The revised Grail Psalter, approved by the US bishops for liturgical use and recently granted recognitio by the Holy See, is copyrighted jointly by GIA and Conception Abbey. This is a rather unique situation: the Church officially requires the use of a liturgical text which is copyrighted by one publisher and one monastery. Jeffrey Tucker has commented on the situation here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (scroll down below headlines in each case). And see his comments here, here, here, here, and here. I imagine some have tired of Jeffrey’s harping on this issue and perhaps written him off.
But I think he’s right.
I assume good will of all parties here. I don’t see any grand plots or conspiracies. Everyone is out to serve the Church. Abbot Gregory has done excellent work on the Psalter (and here I admit that he shared it with me and asked my feedback a few years ago). GIA is a first-rate publisher (they’re publishing my collection of Latin chant hymns and antiphons as soon as they have the final text of the revised Grail for the English translations). The BCDW (I was on their music committee which recommended the Grail Psalter) and the SCDW are conscientiously trying to provide the best possible liturgical Psalter text in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam.
But it is a problem, I think, when you have to pay a publisher and a monastery to use the Church’s official text.
What’s the solution? I have no idea. It’s complicated on many levels – legal, financial, ecclesiological. I sure hope the train hasn’t already left the station. I sure hope all the concerned parties can put their heads together and find a better way.
Correction: The copyright to the revised Grail psalter is jointly held by the Grail and Conception Abbey. GIA holds no copyright to it. They are, rather, the literary agent who will administer in accord with the wishes of the copyright holders.
Oh, Fr.! Thank you thank you thank you for speaking out on this topic. Thank you again. The solution is readily at hand: Creative Commons. This is the copyright solution that protects the integrity of the text while making sure that the text is not artificially restricted or held by a single monopolist in a position to extract rents from users. Old fashioned copyright – which have only bound liturgical texts for a little more than 100 years – has no place in the digital age and in the context of Christian evangelism. I’m so pleased that you are speaking out on this topic. Maybe it isn’t too late for the Grail. If the Grail is as good as everyone says, it deserves to be part of the of commons of the community of the faithful.
As I’ve occasionally commented in comments to Mr. Tucker’s posts on NLM, I find the current situation of copyrighting Roman Catholic liturgical texts to be distressing — and offensive. If the liturgy is “popular work” (no matter how that’s understood), I believe that the text of the liturgy should freely be available to all.
I’m proud that the 1979 BCP isn’t under such heavy copyrights, though I fear that may someday be the case, given that some of The Episcopal Church’s more recent ad experimentem texts are copyrighted. But the situation in my house doesn’t solve the problem — and that’s what it is, a real problem — in my neighbors’ house. I hope and, yes, pray that some better situation will be found, and found quickly so that Roman Catholic liturgical texts will be freely available to communities, composers and scholars wishing to make appropriate use of them.
I don’t have much to add to the discussion about copyright issues (except to say I’m a huge supporter of the Creative Commons license).
But I do want to say that I LOVE the fact that my pen-pal friend Jeffrey, one of the most prominent champions of traditional music and a conservative approach to liturgy is also such a vocal supporter of a liberal approach to intellectual property. (I don’t know if he would use the “L” word, even in this instance).
It is scandalous that the faithful should have to pay for the privilege of worshiping in their native language.
This should be a huge rallying point for people who care about the public worship of the Church, and common ground that all of us- traditional, progressive, and otherwise- should find ourselves on.
Liberal is a fine word!
These issues always seem to be discussed in an ethereal vacuum where economic issues are dismissed with the wave of a hand. One can airily say that Creative Commons is the way to go, but one has to address the fact that a major purpose of royalties, in theory, is to pay the translators, editors, etc. for their labor, not just to preserve the integrity of the text. Even if one eliminates any profit margin, these activities are not without a cost. If one eliminates royalties, one needs to find an alternative method to pay these costs. Perhaps this could be paid out from collection plate contributions? I don’t know the answer, but any solution has to address the basic economic issue.
In order to discuss this, we need to be clear that all existing psalters (NAB, current Grail) are subject to copyright permission, as are the scripture translations currently used in English-language lectionaries for everything except the psalms (NAB, JB, RSV, NRSV); and all of them require copyright permission (and payment for their use).
Exactly what is different about the revised Grail?
If scripture and psalms are to be free-for-all, why not ICEL texts too? (I can’t see episcopal conferences agreeing to that) And why not the Latin original text (whose copyright is held by the Editrice Libreria Vaticana)?
I am totally in agreement with Jeffrey and others that texts used for worship ought in theory to be available free of charge. However, as a former publisher’s editor I can also see the copyright viewpoint which says that literary property needs to be paid for when it is hired, thus reimbursing the publisher’s outlay on translation costs, (ctd)
(ctd) typesetting and printing costs, marketing costs, etc, etc.
As a composer who derives only a very modest income from working for the Church and who would not be able to sustain working for the Church at all if it were not for the supplementary even-more-modest income from royalties on published compositions, I can also see the viewpoint which says that liturgical music is also literary property and needs to be recompensed, even though in an ideal world I would be happy for all liturgical music to be made available free of charge.
My point in all this is that is manifestly unfair to pillory Conception Abbey, the Grail and GIA if you are not also going to pillory all the other copyright owners (including bishops’ conferences), publishers and composers.
Let’s have a “liturgical texts for sale” thread, rather than a “Grail for sale” thread.
Paul – excellent points, thanks. I hope I didn’t “pillory” Conception (my fellow Benedictines) and GIA, that wasn’t my intent. You’re right, we should look at all the texts, not just the Grail.
Also, we should remember that, somehow, there are other denominations manage to keep their texts for public worship in the commons.
Agree completely. As I understand it, much of this is all linked together is a vicious cycle of mutual remuneration but it all comes at someone’s expense. None of it is necessary, morally or economically.
I’d also like to throw into the arena the question of how one would go about recompensing people for their labour, their outlay and the time taken in prayer leading to inspiration.
In this context, I’d like to mention something that not too many people will be aware of: the late Bernard Huijbers, the Netherlands’ leading composer of liturgical music, was awarded a pension by the Dutch Bishops’ Conference when he retired, in recognition of his immense contribution to the music of that country (and also Belgium and Germany, where much of his music is sung). Perhaps if that kind of thing were to happen on a more frequent basis, publishers, translators, composers and others might be more amenable to ‘giving away’ the fruits of their labours, and congregations could benefit.
