About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark is the Director of Music of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. His compositions have been performed worldwide.
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"The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."
— Pope Pius XI (6 January 1928)

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Pope Francis on musical quality: “mediocrity, superficiality, and banality”
published 4 March 2017 by Richard J. Clark

ATICAN RADIO recently reported Pope Francis’ comments to the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture’s Conference on Music. This meeting which took place in Rome (March 2-4), marked the fiftieth anniversary of Musicam sacram (March 5, 1967).

You can read and listen to Vatican Radio’s report here. You can read a translation of Pope Francis’ full address here.

Notable are Pope Francis’ remarks of perhaps, unintended consequences of poor implementation of Vatican II:

“Certainly,” said Pope Francis, “the encounter with modernity and the introduction of [vernacular] tongues into the Liturgy stirred up many problems: of musical languages, forms and genres.”

The Holy father went on to say, “Sometimes a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.”

Myriad reasons contribute to our culture of mediocrity in the liturgy: an acceptance of superficial comfort food as status quo. As such, Pope Francis goes on to urge renewal of our traditions with an emphasis on “quality”.

The Pope encouraged the various actors in the field of liturgical music – from composers, conductors, musicians and choristers, to liturgical animators – to do their best to contribute to the renewal of sacred music and liturgical chant, especially as far as the quality of sacred music is concerned.

He goes on further to emphasize the urgent need for musical education especially in seminaries:

“To facilitate this process,” Pope Francis said, “we need to promote proper musical education, especially for those who are preparing to become priests – in dialogue with the musical trends of our time, with the demands of the different cultural areas, and with an ecumenical attitude.”

God deserves our best. God’s people deserve our best! Pope Francis is calling for music education and for a greater attention to quality.

How will we respond?