About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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“Oh, the happy choir director who is hired to start work on a brand new choir, or who walks into his first rehearsal a total stranger to the existing group—what a fortunate man he is! The new choir director who is a former member of the choir, or a member of the congregation, or the nephew of the alto soloist, or a former altar boy, or otherwise well acquainted with the choir, is in for a few headaches.”
— Paul Hume (1956)

Dancing on the Edge with Truth and Beauty
published 5 June 2015 by Richard J. Clark

EAUTY IS TRUTH. And truth is beautiful even when difficult. The Gospel message is both Truth and Beauty and sometimes very difficult and challenging. Yet it delivers liberation, peace, and mercy—beautiful truths that may take a lifetime to understand, if ever.

So, the Mass, our greatest prayer, is incontrovertibly a messenger of Truth. United in the Eucharist, we commemorate Christ’s Death and Resurrection through which we are set free. As such, the Mass demands beauty because beauty conveys truth—the very truth proclaimed by the Gospel.

Another difficult reality, is that beauty and truth are rarely appreciated. Quite the contrary, they are a cause of fear and panic in many. Try fostering beauty and substantive theology in a parish music program, and one will often find oneself on the defensive. Proclaim the truths of our faith, in light of mercy and forgiveness, and one quickly may become a pariah.

LTHOUGH NOT NEW, the news of John Romeri’s resignation form the Office of Liturgical Music in Philadelphia is now getting much attention. There has been great speculation regarding the nature of the differences with the archbishop, and I doubt Mr. Romeri will ever reveal any specifics. However, amidst the drama, it is the last line in Mr. Romeri’s resignation letter wrote that struck like a thunderbolt:

“I encourage you to make music at the highest levels possible in your parishes. Our people deserve it and our God is worthy of the highest forms of praise.”

This is true and it is beautiful. Most beautiful, in that it is clear that we are servants of God, the liturgy, and the people. Such a person of humility and skill is ideally who we want leading prayer through music. The robustness of the music program at the Cathedral Basilica is witness to his work; no less his previous work at the Cathedral in St. Louis. By their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:16)

IT SEEMS WE ARE OFTEN DANCING ON THE EDGE. Do we uphold truth or do we compromise? Yet many of us face the daily reality of survival. One false move on the tightrope, and we find ourselves falling.

But beauty is what gives us hope to persevere through difficulty. Through beauty we praise God and we see His face. Furthermore, the truth of the Gospel is that God loves us more than we will ever comprehend.

Oremus pro invicem
Let us pray for each other. Support each other. We truly need it.