Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Society of St Gregory

The Society of St Gregory receives a bit of a bashing over at Holy Smoke, it is the national association for liturgy and church music in the British Isles it is taken very seriously, as an advisory body by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
This is one of the comments on the blog:
The discussion board on the "St. Gregory" website is fascinating. There do seem to be a few decent sorts on there, but in general they reinforce the outsider's impression that this is a small clique imposing its own beliefs on clergy and people.

One appears to claim to have deliberately inflicted Inwood music on a congregation that he knew would object to it, to show solidarity with Inwood after reading this blog.

(PS - gender-specific pronouns randomly assigned)

Another comments that no-one deserves the criticism (actually quite reasoned) that Inwood attracted - "especially not one of our own". over Inwood's critiscisms of the Pope's recent document

But worst of all are some of the other discussions:

One boasts that "It took a major crisis and temper tantrum for me to get them to sing X" - so the organist behaved like a spoilt child in order to impose his views against the specific objections of the priest and congregation.

And this is not just about taste - they agree that changes in the music are made in order to change the understanding of the liturgy:

"Unless you live near, among others, Brentwood, Clifton or Salford, you will not get a good example from your cathedral. The musical standard in England's cathedral is excellent, first class, AA++. The liturgical musical standard in many – with the above exceptions – is dire. Avoid them at all costs."

(The same poster goes on to say:
"Remember the days of Philip Duffy at Liverpool and Christopher Walker at Clifton? Would that they and Paul Inwood had become national advisors to our other cathedrals."

Thank God that He did not inflict that on us.)

Another complains of not feeling "empowered" because she was asked to sit out of full view of the congregation (although I hope that post was ironic).

Perhaps worst is the comment on a noisy family at a baptism, who committed the only remaining sin of not appreciating the music - "I'd sooner the kid wasn't baptised"

I find it very worrying, another comment suggests people who care about the liturgy should join in the "chat room" on the site, active participation, sounds like a good idea. Here is the sign in page.


Anonymous said...

Inwood's banal music is nothing more than mogadon,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, once again for pointing us in the direction of 'Holy Smoke'. I always enjoy reading that blog and am always fascinated to see contributions from the regular atheist contributer. he has popped up once again! It does seem strange that he follows the blog so regularly - perhaps if he takes the trouble to listen to the music pointed to we may find out what an atheist feels about it!
Whilst I agree about the comments on banal 70s ditties being sung at Mass, there is one modern hymn i would love to be able to sing again which we all sung at Pope John-Paul's Mass at Wembley. It is 'Our God Reigns' - I had hoped that we would sing it each year in our parish since that great event but this was not to be. I still find myself occasionally humming it.... but have to accept that there could be many who loathe it as a 70s ditty.

Anonymous said...

Philip Duffy might have been a rather good national advisor. He managed to preserve much of the Church's musical heritage at Liverpool cathedral in the face of much opposition (friends of mine were in the cathedral choir). In the 1980s he founded an orchestra to accompany Viennese masses (Haydn, Mozart, Schubert) at Solemn feasts in the cathedral, which became the norm during the Duffy-Worlock era (which might come as a surprise to those who think of Worlock as an ultra-liberal). The present archbishop put an end to the baroque triumphalism soon after his arrival. At his first Midnight Mass, for some of those used to hearing the Missa in Angustis, there was much anguish to hear in its place the jingle of a tambourine. At the end of that Mass I heard one person express the desire to put a brick through the archbishop's window.

Physiocrat said...

Inwood's music is vile. Putrid. Foul. Horrible. If I hear that kind of thing on the radio I reach for the off switch. It is almost unsingable. I was in a choir where he introduced his stuff. I only went once. He got very sniffy about copyright, presumably he gets a nice rake-off.

There is no pressing need for new music in the church, there is more than enough decent stuff already and it would be no great loss if most parishes just stuck to Gregorian Chant and did it well.

JARay said...

Well, Holy Smoke is certainly making an impact which few others have managed. I attribute that to the fact that it is out in the public domain and hence, the predictable atheist raises his head with nothing to contribute.
I do remember a time when some serious attempt was made by some to raise the standard of music within the Church in England. The publisher Chapman produced "Praise the Lord" in 1972 and just opening a page at random in my copy, I turn to "Come Holy Ghost Creator Come" set to Tallis' Ordinal with (believe it or not) the first descant set by Geoffrey Boulton Smith, but the second one set by Paul Inwood!
There are some fine hymns in that book....not that they are called hymns any more! How often I have heard "Our opening song is...."


Anonymous said...

Oh my far too contentious for me! i'm taking a break from controversy!

Anonymous said...

I understand where you are co0ming from, but you go to the Oratory, you don't have to listen to this rubbish.

Anonymous said...

" i'm taking a break from controversy!"

I'm not sure it should be interpreted as controversy. It's about the Sacred Liturgy and what is appropriate for it in terms of music.

I doubt very much that the Oratory is infected with the trite stuff Damian Thompson has rightly written about.

He deserves all our support to try to rid the Church of this inferior nonsense and return to a sense of the sacred in all our parish churches.

leutgeb said...

More scary stuff.

The thread on composing. Not good after a day's music teaching. Advice I took to mean avoiding Cadencing on chords iii and vi (Chord iii , yuck), avoiding consecutives if you want to? IF you want to?

Accompanying plainchant in parallel 5ths 'cos that's like organum....Perotin here we come.

How to write for different instruments etc. All good stuff, but why are people who know zip about Music allowed to compose for the liturgy? It's the musical equivalent of felt banner making.

Do we allow amateurs to design and make stained glass windows, statues etc? (I hope not.)

Then people like me have to play this stuff and frequently change the part-writing to correct it. And everyone else gets dragged down by hearing it and having to sing it. Huh, end of rant.

Off to play some Bach Chorales (oops he was a Lutheran.)

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