Over the past few days, there have been several articles having to do with liturgy which have come to my attention.
These articles are coming from high places. People like the Pope and his assistants are spending a lot of time thinking about the fundamentals of liturgy.
The 'forbidden' word Latin has been mentioned a few times. One article reminded us that Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) did not call for a total abandonment of Latin. In fact, while mentioning that the vernacular language may be used, it tells us that all Catholics should know the Ordinary (Parts of the Mass, such as the Gloria and the Holy Holy) and common prayers in Latin.
I remember the day I first read this part of SC. It was almost like a blow. As a teen in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, I was told that the Archbishop had banned the use of Latin. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead. In truth I do not know if Archbishop Carney actually said that. It didn't matter. No Latin was ever used.
I had studied Latin for a couple of years in a Catholic school. It did not frighten me, as it seems to do to others. I wanted to hear it in Mass. I can't tell you why. I'd never heard it before!
It was through the miracle of the internet that I met a woman (Hi B!) who started to teach me about REAL liturgy...and it was through her, indirectly, that I began to read CS.
Some of my friends thought this woman had created a monster. Perhaps she did. My hunger for good liturgy often overrode my good manners. I began to learn, to teach (whether people wanted to hear it or not) and to demand liturgy as the Church REALLY teaches it.
I am originally a music minister although I am currently only loosely associated with a choir. It never really leaves you, though. So the other article that is foremost in my mind caught my interest.
Pope Benedict has reinstated a music director in Rome who was removed from his position during the time of Pope John Paul II. This music director is very much of the traditional school of Catholic Music. Latin again...polyphony...chant.
So are we going to finally get some rules with regard to liturgical music? One can surely hope. One of my larger 'thorns' with regards to liturgical (or pseudo-liturgical) music is that so much of the published vernacular music is just not very good. There is so much of praising the created (us!) rather than the creator. So much is not singable by your average pew-sitter.
A little tangent here. One of the liturgical mantras is 'participation'. The entire congregation should sing. But much music is too high, too complicated, or changed too frequently. To be fair, much classical liturgical music is not singable by the congregation at large. So where does this leave us?
I think current liturgical thought should re-evaluate the idea that everyone should sing everything. Okay, they don't really say that, but it is surely implied! Some music can legitimately be a 'shut-up and listen' piece. (I borrowed that phrase from someone on an email list I belong to. Sorry, don't remember whom.)
As it stands now, a whole lot of new vernacular music for the Ordinary of the Mass is going to have to be written or adapted to accomodate changes in the Sacramentary. Even if an existing piece can be adapted, will the setting (tune) suit the newly reverent words? Of course those fortunate enough to still be familiar with Latin settings will likely find their learning curve much less steep!
Gloria tibi Domino!