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November 14, 2006



Have the approved pieces of music in the directory been listed on-line anywhere?


They haven't even gotten to that point yet...that will be next and probably take a couple of years.


Vigneron's amendment is interesting, as is this whole discussion. Lots of choirs in parishes sing all sorts of "meditation" or other non-congregational pieces. These are as much a part of the liturgy as the final hymn. Would choral pieces going under the microscope to ensure conformity? Or are we just concerned with what's coming out of the mouths of the pew people rather than what might enter their ears?

And we have more publishers than Illinois and Oregon. What about St Cloud, St Louis, Raleigh, or any other place that puts out music for liturgy. Is this discussion focused only on the Big Three, thus giving a certain institutionalization to their status? Or will Adoremus Hymnal, edition 2 need to include Be Not Afraid if that (or other tunes like it) make the top 60?


Any text that came straight out of scripture, or from liturgies and rites approved back in the day, would already be approved, I'd think.

I think meditations, motets, etc. are intrinsically not hymnal stuff, though. Sheet music would seem to be a whole different kettle of fish than "here are the basic songs everybody uses and knows".

Sounds to me like publishers in other places than Chicago and Portland producing actual thick chunky hymnals would want to seek a statement of okeydokeyness from their local dioceses. (This used to be pretty standard, actually; I've seen an old copy of the St. Cecilia Hymnal which said it was specifically produced for the Cincinnati archdiocese, and was specifically okayed by one of Cincy's old archbishops.)

I'm surprised the bishops of other dioceses didn't bring this up, though. If you had even a tiny Catholic music publisher in your turf, you'd think you'd be aware of it. (Although single-person operations might well be totally under a bishop's radar.)


Sounds like Bishop Trautman is passing the buck to Rome.

an insurmountable amount of work

Nonsense. It wasn't insurmountable when they reviewed all those catechetical textbooks. Perhaps to get it done, Bishop Trautman needs to be replaced by Archbishop Hughes.


Insurmountable. Proclaimable. Intelligible.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means.

Fr. Totton

I was interested to read the comments under the post above on Abp. Burke's intervention, but our firewall has blocked the site (presumbably because the term "sex" appears in the URL) Amy, could you repost the comments under a "more benign" URL?


But of course none of this speaks to the matter at hand. Are parish music ministers prohibited from selecting songs from other sources than OCP and GIA? If not, then what about compositions not from hymnals, such as the huge number of songs written every year by Christian composers?
Every year at the Steubenville Youth Conferences music is used at the youth Masses which does not come from OCP or GIA or any other conventional Hymnal. Who has jurisdiction? The Bishop of the diocese in Ohio? The Bishop of the local diocese where the conference is held? Or some Franciscan bishop, being that the conferences are sponsored by Franciscan University?


"The committee decided it would be better to give any guidelines to the bishops of Portland (OCP) and Chicago (GIA) and let them determine what content was appropriate or not."

If this means that the individual bishops of those diocese *alone* have the power to determine what meets the guidelines and what doesn't we're in trouble. I'm not worried about what Cardinal George will do in Chicago, but I live in Portland, OR, and Archbishop Vlasny will rubberstamp whatever OCP puts in front of him. I'm terrified that not only are we not going to lose the dreck in OCP hymnal, but archdiocesan litergists will be able to coerce parishes to conform with a cudgel of episcopal mandate for bad music. Or to put it another way, the bishops have just authorized the heart of the opposition (to doctrinal clarity) to propose the solution.


I am afraid that I am having some very uncharitable thoughts right now. I totally agree with PatB -- I foresee all of us being prohibited from singing "Adoramus Te Christe" and being forced to sing "Gather Us In." Whoever thought that the underground church in the U.S. would begin for musical reasons?


Worrying of this type is pointless. Parishes have always been on the front lines for musical choices. Nobody forces people to use what's in the missalettes. Or even to buy them. For that matter, nobody forces pastors to hire competent musical leadership.

My understanding is that if you want chant and polyphony, hire someone with a background in early music, not an organist. If you want theologically sounds texts, hire somebody with a theology degree instead of music.

Terry, to answer your question, the bishop of Steubenville would seem to be lined up for jurisdiction on the Steubenville hymnal.

And let's remember that this discussion isn't about musical quality, but about the texts of the pieces. You can still have musical dreck in the new system, but you have more of a guarantee of the theological soundness of the words while you wince at the music.

Bottom line: nobody can legislate artistic quality.


Artistic quality is not the issue. The primary question is negative: whether there is theological error in what we sing at Mass. Why that is even a question is beyond me, except that it obviously is not a settled issue. The secondary question is whether the faith life of the people is positively nourished by the songs sung at Mass. The answer is largely NO.

(Then MAYBE we can talk about matters of musical style, which bishops actually do have the competence to legislate.)

For now, let's keep our eye on the ball. People sing ERROR. At Mass. Every week. At the same time that the bishops are working very hard on catechetics, people go away humming error.


Sorry, Kathy, but the issue for many complainers is musical quality. I've never heard of "error" described as "dreck."

In context, I doubt that "error" is very widespread. As a matter of deviation from pet views of the Church, well, that's not only another story, but a very old one, too.


I'm not too concerned about "complainers," Todd, but about what the bishops had an opportunity to do today and failed.

Pet views of the Church? Yes, I suppose the doctrines of grace, the Eucharist, creation, the Trinity, and salvation could be described in that way. And it is a very old story indeed. The Arian heresy became widespread--why? Because people set it to music.

