Sacred Music and The Catholic School II

115. Great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and schools. To impart this instruction, teachers are to be carefully trained and put in charge of the teaching of sacred music. (Sacrosanctum Consilium – The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy-Second Vatican Council)

What are Catholic educators supposed to make of this? Is this really the Catholic Church speaking? Does the Church really say that great importance should be attached to teaching sacred music?

Does the Second Vatican Council really express the view that – teaching sacred music is part of the ‘job description’ of Catholic schools… or am I misreading this?

What about sports? Doesn’t Vatican II say something about the great importance that athletic programs play in the lives of men and women as they forge their paths to heaven? What about sports?!? Maybe sports are recommended in some other encyclical or Papal Bull or something….

114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. Choirs must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches; but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in Art. 28 and 30. (ibid.)

Does this say that pastors should take great pains to ensure that “the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs.” I guess it does say that… after all I think I am merely repeating it.

But again…what about sports? After all isn’t it true that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the fields of Eton”?

116. 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.

But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.(ibid)

I wonder what kind of music Catholic schools should teach? Probably something contemporary and appealing to the minds of the young. After all the young couldn’t possibly learn to appreciate Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony.

118. Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics. (ibid)

I wonder what “intelligently fostered” means? Could this mean that every Catholic school ought to make room for teachers who know about Gregorian Chant and Polyphony? That sounds like an expensive idea.

Better that schools simply dedicate what limited resources they have to the athletic programs that are so clearly referenced in the documents of Vatican II. After all most students would prefer playing sports to sitting around in classrooms learning what a ‘torculus resupinus’ is.

112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn Liturgy. (ibid)

I know most musicians need to be encouraged but isn’t this going a little overboard?

And what about this business that sacred music “forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn Liturgy?”

After all isn’t sacred music an extra?

Can’t there be a solemn liturgy without sacred music?

Maybe we need to think about what kind of thing an “integral” part is?

Or perhaps it is just easier to ignore the whole issue and concentrate on sports like the Church says we should.





About marklangley

Presently, the founding Headmaster of Our Lady of Walsingham Academy in Colorado Springs (see www., former headmaster and Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their children.
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