Author Topic: SSPX Music  (Read 2482 times)

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Offline pbax

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« on: November 11, 2015, 01:03:34 AM »
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  • Is it okay to play the flute in a SSPX Church on Christmas eve before the Midnight Mass?
    My daughter has been asked to play but I am not too sure if I should allow it.

    Offline Neil Obstat

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    « Reply #1 on: November 11, 2015, 04:06:04 AM »
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    Traditionally, only the human voice and the pipe organ are proper for Mass.

    However, a lot of church organs are electronic these days, and so long as they are voiced to imitate pipe organs, they're acceptable.  But recordings of singers should not be used.  So while the electric organ music is theoretically the same as what a recording could provide, still, it isn't live music so it's not okay.

    Strings, woodwinds, percussion (including piano), horns and the like are all considered "profane" instruments.  And flute is a woodwind (even though it's made of metal usually and has no wooden reed).  

    I have been in Catholic churches for Christmas with very skilled musicians playing horns, strings and woodwinds and it was wonderful.  But that was all post-Vatican II and it was in Novus Ordo settings.  One was when Pope John Paul II came to St. Vibiana's Cathedral in Los Angeles, and we had 4 L.A. Philharmonic horn players standing right behind me in the choir loft (one trumpet, one trombone, a baritone horn and a French horn).  I thought I was in heaven.  They played perfectly in tune and on time!  But it was not for Mass, rather just for the Pope who pretty much sat in front of the sanctuary with his head down most of the time.  Rehearsal time is expensive for those guys, so we didn't have the pleasure of any rehearsal time, and the performance was a TOTALLY new experience for the choir (about 50 singers).

    I can't be definitive on this, but perhaps if your daughter plays very well, she could do something before Mass and/or after Mass, but I think that DURING Mass would be distracting for the parishioners, especially the older ones who would be thinking that something isn't right.

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    Offline JmJ2cents

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    « Reply #2 on: November 11, 2015, 09:23:29 AM »
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  • Purcussion is not allowed but woodwind is allowed is what I recall.  I could be wrong.  

    Offline Matthew

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    « Reply #3 on: November 11, 2015, 12:49:13 PM »
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  • The only instruments allowed are organ and violin, but there might be one other. Does anyone have the Church reference handy?

    I think I found it:

    VI. Organ and instruments

    15. Although the music proper to the Church is purely vocal music, music with the accompaniment of the organ is also permitted. In some special cases, within due limits and with proper safeguards, other instruments may be allowed, but never without the special permission of the Ordinary, according to prescriptions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum.

    16. As the singing should always have the principal place, the organ or other instruments should merely sustain and never oppress it.

    17. It is not permitted to have the chant preceded by long preludes or to interrupt it with intermezzo pieces.

    18. The sound of the organ as an accompaniment to the chant in preludes, interludes, and the like must be not only governed by the special nature of the instrument, but must participate in all the qualities proper to sacred music as above enumerated.

    19. The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.

    20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the placeprovided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.

    21. In processions outside the church the Ordinary may give permission for a band, provided no profane pieces be executed. It would be desirable in such cases that the band confine itself to accompanying some spiritual canticle sung in Latin or in the vernacular by the singers and the pious associations which take part in the procession.
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    Offline Marlelar

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    « Reply #4 on: November 11, 2015, 01:20:18 PM »
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  • Quote from: pbax
    Is it okay to play the flute in a SSPX Church on Christmas eve before the Midnight Mass?
    My daughter has been asked to play but I am not too sure if I should allow it.


    Since it is BEFORE Mass why would it be a problem?


    Offline claudel

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    « Reply #5 on: November 11, 2015, 01:27:15 PM »
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  • Quote from: pbax
    Is it okay to play the flute in a SSPX Church on Christmas eve before the Midnight Mass? My daughter has been asked to play but I am not too sure if I should allow it.


    Pbax, if you wish to be a Catholic parent rather than a Puritan one, ignore the advice from commenters whose understanding of the rubrics of musical performance in church, both outside of and during Mass, leaves much to be desired. The most charitable way to put the matter is that one who says that the use in church of woodwind instruments—or indeed any instruments other than the organ—is simply prohibited is confusing economic necessity with orthodoxy of practice.

