Thursday, June 2, 2011

Operatic Music in the Mass

Pope Ratzinger reminds us that his predecessor Pionono "carried out a profound reform in the field of sacred music, returning to the great tradition of the Church against the influences exercised by profane music, especially operatic" — Benedict XVI Underlines Continuity of Sacred Music.

One can hear the "influences exercised by profane music, especially operatic," at the Sacrifice of the Mass here in Korea, particularly in the responsorial psalms, often sung by a female parishioner with some vocal training. I don't love it, but neither do I hate it. I know things could be far worse.

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Blogger Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Forgive me for speaking my mind, but to use worship as a platform for operatic or choral virtuosity takes away from the glory of God rather than adds to it.

I am Greek Orthodox, and I have always tried my best to sing all the hymns and responses of the services which I have memorised, and it frustrates me when a cantor is performing, or when the choir sings an unfamiliar art piece in place of the usual simple Greek melodies.

I know what motivates them. They want to give their best to God, but so do I, and my best is for His ears, not for my fellow man's. I can sing too, and I sing well, but I have never joined the choir since I was put through it as a matter of course as a child.

I want my offering to God to be free, and I want my singing to not only please God but also to heal me, through my singing to Him. That is biblical Orthodox Christianity, but America and maybe the world, tends to want even our worship to be one of its handmaidens, not what it truly is, the Queen's song to the King.

What to do? When I am silenced by virtuoso performances in church, I simply praise Christ by my silence. He knows.

4:17 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Well said, sir. Of course, the Christian East's liturgy is the gold standard when it comes to reverence. In the West, Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony properly deemphasize the individual. May they be restored!

9:03 AM  
OpenID arturovasquez said...

It was Pius X, not Pio Nono. The music of the Papal court up to Leo XIII was pretty darn operatic, complete with the last castrati belting out their arias.

11:21 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Thanks. I need to either brush up on my Roman numerals or my Piuses. Castrati! Yikes!

2:16 PM  

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