Paul, how would allowing unfettered use of the TEXT affect one’s compensation for composing the music? Can the musical setting not be under copyright if the text is freely available?
Maybe we need to revive a patronage system… at least the livery clothes look good in portraits!
Thank you Fr. Ruff for speaking up on this issue!
Speaking as a young composer who seeks to freely share his work in the Creative Commons I would like to say that I would much rather share my work freely than to allow the commercial market to regulate the music that is sung in liturgy. I would like to set the new ICEL and Grail texts and publish these freely online, and I’m not the only person who has this desire. Currently ICEL allows for this, but so far as I can tell the RGP does not.
As far as I’m concerned Paul Inwood’s concerns about just compensation are irrelevant. Composers, if they are inspired, will write the music they are inspired to write and no commercial contract of lack thereof will stop this. The solution is not settling for injustice, it is patronage. The USCCB is more than capable of remunerating Conception for their work, and Grail for theirs. I’m not sure GIA has put any actual work in as of yet. What we need is patronage, not commercial regulation.
A claim of that copyright, over what would traditionally be a public domain text, is the best way to compensate costs invites the question of transparency about those costs and their allocation, so that the faithful may judge whether and and how long that claim is justified on its merits rather than merely as a matter of civil law.
At some point, I expect Rome will require the texts to be made part of the creative commons, so I would advise those institutions that are relying on the current copyright model to consider what might have to change if Church law were to require a different model. If I were someone relying on the copyright model, I would be asking this question now, not waiting passively….
Am I missing a point: the text is required and so should be freely available. The music belongs to the composer and we are not obliged to use that. Between Adam Bartlett and others there will be enough music available freely for the canny choir. The more cautious will probably buy bound books that cover the publisher’s costs.
So why should the obligatory text to be copyright?
yes, that’s the point.
I would simply like to be able to compose settings of these texts and offer them on my website for any who might wish to use them. That’s how liturgical music flourishes in the modern digital era….by free distribution.
My initial feeling is that composers like me will probably use the texts anyway, copyright or not for such projects, knowing that they are not going to ever be on the radar.
Speaking to the issue of self-“publishing,” this notion is fraught with peril. The editorial process of a publishing house offers the end user a key value: that the music has passed some level of muster theologically and musically. Many of the titles in the Choral Public Domain Library are chock full of mistakes and are often poorly inscribed. Meanwhile, many self-“published” composers offer theologically absurd texts and amateurish musical composition. I am initially suspect of any composer who claims that the editorial process doesn’t respect his or her “artistic vision.” mmhmmm.
I would rather spend a modest sum of money to purchase a solid, durable edition of a choir anthem than spend hours online searching through the chaff to find a grain of wheat.
All this leads me to a favorite topic of mine which I think is relevant. Walk into any United Methodist Church in this country, and guess what, you will see the same hymnal. Ditto other protestant denominations. The people who put these hymnals together were and are employed by their respective churches. They are paid either a salary or perhaps work on a contractual basis.
Wouldn’t this eliminate a lot of our problem?
You raise an important point. As we all know the Catholic Church does have official music books for both the faithful and choir to use at Mass, and they are kind of in the public domain. I refer to the Gradual and the Kyriale. Both are in the public domain for the EF Mass (and other liturgies), but the Gradual for the NO may have some copyright issues with Solesmes.
So the main problem is the new vernacular texts and their music. Your suggestion may be the best to go with at the moment for practical reasons. The USCCB should have more control over the hymns that go into these Catholic publications, and of course more to say on the quality and character of the music. The Canadian Bishop’s conference has been doing this for many years with their Catholic Book of Worship for instance. Creative commons solves many problems, but the USCCB should nevertheless retain control over what is being sung at Mass in USA, which it really has not up to this point. Patronage is important.
I think this is symptomatic of a much larger issue in the Catholic Church when it comes to our sacred music–the big business it has become with throw away missalettes and hymnals, thrown out almost yearly, new music constantly added and profits going to God only knows who and how much. Apart from the Green movement, which I think should be applied to all these throw away worship aids we have, I do think the music of the Catholic Mass, introits, antiphons, responsorial psalms, the various parts, Kyrie. Gloria, etc should be in the public domain. Our parish wanted to place the correct English translation to the Latin Parts of the Mass we are now using on a card that would be inserted inside the plastic cover of our missalette. We needed ICEL’s permission for it! They wouldn’t give it! We weren’t going to use the English until it is allowed, but wanted the right translation for the Latin in front of the people and to prepare them for the new English translation, but not allowed!–What goes here?
Dear Jeffrey Tucker, Thank you.
May I draw a parallel with International Accounting Standards? Their use is now obligatory by EU listed companies so the text was available on the Commission website. Now the standard setter (IASB) has made the texts available on their website.
The parallel works a little further: the official text is in English and the subject of translations is moot. Of course the EU has had to provide translations and accounting standard setters around the world are providing translations. This is not easy as words have national connotations that may defy easy and accurate translation.
Now they are trying to align International and US standards and finding ever more challenges in this. Perhaps those taking sides on the new English translation will see similarities.
Luckily Latin has an unchanging meaning and so serves as a fixed point of reference for navigation.
As for the music I understood that bishops had to approve hymns to be used. Perhaps they will now do so.
Adam said: The USCCB is more than capable of remunerating Conception for their work, and Grail for theirs.
No, they’re not. This translation is going to be used in the entire English-speaking world, not just in the US.
Well I think that the USCCB is certainly capable, meaning that they could afford to remunerate the laborers in question for their efforts.
The distinction that you are making seems to imply that several bishops conferences should foot the bill. This is certainly possible too.
The point is that there doesn’t seem to be a need to license the texts and effectively tax the people in the pews for use of the text when it can be paid for once and for all and then made available for everyone to use freely. This latter model seems to be more in line with Christian evangelism than the former.
Can anyone muster an estimate as to what a just compensation would be for the efforts of Abbot Gregory and Conception? Even if this was a million dollars (and I seriously doubt that it would be) how hard would it be to make a one-time payment and call it done?
