The Power of Music

The reason is lack of solid catechesis.

Could not agree more.

Thank you for giving evidence that my original post was not wacko.

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That would be the code of canon law 381. You seem to read that chant having a place of pride means that it is to be primary in every parish, but that is not the literal meaning. I have asked if there is any bishop in the United states that subscribes to this interpretation, yet none have been identified.

I do not know how to respond to one so convinced of their opinion that it is indistinguishable from fact, but your opinion is not only just an opinion, but I have yet to hear of one bishop that agrees.

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You’ve told us what the phrase does not mean. Tell us what it does mean.

I have experienced the same basic phenomenon in many places as well. It’s more common than you think! Or maybe you are already aware of that!

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It means it has an important place in the life of the Church. The phrase is also used for the organ. In my diocese all parishes donated money to install a 2 million dollar organ in the cathedral. That is a place of pride. Our diocese also has a school of Gregorian chant.

I don’t see that, but as I’ve described several times, our city has had major educational woes, and for several years, music was cut from the curriculum in our public schools. Since most parents don’t have sing-a-longs in their home, most kids grow up listening strictly to pop, country, or some kind of black music (in recent years it’s rap and hip-hop), and so the kids listen to it, too, and these styles of music do not encourage learning to sing properly.

Chant (the simple type that you describe from our Gather Hymnals) has been tried several times in my large parish in the “good section” of our city, and the result was that the people stopped singing.

I think that it might have gone better had strong cantors done every Mass for the first few weeks–cantors who sing well and can correctly and beautifully sing the right notes in the chant, and alos clearly pronounce the Latin.

Also, the page number in the hymnal of the chant was not always announced or posted, so many people had no clue what was being sung or realized that they were supposed to be joining in (those who remember the Latin Mass didn’t think they were supposed to sing, too).

And it didn’t help that all the different accompanists accompanied the chant differently. Our music minister played the chant (melody with a chord background) on the organ. Another pianist created a contemporary-sounding accompaniment, which was actually rather pretty, but again, for chant? I alone gave a pitch and then dropped and allowed the cantor to lead the people because there are no accompaniments for the chants in our hymnal, and frankly, I think piano-accompanied chant is just too weird and incorrect and totally against the entire “feel” and 'spirit" of chant!!! It’s like accompanied cheers at a ball game–no one does that! So weird!

I know that the huge majority of people in our parish are younger and didn’t grow up with the Latin (especially all the converts), and so if the words were not readily available, and the pronunciation, since most people have not been taught how to pronounce Latin–and so they had no clue. And again, if the cantor didn’t know how to properly sing chant, they couldn’t understand the cantor and remember Latin phrases that they don’t understand and a chant “melody line” at the same time–it’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach together–many people can’t do it.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why the parish didn’t use the OVERHEAD SCREEN to make it easier for the people to learn!!! Oh, but that’s too PROTESTANT (dripping with sarcasm!).

I really do think, though, that many of the people in our parish suffer from an extreme lack of music education and just don’t feel comfortable singing in public ever.

While that is true, I don’t think the lack of music education is entirely to blame. Congregations generally will sing the responses and simple chants if the priest begins them, particularly the Kyrie, and Angus Dei, and other simple responses. Repetition breeds familiarity. Keeping the same setting for a while allows the congregation to learn. People also appreciate having at least just one strong voice leader. It allows them a place “to hide” their voice because that strong voice gives them courage to sing. There are many people who through repetition have learned particular chants and chant responses, who, when a strong voice leader is not present, become self conscious and go silent. Good cantors provide courage and cover for these people, and I would dare say that these are the vast majority that make up these untrained masses of Mass goers.

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Hmmm, maybe Archbishop Sample?

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I remember when he wrote this, and I had him in mind, but he basically mirrors the GIRM and what has been said of it. He uses “place of pride” but does not define it as mandatory. Even the propers admit for substitution for pastoral reasons. In his diocesan instructions, the very first point is active participation. That would be a primary pastoral reason for any selection.

The Latin phrase is “principem locum”, which is better translated as “first place” (as it is translated in some other language versions of Sacrosanctum Concilium, rather than the rather bizarre “pride of place”). Is there anybody reading this who thinks Gregorian Chant actually occupies “first place” (not “important place” but “first place”) in the Latin Rite liturgy?

And I am unaware of the same phrase being used for the organ.


There’s an old saying: “Cut your cloak to fit your cloth.”

Lots of practical wisdom in that saying. Think about this saying when you are considering the music in your parishes and wondering why your parish doesn’t do ________ (fill in the blank with what you think Mass music should be).

Also consider the possibility that you could buy “new cloth” for your parish!

Example of really holy music with great power in chorus.

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The problem is too many parishes threw out the decent old cloaks and cloth they already had! It is a labor-intensive and expensive process to weave new musical cloth.

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I wish our local parishes WOULD spend some money on parish music!

We have many churches that do not have an organist, so the organs are shut up and unused (and probably not maintained, either, which means that the first organist to play them may hear nothing but rushing air and perhaps have a bat or two fly out!).

We have many churches, including our Cathedral!–with no on-staff, paid music minister. It’s no wonder places like Willowcreek and the Willowcreek church plants attract so many people–music is a major part of their budget and they hire the best professionals to plan and play the music!

We have many parish schools with no certified music teacher.

We have many parishes who do not pay their organists or pianists, or who pay such a low fee that the musicians play at Protestant churches to make ends meet.

We have many parishes who haven’t purchased new music for their choirs in decades, but it doesn’t matter because so many parishes don’t have a choir anyway.

We have many parishes who don’t maintain their instruments.

We have many parishes who don’t pay their music ministers (if they have one) to attend the national or even regional sacred music conferences, including the ones presented by Catholics!

We have many parishes who haven’t heard a concert artist present a program in their church (yes, it’s OK to do that with some provisions to protect the Blessed Sacrament from irreverence) in decades!

I could go on and on, but it’s discouraging. I get the feeling that they’ve pretty much given up here.

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Canon Law 381 reads:

Can. 381 §1 In the diocese entrusted to his care, the diocesan Bishop has all the ordinary, proper and immediate power required for the exercise of his pastoral office, except in those matters which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme or to some other ecclesiastical authority.

So, bishops have power. That power is immediate yet under the law/decree of the pope or other ecclesiastical authority.

Is not the GIRM (a document agreed upon by US Bishops and approved by Rome) one of those laws/decrees which any US bishop is under?

If not, why not?

Just to make things easier: what do you think “pride of place” means?

The only things I believe are facts are the words in the GIRM which the US bishops voted on and which Rome approved.

Are you saying that not one bishop in the US agrees that the document all the bishops voted on is true?

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No. I said, “I have asked if there is any bishop in the United states that subscribes to this interpretation, yet none have been identified.”

I do not equate your interpretation with the actual GIRM.

Unfortunately, “pride of place” is a strange translation of the Latin “principem locum”, which I am told translates better into “first place” (you can see this more clearly in the translations into other languages).

So the question can be reframed as “what does ‘first place’ mean”, regarding Gregorian chant?


How important? Weekly? Monthly? Only on Feast Days?

Please elaborate.

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