Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Msgr. Grau: "Truly Dreadful Liturgical Music"

The New Liturgical Movement blog has posted a paper given at the 20th general assembly of the FIUV (Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce) last November by Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music. The title of the paper is IMPLICATIONS OF A CENTENARY: PONTIFICAL INSTITUTE FOR SACRED MUSIC (1911-2011).
I offer here a few interesting highlights from the paper, along with a little commentary.
First, note that the author is the current president of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, which was established in 1911. For one hundred years, the Church has had a body devoted to sacred music! In addition, the Institute was formed after years of consideration of liturgical music reform, and 8 years after Pope Pius X’s motu proprio on liturgical music, Tra le sollecitudini.
The upshot is that the mind of the Church on liturgical music has basically been largely ignored for over a century.
Here are a few interesting quotes, with my editorial comments, from Msgr. Grau’s talk:
This one is a sore point: the rampant wave of false and truly dreadful liturgical music in our churches.
That dreadful music, is, I am afraid to say, quite “rampant” in our Diocese, and is likely to remain so.
Now we must wonder: if the will of the Church has been clearly declared also in our times, how is it possible that the musical praxis in our churches distances itself in so evident a way from the same doctrine?
How indeed?! Why is it that we have been ignoring what the Church says about liturgical music for over a century? There is clearly a lack of catechesis in this area! In addition, there is a mindset in our Church today that we should be able to select “more relevant” music – as in “contemporary” music. We forget that what’s “contemporary” today becomes an “oldie-but-not-so-goodie” in a very short period of time. In the end, our liturgical music becomes dated, not fashionable. It needs to be timeless. And:
Liturgical music must be “universal”, that is acceptable to any kind of audience. Today it is difficult to find good music composed with this essential characteristic. I do not discuss the artistic value of certain contemporary productions, even sacred, but I think that it would not be opportune to insert them in the Sacred Liturgy. One cannot transform the “oratory” into “laboratory”.
And here, Msgr. Grau addresses the problem of willful manipulation of the documents, and the resulting musical mess we find ourselves in:
The second aspect of the problem derives from a false interpretation of the conciliar [Vatican II] doctrine on Sacred Music. As a matter of fact, the post-conciliar liturgical “renewal”, including the almost total lack of mandatory rules at a high level, has allowed a progressive decay of liturgical music, at the point of becoming, in the most cases, “consumer music” according to the parameters of the most slipshod easy-listening music. This sad practice sometimes determines attitudes of petulant rejection towards genuine Sacred Music, of yesterday and today, maybe composed in a simple manner, but according to the rules of Art.
Be sure to read the full article at The New Liturgical Movement.

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