Monday, July 25, 2005

Gregorian Chant Encouraged

...but new music?

Attn: Peter, Paul and Mary: The idea is to remove profane music

Working Paper Suggests Return to More Prayerful Hymns

VATICAN CITY, JULY 22, 2005 ( The working paper of the next Synod of Bishops suggests that "songs used at present" in the liturgy should "be reconsidered."

The proposal appears in No. 60 of the working document for the assembly of bishops from all over the world, which will be held Oct. 2-23 in Rome, on the theme "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."

Based on responses from dioceses, religious and the laity to a questionnaire, the text acknowledges in No. 61 that "to enter into sacred or religious usage, instrumental or vocal music is to have a sense of prayer, dignity and beauty."

In the liturgy, music must have "integrity of form, expressing true artistry, corresponding to the various rites and capable of adaptation to the legitimate demands of inculturation, … without detracting from the idea of universality," the document states.

The working paper, published July 7, outlines the topics that the bishops will discuss during the assembly.

In connection with the question of liturgical singing, the paper states that "musicians and poets should be encouraged to compose new hymns, according to liturgical standards, which contain authentic catechetical teaching on the paschal mystery, Sunday and the Eucharist."

Gregorian chant

In particular, the document suggests the rediscovery of Gregorian chant, as it "fulfills these needs" and, therefore, can "serve as a model," quoting Pope John Paul II.

In No. 61, the text states that in the responses to the questionnaire with which they concluded the synod's first preparatory text, "some lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer."

The paper refers in particular to youth Masses, stressing the need "to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer."

"Some responses," it adds, "note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church's liturgy."