A Glass of Chianti

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A couple of finds

(both thanks to The Shrine)

The first is a PowerPoint presentation from the USCCB's Subcommitte on Music and the Liturgy setting forth their guidelines for liturgical music. It starts off pretty great with things that should guide music and song selection at the parish level:
Individual songs should be consonant with Catholic teaching and free from theological error

The repertoire of liturgical songs in any given setting should not manifest a collective bias against Catholic theological elements.
That's all good. It goes on to say in the next couple of slides something like "Guys, the songs that are in wide use kind of suck theologically" and then lays out reasons. (Paraphrased)
1. Ummmm... there are lots of titles for God that we can use that are great, but isn't it kind of, well, odd that only 10% of the songs here use "Father"?
2. What's up with not referring to the Trinity in any of these songs? Isn't that kind of a big theologically important point?*
3. Directly quoted, because it's just awesome: "Christological? Only 35% of the songs referred to Christ."

It sounds great. Really. The problem comes at the end when they say this:
Within two years, the Committee on the Liturgy shall formulate a Common Repertoire of Liturgical Songs for use in all places where the Roman Liturgy is celebrated in the Dioceses of the United States of America. This Common Repertoire will be included in all worship aides used in the dioceses of the United States of America.
I have concerns about this. While I do think having a book of common songs would foster greater singing participation (we'll talk about that in a later post, perhaps) the politics involved in what gets included in the book are going to be messy. Also, given that some of the Haugen-Haas stuff is certain to be in the book (see, above) it makes it all the harder for anyone (including priests and music ministers) to object. "It's in the approved book, so it must be OK" is just something that I don't want to hear ever. This music seal of approval could be used not only by people unfriendly to traditionalists to avoid singing lovely hymns and songs that just didn't make the cut due to a lack of a lobbying body but also to discourage new songs from being written for the Mass. ("I'm sorry, Sarah, I know that we could send your new setting of "Ave Maria" to the bishop for approval, but our policy is that we just use pieces that are the common book.") This whole thing just strikes me as a nightmare on wheels just waiting to happen.

Maybe this could all be avoided if the Committee just took this as their guide:

*Isn't that, at least, one of the things we tell the Mormons?