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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A lot of the favoured new settings are musically illiterate, almost is if they were written by semi-trained teenagers, getting to grips with musical rudiments. The style is stodgy and sentimental, tonally and rhythmically stilted, melodically inane and adored by Catholic clergy “of a certain age.” Some Catholic dioceses run courses for wannabe composers to perpetuate this style. It is a scandal. People with hardly any training and experience of even the basic building blocks of music have been convinced that there is a place for their puerile stumblings and fumblings in the modern Catholic Church because real musicians are elitist and off-putting.
— James MacMillan (20 November 2013)

Minimal Standards at Weddings and Funerals
published 12 February 2016 by Richard J. Clark

NEVER THOUGHT I would be advocating for minimal standards. It’s a sad moment. The highest standards should always be our aspiration and goal. God deserves our best. The people deserve better and are being served poorly on many fronts.

I cannot blame a wedding couple or a grieving family for being incredulous that I cannot include a pop song or Broadway melody. Why? Because their experience in the Roman Catholic Church tells them otherwise.

“But I’ve been to many weddings that had this song…” Or, “Father said it was ok…” etc., etc. We all have experience with such unfortunate stories and there is no need to rehash them.

But the appalling story is that the couple or the family has been victimized by horrifically low standards. They have lived a lifetime of exposure to mediocrity, ignorance, and defiance. Worse, they are done a great disservice because it is easier to capitulate than to educate. Catechesis takes great effort because it must be done with charity, love, and with finesse—especially for weddings and funerals which are so deeply personal experiences. Many of us have been on both sides of this experience and must be mindful of perspective.

That sacred music is a minimal standard for all liturgies would be an upgrade for a great many weddings and funerals. This is scandalous. That we find this impossible, that we fear doing so is equally scandalous.

I fear the spirit of another generation will atrophy in the blight of mediocrity. I won’t let that happen on my watch, and I know many of you won’t either. We are called to serve one another and God. We are called to implement the highest of standards with the resources at our disposal. Moreover, we are called to catechize though our actions, catechize by the way we live our lives, and catechize through sacred music.

I WORK IN A PARISH. This is a live recording of the Fauré Requiem with chamber orchestra by the choir of St. Cecilia Parish in Boston, a group of wonderful people that I am privileged to direct every week. They are almost entirely volunteer and mostly young people.

There are far better recordings of the Fauré Requiem by extraordinary conductors, choirs, and soloists. But I share with you here what can be accomplished in a parish (and there’s much more work to do!) Furthermore, this is a recording of people of faith who believe the words they sing. More important than any grandeur of the orchestra and organ is the simple reverence with which they sing. I hope this offering is a prayerful experience.

Soli Deo gloria.

Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 Gabriel Fauré
St. Cecilia Choir & Chamber Orchestra | Richard J. Clark, Director
Allesandra Cionco, soprano
Marc DeMille, baritone
Timothy E. Smith Organ
Tara Novak, violin