Sunday, March 16, 2008

No! Not Marty Haugen! -- Say it isn't so!

Sanctus for the Pope's Mass: Haugen's Mass of Creation The New Liturgical Movement March 16, 2008 - Jeffrey Tucker has a bone to pick regarding the music selection for the Pope's Mass in Washington:

The music in New York and at Vespers in Washington at the Shrine is forward looking and impressive. It seems impossible that at the Pope's April 17th Mass in Washington, D.C., that anyone could possibly schedule The Mass of Creation by Marty Haugen,: the Sanctus, the "Great Amen," and Agnus Dei. Composed in 1984 (I think), with obvious Broadway influence and overdone melodrama, it has been an unrelenting presence in parishes all over the country. In fact, it is legendarily over used, in every season, again and again and again, so much so that these parts of the Mass sometimes seems like the movie Groundhog Day.


"God of Power, God of Might." "Jesus, Lamb of God." The text departs not only from the Latin but even from the ICEL translation approved for English use. In this sense--and it is a small thing with big symbolic importance--how could it be possible that this setting would be used at a Mass celebrated by the Pope?


Surely, organizers would not shun this for Benedict XVI and surely they would not bypass this in favor of what might be the most embarrassing aspect of American liturgy? What signal would the organizers be sending to the Pope by scheduling the Mass of Creation by Marty Haugen? That America is stuck in the past, refuses to update itself, refuses the aesthetic leadership of the Vatican, refuses even the approved texts of the Mass, refuses to get passed the confused times of the postconciliar era and embrace the new times, and refuses to make the larger tradition of our faith a living presence in our lives?

[...] So who is responsible? The name that keeps coming up is Thomas V. Stehle, who directs music at Our Lady of Mercy, in Potomac, Maryland. (He is also available to be hired as a consultant on architecture.) The diocesan paper announced that he would be organizing the music for the Pope's visit, and here is what he said is guiding him when it comes to making musical choices:

"The most important thing to me is that everyone present is fully engaged," he said. "The music is aimed at allowing the assembly to take up its role and not just be spectators, but full participants in the celebration, no matter where they are sitting."

Well, it so happens that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote an entire book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, to explode this anthropocentric, community-obsessed view of liturgy. In his writings, he actually said of this perspective, that liturgy is all about maximizing the singing of the congregation, is "insipid pedagogic rationalism."

Do the organizers of this Mass care at all about the cause to which this Pope is so obviously dedicated? Are they seeking to say: your cause is not our cause?

This isn't responsible liturgical planning. This is an insult. American Catholics should be deeply embarrassed and outraged.

Perhaps it's high time to introduce the Holy Father (and Thomas Stehle) to the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas?

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