Bishop Sample’s Pastoral Letter on Sacred Music in Divine Worship

Bishop Alexander Sample is still bishop of Marquette, Michigan, but on January 29 he was named archbishop of Portland, Oregon. It has been noted that Bishop Sample celebrates the Extraordinary Form (the unreformed pre-Vatican II rite of Mass) in the Marquette Cathedral. As archbishop of Portland, he will (among other things) lead the board of directors of OCP (Oregon Catholic Press).

On January 21, Bishop Sample issued a Pastoral Letter on Sacred Music in Divine Worship., “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” I invite your carefuly study and commentary on the document.

I see that the document cites the Vatican II liturgy constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 13 times – more than any other source. But Bishop Sample has a particular slant on Vatican II and which parts of it he wants to emphasize.

Bishop Sample quotes Pope Pius X’s 1903 motu proprio “Tra le sollecitudini” 6 times, in second place (tied with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) of all sources he cites.

The US bishops’ 2007 document “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship“? Not so much. One citation. Yup, one.

The primary post-Vatican II Roman document on music, Musican sacram of 1967? One.

Pius XI and Pius XII each appear once. Paul VI? Forget it.

JP2 is cited three times – no doubt because his very low-level 2003 chirograph on the hundredth anniversary of 1903 draws on 1903 so heavily. Benedict XVI is also cited three times.

The reinterpretation of Vatican II continues apace. 1903 is in big time.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on Portland.

awr

 

 

 

 

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73 comments

  1. I was about to post on this myself. I am troubled by his equating (on page 4) the definition of sacred music by Pope Saint Pius X with that of Sacrosanctum Concilium 112:

    a. The sanctity of sacred music

    Turning once again to the teaching of Pope St. Pius X, which has had a
    significant impact on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in this regard,
    we read:

    [Sacred music] must be holy, and must, therefore, exclude all profanity not
    only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who
    execute it.

    Vatican II emphasized the sanctity of sacred music in these terms:

    (S)acred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is
    more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to
    prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the
    sacred rites.

    The former can be elitist; the latter is ministerial. As I have said elsewhere:

    The holiness of liturgical music is heard in the way that it abets the liturgical action. If that action is praying, sung praying delights/stirs/sobers us; if that action is unifying, “sung unifying” unifies us better than any other effort to unify; if the action is solemnifying, sung solemnifying solemnizes better than any other kind of solemnizing.

  2. I was about to post on this myself. I am troubled by his equating (on page 4) the definition of sacred music by Pope Saint Pius X with that of Sacrosanctum Concilium 112:

    a. The sanctity of sacred music

    Turning once again to the teaching of Pope St. Pius X, which has had a significant impact on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in this regard, we read:
    [Sacred music] must be holy, and must, therefore, exclude all profanity not only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who execute it.
    Vatican II emphasized the sanctity of sacred music in these terms:
    (S)acred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.

    The former can be elitist; the latter is ministerial. As I have said elsewhere:

    The holiness of liturgical music is heard in the way that it abets the liturgical action. If that action is praying, sung praying delights/stirs/sobers us; if that action is unifying, “sung unifying” unifies us better than any other effort to unify; if the action is solemnifying, sung solemnifying solemnizes better than any other kind of solemnizing.

  3. I quite liked this paragraph:

    “One parish celebration every Sunday should be a Sung Mass (Missa cantata), offered with consistency and with the greatest care and attention the community can give it. In the former traditional parlance, this may have been referred to as a High Mass. It could also be referred to as a Solemn Mass. A Sung Mass need not be elaborate – indeed, the principle of noble simplicity should guide it. Other Masses in the parish may include less singing and more recited parts, but the Sung Mass sets the pattern and the model for sacred music in the parish.”

  4. “1903 is in big time.”

    Perhaps the bishop is a Wright Brothers fan.

    There may yet be hope for “On Eagle’s Wings.”

  5. If you’ve seen a photo of him with a very tall, pointed miter and wearing white gloves, you’ll know that this prelate is quite special. I will predict that OCP will now have to experience similar travails to those of LTP when a former Archbishop of Portland became the Archbishop of Chicago. All of the Masses I celebrate on the weekend are “Sung Masses”. What is he talking about? Is he suggesting that if the collects, preface, and eucharistic prayer are not chanted it is not a sung Mass? If so, does that mean the readings need to be chanted as well to qualify it as a sung Mass. May God help us all.
    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, inspire the cardinal electors to choose a servant leader who will show the loving face of Christ to all who seek him.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #5:
      Is he suggesting that if the collects, preface, and eucharistic prayer are not chanted it is not a sung Mass? If so, does that mean the readings need to be chanted …

      He’s suggesting parishes look at the degrees of participation in Musicam Sacram (1967) and work on following them.

      28. The distinction between solemn, sung and read Mass, sanctioned by the Instruction of 1958 (n. 3), is retained, according to the traditional liturgical laws at present in force. However, for the sung Mass (Missa cantata), different degrees of participation are put forward here for reasons of pastoral usefulness, so that it may become easier to make the celebration of Mass more beautiful by singing, according to the capabilities of each congregation.

      These degrees are so arranged that the first may be used even by itself, but the second and third, wholly or partially, may never be used without the first. In this way the faithful will be continually led towards an ever greater participation in the singing.

      29. The following belong to the first degree:
      (a) In the entrance rites: the greeting of the priest together with the reply of the people; the prayer.
      (b) In the Liturgy of the Word: the acclamations at the Gospel.
      (c) In the Eucharistic Liturgy: the prayer over the offerings; the preface with its dialogue and the Sanctus; the final doxology of the Canon, the Lord’s prayer with its introduction and embolism; the Pax Domini; the prayer after the Communion; the formulas of dismissal.

      30. The following belong to the second degree:
      (a) the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei;
      (b) the Creed;
      (c) the prayer of the faithful.

      31. The following belong to the third degree:
      (a) the songs at the Entrance and Communion processions;
      (b) the songs after the Lesson or Epistle;
      (c) the Alleluia before the Gospel;
      (d) the song at the Offertory;
      (e) the readings of Sacred Scripture, unless it seems more suitable to proclaim them without singing.

    2. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #6:
      I do not see anything remotely like (rather, the scornful opposite of) ‘the loving face of Christ’ in those, priest, prelate, or other, who presume to assert, as do you, that chanting the readings, the collects, the universal (bidding) prayers, and the canon, in short Everything other than the homily, is in some manner outlandish or an odious impostition. What you so calously denigrate is precisely what should be normal at at least one parish mass (in English) every Sunday and Solemnity. What, in fact, is outlandish from an historical perspective is NOT singing Everything. Numerous writers from pre-baroque or renaissance times (Simeon of Thessolonika, for one) tell us that from the very beginning all was sung, that nothing was uttered in the spoken voice. Jews of Jesus’ time (and, of course, Jesus was on of them!) would have been horribly offended and thought it blasphemous had anyone ‘read’ the holy scriptures in anything other than a form of chant or cantillation.

