+Sample's Writings on Liturgical Music


#1

There’s been a thread going for some time now regarding Bishop samples appointment to the diocese of Portland, Oregon and what it means. He will have, I believe, a positive influence on OCP and hopefully help change it for the better. But anyway, I thought it might be a good discussion point to look over some of Bishop Sample’s writings on liturgical music and the directives (he hired a diocesan music director to be sure these changes were implemented!) he assigned the diocese of Marquette. I can only imagine that similar directives will be used in his new diocese.

[edited]


**Introduction**

In any discussion of the ars celebrandi (the “art of celebrating”) as it relates to the Holy Mass, perhaps nothing is more important or has a greater impact than the place of sacred music. **The beauty, dignity and prayerfulness of the Mass depend to a large extent on the music that accompanies the liturgical action.** The Holy Mass must be truly beautiful, **the very best we can offer to God**, reflecting his own perfect beauty and goodness.

Because the place of sacred music is so important, I am issuing this pastoral letter on the nature, purpose and quality of sacred music. This is an important discussion to have, **since so often the music selected for Mass is reduced to a matter of subjective “taste,” i.e. what style of music appeals to this or that person or group, as if there were no objective principles to be followed.** There are indeed objective principles worthy of study and proper implementation, as will be shown.

At the outset, it must be acknowledged that Church musicians have labored long and hard in the wake of the Second Vatican Council to help accomplish the Council’s goals as it concerns the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Mass. Indeed, many have made it their life’s work to provide music for the Sacred Liturgy. The Church, including both clergy and laity, is grateful beyond words for their dedication and service. It must also be said that the principles and practical applications which follow will come as a real change in focus and direction for many of these same dedicated musicians. What is attempted here is a faithful presentation of what **the Church has taught as it regards sacred music from the time before the Council, at the Council itself, and in the implementation of the Council’s thought in subsequent years.** **Although much of what follows may contravene the formation that many have experienced over recent years,** this is in no way to be interpreted as a criticism of those dedicated Church musicians who have offered their service with a generous heart and with good will.
[edited]

#2

1. Some history and the nature and purpose of Sacred Music

Questions concerning the place of music in divine worship can be traced back to the earliest days of the Church. At around the time of the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.) and the legalization of Christianity, the question of the inclusion of music in sacred worship was raised and much debated. Did it have a place at all in the Church’s worship? Since the psalms, part of Sacred Scripture, were meant to be sung, music was seen, ultimately, to be part of the very integrity of the Word of God. Furthermore, since Christian worship was moored to the Sacred Scriptures, music was seen as necessarily worthy of being preserved and fostered in the public worship of the Church.

Therefore, in the tradition of all the apostolic Churches, sacred music has been considered integral to the Sacred Liturgy. This means that the music proper to the Mass is not merely an addendum to worship, i.e. something external added on to the form and structure of the Mass. Rather, sacred music is an essential element of worship itself. It is an art form which takes its life and purpose from the Sacred Liturgy and is part of its very structure.

The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn Liturgy. (emphasis added by +Sample)

This understanding would preclude the common notion that we take the Mass and simply “tack on” four songs (the opening hymn, offertory hymn, communion hymn and recessional hymn), along with the sung ordinary of the Mass (Gloria, Sanctus, etc…). We must come to see that, since sacred music is integral to the Mass, the role of sacred music is to help us sing and pray the texts of the Mass itself, not just ornament it.

With this understanding of the essential nature of sacred music, what might be said of its purpose?

Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful.

The following statement from the Second Vatican Council in 1962 is drawn from the moto proprio, Tra le sollecitudini of Pope St. Pius X in the year 1903, just quoted above:

Accordingly, the Sacred Council, keeping to the norms and precepts of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline, and having regard to the purpose of sacred music, which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful, decrees as follows…3 (emphasis added by +Sample)

The Church solemnly teaches us, then, that the very purpose of sacred music is twofold: the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful. This understanding of the essential nature and purpose of sacred music must direct and inform everything else that is said about it. This essential nature and purpose will also have important and serious implications regarding its proper place within our divine worship.

To be continued…


#3

Here is a link to the document.


#4

2. The qualities of Sacred Music

With a proper understanding of the nature and purpose of sacred music and its relationship to the Holy Mass, it is necessary to next discuss the essential qualities of sacred music. These qualities are not arbitrary or subjective. Rather they objectively flow from the essential nature and purpose of sacred music itself.

Church teaching emphasizes that the music proper to the Sacred Liturgy possesses three qualities: sanctity, beauty, and universality. Only music which possesses all three of these qualities is worthy of the Mass.

Sacred music should consequently possess, in the highest degree, the qualities proper to the liturgy, and in particular sanctity and goodness of form, which will spontaneously produce the final quality of universality. - Pius X, Op. cit. I:2

a. The sanctity of sacred music

Turning once again to the teaching of Pope St. Pius X, which has had a significant impact on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in this regard, we read:

[Sacred music] must be holy, and must, therefore, exclude all profanity not only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who execute it.

