ROME, May 23, 2012 – At the Mass that Benedict XVI will celebrate in Milan next June 3 in front of an immense crowd of faithful, on the occasion of the world meeting of families, the performance of the Gregorian chants will be entrusted to the choir directed by Maestro Fulvio Rampi.
It is one of the most justly esteemed choirs in Gregorian chant. In the study and practice of which, the "prince" chant of the Latin liturgy, Rampi has for years played a role of the highest importance. [Vatican II placed the highest importance of Latin and Gregorian Chant. But hey! Where is it here in the Philippines?]
Last May 19, in Lecce, he gave a compelling talk precisely on this form of chant, as part of a day of study on sacred music fifty years after Vatican II and in the light of the magisterium of Benedict XVI:
"Il canto gregoriano: un estraneo in casa sua"
It is common knowledge that Gregorian chant is not in its finest hour. It has been practically banned everywhere, in spite of the fact that Vatican Council II, in the constitution on the liturgy, reaffirmed its primacy in the clearest of terms:
"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."
If Gregorian chant has been banned, it is because of complete amnesia concerning its nature. Its rebirth therefore demands in the first place that it be rediscovered and understood.
Rampi defined it with five traits, in his talk in Lecce:
1. Gregorian is the chant "proper" to the Latin liturgy. In it, the Church speaks its thought on the Word of God in song.
2. Gregorian is the "sonorous" expression of the interpretation that the Church makes of the Word.
3. Gregorian is not ornamentation, but is itself liturgy.
4. Gregorian is liturgy in its proper times and forms: from the introit to the gradual to the "communio," from the Kyrie to the Agnus Dei.
5. Gregorian is a whole that marks out and embraces the entire liturgical year, intelligible only in its unified vision, like the Sacred Scriptures. It is the musical form of the "lectio divina" of the Church.
At the day of study in Lecce, other prominent personalities in the field of liturgical music also spoke.
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the pontifical committee for historical sciences, illustrated "the historical antecedents of the liturgical sensibility of Joseph Ratzinger," in the Germany of the nineteenth century and in particular in Regensburg.
Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, the outgoing head of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, denounced the omissions in liturgical and musical formation in the seminaries. [What you have are Protestant inspired music no thanks to Bukas Palad Music of the Ateneo de Manila Jesuits, including that heretical "Christify".]
Maestro Simone Baiocchi, one of the most solid disciples of Domenico Bartolucci, the former director of the Sistine Chapel choir and now a cardinal, critically analyzed recent variations in the practice of choirs and "scholae cantorum."
Monsignor Juan-Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, undersecretary of the congregation for divine worship, made a thorough review of the magisterium of the Church in matters of sacred music, from the 1903 motu proprio "Tra le sollecitudini" of Pius X until today.
The conclusion that Ferrer drew from this is that a "clear and precise" magisterium in this regard has been given. But it has been widely disobeyed and contradicted. And the blame has in part belonged to the hierarchy of the Church. [Who are either modernists themselves or are puppets of modernist liturgists!]
The Church spoke – Ferrer noted – but lacked "a concrete intention to have the discipline in effect applied by those who had responsibility in the matter."
So then, in regard to this sin of omission attributable in large part to the congregation for divine worship of which he himself is part, Ferrer has announced that it is being remedied.
And this is being done at the prompting of a recent motu proprio of Benedict XVI, "Quaerit semper" of August 30, 2011.
In the final part of his talk, reproduced further below, Ferrer announced that the congregation for divine worship will soon be endowed with an office for liturgical art and music that will finally apply, all over the world, the prescriptions of the Church unheeded until now, the rebirth of Gregorian chant first among them.
As can be read further below, Ferrer is very detailed in previewing the future program of the new office.
But he also says that the new office, in order to be created, is still awaiting "confirmation on the part of the secretariat of state" headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. [Which according to some reports, Bertone is BLOCKING! No surprise there!]
And he does not say – but it is known – that the new office has competition in the curia. Because the pontifical council for culture, headed by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, also aims to have a say in sacred art and music.
For example, when Ferrer says that the duties of the new office of his congregation will include "the organization of international awards or competitions in composition," he neglects to say that Cardinal Ravasi has already organized one of these international competitions: for a composition that sets to music the "Apostles' Creed."
The awards will take place at the end of the summer in Perugia, in conjunction with the Sagra Musicale Umbra. And an outstanding member of the jury will be Monsignor Massimo Palombella, the current director of the choir of the Sistine Chapel, greatly criticized for the low level of his performances and an exponent of a vision of sacred music very far from, if not opposed to, the one personified by the speakers at the day of study in Lecce.
Palombella, together with Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the choir of the basilica of Saint John Lateran, and the last two heads of the office for liturgical music of the Italian episcopal conference, the priests Antonio Parisi and Vincenzo De Gregorio, leads the quartet that aims to gain control of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.
This maneuver – and the musical vision that the four represent – was reported by www.chiesa in this article of last March 30:
> Not Sacred Music, but Sounds of Attack
At that time, the appointment of the new president of the PIMS seemed imminent. Instead it is still slow in coming.
Facing off in the curia are on the one side Monsignor Palombella with his cardinals of reference Bertone and Ravasi, and on the other the congregations for divine worship and for Catholic education, whose cardinal prefect, Zenon Grocholewski, is also grand chancellor of the PIMS and has taken as a slap in the face the rejection on the part of the secretariat of state of his candidate for the presidency of the institute, the Frenchman Stephane Quessard, selected in continuity with outgoing president Miserachs.
Cardinal Bartolucci, 95, naturally belongs to this second current. And with him Cardinal Brandmüller, a countryman of the pope.
