Saturday, January 15, 2011

Identity: Sacred Music

Hello Gentle Readers... it has been a while since I have last posted an "Identity" entry, but the timing was right; with a long weekend at hand, and the creative writing juices flowing, I ran into the catalyst of my current post.

I recently worked on a project over the last three months of last year to create an Anthology of Sacred Polyphony musical scores as a Christmas gift for the music director at my parish. It was quite a labor of love to comb through the vast treasure of Catholic music tradition to find just 100 selected scores of music.

I always new that the Catholic music tradition was big... but as I learned more, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of just lovely, inspiring, and uplifting sacred music that was there... and I now know that I only scratched the surface.

Now I am not talking the vast quantity of Gregorian chant that fill volumes of books and manuscripts in monasteries, abbeys, and cathedrals... no, I am talking about the plethora of sacred polyphony that for centuries was the voice of the Church's prayer, springing out of, and living side-by-side with its Gregorian chant source.

There is the Roman school , the Spanish school, the English school... with great composers like Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, DuBois, Anerio, Cherubini, et alli... but here is the "kicker"... where do we now hear this sacred music? Is it in our parishes? Is it in our cathedrals? No, sadly most of this lovely music, if even performed any longer, is now to be found in concert halls!

Yes, sadly, our secular, culture-of-death, Godless society even recognizes the beauty of this music, but we do not hear it in out churches and cathedrals! Now I am perhaps being a bit harsh for the Papal liturgies are filled with this sacred music, and more and more cathedrals are being to rediscover this patrimony of the Church... but at the parish level we do not find this music which all the world can recognize when they hear it, that it is something "special"... something "awesome".

I have friends that say "oh, I prefer the folk music at Mass"... and I want it clear for the record... as an Italian, I have quite a love for folk music... but folk music is exactly what the name implies... "music of the folk"... i.e. the people! It is not God's music! Folk music is wonderful for a wedding party or dinner party, but worship of Almighty God calls for something different.

So please, someone please explain to me... why is scared music almost universally recognized as timeless and beautiful... and worthy of concert hall performance... but yet we do not hear it where it originated?

Slowly but surely, "brick by brick" as Fr. Z. would say... we are beginning to see changes, thanks to the example being set by the Holy Father, and the number of younger priests who are open to more sacred music in continuity with the Tradition of the Church, and the work of folks like Jeffrey Tucker et alli involved with getting chant and sacred polyphony more widely rediscovered and available.

Lastly, to those critics that say only a concert choir can sing that "fancy, Latin" stuff... I ask them to attend Mass at St. Ann's in Charlotte, N.C. where they will hear wonderful music from a very small amateur choir... it can happen... and it is part of our Catholic identity that we need to recover!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Grapevine: Next Missa Cantata at St. Ann's: Feast of the Annunciation - Friday, March 25

Hearing that the Schola and Servers are preparing for a Missa Cantata on Friday, March 25th at St. Ann's in for the Feast of the Annunciation... this was the Mass last year that kicked-off the wonderful series of Missae Cantatae in the new renovated St. Ann's. Let's hope this will be a fact from official published sources.