Pope What’s-His-Name Is To Purge The Vatican of Modern Music


[This is from today’s Daily Telegraph

The Pope is considering a dramatic overhaul of the Vatican in order to force a return to traditional sacred music.

  • Damian Thompson: Why the Pope is right
  •    Pope to purge the Vatican of modern music
    The Pope wants to widen the use of Gregorian chant and baroque sacred music

    After reintroducing the Latin Tridentine Mass, the Pope wants to widen the use of Gregorian chant and baroque sacred music.

    In an address to the bishops and priests of St Peter’s Basilica, he said that there needed to be “continuity with tradition” in their prayers and music.

    He referred pointedly to “the time of St Gregory the Great”, the pope who gave his name to Gregorian chant.

    Gregorian chant has been reinstituted as the primary form of singing by the new choir director of St Peter’s, Father Pierre Paul.

    He has also broken with the tradition set up by John Paul II of having a rotating choir, drawn from churches all over the world, to sing Mass in St Peter’s.

    The Pope has recently replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Mgr Guido Marini. It is now thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto.

    The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: “The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ playing like in a second-rank country parish church.”

    Mgr Valentino Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which trains church musicians, said that there had been serious “deviations” in the performance of sacred music.

    “How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?” he said.

    He added that a pontifical office could correct the abuses, and would be “opportune”. He said: “Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality.”

    Mgr Grau said that Gregorian chant was the “cardinal point” of liturgical music and that traditional music “should become again the living soul of the assembly”.

    The Pope favoured the idea of a watchdog for church music when he was the cardinal in charge of safeguarding Catholic doctrine.

    He is known to be a strong supporter of Mgr Grau, who is also in charge of the Cappella Liberiana of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

    1 thought on “Pope What’s-His-Name Is To Purge The Vatican of Modern Music

    1. So this seems to be the latest battle in the general argument against “modern music” that, of course, did not begin yesterday – this time the idea is more or less theological: Gregorian chant or any other kind of “non-modern” music is closer to the “true spirit of sacred music,” i.e. in terms of the non-theological terms of the debate, it is more “natural” – “tonal” is “natural” and “atonal” is “unnatural” – make of it what you will, but it is an interesting debate that I would like to join at some point…

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