Friday, October 19, 2007

I can feel his pain:

Can you feel the bass of the timpani? The exultant melody of the oboe and French horns? The majesty of the trombones? The purity of the voices? This should be the ideal music to be played in churches, but because of post-"Vatican 2", I have to suffer with dirge-like Tagalog drivel like "Hindi Kita Malilimutan" or the Ilonggo mass songs penned by a deaf-mute vagrant from the Plaza that are being sung on off-key notes at the Cathedral.

But that part blaming the Council got me. Fr. Fox should've posted this earlier:

In the century or so leading up to Vatican II, it was becoming routine to use hymns, in the vernacular, at Mass, instead of some of the sung prayers called for at Mass—which were in Latin.

You see, when you have Mass, in Latin, English or whatever, many people don’t realize that the music for Mass is not something “added” by the musician, chosen by a liturgy committee.

Rather, the Mass itself—I mean, the Missal, the book of all the prayers and readings to be used—already gives us the text of the music to use! Not many people know that—I bet not many here, knew that.

But what happens at most Masses is that we don’t use all that music; instead, we use hymns, such as “All Creatures of our God and King” or “On Eagles Wings” or what have you. This trend, however, did not begin with Vatican II—as I say, it goes back about a century before.

Are you curious why? Of course you are!

The reason is that the music that was being substituted for is Gregorian chant, in Latin. Why it happened we could talk about, but that’s more than we have time for. It started in Germany and happened in a lot of the Church—including in this country! It had become widespread into the 1800s, and various folks tried to respond to this.

This is when the “Liturgical Movement” got started, in the mid-1800s! This led to Pope Pius X calling for a restoration of Gregorian chant in 1903! And this “new” movement in the liturgy continued to work itself out, playing a major role in the work of the Second Vatican Council!

My point is, right or wrong, the goal of all this wasn’t to be rid of all that musty old chant, but to restore it! That is surprising, if you view the Council from too narrow a point of view. When you view the Council, instead, from the larger “zoom out,” then what the Council said takes on a very different meaning: In Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Council Fathers called for Gregorian chant to be given “pride of place” (Paragraph 112).

What’s funny is that if you go to a parish, and they sing the opening Introit, in Latin chant, they are fulfilling Vatican II; but if you go to a parish—most parishes in this country—and you hear, “Glory and Praise to our God,” they are actually being “pre-Vatican II”!

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