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Wednesday 29 June 2011

A Call for a Toronto Liturgical Movement!

In an Archdiocese where the late Monsignor John Edward Ronan founded the world famous St. Michael's Choir School, how did the Catholic liturgy in general and church music in particular in Toronto fall so far from the ideal? How did his vision of a school to provide music for the Cathedral and Archdiocese become such a failure?

Lest I provoke anger amongst the alumni or current students or professional staff let me state quite clearly, I love and support St. Michael's Choir School. While not an alumnus, I was invited to attend in 1963 but due to family issues I could not attend. Through the grace of God, music and liturgy have been part of my life since the age of 32, late perhaps, but better late than never. I also came to know many through three seasons singing with The Victoria Scholars a decade ago.

It has been a failure, not because of the Monsignor, the boys, the teachers then or now, it is a failure because somebody in almost each and every parish is preventing it from being anything else but. (As an aside, that is not the case at the Toronto parish where we had the Missa Solemnis last week; that Pastor employs organists and cantors from the School...thank you Father K!).

Where is the model that it should be for the rest of the Archdiocese? Why have we ignored this treasure. We have done so to our loss and the loss of our faith.

Parish priests, bishops, liturgists, amateur choir leaders, you have failed Msgr. Ronan, Msgr. Armstrong, Miss Mann, and their vision. You have failed the boys then and those now. You fail all the teachers and conductors there today. How is it possible that this school can be so present with its high standard of music and repertoire and yet most of what we have in our parishes is no better than anywhere else?

Why are choir school alumni singing as Cantors in Synagogues?

Why are they singing in Protestant worship communities?

Why are you Father, not insisting that you have an organist or cantor educated and trained at St. Michael's Choir School so that they don't have to sing in Jewish or Anglican congregations to use their artistic gifts. Don't tell me that they should sing in a Catholic Church, regardless. Why? To sing On Eagle's Wings, or worse? That is not what they trained for.

Why are you not paying your Cantor or Organist?

Why do you allow a gaggle of pretenders to take take such control of liturgy when you have this resource?

What affect has this had on liturgy and church music?

What are we all going to do about it?

This Archdiocese must have an Office of Sacred Liturgy and Divine Worship with the mandate to advise and teach and train on liturgical matters; I don't believe at all that one should say you must sing "this setting" but I do agree that a bishop can say you "cannot" sing that "setting" but only when his order is in harmony with true church music and what the Church desires.

How often do we write over and over again from St. Pius X and Tra le sollecitudini to Blessed John Paul II Chirograph on Sacred Music we keep ignoring them at our peril. Is anyone listening?

We owe Msgr. Ronan, Msgr. Armstrong and Miss Mann an apology.

Toronto needs a new liturgical movement and it needs it now.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

In Toronto: A New Translation is Clearly Not Enough!

For decades our bishops been asked to control priests who consistently change the words of Mass or show "creativity" which results in deformation of the sacred liturgy. Now when it comes to the mode of Kyrie chosen by someone with 25 years study and experience, that they're going to control! Where are they when so-called church musicians deform the liturgy every week with music not in keeping with the mind of the Church?

For one year they wish to dictate what music will be used? Will that really mean no Marty Haugen? No more "Alleluia-cha, cha, cha."

It is posted on the Archdiocese of Toronto blog, "Around the Arch" that a letter was recently sent to the parishes from Bishop John Boissonneau, Vicar of Liturgy and Chair of the Archdiocesan Roman Missal Implementation Committee. It seems that what is desired is "unity" but at what cost?

I attended the Archdiocese of Toronto workshop a few weeks ago on music for the Mass in the corrected translation of the Roman Missal.

I was encouraged to see 500 people hungry to learn. But what did they learn? That the Gloria has a refrain; that nobody would "ever want to sing a Creed"* (see below) and that Canadian church music composers have an awful lot to learn. It is quite evident that the three composers in Celebrate in Song know little about what is true liturgical music consistent with Catholic history and praxis. I felt sorry for them when they could have been given so much more. I felt sorry for the Bishop, I know for a fact that he knows more than what the CCCB has foisted upon him and all of us!

That being said, I really do think the episcopacy the musical settings have overstepped their authority. Would that they would do the same with liturgical abuse and heresy which we have had to endure from some of our priests!

On the other hand, if they are serious and intend to keep out Marty Haugen, David Haas and the rest of the trash we've had to endure then maybe that is a good thing. My problem is that the alternative is not much better and this intent will keep out better music.