    On the other hand, if you think that breaking your daughter's heart at Christmas just for the heck of it is the way to show one and all that you are a virtuous parent, then by all means deny her permission to play. For good measure, why not break her flute in half and throw it into the garbage?
    ______________

    Look at the situation another way. Are you prepared to entertain the notion that the masses, vespers, and liturgical motets composed by Dufay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Victoria, Palestrina, Allegri, Monteverdi, and others continuing down through the nineteenth century, many (not all) of which include instrumental parts for ensembles of five to fifty instruments, violated canonical norms and should be regarded as proto-Modernist in character? If you are, you are wedding your mind and spirit to misinformation and ignorance.

    It is undoubtedly true that for the past six hundred years the use of instruments in addition to the organ has been associated with diocesan cathedrals, basilicas, and other grand church and chapel structures.* Yet the absence of any instrument save the organ from smaller, more typical parish and community churches has always had far more to do with (1) the lack of space for anything else, (2) the often prohibitive considerations of cost and time associated with musical preparation, or (3) both. Yet even in the poorest churches during the poorest epochs, the celebration of Christmas has always involved the maximizing of festivity. Thus, the use of a flute on Christmas Eve, especially in a context apart from Mass, should not become an occasion for inappropriate, self-induced scrupulosity. Rather, it should be applauded as activity whereby Catholics of today unite themselves with the activity of Catholics throughout the Church's history.

    It is also true that the specifics of musical praxis have varied from diocese to diocese and prelate to prelate. Political considerations of a temporal nature have also come into play—in fact, for most of history such considerations have frequently been a determining factor for many church-related matters, music being just one of them. But what these variations of custom and practice ought to tell you is that people who point to stern and universal pre-Vatican II regulations are trying to make you their companions in misinformation. Even the regulations of Pope Saint Pius X, which were a response to perceived abuses in a time (like the present) where both the faith and the liturgy were widely abused and adulterated, left the door wide open to exceptions of all sorts, as actual events and practices of his own time confirm. At Saint Peter's Basilica, very grand masses and solemn vespers were the rule rather than the exception back then, and so they have remained.
    _______________

    Most of what I have learned during the past fifty-plus years about the nexus of music and the liturgy was acquired the old-fashioned way: through the reading of books and through the instruction of specialists in this field. Those are still the best ways to go about learning a thing or two on this topic, a fortiori now that so few priests and religious (including Trads) know anything at all about it. (In fairness, most of them are too busy with the fundamentals of faith to keep up on their historical liturgical studies.) But focused Internet research can also yield surprisingly useful information in a matter of hours. The trick is not to be fooled into following the lead of people whose own lack of knowledge rivals your own!
    ________________

    *Europe formerly had several hundred private chapels belonging to the nobility and, later, the just plain rich; a great many of these people, both clerics and laymen, employed composers who were kept especially busy during Advent, Christmastide, and Holy Week. Many abbey and convent chapels—excluding those, like the Carthusians, whose focus was severely contemplative, of course—also made regular use of instruments and of instrumental accompaniments to choral singing, especially at times of heightened rejoicing, the most notable of which are Christmas and Easter.

    Offline Matthew

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    « Reply #6 on: November 11, 2015, 01:55:12 PM »
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  • I was present when this was live.

    It really was a fitting ending for the elaborate liturgy of solemn Vespers for All Saints Day. We had solemn Vespers for the feast day, involving lots of seminarians serving with ornate copes on, lots of incense, and very beautiful ceremonial. This was played as the recessional.

    Has anyone here ever been to a solemn Vespers? It's really beautiful. Lots of sung chant, psalms, incensing like during a High Mass (each individual server -- a cleric wearing a heavy gold-thread cope -- gets incensed by the MC during the incensing part).

    I wish I had a video of solemn Vespers here.

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    Offline Neil Obstat

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    « Reply #7 on: November 11, 2015, 03:43:55 PM »
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  • .

