Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mgr Andrew Wadsworth: The Future of the Liturgy

Mgr Wadsworth Executive Director of ICEL was the second of our guest speakers to celebrate our 150th Anniversary. I think you might enjoy his rather frank and open assessment of where we are and where we might be going.
As one of the most influential voices in the English speaking liturgical world, what he has to say is worth thought and careful assessment, here of course he shares a personal view but it seems very much a view that is shared many in the CDW and in academic circles.


ytc said...

Excellent video! I very much would like to see the OF Sanctoral calendar repopulated.

Jacobi said...

A profoundly important speech by Mgr Wadsworth.

You did well Father, to publicise this.

Thank you.

Physiocrat said...

New improved translation notwithstanding,the use of English in the Catholic liturgy remains problematical. The English language is one of the battlefields on which the English speaking world's class war and racism is fought out.

As soon as anyone opens their mouth and says a few words in English, they are pigeonholed. An Oxbridge accent is perceived as "too posh". People with some regional or colonial accents are perceived as stupid and poorly educated. This is precisely what is not wanted in the liturgy. It is at best a distraction and can be destructive.

Even stranger is the widespread use in non-English speaking countries, of English in the liturgy. Often the priest's English is heavily accented, whilst the readers have strange accents from rural areas of the USA, incomprehensible to anyone not from that locality. The idea has grown up that English has become a universal common langue, replacing Latin.

A further issue relates to the music. Gregorian settings of Latin texts do not go well into English because the rhythm of the language is different. Most settings for the 1969 ICEL translation are in a 1970-s pop-music idiom and showing their age badly.

In my view the celebration of Mass in English should not be the norm, but kept for special situations, for example as an aid to catechesis. Otherwise, it would be advantageous if the Extraordinary Form of the mass were that which as normally celebrated, and in Latin.

gemoftheocean said...

Physiocrat - Please - you are English - you'd bitch about their Latin accents too.

Louis said...

Not that I am opposed to the greater use of Latin, but on the question of accent,isn't one's English accent carried over into Latin? Watch the video of the Papal Mass at Westminster on Youtube, and it's quite obvious that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor is "English" and "posh" in comparison with his successor.

Alan Harrison said...

I don't agree with Physiocrat about the difficulty of using Gregorian chant with English texts. Anglicans did so for yonks. Since the new Catholic translations are quite Cranmerian (!!!!!), I should think it would be quite feasible to chant them. Even the old Catholic translations could be sung to chant, as demonstrated very competently back in the '70s at solemn vespers of the BVM in a very 'igh C Of E church not a million miles from Fr Ray's, in a street named after a different point of the compass.

Physiocrat said...

Louis, Gem - that is the advantage of the EF - the priest is silent for much of it. And Latin is not a war zone the way that English is.

pelerin said...

Interesting comments from Louis.

I once had a discussion with a French Priest regarding the universality of Latin and to maintain his argument that Latin was not the same worldwide he proceeded to say a Latin prayer with a Chinese accent. I had to admit that it was unrecognisable to me but perhaps this was an extreme case.

Physiocrat said...

In Gregorian chant the words and music go together so that the music emphasises those words which are meant to be emphasised.

The word order in English is different from the word order in Latin. If the same tunes are used in English the result is that the emphasis often comes in the wrong places, to the point of sounding ludicrous.

With some languages the grammatical rules allow is scope for changing the word order to fit the music but because in English the meaning is derived from the word order, this is not possible.

Of course priests should learn to speak the Latin with an accent that falls within the range of acceptability. Chinese is a tone language. The same word can be said in four different ways, giving four different meanings. It would be absurd to carry this into Latin.

I have sung in choirs where an attempt was made to sing the simple tones of Gregorian chant in English and we kept
tripping up. Incidentally, some of the dialogue chants for the new translation are problematic and some of them need to be revised so that the priest and congregation are not constantly stumbling. It is still a right mess in places.

It does not help that someone thought they would be clever and decided that should be printed in five-line/round note notation.

georgem said...

Thank you posting this, Father. I thought that playing it on the pc might stretch my powers of concentration. On the contrary, it all seemed far too short.
I had to admire Mgr. Wadsworth's ability to construct a cogent argument while remaining supremely diplomatic. The questions had a great deal of thought behind them.

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