It’s not just Abbot Gregory and Conception. A significant proportion of the text is no different from the original Grail version, copyrighted in 1963. The Ladies of the Grail need to be paid, too. As a lay apostolate, their income derives from charitable works for the Church. They in turn have to pay royalties to the copyright owners of the French Jerusalem Bible, of whose psalter the Grail version is a translation.
It’s not nearly as simple as just paying someone off once and for all.
That’s why all the parties involved have asked GIA to be their agent, so that someone else does all the administrative work (and obviously gets paid for doing it).
Okay, Paul. So there’s a web of copyrights so thick when we’re dealing with the RGP that a for-profit organization has to step in to sort it all out (for a fee, of course). I understand this.
Here’s the heart of the matter:
“The first print publication of the new text will be the complete Psalter in book form, which will also be available electronically.” (from GIA’s site)
The reason why the whole copyright/licensing paradigm is being called into question here is because we’re not just dealing with the selling of books, printed on paper, as it once was. When the RGP “will also be available electronically” it will cease to be a scarce good. Printed books are scarce. The text of the RGP is not.
I will predict that if GIA publishes the RGP on its website, as it has said that it will, the floodgates will open and GIA will have set up an unenforceable restriction. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. The medium has changed, so too must our thinking change.
So GIA will need to convince people that it is morally wrong to share the psalms of the Revised Grail Psalter without paying GIA a fee.
The people of God are going to have to ask themselves: Is it morally wrong to freely share the Word of God with my neighbor without paying someone a fee?
I know my answer, and I think that I know theirs.
Karl said: At some point, I expect Rome will require the texts to be made part of the creative commons, so I would advise those institutions that are relying on the current copyright model to consider what might have to change if Church law were to require a different model
You obviously aren’t aware of the royalty (currently 1/2%-1%) paid to the Holy See on vernacular translations that are derived from the Latin. No way they’re going to give that up!
Ted said: The USCCB should have more control over the hymns that go into these Catholic publications, and of course more to say on the quality and character of the music. The Canadian Bishop’s conference has been doing this for many years with their Catholic Book of Worship for instance. Creative commons solves many problems, but the USCCB should nevertheless retain control over what is being sung at Mass in USA, which it really has not up to this point. Patronage is important.
The fact that the Canadian conference has produced the Catholic Book of Worship doesn’t mean that parishes have to use it. Many use OCP missalettes, others use other material. At one stage, the big moan in Canada was that the music of the St Louis Jesuits was “too popular” in Canada. Hmmm.
Out of 12 parishes in Vancouver, BC that I know, 10 use either CBWIII or CBWII for congregation.
9 of those 10 use an OCP hymnal as well: the other uses Gather 1 as well.
One parish uses Adoremus and OCP in the pews, but CBWIII’s psalter for the choir. The last uses Journeysongs alone.
Canada uses NRSV, so I have not seen an OCP missalette in my 16 years here. One choir at one parish uses Respond and Acclaim for responsorial psalms.
A tally of hymnals:
Allan said: Our parish wanted to place the correct English translation to the Latin Parts of the Mass we are now using on a card that would be inserted inside the plastic cover of our missalette. We needed ICEL’s permission for it! They wouldn’t give it! We weren’t going to use the English until it is allowed, but wanted the right translation for the Latin in front of the people and to prepare them for the new English translation, but not allowed!–What goes here?
I know it’s stupid, but the new translation isn’t authorised for use yet. It’s only authorised for information, for study, and for composers to work on. Until an implementation date has been established by your local episcopal conference, ICEL is not going to give permission for you to use anything. The interesting problem is going to arise when different conferences have different starting dates, as looks very possible at present.
I also ought to add that another reason ICEL is not going to give you permission is because until the recognitio for the entire Missal comes through (currently estimated to be July), there is no guarantee that what you have at the moment is actually the final text of the Order of Mass.
Does that mean you think they might alter the Order of Mass which has already been granted recognitio? Now that would upset many people, given that we were told it was the final text and many people have been laboring to produce music in time for the release. Heck even ICEL has done so.
Then again they did it with the GIRM.
Final text? Really? I definitely heard that one reason why the texts were not going to be released early was that Rome might still tinker with the texts, including the Order of Mass.
Any composers working on the internet texts may need to do some final edits once the promulgation occurs.
Such in fact has already happened: Missa Benedictus Qui Venit, George Palmer’s English Language setting of the Ordinary prepared for and used at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, was based on the ICEL translation (approved by the Australian Bishops’ Conference) as it stood then. Although the changes since have been minor, there have been changes nonetheless, requiring the composer either to scrap or reset portions of the project (I can’t say which.)
Talking about what translations are authorised for, I am reminded of the time in the past when ICEL produced a translation of the Anaphora of St Basil (admittedly much abbreviated). Some of the bishops in England and Wales started to trial it, and were slapped on the wrist by Rome. It’s not authorised for use, they were told, only for study and evaluation. How the heck can we evaluate it if we don’t find out what it’s like in use?, they asked. To no avail. The mandarins in the Congregation couldn’t see the point, as they can’t see many others.
So, how much for all the texts? The ICEL translation of the Missal and the revised Grail. USCCB national collections raise in the millions of dollars. The USCCB should have a national collection, take in 2-3 million dollars, pay off everyone who needs to be paid off, and put the texts in creative commons for all the English-speaking faithful. This might be too simple a solution for what we’re told is a “complex” issue that us simple folk can’t understand. Here’s what I understand: For-profit companies and other Church-affiliated institutions are collection revenue for translating texts for which there are already several good English translations in public domain. However, the Church conveniently mandates instead the use of texts that require a payment by the people praying them. Do I have it about right? Does this sound particularly just?
Hints of simony.
Your solution sounds like a reasonable one, Jeff.
I’m not going to call into question anyone’s motives here though. As Fr. Ruff said at the outset, I do believe that everyone involved surely has the desire to serve the Church.
But the reprint licensing model is defective and it needs to be revised.
Re: #18 (Scott Pluff)
It’s funny, Scott. The very things you speak of (that the music has passed some level of muster theologically and musically, scores chock full of mistakes and are often poorly inscribed, theologically absurd texts and amateurish musical composition…) are the very same complaints that I often hear about the commercial publishers.