Vatican II emphasized the sanctity of sacred music in these terms:

(S)acred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. -- SC 112

b. The intrinsic beauty (artistic goodness) of sacred music

Since everything associated with the Mass must be beautiful, reflecting the infinite beauty and goodness of the God we worship, this applies in a special way to the music which forms an essential and integral part of our divine worship. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:

Certainly, the beauty of our celebrations can never be sufficiently cultivated, fostered and refined, for nothing can be too beautiful for God, Who is Himself infinite Beauty. Yet our earthly liturgies will never be more than a pale reflection of the liturgy celebrated in the Jerusalem on high, the goal of our pilgrimage on earth. May our own celebrations nonetheless resemble that liturgy as closely as possible and grant us a foretaste of it! -- Pope Benedict to priests at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, September 13, 2008

Pope St. Pius X spoke of the artistic value of sacred music, another way of considering its intrinsic beauty:

[Sacred music] must be true art, for otherwise it will be impossible for it to exercise on the minds of those who listen to it that efficacy which the Church aims at obtaining in admitting into her liturgy the art of musical sounds. -- Pius X: Op. cit. I:2

c. The universality of sacred music

Finally, the third essential quality of sacred music must be considered, i.e. its universality. This quality means that any composition of sacred music, even one which reflects the unique culture of a particular region, would still be easily recognized as having a sacred character. The quality of holiness, in other words, is a universal principle that transcends culture.

While every nation is permitted to admit into its ecclesiastical compositions those special forms which may be said to constitute its native music, still these forms must be subordinate in such a manner to the general character of sacred music, **that nobody of any nation may receive an impression other than good** on hearing them. -- Pius X: Op cit. I:2

This articulation of the essential qualities of sacred music is necessary because there is often a lack of understanding or confusion as to what music is proper to the Mass and worthy of its inclusion in divine worship. Not every form or style of music is capable of being rendered suitable for the Mass.

One often gets the impression that, as long as the written text of the music or song speaks about God, then it qualifies as “sacred music.” Given what has been articulated here, this is clearly not the case. As an example, the Gloria of the Mass set to a Polka beat or in the style of rock music is not sacred music. Why not? Because such styles of music, as delightful as they might be for the dance hall or a concert, do not possess all three of the intrinsic qualities of sanctity, artistic goodness (beauty) and universality proper to sacred music.

To be continued...


#5

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:3, topic:317800"]
Here is a link to the document.

[/quote]

Thanks. :)

[edited]


#6

3. The Treasury of Sacred Music in the Church

The treasury of sacred music in the Church is indeed vast and spans many centuries, from the earliest development of chant down to our own day. But it must be born in mind that any music which forms part of this treasury, whether ancient or modern, must possess the essential qualities mentioned above and must have the true nature and purpose of sacred music as understood by the Church.

An examination of the different forms of sacred music held as a treasure by the Church is in order at this point.

a. Gregorian chant

Any discussion of the different forms of sacred music must start with Gregorian chant. The Second Vatican Council, taking a lead from Pope St. Pius X, articulated that Gregorian chant should enjoy a pride of place in the Roman liturgy. Every official liturgical document and every teaching of the popes since then has reiterated this important principle. Here again are the words of Pope St. Pius X:

Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.

As regards the faithful’s participation in sacred chant, Pope Pius XI had the following to say:

In order that the faithful may more actively participate in divine worship, let them be made once more to sing the Gregorian Chant, so far as it belongs to them to take part in it.

These themes of Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XI were actively taken up by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:

(S)teps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, in setting out the norms for the celebration of Mass reiterates this last point of the Council:

The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy.

One of the great Popes of our time, Blessed John Paul II, made the teaching of Pope St. Pius X his own:

With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the “general rule” that St Pius X formulated in these words: “The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple”. It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has made known his own teaching on the importance of Gregorian chant to the sacred liturgy:

(W)hile respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.

The U.S. Bishops’ document on sacred music, Sing to the Lord, also reminded the Church in the United States of the importance and pride of place enjoyed by Gregorian chant. Some practical suggestions are given in that document for the implementation of this principle.

Given all of this strong teaching from the Popes, the Second Vatican Council, and the U.S. Bishops, how is it that this ideal concerning Gregorian chant has not been realized in the Church? Far from enjoying a “pride of place” in the Church’s sacred liturgy, one rarely if ever hears Gregorian chant.

This is a situation which must be rectified. It will require great effort and serious catechesis for the clergy and faithful, but Gregorian chant must be introduced more widely as a normal part of the Mass. Some practical steps toward this are outlined in the Directive section of this pastoral letter.

