Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rantings on Liturgical Music

I offered a Requiem Mass (in the ordinary form) at a wake earlier. Before the Mass, the members of the choir approached me to ask if they may sing the responses at the Mass. "Old translation or new translation?" I quickly asked. "The old, father," the leader said, "we have not yet updated ourselves." I was disappointed with the answer as the implementation in the Philippines of the new English translation of the Roman Missal was a year behind the implementation in most English speaking countries.

I ask: Why is it that in spite of the formation given by the Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, choirs still insist on singing the responses in the old translation? If the priests are obliged to use the new translation, why should the noncompliance of the choir be toleration. I think that insisting on using the text of the old translation is really arrogance. If priests must follow rules, why shouldn't the choir? Also, in the Philippines, certain compositions paraphrased the official text. This is the bad case of lyrics adjusting to the melody. Why should the text suffer just so that the composition may fit into the melody? Is the liturgical text the servant of the music? I don't think so! The music is the servant of the liturgical text. Fine! "Mundo" and "sanlibutan" might be synonyms. But the official text of the Agnus Dei in Tagalog is "Kordero ng Diyos na nag-aalis ng mga kasalanan ng SANLIBUTAN" and not "Kordero ng Diyos na nag-aalis ng mga kasalanan ng MUNDO..." I think that composers of liturgical music must have the humility required to make their compositions submissive and faithful to the liturgical text.
In the extraordinary form, these things I speak of are not problems!

Also, I ask: Can't the choir prepare a repertoire appropriate for a Requiem Mass? If the bereaved family requires the services of a priest for a Requiem Mass, I think that it will be inappropriate for the priest to preach a wedding homily. He is expected to speak on the reality of the four last things. If this were the case, then would it be too much to expect from the choir to sing songs appropriate for the occasion? Why should the choir have a greater license than the priest? Everybody involved in the Sacred Liturgy ought to have the humility required to submit the self to liturgical laws. The liturgy is not ours. It belong to Christ. It belongs to the Church.

1 comment:

  1. I had some similar experience of Sorts at My Family's Home Mass last Sunday. The Difference is Some Old Responses were Retained.