Nov 15, 2006

News & Views

Online Edition – November 2006

Vol. XII, No. 8

News & Views

Vox Clara Reports Progress with Missal Translation | BCL Consults on Revising MCW | FDLC on MCW: Don’t Change!

Vox Clara Reports Progress with Missal Translation

The Vox Clara Committee met October 23-26 at the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW). It was the ninth meeting of Vox Clara, the international group of English-speaking bishops established in July 2001 to advise the Holy See on English-language liturgical texts and to strengthen cooperation of the English-speaking bishops’ conferences.

According to the committee’s October 27 news release, a majority of its work at this meeting was devoted to a review of the most recent “Green Book” translation of the “Common of the Saints” of the Missale Romanum, produced by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). A very significant improvement was noted in the texts, the news release said.

The committee also provided the CDW with extensive commentary on certain problems, and noted the importance of the translators’ reliance upon the principles of the 2001 Instruction, Liturgiam authenticam, and its application in the “Ratio Translationis for the English Language”, soon to be released in its definitive form by the CDW. The committee reported it was also pleased to note ICEL’s effort to maintain its ambitious schedule for completing its translation of the Roman Missal.

The members and advisors met with Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, and Vox Clara was asked to conduct a final review of the Ratio Translationis, which serves as a definitive application of the principles of Liturgiam authenticam to English-language translations of Latin liturgical texts (cf. LA, no. 9).

The Vox Clara Committee noted their satisfaction with the translation of the new Roman Missal, as it nears completion, and stated that it “joins with the ICEL Commissioners and the members of the English-language Conferences of Bishops in working toward a translation of the Missale Romanum which is ‘characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision’ (Liturgiam authenticam 25)”.

The committee will meet again in December 2006, and plans four meetings during the coming year.

Members from the United States who attended the October meeting were Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, of Mobile, vice-president of Vox Clara, and Archbishop Alfred Hughes, of New Orleans. Other members from the US are Cardinal Francis George, Chicago; and Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia, Vox Clara’s treasurer. Advisors to the Committee from the US are Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, Reverend Dennis McManus, and Monsignor James Moroney, who is director of the US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy secretariat.

Source: Vox Clara Press Release, October 27, 2006


BCL Consults on Revising MCW

More than forty people attended the music consultation held October 9 in Chicago, sponsored by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) Subcommittee on Music.

The consultation was intended to gather opinions preliminary to revising highly influential BCL statements on music, Music in Catholic Worship (MCW, 1972), and Liturgical Music Today (1983). Both statements reflected the revisionist views of the liturgy prevailing at that time; and both largely ignored Musicam Sacram, the 1967 instruction of the Holy See. Yet these two statements provided the rationale for the development of liturgical music in the US since the Second Vatican Council, and justified the unfettered production of new music for Mass, with virtually no oversight — and no effective control by any Church authority — whether of text or melody.

A revision is necessary in light of recent documents on the Liturgy that call for greater solemnity in the celebration of Mass, and re-emphasize that texts be doctrinally sound and that musical style be suited to the sacred action of the Mass (e.g., Liturgiam authenticam and Pope John Paul II’s Chirograph on Music), and the insights in many writings of Pope Benedict XVI on sacred music (e.g., A New Song for the Lord).

The Instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam, issued in 2001, included a section on the authorization of music to be used at Mass (§108 — see sidebar), and called for conferences of bishops to produce “a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing” within five years.

Bishop Edward Grosz, auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, presided at the Chicago consultation, which was organized by Monsignor James Moroney, executive director of the BCL secretariat, who served as moderator. Advisors to the BCL Subcommittee who were present were the Rev. John Foley, SJ (St. Louis Jesuits, Composers’ Forum), Robert Batastini (vice-president, GIA Publications), the Rev. Anthony Ruff, OSB (Liturgical Press), Dr. Leo Nestor (of Catholic University of America, former music director at the National Shrine), and J. Michael McMahon (president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians). Other members of the Music Subcommittee (not present) are Bishop Patrick Cooney (Gaylord), Archbishop John G. Vlazny (Portland, Oregon), and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli (Paterson).

All participants were invited to give two-minute presentations to the panel, who listened without comment. A session followed reflecting on three questions based on the presentations: 1) What makes music and the Liturgy sacred? 2) How should we approach the question of heritage? 3) To what extent should American cultures and musical styles have an effect on Music in the liturgy?

Consultation participants represented a wide range of opinion on liturgy and music. Among the participants (in addition to Helen Hull Hitchcock and Susan Benofy from Adoremus) were representatives from Cantica Nova publications, the Church Music Association of America, the Society of St. John Cantius, Ave Maria University, the Latin Liturgy Association, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians, the Institute for Liturgical Ministry, WeBelieve!, the St. Louis Composers Forum, composers from the major publishers of liturgical music (Oregon Catholic Press, Liturgical Press, GIA Publications, World Library Publications), several diocesan Offices of Worship and members of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), whose national meeting began October 10 in Omaha.


FDLC on MCW: Don’t Change!

At the annual meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) held in Omaha October 10-14, a resolution was adopted that affirmed the guidelines for Church music in Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today.

A resolution aimed at preserving the importance and principles of MCW and LMT passed by 95.91% of the 100 votes cast. The resolution proposed by the FDLC Executive Committee makes it clear that retaining the status quo is a key aim of many professional liturgists:

Executive Committee Resolution
(ECR 20061)

It is a matter of immediate concern to the delegates of the 2006 FDLC Annual Meeting: to reaffirm the importance of the BCL documents, Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today, to support the BCL Sub-Committee on Music and Liturgy in retaining the basic principles of these documents in any revisions.

The FDLC is a quasi-official body of liturgists established in 1968 by the US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (BCL), and it includes members of diocesan worship commissions. Its “resolutions” are forwarded to the BCL for action.

Source: FDLC web site –



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