I don’t think I’ve seen a GIA octavo that doesn’t have typos. Much of the music published by the ‘Big 3’ is highly theologically suspect (“I Myself Am the Bread of Life… the list could go on and on). Although there are good composers in the big publishing houses this doesn’t stop the amateurish products (e.g. I have been amazed at how poor some accompaniments are in the GIA catalog!). And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the convenience of printing off new copies when needed is indispensable for music directors. These “solid, durable editions” you speak of look pretty bad after a few years of use, and sometimes indecipherable…
…after all pencil marks, etc. Printing a new copy is a snap, especially when most can make folded and stapled prints on most office copiers these days.
Lastly, there’s nothing keeping people like myself from working together and establishing a reliable editorial board. Take a look at my own website that now features the music of a “GIA published” and very reputable composer. It will soon be an organized source of Public Domain and Creative Commons liturgical music aimed at the average parish choir.
Take a look: http://www.sacredmusicproject.com
And we’ve only just begun!
In fact, I made a pretty big understatement above. Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB is not just a reputable “published” composer. He is believed by many to be the leading Gregorian chant authority in the English speaking world.
He has published his work in the Creative Commons. In my opinion it is superior and more in line with the Mind of the Church than anything published by the “Big 3”. And it is available for free.
The idea that the Creative Commons is for amateurs is absurd.
I hadn’t realized that you are associated with the Sacred Music Project. This is a very worthy project of quality and importance. This may be the cutting edge/future of music publishing, but the loose coalitions of creative commons websites is a long way from being a viable alternative to established publishers. The much-maligned “marketing” done by publishers serves the purpose of communicating and making liturgical music accessible to the typical parish. With one phone call to OCP, GIA, or WLP one could get set up with a complete program of liturgical music: hymnals, choir music, liturgy resources, etc. Their magazines, catalogs, and websites organize a sea of material into a manageable system for the overworked parish pastor or musician.
The creative commons/web alternative is impractical for most people: navigating dozens of websites each with mountains of material without any overarching system of organization. Some adventurous musicians will find a piece here or there, but to pull together 52 weeks and 100s of liturgies per year from these sources would take a Herculean effort. Until the CC movement has something as accessible as Today’s Liturgy, I don’t believe that it will displace the established publishers. Perhaps a handful of exceptional parishes will take the plunge, but not any large share of the 20,000 parishes in the U.S. alone.
The future you describe, Scott, is not as far away as you think. In fact, I think the PD/CC “complete liturgical program” that you describe will actually be in place before the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal.
The Episcopal Church has their Book of Common Prayer (both 1979 and 1928 versions) as a public download. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that there is no fee for using the texts in a non-profit context.
Adam, you are right on. I regularly use the Sacred Music Project chants (bravo for you work on that). Between this, the compilation of public domain English hymns on the CMAA website, the parish book of chant (which you download for free), the Solesmnes chant books (also placed online for free), the Chabanel psalms, and the endless works of polyphony and organ music found on CPDL or IMSLP, you can certainly run a fine liturgical musical program without the likes of GIA or OCP. I pay them for music when I find something I like (for instance, I’m a fan of the Guimont psalms, so we use his lectionary psalter), but I don’t see why anyone should be bound by the “worship programs” of one of these publishers.
There are many of us who would disagree with you. The various three initial imprints has proved no guarantee of quality.
The same can be said of some of the contents of the best known hymnals from the best known publishers in this country.
Lay-outs are often not, as they say, “user friendly.” Editions don’t always agree.
Goofy lyrics, a slipshod approach to the textual integrity of the Mass, and theological fuzziness abound.
There are even out and out typos.
Quality control has simply not been a strong suit of the two biggest publishers.
I have to agree.
Of course, there is the infamous disagreement in various printings of Gather II.
Other religious publishers are not immune from “goof” and “slipshod.” And as for theological fuzziness, how many publishers have a theologian on the editorial staff? I used to attend reading sessions where music of many publishers was presented. The strong bias I recall was in favor of sentimentality in both texts and music.
That said, as a user of GIA products for over 20 years, I’ve been greatly disappointed with their approach to contemporary music. It seems to be their big moneymaker, but you wouldn’t know it for the quantity of annoying errors, especially in their hymnals.
Another approach that suggests amateurism is the “guitar chords do not match the keyboard accompaniment” like this is some kind of excuse for both parishes and their editorial staffs. There might be a reason why Mass of Creation sold so well from the start. One would think a unified approach would work for other repertoire. I would have to be convinced otherwise to buy a hymnal today.
I think we’re getting off the topic, which is about whether we should have to pay to use copyrighted texts for worship, when we accept having to pay to use copyrighted texts in other areas of secular life.
What’s different about worship? Are we in fact saying that we want God on the cheap?
Are we denying that liturgical texts are artistic creations (perhaps yes in the case of the new Missal!) just because they are used in the cause of prayer?
Or is the problem more to do with the massive and rapid shift in our technological expertise? Now that everything is instantly accessible and reproducible in a way that was simply not possible as little as 35 years ago, have we become so used to instant gratification that we no longer see why we should pay for anything? The experience of the music download sites is instructive here. We have accepted that we may no longer deprive labourers of their wages in this arena.
These are the sort of questions we should be broaching.
At the risk of inflaming passions still further, saying that we don’t see why we need to give something in order to worship God is a perilous path.
Next stop, disposable paper altar cloths, imitation candles (whoops! we already have those), tatty vestments made out of synthetic materials, paintings and icons that are no more than graphics displayed on a large screen or monitor… closely followed by canned music played through a PA system, pre-recorded homilies on a DVD, and what else?
Somewhere in all this the word “authenticity” has a place. I think we recognise that we give of our best in the cause of worshipping God, that what we do in worship is real and not artificial, and that this needs expenditure. Why should the words we use be any different?
This is an attempt to get this conversation back on track, and I hope no one will be offended by it.
May I also request in advance that we don’t seize on one phrase or sentence and savage it but take the whole argument?
