Day 1 Summary
The opening session of FOTA III started shortly after 11 am. Fr Vincent Twomey SVD, formerly professor of moral theology at Maynooth, commenced with an overview of the issues concerning Church Music in the writings of the current Holy Father. He observed a fundamental distinction between Joseph Ratzinger's initial approach to music as integral to the liturgy in comparison to the Rahnerian 'ornamental' approach. After tracing some of the philosophical reasoning behind the Pope's thinking Twomey concluded with five principles which would find resonance in the later speakers. (1) Liturgy is for all- truly catholic but not always uniform. (2) It may be simple but never cheap. (3) Participation goes beyond mere external manifestations of activity. (4) If liturgical music is purely utilitarian it's actually useless. (5) A 'purification process' needs to be applied to musical material drawn from other cultures.
FSSP then spoke on the intellectual connection between the Pope and Johannes Overath (1915-2002) whose work and person strongly influenced the music paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) and it's consequent expansion/explanation Musicam Sacram (1967). The theological content of Fr Overath's paper was severely curtailed by time limits however Fr Conrad managed to emphasise Overath's concern about the tendency to over play the 'spirit' rather than the 'letter' of the conciliar documents. Overath laid great value on the original relationes of the conciliar debates in interpreting the final texts. This seems to have been an attitude shared and passed on to the current Holy Father through close professional and personal contact which included a shared residency in the early 1980s.
CO, having arrived, gave his paper an overview of papal pronouncements on music from Benedict XIV's Annus Qui (1749) to the current day via the writings of John XXII and material from the 22nd and 23rd sessions of the Council of Trent. Summarising across the centuries, between the two Benedicts, Fr Lang outlined five consistent concerns; (1) The actual use of the textual material proper to the Mass. (2) The problem of the theatrical pushing the text away from God centeredness (including the appropriate use of instruments in worship). (3) The continuing concern for intelligibility. (4) The length of individual pieces in relation to he liturgical action. (5) The revival of the chant repertoire.
The afternoon session of the first day was rearranged so the paper advertised by Dom Samuel Weber OSB (Benedict XVI on the Psalms in the Liturgy) is yet to be delivered.
Fr Stephane Quessard spoke on the renewal of Sacred Music commencing with a potted history of the origin and use of the term itself from it's apparent coining by Michael Praetorius around 1614. Quessard observed three challenges to Sacred Music in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger (1) That sacred music must go beyond the limits of current European thinking avoiding triteness and commercialism. (2) That the Church has to restore the logos at the centre of sacred music. (3) That the chant repertoire must be emphasised as normative to the Rite.
Dom Alban Nunn