Friday, September 26, 2008

Chant Workshop, Wayland, Michigan

Another chant workshop in the works, this one scheduled for October 18, 2008, St. Therese Catholic Church, Mayland, Michigan, with Fr. Rob Johansen and Fr. David Grondz. The information provided says very clearly: "No previous knowledge of Chant required - This is truly for beginners!"

More information here.

I've recently been doing some thinking about what is going to be required in order that chant and other sacred music fully displace what I regard as a serious problem in our parishes today: the use of openly profane (old fashioned sense of that term) music in liturgy, such as that sometimes called "Praise and Worship" music or what is really just "American Idol" stylings brought into a sacred space. Most of the people participating in this have no idea that there might be something wrong here, something that is incompatible with the liturgy.

The most important factor has got to be to provide occasions such as this workshop that will cause existing Catholic musicians to come to love the chant, to come to know what it means to leave their egos at the door, to learn to use their talents not in service of their own fame but rather in the service of Christian prayer.

There is a genuine romance that is attached to singing the Church music but it is of a different sort than people seek in every other area of life. It involves giving of yourself completely to a higher cause. The reward is the same one which comes from committing your life to the faith itself. It means using your talents toward your salvation and the salvation of the world, and bringing a special kind of beauty into being, one that you can't experience on popular radio or television. These short workshops for beginners are the best way to go about inspiring existing musicians and inspiring new ones. This is absolutely critical.

There is no question that this change is going to require work. It will require musicians to humble themselves and be willing to learn, a process which requires that they first admit that they don't know all there is to know. There is an intellectual side to this--learning what sacred music is--and an artistic side too. But this first step of humility in the face of a vast tradition that must live is probably the hardest part.

I wish these priests all success!

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