Tuesday, 10 May 2011

New Roman Missal for Canada, Canadian Compositions

Oh Vox is in the mood for a rant!

Of course the good news is that the corrected translation of the 2002 Roman Missal will implemented in Canada in November on the First Sunday of Advent.

The bad news is the musical setting of at least one of the Masses commissioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

If you can stand any more than about 20 seconds, I'll be surprised.

Go here and listen.

Yeah, that's what I thought you'd do.

The most fundamental papal document about sacred music is the Motu proprio of St. Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini of November 22, 1903 in which the Saint wrote:

“Sacred music must, therefore, possess in the highest degree the qualities which characterize the liturgy. In particular it must possess holiness and beauty of form: from these two qualities a third will spontaneously arise—universality.”

This composition is as far from this sentence as one can get!

As someone who has worked for twenty-five years in church music and its restoration, as someone who is published and who is educated in what the Church desires in Her worship, this is not it.

The Gloria in particular is simply unsingable by a congregation; then again, I did not get past the first 30 seconds because I couldn't stand it. Where is the "actuoso participationem" in this musical drivel?

I will attend the Toronto workshop in a few weeks to see and hear for myself the rest of these settings. If these are no better than this piece of banal musical garbage that the so-called "professional liturgists"at the CCCB think is in keeping with sacred music then they should be literally, fired for incompetence.

To think, royalties from your parish will be paid to the composer of this trash.

Now what do I know, after all, according to an American-born, Toronto-based Toronto media cleric, I am not a "professional liturgist" so what do I know.

I will not sing or promote this trash and if the other two compositions are of the same calibre it will be another ajbect failure on the part of Canada's bishops to restore the liturgy.

Instead, it will be up to young Priests, Cantors and Choir Directors to be strong and motivated to do that which is in harmony with the mind of the Church and it is not this musical drivel.

So, at the parish in Toronto where I provide the music as Cantor for the Ordinary Form, this is the plan.

1. Concentration on the ICEL setting which are based on the Gregorian tones and only ICEL settings of the Memorial Acclamations.

2. Continued use of existing Kyrie and Agnus Dei from Father Somerville's New Good Shepherd, Proulx's Community and Togni's Parish Masses.

3. Easy adaptation of "power and might" to "hosts" in the Sanctus of all three. In fact, the Good Shepherd and Parish Mass were originally scored for "hosts" for the 1965 Missal and had to be adapted for the incorrect translation we've been forced to endure for forty years.

4. A re-introduction of Father Stephen Somerville's original Good Shepherd Gloria from 1965 (I am fortunate enough to have a copy) with the change of one word, "men" on a quarter note to "people" on two eighths. This Gloria was always the correct translation.

5. Slow and cautious introduction of new compositions which follow the principles of sacred music so much of which is offered for free by the Church Music Association of America and Corpus Christi Watershed.

Now, in case you are wondering what it should sound like as far as chant is concerned which can be best described as "sung prayer" here is an example of the Gloria, lovingly sung, to the tone from Mass XV which will be in the new Missal. This is based on the ancient Gloria and is the oldest known of all Gregorian settings from the 900's. Yes, you read that correctly, the tenth century.

Now, did you listen to this? Can you compare it to that composed by Dawson?

Which to you evokes prayer and worship and solemnity and devotion and the Catholic liturgy?

Now, my question for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, John Dawson and the other "professional liturgists" out there, of which I am not one is this: "If this is actually in the new Roman Missal and it has been available on the web from ICEL for almost a year, why did you not consider that this in fact, is the style of music most suited to the Roman Liturgy? Or, did you actually consider it and you chose simply to ignore it?

Priests, friends and colleagues in Church music. You don't need the CCCB's settings. You don't need the banality of this pulp. You don't need any more ugliness. You can find everything you need for the liturgy, free on the web and above are just some of the links.

Now, my next question; "Where are the Propers?"

Oh, they're here in the Simple Propers Project which I use every Saturday Vigil Mass in Toronto.

For something more elaborate; feast your eyes and ears on this soon to be published gem.


Anonymous said...

I went, I listened. Then I laughed out loud.

And then, when I realized that this was for real........I cried.
That has to be the worst music I have ever heard, next to the band that plays for the local "outdoor" pentecostal church. They have summer services on Sunday evenings in my area. And they also have electric guitars etc. And they sound exactly like this. Bad...........

Anil Wang said...

Straight out of the sixties. I half expected to hear a score of Puff the Magic Dragon in the mix.

Thankfully, younger Catholics will soundly reject this trash, whether they are traditional or worldly (for different reasons).

They do have some cheek calling that a chant. Chanting is not singing, it is a prayer of the heart.

Not at all surprising. If you look at the criteria for music:

you'll see music is judged on purely secular terms. None of the criteria match those on Vatican II's Musicam Sacram .

passiderae said...

This music is a joke. It is stuff like this that drove me to quit my parish choir and join the Latin Mass choir in my area.

And I'm 25 :)

Mike said...

Maybe Friday we will feel a small bit of relief?


Owen said...

Sometimes I wonder, why did I convert from evangelical Protestantism?

admin said...

Dear Vox,

As an alternative to a lot of this awful music, I have written a congregational setting of the new translation with SATB choral writing, that I invite you to listen to. Perhaps this might relieve you of your despair - not all new Church music is bad...


Yours in prayer and beauty,


Vox Cantoris said...

Owen, brother!

You converted because it was true, all of it, even despite the mess we have made of the one true faith!

