Y REFLECTION TODAY ties in with a phenomenal article (SEE BELOW), wherein Fr. George Rutler speaks about credentials. For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a series of articles encouraging my fellow choirmasters—and sharing some pointers I’ve picked up—because being a choirmaster is an extremely difficult job. The problem is, it’s not easy to know where to begin. I’ve been directing choirs since I was a teenager, yet each Sunday I learn so much!
Let me share something that might be considered an overriding principle. There is only one credential that matters: how your choir sounds. 1 You can have multiple diplomas from great universities, but an astute listener will ascertain in fifteen seconds what kind of director you are…by hearing your choir sing. The great Roger Wagner said over and over again, “Never apologize for your choir, because they’re as good as you are!”
One of Roger Wagner’s good friends—who, by the way, was a brilliant scholar with several doctorates—told me, “Only two people in any school have to demonstrate results: the coach and the music teacher.” His point was, the other teachers operate behind closed doors and never publicly demonstrate their students’ abilities. And he was absolutely right.
Mozart once said: “Play the keyboard with your nose, if you like—just do whatever’s necessary to get results!”
I say again: The only credential that matters is how your choir sounds.
Here’s the article by Fr. George Rutler:
N ASTUTE PROFESSOR once said that political wrangling in universities is so vicious because the stakes are so small. There are those in proverbial ivory towers who will struggle to get control of a faculty or become an assistant dean with an animus that would ill befit a general in battle. There is one caveat here, though, and it is this: the stakes are not so small when you consider that professors can shape the minds of a whole generation.
A recent letter in The New York Times signed by Catholic academics, objected that a columnist had no right to comment on the recent Synod in Rome because he had no theology degree. This ignored the fact that none of that newspaper’s columnists who frequently attack Catholic doctrine have any such scholarly decorations. It also defied the call for more vocal involvement of the laity that the signatories to the letter claim to champion as self-styled progressives.
Academia is rife with censorship in the form of political correctness, but it cannot totally smother the truth, which is supposed to be the substance and goal of learning, expressed in the plethora of school mottoes: Veritas, Lux et Veritas, Veritas Vos Liberabit, etc.
An example of insuppressible prophecy was Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, a representative of the Association of Catholic Doctors of Bucharest, Romania at the Synod on the Family in Rome. In the midst of speeches of varying quality, her brief remarks set a unique tone in the assembly of bishops and consultants. She spoke of her parents who were engaged to be married, but waited seventeen years while her father was a political prisoner of her country’s harsh dictatorship, and her mother kept vigil all that time, not knowing if he was dead or alive. She went on to say:
The Church’s mission is to save souls. Evil, in this world, comes from sin. Not from income disparity or ‘climate change.’ The solution is: Evangelization. Conversion. Not an ever increasing government control. Not a world government. These are nowadays the main agents imposing cultural Marxism on our nations… Our Church was suppressed by the Soviet occupation. But none of our 12 bishops betrayed their communion with the Holy Father… Now we need Rome to tell the world: ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’
Seven of the twelve bishops she mentioned died in prison. It was a sobering reflection during a Synod where there were not a few receptions and much dining, most innocent in themselves but different in tone from the laments of the countless Christians suffering in the Middle East. It was also very different in urgency from the offended academics whose pomposity was pricked by an “unqualified” newspaper columnist. They should have been more offended by the Romanian doctor whose only theological credentials were bestowed by the witness of her parents and the blood of her bishops.
Here’s the SOURCE of this article.
OUR WORLD IS FILLED with verbal bullies and falsehoods. Because of this, I sometimes feel overwhelmed—so many falsehoods and lies! Yet, choirs must sing the same (true & holy) words in perfect unity, and in my view this acts as a type of “counterweight” to the falsehoods. I realize that may sound weird, but it’s how I feel. In Church, a whole group of people join their voices in perfect unity to publicly adore Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thing! However, as I said before, getting a bunch of people to think & breathe & sing together is quite difficult. Moreover, if the choir members are not perfectly unified, everyone in the pews can tell.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 The same holds true for composers. Some of today’s composers fill book after book with pretty words and have tons of degrees. Yet, when they put down notes on paper they cannot hide their abilities, their inspiration, their understanding of counterpoint, and so forth. It’s as if their very soul is exposed for all to see.