Friday, May 28, 2010

Making Book

As Aristotle says - and I totally agree - the wise man never gambles. But it might be fun, or even useful, to ponder betting on how long it will be before the new English version of the latest Roman Missal, with the alleged return to decent music that goes with it, will drive the slop from the current liturgy in more churches than one really wants to count.
Just in, you see, Jeffrey Tucker's cautiously hopeful account of what will eventually be coming to a parish near you, or if you live in England, Marianne tells me, is already happening is some areas there. Some hope does seem to be on the way. Jeffrey today published his comment on the New Liturgical Movement website, and I asked her to print it. The last thing I asked her to print out was the suddenly lengthy body of her own poetic works, so you can see how pleased I was by Jeffrey's observations.
It can only be some hope, the best you can expect when an organization is still trying to function without accepting as a matter of course that it must live up to its original charter, or face varying degrees of failure in its day to day operation, but it's better than no hope at all. After all, every honest auto mechanic knows that if he refuses to use his training - to say nothing of the principles of physics and chemistry - when he is rebuilding a carburetor, he should not be surprised if the car won't run properly. So when the bishops of the Church, seemingly universally, refuse to honour even the initial sentences of a document of Vatican Two, that is, Sacrosanctum Concilium, they must expect a pitiful liturgy. The document insisted that Gregorian Chant be given "pride of place". It has not been given this, by and large, and thus it is difficult to take pride in the current liturgies.
This has not stopped various so-called authorities - should we call them liars or fools? - from trying to tell us that the modern hymns "invigorate" congregations, but none of this has deceived God, who finds it very easy to know whether or not the prayer that arises in a song is genuine or not. He also knows that he who sings garbage is not "singing well", and therefore is not only not "praying twice" but not praying at all. Jeffrey has some great stuff on what the waltz time congregations actually accomplish in their state of inspirational deprivation, and perhaps even more valuable insight on the mental states of the people who have composed this stuff.
My own particular parish has a unique problem, in that most of its most knowledgeable singers and musicians are mystics, that is, souls made by God - not themselves - to be experts in prayer. Thus, they are made to sing, or not sing, through the actions of the Holy Spirit, who, when He does not approve the chosen text and tune, is awfully good at making them shut up. Now, as  these people once upon a time were the chief vocal, and occasionally keyboard, most genuinely invigorating leaders of the parish liturgy, all genuine "vibrancy" - filthy word in the mouths of most, these days, but I use it to make a point - has been lost for some time. It returns occasionally, at Christmas, or at other times if a real hymn happens to make the list for the day, but generally it has been lost for years, even more than a decade, as the parish became mired in its complete lack of congregational taste or clerical leadership.
But because of the former tradition, which, in total orthodoxy, used to "rock the place" in a fashion Mick Jagger himself would have envied, and the Beatles could never have dreamed of, the parishioners all know who has put class to rest, and who also can bring it back if the music is acceptable to God and those men who are still men.
We are told the new music just might be available around here for Advent of 2011. In the meantime, I conclude my keyboard researches, swank out on the fretted instruments,  and work out the basics for getting the great McDaniel smarted up on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. A piece of cake, when you know the numbers, and he told me the other day he heard it around the house, a lot,  when he was a kid. His Dad was very fond of classical music.
Gee. Just think. If they'd made McDaniel senior a bishop, we just might not be so far behind the eight ball.

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