      (And, as be should known by now, I am no fan at all of those who wear comically theatrical three-foot-tall mitres (dis-)graced with bulbous bulges, nor those tacky, gaudy, baroque gloves.)

  6. Which passages from the writings of Paul VI might he have cited? To what extent would they have required him to modify his thesis?

    1. @Ben Whitworth – comment #7:
      Documents on the Liturgy (LitPress, 1982) is filled with statements of Paul VI. He didn’t need to cite any of this if he didn’t want to. The larger point here is that he uses sources selectively, starting with Vatican II. I hope we can have a constructive discussion here about all the widely varied themes of Vatican II and the postconciliar magisterium, and I hope we can all explore what Bishop Sample emphasizes, what he de-emphasizes, and what he ignores in all these official documents.
      awr

  7. Practically that means no, you won’t have to sing the readings, but you are supposed to sing the priest’s parts (unless he isn’t capable) and the people’s responses, if you are singing the ordinary.

  8. Hmm. Well, there are some things I actually like about the letter. But all in all, it’s not the one I would have written.

    I really don’t blame him for confronting the serious misalignment between, on the one hand, a pretty long compilation of official docs’ vision for what Latin Rite liturgical music should be (chant, organ, sung propers, etc.), and on the other hand, what is actually done in parishes, which may bare scant resemblance to that ideal, and in fact which may adhere to any number of alternative visions. Not many church musicians that I know devote much time, energy or resources to conforming to that official vision.

    If there is a way to engage working musicians and their pastors, diocesan officials, and liturgists in a respectful and in-depth dialogue about that fundamental misalignment, then in my view, that process might lay the foundation for a document such as what we have here. It might. The basic tension, after all, is not merely between documents and praxis; it is between top-down prescriptions and pastoral reality. I don’t know how, other than dialogue, to bridge that divide.

    Absent that foundation of study and dialogue – and the goodwill it might engender – then I hope I am not being too cynical in expecting that this pastoral letter will be a dead letter. That would be true even if this bishop weren’t leaving the diocese in a matter of weeks or months.

  9. Oh no! He celebrates the EF!
    Oh no! He has a big pointy hat! (Thank you for a good laugh on Ash Wednesday, Fr. Feehily).

    What does the counting up of citations tell anyone about the substance of the document? Nothing at all, actually. What matters is what sections were quoted, and what conclusions were drawn from those sections. Fr. Ruff himself spends a great deal of ink and paper dissecting pre-conciliar legislation on sacred music in his “Treasures and Transformations” book. And Fr. Ruff, aren’t you gratified that a more recent document (the GIRM) is referenced much more often than an older one (Musicam Sacram)? Don’t many commentators find it problematic to apply MS to the post-conciliar Mass, given that it was published before the new Missal was released?

    No doubt it would be worrisome if a present-day pastoral letter were based entirely on the 1903 motu proprio. However, there is nothing wrong with drawing connections and showing a development of thought between the documents – starting with the “kick-off” document of twentieth-century reform, the motu proprio. As Bishop Sample does in his document.

    Maybe what is most worrisome to some here is a bishop who does not approach Vatican II in a complete vacuum. Or maybe it is a bishop who dares to teach without making sure that his interpretation jives with an academic inner-circle party line. Just like that Pope JPII, with his “low-level” chirograph, or that silly Bavarian who knows nothing about liturgy…

    1. @Jared Ostermann – comment #10:
      No, Jared, in fact the citations are representative, quite accurately in fact, of the tenor of the document. That’s the whole point. I disagree with you, and I think counting up citations is a useful exercise.

      Vatican II said a lot of things, as did Paul VI, as have documents since Vatican II. The point is that Bishop Sample is using Pius X, and JP2’s chirograph on Pius X, so as to emphasize SOME themes of Vatican II greatly, and ignore other themes of Vatican II entirely, or downplay them.

      Now if you want to argue that others have done that but in the other direction, that’s a fair point. My goal is simply to name it: Bishop Sample has a very one-sided, not to say tendentious, reading of Vatican II. You can show that by looking at his citations. You could also (though I didn’t do it) show this by looking at the themes he emphasizes, and how very selective he is about Vatican II. That would be a longer post, and maybe I will get around to writing it. Or maybe others will show this by their comments on this.

      I would invite honesty from you and others, Jared. Bishop Sample’s interpretation of Vatican II is one-sided. If you agree with him because you also like to interpret Vatican II by emphasizing some things more than others, I’d invite you to be honest about this.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #13:

        In fact, his practical interpretation of Vatican II hews very closely to that presented in Musicam Sacram, upon which his norms are clearly based, despite the few citations of that document. That’s why looking at what he writes and not just what he cites seems to be critical. Musicam Sacram’s interpretation of Vatican II and the black and white rules it sets out are not very popular, but it certainly has a lot of authority behind it.

      2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #16:
        OK. In my chapter on MS in my big book, I try to show the wide variety of themes in MS.

        I observe that some of these themes of MS are emphasized by Bishop Sample, others aren’t at all. MS has a lot in it. There are directives, to be sure, in MS, but as it says itself in the opening, it doesn’t intend to catalog all legislation on sacred music. It sets out broad principles, more than “black and white rules.”
        awr

      3. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #13:
        Bishop Sample’s document is not primarily an interpretation of Vatican II – it is a pastoral letter on sacred music in the liturgy. As such, it draws on many documents, including, of course, the conciliar documents. As Sample says: “What is attempted here is a faithful presentation of what the Church has taught as it regards sacred music from the time before the Council, at the Council itself, and in the implementation of the Council’s thought in subsequent years.”

        With such a stated purpose, it is completely reasonable to expect that a variety of documents – from before and after the council – would be consulted and referenced.

        A more constructive approach than citation-counting would be to make concrete, logical statements about content, for example: “Bishop Sample uses SC paragraph x to prove y; however, x is taken out of context and does not actually prove y.” Or: “Paragraph z of SC contradicts Bishop Sample’s thesis about sacred music.”

        As far as honesty, Bishop Sample’s letter (which is about liturgical music, not about V2) does emphasize certain things more than others – of course. But again, to flesh out your accusations, Fr. Ruff, you need to provide some concrete examples. Are there statements in the conciliar documents that Bishop Sample does not emphasize that would somehow invalidate his ideas and directives? What are they, exactly?

        Or, as Ben Whitworth asked, which particular statements of Pope Paul VI would you like quoted, and how do they disprove particular points made by Bishop Sample. There was far too much vagueness in the original post.

      4. Dear Jared,

        It’s a fair request – which themes of Vatican II and Paul VI and Musicam sacram are emphasized and which are underemphasized or ignored by Bishop Sample. But frankly, I’m not sure you need me for this. You or anyone (but it’s up to you or anyone if they wish to go this route) can easily go through all of SC and MS and tease out the main principles and foundational values of those documents. Those who have done this (it’s been done so many times by so many commentators) have found that the various statements are in tension with each other, that contrasting values are oftentimes emphasized in “on the one hand” and “on the other hand” style.

