It seems to me that if we were to command that all congregations adopt this exclusively, the desired goal of the Council for full participation would be lost, for there would be next to none singing. The hymns in use today, as were those when you and I grew up, are easily sung.
There are a couple of serious, albeit common, misconceptions evident in Joysong’s reasoning.
Firstly, “active participation” has come be understood as meaning “doing something;” reading, moving, singing, etc… This has led to any number of problems. The truth is, active participation more properly means entering into the liturgy, above all interiorly, which obviously at times can be best acheived through silence. *Musicam Sacram *touches on this:
- The faithful fulfil their liturgical role by making that full, conscious and active participation which is demanded by the nature of the Liturgy itself and which is, by reason of baptism, the right and duty of the Christian people.13 This participation
(a) Should be above all internal, in the sense that by it the faithful join their mind to what they pronounce or hear, and cooperate with heavenly grace,14
(b) Must be, on the other hand, external also, that is, such as to show the internal participation by gestures and bodily attitudes, by the acclamations, responses and singing.15
The other misconception in Joysong’s post seems to be the notion that in order to allow for the people to participate in singing, the music itself needs to be brought down to meet the people. What is lost in this erroneous thinking is the real goal, that the people be trained so that they may be able to raise up both their minds and their voices to participate in the sacred; it isn’t necessarily something to be acheived over night simply by choosing rudimentary hymns. Viewed more correctly, singing in the liturgy is not so much a right of participation as it is a priviledge to which one should aspire. Once again, *Musicam Sacram *touches on this, in article 16:
(b) Through suitable instruction and practices, the people should be gradually led to a fuller – indeed, to a complete – participation in those parts of the singing which pertain to them.
Joysong’s misunderstandings are unfortunately not uncommon. In the name of “active participation,” songs that have all of the appeal of nursery rhyme jingles have become commonplace. For example, just today at Mass we sang “Glory and Praise to Our God.” While the words themselves aren’t offensive, the song is insipid to the point of being out of place with sacredness of the liturgy.