Gregorian Chant Should be Model
EFFORTS should be made to teach church music and congregational singing to all Catholics, states one of the recommendations of the third International Congress of Sacred Music. This would provide fuller participation by Catholics in the Church's liturgy.
Another point made in these recommendations. which were released only last week although they were formulated during congress sessions in Paris last July. is the importance of the Church's solemn Mass and of the music sung at such Masses as the norm for other liturgical functions.
Consisting of 33 suggestions, the recommendations of the congress constitute a code, based on the 1955 Papal Encyclical Musicae Sarrae Discipilna, which puts forward the Church's desires and ideas with regard. to sacred music.
Beginning with a recommendation that sacred music be given its rightful place as a " privileged liturgical art", the code lists in detail the various functions of sacred music, its proper use. and the attitudes to be safeguarded by those who compose or teach it.
The solemnised liturgy of the Church should be recognised as the norm upon which all other liturgical functions must be based. In addition, the traditional liturgical chant of the Church, Gregorian plainsong, should be considered as the model for all church music, without prejudicing the privileged position long held in polyphony and polyphonic singing.
Composers of church music are urged to do their work in a spirit of art, basing their compositions on artistic norms rather than on the ease with which a composition may be taught to a choir or congregation.
The traditional music of the oriental rites of the Church should also be taught in institutes teaching the music of the Western Church, states another of the recommendations. In writing music for the oriental rites. composers should avoid using western harmonies and styles. and they should strive to maintain the traditions of the East.
Polyphony, the recommendations continue, has a place alongside Gregorian chant. Its use, and the composition of new polyphonic music, should be encouraged in accord with the directives contained in Muskat, .Sucrae Disciplina. " The role which the congregation traditionally plays in the Church's liturgy should always be safeguarded," one recommendation states, " and the congregation's participation in non-liturgical functions-Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, for instance-should be by means of popular and simple hymns, written in their language." The recommendations warn against imposing foreign music and hymns on people in mission countries, and urged missioners to strive to develop a native music and hymnody in their various mission 'areas. They end with two suggestions:
(I) That, in countries where they do not already exist, an association of church musicians be formed, with the approbation of the hierarchy, to foster the composition of indigenous church music, and to afford mutual co-operation and encouragement to musicians and Composers.
(2) Thai, an international association of sacred music be formed, under the sponsorship of the Holy See, to consolidate the work being done throughout the world in this most important field.
During the congress, a letter from Cardinal Costantini, Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, discussed sacred music in mission countries. " Indigenous melodies must be accepted and Christianised by the Church," he stated. " Sacred music in mission countries should be based on the native culture of those countries."
The Cardinal stressed the danger of insisting upon the use of Western liturgical music in countries which have a culture of their own.
The congress in July gathered together composers, directors, teachers, and choirs from many parts of the world. During the meetings, some of the world's most famous choral groups performed and took part in discussions of sacred music in the light of papal teaching.