Tuesday 15 September 2009

Liturgical Music: Turning the clock back...with guitars and popular songs...

From an interview with Ennio Morricone: Ennio Morricone: Faith Always Present In My Music

Composer Talks About the Spirituality Behind His Work

By Edward Pentin

ROME, SEPT. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- You may not recognize his name, but you will almost certainly be familiar with his music.

Maestro Ennio Morricone is widely regarded as one of Hollywood's finest film score composers. Best known for the memorable and moody soundtracks to the "Spaghetti Westerns" of the 1960s, such as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "A Fistful of Dollars," and "Once Upon a Time in the West," to many Catholics he is perhaps best loved for his moving score in "The Mission," a 1986 film about Jesuit missionaries in 18th-century South America.

But his contribution to the movie industry extends far beyond his most famous works, having scored around 450 films and worked with Hollywood’s leading directors, from Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci to Brian De Palma and Roman Polanski...

We turn to the subject of another keen musician: Pope Benedict XVI. Morricone says he has a "very good opinion" of the Holy Father. "He seems to me to be a very high minded Pope, a man of great culture and also great strength," he says. He is particularly complimentary about Benedict XVI's efforts to reform the liturgy -- a subject about which Morricone feels very strongly.

"Today the Church has made a big mistake, turning the clock back 500 years with guitars and popular songs," he argues. "I don't like it at all. Gregorian Chant is a vital and important tradition of the Church and to waste this by having kids mix religious words with profane, Western songs is hugely grave, hugely grave."

He says it's turning the clock back because the same thing happened before the Council of Trent when singers mixed profanity with sacred music. "He [the Pope] is doing well to correct it," he says. "He should correct it with much more firmness. Some churches have taken heed [of his corrections], but others haven't."

Don't know the first thing about Gregorian Chant? But want to learn?

Well have a look at this Classic text: Goodchild [http://www.musicasacra.com/pdf/goodchild.pdf]

As New Liturgical describe it:
It's like the fast track to chant, just a few early chapters on the basics and then you plunge right into the repertory, and all the main settings and hymns are here, one by one, in Solesmes-style notation. It has translations. It even has study questions! Fr. Samuel Weber is the one who told me about this. He remembers it fondly.

I've thought for a long time that a book like this needs to be written. Well, it's already been done. If I were founding a schola today, or teaching middle school kids chant, this is the book I would use. No question

How do we sing Gregorian Chant in English at Mass? Like this: the Introit (Entrance Chant). Do it next Sunday...

Our last post outlined the various resources available to re-enchant Holy Mass, by employing the authentic Liturgical music of the Roman Rite.

A particular focus was the Propers in Latin and in English.

Now something that shows us what this can sounds like if done in English.

Obviously, the (Latin) Gregorian Chant from the Graduale Romanum is the standard for us. 

But we all know that sometimes the "situation" regrettably - suggests that Latin is a no go.  So, an alternative needs to be employed if we are to even approach the ideal of the sacred liturgical chant (rather than caving-in to some poor substitute).

So, for those situations...

New Liturgical Movement today highlights another resource (which we will add to our last post) for Gregorian Chant adapted into English from Fr Samuel F Weber OSB.

Fr Weber is of the Institute of Sacred Music in St. Louis (no to be confused with the St Louis Jesuits, please).  The rendention in the video involves the singing of Proper Chants commissione for the 2009 Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago, USA. 

But whatever chant resource is used, the principle of executing it in English in the Liturgical context is the same.

This video shows you how it’s done.

This is the Introit beginning with a psalm verse from Psalm 26, the Introit Antiphon and the additional psalm verses:

Ps. Unto Thee will I cry O Lord
O my God be not Thou silent to me
Lest if Thou be silent to me
I become like them that go down into the pit.

The Lord is the strength of His people
And the protector of the salvation of His anointed
Save, O Lord, Thy people
And bless Thine inheritance
And rule them forever

As NLM note:

“Here is how it sounds and feels within its liturgical context. Aside from this chant being a clear expression of the principle of a reform or development in continuity, it is worthwhile noting how immediately and effectively it contributes toward setting the proper tone of the liturgy as an act of communal divine worship. It also demonstrates how, as Fr. Weber would say, the chant can sound when it grows out of an English text.

Anyone who is interested may receive these Propers by sending an email to Father Weber at the Institute of Sacred Music within the Archdiocese of Saint Louis: weber@kenrick.edu. There is no charge for them."