Thursday, October 29, 2009

Liturgical Music and Film

I subscribe to First Things magazine and hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws; but I wanted to share this piece from the August/September 2009 issue:

"Jeffrey Tucker [not sure who this gentleman is?] notes that watching Angels and Demons wasn't an altogether unpleasant experience. The movie had a better sense of liturgical music than most Catholic parishes:

'Actually, the real reason I like to see any film in which the Catholic Church is featured prominently concerns the music. Let's just say that "On Eagles' Wings" is never featured at a Catholic funeral on film. And it pleases me to see confirmed that even the most secular parts of the industrial media sector understand what sacred music probably sounds like. Sure enough, this movie opens with the Introit of the Requiem Mass playing at the funeral. Indeed, whenever there is a need to call forth some sense of solemn liturgy, a modal piece comes on featuring vague outlines of Kyrie Eleison and Agnus Dei. There were several peoples' chants featured here and there--probably more than most parishes hear in the course of one liturgical year, sad to say.'

Sad to say indeed, but it all comes down to how you view the Church. If the Catholic Church is a large institution full of tradition, majesty, and mystery, the music one associates with it will reflect that. Whether or not that mystery is redolent with Illuminati conspiracy or the source of grace and truth, it nonetheless exists and will be reflected in the art associated with the deep traditions of Christianity. But if mystery and tradition are thrown away, there is no reason to have majesty in art. Gather us in on eagles' wings because the whole thing is just about us and our experiences, not anything deeper.

Of course Ron Howard knows that that's not true. But it would be nice if more Catholics did, too."


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