Wednesday, October 18, 2006

THE NEW DIRECTORY FOR MUSIC

and the Liturgy for Use in the Dioceses in the United States of America

Got this from a message board where we Christus Vincit snarks frequent. Enjoy!
(My own remarks added in blue)
Peace,
BMP
__________________________________________________

WASHINGTON- The U.S. bishops will vote to establish norms for hymns at Mass during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, November 13-16.

The new norms, which will require a two-thirds vote by the bishops and subsequent recognitio by the Holy See, are to ensure that liturgical songs will be doctrinally correct, based in the scriptural and liturgical texts and relatively fixed.

The norms are part of a new “Directory for Music and the Liturgy for Use in the Dioceses in the United States of America.” The directory responds to a recommendation of Liturgiam Authenticam, the fifth Vatican instruction on correct implementation of liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council.

Specific norms state that

1. The approval of liturgical songs is reserved to the Diocesan Bishop in whose diocese an individual song is published. He is supported in his work by this directory and by the USCCB Secretariat on the Liturgy.
2. The Diocesan Bishop is assisted in his review of individual texts through the formation of a committee for the review of liturgical songs consisting of theologians, liturgists, and musicians. The committee shall assure that each text is suitable for liturgical use based on the principles articulated in this directory. I worry about the "liturgists" part.
3. Within three years, the Committee on the Liturgy will formulate a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs for use in all places where the Roman liturgy is celebrated in the United States of America. While songs outside the core repertoire may also be used in the Liturgy, this core repertoire will be included in all worship aids used in the dioceses of the United States of America. I would also assume this not to mean that every piece in that "common repertoire" must be used (especially assuming the worst to happen, e.g., the addition of certain bad mistakes of the 70's and 80's to be included in the "common repertoire").

The directory is to serve not so much as a list of approved and unapproved songs as a process by which bishops might regulate the quality of the text of songs composed for use in the liturgy.

According to the proposed directory, theological adequacy may be judged in two ways:
* Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from doctrinal error
* The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given place should reflect a balanced approach to Catholic theological elements.

The directory warns of doctrinal compromise. For example, it notes:
* Liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about the faith which are untrue No banquet halls on holy ground, that means.
* The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons Neutering the Lord is finally forbidden! YES! Victory is HIS!
* Any emphasis on the work of the members of the Church should always be balanced by an appreciation of the doctrine of grace and our complete dependence of the grace of God to accomplish anything That eliminates GUI (and I don't mean "Graphic User Interface")
* The elimination of archaic language should never alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song. In many cases, the hymn texts should have never been altered in the first place, IMO.

The document also emphasizes that care should be taken that hymns and songs should take their inspiration and vocabulary chiefly from the Scripture and Liturgy. The Proper of the Mass is a good place to start. World Library Publications and CanticaNOVA Publications lead in that category. Anyone wanna follow?

The document said that the large number of liturgical songs that exist in the United States have benefited the liturgy, but also said that “a certain stable core of liturgical songs might well serve as exemplary and stabilizing factor.”

More information on the November meeting can be found at www.usccb.org.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Regarding this post, Brian, I sent the following to our bishop for his consideration before the conference begins.

USCCB Conference regarding establishing norms for hymns, etc.
To: His Excellency, Bishop John Steinbock, Ordinary of Fresno Diocese

CC* Dear Bishop Steinbock,
I am writing this letter to you not as an employee of the diocese (which I am) or under the presumption that my position at St. Mary’s assumes any responsibility to share my opinions over these issues. I would simply like to offer some reflections as a 36 year consecutive veteran of service to the Church as I believe these issues below are of serious value and consequence to the future of worship in our diocese; and I would like you to have a direct reference from a “laborer in the field” so to speak.

WASHINGTON (October 18, 2006) — The U.S. bishops will vote to establish norms for hymns at Mass during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, November 13-16.

CC*This is important beyond the criteria for establishing the norms for hymns and liturgical songs that would be made accessible for use in our diocese. There is and will be significant discussion that will focus upon whether the use of hymns, though valid, is a sufficient and suitable practice for congregations by comparison to the Propers of the Roman Graduale. Bishop Steinbock, I urge that if discussion turns to debate over the primacy of Propers versus hymns that such debate be tabled as the practical reality of hymn/song usage is a fact not likely to be changed ever; no matter by any jurisdictional mandate or imposition. The current climate is one of tension over whether the textual basis of the liturgy should be restricted to the Ordinary and psalmody, or given the options that are deemed licit and valued for a broader infusion and usage of serious, inspired texts found in hymns and songs.


The new norms, which will require a two-thirds vote by the bishops and subsequent recognitio by the Holy See, are to ensure that liturgical songs will be doctrinally correct, based in the scriptural and liturgical texts and relatively fixed.

CC*What the above statement does not state is how bishops are to assess, regard and adjudicate such liturgical hymns/songs/texts that contain aspects or attributes that are, for lack of a better term, inoffensive or benign to Roman Catholic doctrine. Any serious student of the history of non-scriptural hymnody and contemporary song composition can point out many issues that can be raised about a certain text’s adherence to the stated objective of being “doctrinally correct” but reject its usage based upon issues of taste or historical perspective. Examples of such would be a presumed preference for the well-known “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” over the more innocuous “Shall We Gather at the River” simply because the former has a higher historical prestige (despite its Lutheran associations) than the latter, whose origins are populist and praise-oriented. These are not simple issues at face value.

