Friday, September 15, 2017
HENRY HAS A POINT BUT I HAVE A BEEF TOO ABOUT WHAT IS SUNG AT MASS
Henry writes a comment for another post of mine:
All the posts here about musical preferences--whether thought to be objective or subjective--and about what music is good or bad, all such discussions are irrelevant to true liturgy.
The music proper to the Mass--chant, from plainsong to polyphony, which developed over the centuries under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should NOT be replaced by any other music whatsoever, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Thus it's irrelevant whether Beethoven or Beyonce is better music; neither is appropriate at Mass.
The distinction between classical and popular music is similarly irrelevant. Indeed, today's classical music likely was yesterday's pop music.
A case in point is last night's Solemn Pontifical Mass broadcast by EWTN from Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul. It was filled with wonderful music by Mozart. Which only left one thinking how much better an Ordinary in Gregorian chant or sacred polyphony would have fitted the majestic solemn liturgy, and regretting that we were "subjected" instead to an admittedly exquisite orchestral Ordinary.
Henry's last paragraph that I highlight in blue is the problem that the liturgical movement of the last century leading up to Vatican II tried to address and often in vain in some parts of the world but not in other parts.
Mozart Masses are fine as concert Masses (when no actual Mass is being celebrated) so that it can be appreciated as any secular person would enjoy music of his choice.
Even Pope Benedict, though, and His Holiness certainly knew better, appreciated these kinds of concert Masses actually used in the Holy Sacrifice and I think this was the case with a Mass at the great Cathedral in Vienna that Pope Benedict celebrated in the Ordinary Form.
But Henry's critique as it concerns the back and forth about what is good music (and relying on the secular point of view about it) is worthy.
I would hope that the new post-Vatican II liturgical movement would lead us to chant in English or Latin in plainsong or polyphony the music proper to the Mass itself.
But herein lies the rub, anthems are allowed in both the EF and OF Masses--a processional prior to the Introit, an additional Anthem after the official Offertory Antiphon and anthems at Communion time. There are lovely ones that have been sung over the years in Latin, such as Ave Verum Corpus and Panis Angelicus and a variety of other traditional ones and there are new ones of good and others of questionable quality.
And who is to say that modern idioms could not be chosen for a recessional?