Wrong chord? (letter)

Wrong chord? (letter)

John Daly

Chris Wilson's letter, "Church music" (November AD2000), refers me to (unnamed) "documents that deal with music in the liturgy." In fact, I had already studied some before writing the letter that Chris found so offensive. In particular, I had consulted Tra Le Sollecitudini, Sacrosanctum Consilium, Musicam Sacram, and Pope John Paul II's Chirograph for the centenary of Tra Le Sollecitudini.

In them I found constant references to the value of the organ, a prohibition on the use of "frivolous instruments", and frequent stress on the need for reverence, dignity and solemnity in the music used during Mass.

My comments about the use of the guitar, therefore, had nothing whatever to do with the "quality of its practitioners", as Chris has chosen to interpret them, but had everything to do with the suitability of the guitar as a liturgical instrument.

The fact that guitars have been used during Mass for a couple of decades is no argument for their continued use. As I recall, they were introduced as an experiment in an endeavour to keep the younger parishioners coming to Mass. Well, they didn't work then, and they aren't working now. Young people no longer find folk guitar appealing. It is time to discontinue the experiment.

It is true, as Chris points out, that God has given different people different talents, but that is no argument for insisting on the right to employ whatever subset of our talents we choose at Mass. So, reluctantly, each Sunday I leave my harmonica at home, and wonder why the guitarists don't do the same.

And the matter of giving and taking offence is a two-way street, despite the best of intentions. I find it quite offensive to have the reverent atmosphere following the Consecration shattered by a strident guitar chord summoning me to sing the proclamation of the mystery of faith. I also find it quite offensive to have the reverent silence that should follow the reception of Communion intruded upon by further strumming accompanying vacuous sentiments of so little liturgical value as to constitute a hindrance to, rather than an enhancement of, my thanksgiving.

So it is all very well for Chris to take offence at my letter, but by his own admission, he has ignored many more gently-worded efforts by people who, like me, do not "seek to demean" what he does, but wish only to plead for reverence and dignity to be restored to the Mass.

Greensborough VIC

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