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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“We decided to entrust this work to learned men of our selection. They very carefully collated all their work with the ancient codices in Our Vatican Library and with reliable, preserved or emended codices from elsewhere. Besides this, these men consulted the works of ancient and approved authors concerning the same sacred rites; and thus they have restored the Missal itself to the original form and rite of the holy Fathers.”
— Pope St. Pius V (Quo Primum, 1570)

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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?