Oh my. Nothing shy about James MacMillan’s announcement: he will stop writing congregational music for the Catholic Church.
There is too much music being created, at the same time as the vast repository of tradition is ignored and wilfully forgotten.
MacMillan wants more cultivation of chant, and more appropriation of the chant tradition in the development of vernacular music:
My encounters with these initiatives have convinced me that this is the most authentic way forward for Catholic music, combining the participatory ethos of Vatican II with the deep history and traditions of the music of the Church.
And along the way, MacMillan has a few choice thoughts about Catholic liturgical music and musical composition in recent decades:
A lot of the favored new settings are musically illiterate, almost is if they were written by semi-trained teenagers, getting to grips with musical rudiments. The style is stodgy and sentimental, tonally and rhythmically stilted, melodically inane and adored by Catholic clergy “of a certain age.”
People with hardly any training and experience of even the basic building blocks of music have been convinced that there is a place for their puerile stumblings and fumblings in the modern Catholic Church because real musicians are elitist and off-putting. A whole industry has grown up to promote this material…
There you have it. The Telegraph has all MacMillan’s reflections on music.