Ah yes, got my copy of the ever popular liturgy "planning guide", if you want to call it that. I only get it because we still have their missalettes and music issues in the pews. Anyhoo...
The big brag on the back page with their LicenSing ad is the NPM top three: Eagle's Wings, Here I Am, Lord, and Be Not Afraid. Popular, yes. Appropriate for revival meetings and to listen to in concert or on CD? Absolutely! Appropriate for Holy Mass? Not really.
Open the rag to the inside front cover - what do you see? THE ST. LOUIS JESUITS ARE BACK! OK - good! When's their next gig around here? Just don't make the same mistake you made the first time by inserting this material in hymnal and sticking said hymnal into pew.
Page 3 - 2005 UNITY AWARD WINNERS - all performers of sacro-pop! I start to wonder now -- the name of the magazine is Today's Liturgy! Just what does this have to do with liturgy?
Page 29 - The interview with Michael Joncas where he actually praises Eagle's Wings, despite just months before wishing he never wrote it. Who paid him to recant? Next page: Eagle's Wings in English AND Spanish! Double barf!
Pages 38-40 - Now, here is a section that usually gets rather good, and this issue is no exception. Two columns on hymnody, one by Alice Parker, the other by Don Sailers.
The Parker column this month is Let It Sing and Dance, featuring four hymns in triple meter. Ms. Parker writes well of these pieces, though the only part I beg to differ is her interpretation of The King of Love My Shepherd Is. She hears it at 148 on the metronome and says that it might be more clearly noted in 6/8. I hear it more as something very meditative, and not so rushed at all - perhaps at about 80 on the metronome, and with no stops brighter than 4' (although a good fluty 1-1/3' can blend well with the 8' and 4'). Now, like I've said in the past, not all of OCP is bad! I give Alice Parker kudos for a good article here.
The Sailers column, Chants in Honor of Mary, is also good. Personally, I wouldn't touch the Norbert Ave with a "thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole", but he does use it to sample a bilingual English/Latin effect. The other four are all chants - Ave Maria, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Salve Regina, and Regina Caeli. My chief complaint of this column - Alma Redemptoris Mater isn't in the Music Issue. Why??? (It made the new JourneysongS, which really is improved - not completely, but far better than the Music Issue or any previous OCP issue).
Now we get to the planning pages. Here's where I get to take issue with Dr. Elaine Rendler. Now, first, let's go to a previous issue where, within the planning pages, mind you, she writes:
"...As a Catholic, I am embarrassed at some of the un-Christian web sites and online conversations regarding muscal styles. I am friendly with music ministers of other faith traditions who have clued me in on some of the vitriolic postings that are available for public comsumption by musicians who call themselves Catholic Christians. ....I just happened upon a web site for people who want to eliminate certain composers from church music. I couldn't believe it! These postings are giving us - Catholic musicians who see our work as a sacred trust, a gift from God, a calling, and a true pastoral ministry serving the faithful - a bad name. If this is someone's idea of fun, then some people have too much free time. Think of all the hours wasted tearing down other people when they could be used to build up the kingdom of God."
There, there, Doctor. I wouldn't be so much embarrassed at such sites. You're probably referring to a good portion of the Catholic blogosphere, the Moratorium, and maybe a few other musicians and organizations who are equally embarrassed by the music that gets slopped in front of them each Sunday at Holy Mass. I mean, COME ON! Anyone can write bad music and call it a ministry, but for the sake of good liturgy, let the "bad music" ministry be a private one. Remember this really bad O Holy Night? That was written off as a ministry too - can you believe it??? I think this every time I see or hear All are welcome, Table of plenty, and Song of the Body of Christ, and similar ilk. So, before we, who want nothing more than to give our Lord the best possible praise we can give him and within the very guidelines given to us by Holy Mother Church, would be glad to stop mocking such bad music if only people would quit mocking the Holy Eucharist by programming such crap.
Dr. Rendler DOES have a point I agree with highly - in the planning page for 7/2/06, she writes:
"Tuesday, Independence Day, is not included in the liturgical calendar. Ask what the liturgy has to say to us as a people this year on this holiday. Don't overuse patriotic songs."
Now THAT is something I do agree on big time. I love my country just as much as my neighbor, and his neighbor, and his, etc., but one thing that irks me is in many parishes almost every time a secular holiday comes up, whether it's the Fourth, or Labor Day, or Memorial Day, etc., they fill their weekend music with at least two patriotic songs, one of them guaranteed to be America the Beautiful, not on the holiday itself, but on the Sunday closest to it! I'm sorry - but secular holidays should take no precedence over the Sunday at Mass. Save it for the secular celebrations - and of course, the ball game.
Now, on the page for 7/23/06, my attitude changes here.
"A reader wrote that her pastor would like more traditional entrance songs in the music suggestions. I'm not quite sure what she or her pastor meant by 'traditional'."
I would more or less guess that she means actual hymns and not hootenanny music. I don't think this pastor is asking for anything out of line.
Finally, I differ again with the doc:
"What takes place at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the Preparation of the Gifts (formerly the Offertory).
Formerly??? The Offertory was never banished, and wrong again is when she says:
"However, the offering of Jesus to the Father takes place in the Eucharistic Prayer, after the Sanctus".
How about "Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer..." (same with the wine). It's in the Eucharistic Prayer that the Church (via the priest) asks to "let it become for us the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, AT WHOSE COMMAND, we celebrate this Eucharist." The GIRM still calls the hymn that takes place at the "Preparation" the "Offertory Chant". It's been the "Offertory" for centuries. If it's not broken (and I don't think it is), don't fix it.
That's my "book review" for the day.