Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Charleston, Day Three

Do you remember your parents or grandparents telling you that things were hard when they were children? They had to walk to school - no one gave them a ride, much less waited in a car line at the end of the day to pick them up. What's more, they had to walk unbelievable distances - five, ten, or even twenty miles. Through the snow. With no shoes.

It's unseasonably cold this January in Charleston. No snow, and everyone attending, through providence, has shoes. We are also very fortunate to be starting off the morning with a close look at the CMAA's Parish Book of Chant, which is one of the textbooks of the course.

This is the first chant book for congregations published in the United States in the last forty years. It expands on Solesmes' slim volume for congregations, the Liber Cantualis, and includes a kyriale and ordos for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Mass.

Brilliantly typeset by editor Richard Rice, here is a snippet from his foreword to the book.

Those intending to use this collection in the context of the Ordinary Form have the luxury, when introducing (or re-introducing) chant into the parish repertoire, of taking a gradualist approach, inserting chants at various points during the Mass as their congregations can absorb them. Occasional and seasonal chants provide a good starting point. Nevertheless, the goal of the liturgical movement has always been, and remains, the full, conscious, and active participation of the faithfulin the Mass itself.

That means, first and foremost, singing the parts of the Mass—the responses and chants from the Order of Mass itself—and not relying exclusively on extra-liturgical hymnody (whether in Latin or English) to foster participation. To this end, the priest must lead with his own chant. Never forget that a fully-chanted Mass, as prescribed by the modern Graduale Romanum, remains the ideal for the new Mass, no less than for the old.

Summorum Pontificum in no way consigns the Church’s treasure of Gregorian chant exclusively to the Extraordinary Form of the RomanRite, just as it does not sequester the lovers of liturgical tradition,including Latin, to the Extraordinary Form. A collection such as this can serve to encourage mutual enrichment, but only if congregations and liturgical musicians are willing to reevaluate their commitment to the Church’s treasure of sacred chant, and follow Pope Benedict’s admonition, in the words of St. Paul, to “widen your hearts also!”
(2 Cor 6:11-13)

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