I have seen many, many examples of “Next stop, disposable paper altar cloths, imitation candles (whoops! we already have those), tatty vestments made out of synthetic materials, paintings and icons that are no more than graphics displayed on a large screen or monitor… closely followed by canned music played through a PA system, pre-recorded homilies on a DVD, and what else?” in liturgy the past few decades.
Copyright law has greatly changed in the past 2 generations from its origins in the Act of Anne 300 years ago. It now involves much vaster claims of time protection; and a lot of people have problems with this on the secular side (in the US, the 1990s extensions in copyright law are very very widely viewed as having been purchased by Disney through the late congressman and performer Sono Bono). One (unintended) side-effect of this in the realm of liturgical music is to tend to enbalm the copyrighted work and keep it out of the kind of dialogic creative imitation that formerly dominated liturgical music for centuries. A work under copyright is now more cryogenically dead than alive.
There is nothing that *requires* the Church to cooperate in this copyright approach when it comes to its liturgical texts. And there may be canonical and traditional grounds to seriously question it.
There are other modes of compensation that other denominations manage to undertake for their liturgical texts. Catholics are again lagging. Apologists for the current structure take note.
Paul, I don’t want it for free. Read my post above. I want to know how much ICEL and the Grail wants for the texts. The Church buys the texts and puts them into Creative Commons. A one-time deal, not this discreet web of agents and corporations and bishops and abbeys, and confusion amongst musicians whether they can use this text in a composition or worship aid. You have to be a copyright expert to be a parish musician. I think all of us advocating the present system be abolished are actually yearning for much higher quality music and missals than what we have today. GIA’s status with the revised Grail texts, makes that more difficult. Say the Chabanel folks wanted to publish their collection of psalms. They have to go through GIA, who takes a cut, to pay for permission to use the revised Grail texts. The expense either gets passed on to the consumer, or taken out of the cost of actually publishing the book, reducing the physical and editorial…
Karl said in the US, the 1990s extensions in copyright law are very very widely viewed as having been purchased by Disney through the late congressman and performer Sono Bono
They’re not viewed like that over here. If anything, we blame the French, who wanted us to make allowances for the periods when copyright could not be exploited (e.g. World War II) and for the fact that people live longer now (imagine you’re 90, you copyrighted something when you were 20, and it is now going to come out of copyright even though you’re still there….)
Then there are the US publishers who “recopyrighted” stuff 30 years and more after the composer was dead, and thus succeeded in prolonging the period for 100 years instead of 70. Hmmm.
The easiest thing is just to say “Get over it and pay up.” Someone owns this creation/translation/whatever. It is not mine. If I want to use it, I need to make recompense. End of story.
The easiest thing may not be the right thing in the long run. It also begs the question: easier for whom?
Read it again:
Someone owns this creation/translation/whatever. It is not mine. If I want to use it, I need to make recompense.
Repeat: it is not mine, and perhaps I am privileged to use it.
Jeff said I don’t want it for free. Read my post above. I want to know how much ICEL and the Grail wants for the texts. The Church buys the texts and puts them into Creative Commons. A one-time deal, not this discreet web of agents and corporations and bishops and abbeys, and confusion amongst musicians whether they can use this text in a composition or worship aid.
Read my post immediately above. One-off flat fees are the exception rather than the rule, and exist only in certain circumstances. Publishers do not like them, because they do not reflect reality. Nor do authors and composers for the same reason.
Sir David Willcocks lost a huge amount on money when he sold out his share of “Carols for Choirs I” to OUP for £200. If he had known how much his work (actually, it wasn’t all his, but that’s another story) would be used, etc….. It’s unjust that someone who happens to have created something that turns out to be immensely popular should be deprived, etc…
(ctd) And just in case anyone who is reading these lines thinks that I am just another money-grabbing composer, I’d like to put on record that I donated all the royalties for several years on my most successful piece, “Center of My Life”, to the NPM Scholarship Fund, precisely because I believe that we’re not in it for the money, and we need to give something back.
But I do realise that not everyone has the same viewpoint, and that some people need the money to continue their work. And publishers need to be compensated for the large (much larger than you might think) outlay on their products. If we don’t do this, in the end, publishing ceases (and that includes much web publishing).
There’s a question of justice beneath this, and a question of ownership. Just because it’s the Church’s liturgy doesn’t mean that we have to lose our sense of morality. Sorry, Jeff and others.
You assume, however, that working with the copyright structure is the only moral and legal way to address this. It isn’t. You do not appear to be listening, and seem more eager simply to tell others to shut up, in effect. They won’t, though. Publishers take note.
And we are talking about the liturgical texts here and generally not the music (we can have a different discussion about certain chants in the Missal – but no need here).
Paul, please do not confuse the issue. We are talking about the texts, not the music. Compositions, of course, should be protected by copyright if that’s what the composer intends. This is not what we’re talking about. Read Jerry Galipeau’s post about the revised Grail arrangement with GIA: http://gottasinggottapray.blogspot.com/2010/04/revised-grail-psalms-i-am-befuddled.html
This is less money for composers!! Royalties go down, as compared to the current situation with the NAB texts. Imagine if you could compose using the texts of the Mass freely, and distribute them any way you wanted (either free electronically, traditionally through a publisher, etc).
How, as a composer, can you not be alarmed by this?? I’m not losing my sense of morality. It’s been fully engaged!! It’s immoral for a private company to have control of these texts through an agreement the terms of which are not made public. Don’t the faithful have a right to know where their offering is going?
I’ve gotta hand it to you Paul–You’re making a very valiant effort here to protect your retirement. But I think you’d better start saving.
1000 characters do not allow for much:
Firstly, I don’t know what it might be in your theology that would allow for a comparison of the Word of God with altar linens, but it shouldn’t have to be said that the two are different. Altar linens do have a liturgical function, of course, but are a scarce good that can be produced and sold. They should be beautiful. No one has a problem buying a beautiful altar linen from a fine artisan.
The Word of God is not a scarce good. When it was only printed in books the books were scarce. But now that it can be shared freely Christians should be rejoicing that they can now fulfill Christ’s mandate to make disciples of all nations more easily. But a defective model based on the regulation of printed paper (a scarce good) is actually…
…prohibiting this from happening. Institutions are taxing the sharing of the Word of God. This is wrong.
