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Cutting Edge

by Gary D. Penkala

A liturgically astute deacon told me the other day, "You know, you guys at CanticaNOVA are really cutting edge." He had just returned from a BCDW – FDLC Roman Missal Workshop. One of the goals of the session was to strongly encourage chanting the liturgy, including the readings. The deacon, who has been using our Book of Sung Gospels for years, noticed that the tone chosen by the music editors of the new Roman Missal is the same tone we've been using in our BSG (since 1996). Cutting edge — indeed!

Just how else can a conservative publishing company be cutting edge, or perhaps "progressively traditional?"

  1. For over a decade, we've been encourging what the new Roman Missal workshops are now proposing — singing the Mass. We have tutorial CDs and videos to help the priest and deacon chant their parts of the Mass: Ordinary Form in English, Ordinary Form in Latin, Extraordinary Form (CD), Extraordinary Form: Low Mass (DVD), and Extraordinary Form: High Mass (DVD)
     
  2. Our first product, the Book of Sung Gospels, suggested that the deacon or priest chant the Gospel, as a means "adding the appropriate solemnity and grace to the liturgy." The ancient tone becomes present in the modern ear as Gospel-proclaimers in the United States and throughout the English-speaking world bring song to the Good News.
     
  3. We began to get serious about Gregorian chant. We've been selling the real books, the Graduale Romanum, the Graduale simplex and the Gregorian Missal, for years! The first two come with our exclusive and complimentary Guides [GR and GS], which translate from the Latin all the headings and directions of the corresponding chant books. We also have Booklets of Chant, in modern notation, for those singers who are working on, but have not yet mastered, the art of reading Gregorian neums. A clear and thorough chant textbook is available, written by Dr. Susan Treacy, on the Board of Directors of the Church Music Association of America.
     
  4. There is more and more Latin in the liturgy in this country. For over ten years we've been giving away free Ecclesiatical Latin Pronunciation cards with our Booklets of Chant. And much of our music is based on chant.
     
  5. Parishes have come to see "rubrics" not as a nasty word, but as a means of ennobling liturgy and maintain a clear link to tradition. CNP has facilitated this attitude by offering some fantastic books by Bishop Elliott: Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year and Liturgical Question Box, as well as the actual Rites themselves! Fr. Scott Haynes has a rubrical guide to the Extraordinary Form, too.
     
  6. CNP was selling these two books when the author was "just" Cardinal Ratzinger: A New Song for the Lord and The Spirit of the Liturgy.
     
  7. We made propers available in a simple format that any parish could use, even with just a cantor.
     
  8. Since the beginning, our Musical Musings articles have trumpeted the "reform of the reform," with writings on liturgy, music and many other topics.
     
  9. Even before major publishers offered their "planning service" subscriptions, CNP had free online Liturgical Planning Pages ... and they're still free! The most frequent comment we receive as a company is about these pages — how much the parish musicians rely on them weekly and how complete and solid are the contents. There's no rubbish music here. And we recommend good music from a variety of publishers, not just gratuitously suggesting only our own pieces.
     
  10. Perhaps the best way that CanticaNOVA Publications is cutting edge is by accepting our responsibility as publishers to put only the best quality music in the hands of parish musicians. We strongly feel that sacred music should never be a "popularity contest," whereby the catchy tunes and the warm feel-good music is perpetuated soley because it sells. Part of our job is to educate Catholic musicians as to what music is proper to the liturgy. Let's hope the other Catholic publishers soon follow suit!

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