Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/719

This page needs to be proofread.


MUSIC


653


MUSIC


choir with the so-called falsi-bordoni or with verses similarly composed in a proper manner.

"It may also be allowed sometimes to render the single psalms in their entirety in music, provided the form proper to psalmody be preserved in such compo- sition, that is to say, provided the singers seem to be psalmodizing among themselves, either with new mo- tifs or with those taken from the Gregorian chant based upon it.

" The psalms known, as di concerto, are therefore for ever excluded and prohibited.

" (c) In the hymns of the Church the traditional form of the hymn is preserved. Thus, it is not lawful to compose, for instance, a 'Tantum ergo' in such wise that the first strophe presents a romanza, a cavatina, an adagio, and the 'Genitori' an allegro.

"(d) The antiphons of the Vespers must be, as a rule, rendered with the Gregorian melody proper to each. Should they, however, in some special case, be sung in figured music they must never have either the form of a concert melody or the fulness of a motet or a cantata."

.^11 this shows not only the great solicitude of the Church to foster worthy ecclesiastical music, but also the reasonableness of her regulations on the matter. Greater latitude is given at benediction services. It is lawful to sing hymns in the vernacular before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, but, immediately before the Benediction, the "Tantum ergo" and "Genitori" must be sung in Latin, either to a Gregorian melody or to a devotional figured setting, as a liturgical close. During and after the removal of the Blessed Sacrament, it is permitted to sing in the vernacular. An antiphon or hymn in honour of the Blessed Virgin may also be sung, but only after the reposition. If litanies (sanc- tioned by the Church or the ordinary) be sung, there must be no omissions, although the invocations may be taken in groups of three, followed by one Ora pro nobis. .4s in the case of the " Tantum ergo", all pre- scribed liturgical chants, like the "TeDeum",mustbe sung in Latin : any text chosen on the choir's own ini- tiative, however, may be sung in the vernacular.

Singing by the People. — Singing by the people, so widely customary at different devotions (Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, low Mass, etc.), requires special mention. The participation of the people in the singing of the Gregorian chant has been discussed under Congreg.\tional Singing. Singing in the vernacular may not be substituted for the latter. This abuse crept in after the Reformation, and flour- ished in the eighteenth century, particularly in Ger- many and adjacent countries. The wish of the Church is that this abuse should be everywhere extirpated, while violence to local customs be avoided. But Pius X has expressed himself warmly in favour of singing by the people within proper limits (e. g., in his endorse- ment of the endeavours of the Society italiana per la musica populare), and is far from being opposed to such in extra-liturgical services. Naturally, it would be undesirable to accustom the people to sing rather than pray, but well-ordered singing by the congrega- tion is always edifying and devotional. In his psalm against the Donatists, which he intentionally couched in popular form, St. Augustine had an absolutely practical object. Greek and Latin hj-mnody is to a certain extent even more specially iiitiinled to be sung by the people than the Gregorian cliMnt. Hymns in the vernacular were widely employed (p. g,, by the early apostles of Germany) to wean tlic propli' from the pagan songs to which they were iiieusLiincd, and to initiate them in an agreeable maimer into tlie mys- teries of the Faith. The oldest of these hymns are lost to us, but we possess a Latin translation of a ninth- century hymn written in honour of St. Gall by the monk Ratpert and sung in church by the people. Of the " Wessobrunner Gebet" the German text has been preserved; of the "Petruslied" (also ninth-century)


we possess the melody, the notation of which, how- ever, is difficult to determine exactly. The frequent pilgrimages and the religious plays subsequently fos- tered singing among the people, while the invent ion of printing afforded a means for the universal propaga- tion of popular hymns. Even Luther and Melanch- thon testify to the general use of German hymns be- fore their time. The Protestant custom of singing hymns in the vernacular, instead of the liturgical chant, reacted upon Catholics, and found its way even into the missa cantata.

The development of congregational singing is of early origin. St. Augustine tells us (Conf . vii, 9) that St. Ambrose introduced it in his own diocese from the Orient, and that it soon spread throughout the West- ern Church. Ambrose modified the still classic Latin metre to meet the popular requirements, while Augus- tine abandoned it altogether, to get, as he said, nearer to the people. So far we have been concerned only with the antiphonal singing of Latin psalms and hj-mns, although the people sang in addition the short responses to the hturgical intonations of the celebrant in solemn ser\-ices. From this latter practice it is likely that the congregational song developed, at first by applying to thelongneumsof the"Kyrie"and the jubilations of the "Alleluia" first Latin texts, then texts in the vernacular, and finally by original compositions in imitation of the hymns and litanies. The later hymns in the vernacular may be defined (cf. Biiumker) as strophically arranged sacred songs in the vulgar tongue, which, because of their ecclesiastical charac- ter, are suitable to be sung by the whole congregation, and have been either expressly approved for this pur- pose by ecclesiastical authority, or at least tacitly ad- mitted. The sacred song meditates on truths of religion, gives expression to a lyric religious mood, or rehearses, in the form of a litany, praises or petitions (e. g. , pilgrimage of songs) . According to Kornmiiller, the requisites for a good sacred song are a genuinely ecclesiastical character and doctrine, lyric musical ex- pression, and popular, but at the same time poetic, language. Before the advent of Luther about one hundred church hymns were in general use in Ger- many. These early hjTQns are simple, greatly re- semble the Gregorian chant in melody, and are grave and noble in expression. The later development (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) was on the whole unpropitious, but in recent years the reform initiated by Meister, Baumker, and Dreves, has been attended with gratifying success.

Wo.MEN in Church Choirs. — In connexion with singing in the vernacular it is necessary to advert briefly to the question of women's participation in choirs. As the injunction of the Apostle that woman keep silence in church was never made applicable in the matter of her participation in the singing of the congregation, and as in religious communities of women the liturgical chant has to be performed by women, we may take it for granted that in our ordi- nary lay choirs, representing the congregation, the participation of women is not forbidden. The follow- ing words from the "Motu proprio" have, however, caused a great deal of uncertainty: "With the excep- tion of the melodies proper to the celebrant at the altar and to his ministers, which must always be sung only in Gregorian chant and without the accompaniment of the organ, all the rest of the liturgical chant belongs to the choir of levites; therefore, singers in church, even when they are laymen, are really taking the place of the ecclesiastical choir." "On the same principle it follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that, therefore, women, as being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir or nf the musical chapel. Whenever, then, it is dcsind in employ the acute voices of so- pranos and ci.niraltds, tlicse parts must be taken by boys, according to the most ancient usage of the