As proposed above, a new model needs to be adopted. Justice still must be served. But we cannot cling to a model that no longer works with the existence of the new media. If publishers do not change their thinking–mark my words–they will dig their own grave. Sorry to be so frank. It’s going to happen.
A second point: Paul Inwood mentions “authenticity”. This is almost a more egregious scenario than the previous one.
I didn’t read an explicit claim that somehow commercial publishing and copyright restriction preserve the authenticity of sacred art and texts, but this is implied. If this is, in fact, what is being said I am shocked–I believe the exact opposite to be true.
Commercial publishers are ultimately controlled by the commercial market: by sales. At the end of the day the ultimate deciding point for what music is promoted is the music that will sell…
Popular polls reveal that lists of “favorite liturgical songs” usually have ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ and ‘Here I Am Lord’ near the top. Is this because these are the finest and most authentic pieces of liturgical music ever written? Hardly. They are the most familiar and instantly gratifying to people. ‘Eagle’s Wings’ sounds like a Disney theme song, ‘Here I Am’ steals licks from the Brady Bunch, etc.
Commercial music reaches for the least common denominator. That which is the most instantly appealing to the most people. This is hardly authenticity. Nashville songwriters know the formula for a hit pop song–it’s a science. If we are going to continue to let the commercial market determine the music that is sung in Mass then I would rather let the Nashville guys write it. It would be much better.
Instead I think we should first catechize and then write music that thinks nothing of commercial success, but that which disinterestedly aims for the ideals of the Church.
Karl said And we are talking about the liturgical texts here and generally not the music
So am I. And I ask again: what’s the difference between liturgical texts and other copyrighted texts that you have to pay to reproduce? No one seems to be interested in debating this.
Jeff said: Royalties go down, as compared to the current situation with the NAB texts.
I don’t know where you’re getting this from, but the royalties I get on my NAB settings are no different from any other. Whether it’s NAB or Grail makes no difference. Someone else owns the text. It’s not mine.
My friend Jerry Galipeau is incorrect on this, I think. I have never seen that USCCB have waived the fee on NAB — quite the reverse, in fact. It took quite a lot of persuading of the US bishops for them to let go of the income from the NAB psalms, but they agreed to have Grail as the new version as long as they could retain the income from the rest of NAB scripture in the Lectionary.
I have to say that I think a lot of this is misdirected. It so happens that GIA is administering the copyright chain that I mentioned earlier in this thread. It could have been any other publisher, who would presumably then have been attacked in the same way.
But this is senseless. “Thou shalt not steal” used to be a commandment, which seems to be going by the wayside. So when Karl says working with the copyright structure is the only moral and legal way to address this. It isn’t., he’s wrong. Legally, it is the only way at present. And morally, it is the only way. What is happening is that some people want to change the moral rules. You can’t do this alone. The entire world has to do it.
Sure, publishers can agree to waive copyright fees, as ICET did in the 1970s with the texts of the Gloria, Sanctus, etc, that we commonly use. But they didn’t have to. It so happened that all the people producing those translations were already subsidised by their participating Churches (ctd)
(ctd) so they weren’t interested in making money out of it because they didn’t need it. In the cases we have been discussing, the USCCB is certainly interested in making money out of the work it commissioned, and so are the Conception Abbey, the Ladies of the Grail, and so on. So is ICEL, which donates a proportion of its income to episcopal conferences in the poorer English-speaking countries who do not have the same resources as the rest of us.
But no. We have to attack GIA because it’s a commercial company doing a job that it has been asked to do.
I am not in the business, as I said earlier in this thread, of defending copyrighting liturgical texts and charging for their use. And I am certainly not trying to protect my retirement and resent that insinuation (in fact I cannot afford ever to retire — that’s what working for the Church means for most of us these days). But I am in the business of trying to get us to see straight on this topic. (ctd)
(ctd) All liturgical texts are owned by someone. I said this before, but some obviously didn’t read it. Even the Latin texts are owned by the Holy See, and we all pay royalties to them on it. In that situation, it is manifestly unfair to attack a particular publisher who happens to have been asked to administer one particular set of texts.
if you’re going to do that, you need to attack all the publishers, and all the copyright owners, which is what I think some on this thread would like to do. “It shouldn’t be yours, it ought to be mine to do with as I wish” they seem to be saying. I have to confess that I don’t see the morality in that. This isn’t your house, it’s mine, and I’m going to live in it, say the squatters….
But while the current copyright legislation on intellectual property exists, you’re going to have a hard time of it. The existence of the internet makes no difference to the moral issues, it seems to me.
You are utterly ignoring the fact that some other denominations don’t rely on copyright royalties for their liturgical texts. There are other structures that can be used both legally and morally. Your assertion that there is only one such way is incorrect.
Along with Paul, I am a bit annoyed by the all too often accusation and sometimes not to subtle insinuation that those of us who are published composers, tend to compose in hopes of “commercial success.” As one who knows Michael Joncas (On Eagle’s Wings) and Dan Schutte (Here I Am, Lord) rather well, I can testify to the fact that “commercial success” was the last thing on their mind when these compositions came to life. Now, if commercial success happens to occur as a result of these pieces, it does not at all diminish their gift, both in terms of its intent, or how it has served praying believers in their liturgical and spiritual life. Adam is making cheap shots in slamming such pieces being influenced by “Disney” and the “Brady Bunch,” and insulting such work as speaking to the “lowest common denominator.” If some people here really believe that to be the case, than they are holding the people of God in contempt, because there are so many who pray and cling to these…
song-prayers, and so many who through much of this “lowest denominator” music has strengthen and nurtured faith. For others it does not. For others it may be Gregorian Chant, or Palestrina, or the Bach B Minor Mass, or Gospel style music, or music of various cultures, or Schubert, or Organum, or the wealth of Protestant Hymondy, just to name a few. Why the cheap shots? Why the venom about liturgical styles. What and who does this serve? We all have our personal tastes, as Fr. Gelineau once said: “there are two kinds of music – music I like, and music I don’t like.” Why is it so hard, even if we do not happen to “like” a particular genre of music, to refrain from trashing it, especially when it does speak to the faith of someone else. There are many liturgical songs that I don’t PERSONALLY like, but I do not have to dishonor the entire genre, or make cheap shots toward not only the music, but sometimes – insult those who have created it. For me, this is a stain on our…
mission. Adam said: “Instead I think we should first catechize and then write music that thinks nothing of commercial success, but that which disinterestedly aims for the ideals of the Church.” None of us have the right to make a determination as to what the composer does in their own formation and catechetical method – we do not know what is in their heart. I certainly am critical of some things that are published, but we can be critical in a more detached way. We certainly do not have to make accusations that their motives are commercial, or not committed to the ideals of the Church. I believe with my whole heart, that most composers – regardless of what musical style they employ – create their music out of a place of faith, and a well intentioned lens of helping build up the prayer and praise of God and the prayer life of those who worship. Even when a composition fails (and many do), we do not have the right to assume shallow motives.
