Monday, August 14, 2006

The Answer is Before Thee

This link prints a press release from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians meeting in California. Several themes emerge:

  • Music should not be about the musicians but about assisting the congregation to worship.
  • Music for liturgy should speak in a universal voice
  • Choirs should not fear singing in languages other than English

This is all presented as if these were new problems that result from modern demands of diversity and multiculturalism, the ever-present problem of ego, and an odd inflexibility among singers.

But actually, these problems are not new, obviously, and they have been addressed through Church teaching concerning music appropriate for Mass. Sacred music, idealized in the chant tradition, is universal and beautiful. In every way, it takes us out of the confines of time and place and directs our spiritual attentions to the transcendence. Need we also mention that Latin is a language other than English?

But one mark of liturgical music seems to be lost on the commentators herein: holiness. In fact, one suspects that this aspect or goal of music had never occurred to either the journalist or the speakers.

For example, one speaker is quoted as saying: "It isn't about my way or your way, it's about our way. It's about solving problems, celebrating the other, honoring the other."

Well...that's not quite true, now, is it? It seems like the speakers need to reflect on what makes Church different from a homeowners' association meeting or a group therapy session.

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