Thursday, April 17, 2008

Music at today's WDC Mass ...

... from the point of view of a non-Catholic. This comes courtesy of PIPORG-L. Frank E., who writes as a non-Catholic observer watching it over EWTN (one of those channels Time Warner Cable in Durham does not give you with their basic cable package), gave his impressions of the Mass. His comments are below.
Not quite what was expected. With the specialness one might expect at a service with the Pope presiding, the music seemed to be a mish-mash of popsey dance tunes, black gospel razzamataz along with some "songs of today" and plenty of mombo beat accompaniment ... all of this while communion was administered.

Even the EWTN commentator referred to the "Amazonian" sound of the music. To my ears it was akin to music of Mardi Gras.

There was a hint of what might be sacred music at a few points during the mass. In one "song" the sound of an organ came through, and for a few seconds I saw a 4-manual
drawknob console. A highlight was when Placido Domingo sang an abbreviated setting of the Franck "Panis Angelicus" with a small backup choir, but it seemed odd amongst the music mix before.

Altogether it was, as EWTN described it, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial. But musically it seemed to have no head nor tail, no continuity. For this occasion with the Pope in attendance, it might have been appropriate to have *some* traditional church music of the period before Pope John 22nd-Mozart, Palestrina, Gregorian Chant.
Now, why doesn't this surprise me? Honestly, I am not surprised at all. My Episcopal friends poke fun at the music often heard at Catholic Masses, and they loftily announce that they are the ones who are preserving the music of The Church. There are some Episcopal churches in this area where one may hear an anthem sung in Latin as often as once a week even. I've had the pleasure of chanting Gregorian chant at Compline services ... at an Episcopal church ... for the past several years.

I suppose the argument that may be given for a "multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial" music list is that this is a true reflection of America's society and culture - the "Melting Pot." If America can be a melting pot, surely her Catholic Masses can be reflective of that. But just as ingredients for a really good pot of stew should come together in perfect harmony to make that stew taste wonderful, is it possible for disparate styles of music to come together to make the stew that is the music of the American Catholic Mass?

That would be my open-ended Question Of The Day. Chew on that for a while ... and leave your thoughts in the combox, if you care to.


Lyn F. said...

Sigh ... here I am, commenting on my own post ... I've been lightly monitoring the net for reactions to this Mass. It's amazing all the reactions to it from all corners (and I've been monitoring RPInet, PIPORG-L, Anglican Music, etc.)

Not many positive reviews from the looks of it. I've only heard one positive review, and the rest have been ... well, critical would be a good way of putting it.

I heard a small snippet at the tail end of Pope Benedict's podcast of the homily he delivered (English for the first 15 minutes or so, Spanish for the next 5 minutes or so), and ... well, it was something sung in Spanish ... probably a Flor y Canto offering, but I'm not sure ... I'm just not sure what to make of it. Wish I had access to the telly for this one, would have been interesting to see ...

Brian Michael Page said...

I just finished watching, and my post as well. It had all the makings of another MahonyFest instead of presenting the Holy Father with true Catholic music.

I think the New York Masses will be far better.


R.J.L. said...

I agree with Brian. Only piece I enjoyed was the Panis Angelicus. I'm anxiously awaiting the Mass from St Patrick's Cathedral, and Yankee Stadium.

At least Dr. Pascual will do things the right way!! With no "Amazonian Music"!

Tyler said...

I think my view is simply: choosing appropriate sacred music is easy. The Church, in her infinite wisdom, has provided centuries of guidance on what music ought to be used. Anyone who spends time thinking critically about this, researching, reading, etc will come to the same conclusions about sacred music.

We have centuries of the most beautiful sacred music imaginable, with more being written still today.

When people choose inappropriate music, they're putting their own wishes and desires before those of the Church; is this not sinful?