        I’ll let the discussion run for a while and see what you or any others who wish to comment notice about what Bishop Sample has chosen to emphasize or de-emphasize or ignore in Vatican II and subsequent Roman documents, before I jump in right away. I hope I’m serving the discussion by naming the issue – the many competing values of the Roman documents – and helping the discussion deal with that huge hermenetical challenge.

        Pax,
        awr

    2. @Jared Ostermann – comment #10:
      Regarding Musicam sacram and GIRM – yes, of course, it’s perfectly wonderful to cite GIRM. But MS of course goes into much greater detail on music in the liturgy than the GIRM can or should do. MS was written with the reformed liturgy in mind (the same people were involved in drafting it at the time), and while a bit of it looks to the transitional missal then in use, most of it by far anticipates the new liturgy. It is its principles and teachings about the role of music in liturgy that are significant, and it is these themes that one might want to draw out.
      awr

  10. From the bottom of p 10 and top of p 11 of the pastoral letter:

    “Pastors should see that musicians and those who direct them have opportunities for continuing education and authentic liturgical formation through agencies and events approved by the Bishop. In accord with the Church’s teaching on economic justice, pastors are to ensure that those who direct sacred music in the parish receive just compensation for their time and skills, commensurate with
    their experience and level of training. ”

    A fine addition to this letter would have been to expand substantially on this welcome directive. Presumably, wages and costs of living within the Diocese of Marquette do not vary substantially from one town to another, so it should be possible to peg some very specific levels that constitute just wages. Let’s see a specific scale for Directors of Music, choir directors, accompanists, instrumentalists, cantors and any other professional positions. Such specifics would be an excellent illustration of just-wage theory in action.

    Pastors and their parishes need to be called to account on the wages that are paid to professional musicians and other paid staff. This is a missed opportunity.

  11. It sets out broad principles, more than “black and white rules.”

    While it emphasizes principles “more,” that means it actually does, you agree, set out some black and white rules. And in emphasizing some of those rules, Bishop Sample hasn’t actually contradicted any of the principles has he? If he’d slipped up like that you’d have told us?

    Bishop Sample’s letter isn’t a “big book” and “doesn’t intend to catalog” all laws or all principles of sacred music either. It’s a practical document intended to cause some change.

  12. I know a good number of priests in this diocese and they will surely be cracking open a bottle of good wine in celebration when he leaves. Can’t hire qualified people and pay them well when there is little income from the dwindling numbers of attendees at the parishes.

  13. OK, Jared, Bishop Sample uses St. Pius X’s Tra le sollecitudini I:2 as if it means by “holy” the same thing that SC 112 means by “holy.”

    The shift from an ars artis gratis model of church music to a ministerial model is among the most significant restorations of the Second Vatican Council. As Capuchin Father Edward Foley said years ago in interpreting Music in Catholic Worship 26: “MUSICAL JUDGMENT: Is the music technically, aesthetically and expressively good?”

    “clarification: style and value are two distinctive judgments
    l. essential: quality is important
    2. essential: differentiate between value and style
    3. problem 1: presumption of 19th century concept of art for arts sake
    correction: employ standard of Gebrauchsmusik or Volksmusik
    4. problem 2: does not recognize “value” as improvisatory
    correction: sometimes musical value of a piece is not in its explicit compositional quality but in its improvisatory possibilities
    5. problem 3: does not address the question of quality in ritual music
    correction: music has to be able to point away from itself
    6. problem 4: there is implied European standard of aesthetics
    correction: besides distinguishing between value and style, one must distinguish between value and style in various cultural frameworks”

    1. @Paul F Ford – comment #22:
      Paul,

      I didn’t read a one-to-one correlation between TLS and SC in his statement – it seemed to be more of a listing of different statements on the sacred in music, which he then discusses. Foley’s points are useful, but they also represent a personal interpretation – part of the ongoing discussion.

      I would say that you have focused on a very important issue – what intrinsic qualities make music sacred. But I think that because of the very complexity of the issue it is simplistic to discount Abp. Sample’s interpretation as a mis-interpretation or misuse of the documents.
      My criticism of the letter would be to ask for more nuance on the issue of the sacred. I agree with the fundamental point he is making – that there is an objectivity to sacredness (that we can make judgments about the suitability of music, beyond taste). But that judgment is very often not easy or obvious.

      On the other hand, this is a pastoral letter that is trying to emphasize certain ideas and ideals, and it is also practical not to go down too many side-paths (and the discussion of sacredness easily extends to book-length). I think that he is simply trying to emphasize the idea that personal taste is not the only factor determining musical suitability.

      1. @Jared Ostermann – comment #45:
        “My criticism of the letter would be to ask for more nuance on the issue of the sacred. I agree with the fundamental point he is making – that there is an objectivity to sacredness (that we can make judgments about the suitability of music, beyond taste).”

        I am glad you’ve broached this particular topic. I have to say, I’m not sure what to think about the claim that there is objectivity to sacredness. I suspect there is something to the viewpoint that what is held up as “objectively sacred music” is culturally and historically contingent at least to some extent. And too frequently when these claims are made of the objective superiority of chant and polyphony, with the implication that everything else is objectively inferior, they are made strictly by an appeal to documents, with virtually no acknowledgement of the last 45 years or so of pastoral reality, in which some composers and some musicians have done work in other styles that has born tremendous spiritual and pastoral fruit. I find the pastoral letter under discussion to be an example of this tendency to ignore reality on the ground.

        I’m inclined toward an opinion I expressed somewhat earlier: that the fertile creativity of artists keeps upsetting the neatly stacked blocks in the documents’ musical-style hierarchy.

        I should add that I am probably more well-disposed toward chant and polyphony than most liturgical musicians I know. I wish we had more of it in our worship. On an extremely modest scale, I’ve worked to incorporate them more into public worship.

  14. From p.5 of the pastoral letter:

    “One often gets the impression that, as long as the written text of the music or song speaks about God, then it qualifies as “sacred music.” Given what has been articulated here, this is clearly not the case. As an example, the Gloria of the Mass set to a Polka beat or in the style of rock music is not sacred music. Why not? Because such styles of music, as delightful as they might be for the dance hall or a concert, do not possess all three of the intrinsic qualities of sanctity, artistic goodness (beauty) and universality proper to sacred music.”

    This is a particularly unfortunate passage, and he returns to it at least one more time in the pastoral letter. This is where dialogue with some working church musicians might help him.

    This sort of classification by executive decree – “all chant good; all rock music bad” – bespeaks a lack of critical judgment, or lack of pastoral exposure, not only to possibilities, but to what is actually happening in the trenches.

    The ingenuity of artists discredits these superficial distinctions. The folks at OCP can teach him a lot, if he’s willing to listen and learn.

