Fond of Gregorian chant? Good times are coming back again!
Are you Catholic and fond of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony? Good news at last! Something can help you stay in high spirits: good times are coming back again. But let’s try to be methodical.
Benedict XVI, who is highly competent in the area of sacred music, is also known as severely critical of what he considers the degradation of music following the Second Vatican Council. The Pope has written on a number of occasions that he wants to restore to the Catholic liturgy the great music that “from Gregorian chant passes through the music of the cathedrals and polyphony, the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque, to Bruckner and beyond.”
In a message to the participants at the congress of the Vatican Congregation for Worship, hold onDecember 5 2005, he encouraged them “to reflect upon and evaluate the relationship between music and the liturgy, always keeping close watch over practice and experimentation.” In turn, in the same occasion, cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Worship, criticized the musical fashions found in many churches, which he characterized as “chaotic, excessively simplistic, and unsuitable for the liturgy.”
As Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported, during that congress
But one could gather this above all from the applause that punctuated and concluded the address by monsignor Valentino Miserachs Grau, president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, the liturgical-musical “conservatory” of the Holy See, which has the task of training Church musicians from all over the world.
With concise and concentrated arguments, Miserachs argued forcefully on behalf of the revival of Gregorian chant, beginning with the cathedrals and monasteries, which ought to take the lead in this rebirth.
And he called upon the Church of Rome finally to act “with authority” in the area of liturgical music, not simply with documents and exhortations, but by establishing an office with competency in this regard, as it did for example with the pontifical commission dedicated to the Church’s cultural heritage.
“This is the opportune moment, and there is no time to waste,” Miserachs concluded, clearly referring to the reigning pope.
With this concert, Benedict XVI has symbolically restored the Sistine Chapel to its true maestro. Because the famous chapel is not only the sacred place decorated with the frescoes of Michelangelo, it also gives the name to the choir that for centuries has accompanied the pontifical liturgies.
Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.
His positions then were isolated. But with his election as pope, Ratzinger immediately indicated his intention to proceed, in the liturgical and musical field, with what he calls “the reform of the reform.”