30 June 2007

Meeting old acquaintances

Last week I ran into the old choir director for one of my choirs. He is currently studying to be a priest, and about to be ordained deacon. We spoke for a few minutes. I asked him for his opinion on the upcoming Motu Proprio. At first, he didn't know what I was talking about, but then he remembered that he'd heard something about it. "I don't think it will change much," he said. "Toronto has plenty of indult Masses, and there's enough to meet demand. Besides," he went on, "If you've ever seen the Mass you'd see how much preparation is involved. And all that Gregorian Chant just sounds horrible if it's done badly."

Now, for the first part, about demand for the Pian Mass, he may be correct. I do attend one of the Masses in Toronto, (and perhaps I should have been more up front and let him know that) and it is sparsely attended. But, I do know a few people who would attend but getting to the Mass is difficult for them. More Masses would be helpful for them, but how great this demand is overall, I do not know. My old parish was a fairly typical parish, and I imagine they would not have difficulty reaching thiry people who want the Pian Mass. By the same token, they wouldn't have much more than thirty either, and there's no way that priest could celebrate that rite.

As for his comment on the quality of Gregorian Chanting and the level of preparation required, there were several ways for me to respond to this. I could have said that Gregorian chant is the music mandated by Vatican II as the music proper to the Pauline Rite as well as the Pian Rite. I could have said the Pauline Rite is supposed to have a fair amount of preparation for it as well and is not supposed to be a slap-dash affair. What I did say was: "Can you name me a kind of music that doesn't sound horrible if done badly? Is that why we sing so much Haugen/Haas? It's lousy to begin with and bad singing won't make a difference?"

He laughed. "Haugen," he said, shaking his head. I have no idea what he meant by that, but at that point he had to leave.

I am curious to see what manner of priest this man makes. He was a capable director, and made an effort to perform a range of hymns, both old and new.

Just not Gregorian Chant.

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