To be continued…


#7

b. Other Sacred Music of the Church

As regards the sacred music which is appropriate for liturgical worship, next in importance to Gregorian chant is the vast repertoire of sacred polyphony, old and new, Eastern and Western. In the words of Vatican II:

(O)ther kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action. (emphasis added by +Sample)

The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted.

(Sacred polyphony is composed in a particular musical form and is most often associated with the Renaissance and composers such as Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Allegri and the like.)

Also a part of the Church’s musical treasury is the vast body of popular sacred music. In the context of the sacred liturgy, **the term “popular” does not signify the so-called “pop culture” **but comes from the Latin populus, people. Popular sacred music includes hymnody, psalmody, vernacular Mass settings, many of the Latin chant Mass settings, and other forms of sacred music suited to the musical abilities of the people.

Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics. - SC 118

The musical treasury of the Church includes not only sacred music indebted to European musical culture but also the sacred music native to other nations and peoples, which has organically developed in the context of the Latin Rite. In a community with vital social and historical ties to a specific culture, it can be most fitting that the sacred music tradition of that culture be a part of its worship when, under the guidance of the Church, it can be organically integrated into the context of Catholic worship.

In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but also in adapting worship to their native genius.

It is important to note here that when we speak of the sacred music of a particular culture, we are indeed speaking of music that is considered truly “sacred” within a culture. This principle is not applicable to subcultures within a given society that have no connection with a religious or spiritual culture.

c. Secular Music

The Church recognizes an objective difference between sacred music and secular music. Despite the Church’s norms, the idea persists among some that the lyrics alone determine whether a song is sacred or secular, while the music is exempt from any liturgical criteria and may be of any style. This erroneous idea, which was alluded to earlier, is not supported by the Church’s norms either before or since the Second Vatican Council.

This does not mean that more modern compositions are not to be admitted into the Mass. However, such compositions must meet the essential and objective criteria for what constitutes sacred music. Following are some useful citations illustrating this point. First, from before the Second Vatican Council:

It cannot be said that modern music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul.

An exhortation from the Council itself:

Let (composers) produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music.

From Blessed John Paul II:

Today, the meaning of the category ‘sacred music’ has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself. Not all the expressions of music are able to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church’s faith. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations.

From our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI:

As far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration. Consequently everything–texts, music, execution–ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons.

These reflections on the nature, purpose, qualities and treasury of sacred music in the Church’s liturgy present serious challenges in our own day as we seek to renew the Mass in a way that respects, fosters and promotes the true nature of the Mass itself. It will not be easy and will take time and patience. But it must be done if we are to achieve a genuine ars celebrandi in the Mass. The practical Directives regarding sacred music in this pastoral letter will help move us in the right direction.


#8

The rest of the document contains the directives for his diocese. While I think a lot of the points are very interesting and should be adopted by all dioceses, I’m not going to post all the instructions here. I may, however, post portions of them. For those who want to read them all, please read the full document at:

dioceseofmarquette.org/UserFiles/Bishop/PastoralLetter-RejoiceInTheLordAlways.pdf (Thanks to Oneofthewomen for posting that!)

+Sample simply points out that the directives of the Church have not been followed very well in regard to liturgical music and states plainly the nature of sacred music, backed up with a lot of quotes to prove what he is saying is legit. I think everyone, especially those involved in Church music, should read his words closely and also take a look at the directives he has outlined.


#9

It's a wonderful Letter. I wish more people would read it carefully.


#10

He makes me so proud. I'll never forget when he was our parish priest-- I was 8. He let me take my doll (her name was cupcake) into the confessional with me. After making my confession, he blessed cupcake for me too. He was my confessor until he became bishop of the diocese of Marquette. I get all excited whenever I see a thread about him because it makes me want to cheer him on. Go Bishop Sample! :D


#11

[quote="Ophelia23, post:10, topic:317800"]
He makes me so proud. I'll never forget when he was our parish priest-- I was 8. He let me take my doll (her name was cupcake) into the confessional with me. After making my confession, he blessed cupcake for me too. He was my confessor until he became bishop of the diocese of Marquette. I get all excited whenever I see a thread about him because it makes me want to cheer him on. Go Bishop Sample! :D

[/quote]

I have never met him, but I, too, am always interested whenever something new about him comes up. As a musician, I'm highly excited about his appointment to the diocese of Portland, OR. I'm hoping he takes a hickory stick to OCP, and then gently guides them along the right path. He needs our prayers (as do all our bishops).


#12

Archbishop Sample is one of several bishops I've kept my eye on for several years b/c of his clarity and boldness in speaking God's truth, and his enthusiastic zeal! Go, Your Grace!!

Well, I'd been wondering about the pastoral, b/c I know he said it had been rattling round his head for a while and that he was working on it. And then after the Portland announcement, I wondered how that would affect it. Sadly that bigger project won't be completed now, but I was glad to see at least some of its fruits in "Rejoice in the Lord Always".