  15. Where, Pray Tell, do you think Sacrosanctam Concilium came from? The Almighty did not drop the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy out of a blue sky. It is based on – indeed it is the culmination of – the documents which preceded it. Many of the terms and phrases of SC were lifted verbatim from previous documents. I do not see how counting the citations proves any point at all, except to someone with an agenda. If you read every sentence of the Archbishop’s document carefully and without bias, you will see that nothing he says is contrary to what was said by the Second Vatican Council. indeed, he is basically asking musicians to follow the General Instruction.

    1. John Ignatowski,

      Well, sort of, but not really. It is true that nothing Bishop Sample says is contrary to what Vatican II says. But I hope you don’t miss the point I’m trying to make: Vatican II says many things, and he is supporting some but not all of them. Nothing contrary to Vatican II, but not the full Vatican II either.

      Vatican II is the culmination of the documents which precede it, as you say. That is true, but it’s not the whole truth either. Vatican II is also the end product of much reformist zeal and many new ideas and innovative principles put forward by innovative theologians (some of whom were silenced before Vatican II, but then vindicated and called to play an official part at Vatican II and after). Many streams of influence came to together in producing the documents of Vatican II. I suspect you like some of those streams more than others.

      When one reads the preceding documents, and then reads Vatican II, one sees that it builds on the preceding documents at times, develops them further at times, and innovates beyond them (or even in some contradiction to them) at times. To see only continuity, only development of what went before, is one-sided. Even Pope Benedict XVI says explicitly that there are “discontinuities within larger continuities” – this is exactly right.

      I have the distinct impression that some commenters here rather like Bishop Sample’s one-sided reading of the documents, and from their personal agreement, they seem to think that the bishop has no agenda and is simply saying what Vatican II says. I sense in some comments, both the content and the tone of zealous defense, that these commenters are in effect saying that they feel strongly about interpreting Vatican II in a one-sided way (perhaps to counterbalance all those who have interpreted Vatican II in a different one-sided way) and don’t want that bias to be questioned or challenged.

      awr

      1. Fr. Ruff

        I am aware of those streams of influence. I am also aware that the Council approved the text, not the influences, of Sacrosanctam Concilium, which text constitutes liturgical law. When the Constitution gives chant “pride of place” in the Roman Rite I take that to mean that chant holds pride of place in the Roman Rite.

        I am curious – have you ever met Bishop Sample?

  16. Our brother Alexander has written a letter that is 18 pages too long. He should have limited himself to congratulating and encouraging Marquette’s music ministers to pursue beauty and full participation as they are already doing. The rest has already been said and in a more balanced way by all the bishops.

    If our bishop had written a letter like this, I can tell you that: (1) the eyes of all but those of esthetes would glaze over by page 3; (2) people would consider it overkill, when all the bishops have already spoken fully on this theme, and irrelevant when arguably the most frequent complaint about liturgy concerns the quality of the homilies; (3) directors, singers and musicians would feel underappreciated if not offended for what they know and have been implementing locally. I have met one very accomplished and knowledgeable music director from Marquette, who has made her mark in NPM workshops. I second all that Sean Whelan and Jim Pauwels have commented about the working situations of these parish ministers.

    Our brother’s future relationship with OCP will make interesting news. Many many parishes across the country use its publications. I’m sure we will bear more developments in this blog.

    1. @Sean Whelan – comment #29:
      Mr. Whelan, please give a context clue when you posit such a question as above as to whether you have any portion of your tongue in your cheek, otherwise one might conclude you may have a toe or two lodged between your teeth. 😉
      I’m somewhat concerned that the speculation here projecting doom and gloom for OCP’s operating model in place for decades is necessarily tied to Abp. Sample’s letter expressing his concerns regarding sacred music and legislation exceeds the huzzahs and fervor expressed by my confreres at CMAA hoping for just that outcome.
      As I tried to caution there, do we not think that this appointment was attended by much concern for a broad range of ecclesial concerns for this particular diocese beyond its relationship to an influential, albeit controversial publishing enterprise that has let itself be subject to a natural “demand/supply” modality which can’t, of itself, be proof of malevolence towards the practice of the faith, now really? Most of the people I’ve personally met at Portland and in past conventions seem quite disposed towards, at least, listening to diverse opinions. What they haven’t managed to do is to dispense with the silliness of their annual “beauty contest survey” and to trust their artistic judgment when they reach consensus to add material consonant to the principles of the conciliar documents for what seem like two/three year test runs, and then withdraw them without explanation so that new product without such consonance, and arguably with more market appeal to specific demographics or purposes. I could fill pages with such examples, and have in letters to OCP which have remained unanswered over years.
      I have always held out a great hope that OCP would be the one publisher of the “big three” with the flexibility to adjust to a truly wider representation of the finest offerings of traditional and modern Catholic composition.
      Why presume and project fear over a bishop’s actual concern over such matters? I thought that was something we all felt was missing from the equation and strategy to end the “music wars,” namely the participation of interested bishops whether they’re named Sample, Olmstead or Wuerl and Trautman?
      But moving OCP from Portland as a preventative? Sounds so stealth like Irsay moving the Baltimore Colts in the dead of night. Really? Well then, move ‘em to Fresno. I’d be glad to join their editorial board.

  17. “One parish celebration every Sunday should be a Sung Mass (Missa cantata), offered with consistency and with the greatest care and attention the community can give it.”

    This is unfortunate, short-sighted, and mostly out of touch with American parish practice. Every Sunday Mass should be sung. And movement made toward every daily Mass.

    The problem with Bishop Sample’s letter is simply that it makes the wrong demands in some places, and it places the bar way too low in others.

    “Vatican II says many things, and he is supporting some but not all of them.”

    Can you say, cafeteria?

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #30:

      Can you say, cafeteria?

      Sure, Todd my bro’, just as easily as one could say “brick by brick.”
      Our eminent professor above, Dr. Ford, spent considerable time and energy at various clerical confabs, including Fresno, proving, selling and doing miraculous demonstrations that chanting all celebrational orations was not only called for, as you rightly say at every Mass(!), but achievable. But as you could imagine, the ardor and enfatuation that immediately ensued chilled for all the conceivable excuses. However, we currently have a chancery officer in residence for a month who literally does sing everything at each of “his” Masses. It’s all the difference in the world for all present. But he ‘s here because of happenstance. Can’t you allow , as the documents clearly still do, that your ideal will require years, decades or longer to realize through sequential processes that forward thinking prelates (and it is progressive thinking) such as Sample exhibits?

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #30:
      Thanks, Todd….had the same reaction. Even small rural parishes in Texas sing the mass.

      Does anyone know why this letter was written? Are there parishes in Marquette diocese that haven’t implemented singing the parts of the mass?

