Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Ecclesia Dei Commission activitism

There have been a couple of interesting responses to queries from the Ecclesia Dei Commission that are worth noting.

First, Rorate Caeli report that the Latin Mass of England submitted a question to the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome on the right to celebrate feast days on the days assigned to them in the 1962 Calendar - even where the bishops conference has moved the celebration to the Sunday in the Ordinary Form. The response was that the right to use the 1962 liturgical books also includes the right to use the 1962 calendar - so feasts such as the Ascension can actually be celebrated on their proper date. That's good news.

The compromise in the advice is that where the bishops have moved the celebration to the Sunday, it is suggested that it would be 'appropriate' for the external solemnity to also be celebrated then too (ie two Ascensions). That isn't an ideal solution in my view given that it interferes with the propers specified for the Sunday after the Feast of the Ascension (for example) but I guess it is a reasonable compromise.

The second response, relating to Church music issues, is up on the New Liturgical Movement, and hopefully finally puts to rest the claims of those who would wish to exclude women from the schola cantorum. The original questioner noted the pattern of legislation that allowed women to sing with men prior to 1962. The response notes that 'custom and usage in the course of more recent decades' have further modified some of those stricter requirements. It basically urges a commonsense approach...and points the questioner to the musica sacra website and a recently released book on the subject.

Good to see a pragmatic but balanced approach being adopted, treating the TLM as part of the Church's living liturgy, not something fossilised in 1902 or some other magical point in time, while at the same time protecting it against the attacks of the liberals....


The Sibyl said...

Not so hastey! The PCED has no authority in these matters and therefore this document "suggests" possible answers rather than gives definitive answer.

Be mindful that the "ideal" remains a vested liturgical choir which takes it's place in the sanctuary or stalls.

A carful study of the reasons why S. Pius X restored this model will reveal that this went very much against the tide, and indeed that was his intention. The great threefold model of the motu proprio "tra le solicitudine" seems to have been entirely overlooked particularly in most english speaking countries.

Firstly, the Scholæ Cantorum which he wished to re-establish "even in country parishes" where ment to train the people (congregation) to sing their parts (dialogue and ordinary) during the liturgy again, after centuries of being silenced by mixed choirs in galleries.

Secondly,he effectively clericalised the role of the singers giving greater prominence to the role of music in the liturgy to show, as it were, that music was an integeral part of the liturgy and not merey ornamental, sung by disembodied voices in a gallery somewhere.

Thirdly, but not less important was it's part in the establishment of Musical formation and training. It's function as a type of Musical Elementary School was perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Popes intention, followed closely in the by "Higher institues of sacred music".

The present reality is a result of the churches failure to properly implement the famous motu proprio choosing rather mediocrity, hence the current malaise in Australia, a country that has NOT ONE "higher School of Church Music" and in which the church neither encourages nor cares about the development or use of church music.

In Germany one of the few place where the model was adopted (albeit somewhat adjusted), Church musicians abound; the church runs musical high schools and employs only properly trained musicians who as part of their studies, have covered Hymnody, polypony, Gregorian Chant, voice training and conducting.

How many of us would have considered a career in church music had we been encouraged?

Let's not be too quick to settle for pragmatic solutions however enticing, Pius X's bold model needs to be re-examined, and if needs be tweeked, not relegated to the waste paper basket by correspondence from the PCED with Mrs Kafoops who thought she shouldn't sing at Mass after misreading Pius X's motu proprio!


Terra said...

Ha! I knew someone would bite.

Clericalising the role of singers was, in my view a mistake - the start of the current rot whereby everyone is a 'minister'. It also encourages a boys playing dressups mentality.

While I agree with the idea of training the congregation and especially children to sing, the schola cantorum was never going to be an effective way to do that. In our own time, the various scholas mostly seem to aim at stopping the congregation from singing the parts proper to them rather than facilitating them or training newcomers.

Moreover, so much wonderful music has been written with the choirloft in mind that it's negelct today is as much a crime in my view, as the neglect of the chant.

Michael Sternbeck. said...

Well I'm certainly glad you qualified the above ill-informed remarks, Terra, with the words "in my view".

The Sibyl said...


Terra said...

Ill-informed Michael?

That I take a different view on the merits of something doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm talking about. Be more specific please, so I can defend myself!