Friday, March 21, 2008

Musical Disharmony over Pope's Visit

Well, NLM is in the news, and of course the report is not quite as anyone here would have written it - no news in that. Traditionalists? The traditionalists don't think so. As for us insisting on "tons of Gregorian chants"--I'm still laughing over that phrase--what Catholic musicians are seeking is only that the chants attached to the Mass be the guide for selecting music, precisely as the Church asks of us. As for "hateful" emails that the director says that he has received, no one has seen one of these, and, moreover, there is an understandable tendency on the part of some people to believe that any disagreement is driven by malice rather than genuine love of truth and beauty.

Nonetheless, the great thing about reporters is that they help you see your world as the world sees it, and that can be very instructive. Actually, I must say that I rather admire this reporting job. She did a good job overall, mainly because she saw that this is an important issue of great concern. After all, the director still hasn't flatly stated that there will be no Mass of Creation at the Pope's Mass, and the published playlist includes pieces for liturgy written in the rock/blues style, which constitutes an outright disregard for the Pope's own writings on the topic of liturgical music.


Musical Disharmony over Pope's Visit

Newsflash: Not everything about planning a papal Mass is love and sunlight. Namely, debates about the music that will be sung there.

A small crowd of serious Catholic music traditionalists went on a tear in the last few days after a list of pieces was posted on the Web purporting to be the Mass musical line-up - but which was apparently incomplete. After the list went up last week, Catholics who believe church music has veered too far into entertainment (and away from tons of Gregorian chants) objected angrily on various blogs (here, and here) and reportedly sent a torrent of hateful emails to Thomas Stehle, director of the special papal choirs put together for the April 17 Mass.

The list didn't include any chants, which are "unmistakably sacred music," compared with the songs on the list, which are "basically theatrical - like Broadway," William Mahrt, president of the Church Music Association of America, told the Post. Mahrt, articulating the position of some church traditionalists, said this is part of "a longstanding battle" to return churches to Renaissance-era sacred music.

Some bloggers wrote that Catholics should be embarrassed and outraged that Benedict wouldn't be able to listen to chants and would instead be welcomed with "popular" music.

Then Stehle told the Post and the National Catholic Register that the list circulating isn't complete, and everyone should hold their horses until after Easter when he releases the final list.

Catholics "have to feel a sense of relief," Jeffrey Tucker, managing editor of the journal Sacred Music, told the Post.

Stay tuned for updates.

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