Thursday, February 05, 2009

Comparison of Psalm translations

It is somewhat difficult to see side-by-side comparisons of the new and old Grail Psalter translations and a modern bible translation, so I have put these together using the resources mentioned below.

The translations are verse-by-verse according to the following order:
Revised New American Bible (2006)
Original English Grail (1963)
Conception Abbey Revised Grail (2008)

Psalm 93 (94):8-13

8
Understand, you stupid people! You fools, when will you be wise?
Mark this, most senseless of people; fools, when will you understand?
Mark thís, you sénseless péople; fóols, when wíll you understánd?

9
Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?
Can he who made the ear not hear? Can he who formed the eye not see?
Can he who plánted the éar not héar? Can he who fórmed the éye not sée?

10
Does the one who guides nations not rebuke? The one who teaches man not have knowledge?
Will he who trains nations not punish? Will he who teaches men not have knowledge?
Will he who tráins the nátions not púnish? Will hé who teaches mán not have knówledge?

11
The LORD does know the plans of men; they are only puffs of air.
The LORD knows the thoughts of men. He knows they are no more than a breath.
The LÓRD knows the pláns of mán. He knóws they are no móre than a bréath.

12
Happy the one whom you guide, LORD, whom you teach by your instruction.
Happy the man whom you teach, O LORD, whom you train by means of your law;
Blessed the mán whom you díscipline, O LÓRD, whom you tráin by méans of your láw;

13
You give him rest from evil days, while a pit is being dug for the wicked.
To him you give peace in evil days while the pit is being dug for the wicked.
to whóm you give péace in evil dáys, while the pít is being dúg for the wícked.


Psalm 121 (122)

1
I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
I rejoiced when I heard them say: “Let us go to God’s house.”
I rejóiced when they sáid to mé, “Let us gó to the hóuse of the LÓRD.”

2
And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.
And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
And nów our féet are stánding withín your gátes, O Jerúsalem.

3
Jerusalem, built as a city, walled round about.
Jerusalem is built as a city strongly compact.
Jerúsalem is buílt as a cíty bonded as óne togéther.

4
Here the tribes have come, the tribes of the LORD, As it was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD. For Israel’s law it is, there to praise the LORD’s name.
It is thére that the tríbes go úp, the tríbes of the LÓRD. For Ísrael’s wítness it ís to práise the náme of the LÓRD.

5
Here are the thrones of justice, the thrones of the house of David.
There were set the thrones of judgement of the house of David.
Thére were set the thrónes for júdgement, the thrónes of the hóuse of Dávid.

6
For the peace of Jerusalem pray: “May those who love you prosper!
For the peace of Jerusalem pray: “Peace be to your homes!
For the péace of Jerúsalem práy, “May they prósper, thóse who lóve you.”

7
May peace be within your ramparts, prosperity within your towers.”
May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!”
May péace abíde in your wálls, and secúrity bé in your tówers.

8
For family and friends I say, “May peace be yours.”
For love of my brethren and friends I say: “Peace upon you.”
For the sáke of my fámily and fríends, let me sáy, “Péace upon yóu.”

9
For the house of the LORD, our God, I pray, “May blessings be yours.”
For love of the house of the LORD I will ask for your good.
For the sáke of the hóuse of the LÓRD, our Gód, Í will séek good thíngs for yóu.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Concerts in churches

I am making the following extracts available here as they relate to one another, and I would like to ask the question: are these directives adhered to? I know of a number of examples where, for instance, entry to the church for such concerts has been restricted by a ticket fee, and I have seen musicians perform on a number of occasions within the sanctuary. At least I know that in my parish, the Parish Priest removed the Blessed Sacrament to the strong room of the sacristy.

Question time: Concerts in Churches By Fr John Flader
Catholic Weekly, 30 September, 2007

Q.: Our local church is sometimes used as a concert hall with the stage on the sanctuary. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle behind the altar during the concert. The musical is classical and some is sacred, but the organisers are a local community group, not a Catholic group, so they do not observe the usual reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. I am wondering if it is acceptable to have concerts of this kind in churches, accompanied by the usual clapping, talking, etc.

