Ok, so my headline is probably overly hopeful, but there is a glimmer on the horizon.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will vote on a new directory for music. Catholic News Service is reporting that this is part of an effort “to ensure that the hymns used at Mass are ‘doctrinally correct’ and based on Scripture and liturgical texts”.

The vote will occur between November 13-16 during the U.S. Bishop’s Conference in Baltimore. This is a process which the bishops of each conference are required to undertake as a result of “Liturgiam Authenticam” (The Authentic Liturgy), the Vatican document on Liturgical fidelity.

A repertoire of acceptable liturgical music will also be released within three years. Catholic News Service is reporting:

The directory is intended to serve “not so much as a list of approved and unapproved songs as a process by which bishops might regulate the quality of the text of songs composed for use in the liturgy,” said Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, in an introduction to the document.

After approval by the U.S. Bishops, it will be sent to the Vatican for final approval before it’s release.

Catholic News Service also mentions the current abuse with occurs in much of the music currently used for liturgy.

Without naming any specific hymns, the directory cites several examples of “tendencies which may compromise an individual song’s doctrinal integrity”:

— Any “statements about the faith which are untrue.”

— Compromising the doctrine of the Trinity by “consistent replacement of masculine pronominal references to the three divine persons.”

— Any “emphasis on the work of the members of the church” that fails to recognize “the doctrine of grace and our complete dependence on the grace of God to accomplish anything.”

— Efforts to eliminate “archaic language” that “alter the meaning and essential theological structure of a venerable liturgical song.”In addition, any repertoire of liturgical songs “should reflect a balanced approach to Catholic theological elements,” the draft document says.

Citing “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the directory also says that the number of songs available for use in Catholic worship “must be relatively fixed.”

“The sheer number of such liturgical songs has militated against the establishment of a common repertoire,” it says. “Cultural forces which prize novelty and innovation can sometimes drive a competitive commercial climate which seeks to satisfy a desire for constant change.”While this dynamic has often benefited the church and her liturgy, it also seems desirable that a certain stable core of liturgical songs might well serve as an exemplary and stabilizing factor,” the directory adds.

While I disagree that the number of songs available for use should be limited, I do think there should be set guidelines for what is acceptable and what isn’t. It’s sort of a free for all right now, as musicians choose music according to what they like, rather than according to what is best for the Church. Many liturgical musicians don’t even think the hymns should fit in with the readings.

I can think of a great many songs that will be thrown out if those guidelines are followed. I can’t wipe this smile off my face. 😀

Read the CNS article here.

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