And that goes for publishers too.. I know all of the leaders, and many of the editorial staffs at GIA, OCP, and WLP.. yes, they are businesses. But they also serve the Church, and as Paul as said, they are doing what we ask them to.
David–Let me first say, if I may, that I began strumming your songs in the 3rd grade at my Catholic grade school in the Midwest. Perhaps this will put some of my remarks in context, if nothing else, revealing to which generation I belong.
I’m now a parish music director on the West Coast, in much contact with many of your “published” colleagues, and have seen much of the current “commercial” compositional processes first hand. Despite this, I have no intention of judging motives, although I am very emotionally involved in this issue.
Our Lord has shown us how to judge a tree by its fruit. And it is within this context that I’ve commented on the fruits of the past 40 years of commercial liturgical music publishing practice.
Perhaps I’m working from a different ecclesiology when I refer to composition that “aims for the ideas of the Church”. This doesn’t translate “seeks to please the tastes of the congregants”, the standard that your Gelineau quote seems to set…
The ideals that I speak of are firmly stated in the authoritative Church documents, especially Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram, and you know what I’m referring to.
I don’t mean to call into questions the motives of any of the popular composers of the ‘Big 3’ over the past 40 years. I have no doubt that there was sincerity in their intention. A tree is judged by its fruit, though, and I grew up eating the fruit from your tree. Along with many in my generation we’ve been left wanting, and we’re working to unearth the buried riches of the Church’s liturgical tradition.
I’m not saying that commercial publication and copyright restriction over the past 40 years are solely responsible for the liturgical wasteland that my generation has had to tread–far from it–but I certainly think that they have been agents in the widespread deviation from the true liturgical reform desired by Vatican II…
If our work in the Creative Commons will go unsupported by patronage at first, so be it. Nonetheless I can assure you that my generation will be working toward fulfilling the call of Pope Benedict XVI–that “An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past.”
Hopefully GIA will not charge us for setting the official texts of the Mass and sharing them freely.
Hopefully you won’t mind if I take your car and drive it around, and even share it freely so that others can drive it around too. It’s basically the same problem: one of intellectual property.
We may not agree that it’s right that something belongs to someone else, but the fact is that it does.
The fact that these are the official texts which we have to use seems to be the red rag to the bull for some. However, I have even heard it said that because these are the Church’s official texts, we should actually pay more to use them than we would pay for, say, a hymn text, and we should feel privileged to be using the official texts. Hmmm.
I still don’t hear any coherent argument in support of the “Because it’s for worship, therefore it ought to be free” brigade. I ask yet again, exactly what difference does the fact that it’s for worship make?
“An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past.”
I fail to see what relevance this has to what we are debating here.
This great lineage of the past consisted mostly of the singing of the psalms.
In response to David Haas, I do think the recurring problem with musical ideologies in Catholic worship is that composers and those who publish music are still stuck on hymns that would be used as alternatives to the “actual prescribed texts” of the Latin Rite, the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons. Because of the built in flexibility of the OF Mass, all of these can be substituted with metrical hymns or something else for pastoral reasons. But when you actually look at various Mass texts, the words are integral to the overall thrust of the Mass, including lectionary choices. I’m not opposed to hymns sung at Mass, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that the three official antiphons of the Mass I highlight above should never be omitted for a weak metrical substitute of dubious quality. Much of contemporary hymnody since 1968 would have been better suited for para-liturgies, popular devotions and prayer meetings, not for the Mass. Let’s sing the Mass, what is prescribed and be more sober and classical in “filler” music to cover other actions of the liturgy. Leave the other music to popular devotions.
Alright, Paul. I think you’ve made yourself clear.
“because these are the Church’s official texts, we should actually pay more to use them than we would pay for, say, a hymn text, and we should feel privileged to be using the official texts.”
A privilege it is indeed to use the Church’s official texts.
I haven’t used this word yet, but I’m going to use it now. What you are advocating is simony.
This is a standard dictionary definition: the buying or selling of ecclesiastical privileges.
Dante said that the consequence of simony is eternity in the 8th circle of hell.
Are you seeing yet the difference between the texts of the Mass and other ordinary copyrighted texts?
Just to be clear, Paul–I have no problem paying a royalty to sell a printed copy of a musical setting of the Church’s official text. But to have to pay just to use the text is simony.
Read my post again. I myself was not advocating paying more. I merely said that I had even heard some people say that this is what we should be doing. Out-of-context quotation on your part, I fear.
In any case, the word privilege means something completely different in the definition of simony from what it means in the minds of the people I was quoting. I’m quite sure you know this, so I must assume that you are simply being argumentative.
That being so, I am still waiting for you to tell me why you think texts used in worship are intrinsically different from texts used in other contexts.
And I’d be interested to know how your moral code deals with the question of broadcast performing rights. Every time an act of worship is broadcast, performing rights are payable on any copyright material used in the service. That’s the law.
Of course, if the copyright holder has put the work into creative commons and arranged for a non-royalty-based compensation scheme, that would be a non-issue. And for those who don’t, they would be justly and rightly compensated where their works are broadcast, but those who plan liturgies would likewise be just and right in choosing public domain works instead where possible – I have certainly seen in the past 20 years a boomeranging to PD works.
Adam said This great lineage of the past consisted mostly of the singing of the psalms.
Here, I would agree with you very much. But your original phraseology could have been interpreted to mean Gregorian chant, or 16th-century polyphony, or mass settings of the Viennese school, or…. depending on how each individual sees things.
