Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What about these mysterious times called the 1960s?

What precisely was happening in Catholic music circles in the mid to late 1960s? There were competent people all around and yet...something happened to change the entire direction of what constituted progress in those years. An amazing set of documents that provides detailed insight here was published in 1969. It was the proceedings of the 5th International Church Music Congress and the founding meeting of the newly organized CMAA. The papers are remarkable and the importance of this volume, heretofore very rare, cannot be overstated.

You can read the entire book, published in 1969 from 1966 conferences held in Milwaukee and Chicago, here.

You will see that there was a great deal of apprehension in the air concerning what was coming. There was certitude concerning what the council was asking but grave worries about what was taking place in terms of the music world and the church generally with the coming liturgical reform, which was already taking place de facto. The speakers worked very hard to shore up the case for sacred music and deal with the unfortunate ideas about liturgy that were floating around, as well as attempted to come to terms with the coming of the vernacular and new ideas about the role of the people. There are some amazing papers here and some riveting material about the controversy in the press.

Some people may not have the stomach for this. In general this is a tragic story told in these pages. And there is a point to just letting the past be the past and moving forward. And yet, this is some important documentary history you now have at your fingertips.

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