26 July 2012

Remembrances of things past

There are two big mistakes that one can make when looking to the past: one, that everything was terrible back then but is hunky dory now; and two: Everything sucks now, and was so much better back then.  In truth, they had their strengths and weaknesses, and so do we.

Rorate has the story of Bishop Robert Lynch, who has appeared to either have forgotten or never learned that lesson.  The Bishop has bad memories of the TLM, or Tridentine, or Extraordinary Form, and he believes his memories were the universal case. Among the many things he points out as wrong with the old mass was the bad music.

My personal memory of the liturgy prior to Vatican II is an awful one. I remember the daily Requiem Masses screeched by the eighth grade girls of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Peru, Indiana, mandatory prior to the start of every school day, and even with their screeching, the Mass gratefully only lasted about twenty minutes...Adult choirs attempting Mozart were only slightly better in most churches than the eighth grade girls at St. Charles.

The implication seems to be that now the music is just soooo much better.

I have heard arguments like this from time to time, wherein older people reminisce about the old Mass and how badly it was done, or they act like every Mass said back then was a Tridentine Speed Mass with crappy chant.  Well, two can play at that game. Rorate has invited readers to share their memories of the Ordinary Form, or Novus Ordo.  I can play that game:  I grew up in the seventies, and since I am interested in music, and since the bishop is interested in music, let's talk music.  The screeching girls have been replaced by folk choirs, with guitarists who play three chords, maybe, wave tambourines around, and sing wildly out of tune the music of Haugen, Haas et al.  Actually, strange as it may sound, Haugen Haas and Schutte are an improvement over the drivel of the seventies.  I remember well hearing "His Peace is flowing like a river", (properly sung with tears flowing down your cheeks) "They'll know we are Christians By Our Love" and a hundred other 'hymns' I have struggled long and hard to forget.

The response is just too easy, and I don't want to go too far into this.  When it comes to music, the proper response to good music being sung badly is to try and get the singers to improve, or get better singers altogether, not replace the good music with music so bad that poor singing will make no difference.


Vox Cantoris said...

Music will make or break the liturgy in either Form.

As for the bishop, he has convicted himself. Covering up of homosexual pederasts, not standing up while a woman was being starved and dehydrated to death.

He has a lot to answer for on judgment day, hopefully Terri Schindler will plead with the LORD for mercy, as He Himself did, "LORD, forgive him for he knew not what he was doing!"

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

I think you mean Terri Schiavo not Schindler.