Julian Barkin said...

Alright, Vox. I read your blog specifically to keep up with TLM related news and the New Missal. Usually I'm a center-right kind of guy with my politics in the Church as a laymember and hang around other blogs you probably don't, but I do have to come out on this one as a young male and will give Anil something to say he's right about at the dinner table tonight.

First, my small negative $0.02. As much as we'd all like our masses to be perfect with everything in Gregorian chant, it won't be a quick reality, if at all for years. Fr. Z. on his blog describes that for the Church to be restored liturgically the "Biological solution" will need to take place. Even still other laity might unknowingly or with misguided consciences support the libbies still and fight against others including other laity. So expect a tough road ahead for Gregorian chant to reach back into many Catholic parishes (e.g. urban centers and traditional ones will fare better in this regard than the small parish in the small township)

Now my good $0.02. I clicked on the links and listened to 4/5 recordings, mostly in full. That was horrible music for hippies. Hopefully good modern church choirs without strings and with organ will be able to make it sound 1/2 decent if it is chosen at all. Otherwize, If that happens I feel like I should show up to mass as a 60's hippie. I will never act that out in reality, because I mostly dress modest for my NO Mass, and I'd bear with it cause I KNOW WHAT MASS IS ABOUT!!! When you know the Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, the re-presentation of Christ's triduum and you believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, almost no thing can stop you. But you get my drift. No way to this version of the music for mass, although perhaps you could share with us others? I think I saw a site once with various formations in progress (ICEL????)

Vox Cantoris said...

Hello Julian,

Well, being kind of right of the Common Sense Revolution (people in Ontario will remember this), we may indeed read the same blogs!

I agree with you and it will take time, many years in fact. WE can't have full Gregorian chant everywhere, but we can embrace something like The Simple Propers Project and banish the music that is the antithesis of liturgy.

It is up to all of us to work for it and demand it, not something we've done very well.

People are not stupid, they know what is good and what is not. I defy anyone to tell me that the Sanctus in the later post above by Chris is not beautiful and eminently singable by a congregation with a sound soaring up to heaven on its hosannas!

Go to some of the links in this post for some examples of what it should like!

Anonymous said...

Please help! I listened and I can' believe that some parishes will choose this. I wish the CCCB would ask all parishes to learn the ICEL Mass chants - this would be our universal English chant. I have no problem learning other settings but please ..... Vox what do you feel about the setting of St. John by OCP? Apparently there is a parish presently using the the St. john's Gloria right now. I can't find it on the OCP website.

Vox Cantoris said...

Anonymous 7:13. Is it this?


Oh my...I couldn't get past highest. This is laughable.

I don't think I could bear the other settings.

Julian Barkin said...

Vox, thanks for the memory jot. This was the site I couldn't remember and has a number (not all are good but some are better than others) of better quality Mass compositions besides the one you sent us to.


John Behr said...

interesting idea to use Somerville's original Good Shepherd Gloria. Could you please hint where you found it? Maybe in some collection?... there are good real libraries nearby... (I see that CBW Original 1972 already has a 'new' Good Shepherd Mass with the present translation -- although the music is quite different from the present 'new' Good Shepherd Mass :) )

Vox Cantoris said...

Hello John,

The original 1972 Catholic Book of Worship includes a Gloria with the Good Shepherd Mass but that was a quick put together by Msgr. T. Barret Armstrong for the "new" and INCORRECT translation. That translation by ICET (International Consultation on English Texts) was "Ecumenical." So, for the sake of pleasing Protestant Heretics we spent 40 years singing the wrong words...Oh, don't get me started.

Father Somerville published the "New Good Shepherd Mass" in 1971 but probably too late to go to print in Catholic Book of Worship. However it did make it in the 1980 edition of CBWII and became a staple.

His original was written in 1965 for what we thought then was the "new Mass" which of course was the "Tridentine" Mass in English, facing the people with a few prayers chopped, simplified rubrics and of course, no Propers or Gregorian chant. All was not good in that period or before either.

The original setting is in two keys starting in G Major then to D Major and back to G. There are little anticipations of his Lamb of God on "you who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us" something totally lost by necessity with the incorrect language.

It is a lovely English Gloria.

Now, where to find it.

I have a paper copy in its original sheet music booklet.

It is also available in the little brown St. Joseph's Missal which was the pew missal for the 1965 Mass. But it is hard to find as it must be the "Canadian Edition."

But this is only the melody; I don't have Father Somerville's original arrangement, though it won't be that hard to chord.

John Behr said...

thanks for fixing my misattribution of that CBW I Gloria to Somerville and not Armstrong (my copy of the instrumental edition is missing that page, but the pew edition has it clear). Of course my interest in an early Somerville gloria is spurred by the CBW II and III version sung across Canada. I will look around for the 'little brown St. Joseph's missal' melody, but in reality the local composers have things under control, so please don't worry further.

Pascendi said...

Grotesque and angular.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I'm writing in Jan 2012 in Victoria. We've had to put up with this for a few months - it makes us want to gouge our ears out. How much longer will we be tortured this way? It sounds like very bad music from a mediocre movie from the early 70's ! As the father of a teenager I can see this driving youth from being engaged with the mass. Heck, it will drive young adults, middle aged people and old people who can still hear to distraction from true prayer. Maybe they'll reduce their contributions to normal parish collections. Maybe St Vincent de Paul will see a boost in donations as people send donations there instead as a way of sending a message to the Bishops.