ATHER PETER GEE once preached a sermon on the words of Saint Paul: Behold, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation. He said: “The time for holiness is now—not some faraway day in the future when you’re old.” I feel strongly the time has arrived for us to begin the process of restoring authentic Church music. Towards the end of this article, I give a few practical suggestions on how to move forward. Moreover, I’ve decided to attempt something audacious with our choir here in Los Angeles: We’re going to learn a polyphonic MAGNIFICAT for Solemn Vespers (held each Sunday afternoon at our parish).
I don’t know a more electric, powerful piece than this:
I’m extremely sad.
Most people won’t click on #79075; which means they won’t download the special PDF score containing immense amounts of fascinating information. They also won’t take advantage of the individual rehearsal videos (which required countless hours to create) because they’re unwilling to click on #79075. Can you blame me for being upset?
I’m also sad because people who don’t click on #79075 will have no idea how to make sense of this video, since that PDF score is indispensable:
A few thoughts about whether
Sacred music can be saved:
(1) Please don’t think for a second I don’t realize the obstacles we face as church musicians. Believe me; I know what we’re up against. I know how frequently choirmasters are treated unjustly. I know the heavy burdens choirmasters carry…burdens which seem insurmountable. I’m aware of the abuse we suffer on a daily basis. I’m aware of the sacrifices we make. And someday I will reveal the special obstacles we face here in Los Angeles—which are not inconsiderable.
(2) But let us never again become discouraged by these obstacles! Let us resolve to stop dwelling on the cruel things often said to us by uninformed (and unpleasant) people, because dwelling on such things will make our lives miserable. Let us shake off the “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
(3) Something I find essential to survival is choosing truly excellent music: music with “depth.” This is very important. Sometimes we have to dig for it—e.g. transcribing pieces by Palestrina or Guerrero—but choosing awesome music pays off in the long run. The music of composers like Palestrina and Guerrero is so pure, so magical, so mysterious, and so clever. People who click on #79075 can read explanations I wrote—yet even those barely scratch the surface of this music, which has such depth!
(4) Let us remember how cool our singers are! I have about fifty singers in my choirs here in Los Angeles, and they are such great people. They are fun. They want to learn. We have a fun job!
(5) Finally, let’s remember: Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation. Our vocation is to teach our choir members to sing, so let’s get busy! If we have to use Zoom for the present, so be it. They want to learn—they want to “sing, sing, sing.” Let us not waste so much time reading negative online articles by authors who (really) are not experts in their subjects. Let us not become discouraged by the negative and dishonest people we come into contact with online. Let us cherish our friends; let us build one another up! And don’t fool around if a singer has a bad attitude. Never tolerate a bad attitude. Only work with singers who want to learn from you, because life is short!
Let’s not spend so much time worrying. Remember what Father Valentine Young, OFM, said in one of his last sermons before he died: “I have probably suffered more in my life from things that never happened than from things that did happen!”