Dan Schutte, composer of distasteful ditties such as “Here I Am Lord” and “Sing A New Song”, is not upset that Gregorian Chant is making a comeback. Well, hoorah.
[Reuters] And he’s not discouraged by the Catholic’s church’s new emphasis on Gregorian chant and more traditional forms of music in the Pope Benedict era. It represents a natural swing of the pendulum and not a cause for pessimism, he told Reuters in an interview from his home in San Francisco….
The Pope has authorized wider use of the Latin Mass, and U.S. Catholic bishops last year published a document called “Sing to the Lord” which was designed to provide guidelines on the role of music in worship. It praises the virtues of centuries-old Gregorian chant and the primacy of the organ.
Schutte sees that as “a shift of the pendulum in the other way, sort of a balancing … We’re being reminded not to lose some of the pieces of music and rituals that have been part of our long Roman Catholic tradition.”
He said the bishops’ music document makes it clear that “over the centuries the church has not adopted any one form of music as the way people should pray. They (the bishops) “legitimize contemporary music and other styles” even as they put their stamp of approval on Gregorian chant, he said.
I don’t know, perhaps I am just being cranky, but comments about pendulum swings and putting a stamp of approval on Gregorian Chant seems condescending to say the least. Somehow in the minds of these SOV2 guys imply (or perhaps I infer) that Gregorian Chant is a perfectly fine little niche musical type and if some people like it, then let them have it. But it is no more suited to liturgy than the pieces of Schutte they compose. Contrast this with the statements of the Pope on liturgical music and Gregorian Chant.
[SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS] Certainly 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 (128). 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 (129). Finally, while 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 (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).
Compare this to Schutte’s view of all that came before.
“We had a huge shift that came with the Second Vatican Council and a call to adapt our liturgy to this modern world rather than living and worshiping in a way that was somewhat disconnected from our daily and weekly experience. It was a shifting of the ground beneath many people’s feet,” he said of those days.
The shift that came with Vatican II. I am so sick of that red herring. Let’s finish by taking a look at what their precious (and fictitious) Vatican II had to say. The Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium states that “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.“
Remember these quotes the next time you hear one of their “living and worshiping in a connected way” pieces of Schutte.