Stuart Bldg. 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