fredag 30 juni 2017

Dreadful music at Mass last night

I have pretty much given up on my local Catholic parish (there are alternatives) because the music is irredeemably dreadful. It is not that good quality music is never sung, though there was none on this occasion, despite it being the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, one of the most important in the calendar.

The real dreadfulness is the hymns. Last night's Mass began with Cecilia #132 ("Nu stiger sång mot paradis" - I have never heard it before), then came #96 ("The church is one foundation", music by S S Wesley) for the Offertory, #145 ("Jag vet till vem jag satt min tro" - I have never heard that before, either) at Communion and  #5 ("Now thank we God" music by Cruger) to finish up with.

The overall effect of that selection is a sound which is expressly and intentionally not Catholic. That is not the worst of it, because the hymns squeeze out the music which properly belongs to the Catholic liturgy; for the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, these include the Introit Nunc sciovere, the Communion antiphon Tu es Petrus, and some setting of the same text, such as that by Palestrina or Byrd.

Before the Novus Ordo Mass came in, these would have been sung as a matter of course. They still should be; according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Latin texts and Gregorian settings remain the recommended first choice. Unfortunately, the guidelines are normally ignored.

In this instance I would not have known what was going to be sung and was not interested, as I had not planned to attend the Mass myself. I had guessed that I would have just become angry at having to sit and listen to it all, which is not a suitable disposition at Mass. As it happened, my fears were proved correct. I had arranged to meet a friend outside the church afterwards and saw the notice giving the list of the music.

It is particularly sad in the case of my own parish, as competent musicians are available and willing to sing the right music. One has to ask what is going on here?

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