When one sees the headlines to an article on the internet such as “Who actually holds the keys of the kingdom?” and “Who controls the Catholic Church’s agenda?”, one hardly expects to find that the major subject of that article is one’s self.
Such a thing could only come from the pen of the erstwhile defender of (his version of) the faith, Mr Brian Coyne, who in this lead article on Catholica yesterday writes:
Who controls the agenda within Catholicism?
Back in May of 2010 we were first alerted to some stirrings in another area central to Catholic worship in Australia through two lengthy discussions on the blog of a recent convert to Catholicism and prolific blogger, David Schütz. The subject this time was Liturgical Music…
Dear Brian is still rather annoyed at some pieces I wrote on the subject of liturgical music (see here and here), in part, it emerges, because of how it touches his domestic situation. He goes on to spin a conspiracy theory that would somehow connect little old me (a mere humble worker in the vineyard of Dionysius) to the corridors of power at the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference…
I do take issue with the description “recent convert” – I celebrated 10 years since leaving the Lutheran Church earlier this year, which might be “recent” in Brian’s terms, but seems a long time ago to me now. In answer to the question: “Who controls the agenda within Catholicism?”, I think we can safely take it for granted that the answer is not David Schütz.
One useful service that Brian has done us with this piece is to get the following response from Archbishop Coleridge (using the method proposed by Jesus in the parable of Jesus about the man who comes to borrow a loaf of bread at midnight):
In Liturgiam Authenticam, the Holy See asked Bishops Conferences to draw up a list of approved chants and songs for liturgical use. The Australian Bishops agreed that, as we cross a new threshold in the ongoing journey of liturgical renewal, it would be good to take stock of liturgical music after decades in which <strong>the repertoire had proliferated enormously — to the point where the common Catholic repertoire was very meagre indeed. The Bishops were also concerned that some of the liturgical music in this country was weak textually and theologically, as well as musically banal. A further concern was that we move in Australia to singing the Mass rather than singing within the Mass. The Bishops Commission for Liturgy therefore recommended to the Conference that the National Liturgical Music Board be asked to compile a resource which would meet the requirements of the Holy See and be a benchmark as we move into the new phase of liturgical renewal. The resource that has been compiled would not be imposed as mandatory, but would be strongly proposed as indicating the textual and musical idiom appropriate to the Roman Rite at this time.
UPDATE: I just read through some of the comments on the CathPews website about this discussion. Some of the comments seemed to suggest that my musical taste was all “Gregorian Chant”. I think it is worth pointing out that while I understand and appreciate those who seek to do all they can to restore the chant to our masses (for the sake of “singing the mass” rather than “singing at mass”, as Archbishop Coleridge said), I do believe that the Church today should harvest the best of all ages in the huge repetoire that has “proliferated” (again, to use the Archbishop’s words). This morning at mass, I chose: Bernadette Farrell’s “Christ be our light” (ironic in the face of the power failure we were experiencing!), a psalm set by Adelaide’s Jenny O’Brien, chant for the Kyrie, Gospel Acclamation, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, an English version of “Rorate Coeli” at the offertory, Taize’s “Stay with me” at Communion, and “O come, O come Emmanuel” for the recessional. Pretty eclectic, but also representative of the breadth of music available to us.