    Quote

    19. The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like.


    I know a woman who is entirely Novus Ordo in all things;  she runs a youth music program at a local Newchurch parish, where on certain Sundays during the year, for the past 20 years running, she has set up a long table where Mass attendees walk past on their way to the parking lot.  On the table she arranges dozens of percussion instruments like castanets, rain tube, bells, clappers, rattles and other idiophones or even a few membranophones, the activation of which is accomplished by them being struck, rubbed, scraped, shaken or plucked.  The purpose of this display is to attract children to show up for choir practice and get involved.  

    I recall asking her if all these percussion instruments are used in the choir loft, and she replied that they each get their turn from time to time but she never uses them all at once, to convey to me a sort of judiciousness in application.

    This is Vatican II in action.

    Inside the church a baby grand piano is prominently ensconced up front next to the sanctuary where it is played at Mass.  

    Quote

    20. It is strictly forbidden to have bands play in church, and only in special cases with the consent of the Ordinary will it be permissible to admit wind instruments, limited in number, judiciously used, and proportioned to the size of the place provided the composition and accompaniment be written in grave and suitable style, and conform in all respects to that proper to the organ.


    I know of a renown conductor whose longstanding presence at St. Basil's Church on Wilshire Blvd. at the 12:00 Sunday Mass suddenly ended when his choir was singing their closing hymn but halfway through a mariachi band struck up loudly downstairs, drowning out the choir.  They had done this under the direction of the pastor.  This mariachi band was getting ready for their 1:30 Spanish Mass, during which the band played on.


    There are a myriad of abuses possible when it comes to music in church, and it takes an educated and concerted effort to keep music traditional and appropriate for Mass.

    While the feelings of your daughter are important and you surely don't want her to become disenchanted with Traditional Latin Mass or Catholicism in general, your task at hand is to balance what is appropriate with what will provide your daughter a positive experience.  

    In the end, however, personal feelings cannot take precedence over what is right for Mass.  Whoever it was that invited your daughter to play her flute before Mass must have had something specific in mind.  Was there any more to this invitation that you did not convey here?

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    Offline pbax

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    « Reply #8 on: November 11, 2015, 11:55:27 PM »
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  • Firstly, a Catholic is one that puts his or her intellect first then follows emotion, a protestant is one that puts emotions first then follows with the intellect. Who says my daughter’s heart would be broken?  She is young but she knows to put God first.  What a ridiculous statement to make and with that I will say no more to that clown.

    Marlelar, I know that it is not Mass but a few things have to be taken into account:

    •   Is this a stepping stone?  The next time might be to introduce it in the Mass. If I put my foot down now it will save a lot of trouble down the track. (My daughter at this stage is unaware of the request.)
    •   It still is inside a church with the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. Are you saying that if it is not a Mass it is okay to play the flute in the Church? What about Benediction, the Holy Office etc.
    •   Will the addition of the flute permit the maintenance of piety and devotion necessary in church?

    Neil, no there is no more to it, but just in case will recite what happened.
    One of the Sisters came up and asked if my family with one or two others would come and sing carols before the Midnight Mass, and maybe my daughter could play the flute. I replied I would talk to my wife first but I would not have my daughter playing the flute in Church. She replied that it was okay to have the flute played in Church, but if I was against it that was fine with her; it was left at that.

    The reason I posted the question was to see if anyone had any concrete knowledge/ documentation on Church teaching to answer this question / support or correct my initial opinion. Those replies that do address what is best Catholic practice point me in the direction of staying with my initial stance.

    Offline Neil Obstat

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    « Reply #9 on: November 12, 2015, 12:30:17 AM »
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    pbax, it might be a good idea to mention this to the pastor, because the Sister who approached you might have been trying to stir up something.  We come from diverse backgrounds and perhaps she had some previous Novus Ordo experience that she fondly remembers, or whatever.

    On the other hand, if you would prefer to not broach the subject for concern that the pastor has been given some directive from the District Superior to start "updating" practices for Christmas, then I suppose you have to use your own judgment.

    These are all valid concerns:
    Quote

    • Is this a stepping stone? The next time might be to introduce it in the Mass. If I put my foot down now it will save a lot of trouble down the track. (My daughter at this stage is unaware of the request.)
    • It still is inside a church with the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. Are you saying that if it is not a Mass it is okay to play the flute in the Church? What about Benediction, the Holy Office etc.
    • Will the addition of the flute permit the maintenance of piety and devotion necessary in church?