Here's what I wrote somewhere else: I was happy to see it when it came out, and sent it to several friends, who in turn sent it to some Music Directors…

Some of the situations he described certainly apply to my neck of the woods in California; in all my life I've only been at one Mass where the Introit and other Propers were said. They spoke the words, didn't sing them, but even that was stunning to me, b/c they were actually being used!

The idea that particularly struck me from the pastoral was:
+++
"The liturgical books (the Missal, Graduale and Lectionary) envision that, as a
rule, we sing the Mass at Mass, rather than sing songs during Mass."
+++

And obviously I don't see what Father sees up there so the fact that there are melodies in the Roman Missal I found very interesting:
+++
For the Sung Mass, the celebrant should learn to sing, without instrumental
accompaniment, the celebrant’s chants for the orations and dialogues to the
melodies given in the Roman Missal, with the responses sung by the faithful.

Hopefully not just Marquette but Portland, OR will benefit from His Grace's excellent letter. It'd be a joyful blessing to have a beautiful, dignified, and prayerful installation Mass.

amsjj :)

+++
Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.
+ Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851

Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.
+ San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974

… Our Lord Himself frequently said; and it is recorded as an Apostolic tradition from Him by St. Justin the Martyr. He says ‘Jesus often said, “They who are near Me are near a fire”’.
+ Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, August 1st 1886


#13

:clapping:

I wish more people--particularly music directors and liturgists--would read these documents. I, as DOM, once had a brief falling out with my youth choir director when I told her she could not use "Lean on Me" at Offertory once about 4 years ago; yes, it actually does appear in a congregational songbook (albeit one of those contemporary "youthy" ones, which I call songbook because it is not worthy of the word hymnal). In my last parish we were setting the ball in motion to chant the propers (although it was only once a year at that point), and the choir actually enjoyed singing the square notes.
My current parish does not have much of a history of doing Chant, although I am slowly starting to work some more in. In fact, this weekend the men of the choir are chanting the Parce Domine unaccompanied at Offertory.


#14

[quote="hcmusicguy, post:13, topic:317800"]
:clapping:

I wish more people--particularly music directors and liturgists--would read these documents. I, as DOM, once had a brief falling out with my youth choir director when I told her she could not use "Lean on Me" at Offertory once about 4 years ago; yes, it actually does appear in a congregational songbook (albeit one of those contemporary "youthy" ones, which I call songbook because it is not worthy of the word hymnal). In my last parish we were setting the ball in motion to chant the propers (although it was only once a year at that point), and the choir actually enjoyed singing the square notes.
My current parish does not have much of a history of doing Chant, although I am slowly starting to work some more in. In fact, this weekend the men of the choir are chanting the Parce Domine unaccompanied at Offertory.

[/quote]

Yes, more people NEED to read this article. I'm a bit surprised there have been so few responses considering how many posts other threads on music get. [edited]

I've made people angry with me on numerous occasions because I refuse to play certain pieces of music that are inappropriate for the liturgy. No amount of explaining helps, either. As a church musician, it's just something you have to learn to live with these days.


#15

There were a couple of exhaustive threads on this a few weeks ago, pages long.


#16

I wasn’t around much so I probably missed it.


#17

Dear opus101, could you provide a few of those links please? I'm not online too much at home.

much appreciated!
amsjj :)

+++
Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.
+ Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851

Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.
+ San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974

… Our Lord Himself frequently said; and it is recorded as an Apostolic tradition from Him by St. Justin the Martyr. He says ‘Jesus often said, “They who are near Me are near a fire”’.
+ Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, August 1st 1886


#18

I'm going to share this document with our other musicians.


#19

[quote="The_Curt_Jester, post:1, topic:317800"]
There's been a thread going for some time now regarding Bishop samples appointment to the diocese of Portland, Oregon and what it means. He will have, I believe, a positive influence on OCP and hopefully help change it for the better. But anyway, I thought it might be a good discussion point to look over some of Bishop Sample's writings on liturgical music and the directives (he hired a diocesan music director to be sure these changes were implemented!) he assigned the diocese of Marquette. I can only imagine that similar directives will be used in his new diocese.

[/quote]

I agree with much of what I've read so far. It seems to be something he is well-versed in.. a strong point for him. I'm interested to see if he'll have influence over OCP. If he does, will it affect the rest of the country since so many parishes use OCP?


#20

[quote="Sarabande, post:19, topic:317800"]
I agree with much of what I've read so far. It seems to be something he is well-versed in.. a strong point for him. I'm interested to see if he'll have influence over OCP. If he does, will it affect the rest of the country since so many parishes use OCP?

[/quote]

I would think there would be a small change. However, I'd imagine that many churches would probably still find a way play their favorites. Altering course will take a long time.


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