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Musical Musings: Liturgy Page 2

Summorum pontificum Notes:

A music professor's perspective (Part 2)

8) In the current climate at Ave Maria, do you find the student body in general favorable to sacred music? I notice that the University has the Novus Ordo in Latin several times a week – are you able to sing Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony for those Masses?

I believe that there is a lot of interest in sacred music at Ave Maria University. We have a Men's Schola Gregoriana of approximately eighteen members and a Women's Schola Gregoriana with about the same number of members. The AMU Choir has about 60 members this semester, and there is a Chamber Choir of about 16 members. This year we are starting a new, dedicated liturgical choir to sing sacred polyphony at Mass, The Oratory Singers, an elite choir of 12 members, several of whom have won the first scholarships in our new Choral Scholars Program. We will also be offering an organ scholarship each year. We offer a BA with a concentration in Sacred Music, and also a Sacred Music Minor. Last year's freshman music theory class had six students; this year there are 22. Remember, this is a new university with about 500 students, and we are just at the beginning of the fourth year of our Music Major program. Every Sunday there is a Novus Ordo Latin Mass at which the Scholae sing. This semester the Latin Mass is at 8am, and at that the Men's Schola chants Proper chants and leads the congregation in the Latin responses and Ordinary chants. There is also a small, student-directed vocal ensemble that provides sacred choral music. The Women's Schola does the same thing at the Noon Mass, even though that Mass is said in English. When Feasts and Solemnities fall on weekdays the Schola are there to chant; an example would be yesterday, September 8th, when they chanted for the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity. Next Sunday will be the debut of The Oratory Singers, who will sing sacred polyphony every week at the Noon Mass. For more information, please visit our departmental website which is a work in progress; more is coming soon on music ensembles, new faculty, the organ and sacred music-related topics.

9A) Concerning Summorum pontificum's legislation on the Traditional Liturgy, the chaplain at Ave Maria University said the following:

It may happen that a priest wishes to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, a Mass in accordance with the Roman Missal of 1962, commonly called a "Tridentine Mass." This may be out of personal preference or in response to requests from the faithful. In accord with the provisions of Summorum pontificum, the Holy Father's apostolic letter given "motu proprio" ("on his own impulse"), arrangements will be made beforehand through the Chaplain's Office to celebrate properly the Tridentine Mass in the Ark Chapel or in the Library Chapel. At the present time, the Tridentine Mass will not be available in the "Ballroom."

Since the Ballroom is the location where the official public Masses take place, is it fair to suggest that the chaplain is saying there will be no official public celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass?

I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Certainly, there will be plenty of people attending the celebrations of the Traditional Mass, once they begin, but officially, I guess, these celebrations might be considered private Masses if they are not held in the "Ballroom" chapel. Some people were concerned about this very thing.

9B) And are these chapels mentioned fitting places for the Traditional Mass?

The Library chapel is not yet ready for use and I have not seen the Ark chapel, which, I believe, is in the Student Union building. As an aside, the Library chapel will have the best acoustics for music of any of these chapels.

10) Will you be able to lead a schola for the Traditional Latin Mass? Or will the said celebrations be Low Mass only?

I have not been told whether the Traditional Masses will be Low Masses or whether they will be a Missa Cantata (probably not a Solemn High Mass, for lack of many clergy who sing). I have alerted my Schola that we might be chanting at the Traditional Mass.

11) Is there interest among the student body at Ave Maria for classical sacred polyphony such as that expressed in Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria, Desprez or Tallis?

Yes, I would say so. The students have already sung works by all these composers, except Desprez, and they love the music. My esteemed colleagues, Dr. Timothy McDonnell and Mr. Lynn Kraehling, as well as myself, are eager to do as much of this music as possible.

12A) Do you find that resistance to Gregorian chant and polyphony emanates from the lack of real musical erudition and appreciation in American and contemporary European culture?

More young people are starting to know and love the Church's heritage of sacred music. The lack of musical erudition and appreciation (for higher culture) is something that has long been an undercurrent in our country. The fabrication of the "teen culture" and the advent of rock music certainly contributed to the lowering of cultural standards in the United States. The "progressive" response to Vatican Council II seemed to be the "kiss of death" for Catholic culture, especially in its efforts to cut Catholics off from their cultural patrimony. American pop culture has unfortunately infiltrated Europe and Asia, as well. Most Catholic young people born after Vatican II are not to be blamed for their lack of musical erudition and appreciation (for higher culture). They have been deprived of their true culture.

12B) Consequently, do you believe a reintroduction of sacred music into Church life might influence a renaissance of classical learning among the youth?

I believe that this renaissance has already begun, thanks, in large part, to the home-schooling movement. This grassroots movement amongst the laity has given impetus to the work that the CMAA has been carrying on for years in its efforts to preserve and foster the heritage of sacred music. Another exciting development is the youth movement, Juventutem, which was born in 2005, in preparation for World Youth Day at Cologne. A major component of the movement was the first-rate sacred music prepared and sung by the young people at their traditional liturgies during World Youth Day.

13) At a 24 June 2006 concert of sacred polyphony in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict made the following remark:

All of the selections we have listened to – and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel – agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the "Roman school," constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

Why do you suppose that Catholic media did not air this more, and that music directors, universities, bishops, parish priests and choir directors throughout the whole Church did not act on this and begin a study of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony?

They didn't want to. I think that there are a multitude of reasons. Many of these people just let these changes happen because they were a part of the revolution in our society. Now, even if they realize that they personally would rather have good music, they don't have the courage or the industriousness or the faith to make the effort to act on the words of the Holy Father. They don't, on principle, want to do what the pope says, and they are afraid to challenge their people. Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony are so counter-cultural! There are, of course, many faithful Catholics laboring behind the scenes, lovingly promoting this priceless treasure. May their number increase! P.S. We now have the Traditional Latin Mass in Naples every Sunday, celebrated by Fr. James Fryar, FSSP. The FSSP was invited into the Diocese of Venice in Florida by our new bishop, H.E. Frank Dewane.

Thank you very much for your time, and I and my readers will pray for your work at AMU.

Dr. Treacy is the author of the textbook, A Plain & Easy Introduction to Gregorian Chant, published by CanticaNOVA Publications.

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