    This is another manifestation of the chaos descending on Holy Mother Church, when fathers can't be certain of simply going to the pastor and getting the straight stuff.  We are left to research the subject on our own to be sure we are not misled by our own religious people.

    In my experience the only use of such instruments in church has always been in Newchurch settings.  All of the TLM venues I have found use only singing voices (a cappella) and sometimes with organ accompaniment.  When organ is available sometimes it is played alone without the singing voices, at certain moments, but never during the Consecration.  

    If the church is to be used as a concert hall, then the Blessed Sacrament ought to be removed from the tabernacle and the doors left wide open so the empty contents can be clearly seen.

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    Offline Neil Obstat

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    « Reply #10 on: November 12, 2015, 01:00:57 AM »
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  • .

    The backdrop in my mind that keeps fading in and out of focus is the last of the Psalms, #150

    Quote from: Psalm 150

    [1] Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.
    [2] Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.
    [3] Praise him with sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.
    [4] Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.
    [5] Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: let every spirit praise the Lord. Alleluia.


    These instruments, trumpet, psaltery, harp, timbrel, strings and cymbals, are examples of the ones we today are reluctant to use during Mass.  

    I don't know what to do about reconciling our modern problem with this ancient Scripture.

    Our problem today is that there are a bazillion ways of corrupting the Liturgy by trucking in the music department with all manner of profane instruments.  

    P.S. A timbrel is essentially a tambourine:



    ...and a psaltery is a string instrument similar to a harp:


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    Offline JezusDeKoning

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    « Reply #11 on: November 12, 2015, 01:06:14 AM »
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  • Quote from: Neil Obstat
    .

    pbax, it might be a good idea to mention this to the pastor, because the Sister who approached you might have been trying to stir up something.  We come from diverse backgrounds and perhaps she had some previous Novus Ordo experience that she fondly remembers, or whatever.

    On the other hand, if you would prefer to not broach the subject for concern that the pastor has been given some directive from the District Superior to start "updating" practices for Christmas, then I suppose you have to use your own judgment.

    These are all valid concerns:
    Quote

    • Is this a stepping stone? The next time might be to introduce it in the Mass. If I put my foot down now it will save a lot of trouble down the track. (My daughter at this stage is unaware of the request.)
    • It still is inside a church with the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. Are you saying that if it is not a Mass it is okay to play the flute in the Church? What about Benediction, the Holy Office etc.
    • Will the addition of the flute permit the maintenance of piety and devotion necessary in church?



    This is another manifestation of the chaos descending on Holy Mother Church, when fathers can't be certain of simply going to the pastor and getting the straight stuff.  We are left to research the subject on our own to be sure we are not misled by our own religious people.

    In my experience the only use of such instruments in church has always been in Newchurch settings.  All of the TLM venues I have found use only singing voices (a cappella) and sometimes with organ accompaniment.  When organ is available sometimes it is played alone without the singing voices, at certain moments, but never during the Consecration.  

    If the church is to be used as a concert hall, then the Blessed Sacrament ought to be removed from the tabernacle and the doors left wide open so the empty contents can be clearly seen.

    .


    There ARE places saying the Traditional Latin Mass that have an orchestra - i.e., a situation where a flute would be used. St. John Cantius in Chicago and St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN are some examples. Most don't because the cost of hiring professional musicians and soloists and time required to prepare an essentially 5-6 movement oratorio is simply too much.

    As for the question regarding the flute: there would be no problem. There's no problem with using orchestral instruments in general when you consider that in church is where many of these works were first premiered.
    Tío Samuel, ven pa 'aca

    Offline Neil Obstat

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    « Reply #12 on: November 12, 2015, 02:11:33 AM »
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  • Quote from: JezusDeKoning

    There's no problem with using orchestral instruments in general when you consider that in church is where many of these works were first premiered.


    When Pope St. Pius X addressed this problem, the Church had just emerged from a few hundred years of turmoil to a large degree characterized by liturgical abuses and the fallout therefrom.  Orchestras for Mass was one of the problems.  Great music was composed for the occasion, and the fruits of that scene were not good because it tended to degrade the sacredness of the liturgy, turning it into a sort of opera or stage production for entertainment.  

