Thursday, December 18, 2008

Art Drain from the Ordinary Form?

I received yet another note from a musician who is leaving the ordinary form to direct music at an extraordinary form parish. This is wonderful news for this person but something still makes me sad about this tendency. Pastors beware! If your musicians are treated shabbily, they will leave for parishes where their services are welcome and they have fewer fights to deal with. I've written on this subject many times here (1 2 3 4)

Why would the person leave? Here is the summary sent to me:

No more parish councils treating me like a broken liturgical jukebox.
No more convincing people of the beauty of Latin.
No more sneaking in chant, only to be told to knock it off.
No more 'but the people haaave to partiiicipate in everything' whining.
No more 'let's have some hip music to bring in the young people' from crusty Boomers

That just about sums it up. Go through this list and make sure that you are not doing these things to your musicians. If you don't clear a path for sacred music, you will be left with the all-too-familiar shabbiness too many Catholics know all too well. There is work at rebuilding our tradition in the context of the EF, which is a very good thing, but we need to ensure that this also continues and is occurring within the OF and establish climates that will allow them to do likewise.

Some might suggest this is a hopeless task given the obstacles. My response is that this is unnecessarily despairing, and, moreover, completely impractical. Given that 95% of Catholics have attended the new Mass for nearly 40 years, and it is all they know, we must work within this context as well.

It would be an uncharitable and even cruel attitude to believe that nearly the whole Catholic world should continue to be denied access to the music of the Roman Rite. It was intended that the new Mass be a home for chant, and the musical structure of the old and new are nearly identical. This the teaching of Vatican II. It is the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It was also the desire of Paul VI at his best moments.

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