Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Service to the Church

Happy Tuesday to one and all. Here at WLP, we are still in that period of lull following the NPM convention . Memories linger and I can still hear the wonderful voices of the children's choir of the American Federation Pueri Cantores, as well as the sounds of the William Ferris Chorale at Orchestra Hall.
Every once in a while, I do a search out there in virtual land, simply using the words "gotta sing gotta pray." I did the same today. It seems that many of the issues I bring up on this blog stir up quite a but of discussion out there. I'd like to address just one strain of those discussions. 

This has to do with the clustering of all the Catholic music publishers in this country together and referring to us in various terms: "Mega-Music Complex" and "Liturgical Industrial Complex." Some people use phrases such as "they want to rake it in" when referring to the new Mass settings that publishers are preparing for that moment when the new translation of the Missale Romanum is implemented. I thank God that I am a tough-skinned man (most of the time). I find these comments to be uncharitable and way off the mark. I am not saying that this publishing company does not want to be profitable. There are thirty people working diligently in this publishing house. The vast majority are here because they want to bring the best of their God-given talents and abilities to a noble purpose. They are committed to providing musical, liturgical, and prayer resources to the Church, with the ultimate hope that what we produce brings people into closer conformity to Jesus Christ. And they have children who need shoes on their feet. They have mortgages to pay. They have spouses who are unemployed. They have charitable works that they perform. WLP is the music and liturgy division of the J. S. Paluch Company, the owners of which are among the most generous Catholics I have ever encountered. Remember that the publishing companies haven't been lobbying the bishops or the Vatican to re-translate the Latin text. We are faced with an enormous challenge. And we are dedicated to the continuance of our service to the Church by providing—simply—the best and most affordable resources to make this transition as smooth as possible. 

One comment about the music publishers that was made on one of the many blogs that I read caught my attention most notably, and I thank this person for the sentiments expressed.

"You may project cash-register noises on them if you must, but I find Dr. Galipeau's comments rather restrained and surprisingly apropos to what portends to be a major dilemma for average parishes, once these new translations are implemented. Nothing like this has been seen in thirty years. I keep waiting for somebody to add an authoritative caveat along the lines of, "But of course, musical settings of long standing custom may continue to be used in parishes for X amount of time," X being about forever. Considering the odd English translations of the Ordinary I continue to encounter here and there (including the Anglican stuff sung at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception), I can't imagine this go-around will be any different. If it isn't, and bishops start issuing cut-off dates and mandating missalettes/music issue-burning sessions, I think we are in real trouble. This would be worse than the upending we experienced in the late 60s-early 70s. Like them or not, the standard Ordinary settings heard in the vast majority of parishes nationwide are ingrained, if not actively loved. That to me represents a legitimate attachment, which denied or ignored is bound to cause serious spiritual harm. If Dr. Galipeau's publishing company can make that transition any easier (and he clearly thinks it can), then he deserves whatever cashing-in he can manage in the process."

As I said, we exist to serve the needs of the Church and we will serve those needs in the best possible manner. I have never been prouder of the dedicated staff here at WLP. These professionals make every day a joy for me. And for this, I gotta sing and I gotta pray.


John R. Halloran said...


I don't envy the task before you one bit. There are so many different takes on this entire subject - everything from let's make sure that the publishers use the new chants to "retiring" certain Mass settings to "re-imagining" others. Not to mention the problems of getting these works to us, the parishes that have to implement the changes, in a timely manner. You need lead time to prepare the resources; we need lead time to prepare from those resources... thanks from all of us for all that you have done and continue to do.

None of the "Big 3" can be all things for all people. You can only do your best and pray that what you do will meet our needs. And, as we become more accustomed to the changes, there will be more available in the future.

When the changes first took effect, we had Ray Repp and Sebastian Temple. It took years for us to develop a Mass of Creation or a bilingual Misa Luna. As our understanding grows, as our level of comfort grows, our music grows.

So again, thanks for everything. I know that I speak for many who appreciate the time and effort that you - and everyone else there - take to prepare these products. And we appreciate the time you take to listen to our comments and to be present for us "in the field."

Linda Reid said...

Gerry, it was so nice to meet you at NPM, as I have enjoyed reading your blog! Ihope you back is better!
Whoever posted that quote you used was right on, IMHO. We are all in this unique situation together and there is no need for rancor!
peace, Linda

jdonliturgy said...

I agree with the person who made those charitable comments - the changes in the Ordinary have been mandated by Rome, not the music publishers. Profit is not the primary motivator here. Rome would say fidelity to the Missal is.

Like we do with other publishers of church-related resources, parishes and dioceses depend on the expertise of composers and music publishers to provide the resources. Whether the change is liturgical or catechetical, we cannot each "invent the wheel" locally, so certainly, national experts are the prime movers in any such transition. It is simply unfair to diss these people. As a diocesan leader, I have that found every Catholic publisher I have worked with is mission-and-service-oriented first, profit-oriented second.

Chironomo said...

As one who frequently criticizes that "Liturgical-Industrial Complex" you speak of, I can at least say that I am taking a "wait and see" approach with the major publishers of liturgical music before making any judgments about their approach to the new translations and settings thereof. However, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck by any other name....

Many of us would feel more comfortable if there was a serious and professed commitment to the Church's vision of liturgical music by Catholic publishers, and in the absence of such a commitment there is going to be some uneasiness among those who are working to see that vision finally realized.

Nobody doubts the commitment of publishers and their employees... however the question is "commitment to what?".

Commitment to God? Of that I have no doubt.

Commitment to meeting the diverse needs of Worshipping Communities? What if those "needs" contradict the Church's liturgical practice? Is commitment to that a good thing then?

Commitment to the Church's statements and teachings on liturgical music? That's where I start seeing real commitment waver. At that point it's more like "Yes...but..." and then the interpreting starts.

I hope that the introduction of the new translations will be an opportunity to begin again... to look back at the types of styles that have no place in liturgy and discard them in favor of those which are GIVEN a place in the liturgy by the church herself (it is her liturgy, after all...not ours). If that fails to happen, then Catholic publishers will have missed the opportunity to begin teaching the faith, and will continue to just hold their finger up in the wind and develop the next new and better product to satisy the whim of popular sentiment.

Gregg said...

Hang in there Jerry. All of us in the Church owe alot to WLP, OCP and GIA for providing awesome resources for congregations of every type. Not every church can use every product, but it's great to have choices. I'm always amazed at some of the nasty comments I see online and hear at NPM. Let us remember the reason we gather each Sunday.

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Folks, especially my friend Chironomo, I would like to further this conversation, perhaps after the weekend. My experience at Notre Dame was terrific, but I need a weekend off for some self-restoration. Have a great weekend.

Jeffrey Tucker said...

30 employees? That's alot.

IanW said...

I'm looking forward to the promised "further conversation", particulary as it relates to the Church's tradition on liturgical music, and the key documents that refer to it; and to the Bishops' relationship with commercial copyright practise.