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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/720

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MUSIC


654


MUSIC


Churrh." But the Holy Father speaks here (as in the boginning) of tlio choir of Icvitcs, among whom hiy- nieii may be inohuled, and tleelares soon after these quote<l words that it is becoming for them to wear the ecclesiastical habit and surplice. Hut our ordinary lay choir represents not only the congregation, but also the oHicial choir, without wishing to play the role of "levites"; for this rea-son it is not stationed in the sanctuary, and no one would think of iirojjosing that its members, like acolytes.shoulihvear the ecclesiastical habit. The lay choir is sim|ily a substitute for the absent choni.i canlorum, in the liturgical sense, as is the nun for the absent acolyte when sh(> supplies from a distance the responses to the celebrant during the celebration of Ma.ss.

Con.sequently, the presenceof women in choirs is ex- cu.sable under certain circumstances, although choirs composed of men and boys are for many reasons preferalilc. It is true that an inquiry about this point received an apparently negative answer on 18 Dec, 190S, but this was in regard to the conditions de- scribed in the inquiry (proui cxpotiitur), and it is added that the Decree is to be understood in the sense that the women must be kept entirely seiiarate from the men, and every precaution taken to render impossible all conduct unbecoming to the sacred edifice. From these clauses it appears that, in principle, choirs com- posed of men and women arc not inadmissible; how- ever, tlie desirability of banishing every possible occa- sion of indecorousness from the church renders it pref- erable to employ boys, rather than women, in choirs. The employment of women as soloists is all the more questionable, since solos in church are admissible only within certain limits (Motu proprio). A choir com- posed of women only is not fuThidilen (Decree of 17 Jan., 1908). To employ non-Catlmlirs in church as singers and organists is only tolerated in case of urgent necessity, because they neither believe nor feel the words which they sing.

Reform in Practice. — The decadence of the Gre- gorian chant is to be ascribed primarily to the develop- ment of and preference given to polyphony. To this cause is due the disappearance from the chant of its original rhythm and the serious neglect of its simpler form. Even before the Council of Trent, ecclesiastical authority had repeatedly rai.sed its voice against the abuses which had crept into polyphonic music. The Gregorian melodies, however, even in the hands of the contrapuntists, retained their character in a wonderful manner. Xevertheless, the contrast between the two kinds of music led, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, to an abbreviation of the long melismatic passages, to a different application of the te.\t, and to many less important modifications (Graduale Medi- caeum). Many other editions, edited according to the same principle, followed until the revised " Medicaa" (printed in Ratisbon) became in 1878 the official chant book of the Church (cf. Decreta auth., n. 3830). Meanwhile, the liturgical researches of the Benedic- tines of Solesmes had led (since 1903-4) to the general restoration, in the Vatican edition, of the chant from the manuscripts of the twelfth century. Endeavours to restore the earlier ncumed texts (tenth-century), mainly on account of the primitive rhythm, have so far met with little success.

The "Motu proprio" of Pius X had for its main purpose the reform of church music in general, and covers about the same ground as the "Regolamento per la musica sacra", which the Congregation of Sa- cred Rites issued under I.eo XIII, but which applied more particularly to Italy (Deer, auth., loc. cit.). On the basis of these regulations, with which the earlier precepts and the modern decrees are in entire agree- ment, composers, singers, critics, and theorists are to carry on their work of reform. They constitute the principle which the Ciicilienverein (Cecilian Society) has long endeavoured to put into practice in Germany,


Italy, North America, and elsewhere. Dr. F. X. Witt, burning with zeal for the cause of reform, founded this society in ISCS, and, shortly after its papal approba- tion, became its first president. The object of the society is to cultivate the cliani, iiolyphony, hynms in the vernacular, organ-playing, and orcli(>stral,inusi(un conformity with the regulations of the Church. The reform endeavours were by no riicaiis confined to Ger- many, but extended to Holland, Italy, the Ignited States, etc. The introduction of the Vatican edition of the chant has been, since the decree of Pius X, the main object of the society's activity. In the restora- tion and worthy performance of the traditional chant, the Benedictines have, even before the publication of Doin l'otlii<r's work (Les melodies gregoriennes, 1880), displayed the greatest zeal. Thus, the fathers of Solesmes in France, Beuron in Germany, St. Anselm in Rome, Maredsous in Belgium, Prague and Seckau in Austria, co-operate with the Cecilians of every part of the world in carrying out the wishes of the Holy Father and the bi.shops in regard to the reform of church music. Every one is under obliga- tion to do what he can in his own particular field.

It is well to state briefly in didactic form what the Church really means by progressive reform. A first requisite is the recognition that the chant, as the true music of the Church, must be studied and performed with the greatest care. Whenever difficulties stand in the way of the introduction of the Vatican edition, the bishops will take such measures as are in conformity with the will of the pope. Schools for church music are to be founded and fostered. The "Motu proprio" (viii, 27, 28) says: "Let care be taken to restore, at least in the principal churches, the ancient schola canlorum, as has been done with excellent fruit in many places. It is not difficult for a zealous clergy to institute such scholw, even in the minor and country churches — nay, in them they will find a very easy means for gathering around them both the children and the adults to their ow'n profit and the edification of the people. Let efforts be made to support and promote in the best way possible the higher schools of sacred music where these already exist, and to help in founding them where they do not. It is of the utmost importance for the Church herself to provide for the instruction of its masters, organists, and singers ac- cording to the true principles of sacred art." In a similar sense it is the will of the Holy Father that in the study of liturgy attention should be directed to the principles governing liturgical music, and that as- thetic appreciation should be fostered. Singers must ever be humbly submissive to their pastor, and espe- cially to the episcopal commission, and may never entertain the notion that the chant can be sung with- out due preparation, as though it were a question of merely singing the notes. Courses in the chant are given in various centres, and excellent books of in- struction exist in great numbers (e. g., Singenberger's "Guide to Church Music"). To mention only one point, it is important to master, in accordance with the instructions of the Benedictines, the proper rhyth- mical divisions of periods and phrases as well as the legato delivery of the long jubilations.

In general, it is now-a-days impos.sible to do entirely without polyphonic music. It constitutes a welcome means of giving splendour to feast-days, but is a source of danger if over-indulged in. The works of some of the best masters of polyphony have been made acces- sible for study and execution by excellent editions (e. g., the works of Palestrina in Haberl's edition). There is certainly no dearth of compositions in the modern homophonic style; we have but to consult the cata- logue of the Cecilian Society or the above-named "Guide". It is better to produce repeatedly a few compositions within the capacity of the choir than to introduce new works frequently, without completely mastering them. Critics who write on church music,