About this blogger:
Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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"Religious worship supplies all our spiritual need, and suits every mood of mind and variety of circumstance."
— John Henry Cardinal Newman

The Verge Of The Abyss
published 12 January 2015 by Aurelio Porfiri

457 Aurelio Porfiri THINK WE SHOULD REALLY be honest with one another: church music is on the verge of the abyss. And so it is with liturgy. I am not saying this to appear pessimistic, traditionalist, conservative, or whatever word you want to use with negative meaning (even if these words are not negative at all, in the right context)—I just think it to be realistic.

Church music is mostly coming to an end, if we consider church music to be the kind that is conceived using the best of musical abilities, of composers trained in the tradition of the Catholic Church’s liturgical music. Music that, of course, can be (and has to be) innovative but always developing organically from the musical forms of the tradition. Hey, this is not a traditionalist statement! It’s right out of Sacrosanctum Concilium (23): “and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

Today everyone can rule over those who are unfortunate, yet still strive to take church music seriously: every catechist, every priest, every nun can teach you what they don’t know. All of these people usually have something in common that is very important: they are completely ignorant about liturgical music, but feel encouraged (from a mysterious spirit) to use their ignorance for the greater glory of God and the edification of the faithful. And of course they use the art of demagogy and political correctness in a way that puts some timid church musicians in an uncomfortable position.

FELLOW CHURCH MUSICIANS, let me tell you wholeheartedly: rejoice and be glad! We are on the verge of the abyss, because we prefer to stand for what we trust than to bow to the messengers of ugliness—to poor people thinking they are making some good when they are actually building the greatest evil: the triumph of mediocrity. There are still a few catechists, priests, and nuns who attempt to resist this triumphal march toward nothing, and they also will share our fate of solitude and isolation. Of course, there are also church musicians who are close minded, arrogant, and self-isolating, in the same way that there are medical doctors who are close minded, arrogant, and self-isolating. But if you need an opinion about your health you would still ask them rather than those who are not trained in medicine. We church musicians are not in the same situation: everyone can decide what music can be sung in the liturgy, following their distorted ideas and tastes and being sure that they can invoke the Council providing that they only know a few lines of the documents…and that is in the best cases.

Fellow church musicians, rejoice and be glad! We are trailed toward the abyss because we want to remain Catholics but at least we know where we are going. Thanks to this, we will be able to taste every good moment that God allows us in the midst of the battle, having a grateful heart and invoking a peaceful spirit.