A.: You ask a question that is becoming increasingly relevant, since concerts in churches are more and more frequent.Because of the importance of the question and of the need to observe due reverence in the organisation of concerts in churches, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a declaration on “Concerts in Churches” in 1987. It gives the criteria to be followed if such concerts are held.

The declaration begins by giving reasons why churches are often chosen for such concerts: “local needs, where for example it is not easy to find suitable places; acoustical considerations, for which churches are often ideal; aesthetic reasons of fittingness, that is to present the works in the setting for which they were originally written; purely practical reasons, for example facilities for organ recitals: in a word churches are considered to be in many ways apt places for holding a concert.” (n. 1)

The declaration adds that choirs of sacred polyphony and Gregorian chant often cannot sing their repertoire properly within the liturgy and so they elect to perform their music in a concert.

As general criterion, the declaration points out that churches are not simply public places for the holding of meetings of any kind; they are “sacred places, that is, ‘set apart’ in a permanent way for divine worship by their dedication and blessing.” (n. 5) It quotes Canon 1210 of the Code of Canon Law: “In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.”

Among these “other uses” are concerts of religious music, and the declaration gives some practical directives for them. First of all, the music to be performed should be sacred or religious. “Sacred music” is defined as that which is “composed for the celebration of divine worship and possesses integrity of form.” (n. 6) Included in sacred music would be settings of the parts of the Mass such as the Kyrie, Gloria, Agnus Dei, Responsorial Psalm, Sequence, etc, as well as liturgical hymns. “Religious music” is music which is “inspired by the text of sacred scripture or the Liturgy and which has reference to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the saints or to the Church”. (n. 9)

In addition, entrance to the church must be without charge and open to all. (n. 10, c.) The performers and the audience must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the sacred character of the place. (n. 10, d) The musicians and singers should not be seated in the sanctuary, and the greatest respect is to be shown to the altar, the president’s chair and the ambo. (n. 10, e)

The Blessed Sacrament, insofar as possible, should be reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place. (n. 10, f)

It is presumed that there will be clapping and some talking, but they are not a problem in this context, especially when the Blessed Sacrament has been removed.

All in all, when these norms are observed, concerts of religious music can serve to promote piety and religion in various ways. They can help to prepare for major liturgical feasts, bring out the particular character of the liturgical seasons, create in churches a setting of beauty conducive to meditation, keep alive the treasures of Church music, which must not be lost, and assist visitors and tourists to grasp more fully the sacred character of a church. (n. 9) Always, they highlight the fact that “the treasure of sacred music is a witness to the way in which the Christian faith promotes culture”. (n. 11)


Here follows the full text of the declaration Concerts in Churches, Protocol number 1251/87, issued November 5, 1987. The following declaration of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was sent to the presidents of the national conferences of bishops and through them to commissions on Liturgy and sacred art. The text appeared in the journal Sacred Music, Vol. 114, n. 4 (Winter, 1987), and is also available at Adoremus.


I. MUSIC IN CHURCHES OTHER THAN DURING LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS
1. The interest shown in music is one of the marks of contemporary culture. The ease with which it is possible to listen at home to classical works, by means of radio, records, cassettes and television, has in no way diminished the pleasure of attending live concerts, but on the contrary has actually enhanced it. This is encouraging, because music and song contribute to elevating the human spirit.

The increase in the number of concerts in general has in some countries given rise to a more frequent use of churches for such events. Various reasons are given for this: local needs, where for example it is not easy to find suitable places; acoustical considerations, for which churches are often ideal; aesthetic reasons of fittingness, that is to present the works in the setting for which they were originally written; purely practical reasons, for example facilities for organ recitals: in a word churches are considered to be in many ways apt places for holding a concert.

2. Alongside this contemporary development a new situation has arisen in the Church.

The Scholae cantorum have not had frequent occasion to execute their traditional repertory of sacred polyphonic music within the context of a liturgical celebration.

For this reason, the initiative has been taken to perform this sacred music in church in the form of a concert. The same has happened with Gregorian chant, which has come to form part of concert programs both inside and outside the church.

Another important factor emerges from the so-called "spiritual concerts," so-termed because the music performed in them can be considered as religious, because of the theme chosen, or on account of the nature of the texts set to music, or because of the venue for the performance.