It is a clash that represents two antithetical visions of the future of liturgical music.
If the decision – not only on the leadership of the PIMS, but also on the primacy of the congregation for divine worship in musical matters – were ultimately up to Benedict XVI, there is no doubt on the orientation to which his preferences would go. [Why would the Secretary of State have a say in these things in the first place? Is Bertone so powerful he already became somewhat like an Executive Secretary?]
The Gregorian singers directed by Rampi, who will accompany his Mass on June 3 in Milan, are an outstanding example of this orientation.
THE NEW DUTIES OF THE CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
IN THE PROMOTION OF SACRED MUSIC
AFTER THE MOTU PROPRIO "QUAERIT SEMPER" OF BENEDICT XVI
by Juan-Miguel Ferrer Grenesche
Everyone knows about the urgency and centrality that the Holy Father Benedict XVI has wanted to reserve during his whole pontificate to the correct and authentic application of the teachings of Vatican Council II. [...]?
It is in this context that the motu proprio "Quaerit Semper" of August of 2011 is to be understood, with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI has wished to concentrate further the work of the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments in its properly liturgical competencies, affirming:
"In present circumstances it has seemed appropriate for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to focus mainly on giving a fresh impetus to promoting the Sacred Liturgy in the Church, in accordance with the renewal that the Second Vatican Council desired, on the basis of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium." [...]
The first consequence of the motu proprio "Quaerit Semper" was the elaboration of a new of a new internal ordering of the congregation to adapt its structure to the priorities indicated by the Holy Father, beyond transferring part of the competencies of sacramental discipline – on the sacrament of orders, or cases of the nullity of ordination, and of marriage, or cases of matrimony "ratified and not consummated" – to the tribunal of the Roman Rota, creating within it an "administrative section."
Our congregation, born from the renewed fusion between the congregations of divine worship (or for the liturgy) and of the discipline of the sacraments, was made up of four sections or offices:
- liturgical office I;
- liturgical office II;
- the matrimonial office;
- the priestly office.
The new regulations, although dependent on confirmation by the secretariat of state, provide for the maintenance of four sections, in order not to alter the structure, which however in line of principle will be the following:
- liturgical office I;
- liturgical office II;
- the disciplinary office, which combines the competencies of liturgical discipline and all those that concern sacramentals;
- the office for liturgical arts and music.
In any case, whatever may be the final configuration of this department for the arts and music, it is expected that, with a certain differentiation of competencies, it will deal with issues of music, architecture, painting, sculpture, and the so-called "lesser" arts.
This in turn will require the appointment of a series of outside collaborators or consultants, with specific competencies in these sectors.
In the specific field of sacred music, specific relations at the institutional level will be reestablished with the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, as also with the Abbey of Saint-Pierre of Solesmes and other associations and institutions that work in the field of music for the liturgy, from the scientific point of view, from the academic point of view, and in the perspective of the creation of new music or of pastoral practice.
At the level of immediate objectives or challenges, I will point out a few that certainly appear evident:
a. To realize and complete the series of musical books for the liturgy in the Latin language, including the holy Mass, the divine office, the sacraments and sacramentals. Having reached this goal, it will probably be appropriate to realize a complete and more easily usable edition of many of these materials in the form of a sort of "liber usualis."
b. It seems just as urgent to recompile and clarify the different norms and the guidelines of the most recent pontifical magisterium on sacred music in order to offer a foundational text for a directory of chant and music in liturgical celebration for the use of the different conferences of bishops, to which is entrusted the task of elaborating directories and repertoires for their respective countries.
Such a directory, as far as Gregorian chant is concerned, will have to overcome the disputes between purely paleographical and pastoral criteria, as also, in relation with the competent dicastery, to pose the problems of the use of Gregorian chant according to editions from before 1962 in the so-called "extraordinary form" of the Roman rite.
c. With the help of the competent academic and pastoral institutions, it will be necessary to promote, at least in the principal or most widespread modern languages, in harmony with the criteria presented in an appropriate directory, models of new compositions which may help to verify the theoretical proposals and discern them at the local level.
There remains the doubt of what may be the best strategy for reaching such a result. For the moment, the wait continues for the new organisms within the congregation, members and consultants, to confer on these matters, from the edition of repertoires for international celebrations to the organization of international awards or competitions of composition, to courses for composers, conductors, and performers, and to many other concrete proposals to be evaluated.
Summarizing, it is evident that in order to reclaim the issue of music in liturgical celebrations, the congregation, making its own the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and his immediate predecessors on the matter, must guarantee:
1. the preparation of updated and official instruments in order to be able to celebrate with song the Roman liturgy in the Latin language;
2. clarity and facility for the celebration of the Roman rite in the ordinary form in the vernacular language, singing in part or in full the ordinary and/or the propers of the Mass or the divine office in Gregorian or polyphonic melodies based on the liturgical text in Latin;
3. the existence of updated criteria in order to be able to apply the principles of gradualism defined in "Musicam Sacram," both for celebration in the Latin language and for celebration in the vernacular language (directory);
4. the existence of a sure normative framework that responds to the purpose of establishing appropriate national repertoires destined to take on little by little an official value, in such a way that the use of other songs would require an authorization "ad casum" on the part of the respective ordinary: this is another matter for the future directory.
I hope with this [...] that the application of the motu proprio "Quaerit semper" may represent for sacred music a new stage of splendor and beauty: without it, the liturgy would see itself deprived of one of its most eloquent and substantial expressive elements.
Yes, our Filipino Liturgical Experts expressed support for the reforms of Vatican II especially on the reforms in the Liturgy.
But where is Latin now?
Where is Gregorian Chant now?