söndag 16 juni 2013

Horrible liturgy last Sunday

This was the Introit for last Sunday, the 11th of the year.

The translation is
Hearken, O Lord, unto my voice which has called out to you; deign to be my help, forsake me not, do not despise me, O God my Saviour. Ps. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

We did not get to hear it at my local church. Instead, Mass kicked off with a blast on the organ that would have been right for the start of a circus, followed by a version of "Morning has broken", the children's hymn that was recorded by Cat Stevens in the 1970s. The rest of the liturgy was pretty dire as well.

I mentioned this to some friends over coffee afterwards. They couldn't see the point I was trying to make. Their response, and it is a widespread view, is that Protestant hymns are a good thing to have in the Catholic Mass because we should be ecumenical in our choice of music. The problem with this is that the texts might not even be in accordance with Catholic doctrine, but even if they were, it means that the texts and associated music that have belonged to Catholic the liturgy for more than a millenium get squeezed out and replaced by something that does not belong. This is like putting one's heirlooms of Old Master paintings in the attic and replacing them by cheap prints.

Apart from being inappropriate, this was in breach of the regulations in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. The latest version (2002) says:

"There are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan."

How "Morning has broken" is an appropriate or suitable substitute for a entrance antiphon on a penitential theme - the readings were about Mary Magdalen - is beyond my understanding. I would guess that it was chosen because of the Cat Stevens association.

It didn't get any better as things went on. The Ordinary was one I had never heard before, the first of the readers swallowed most of his words, the sermon was too long, there is no musical setting to the Creed in Swedish but nobody thought to sing Credo 3 even though the parish all know it, and we finished with that piece of Victorian Anglican bombast Holy, Holy, Holy to the setting by J B Dykes. I was glad when it was over and could not get out of the church fast enough.

Praying for a power cut

The organ was grotesquely loud for most of the time, drowning out the singing, with the organist bashing out discords in the bass, creating unpleasant sounds that could be felt rather than heard. I ended up praying for a power cut. It was not answered.

I gather that there have been complaints about the organist for years and the parish priest ought to get a grip of the situation. The organist should assist the worship, not get in the way of it. The organ is in any case bigger than is needed for the size of the building and the organist needs to be given strict instructions to play the instrument with due restraint.

I normally go to an Extraordinary Form Mass somewhere else to avoid this hour of unpleasantness, not for any other reason. Unfortunately it is being suspended for the summer. It was salutary to be reminded how bad things are at my local parish. When the Novus Ordo Mass is normally done so badly, no wonder there is still a demand for the old form.

2 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

Jag antar att vi går till samma kyrka? Nu är det morgon, är en psalm i nya Cecilia och i JPII, bägge vederbörligen godkända. Vad gäller instrumentet, är det verkligen inte för stort! Att som du vill, begränsa vilka stämmor organisten använder, är bara absurt!Vi har en kyrka och ett instrument som är helt unikt. Ordinariet är till delar översatt, på begäran av Vatikanen. Jag rekommenderar att du fortsätter att delta i den gamla riten...

Physiocrat sa...

Nu är det morgon is indeed in Cecilia. But so are the Entrance Antiphons, and there are contains direct translations of the Latin texts into Swedish, unfortunately with no music. These form part of the readings and should in principle not be omitted. If they are replaced by an entrance hymn, which is permitted, then it stands to reason that the text of the entrance hymn should reflect that of the antiphon text for the day. An example of a hymn that expresses the same idea is Led, milda ljus (C 457), with text by Cardinal Newman, and that would have put across the theme for that Sunday's Mass perfectly, would it not?

On the other hand, it is a terrible pity that we are deprived of the opportunity to listen to the wonderful tunes and texts of the original Latin - Dominus illuminatio mea - the Lord gives me light - is the famous motto of the University of Oxford.

An organ that is capable of music fireworks is an excellent thing to have, but it needs to be used with discretion and restraint, especially during Mass. The time for the fireworks display is after Mass or during concerts. Some people, such as myself, find low frequency discords distressing. Apparently this is not unusual.

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