      A few wonderments:
      – presumes that propers are as important as the parts of the mass? (follow Mr. Howard’s list – they are on a lower level – need to make distinctions and be more nuanced
      – propers – usually occur during processions – appears to not make this connection in our liturgical rite (and given 50 years of experience, the decisions about the how and ways of musically handling propers have changed (he seems to want to pass over options that are part of GIRM/SM, etc.)
      – chant (again, we say that there are different approaches to this after 50 years. Not sure the tone of his letter captures this?) Also, how is he going to insist on presiders chanting? Again, there is a serious question about this after years of experience – do we proclaim or do presiders chant?
      – there appears to be an ax to grind on hymns – ignoring the reality that some very good music has been composed based upon propers? (he appears to contract all of this into a rant against the four hymn sandwich)

      Finally, review his life and other letters – older man, degreed engineer, ordained in 1990, brief pastoral work, then off to Rome to get a canon law degree where he was mentored by Cdl. Burke. Then service in administration until named a bishop. (sorry, this process of promotion and his mentor raises questions?) He has published letters about the fact that deacons shouldn’t preach at masses – only the main celebrant should preach.

      Do we know who helped write this letter?

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #33:

        Do we know who helped write this letter?

        That is the question I have been asking myself. I wonder why the ghost writer, in addition to the citations in the document, did not also cite, for example, these passages from the 2003 Chirograph:

        Yet this quality alone does not suffice. Indeed, liturgical music must meet the specific prerequisites of the Liturgy: full adherence to the text it presents, synchronization with the time and moment in the Liturgy for which it is intended, appropriately reflecting the gestures proposed by the rite. [5]

        The music and song requested by the liturgical reform – it is right to stress this point – must comply with the legitimate demands of adaptation and inculturation. [6]

        Likewise, on the whole, those elitist forms of “inculturation” which introduce into the Liturgy ancient or contemporary compositions of possible artistic value, but that indulge in a language that is incomprehensible to the majority, should be avoided. [6 again]

        With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the “general rule” that St Pius X formulated in these words: “The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple”. It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it. [12]

        I find it fascinating that no one has yet mentioned that the Mass setting that Archbishop Sample mandates for use as the Marquette diocesan setting is in fact published by OCP and was composed by one of the staff members of OCP, Randall de Bruyn, who is just retiring after many years’ service as editor of OCP’s hymnals.

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #33:

        FWIW, his suggestion on deacons and preaching is not unusual from the other side of the liturgical spectrum. I remember reading it somewhere – not sure whether it was one of the Foley, et al. commentaries or something by Keifer.

      3. @Bill deHaas – comment #33:

        Hello Bill,

        Finally, review his life and other letters – older man, degreed engineer, ordained in 1990, brief pastoral work, then off to Rome to get a canon law degree where he was mentored by Cdl. Burke. Then service in administration until named a bishop. (sorry, this process of promotion and his mentor raises questions?) He has published letters about the fact that deacons shouldn’t preach at masses – only the main celebrant should preach.

        This is an interesting point, Bill. Sample’s background is, to put it mildly, unusual for a prelate – I can think of Dewane down in Venice, but hardly anyone else who was a “second career vocation” in the American ranks. I think of the kind of criticisms made of, say, Bishop Robert Finn as tugged into formation at too young an age, with no real experience of adult life outside the Church, and a general criticism of that lingering minor seminary model. That we would be better off if we got priests with more experience of real, lay life. Well, Bishop Sample certainly has that, and I agree that it is a good thing.

        That prescinds from his relatively scant pastoral experience, of course. I agree that it is desirable for bishops to have more of that. I don’t think that it is disabling by itself.

        Do we know who helped write this letter?

        By all accounts – from those i know who know him – Alexander Sample is a sharp knife who spends a lot of time thinking about these issues. Why assume that he is not the primary (if not sole) author of this work? I don’t doubt that he had assistance, but I also don’t doubt that most of it really is him.

      4. @Richard Malcolm – comment #44:
        Mr. Malcolm – after years of formation direction experience, am very leary of the *mantra* about second career vocations and bringing experience from adult life outside the Church.
        Like any issue, it is complex; highly individualized, etc. Yes, you can find some excellent examples of older or second career folks in the episcopacy.

        But, my experience makes me very leary of second career folks – high drop out rate for multiple reasons – psychological issues; lonely or failed secular careers; poor catholic foundational education – from theology, philosophy, etc.; often escaping from life issues and seeking security. Issues with teamwork; working with diverse folks – gender, ethnicity, differing secular backgrounds. Some are so ingrained by living alone or in unhappy careers that the change to a *new* life/career/vocation is just too much.

        If you see Sample’s chronological timeline – he did get advanced engineering degree but actually spent little time in the adult world of work, family, etc. After taking a job position, he quickly moved on to seminary. Wouldn’t describe his life experience as having much depth, etc.

        Interesting that you bring up Finn – except for the difference in chronological age when seminary started, they both went on the Rome for additional training in canon law and under the mentorship of Burke. IMO, this is the overwhelming influence on both of them (vs. seminary or life experience).

        Ask about who wrote this along with other questions…..did he consult with his diocesan music directors; did he get any feedback or survey information before launching into this letter; he has little liturgical or musical background in terms of both experience or education. Doesn’t mean he can’t weigh in but, prudently, is this really the best course of action.

        Thought exercise – for those who teach on PTB (Paul Ford, Fr. Ruff, others)…if you had assigned your class the task of writing about liturgical music and you read/graded this letter – do you really think that you would have given it more than a *C* while citing issues such as those earmarked above e.g. lack of use of VII resources; lack of connection to those liturgical/musical resources promulgated by Consilium/Paul VI and upto today; is it balanced; does it name actual, lived experience or is it just an advocacy piece articulating one skewed approach?

        Just some idle thoughts.

      5. @Bill deHaas – comment #48:

        Hello Bill,

        Ask about who wrote this along with other questions…..did he consult with his diocesan music directors; did he get any feedback or survey information before launching into this letter.

        It seems I completely misunderstood what you were asking. It is probably my reading comprehension at fault. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

        And yes, that is a fair question. I certainly would have attempted to get such input before issuing the letter, if I had been him. I have no idea what he did, however.

        I grant, by the way, the concerns you raise about second career people. Each candidate has to be taken individually. In general, I *do* think that having a mix of such men can be a real asset, if they have a healthy background and solid character. I am less willing to pass judgments on Bishop Sample’s biography because I know so little of it; I simply am not willing to say, as you have, that he had little depth, because I don’t know enough. “Depth” may not always manifest itself on a c.v..

        In passing, I will say that I know “second career” seminarians who, in my opinion and that of others, would have made fine priests with many gifts, but who were booted because the seminary had a very tight and narrow formation model in which these men were felt to be awkward fits, and rectors were operating on a high paranoia level post-Scandal. I think that accounts for *some*, but not all of the high fallout rate.

        I don’t doubt that Burke exercised an influence on Sample; obviously, unlike you, I do not see that influence as malevolent per se. How far that influence goes is harder to say. I don’t doubt that the connection helped him get these promotions, obviously, given Burke’s important role on the Congregation for Bishops, obviously. But it has always been so in the Church.