The norms are part of a new “Directory for Music and the Liturgy for Use in the Dioceses in the United States of America.” The directory responds to a recommendation of Liturgiam authenticam, the fifth Vatican instruction on correct implementation of liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council.
Specific norms state that
1. The approval of liturgical songs is reserved to the Diocesan Bishop in whose diocese an individual song is published. He is supported in his work by this directory and by the USCCB Secretariat on the Liturgy.
*This is a very good thing. Of course, what hasn’t been mentioned yet by the memo and my letter is by what means will these local decisions affect the structure and economy of the dedicated Catholic publishing houses that dominate the market- most notably for us Oregon Catholic Press and GIA/WLP to lesser extents.
2. The Diocesan Bishop is assisted in his review of individual texts through the formation of a committee for the review of liturgical songs consisting of theologians, liturgists, and musicians. The committee shall assure that each text is suitable for liturgical use based on the principles articulated in this directory.

CC*As contentious a task this might and likely will prove to be, I do endorse the clear objective that truly qualified local parties, clerical and lay alike, be empanelled to study all the issues and ramifications of texts AND their musical settings of hymns and songs, and perhaps even those of Mass Ordinaries and certain vernacular settings of psalmody and Propers. Our diocese does have a number of such persons who have the liturgical, pastoral and artistic credentials to reasonably discuss and advise your office about these matters.

3. Within three years, the Committee on the Liturgy will formulate a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs for use in all places where the Roman liturgy is celebrated in the United States of America. While songs outside the core repertoire may also be used in the Liturgy, this core repertoire will be included in all worship aids used in the dioceses of the United States of America.

CC*What should be of particular interest to the faithful in our diocese is a fair hearing and appraisal of repertoire that encompasses both the aspects of respecting “enculturation” among various ethnic traditions and the “universality” that should be integral to every hymn/song text under consideration. Liturgical “cogniscenti” of recent years, such as the Snowbird Document signatories or the Milwaukee Seminar composers” have failed to articulate how to avoid the inevitability of rejecting a text such as “Pescador de hombres” for inclusion in a core repertoire over a more well-known and pervasive English hymn such as “How Great Thou Art.” On the other hand, songs of more dubious text and musical content such as “Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo” have catapulted to popularity soley based upon their debut during fashionably favorable moments and after great marketing by their publishers, which then result in the exclusion of more worthy text and musical setting of another hymn or song.

4. The directory is to serve not so much as a list of approved and unapproved songs as a process by which bishops might regulate the quality of the text of songs composed for use in the liturgy. *Absolute agreement, as long as there is an active “office” charged with providing you with serious deliberation and recommendations as to such “quality” of available hymns/songs either by national publisher or locally distributed means.
According to the proposed directory, theological adequacy may be judged in two ways:
· Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from doctrinal error
· The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given place should reflect a balanced approach to Catholic theological elements.
The directory warns of doctrinal compromise. For example, it notes:
· Liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about the faith which are untrue
· The doctrine of the Trinity should never be compromised through the consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three Divine persons
· Any emphasis on the work of the members of the Church should always be balanced by an appreciation of the doctrine of grace and our complete dependence of the grace of God to accomplish anything
· The elimination of archaic language should never alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song.

CC*I personally agree with the criteria listed above regarding theological accuracy and the avoidance of doctrinal compromise.

The document also emphasizes that care should be taken that hymns and songs should take their inspiration and vocabulary chiefly from the Scripture and Liturgy.
The document said that the large number of liturgical songs that exist in the United States have benefited the liturgy, but also said that “a certain stable core of liturgical songs might well serve as exemplary and stabilizing factor.”

CC*The only “caveat” in the above paragraph lies in “how” hymns and songs are evaluated for whether their inspiration and vocabulary are consistent with scripture, both verbatim, paraphrased or by allusion. For example, one of the greatest hymn texts and musical settings of all Christian history and tradition is “O God Beyond All Praising” set to the Holst melody of “Thaxted.” Its text is certainly in concert in all ways with theology and doctrine, but one would be challenged to align it directly with this or that specific scriptural excerpt. Does that mean it should be excluded and dumped from consideration as “core repertoire?” That would be almost a criminal decision.
Secondly, your brother bishops will surely be reminded that there are a multitude of legitimate texts of ancient, scriptural hymns such as the Magnificat or the Canticle of Abraham that lesser “composers” have misappropriated because their own personal “muse” that re-setting those lyrics to more “modern” styles is in no way objectionable simply because of the authenticity of the texts. One example that comes to mind is a setting of the venerable “Veni, veni Emmanuel (O Come, O come….)” being offered by Oregon Catholic Press in its 2007 Music Issue/Breaking Bread worship books which reflects a faddish, contemporary “alternative” music structure that is designed to “hook” young Catholics, but is wholly unacceptable for congregational singing by any congregation, whether predominantly youth or of various demographics. Not to mention that the “new version” cannot possibly measure up to the chant-inspired traditional version. Believe me, bishop, there are boatloads of such hymns and songs that publishers will work overtime to proffer to congregations by yearly debut in their subscription hymnals. But for every marketing decision towards those acceptable texts with more “hip” musical treatments, another worthier hymn will lose its space in that publisher’s newest edition. The good news is that the USCCB is addressing the basic issue; the bad news is that to leave these deliberations up to the publishers out of benign trust in their “mission” will still leave diocesan parishes at square one, which often means the reliance upon music accessible because it meets the more convenient, or lowest common denominator factors.

I hope you understand my intentions of sending you this memo as being in the interest of serving you in your part of these deliberations and decisions. But please be wary of the proclamations and prognostications of any professional, nationally “recognized” professionals who might be appointed to assist the conferences’ global concerns. They don’t live in our central valley.