The Times They Are A Changin’

From Authentic Update:

Oh my… where to start with this? Perhaps the best would be to refer back to an article I wrote over a year ago HERE. In that article from November of 2007, I wrote the following:

There is going to be a transformation of the discussion/ debate concerning music at Mass within 6 months. Further still, there is going to be a radical transformation of this issue and how it is discussed. The transformation will become apparent this next week with the Bishop’s vote on Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship, although I will qualify that by saying it is not the document itself that will bring about the transformation. Rather, this document is going to serve as a kind of epitaph for the last 40 years of liturgical music, putting a good face on it and speaking lovingly while affirming that it has passed on, paving the way for what will follow. The key feature of this document is that it will affirm that the directives of the Second Vatican Council concerning music need to be clarified, and that future development of music needs to be guided by the principles set forth in the council documents themselves.

Sing To The Lord, in spite of it’s failings, is a turning point. It is “the writing on the wall” for the progressive music agenda. That it wasn’t even submitted to the Holy See for approval (which was required!) was not a sign that it went too far, but that the USCCB knew that the remaining “progressive” provisions in it would be struck down. I’ve gone over all of this before, but an interesting thing happened yesterday that has given me reason to bring it up again.

In my mailbox yesterday were my seasonal issues of “GIA Quarterly” and the NPM Annual Convention magazine. Both of these, as I have written of in the past, are heavily “agendized” groups, promoting commercial-music-industry based liturgical music music and all of the latest “trends” in “contemporary” liturgy.
And so what do I find in the GIA Quarterly this time around?

Editor’s Page – “Orthodoxy” is the title of the brief article from Fred Moleck, editor of GIA Quarterly. It discusses what Orthodoxy means and why it is not necessarily a bad thing. The money quote in this one:

“The regulation of the music for the Roman Catholic Church is a recurrent issue in the history of the liturgy. The most recent document for us is Sing To The Lord which dominates conversations among many Catholic Church musicians.”


“It is hoped that our efforts to plunge deeper into the contents of Sing To The Lord will sharpen our discussions and move us past “simply believing arcane stuff before breakfast, and getting one’s theological system right and then debating other claims.”

The quote within the last quote above was a reference to something he said at the beginning of the article, that Orthodoxy is more than “simply believing arcane stuff before breakfast, and getting one’s theological system right and then debating other claims.” So what is he saying here? It would appear that he is calling for a new look at how we view Orthodoxy, and that it is hoped that the articles and discussions contained in this and future issues will encourage the reader to think of Orthodoxy in a new way, as something positive, shaping how we look at the regulation of music by the church. Is this incredible, coming from GIA?

If that’s not enough… the VERY NEXT PAGE… an article by Bob Batastini on the need to revive the chanting of the Priest’s dialogues… yes… CHANTING the dialogues with the assembly. The article explores the difference between the current paradigm of “Music and Liturgy”, that is simply singing songs during the otherwise spoken liturgy, and the need to move to a new paradigm of “Musical Liturgy”, that is the singing of the actual Mass texts. The money quote from this article….

“Imagine how the re-introduction of this practice (chanting the dialogues) could transform the very nature of the liturgy. It’s no secret that some members of the assembly never sing. I’ve come to surmise that this is often due to a feeling on the part of the individual that he or she can’t sing, so leave the singing to those who can. While it may be easy to rationalize leaving the songs to those who can carry a tune, far fewer will not respond to “The Lord Be With You”. Singing the dialogues may well have the effect of an overall improvement in congregational singing.”

OH , DO YOU THINK SO!?!?! You mean, all those years that some of us have been saying that the show-tune music, evoking the image of a starlet up on stage holding a microphone, might be actually discouraging singing… that we were RIGHT? You mean… CHANTING might be the key to actually singing the liturgy? Where oh where did you ever get THAT idea… other than in every document on liturgical music ever promulgated!! This is something I never thought I would see in a “mainstream” liturgical publication. God works in mysterious ways..