      6. @Richard Malcolm – comment #44:

        I’m not sure we have the facts straight about Bishop Sample.

        He’s not really a “second career” prelate. He graduated from college at 21 in 1982 and did a 2 year Master’s degree in engineering graduating in 1984, but then immediately entered the seminary upon graduation. He did the standard 2 years of philosophy and 4 years of theology and was ordained in 1990.

        His “brief” pastoral work is all of his priestly ministry except for 2 years studying in Rome. After his ordination he was for four years a parochial vicar and then a pastor before being sent to Rome in 1994 for a brief 2 years. When he returned home in 1996 he was made chancellor of the diocese, but he was also the pastor of a the parish of St. Christopher from 1996 to 2006 when he was made a bishop. He was a pastor or parochial vicar for 14 years!

      7. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #52:

        Hi Samuel,

        I stand corrected.

        I do see that I understated Sample’s pastoral experience. Point taken.

        I think that Sample *is* a second career vocation, but that his first career was very short, very abbreviated, more so than Dewane, for example. I think it is clearly outside the norm for bishops, however early he ended up in seminary.

    3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #30:

      Hello Todd,

      This is unfortunate, short-sighted, and mostly out of touch with American parish practice. Every Sunday Mass should be sung. And movement made toward every daily Mass.

      Slow down, and read it again.

      The bishop dos not seem to be saying that one Mass and ONLY one Mass should be sung. That is a possibility, but not the only one.

      He *does* seem to be saying that at least one should be sung, and should be “offered with consistency and with the greatest care and attention the community can give it.”

      As for “American parish practice” – I agree that it is generally some distance from what Bishop Sample is talking about. I have no direct experience of his diocese but what little I have heard suggests that it is no different. And that’s the problem. It is, frankly, painful to see what passes for proper rubrics and sacred music in many parishes today.

      The difficulty His Excellency will have is that he’s leaving the diocese shortly, and this long (I agree that it is long) document will end up being a dead letter, when it would have been tough for him to enforce even had he stayed for another ten years.

  18. Is it at all curious that Bishop Sample would have promulgated these norms only weeks before moving from Marquette to Portland? His successor will be named by a pope who is still to be chosen — unless, of course, Pope Benedict acts before the end of this month.

    Even if the letter had been ready for release before Bishop Sample had been chosen for Portland, would it not be both edifyingly humble and courteous to his successor to pass the letter on to him, without public fanfare, allowing the successor to shape and communicate it in his own way?

  19. I appreciate the fact that he is giving direction to his soon to be former diocese, which I think is already the case with the announcement that he is going to Portland as Archbishop.

    Our parish is moving in the direction of singing the Introit properly, meaning that currently, a cantor simply chants what is in the Missal as the procession begins and then we go into a traditional hymn of some kind chosen by the music director.

    We do the same for the Offertory and Communion antiphons, but do not forgo traditional hymns or antiphons at these points.

    It would take a bit of authority from on high to make a smooth transition to actually singing the full Entrance chant prescribed and from proper musical sources either in English or Latin as most, if not all, of my parishioners like singing traditional hymns and do so loudly and with book in hand. So to eliminate the metrical hymn for the official introit would cause some bitter complaining.

    Certainly, though, the recessional could be any kind of appropriate hymn, traditional or otherwise.

    Maybe a compromise would be for a prelude to the Mass while all are seated that is a hymn of some kind then all stand for the Procession and the official entrance chant or introit done with additional verses.

  20. I am thankful that I don’t live and work in the Portland Diocese. But of course any diocese can receive a bad bishop at any time.

  21. “That is a possibility, but not the only one.”

    It branches off from the preconciliar practice of a High Mass, as the bishop himself suggests. And I knew a number of “post-conciliar” liturgists who also advocated the most-eggs-in-one-basket approach.

    I know it’s a possibility. I don’t think it’s best practice.

    In brief, most Americans worship at a time convenient for their busy lives: work, family, and indeed, their personal pursuits of choice. But largely by factors they don’t choose.

    Fifty years ago, perhaps more artistically-minded Catholics made a choice for the High Mass. My sense of Vatican II and its documents was to raise the bar for worship across the board. Not to create ghettoes.

    Many post-conciliar reformers continued with this mindset: high Mass with choir, and the folk group, as Ed Gutfreund once sang, at 3AM.

    Bishop Sample seems to be intent on returning to a very poor practice: creating divisions among Masses, within parishes, and between musical genres. It’s not the way I would go. And I wouldn’t counsel a bishop or pastor it was best practice, though of course, it’s a possible practice.

    Charles, of course I see “my” ideal taking decades, if not years. The Church would seem to have time. What bogs us down is our indulgence for the cult of celebrity by our pastors. Setting down roots that will thrive through many changes in leadership–that’s the challenge of creating a lasting Catholic culture. The “groovy singing priest” didn’t have staying power in a lot of places in the 70’s. I don’t think things have changed much, sociologically speaking, in the intervening years.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:

      It branches off from the preconciliar practice of a High Mass, as the bishop himself Musicam Sacram itself suggests.

      Bishop Sample seems to be intent on returning to a very poor practice: creating divisions among Masses, within parishes, and between musical genres.

      No, he’s doing something completely different, which is requiring that at least one Mass at a parish be sung each Sunday that is, the liturgy itself sung including the parts called “first degree” in Musicam Sacram.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #47:

        Todd said:

        Bishop Sample seems to be intent on returning to a very poor practice: creating divisions among Masses, within parishes, and between musical genres.

        And yet this is already the lived reality in many parishes, is it not?

        I find the variabilty, even within a single parish, to be remarkable at times. And I am not talking about just Spanish or other language masses.

        The divisions, in short, are already there. Bishop Sample need not impose them.

        No, he’s doing something completely different, which is requiring that at least one Mass at a parish be sung each Sunday that is, the liturgy itself sung including the parts called “first degree” in Musicam Sacram.

        That is my sense as well, reading it. Perhaps he meant something else. But your read of it matched mine.

      2. In part, but not entirely, Samuel.

        Musican sacram famously affirmed the High Mass / Low Mass distinction in one place, but undercut it in anyother by saying that a whole spectrum is possible from all sung to much sung to less sung, etc.

        This is an old controversy. Msgr. Schuller at St. Agnes was a proponent of one High Mass every Sunday, which grew out of the position of those traditionalist musicians who held the Cologne music congress on the eve of Vatican II and, in effect, adopted as their party platform “Save High Mass!” People in this camp said little or nothing about the other Masses and in practice were content to have “low Masses” with hymns. Schuller spoke positively of our old LitPress missalette, believe it or not, because he didn’t think you needed many hymns for Sunday Low Mass.