Such events are in some cases accompanied by readings, prayers and moments of silence. Given such features they can almost be compared to a "devotional exercise."

3. The increased numbers of concerts held in churches has given rise to doubts in the minds of pastors and rectors of churches as to the extent to which such events are really necessary.

A general opening of churches for concerts could give rise to complaints by a number of the faithful, yet on the other hand an outright refusal could lead to some misunderstanding.

Firstly, it is necessary to consider the significance and purpose of a Christian church. For this, the Congregation for Divine Worship considers it opportune to propose to the episcopal conferences, and in so far as it concerns them, to the national commissions of Liturgy and music, some observations and interpretations for the canonical norms concerning the use of churches for various kinds of music: music and song, music of religious inspiration and music of non-religious character.

4. At this juncture it is necessary to re-read recent documents which treat of the subject, in particular the constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, the instruction Musicam Sacram of March 5, 1967, the instruction Liturgicae Instaurationes of September 5, 1970, in addition to the prescription of the Code of Canon Law, can. 1210, 1213 and 1222.

In this present letter the primary concern is with musical performances outside of the celebration of the Liturgy.

II. POINTS FOR CONSIDERATION
The character and purpose of churches

5. According to tradition as expressed in the rite for the dedication of a church and altar, churches are primarily places where the people of God gather, and are "made one as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, and are the Church, the temple of God built with living stones, in which the Father is worshipped in spirit and in truth." Rightly so, from ancient times the name "church" has been extended to the building in which the Christian community unite to hear the word of God, to pray together, to receive the sacraments, to celebrate the Eucharist and to prolong its celebration in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Cf. Order of the Dedication of a Church, ch. II, 1).

Churches, however, cannot be considered simply as public places for any kind of meeting. They are sacred places, that is, "set apart" in a permanent way for divine worship by their dedication and blessing.

As visible constructions, churches are signs of the pilgrim Church on earth; they are images that proclaim the heavenly Jerusalem, places in which are actualised the mystery of the communion between man and God. Both in urban areas and in the countryside, the church remains the house of God, and the sign of his dwelling among men. It remains a sacred place, even when no liturgical celebration is taking place.

In a society disturbed by noise, especially in big cities, churches are also an oasis where men gather, in silence and in prayer, to seek peace of soul and the light of faith.

That will only be possible in so far as churches maintain their specific identity. When churches are used for ends other than those for which they were built, their role as a sign of the Christian mystery is put at risk, with more or less serious harm to the teaching of the faith and to the sensitivity of the People of God, according to the Lord's words: "My house is a house of prayer" (Lk 19:46).

Importance of sacred music
6. Sacred music, whether vocal or instrumental, is of importance. Music is sacred "in so far as it is composed for the celebration of divine worship and possesses integrity of form" (Musicam sacram n. 4a). The church considers it a "treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art," recognising that it has a "ministerial function in the service of the Lord" (Cf. SC n. 112); and recommending that it be "preserved and fostered with great care" (SC n. 114).

Any performance of sacred music which takes place during a celebration, should be fully in harmony with that celebration. This often means that musical compositions which date from a period when the active participation of the faithful was not emphasised as the source of the authentic Christian spirit (SC n. 14; Pius X Tra le sollecitudini) are no longer to be considered suitable for inclusion within liturgical celebrations.

Analogous changes of perception and awareness have occurred in other areas involving the artistic aspect of divine worship: for example, the sanctuary has been restructured, with the president's chair, the ambo and the altar versus populum. Such changes have not been made in a spirit of disregard for the past, but have been deemed necessary in the pursuit of an end of greater importance, namely the active participation of the faithful. The limitation which such changes impose on certain musical works can be overcome by arranging for their performance outside the context of liturgical celebration in a concert of sacred music.

Organ
7. The performance of purely instrumental pieces on the organ during liturgical celebrations today is limited. In the past the organ took the place of the active participation of the faithful, and reduced the people to the role of "silent and inert spectators" of the celebration (Pius XI, Divini cultus, n. 9).

