Sunday, August 09, 2009

article in GIA Quarterly

by Virgil Funk

in the Summer 2009 issue, "On This Issue: Musical Leftovers"

sort of a summary, and my inevitable thoughts:

He describes what happened to the music in the Roman Catholic liturgy during the 1960s, and how it applies today. (basically this decade is currently the question of my life...but as in, "wtf happened?!")

He connects it to the social movements of the times, "the inspiration for their music was...the protest style of music (Dylan) now transformed into a 'commercial' version." (and he is able to state it so on earth was that ever supposed to be a GOOD thing?!)

He quotes Ratzinger (from "Communio" 13, no. 4) and how Ratzinger critiques "this developmental dynamic and its effect on a community's theology..." as in, this sense of protest and rebellion is going to affect the music at Mass. (and he STILL thinks that could possibly be a good thing?! good grief!) of course the result of that is going to be terrible theology!

Somehow he moves on to discuss composers writing new songs, contrasted with the fixed repertoire in the old hymnals and chant books. Once again he ties it together with a totally true statement of a horrible ridiculous fact, as if it's supposed to be a good thing, "apart from much older repertoire, there is no free music is a commercial enterprise..." He goes on to list some of the reasons-one of being the Vatican and its translators copyrighting the texts. Sad, but true.

Continuing to claim (perhaps truly, but I don't know enough specific history,) that the roots of this are from the protest movements, he then goes on to mention Humanae Vitae. Absolutely fascinating in my opinion. I believe its (40th?) anniversary has recently occurred, and so I have read a couple articles recently on "what happened that fateful summer" at CUA when a bunch of priests were secretly gathered to then publicly voice their disapproval of the document...without ever having read it, and without being given a chance to discuss it. (The only thing that matters is that the Church doesn't permit artificial birth control...not that the reasons matter or anything, and there is certainly no possibility that the Church might actually have some good facts or arguments about why not! We certainly wouldn't want to read them!) And how the atmosphere of the era-as well as subtle, smaller, previous rebellions by bishops and priests-had made RIPE for the outright rebellion among bishops, priests, and down through the laypeople, that followed. (I could write my doctoral dissertation on that. Just amazing. a side note.)

(insignificant note: this is then the only article I have ever read where the "continued on page..." leads to a previous page. Space filling, I suppose.)

On the last page, he implies that "fallen-away" Catholics "fell away" due to their protest groups dissolving in the 1980s. No consideration to the possibility that they were "falling away" throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, as they saw what they thought was their church being taken over by various forms of "protest groups"... (It would be interesting to see a serious study, somehow but I'm not sure how, analyzing exactly when- if it was at a single time- the most number of Catholics "fell away." And why was it?)

He begins to close the article with a list of, "So what remains of the '60s in today's liturgy," as if they are good things:
-"A strong Catholic music publishing industry" -- bad in that it has a complete monopoly on what Catholics sing. Good if you want to have Catholics singing the same thing in every parish. Good in that we now have an easy and existing system set up to distribute good music...just whenever the "for-profit" publishers ever decide there is a market for it. (not to mention that there is already loads of excellent free music, written by the masters from over the centuries online already! Oh wait, maybe that's why the publishers don't want that to become too available-they know that would put them out of business!) And of course bad if (and since) this music publishing industry uses its monopoly to distribute cheap and chintzy versions of folk or popular music for use in the Liturgy...
-"a residue of protest-style musical forms" --he has previously described this as traditional folk-music: easy to sing, and easy to remember, as well as attempting to stir up emotion and forming an identity within "the group." Not good if you know that none of those are or should be the goals of music during Mass.
-"and a belief that God exists or is present when the music produces cohesion of the group." Could be interpreted in different ways. Yes, we worship corporately, BUT, we also worship individually. And more importantly, worship has NOTHING to do with the "us" or "me." That is the main theological error of the Catholic "progressivists." Too much emphasis on the "WE" of "We are the Body of Christ," rather than "Christ." And of course God exists and is present whether or not there is any cohesion of the group! He's present Really and Truly simply through the Eucharist! (oh...wait...most "progressivists" don't believe's all starting to make sense now...)

And while at the beginning of the article, I wasn't even sure which direction Funk leaned, I can only quote the ridiculousness of the last sentences,
"As the institutional authorities attempt to reassert control over the text and musical shape of the dialogue between the altar and the rest of the assembly ('And with your spirit' set to one tune found in the Roman Missal), the urge to protest arises. The leftovers from the 1960s that still shape our singing may begin to touch your smoldering resistance."

Good about an aging hippie... I have smoldering resistance? (sorry Fr. Funk, I think that's only your generation...and you're on your way out! My generation actually believes in obedience!)


Mara Joy said...

I love how a couple years ago, I got a few nice little responses from some contemporary Catholic composer-I can't remember who it was. not important. they're all the same... I hope that VF "googles" his name regularly and finds this and comments! tee hee!) [I have a sitemeter and for the last guy was actually able to pretty-for-sure verify from his location his identity.]

Gavin said...

From what I've heard, it was rather fashionable to use the Mass as a protest in those days. They'd have Mass outside nuclear power plants and such. The children of the 60s really are struggling not to become irrelevant in the church of the future. While I can see the boomers will wind up with little impact, I don't share your optimism about our generation. Come on, we're the generation that made a youtube video of people dancing down the aisles at a wedding. You're going to trust US to fix the church?

Mara Joy said...

oh come on, it wasn't even a Catholic wedding. And the minister was a woman! What do you expect?

Aristotle A. Esguerra said...

I confess that I have smoldering resistance…to missives like these. If it were actually aflame I'd give it more attention than it deserves.

BONIFACE said...


Great article...interestingly enough, in that box of old bulletins in the basement I found one from 1968 in which the pastor had taken a survey asking "Would you like to see the older songs returned to the Mass?" (presumably the pre-protest era stuff). The results were than 80% of the people said yes.

But I think you have coined a phrase that best applies to that whole horrid decade: "WTF happened?"

Pretty soon the "biological solution" will take care of people like Fr Funk. I can't believe how these aging hippies, not satisfied with ruining their own generation, are insisting on destroying ours even as they have one foot in the grave. Sorry baby boomers, you are the worst generation to ever walk the face of the planet.