        Most in the Church by far have followed the other part of MS, and other documents as well, in promoting music and singing at every Mass. One of the most important principles of MS is that music should fit the structure of the liturgy, that you start with the structure of the reformed liturgy and not with inherited repertoire when deciding what to sing (and what to use from inherited repertoire and newly composed pieces). Schuller never really affirmed this central principle of MS, so important was it to him to preserve High Mass and inherited repertoire at all costs. MS said explicitly that parts of the inherited repertoire will fit the reformed liturgy but parts of it won’t. I don’t believe Schuller ever commented on this MS statement because it didn’t fit his program.

        It sure looks like Bishop Sample is following Schuller’s one-sided program and ignoring the larger issue of the purpose of music and singing in liturgy, in according with the structure of the reformed liturgy and the pastoral purpose of each part of the liturgy.

        If, as Samuel is arguing, Bishop Sample really doesn’t mean this, and if his promotion of Sunday “high Mass” in every parish doesn’t exclude going forward at every other Sunday liturgy with the work done in the last 40 years, well, what can I say? It sure would have been handy if the Bishop had said that. It would have saved Samuel and others the bother of having to defend the bishop by claiming that he really meant this things he didn’t say, or that his silence really means he meant something not said.

        awr

      3. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #53:
        One last reply and then I have to work…PTB is too addictive.

        As you rightly say, the whole spectrum is possible at every Mass. This means that the “all sung” option is possible. Abp. Sample refers to this as a “Sung Mass” and mentions (but does not use) some other, older terms: “In the former traditional parlance, this may have been referred to as a High Mass. It could also be referred to as a Solemn Mass.” He then goes on to discuss the exact things you mention: the full spectrum of solemnity in music, the ability to have a Sung Mass that is simple in its music, even the possibility of singing at daily Masses. He explicitly says that “A Sung Mass need not be elaborate – indeed, the principle of noble simplicity should guide it.” It is a huge jump from this letter to the unique (I am tempted to say “very unique”) music program at St. Agnes. Abp. Sample nowhere even hints that parishes need to aim for Viennese Classical High Masses with orchestra on a weekly basis. He is very clearly addressing the issue of parishes (especially ones with limited resources) that don’t even have one Mass with consistent attention to singing the liturgy.

        FYI, Fr. Ruff, I recently defended my doctoral document – in which I argue for music that springs from the structure of the liturgy, rather than being imposed on it. I have spent quite a bit of time with the documents and commentaries, too 🙂

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:
      Todd,

      You seem very sure of the idea that a “High Mass” creates divisions and ghettoes within a parish – and on top of that, somehow makes it impossible for other liturgies to be sung. In fact, it is a very helpful, practical, and pastoral suggestion.

      Practical for the simple reason that most parishes do not have the resources for a choir at every Mass. Thus the “choir Mass” (or in bustling music programs the two “Choir Masses”) will naturally have a different musical flavor.
      It has been my parish experience that most Masses are not sung (it’s even fairly rare for individual dialogues to be sung). The ideal of transitioning all Masses to sung Masses could easily be overwhelming in a pastoral letter. But Abp. Sample makes a practical suggestion of focusing resources so that at least one Mass can be sung throughout, and embellished with choral music. Of course, the ideal would be to treat this as a starting point and then transition to more and more sung Masses.

    3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:
      “In brief, most Americans worship at a time convenient for their busy lives: work, family, and indeed, their personal pursuits of choice. But largely by factors they don’t choose.”

      This is true, and important. At the same time, though, there are some Catholics, perhaps quite a few, who will be attracted, like moths to the candle, to parish celebrations that take liturgy seriously, that strive for and achieve excellence, and don’t settle for minimalism or mediocrity.

      Rather than simply order parishes to start doing a sung mass, I’d like to see the bishop lay some groundwork. Choose a handful of parishes with pastors that are in sync with his vision, and with musical leadership with the requisite skills and/or desire to grow. And make an investment in those parish liturgies – an investment in training, formation and, yes, funding. Stand them up as models for the rest of the diocese. Learn lessons from the experience, collect best practices. Take some time to reflect on what “works” and what “doesn’t work.” Then expand the circle from there. (Of course, such a program presupposes a bishop who expects to be in his diocese for the foreseeable future and can work with a long time horizon).

      1. @Jim Pauwels – comment #60:

        Rather than simply order parishes to start doing a sung mass, I’d like to see the bishop lay some groundwork. Choose a handful of parishes with pastors that are in sync with his vision, and with musical leadership with the requisite skills and/or desire to grow. And make an investment in those parish liturgies – an investment in training, formation and, yes, funding. Stand them up as models for the rest of the diocese.

        This is an excellent point, Jim.

        And a traditionally oriented bishop like Sample would have more success with an approach like this, then a in a general diktat which he’s trying to force on an often hostile corps of pastors and liturgists (save to curb the most extreme abuses). Find some parishes more likely to be receptive, install your like-minded pastors, give them resources and support, and see how things unfold. Rome may have been burned down in a day, but it wasn’t built in one.

        It’s a moot point right now in Marquette since he’s out the door anyway, unless his successor shares the same concerns. It will be more instructive to see how he proceeds in Portland.

      2. @Jim Pauwels – comment #60:
        This is precisely what Archbishop George Lucas has done in the Archdiocese of Omaha. It’s a “slow boat” to somewhere in the Eastern hemisphere, but they seem to have charted that kind of trajectory. Marie Rubis Bauer, et al., care to chime in here?

  22. “I think that he is simply trying to emphasize the idea that personal taste is not the only factor determining musical suitability.”

    It is possible to apply personal taste to philosophy and theology. I’m not sure we don’t see some of that in this letter.

  23. And Todd, I should add that liturgical/musical diversity is an excellent thing in a parish. It would be very strange to me if every liturgy were exactly the same in a parish – a sign of stagnation, more than an ideal. Assuming that all music is excellent and suitable for the liturgy, there is room for a great deal of diversity. In fact, this is one way that the ‘tensions and balances’ of the church documents can play out.

  24. No, you’re completely misreading Bishop Sample’s letter by imposing old battles on it in a completely inappropriate way.

    This has nothing to do with the kind of High Mass Msgr. Schuler sought to preserve (the Orchestral Mass).

    I am not defending the bishop by claiming “the bishop by claiming that he really meant this things he didn’t say, or that his silence really means he meant something not said.”

    I’ve actually read his document!

    He says, “One parish celebration every Sunday should be a Sung Mass (Missa cantata), offered with consistency and with the greatest care and attention the community can give it. In the former traditional parlance, this may have been referred to as a High Mass. It could also be referred to as a Solemn Mass. A Sung Mass need not be elaborate – indeed, the principle of noble simplicity should guide it. Other Masses in the parish may include less singing and more recited parts, but the Sung Mass sets the pattern and the model for sacred music in the parish.”

    Your interpretation that he wants a High Mass like Schuler and the others Low (don’t even need hymns) is directly contrary to the text of the document.

