Friday, July 14, 2006

Summer 2006 Issue of Sacred Music

A little information on the Summer 2006 Issue of Sacred Music from

It is now widely acknowledged that Catholic music is in a period of transition toward recapturing a sense of the sacred through the use of Gregorian chant and polyphonic music and hymns that are stylistically compatible. If this trend hasn't yet reached your parish--most public Masses in the United States are still weighed down with the folk and pop styles of the 1970s--you might begin to see a change in the coming years.

The advocates of chant are newly energized. Workshops are giving the practical help that musicians need. Publishers are releasing how-to books, CDs, and song books that incorporate the chant tradition. Young composers are writing music in the polyphonic tradition. The official chant books of the Catholic Church are selling in venues that once only marketed its stylistic opposite. Statements coming from the Vatican are ever more explicit: chant must retake its pride of place.

The summer 2006 issue of Sacred Music explores the basis of some of these trends, particularly in the groundwork laid by John Paul II. Peter A. Kwasniewski pens a masterful and definitive account: "John Paul II on Sacred Music." This piece explores the whole of the late Pope's writings on the topic.

In a chirograph dated November 23, 2003, the feast of St. Cecilia, the late Holy Father drew the Church's attention to a major anniversary, one that might otherwise have passed unnoticed: the centenary of St. Pius X's motu proprio on sacred music, Tra le sollecitudini. Pope John Paul II's document was a forceful reminder that, in his words, "not all musical forms can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations," and that music intended for the liturgy is appropriate for it only to the degree that it possesses the qualities praised by his predecessor—holiness, good artistic form, and universality—and when it remains in continuity with the great tradition of the past....

In the world of Catholic journalism, the publication of this document was duly noted as a significant gesture. Far from being the first time John Paul II had spoken about sacred music, however, it was the last of many such occasions during his long reign as the Successor of Peter. He spoke widely and confidently not only on the subject of liturgical music but also on the very art of music, an art form he viewed as pointing to the divine and beckoning man into a stance of awe before the cosmos and gratitude for the gift of existence.

The summer issue also contains additional articles: "Beyond Taste in Liturgical Music" by Shawn Tribe, and "Offertories With Unusual Endings" by William Mahrt. Books under review include: Papal Legislation on Sacred Music, by Msgr. Robert F. Hayburn; Guillaume de Machaut and Reims, by Anne Walters Robertson; The Shape of the Liturgy, by Dom Gregory Dix; Looking Again at Liturgy, Ed. By Dom Alcuin Reid; and Maudy Thursday, a recording by St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes. Music by Nicholas Wilton is also reviewed.

The documents section includes words by Francis Cardinal Arinze, the Synod Bishops from the XI Ordinary General Assembly, and a spirited commentary on the movement for Catholics to name their favorite "Songs that Makes a Difference."

Sacred Music is available for members of the CMAA. Join today and receive the Summer issue.

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