But the fun isn’t over yet! The “Masters Corner” article (that is the big, main focus article in the magazine), is titled “Dialogues”. It concerns the new translation of the Missal, and the fact that the new version of the Missal will contain chant notation for all of the Priests parts. The tone, to me at least, seems to be an attempt to deflect a bigger issue. At one point the author says…

“The GIRM… says that the way we foster active participation among the people is through these acclamations and responses of the faithful. The Second Vatican Council called for the full, conscious and active participation of the faithful (Sacrosanctum concilium-14), and this is a significant way in which the liturgy strives to achieve it. But we have spent so much time learning beautiful new hymnody in English that we may have overlooked this remarkable statement: ‘In the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, however, preference should be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those to be sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding, or by the priest and the people together’.”

WHAAAT?!?!?! How about “but we have spent the last 40 years convincing you that the hymns and songs that you have to BUY FROM US are the most important music in the Mass, so we understand why you didn’t even know that these dialogues are supposed to be sung”? That would be the appropriate thing for GIA to say at this point. But that, while revealing enough, is nothing compared to the next paragraph. I think this is a first for a mainstream liturgy publication…

“When you stop to think that the GIRM is promoting the singing of the dialogues at Mass, the very next statement makes sense: ‘All other things being equal, Gregorian Chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy’. The idiom of chant has proven especially successful in the repeated parts of the liturgy. Chant simply, yet effectively clothes these texts, and the music bears repetition without inducing boredom. It can be sung over and over, not drawing attention to itself, but embellishing the text it supports.”

Well Hallelujah! They figured it out! Chant really IS the ideal music for liturgy…and it will actually develop and IMPROVE the “active participation of the faithful”. I was shocked when I saw this… truly shocked. I am getting the feeling that GIA is preparing for something that it knows is coming. Another curious quote from the article didn’t hit me until several readings later…

“…But we have spent so much time learning beautiful new hymnody in English…”This came after a discussion of the singing of the acclamations and responses. Is there something implied here that we maybe don’t know about yet? Are the acclamations to be sung going to be in some language other than English?


Sing To The Lord, after all, does very specifically say

“The Second Vatican Council directed that the faithful be able to sing parts of the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin. In many worshiping communities in the United States, fulfilling this directive will mean introducing Latin chant to worshipers who perhaps have not sung it before. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids.(SttL-74-75).” I’m starting to believe that this is being seen as something that will be coming sooner rather than later. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


And at the end of this article, we find this:

“There will also be (in the new Missal) new translations of the Entrance and Communion Antiphons of each Mass… You may still sing the repertoire you know at times, but you may find renewed attention being given to the texts the Missal supplies”

Wow! GIA is suggesting that the singing of the Propers could become normative? This is truly incredible. The article ends with what I see as a prophetic statement:

We should never lose our desire to compose and sing new music. But some parts of the Mass will hold up better with melodies as familiar as the Birthday Song and the National Anthem are. They become a part of our identity and they help us praise the One who makes us one.”

All I can say to that is “AMEN”.

Now… what’s coming up at the 32nd Annual NPM Convention, appropriately titled “Sing To The Lord”? Some of the course offerings:

Monday July 6th


Tuesday July 7th

9:00AM – 10:00AM – Plenum Address: The Roman Missal-Preparation and Reception
10:30AM-11:45AM – How To Conduct Chant
3:15PM -4:30PM- The Choral World of Chant
4:45PM -6:00PM – Making Chant Work in the Parish Community

Wednesday July 8th

3:15PM -4:30PM – Sing To The Lord and the Treasury of Sacred Music
4:45PM – 6:00PM – The Chants of the Church in a Parish Setting

Thursday July 9th

10:30AM-11:45AM – Music and the Missal of Blessed John XXIII

Friday July 10th

9:15AM – 10:30AM – Facilitating Change: Opportunity and Challenge
10:45-12:00PM – New Texts! New Music! Prepare for Change!

As I’ve been saying for the past two years now… it’s coming. As Catholic musicians, we need to be prepared. It’s about Chant and it’s about Sacred Music. Some have been ringing this bell for years, and it seems as though the sound has now reached to the very top….


One Response to The Times They Are A Changin’

  1. Jeanne says:


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