It is legitimate for the organ to accompany and sustain the singing either of the assembly or the choir within the celebration. On the other hand, the organ must never be used to accompany the prayers or chants of the celebrant nor the readings proclaimed by the reader or the deacon.

In accordance with tradition, the organ should remain silent during penitential seasons (Lent and Holy Week), during Advent and Liturgy for the dead. When, however, there is real pastoral need, the organ can be used to support the singing.

It is fitting that the organ be played before and after a celebration as a preparation and conclusion of the celebration. It is of considerable importance that in all churches, and especially those of some importance, there should be trained musicians and instruments of good quality. Care should be given to the maintenance of organs and respect shown towards their historical character both in form and tone.

III. PRACTICAL DIRECTIVES
8. The regulation of the use of churches is stipulated by canon 1210 of the Code of Canon Law:

"In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place."

The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the one hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context.

It pertains to the ecclesiastical authority to exercise without constraint its governance of sacred places (Cf. canon 1213), and hence to regulate the use of churches in such a way as to safeguard their sacred character.

9. Sacred music, that is to say music which was composed for the Liturgy, but which for various reasons can no longer be performed during a liturgical celebration, and religious music, that is to say music inspired by the text of sacred scripture or the Liturgy and which has reference to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the saints or to the Church, may both find a place in the church building, but outside liturgical celebration. The playing of the organ or other musical performance, whether vocal or instrumental, may: "serve to promote piety or religion." In particular they may:

a. prepare for the major liturgical feasts, or lend to these a more festive character beyond the moment of actual celebration;
b. bring out the particular character of the different liturgical seasons;
c. create in churches a setting of beauty conducive to meditation, so as to arouse even in those who are distant from the Church an openness to spiritual values;
d. create a context which favours and makes accessible the proclamation of God's word, as for example, a sustained reading of the Gospel;
e. keep alive the treasures of Church music which must not be lost; musical pieces and songs composed for the Liturgy but which cannot in any way be conveniently incorporated into liturgical celebrations in modern times; spiritual music, such as oratorios and religious cantatas which can still serve as vehicles for spiritual communication;
f. assist visitors and tourists to grasp more fully the sacred character of a church, by means of organ concerts at prearranged times.

10. When the proposal is made that there should be a concert in a church, the Ordinary is to grant the permission per modum actus. These concerts should be occasional events. This excludes permission for a series of concerts, for example in the case of a festival or a cycle of concerts.

When the Ordinary considers it to be necessary, he can, in the conditions foreseen in the Code of Canon Law (can. 1222, para. 2) designate a church that is no longer used for divine service, to be an "auditorium" for the performance of sacred or religious music, and also of music not specifically religious but in keeping with the character of the place.

In this task the bishop should be assisted by the diocesan commission for Liturgy and sacred music.

In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinary can specify that:

a. Requests are to be made in writing, in good time, indicating the date and time of the proposed concert, the program, giving the works and the names of the composers.
b. After having received the authorisation of the Ordinary, the rectors and parish priests of the churches should arranged details with the choir and orchestra so that the requisite norms are observed.
c. Entrance to the church must be without payment and open to all.
d. The performers and the audience must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the sacred character of the place.
e. The musicians and the singers should not be placed in the sanctuary. The greatest respect is to be shown to the altar, the president's chair and the ambo.
f. The Blessed Sacrament should be, as far as possible, reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place (Cf. C.I.C., can 928, par. 4).
g. The concert should be presented or introduced not only with historical or technical details, but also in a way that fosters a deeper understanding and an interior participation on the part of the listeners.
h. The organiser of the concert will declare in writing that he accepts legal responsibilities for expenses involved, for leaving the church in order and for any possible damage incurred.

11. The above practical directives should be of assistance to the bishops and rectors of churches in their pastoral responsibility to maintain the sacred character of their churches, designed for sacred celebrations, prayer and silence.

Such indications should not be interpreted as a lack of interest in the art of music.

The treasury of sacred music is a witness to the way in which the Christian faith promotes culture.