Sorry, Paul. Here’s the complete quote from Benedict XVI, which I probably should have used to be more clear:
“An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”
This is how Pope Benedict “sees things”.
I don’t believe that you’re mistaken, Paul, nor do I believe I was. You used the quote to support your argument, and it seems to support it quite nicely. I don’t retract or apologize for anything that I have written.
“…I am still waiting for you to tell me why you think texts used in worship are intrinsically different from texts used in other contexts.”
I believe that this has already been answered adequately. But in closing I’ll say that I believe that the texts of the liturgy, comprised of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, are the property of all, and they are a means for the transmission of Christ’s saving power to his people. They should not be the property of a few, and the people of God should not be taxed for using them.
I believe, along with Fr. Ruff, Jerry Galipeau, Jeffrey Tucker, and many others, that the current arrangement between the USCCB and GIA is wrong. I believe that the texts of the Mass should be the property of all and that no one…
should have to pay to use the texts of the Mass.
A solution is to eliminate the need for licensing by paying the copyright holders a just sum of money for their labors and to place the texts of the Mass into the commons of the faith.
I pray that the USCCB will change their arrangement with GIA.
With this I sign off.
In all my time reading NLM and other R2 blogs, I’ve wondered where the voices of the composers were- would any of them stand up to defend themselves against the constant accusations leveled against them by those who find their music trite or cheap or tacky.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see that David Haas (one of my musical heroes) has finally stepped up to say “stop insulting your fellow Christians.”
Ah- now I see why they don’t usually bother. The vitriol of the R2 bulldozes over two facts:
-There is MORE THAN ONE WAY to understand and interpret the Vatican docs on music.
-Christian love ought to be a strong mediator of how debates on sacred music ought to be conducted.
Adam B: You can pretend you don’t mean insult, but we all know that you didn’t intend your comparisons to Disney and sitcom music to be neutral, or interpreted with love and charity.
Besides failing in your Christian duty, you do not help you own cause when you try to slay people with…
This is insanity. Paul Inwood and David Haas, you are consistently confusing the issue. No one is saying that if you write a composition and you wish to copyright it, you shouldn’t be paid for it. That is so not the point. No one is attacking anyone’s motives composing music or the right to try to sell your music to make a living. My belief is that the Church should make the texts we are required to pray at Mass free for the faithful to use in worship by putting them into creative commons. I’m not sure how that is a matter of injustice towards Michael Joncas writing On Eagles Wings (as it wouldn’t apply at all since he made his own paraphrase of Psalm 91). In fact, maybe in the future it would encourage composers to write more music using the texts of the actual Mass, therefore we could all have more singing THE Mass rather than just singing AT Mass.
Paul Inwood and David Haas, you are consistently confusing the issue. No one is saying that if you write a composition and you wish to copyright it, you shouldn’t be paid for it. That is so not the point. No one is attacking anyone’s motives composing music or the right to try to sell your music to make a living.
I have consistently said that I am talking about texts, not about music. And I have already demonstrated that my attitude to earning royalties is not exactly greedy. So please don’t accuse me of confusing the issue.
My belief is that the Church should make the texts we are required to pray at Mass free for the faithful to use in worship by putting them into creative commons.
And my question, which has not been answered, is “Why?” Other denominations do it? That’s their choice. But you need to show a convincing reason for the Catholic Church to do the same thing.
I should add that…
…I happen to agree with you that the texts should be available free of charge (and have said this earlier in this thread, if anyone cares to re-read), but I am also aware that in order to maintain this opinion with any semblance of integrity, I need to have a good reason why I feel that it is so.
So please help me out, everyone. Don’t just keep telling me you believe that creative commons is the way to go. The fact that you believe it is not a good enough reason. I believe it too, but I want to know WHY.
“…I am still waiting for you to tell me why you think texts used in worship are intrinsically different from texts used in other contexts.”
The texts of the liturgy, which efficaciously transmit the mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church, and by which worthy worship is offered to God the Most High, are intrinsically different than other texts and, by their very nature, should be freely accessible by all.
From ‘Liturgia Authenticam’ Art. 3:
“Even so, the greatest prudence and attention is required in the preparation of liturgical books marked by sound doctrine, which are exact in wording, free from all ideological influence, and otherwise endowed with those qualities by which the sacred mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church are efficaciously transmitted by means of human language to prayer, and worthy worship is offered to God the Most High.”
(Truly done now)
Yes, it’s a most odd place for progressives to find ourselves if we ally with the chaining of Bibles hundreds of years ago by chaining liturgical texts to a royalty system today.
The texts of the liturgy, which efficaciously transmit the mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church, and by which worthy worship is offered to God the Most High,
So far, so good — a paraphrase of LA.
are intrinsically different than other texts and, by their very nature, should be freely accessible by all.
Once again, this is merely Adam saying these texts are different. Nothing convincing there at all, I’m afraid.
I’m sorry. We have to get beyond “This is so because I say so”, or “because I feel it” or “because I believe it”. Efficacious transmission, etc — fine. But that says nothing about an intrinsic difference in the texts, only about what those texts are used for.
There’s a difference between form and function: that is my point, as anyone familiar with the work of Universa Laus and its triad of form—function—signification will understand.
I’ve read and re-read GIA’s copyright information and it appears that the only people who will be paying to use Grail IV will be those who seek to make money from it. It’s possible I’ve grabbed the wrong end of the crozier – it has been known – but I can’t see what all the fuss is about.
In his anger, Paul Inwood has missed a key point. The liturgy is the collective inheritance of the People of God. To the extent that extra-ecclesiastical entities can place constraints on its use, that inheritance is diminished. The application of the secular law of copyright to vernacular translations is an example of such a constraint, even when its holders or agents choose to limit its application. It’s not just that they are quite entitled to modify their practice at will, without reference to the Church, or sell the copyright on, and that they’ve no business telling the faithful what they can and can’t do with liturgical material: it’s also the quite shocking notion that this inheritance (as opposed to the medium through which it is transmitted, or a musical setting, or the services of those who translate it) can be likened to a commodity, and bought and sold as such. That’s the kind of blasphemy that Jesus cast out of the Temple. We should follow His example.
Some more interesting information related to recognitio regarding the Revised Grail Psalter.