The National Association of Pastoral Musicians has a colloquium every January, where president Mike McMahon invites a variety of people, mostly members of NPM’s DMMD (Director of Music Ministries Division), to come together to investigate one topic with scholarly intensity. Generally 100-150 folks gather for it.
Past presenters include Msgr. Kevin Irwin, Fr. Gil Ostdiek OFM, Fr. Frank Quinn OP, Paul Westermeyer, Michael Hawn, John Witvliet, Bishop Trautman, Fr. Paul Turner, Edward Hahnenberg, NPM founder Fr. Virgil Funk, Msgr. Tony Sherman and Msgr. Rick Hilgartner, and Abbot Gregory Polan OSB.
This year I’m the presenter. I’m giving four talks on “Antiphons, Hymns, Songs and Their Use in the Liturgy.”
My first talk will deal with methodology and presuppositions, something which I think is important to name before taking up the issue itself. When deciding whether to use hymns or antiphons at Mass, do I think it’s an issue of liturgical tradition, or obeying official documents, or (re)interpreting Vatican II, e.g. to ‘reform the reform,’ or inculturation, or ecumenism, or ecclesiology (local and universal nature of the Church and the liturgy), or artistic quality, or holiness, or promoting true participation in the liturgy? How I weight any of those aspects greatly affects my conclusions.
In a second talk I’ll look at the rich heritage of proper antiphons, including their complicated history, their ambiguous status in official documents, the promises and problems and challenges in the inherited repertorire, and the explosion of resources in the last few years. Third talk is on hymns, same issues. Fourth talk will pull it all together and draw some conclusions.
Question for Pray Tell readers: Feel free to give feedback before Tuesday early morning (DC time) on this question: What is your liturgical experience of hymns and your experience of antiphons, and how do they compare? Please, limit yourself just to sharing of your experience, with a view toward how you were drawn into the liturgy (or not) by singing hymns, and by singing or listening to antiphons in Latin or vernacular. What drew you in? What didn’t? Your wisdom will be incorporated into my last talk!
Thanks in advance.