By underlining the true value of sacred or religious music, Christian musicians and members of scholae cantorum should feel that they are being encouraged to continue this tradition and to keep it alive for the service of the faith, as expressed by the Second Vatican Council in its message to artists:

"Do not hesitate to put your talent at the service of the Divine Truth. The world in which we live has need of beauty in order not to lose hope. Beauty, like truth, fills the heart with joy. And this, thanks to your hands" (Cf. Second Vatican Council, Message to Artists, December 8, 1965).

Rome, November 5, 1987
Paul Augustine Card. Mayer, O.S.B.
Prefect

Virgilio Noë
Tit. Archbishop of Voncaria
Secretary

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cut the GST on books to 0%

For a few days now there has been much debate over the relatively high price of books in Australia, and what can be done to lower the price. Being surprised that nobody else had suggested this relatively straightforward and equitable idea, I sent it in myself and it was published, albeit with editorial alterations.

Parallel whines

To make books cheaper and more accessible, why doesn’t the Federal Government abolish GST on them? There is no such tax on books in Britain, which is one reason it is cheaper to buy books from British online sources than in local shops. Such a change would promote reading among children, reduce the cost of textbooks and improve the sales of local authors.

Milton Micallef Maroubra


I had originally given the example of The Book Depository, which is cheaper than Amazon and offers free worldwide shipping. I wouldn't normally spruik a business, but other letter-writers had mentioned Amazon.
The original text read:
In order to make books cheaper and more accessible to all, why doesn’t the Federal Government alter the GST rate on books to zero per cent? This is the VAT rate on books in the UK (and is part of the reason why it is cheaper for me to purchase my books from BookDepository.co.uk than in local shops). Such a change would have the effect of promoting reading amongst children, of lessening the burden of the cost of textbooks to students, and of improving the sales of local authors.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Letter to the SMH concerning the Pope’s recent speech

VATICAN CITY - DECEMBER 22: Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing as he receives greetings from Roman Curia and pontifical family at the Clementina Hall on December 22, 2008 in Vatican City, Vatican.The Pope’s speech which has been generally misrepresented in the media was one addressed to the Roman Curia on 22 December. Media agencies around the world have gone apoplectic in making wild accusations which have only been perpetuated through ignorance. Letter-writers have been quick to criticise the Pope based on poor reporting, and I should like to correct this imbalance.

His Holiness did not single out homosexuals or other groups and contrast them against climate change. This is what certain groups with anti-Catholic, or anti-Papacy, agendas would have us believe. Rather, he spoke of an “ecology of man” to mirror the ecology of the natural world. In fact, he was speaking about the Holy Spirit as Creator, so as to recall the encyclical Humanae Vitae which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. The essence of this was to reinforce the notion of marriage as between man and woman and the necessity of living with God and not cut off from God and the truth.

Moreover, His Holiness spoke at great length about World Youth Day and its positive effects on Sydney and the youth of the world. I have selected a couple of quotes for your interest, as your journalists failed to report this aspect in the paper.

Before [July], Australia had never seen as many people from all the other continents as during the last World Youth Day in Sydney, not even during the Olympics. And if earlier, there had been apprehensions that the appearance of such great numbers of young people would represent a threat to public order, paralyse traffic, block daily activities, provoke violence and make room for drug use, all such fears were proven to be unfounded.

It was a feast of joy—a joy that ultimately involved even those who were reluctant. Ultimately, no one felt it as an annoyance or a disturbance.


He later added,
In Australia, it was not by chance that the Via Crucis through the inner city became a climactic event of those days. It synthesised once more all that had happened in preceding years and called attention to Him who brings us all together - the God who loved us to the point of death on the Cross.

And so, the Pope is not the star around which these events take place. He is totally and only the Vicar [of Christ]. He points to the Other who is among us.


Relevant resources:
Musings of a Pertinacious Papist : Pope's Christmas message to the Roman Curia, by Philip Blosser
www.chiesa : "Veni Creator Spiritus." For an Ecology of Man, by Sandro Magister

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dissonant dissent

Dear me. Where will this end? A friend alerted me tonight to the fact that Doris Chetcuti has replied in turn to my letter, quid pro quo. It is rather unfair that my letter had been edited by the Catholic Weekly, as I was frankly harsher than I was made to appear. Why, indeed, should Scripture have to "preordain" the organ for it to be considered loftier than other instruments? If anything, such views as Mrs. Chetcuti purveys would seem to be closer aligned with the Protestant notion of sola scriptura, and not with the Roman Catholic tradition of respecting the unifying doctrines of Rome.