David L Alexander

I'm afraid this is truly a case of buck-passing. The bishops have taken the easy way out before, in the hopes that Rome would play "the bad guy," most recently in the case of liturgical translations. In addition, liturgical aids are commonly published with ecclesiastical approval or approbation by the diocese in which the publisher is based. Trautman was no doubt alluding to that. Still, it seems a general index from the bishops conference would be beneficial, especially given the results of the presentation brought to our attention by "TerryC" yesterday:


(Scroll down to "PPT Update on Music Subcommittee." Microsoft PowerPoint required.)

john m

"(T)he Conferences of Bishops...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." Liturgiam Authenticam #108

Don't forget that the Music Directory has to be submitted to Rome for recognitio. My hope and prayer is that the CDW will sling it back and require something exhibiting more collegial responsibility, along the lines of Bishop Vigneron's proposal.

Barbara Z.

Certainly error is widespread. It's a sign of how widespread when most Catholics can't even identify it as such. But even those songs which are technically free from error may not be appropriate to Mass where the focus should be on worshipping God, not reassuring ourselves that we're all just fine as long as we love everyone or do the right things. Or we sing to ourselves (eg "I Am the Bread of Life"-no I'm not; Jesus is) As Cardinal Arinze put it, we have a horizontal focus.


On a different note: Why do we need "proclamation experts" and theatrical advice in Bible translations? I'm a lector and understanding what I'm reading is more important to making the message understood than proclamation as it was taught to me. In fact the way some people proclaim can distract from the message because their manner draws more attention than what they are reading.


PatB writes:

>If this means that the individual bishops of those diocese *alone* have the power to determine what meets the guidelines and what doesn't we're in trouble. I'm not worried about what Cardinal George will do in Chicago, but I live in Portland, OR, and Archbishop Vlasny will rubberstamp whatever OCP puts in front of him.

I lived in the Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon) for fourteen years, and even now visit it regularly on business. Not infrequently I happen to participate at Masses there where Archbishop Vlazny is himself the celebrant.

I have been singularly unimpressed with his leadership (or lack thereof) in this arena, particularly because he is not only the bishop of the diocese in which OCP is located but also the chairman of its board of directors (so also, incidentally, is Cardinal William Levada!).

If it were a simple matter of his "feeling out of his league" on matters pertaining to liturgical music, I could understand that. But Archbishop Vlazny is the only priest – let alone 'bishop' – I have ever encountered who knows how to chant the prayers of the Mass according to the tones given in the Appendix to the Sacramentary...and does at every stational Mass. From this I conclude that he has no passing interest in or knowledge of music.

What makes this particularly discouraging is that His Excellency is also a member of the USCCB's Subcommittee on Liturgical Music. Somethin' here about the goat tending the garden?


Barbara Z - Be careful, the Gregorian propers (which, according to Musicam sacram, the congregation should sing) do include “I am the bread of life”.



Yes, the voice of God issue has pretty much played itself out. Numerous antiphons put the words of God in the people's mouths, often without the qualifier "says the Lord." Before Vatican II, I'd worry about that slightly, but I think we have a more Biblically literate laity these days.

By the way, I think Arinze is dead wrong about the horizontal focus. More of a concern would be superior attitudes of clergy who are poor presiders.


"The horizontal focus" is part of a theological/ anthropological shift that is often thought to be part of the teaching of Vatican II, when in reality it is part of the misinterpretation of Vatican II.

We don't worship ourselves. We depend utterly on God in Christ. The sense of childlike joy in our dependence on God is almost completely lost in the Pelagianism of the present day.


"The sense of childlike joy in our dependence on God is almost completely lost in the Pelagianism of the present day."

I don't see this at all. I think you're looking too hard and with too critical of an eye. The case for pelagianism is way overstated.

At any rate, if an earthly focus is merited in liturgy, I'd rather it be on the laity than the clergy.


Arinze is absolutely right about the horizontal focus in the New Mass. We are to focus on God, not on each other. The melody of "I am the Bread of Life" is poor quality music. The Mass should have only high quality music. It is ,after all, for His Glory and not ours. The same goes for the architecture. God is all worthy to receive the best, the most beautiful and the highest quality music . Does God somehow not merit it nowadays?


Todd, your mode of arguing has completely degenerated into, "Oh no, you're wrong." Not much there, there. Maybe we could pick it up a little?


"Maybe we could pick it up a little?"

Try my blog. Comment boxes aren't places to write theses. They are natural places for arguments on all sides to wither and die.


That's the spirit, Todd.

On the contrary: comment boxes, like anyplace Christians meet, are supernatural places where truth might be found.


The combox on this topic at The New Liturgical Movement is speculating about the possibility of replacing the word "progressives" with the word "levellers." Kinda has a nice ring to it.

Meanwhile, here's a drafty new bit of verse:

The Lord's right hand, his holy arm
Protect the Church from ev'ry harm.
We fear not, though the earth should quake
Though all the prime foundations shake
The Lord is ever close at hand
And by His strength the Church shall stand.


I don't really recognize the authority of a combox to change a word I rather like. But I'm not surprised they've descended to what is essentially name-calling. See what I mean about comboxes?


I don't really recognize the authority of a combox to change a word I rather like. But I'm not surprised they've descended to what is essentially name-calling. See what I mean about comboxes?


I do agree with you insofar as when somebody decides to degrade a combox it can be done.

Well done.

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