Let us look at His Excellency's letter:

1. We have been informed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) that both the English translation of the revised Roman Missal and General instruction (GIRM) will take effect in dioceses throughout Canada on the First Sunday of Advent (November 27/28, 2011). Archbishop Collins has authorized that parishes may begin to learn the new, sung mass settings and employ them in the liturgy as of September 25, 2011. Other than these settings, the newly translated prayers (collects, prefaces, etc.) of the Missal may not be used without specific permission before the First Sunday of Advent. (I really don't like this. Have a workshop on Saturday afternoon. We go to Mass to worship the Triune God, FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT and to be fed the Holy Eucharist, but now we will go to practice singing to learn the new music? Let's just do it!

2. Four musical settings have been approved by the Bishops for use in Canada: three
commissioned by the CCCB and the “Chants of the Roman Missal” by the ICEL
(International Commission on English in the Liturgy). Thus, in addition to the
setting which will be found in the Missal, the CCCB also approved these settings
as presented in “Celebrate in Song”:

"Mass Setting A" by Fr. Geoffrey Angeles,
"Mass Setting B" (Mass of the Holy Family) by John Dawson,
"Mass Setting C" by Michel Guimont.

The CCCB has done the Church in Canada, our bishops, priests and you and me a diservice. These musical settings are about as far as quality church music for congregations as one can get. Frankly, they're quite dreadful and the Glorias, particularly Dawson's are near impossible for a congregation to sing with unreasonable leaps of fourths and fifths, syncopations and "D!'s. The Gloria is not metrical so is it forced to be and constant changes in Time Signature. Since when Fr. Angeles, Mr. Dawson and Mssr. Guimont, is there a "refrain" in the Gloria; the combox is open."
To help provide a spirit of unity and collaboration for all those involved in assisting our parishioners in full and active participation in the Eucharist, we are inviting
parishes to utilize two settings during the first year of implementation of the
new Roman Missal. We must be fully aware that all other settings presently being
used are not to be employed in the parishes after the First Sunday of Advent
because they do not reflect the new translation. This will be a significant change for choirs and cantors. If one is to make do this, then the Chant setting should be mandatory. I for one will not sing any of the three compositions listed above. I will use the Chant setting only with the Gloria from the Roman Missal. But my question is, "where is that Gloria from the Roman Missal? The Gloria in Celebrate in Song, IS NOT the Gloria from ICEL in the Roman Missal which is based on Gloria XV and is the oldest known dating from the 900's!)
You are invited to choose from a) ICEL Chants setting and b) one of the approved three CCCB sung settings. You can hear the settings by visiting our resources page of the Archdiocesan Roman Missal site: www.archtoronto.org/romanmissal/resources.htm.

This will allow parishioners, music ministers and clergy to collaborate on teaching and implementing musical settings that will become familiar to congregations at all masses. Please note: all the mass settings presently being used at parish liturgies need to be replaced by the new authorized settings effective the First Sunday of Advent 2011. The desire for a unity of musical settings in your parish may be challenging but your guidance and encouragement will make this exercise of decision-making a positive moment in liturgical renewal. (Let's make something clear. The Kyrie and Agnus Dei are not changing there is absolutely no reason why these need to change. Victor Togni's Parish Mass and Father Somerville's Good Shepherd Mass are perfectly acceptable. Respectfully I think they've overstepped their authority here.

4. We are aware that parishes have received other musical settings, including those from the United States. In order to foster unity, we ask all parishes to use the mass settings from the CCCB for the first year of implementation. Your cooperation is appreciated in adopting this approach in your parish.

This is poor quality church music and is inferior music to what we should have in our pews and we should be hearing music based on Gregorian modalities as prescribed in document after document!)
Thank you to all those who participated in the recent workshop related to
the music settings presented in “Celebrate in Song” and approved for use in
Canada. More than 450 people were in attendance for the gathering, a wonderful
response to the first of many planned sessions with parish musicians..

Here are the ICEL Roman Missal settings.

Someone asked the question, "Is the new translation enough?"

The answer is clearly, "No!"


While it was sponsored by the Archdiocese, I was reminded by a commenter that it was presented by the Ontario Liturgical Conference Music Commission (which has no "Contact" link on its web page) and the two main speakers were Msgr. Murray Kroetch and Ms. Sandy Milne, former "Parish Minister" at St Aloysius Catholic Church in Kitchner. The same type of workshop has been held in other host dioceses. Ms. Sandy Milne is the one who said, "They've even included a sung Creed (in the chant setting), I can't see why anyone would want to sing it."

Now, this is from an expert at a "Liturgical Commission?"

And you wonder why we're in the mess which we are in?

Ontario Liturgical Conference Music Commission presenters (l-r) Greg DeSouza, Msgr.
Murray Kroetsch, Fr. Jerry Dunn, Sandy Milne, Sharon Fazari.