onsdag 18 april 2012

Concerts in Catholic churches

I have always been disturbed by concerts in Catholic churches. The Blessed Sacrament remains in the tabernacle and has to be treated with due reverence. There is also the matter of what should, and what should not, take place on the Sanctuary. The latter can be solved if the choir is in the gallery.

There remains the matter of the music itself. This is often liturgical music of some kind, for example, a setting of the Mass. Yet it is rare in most parishes these days to find classical Mass settings used within the liturgy itself, which is precisely the purpose for which they were written.

A classical Mass setting in an authentic liturgical context would not consist of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei (ie the Ordinary) sung straight off without a break, but would include the Proper and readings.

Thus, before the Kyrie would come an Asperges or Vidi Aquam, followed by the Introit, and after the Gloria would come the Epistle, Gradual and Alleluia, then the Gospel, Creed, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Communion. The Proper would be sung to the traditional ancient Gregorian chants, and the Ordinary would take up little more than one-third of the total time of the Mass.

To sing the Ordinary straight off makes it difficult to understand the context of the music, as well as being very hard work for a choir.

This is, then, a plea for an end to concerts in Catholic churches. Guest choirs should instead be welcomed for the contribution they can make to real live liturgies.

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