Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Translation Thursday: Voices at the Table

Hello everyone, and welcome to this edition of "New Translation Thursday."

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for Atlanta to speak on Saturday at the 2010 Southeastern Liturgical Music Symposium. The keynote speaker is Fr. Andrew Wadsworth, the executive director of ICEL. Then there are several of us giving workshops, including David Haas, yours truly, Will Breytpraak, and Jeffrey Tucker. The informational material from the Archdiocese of Atlanta describes the event in this way: "The symposium will focus on the opportunities and challenges presented to liturgical musicians by the new translation of the Roman Missal."

Folks, I can't wait for this event. I have been looking forward to it for months and I also look forward to sharing the experience with you, the faithful followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray.

Having these five speakers on the same program is quite interesting, to say the least. The people in attendance will have quite an assortment of flavors on their plates as they sample the views of the presenters. I believe we are all meeting for dinner tomorrow evening. For those of you who know this slate of speakers, you must be as intrigued as I am about the direction that the conversation will take.

I think what the Archdiocese of Atlanta is doing is a good thing. Over the past several years, as we have talked about the implementation of the new translation, I have come to the realization—more and more with the passing of each day—that this is a big Church. There is room for chant settings of the Mass parts in English; there is room for chant settings of the Mass parts in Latin; there is room for Gospel-style settings of the Mass parts; there is room for contemporary music settings of the Mass parts; there is room for SATB settings with organ, brass, and timpani; there is room for musical settings for two-part choirs with C-instruments; there is room for the resuscitation of some of the earlier musical settings of the Mass; there is room for the work of new composers. What I have come to believe is that there is no room for an ideology that prefers one of these styles exclusively over another. For instance, this is what I mean: while one may believe that the Church has stated emphatically that chanting the Mass parts in Latin is the only option, or that at Entrance and Communion only the proper antiphons should be sung, pushing this position to the extreme will prove to be more alienating than helpful. The same is true of those who would push any style.

This is why I think the exchange among the speakers at the symposium will be so interesting. And I think that there will be many surprises at the table. Even though I do not know Will Breytspraak at all, I do know that the others are dedicated Catholic men to the core. And this dedication is what drives all of our work. And my hope is that our conversations are much more about serving the Church and much less about ideologies.

For those of you who read this blog only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it might be a good idea to check these pages tomorrow as well. Remember that Fridays are the days that we publishers receive our updates from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship regarding the state of affairs with respect to the new translation. Maybe tomorrow will be a day with more substantial news?

Even though tomorrow is a travel day for me, there will be a posting. Please pray for safety for all travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Jeffrey Tucker said...

I can't wait to meet you! This is going to be fun event all around.

Jeffrey Tucker said...

Oh and on your thesis here, that there is nothing wrong with preference but dangers associated with stylistic advocacy, that there is room for all styles but pushing one style ahead of others is potentially alienating, I see your point and there is wisdom in this. But let me raise a counter claim to consider: to have no ideal in mind when approaching liturgical music, to believe that all kinds of music have an equal claim to a meritorious place at liturgy, leads to confusion, mixed messages, aimlessness, a loss of standards of excellence, and eventual boredom and despair.

David Haas said...

Hi Jerry...

Besides your wonderful self, I have not met any of the others, so it will be good to meet folks and to have dinner tomorrow night. I am not sure how dramatic the dinner will be, but we will see.

And Jeffrey, and the rest of you - it will be good to meet you all. A comment on your comment - to have an "ideal" as you put it is certainly laudable, but by what criteria and "objective" lens can such an ideal be achieved, especially in regards to music style/genre? I certainly agree with the need for an "ideal" - the ideal being quality, beauty, competence - but one that can be equally achieved within different genres. Standards of excellence are certainly important, I could not agree with you more... but "excellence" and "mediocrity" and "poor" really should not be tagged according to what instrument is used, or what genre or style the music may be.

I guess dinner will be fun!

c-squared said...

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that dinner conversation...!

Bless all of you in your music ministry, and may all of your presentations go well.

Theodore said...

We are looking forward to having you all in Atlanta!

Chironomo said...

I would ask the question:

Is there a difference between "me" having an ideal and the Church having an ideal?

It seems that the proposal that Chant and Polyphony (the only two types of music mentioned in actual documents, btw) as the ideal is not "my ideal" or the ideal "of a group of people", but is actually the ideal of the liturgy itself.

I think there is a serious difference that needs to be considered there. It is not really a matter of opinion.