Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Better no music than bad music

An article in the National Catholic Register argues that it is better to have no music at Mass than bad music. That seems right, even granting that the normative Mass is the sung Mass. Silence is very beautiful. Music has to be very good to be better than silence. I'm pleased to see NCR inching toward solid commentary on music.

Years ago, the editor told me that he didn't like chant and didn't want it to come back, and so he would never publish a piece on the subject (it was the beginning of my understanding that "conservative Catholics" can't always be counted on for support for genuine liturgical renewal).

That seems to have changed. Good. And yet what the current article seems not to contemplate is that music for Mass isn't just a matter of making the right choice among many possibilities. The Roman Rite comes with its own music "built in," as it were, and this music is found in the Graduale. If the current generation could somehow come to understand this one point, we would be leagues ahead of where we are.

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