    One of the most important principles of MS is that music should fit the structure of the liturgy, that you start with the structure of the reformed liturgy and not with inherited repertoire when deciding what to sing (and what to use from inherited repertoire and newly composed pieces). Schuller never really affirmed this central principle of MS,

    This principle of accordance with the liturgical action is literally emphasized in Sample’s document in quoting from SC:

    “(O)ther kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means
    excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action.18 (emphasis added)”

    (cont.)

  25. (cont.)
    He quotes Pope Benedict on the same point:

    “Consequently everything–texts, music, execution–ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons.”

    The whole thrust of the document is to connect the musical practice more closely with the liturgy of the rite as an integral part. A chief legislative mandate is the requirement of singing the first degree parts at one Mass per weekend “set[ting] the pattern and the model for sacred music in the parish.” Getting the clergy to SING the Mass.

    It doesn’t forbid the use of hymns, but it wants musicians to be aware that they are choosing not to use propers when they choose not to use propers.

    This has very very little to do with Schuler’s approach.

  26. Well, I continue to disagree with Bishop Sample and his supporters here. I think there’s great diversity to be found in maintaining a level high of a sung Mass across Sunday and into the week.

    Bishop Sample also suffers from the same myopia as many propers-promoters. Hymns waned significantly after the Council, and that contemporary composers have utilized the format of the propers in Scripture-based compositions offered to the Church in the past forty years. A little gratitude for the work of others would be welcome. And an acknowledgement that liturgical reform doesn’t begin with “reform of the.”

    I always allow musical planning to be informed by the propers, especially outside of ordinary time. But the Church is enriched by looking to Biblical texts outside of the often narrow vision of the propers. This coming Sunday is a case in point: why so much Psalm 91? Are we trying to counteract the tempter, or what? Psalm 62, for example, provides a wonderful complement to the texts cited in the Gospel. But you’re not going to find it anywhere in the Sunday propers, in any season.

    Before hitching my wagon to the Propers, I would like to see a thorough revision of the Antiphonary, something far more thoughtful, artistic, and scholarly than we’re now given. Frankly, I don’t think the Roman Rite propers are good enough.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #62:

      Hello Todd,

      This coming Sunday is a case in point: why so much Psalm 91? Are we trying to counteract the tempter, or what? Psalm 62, for example, provides a wonderful complement to the texts cited in the Gospel.

      I ask this question in all respectful sincerity: Is it really your call as music director or lay liturgist to make that judgment call? And (all right, two questions), where are the limits of that judgment authority? How far can you legitimately go afield from the established propers and readings of the day in selecting music?

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #65:

        These propers have failed to keep pace with the implementation of the revised, 3 year cycle Lectionary. Expand the propers and people would be more inclined to use them.

        Maybe homily outlines could be included in the Missal – so we all hear the same thing. Perhaps the EP could be chosen already so we’re on the same page.

        Me and my community? We’ll be prayerfully singing Haugen’s lovely “Tree of Life” as our entrance hymn this weekend.

      2. @Richard Malcolm – comment #65:

        I ask this question in all respectful sincerity: Is it really your call as music director or lay liturgist to make that judgment call? And (all right, two questions), where are the limits of that judgment authority? How far can you legitimately go afield from the established propers and readings of the day in selecting music?

        GIRM 20:

        Since, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out by means of perceptible signs by which the faith is nourished, strengthened, and expressed, the greatest care is to be taken that those forms and elements proposed by the Church are chosen and arranged, which, given the circumstances of persons and places, more effectively foster active and full participation and more aptly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.

        [My emphases]

        This paragraph says very clearly that if you do not make the judgement calls, if you do not select and arrange as pastoral needs dictate, you are simply not doing your job properly. It applies to all those who are responsible for the “management” of the liturgy, whether lay or ordained. We have a panoply of material available from the Church, proposed not imposed, and a mandate to nourish people’s spiritual needs.

  27. Charles, of course I see “my” ideal taking decades, if not years. The Church would seem to have time. What bogs us down is our indulgence for the cult of celebrity by our pastors. Setting down roots that will thrive through many changes in leadership–that’s the challenge of creating a lasting Catholic culture.

    Sorry, Todd, for the misnomer “my,” it is all our ideal practice.
    What I don’t get from your next observation is that both you and I have managed to steer around that cult of celebrity that folks bestow upon their clerics it seems like forever. So are you speaking for yourself, or are you projecting the relationship other liturgical ministers (primarily music) establish with their ever-changing-assignment pastors, and saying that immobilizes progress and change for the better in all cases? Someone recently quoted “physician, heal thyself.” Well, I thought that was your (and my) mantra. And you’ve stressed that to people of all persuasions wherever you’ve been in live or cybertime. Not to sound trite but, ahem, “we are the Catholic culture.” (I can’t get that to fit with “We are the world…” But, we have to remember that “we” does include clerics who cultivate (pun alert) that “celebrity” stuff. So, we have to figure out how to deal with it constructively, or “we” withers on the vine.
    I don’t care for labels anymore than you or others here. “Progressive solemnity” is as meaningless a prescription as “Save the liturgy, save the world” if it is just talked about rather than done. But to illustrate my point- I happened to watch the new season of “Survivor” last night. A big guy in his new tribe was making no friends by sitting on the sidelines not helping with chores, complaining, alienating people in a game that thrives on casting away the goats. Suddenly the dude says “We need to start a fire, here’s how we’re going to do it.” His words and actions prior to that moment put him in an untenable light to win friends and influence people. When he got the fire started he was THE KING. So, it’s not necessarily about the words in the letter, but what will come about in Marquette or Portland if the actions following the words bear fire and fruit.

  28. “Is it really your call as music director or lay liturgist to make that judgment call?”

    Actually it is. It has been for over two decades. Nobody’s stopped me yet, but a number of people on some sacred music sites gnash their teeth over it.

    (W)here are the limits of that judgment authority?”

    The pastor, who hires me. And the people with whom I have to work and make the music work.

    “How far can you legitimately go afield from the established propers and readings of the day in selecting music?”

    Let me ask you: If you couldn’t get a second, let alone third setting of Psalm 91 for entrance or Communion–assuming my judgment is that Psalm 91 twice, or even once, is enough, which would you prefer:

    a) A metrical hymn for entrance?
    b) A Eucharistic song for Communion?
    c) A setting of Psalm 62 for either in an antiphonal format?

    Have you read Psalm 62? Do you think I just pulled that example out of my butt to annoy you? Are you and other propers-promoters familiar with the entire Psalter, or just the settings of it y’all sing?

    And not that I’m looking for an extra job or anything, but would you have serious misgivings if I were to sit on a commission that expanded the propers to a proper three-year cycle, and cast the net a bit wider in the Psalter, and to canticles and other poetic passages of the Old and New Testament? And if not, why not?

  29. +1 to Todd’s reply. And that process and duty lies well within the concept of subsidiarity as I understand it. I have yet to work for a pastor over four decades that has not invested and mandated me with that trust.
    Todd, Charles and Paul Inwood in alignment? No wonder there are asteroids plummeting…

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