Monday, July 10, 2006


Gary Penkala at CanticaNOVA Publications tells the state of liturgical music, while singing the praises of three Catholic Masters.

Now, if the following isn't true, what is?

How interesting! For E.T. we choose the Masters, yet for Almighty God, some ditty sounding like it was slopped off in a nightclub on a cocktail napkin will suffice.

Here is his "state of the music" address:

The state of Catholic church music at the end of the 20th century was abysmal. We had been lured into erroneous thinking by relativism, just as it infected moral thought. What is "good," whether referring to moral and ethical practices or worthy and noble music, depended on numerous factors, each relative to the perpetrator or the listener. We justified greed ... "in this situation." We tolerated lies as ... "misinformation." We accepted killing if ... "it was in the mother's best interest." And, we promoted tawdry music because ... "it made people happy."

The 21st century has brought a revolution in liturgical music. No longer is the measuring stick to be human emotion ... "warm-fuzzy" music is going the way of asbestos and saccharine, although it may take quite a while to rid our systems of lingering residues.

As for the last phrase - yup! You will get a few bad eggs, but they'll get over it.

Read the whole thing here and discover who the three Catholic Masters are. No, they're not Haas, Haugen, and Joncas, nor are they even Westendorf, Deiss, and Alstott. Not even Proulx, Peloquin, and Rutter. And the last five are composers that have decent (the last three excellent) music under their belt.

As far as I'm concerned, Gary has penned another gem!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked the sentiments in the article, but I don't quite see the future as clearly as Gary does. Happy-Clappy is pretty entrenched right now and it will take a bull from the Pope to remove it, I think. While I'm glad that more folks are beginning to ask "is this it?" about church music, those of us who prefer quality are still in the minority.

Only one beef with the choices here. Mozart, as much as I love him, is not really representative. His church career was short and done only until he could make it as an opera composer. Haydn wrote much more religious music than Mozart, actually. I would have selected Giacomo Carissimi as a representative of the baroque Roman school (exquisite stuff that influenced both Handel and Bach) and even Vivaldi. He wrote so much sacred music that no one knows about. Also, why start in the Renaissance? The anonymous composers of Gregorian chant should be mentioned as well as the great medieval polyphonic composers from Perotin (stunning!) and Guillaume de Machaut to Guillaume Dufay. Their music is actually more usuable in today's church then Mozart's.