Young in tune (30 November, 2008)


Obviously Milton Micallef (Musical heritage, Letters CW Oct 26) is concerned and has indicated that we need to bring young people back into the sheepfold!

It is clear that he is more concerned about Tradition than Transformation.

Where in Scripture does it refer to the ‘pipe organ’ being preordained by God?

Youth and young adults of our Catholic Church have been connecting to music that is meaningful and Spiritually uplifting in their worship of the Holy Eucharist, as he stated it’s about ‘providing a way for them to express themselves spiritually’.

The genre of music that I’m referring to is of contemporary form. It does not attempt to diminish the Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice, nor is it regarded as a concert or a show by the people attending these Masses.

On the contrary the focus is entirely on Christ.

The Church and its member should not be preoccupied with mundane or irrelevant issues such as which instrument or music is preferential or suitable for salvation and evangelisation.

God uses whatever means He sees fit for the salvation of souls and what is affective [sic] for the current generation.

We must not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit which is bearing fruit for our Catholic Church. We should strive not only to lift up our ‘mind’ but also our ‘heart’ to God. If this means the use of instruments other than the ‘pipe organ’ then so be it.

Doris Chetcuti
Bossley Park, NSW

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sunt sacramenta propter homines aut propter ecclesiam ?

On my most recent trip to New Zealand (July 2008), I attended Mass twice at a suburban Auckland parish church. I was troubled by what I witnessed, as the liturgy was perhaps one of the worst I have seen. I am aware of my sometimes over-critical view of many things but even so felt that something had to be done or these poor parishioners would remain in blissful ignorance of their faulty liturgy. I stress "their" liturgy because it was clearly the parishioners and not the priest who were running the show.

So I wrote to the parish priest and shared with him my thoughts. In his reply, he conceded that he shared some of my concerns and has since dealt with "the most important" ones; he added that I "might have approved some of the things we decided at our Liturgy meeting". However, he explained that as he was not long at that parish, he did not wish to "heavy-handedly stop very willing and sincere people from doing what they had been doing for some time in very good faith – sacramenta propter homines."

My question is: to what extent should the phrase « sacramenta propter homines » ("the sacraments are for the benefit of the people") be taken? For this is the principle upon which the priest based his unwillingness to intervene in the way the liturgy was being run. Where is the limen separating what should remain rigid liturgical practice from what may be adapted to the customs, traditions, and cultures of the local people?

I will outline for you what I saw as problematic and why, so that you may put this matter into perspective.

Some of the texts for the Ordo Missae had been changed to suit the music—notably the Gloria set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the ninth symphony. That no better and more suitable Mass setting (no doubt a local Kiwi setting exists; in Sydney there are a handful of local settings in widespread use, such as the Mass Shalom by the late Br. Colin Smith CFC) could be found was in itself a disappointment; but, importantly, the rewording of the Gloria so that it metrically fits the music is in direct conflict with the Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, n. 60:

A great part of the liturgical texts are composed with the intention of their being sung by the priest celebrant, the deacon, the cantor, the people, or the choir. For this reason, the texts should be translated in a manner that is suitable for being set to music. Still, in preparing the musical accompaniment, full account must be taken of the authority of the text itself. Whether it be a question of the texts of Sacred Scripture or of those taken from the Liturgy and already duly confirmed, paraphrases are not to be substituted with the intention of making them more easily set to music, nor may hymns considered generically equivalent be employed in their place.

and with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), n. 53 (with reference to the Gloria):
The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text. The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other.


Secondly, I was concerned at the large number of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist (considering the size of the congregation), and the superfluity of those bearing chalices—there is no need for such a large number of extraordinary ministers, and this in turn is both time-consuming and distracting to the faithful. More worrisome is the precarious nature of using a tray of chalices, filled after the consecration (itself performed with the use of a glass decanter). The undesirability of the chance that some of the Blessed Blood may be spilt should override any attempts to streamline proceedings. This practice is specifically forbidden by the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 106:
However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.


