Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ignorance: The New Tradition?

The editor of GIA's new edition of Worship has some comments concerning why the core of Catholic music for the Mass - the Propers - makes no appearance in the massive book now being published for the Mass. It is a mystery, isn't it? A huge hymnbook for Mass even though that Mass has few hymns at all as part of its structure, and those it does have are intrinsic to the rite and appear in the normative music book for the ritual, the Graduale Romanum.

PRAY TELL: Traditionalism is on the rise in the liturgy, and some people are talking about more chant, fewer hymns, more proper antiphons, and the like. Will Worship 4 bend to meet any of these new needs?

BOB BATASTINI: Like Worship 3, there will be a fair amount of chant, but certainly not enough for those who desire to move heavily in that direction.

Regarding the hymn versus introit matter, though “some people are talking,” by far, the common practice in American parishes is, and for almost fifty years has been, to begin the liturgy with a hymn. Worship 4 is being designed to give those parishes the best collection of hymns published since Vatican II. In an effort to merge hymn singing with the intent of the introit antiphons, Worship 4 will include the most developed hymn of the day compilation ever assembled. The work of fine contemporary hymn writers is being wedded to well-known tunes from throughout the hymnic tradition, offering a hymn closely tied to each Sunday of the three-year Lectionary.

We can imagine other versions of this Q&A. Some people are saying that houses should be made of brick to withstand the weather and last longer. What do you say? I say that all houses today are made of mud and this is why we continue to do so.

I mean no offense in the analogy, truly. But it is an undeniable fact: parishes are not doing the right thing as regards music in the Roman Rite. The Mass is not a gathering of believers united to sing their top favorite songs. There is a time and place for that, and Mass is not it. If you want to see the music for the Mass, you have to look at the Roman Gradual or some other book that contains the propers (which can of course be in English).

To arbitrarily tag a hymn as suitable for this day is no different from what OCP's Today's Liturgy has been doing all along. It only makes doing the wrong thing even easier. Are we seeing (to quote a friend) an attempt to make ignorance of tradition the new tradition?

Why would a Catholic publisher continue to subsidize bad praxis? I guess it depends on the raison d'etre of the publisher. As the editor says in his last answer: "I often loose patience with the institutional church..."

By the way, the USCCB gave this publisher the legal monopoly to the Psalms of David, which allows this publisher to charge parishes and convents and monasteries money for singing. If you don't pay, expect a visit from the lawyers.

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