We have previously noted the always pertinent writings of Father Shelton in the United States. Recently he drew attention to a core issue relating to music and the Liturgy :


"Would You Rather Sing at Mass, or Hear Gregorian Chant?"

via Father Shelton by Father Shelton on 7/9/12

Yes, those of you who love the Roman liturgical tradition will be right in noting that this is a strange question, but it is one which I saw posted on the U.S. Bishops' official news service (CNS)Facebook page last year, and one which I think many Catholics of the Latin Church might ask. Let's take a closer look at the question.
First, we should know that Gregorian chant is a means of singing sacred texts, especially Biblical ones, in a manner that facilitates meditation (it slows down liturgical proclamation), increases audibility (as opposed to shouting a recited text), 'plucks the strings' of our emotions (rather than just engaging our intellects), and does so without need of altering the original text. In fact, Gregorian chant must conform itself to the text, while modern hymns use a text that conforms itself to the music. Notice that even modern music that sticks to the original text often adds refrains, and repetition of words and phrases, not found in the original.
Second, Gregorian chant is the form of liturgical music that grew organically in and around Rome after Catholicism became a public religion in the Roman Empire, that is, after the Church could concentrate on such things as music instead of burying martyrs. Gregorian chant, therefore, is the one and only form of music that by its very nature can be said to be 'proper' to the Roman Mass. Others forms of suitable music may be admitted into the Roman Mass, but may never claim a dominant place, or claim any rights, over Gregorian chant. Gregorian chant is the proper music of the Roman Mass and Roman Office.
Third, while Gregorian chant historically has some extreme varieties, usually developed among 'professional' singers in places such as monasteries and cathedrals, and while it has nearly vanished from parish life at different times and places during its history, it always retains its simplicity, which means the average priest and congregation can sing its simpler versions, at least regarding the Ordinary (unchanging parts) of the Mass and Divine Office.
Therefore, we must conclude that usually the best way for clergy and congregants to sing at a Roman Mass, O.F. or E.F., is to do so employing mostly Gregorian chant. I'm open to counter-arguments, but you'll have to do some serious arguing to convince me otherwise.

P.S. Although I hesitate to say so in an age when those unable to construct a well-reasoned argument for their position, and against an opponent's, think it sufficient to say, "I'm offended by your position", expecting that to be the end of it, I will say that I find myself increasingly personally offended whenever another Catholic accuses me of being counter or pre- Vatican II, just because I advocate some traditional belief or practice that has fallen out of popular favor in recent decades (e.g. Gregorian chant). 

Therefore, I'm on the verge of demanding that anyone who dares to accuse me of being anti-Vatican II darn well better provide concrete proof of their claim against me from the documents of that Council, "chapter and verse", or else give me an apology. In other words, such false and ignorant--if not malicious--claims not only damage my right to a good reputation within the Church, but down right offend me, and I think I'm going to start making sure people know it.

What do you think?
Perhaps I'll start some sort of "Anti-False-Anti-Vatican II Defamation League". The title may need work."


Having assisted regularly at Parish Masses where the several choirs at different times of day have manifested a VERY "catholic"selection of music , so that at the end of Mass one feels one has attended a concert in which a little bit of everything ( anything?) has been incorporated, the good, the bad and the downright ugly ( as long as the music ladies like it for THEIR voices), I agree with Father Shelton.

It is the Sacred Liturgy we come to assist at. It is the whole focus of our attention. What complements it is required , what does not, or is even entirely other, has no place. The Holy Mass has its proper music - it is Gregorian Chant which grew out of the ancient Rabbinical Chants of the Jews which Jesus Himself and His Apostles sang. In its noble simplicity it is very democratic - anyone can sing it! Indeed , with scarcely two or three Masses to practice, the entire congregation can join in, filling the church with truly Sacred Music - actually singing the words of the Sacred Liturgy. And the effect is immense and powerful and inspiring! 

That should suffice to satisfy even those who don't understand the true meaning of "active participation"! The simple Mass settings "Missa Orbis Factor"and "Missa de Angelis"are great mainstays, and with the help of a choir, parts can be enhanced ,with organum effects to add variety.

So let us prompt those dreadful Liturgy Committees to dump Merry-Go-Round music, Israeli dance tunes and Country and Western schmaltz songs, as well as Boot - Scootin' Hand Clappin' good ole Country tunes, in the pop music Dumpster where they belong. Let us honour the Sacred Liturgy , rather than beating it up to honour us with " We ....We...."Songs! Let us dump "catholic"taste and take hold of "CATHOLIC'" liturgical music as original as the Holy Mass itself.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


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