Monday, March 27, 2006

Report of the Subcommittee on Music and the Liturgy

I don't know if you've seen this document from the USCCB. It's worthwhile to share it here since liturgy is one of main interests. In addition, we are expecting Pope Benedict's exhortation on the renewal of liturgy. Click here for the link to the Power Point presentation

The subcommittee's mission:
Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity. If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided.

Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The two main concerns:
*Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from theological error

*The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given setting should not manifest a collective bias against Catholic theological elements.
Theological concerns:
*Is there a sufficient attention to the Trinity and to the Trinitarian structure of Catholic beliefs and teachings?

Do our liturgical songs fail at times to present the Trinity as the central mystery of the Christian faith? Does the language used in referring to the Persons of the Trinity contribute at times to a lack of clarity? Is there a reluctance to use “Father” for the first person of the Blessed Trinity? Is the relationship between Jesus and the Father stressed sufficiently? Are there times when the word “God” is placed in a sentence where one would expect to find “Father” or “God the Father” since the reference is precisely to the relationship between the first and second persons of the Trinity?

*Is there an obscured presentation of the centrality of Christ in salvation history and an insufficient emphasis on the divinity of Christ? Do our liturgical songs present Jesus as the culmination of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation? Is the indispensable place of the incarnation in the plan of salvation sufficiently presented?

Is Jesus the Savior often overshadowed by Jesus the teacher, model, friend, and brother? Is there an appropriate balance? Is there an imbalance in our emphasis on the humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ? At times, can we detect a negative undertone in speaking of the divine nature of Christ, as if divinity is equated with being “distant and unreal.”

Other theological concerns
*An indistinct treatment of the ecclesial context of Catholic beliefs and magisterial teachings?

*Do the texts give insufficient emphasis to God’s initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action?

*Is there a sufficient recognition of the transforming effects of grace?
More here. I commend the document to you.

Brian at Christus Vincit has been podcasting a 'white list' of liturgical songs in the current missal that express the Catholic faith more authentically. He and fellow bloggers Jason and Nicholas post the Sunday music at their respective churches where they serve as Music Directors. They have launched a new feature called "Choral Anthem Review". Do visit them.


Ginny said...

This was very informative. You have a wonderful site. Thanks for sharing

Brian Michael Page said...

First, thanks much for the links, and the professional review.

What I have been doing for the "white list" project is sifting through the garbage (pretty much) to find the good materials in the "Breaking Bread" throwaway from OCP. It probably would take nearly twice as long to draw up a "black list" from the same book. The white list idea was an attempt to be "positive".

I've blogged and podcasted on the powerpoint presentation back in January. See "Podcast #9-Common Repertoire". You'll like it. ;)


Argent said...

I've not reached down that part of the podcast list yet. I am enjoying the Leprechaun. Hope he's recovered from St. Paddy's Day.

And thanks for doing a positive spin on what most people have. Not all of us are so fortunate to have Music Directors like you guys at C.V.

Ours is an excellent musician who wants to branch out from the familiar stuff. There are a couple of ex-Anglicans helping him with liturgy planning. *grin*

The good news is that Holy Week will have more Gregorian chant than ever! Yay! Our discussion group is looking forward to the papal exhortation. Can't wait for that one!

Argent said...


Thanks very much for stopping by. I like your blog as well. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you!

gsk said...

+ Lovely site, Argent. So glad to have been pointed in your direction -- I'll check in often.

Brian Michael Page said...

"Not all of us are so fortunate to have Music Directors like you guys at C.V."

Aw shucks! (blush LOL)
Sounds like your church is gonna have some good music for Holy Week. That's great.

Sneak preview:
Pange lingua (texts for Holy Thurs. and Good Fri. on their respective days)
Two Peloquin ditties - Faith, hope, and love (Washing of Feet), and A Great Harvest (Veneration)
Ubi Caritas (Holy Thursday, at the Offertory, where it belongs)
Ave Verum (also on Holy Thursday - Mozart's)