Friday, February 22, 2008

Instrumental music

I feel like I've written about this before, but I really can't decide what I think (or more importantly, what the Church thinks,) about the playing of preludes during Lent.
Here's what Musicam Sacram says about "instruments as solos," (which I suppose would be what a prelude is.)
66. The playing of these same instruments as solos is not permitted in Advent, Lent, during the Sacred Triduum and in the Offices and Masses of the Dead.
Ok, fine.
So, does this prohibition against instrumental music only apply to during the Liturgy? I mean, obviously, the organist can still practice playing the organ by himself when no one is around during Lent and of course that is solo instrumental music, but of course that is very much outside of Mass. But if it's not just referring to during Mass, then what about an organ prelude? Is that allowed? Where would the line be drawn?
I think I'm revisiting this as a question because although I would guess that simply to contribute to the more...austere? nature of the Liturgy during these seasons, it is beneficial to refrain from playing the organ even as a prelude, but I don't believe that my boss agrees with me, based on pastoral reasons. That could be supported by the question of whether or not a prelude is "too close" to the Liturgy. But mainly I am continuing to ponder this because I see the wealth of fabulous organ music based on (all my favorite...) Lenten melodies. When will the average non-concert-going Catholic hear them if not at church during Lent?


Gavin said...

I had a good comment, but it disappeared. Basically I said that this is the only rule I'm ok with being totally ignored. HOWEVER I'm trying it out this Lent just to shake things up and WOW what a difference it makes! I get those moments where the offertory's done and Father hasn't even stood up to get the gifts and I'm trying to hold back my hand from at least playing the proper offertory because I HATE silence, so it's quite an exercise! You'll just have to try it one of these Lents: no prelude, no postlude, no improvisation to fill any gaps, if no one's singing with the organ it'd better either be an unfamiliar hymn or an introduction!

Cantor said...

I wonder if the Lenten organ rep was meant to be played during Mass or during other devotions. It occurs to me that many composers have set “Dixit Dominus” (Ps. 110/109v) because this is a Sunday vespers psalm in the pre-1908 (?) breviary. How many parishes today, though, have regular Sunday vespers? (They’ll have Mass instead, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing.)

Or, maybe they were all played at low Masses, at which maybe even the instrumental music didn’t matter?

I think preludes are ok during Lent, but yeah, if people are used to some organ “noodling” outside Lent, then it can delineate the season a bit.

I think the austerity of Lent connects with the idea of being in the “desert” for “40” days.

Anonymous said...

My understanding was, as explained by a parish priest: no Preludes, interludes or post-ludes. But Mass starts with the Introit and ends with "Ite missa est." Technically anything out side of that would be Okay, I guess.

Puff the Magic Dragon