I also saw that the celebrant distributed communion to the extraordinary ministers prior to consuming it himself. The principle of nemo dat qui non habet should apply here, and reminder of it is made in the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 97:
A Priest must communicate at the altar at the moment laid down by the Missal [viz. GIRM, nn. 158-160, 243-244, 246] each time he celebrates Holy Mass, and the concelebrants must communicate before they proceed with the distribution of Holy Communion. The Priest celebrant or a concelebrant is never to wait until the people’s Communion is concluded before receiving Communion himself.

Furthermore, GIRM, n. 162 states:
The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion. These ministers should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either species of the Most Holy Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.


I was disappointed further that no acolyte was assisting the celebrant at either Mass, although there were altar servers (whose behaviour was not perfectly reverential). This is despite the happily large number of worshippers in the congregation. It would be preferable for an acolyte rather than a member of the congregation to prepare the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. No doubt, if asked, a dependable adult male could be found, at each Mass time, willing to undertake the requisite formation and receive the bishop’s commissioning. The acolythate is a worthy and admirable ministry for lay adult men. Additionally, only a priest or duly instituted acolyte (and not an extraordinary minister) may purify the vessels after Communion or after Mass (GIRM, n. 279).

This ends my list of grievances. All this despite the reverent congregation, who, to their credit, behaved lovingly and genially towards one another and to guests - with designated welcomers at the Church doors before Mass.

Relevant links:
Philip J. Murnion, "Parish : holy ground, common ground"
Fr Tibor Horvath, SJ, "The sacrament of marriage as revelation of God"

Monday, October 27, 2008

The joy of the organ at Mass

Yet another Catholic Weekly letter to which I had to reply:

Catering for our youth (12 October, 2008)


World Youth Day has come and gone. What are we doing now to inspire our youth to become involved in church activities, or even to attend Sunday Mass?

My parish used to have a Youth Mass every Sunday night, it was a joyful experience, but now guitars and keyboards, etc, have been replaced by an organ and the ancient songs that go with it.

The organ in chainsShould we not be praising God with joy in our hearts?

What has happened to the New Evangelisation?

We need at least one Mass a week for the youth and the young at heart. We have to tend our youth, they can be the Church of tomorrow if they are given the chance!

Doris Chetcuti
Bossley Park, NSW


Musical heritage (26th October, 2008)
[I should point out that the Catholic Weekly edited my letter, given below in its entirety, and as such the published letter misrepresented my views somewhat, implying that I was not questioning the original writer.]

It often seems to me that it’s older people who seem always to “know” what all the youth want. Attracting people to the church is not so much about pleasing them but providing a way for them to express themselves spiritually; to glorify God. The Mass is not a concert. If anything, it should provide an escape from our materialistic, hyper-connected, and egocentric world. So then, as a young Catholic, and an organist, I must say that I’m pleased Doris Chetcuti’s parish has embraced the organ in place of other instruments which are better suited to the secular world, and find an ample arena therein (Letters CW Oct 12). We must not sacrifice our rich musical heritage in a desperate scramble to attract young people back into the sheepfold. Perhaps the incidence of dilapidated electronic organs in Catholic churches are part of the problem, as well as modern hymnals in current use, so often wanting in grandeur, joy, and traditional Catholic character (see Letters CW Letters, Sept 7 and 14).

I would like to know, Mrs. Chetcuti, how the organ and its “ancient songs” prevent us from praising God with joy in our hearts. For numerous documents issued at the Vatican have successively reiterated the primacy of the organ and the traditional musical forms of the Church. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (a document of Vatican II) states that “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 splendour to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 120).

Finally, allow me to quote our dearly beloved Pope Benedict on the matter: “Solemn sacred music, with choir, organ, orchestra and the singing of the people, is not […] a kind of addition that frames the liturgy and makes it more pleasing, but an important means of active participation in worship. The organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments, because it takes up all the sounds of creation [...] and gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation. By transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, it evokes the divine. The organ’s great range of timbre, from piano through to a thundering fortissimo, makes it an instrument superior to all others. It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God” (extract from a speech given at Regensburg, 13/09/2006).

Milton J. Micallef

Maroubra, NSW