Friday, June 19, 2015

The CMAA Comes to Pittsburgh

The CMAA, the Church Music Association of America, will invade Duquesne University and Saint Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh, PA, for the next two weeks. A Chant Intensive will be held June 23rd through June 26th, and the 25th Colloquium will be held from June 29th through July 4th. Registration is closed for both events, but everyone is invited to the Sacred Liturgies, which are listed on

The late Msgr. Richard J. Schuler described the foundation of the CMAA at Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. "In the late summer of 1964, the Society of Saint Gregory of America and the American Society of Saint Cecilia merged and formed the Church Music Association of America. Some members who were present: for the Society of Saint Gregory - Msgr. Richard Curtin, Frs. Benedict Ehmann, Joseph F. Mytych, Cletus Madsen, Joesph R. Foley, C.S.P., Vincent Higginson and Ralph Jusko: for the Society of Saint Cecilia - Msgr. Francis P. Schmitt, Frs. Richard J. Schuler, Francis A. Brunner, C.Ss.R., Sister Theophane, O.S.F., lay members Paul Koch, Alexander Peloquin, Roger and Lavern Wagner, James Welch, James Keenan, Frank Szynskie, Norbert Letter and Winifred Flanagan."  It is interesting to note that Archabbot Rembert Weakland, O.S.B. was also present and became the first president.
A provisional constitution was drafted and two resolutions, submitted by Father Brunner, Father Robert A. Skeris and Father Schuler, were adopted: 1) "We pledge ourselves to maintain the highest artistic standards in Church music;" 2) "We pledge ourselves to preserve the treasury of sacred music, especially Gregorian chant, at the same time encouraging composers to write artistically fine music, especially for more active particiption of the people according to the norms of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council and the wishes of the American Hierarchy."
At this meeting, the "Catholic Choirmaster" of the Society of Saint Gregory, begun in 1913, in its fiftieth volume, merged with "Caecilia," of the Society of Saint Cecilia, begun in 1874, then in its ninety-fourth volume, to form "Sacred Music." "Sacred Music" is, therefore, the oldest scholarly journal on sacred music published in the United States. The CMAA has also branched out to the internet with this blog, the Chant cafe and our website mentioned above,
Msgr. Schuler writes in 1977, "The CMAA has been in existence for thirteen years. The period of its existence coincides with the years of ferment following the close of the Vatican Council. Many of the hopes eagerly embraced in 1964 have been shattered by the course of events. The music in this country today can hardly be hailed as the realization of the association... In every area a regression has occurred: performance, composition, education. Deep theological controversies surfaced early after the council and soon became apparent in liturgical music, a fact that brought the conflicts growing out of the council into the focus of most of the faithful producing many doubts and worries.
...The documents themselves were clear and attainable; but the path along which liturgical music in this country has been drawn (or pushed) reflects little of what is set forth in the instructions from Rome."
All hell broke out. Perhaps the documents were not as clear as they may have seemed. Michael Davies talks of "time bombs" in the documents that would eventually allow things that were never dreamed of. Through very tough years Msgr Schuler, Dr. Theodore Marier, and Father Robert Skeris kept the CMAA afloat against all odds. Msgr wrote in 1977, "What has been the role of the CMAA during this development? A quiet one. Yet one that eventually will be seen to be the true one." - Truly prophetic words.
Well, the CMAA has gotten a little louder and more well known, but the task is far from over. Saint Caecilia, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Pius X, pray for us!

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