Monday, February 12, 2007


I've been checking out the totally revamped Musica Sacra blog, and liking what I see as well, especially their sidebar resources.

Amongst them is the famous Black List of 1922 and the White List of 1947 (with supplement from 1954). The 1922 Black List is also included on pages 60-61 of the 1947 White List. The 1954 supplement also has Lead Kindly Light on its black list.

Some of the blacklisted items I saw did not surprise me, though some of the composers surprised me.

- The black list denounces all Masses of Lambillotte, as well as his Ave Maria. I for one never saw his Masses or his Ave, so I cannot judge. Three items of his that did not make the black list (for two of them, thank God! - and for the third, oh God!) are of his most well known works by the average Catholic organist (read: not just any musician - an organist) and probably bring back memories for many - Come, Holy Ghost (I did say Come, Holy Ghost, and not One Spirit, One Church), Panis Angelicus, and On this Day, O Beautiful Mother. Can you guess which one I gave the "oh God" to?

- The St. Basil Hymnal (all editions as of 1946) got the axe as well. I used to use the Alma Redemptoris Mater setting by Samuel Webbe, which appeared in the tail end of the 1916(?) edition of said hymnal. The tune was actually a slightly altered from the hymn Come Ye Disconsolate. The 1958 edition is a big improvement (IMO) which I can speculate would have been whitelisted had a white list been established at that time.

- The four titles listed under "Hymns" that got the axe (thank God!) were four of the largest bits of evidence that there was bad music before Vatican II as well as after. They are Mother Dearest, Mother Fairest (#697 in this year's OCP Music Issue, and from the Wreath of Mary, a hymn book which also got axed), Mother Dear, O Pray for Me (#706 in same Music Issue), Mother, at Thy Feet is Kneeling (referred to by one of my old permenant deacon friends as MotherRat), and one of the biggest thorns in my side from my Holy Name days, Good Night, Sweet Jesus (one certain elderly lady used to lead it at the end of Benediction).

- The two wedding marches that I have discouraged (at a 90+% success rate, I might add) for years at many a wedding consultation are the Bridal Chorus (aka Here comes the bride, big, fat, and wide) from Wagner's Lohengrin and the Wedding March from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream.

- Several Ave Maria settings got axed, including Bach/Gounod, Schubert, and RoSewig. When I was at St. Timothy's (a church I refer to simply as "The Roundhouse"), we had a soprano who went ga-ga over the RoSewig when she was asked to sing for weddings. Man, if I only knew then! At funerals, when asked for "the Ave Maria", one should note that I DO NOT default to Schubert if a particular setting is not specified (which is 90% of the time, and I very seldom bother to ask). If someone does specify Schubert, I'll usually give in. If not specified, I'll more likely do the Arcadelt or the Victoria.

Apparently, false advertising was eminent in 1922 as well. Check out this exposing paragraph:
The attempt of certain publishers to "hoodwink" a gullible public by using in an indiscriminate manner the caption "In accordance with the MOTU PROPRIO" deserves the condemnation of every friend of liturgical art. A flagrant attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the innocent is found in the publication of the popular song "Silver Threads among the Gold" as an "Ave Maris Stella" under the caption "In accordance with the MOTU PROPRIO".

I wonder --- what would a black list look like if assembled in 2007? Worse --- what would a black list look like if assembled in 1982? 1975? Anyone wanna triple dog dare to compare what a present day black list would look like as presented by the CMAA? Adoremus Society? USCCB? NPM?



Gavin said...

As I have said, I'm a staunch opponent of "blacklisting". The USCCB are the last people who need to start dictating to me what setting of an Ave Maria is and isn't appropriate. Let us music directors do our jobs, I imagine you and I can decide for ourselves well enough whether or not Lambilotte's tunes are good for Mass (which they obviously are). If anything, blacklisting has destroyed our work by giving lay people the impression that we as directors don't know what they're doing. If I had a dollar for every time someone's said "X song isn't banned by anyone," I could just bribe someone to ban it for me.

I find the ban on "Lead, Kindly Light" most intriguing, since my boss often cites that as "traditional standard Catholic hymnody"

Brian Michael Page said...

As for the USCCB drawing up a "black list"... I'd be VERY afraid of its contents. I'd be even more afraid of a NaPalM-authored "black list".

As for "Lead Kindly Light", I find that interesting for two reasons - 1) it's #578 in the Adoremus Hymnal (of all hymnals), and 2) the text is written by Cardinal John Henry Newman. That should speak some volumes right there, IMO.

Dad29 said...

There's not enough paper available to print 20 copies of a "black list" written by actual, real, musicians in the employ of the Catholic Church in the USA.

On the other hand, there are not a lot of actual, real musicians in the employ of the CC/USA--so maybe it balances out.

Gavin said...

Oh, and I should say that the New St. Basil Hymnal is kick-ass! Unfortunately I lost my copy, so I'm trying to find a source for a new one. If it were possible, that would be the hymnal I'd stock my church with, no question about it! At the very least, I'd like to have my congregation sing that Willan Mass in there.

Brian Michael Page said...

Gavin, I fully agree on the New SBH. That's the 1958 edition I mentioned. That and the Pius X Hymnal rock!
LOL and agreeing with Dad29 as well.