In the spirit of the new evangelization we are celebrating our 44th year in guitar music ministry. It has been a long journey from those original “guitar masses”. Today’s worshippers demand a musical sophistication that is liturgical, relevant, contemporary. Please enjoy this sample of our work (link removed) and if you have a need for music ministry in your parish please contact us.
I have no doubt that the person who sent me the eMail is very sincere. However, let’s take a look at this.
“In the spirit of the new evangelization” And what is that? Haven’t we had enough with the “Spirit of Vatican II”. It just time to give up the ghost! Let’s leave aside all this nonsense of the “spirit” of this and that and get to the essence and the root of something.
First, the “spirit of Vatican II” is a crock of bulloney (Yes, I purposely misspelled baloney. You get my drift). If people would only read what the documents are and stop making them up as they go along. The REAL Vatican II had noting to do with eliminating Latin, the priest facing the people, the introduction of “folk Masses” and every kind of music, except for that desired by the Most Holy Council.
And the “New Evangelization” is not a re-making of the Catholic Church and Her worship. It is a living who we are and what we have been given with zeal and fidelity. So in reality, it is not a “new” evangelization. It is a continuation of the same evangelization that began with our Lord and His Apostles 2000 years ago. The only difference is in how we present these sacred truths and institutions. There is much more that we could say about that, but let’s move on.
Let’s take a look at the “un-spirit” of Vatican II, or should I say, the real thing. Yes, let us see what Sacrosanctum Concilium really has to say about music in the Sacred Liturgy.
“In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 120.)
The fathers of Vatican II clearly wanted the “pipe organ” to be the ordinary instrument used in the Roman Rite of the Latin Church. Ordinary means that this is the instrument used above all others, and all other musical instruments are to be used in support of the pipe organ, not the other way around. I can foresee the use of a classical guitar to augment the pipe organ on special Feast Days, or when the organ is not functioning properly, but it may not replace the “ordinary” instrument of the Liturgy. Aacoustic, electric guitars should never be part of the Sacred Liturgy.
“But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.” SC 120)
Guitars, drums, tambourines, electronic keyboards and a number of other musical instruments and I would dear say, the piano, smack of the secular. These are instruments that take the mind to a rock concert or your local watering hole. The pipe organ would surely not be heard in a pub or rock concert.
The same goes for the style of music admitted to the Liturgy.
To the extent that the new sacred music is to serve the liturgical celebrations of the various churches, it can and must draw from earlier forms — especially from Gregorian chant — a higher inspiration, a uniquely sacred quality, a genuine sense of what is religious. (St. John Paul II, 1980)
So, does this mean that we are to admit contemporary “praise and worship music”? I think that would be a gross misunderstanding of the Council. The fathers of the Council were not thinking in terms of allowing a style of music that one might heard in a secular venue. they recognized that the music of the Church IS Gregorian chant. However, there are other legitimate forms of sacred music. There is a caveat. They did not leave this up to the imagination or whim and fancies of the musician. They went on to write:
“other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action.” (SC 116)
Pope Paul VI saw the dam that broke in the Church music situation. In 1974, he tried to plug the hole and set the Church back on course when he wrote to all the Bishops of the world. He sent all the Bishops a book called Jubilate Deo. This document contains all of the basic chants that should be familiar to every practicing Catholic.
Over 50 years after the the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium and it is still probably one of the most debated documents of the Church. It’s time for every musician and every Catholic to slowly and prayerfully read the source to see what the Father’s of the Second Vatican Council really said and what they did not so as to stop making it up as we go along.
Be sure to see this post and listen to the music clips.
I love the clip below, but that’s is not how we should worship!