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  #1  
Old Aug 28, '08, 9:19 am
eyeCalypso eyeCalypso is offline
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Default The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

I'm reading a book on the history of the saxophone and was struck by a tiny passage. One sentence read: “In 1903, Pope Pius X wrote the Motu Proprio on Sacred Music, which prohibited certain instruments “that may give reasonable cause for disgust or scandal” – that is, the saxophone – as being “unworthy of the House of Prayer and of the Majesty of God.”

Is anyone familiar with this Motu Proprio? Does anyone know is this true and/or still valid? Is the Saxophone prohibited from being played in church under the guidance of Pope Pius X? Now that I think of it, I’ve never seen or heard a sax in any Catholic liturgical setting.

Thanks for any answers.
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  #2  
Old Aug 28, '08, 10:52 am
reginacaeli reginacaeli is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

The entire text of the document is here:

For the first time while on vacation this year, I heard a saxophone during Holy Communion. The sax and its accompaniment sounded like dinner music at a jazz bar.

Yea, it's still valid, unless someone points to a non-binding USCC document from the 1970s.
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  #3  
Old Aug 28, '08, 10:56 am
mattwcu mattwcu is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Pope St. Pius X mentions wind instruments which, of course, the saxophone is. Take a look:

20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church. Only in special cases with the consent of the [bishop of the diocese] will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the place. In that case, the composition and accompaniment must be written in a serious and appropriate style; the composition and accompaniment must conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.

21. In processions outside the church, the [bishop of the diocese] may give permission for a band, provided no profane pieces be executed. It would be desirable in such cases that the band confine itself to accompanying some spiritual canticle sung in Latin or in the vernacular by the singers and the pious associations which take part in the procession.
I think everyone would do well to listen to Pius X's encyclical even today. What it comes down to is this:

1. No Bands
2. Wind instruments with permission of the bishop.
3. It better be Mozart or something similar.
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  #4  
Old Aug 28, '08, 1:36 pm
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Somewhere on line is a mpg of a Bach chorale played by a full ensemble of saxophones: everything from the soprillo (octave above the soprano) and sopranino saxophones to the newly invented sub-contrabass tubax (octave below the bass saxophone).

The color of this ensemble has a unified and homogeneous timbre that can only be compared with a well-voiced prinicpal chorus on an organ.

You can see most of these instruments and hear the mpg here:

http://jayeaston.com/galleries/sax_f...ax_family.html

"To my ears the saxophone is the most expressive of all wind instruments – the one closest to the human voice. And surely all musical instruments should be rated according to their tonal closeness to man’s own voice!"
-composer Percy Grainger, from his program notes to "Linconshire Posy"
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  #5  
Old Aug 28, '08, 3:13 pm
eyeCalypso eyeCalypso is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

That link to Motu Proprio was quite intersting. It seems that somehow most of the pastors must have missed this document judging from the music I've heard at many Masses.
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  #6  
Old Aug 29, '08, 1:02 pm
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Cavaille-Coll Cavaille-Coll is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattwcu View Post

1. No Bands
2. Wind instruments with permission of the bishop.
3. It better be Mozart or something similar.
Actually, Mozart was prohibited, and may still be, from the Mass because of his profane operas and his connection with Freemasonry.

I read somewhere that Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, received death threats from several musicians,.
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  #7  
Old Aug 29, '08, 1:26 pm
AlanF AlanF is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattwcu View Post
20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church.
Does this mean that guitars and tambourines also aren't allowed in church?
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  #8  
Old Aug 29, '08, 4:34 pm
DaveBj DaveBj is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanF View Post
Does this mean that guitars and tambourines also aren't allowed in church?
I wish!
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  #9  
Old Aug 30, '08, 11:14 am
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Cavaille-Coll Cavaille-Coll is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattwcu View Post

1. No Bands
Would someone PLEASE tell me that these rules are still in force? Quinceañeras are annoying enough without that blasted mariachi band shattering windows with their (usually untuned) instruments.
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  #10  
Old Aug 30, '08, 11:49 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaille-Coll View Post
Would someone PLEASE tell me that these rules are still in force? Quinceañeras are annoying enough without that blasted mariachi band shattering windows with their (usually untuned) instruments.
come on down here for real mariachi music, with well-tuned instruments, and some of the best professional musicians you will ever here. no I don't like it at Mass, but if the bishop okays it, not my problem. beats some ex-hippie who knows two guitar chords and is a Dylan wannabee with less talent and worse voice trying to lead songs at 5 pm Mass.
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  #11  
Old Aug 30, '08, 11:52 am
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Did you know that one of the least-known saxophones was actually the first one invented?

It was the bass sax.
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  #12  
Old Aug 30, '08, 11:16 pm
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Claire from DE Claire from DE is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

My mother learned to play the saxophone in Catholic high school but when she went to a Catholic women's college in 1930 she was forbidden to play it because "it inflames the passions". So I guess that was the perception in the early part of the century.

I was told that the organ was first used by the Romans at their entertainments. If true, not an auspicious beginning for a sacred instrument.
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  #13  
Old Aug 31, '08, 12:40 am
Aramis Aramis is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

The Piano was also banned by a papal decree (accrding to Norton Anthology of ZWestern Music).

But a great many parishes have pianos.
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  #14  
Old Aug 31, '08, 4:20 am
bpbasilphx bpbasilphx is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

**But a great many parishes have pianos.**

I should think that, at least in the Western liturgy, a well-played piano is more appropriate than a little toy spinet organ played by a left-footed organist wearing mittens (as is so often the case).
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  #15  
Old Aug 31, '08, 7:02 am
Holy Crucifix Holy Crucifix is offline
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Default Re: The Saxophone and Pope Pius X ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavaille-Coll View Post
Actually, Mozart was prohibited, and may still be, from the Mass because of his profane operas and his connection with Freemasonry.
If this were true it would certainly be a surprise to me, because the Church commisiond Mozart to write a series of the Mass, and a priest I know (and a very orthodox one at that) recently had one played at the Mass.
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