About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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"To the extent that the new sacred music is to serve the liturgical celebrations of the various churches, it can and must draw from earlier forms — especially from Gregorian chant — a higher inspiration, a uniquely sacred quality, a genuine sense of what is religious."
— Pope John Paul II (June 1980)

Poterack Vs. Tucker — Uh, Sort Of . . .
published 20 May 2013 by Jeff Ostrowski

OOKING BACK at my college career, one of the most interesting classes I attended involved two professors standing in front of a class full of undergraduates and . . . arguing. That’s right: arguing! It turns out the professors were actually the best of friends (the students did not know this initially), and this method of teaching was incredibly effective. Not only did it convey subject matter, but it demonstrated how to actually have an argument. I think I’ve met a grand total of 5-6 people who actually understand how to conduct a true argument. Most people do not. But that’s another story . . .

Getting back to the point at hand, I was reminded of those two professors when I recently came across an exchange between Dr. Kurt Poterack (former editor, Sacred Music Journal) and Jeffrey Tucker (current editor, Sacred Music Journal). Here’s the exchange:

      * *  1999 Exchange Between Dr. Kurt Poterack & Jeffrey Tucker [pdf]

Anyone who’s ever been to a Colloquium knows that Kurt and Jeff are very close (personally) which makes the exchange that much more interesting. I’m not going to say who’s right or wrong. To do that, I’d have to see the original Latin Mass Magazine piece mentioned by Dr. Poterack.

So why am I bringing all this stuff up?

I’m glad you asked. The reason is due to Dr. Poterack’s comment:

Though I am somewhat loath to criticize a fellow liturgical conservative, I must say that his criticism of the Adoremus Hymnal is off target. Put briefly, he seems to dislike it because it is not the Liber Usualis and not Tridentine.

How many times has Watershed’s Vatican II Hymnal [url] been taken to task for the same reason! Just like Dr. Poterack says, so many people fail to understand what our book is. It is a book for the congregation, not a book for the choir. No matter how many times I try to get this point across, it never seems to “stick.” The Vatican II Hymnal was never meant to replace the Liber Usualis.

(Let me say once more, I’m not sure if Dr. Poterack’s criticism is fair, since I haven’t read Tucker’s original piece. That’s not the point.)

By the way, Dr. Poterack published a lot of really interesting things in those old journals. Here’s a sample:

The Sacred Congregation of Rites and the Consilium issued a joint statement on December 29,1966 prohibiting profane music in church. When Consilium spokesman Monsignor Annibale Bugnini was asked at a press conference what was meant by “profane” music, he said that this referred to such things as “jazz” Masses and instruments such as the guitar.

That’s taken from a big article he wrote in the Winter 1998 edition of Sacred Music.

I won’t go on giving examples, but permit me just one more, taken from 128-1:

I recommend reading this 1964 commentary by Msgr. McManus, because in it is revealed — less than a year after the Liturgy Constitution was passed — the quirky, ideological way in which the liturgy establishment intended to interpret article 36 of the constitution.
   After the gratuitous slam on Latin, notice what Msgr. McManus says next: “Although it is not the original language of the Roman rite by any means, the Latin language is here acknowledged to have the first or principal place, and as such it is to be retained. It may be that in some areas the retention will simply mean employing the Latin texts as the basis for translating into the vernacular, at least in the case of those parts of the Roman rite which are themselves original, such as the collects.”
   Did you get that? In “some areas” (he means the United States, not Kenya) the “retention of Latin” will not mean the retention of Latin, and this total vernacularization will only in some cases use the original Latin as “the basis for translations.” What is particularly funny about the last sentence is that the Calvinist-leaning Archbishop Cranmer showed far more respect and sensitivity to the original Latin collects in the English translations he did for the 16th-century Anglican Book of Common Prayer than ICEL ended up showing in the 1970 Roman Catholic Sacramentary.