Friday, November 20, 2009

A Parish Without Gregorian Chant is a Tragedy: Dan Schutte

An interesting interview with Dan Schutte:

“Sing to the Lord” is very clear that many different types of music, varieties of music, styles of music, and music from different ages and times in the Church’s history and tradition are all appropriate, and that includes contemporary styles of music. It also says very clearly that Gregorian chant has this place, they call it “pride of place.” I think what is happening is that the bishops of the United States have seen that with the renewal of the liturgy, and music being one part of that which has happened since the Second Vatican Council, they have noticed that many parish communities have given up Gregorian chant. My take on “Sing to the Lord” is simply that the bishops are saying don’t forget about this very important part of our Roman Catholic tradition. You walk into many parishes you never hear Gregorian chant. The bishops are saying that’s a tragedy if that happens. But they are also very clear to say that other styles of music, including contemporary styles of music, are also appropriate.

But of course the only way to experience Gregorian chant is to have scholas that practice and work on it and sing it as part of the liturgical life of the parish - the central music, in fact, because it is wedded to the rite in a way in which no other music is. It is there from the beginning through the Communion chant. And every bit of it is beautiful (not an exaggeration). Doing chant takes more than merely throwing it into the mix. It requires commitment and practice, something that musicians must take on with a greater degree of intensity than they would some other form.

Schutte is right here, and he says it even more forthrightly than the document he cites. It is a tragedy if the music of the Roman Rite is not part of the Roman Rite - and it must be part not just intellectually or in rhetoric but in weekly and daily experience.

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