    The primary rule to keep in mind is this:

    Does the music ADD TO the prayerfulness of the occasion, or does it DETRACT from it?  And this continues to be our rule of thumb even today.

    The more elaborate the music is, the more it demands attention toward itself, which effectively takes attention AWAY from the Blessed Sacrament.  For it is not a matter of just providing beautiful music for a given venue -- if it's a Mass and the music demands audience attention, it's not a good thing.  The music has to be a BACKDROP or environment suitable for the liturgy, because what's going on at the altar must be of primary importance.

    It took polyphony over 100 years to become allowed at Mass, and some of the pioneer great composers lived and died without ever hearing their amazing compositions sung in a liturgical setting.  Palestrina and de Victoria come to mind.

    Bach's Mass in B Minor and Mozart's Requiem (for example) have soloists whose voices can certainly fill the entire church, and how that wouldn't draw attention from the audience away from the Liturgy isn't arguable.

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    Offline Graham

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    « Reply #13 on: November 12, 2015, 06:57:49 AM »
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  • Relevant summary from Papal Legislation of Sacred Music, 95 AD to 1977 AD, pp 399-400, by Robert Hayburn:

    "E. Orchestral Instruments

    The legislation of the Church concerning the use of orchestral instruments is far more restrictive than that of other subjects. The legislation usually mentioned that these instruments were to be allowed by way of exception rather than as a general practice.

    [...]

    The greatest amount of discussion on the use of instruments in the Church was given by Pope Benedict XIV in the encyclical Annus qui of February 19, 1749. [...] Pope Benedict gave as the norm that musical instruments may be admitted into sacred services as long as they conform to the spirit of the liturgy and do not detract from the services or become a scandal to the worshippers.

    [...]

    The legislation of St. Pius X of November 22, 1903 took a much firmer stand on the use of orchestral instruments. The motu proprio required the permission of the bishop on all occasions for their use [Pius XII appears to dispense with this requirement - Graham], and limits were put on the number and kind of instruments admitted. The piano, drums, cymbals, bells, and noisy instruments were never to be allowed."

    The long and short is the flute can be allowed, on occasion, with permission of the priest, so long as it does not detract from the sacred proceedings. The situation OP described, hymns before mass, doesn't seem problematic to me at all.

    Offline JezusDeKoning

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    « Reply #14 on: November 12, 2015, 08:49:17 AM »
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  • Quote from: Neil Obstat
    Quote from: JezusDeKoning

    There's no problem with using orchestral instruments in general when you consider that in church is where many of these works were first premiered.


    When Pope St. Pius X addressed this problem, the Church had just emerged from a few hundred years of turmoil to a large degree characterized by liturgical abuses and the fallout therefrom.  Orchestras for Mass was one of the problems.  Great music was composed for the occasion, and the fruits of that scene were not good because it tended to degrade the sacredness of the liturgy, turning it into a sort of opera or stage production for entertainment.  

    The primary rule to keep in mind is this:

    Does the music ADD TO the prayerfulness of the occasion, or does it DETRACT from it?  And this continues to be our rule of thumb even today.

    The more elaborate the music is, the more it demands attention toward itself, which effectively takes attention AWAY from the Blessed Sacrament.  For it is not a matter of just providing beautiful music for a given venue -- if it's a Mass and the music demands audience attention, it's not a good thing.  The music has to be a BACKDROP or environment suitable for the liturgy, because what's going on at the altar must be of primary importance.

    It took polyphony over 100 years to become allowed at Mass, and some of the pioneer great composers lived and died without ever hearing their amazing compositions sung in a liturgical setting.  Palestrina and de Victoria come to mind.

    Bach's Mass in B Minor and Mozart's Requiem (for example) have soloists whose voices can certainly fill the entire church, and how that wouldn't draw attention from the audience away from the Liturgy isn't arguable.


    Bach's B Minor Mass is a really bad example because it could never be used liturgically. It's way too long. It's an almost 2-hour long work.
    Tío Samuel, ven pa 'aca

     

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