Friday, September 16, 2011
Novel Evaluation Tools
C=Castrated -- meaning a butchered version of the original in which words have been watered down
DO= Dubious Orthodoxy -- meaning that the words allow both an orthodox and a heterdox meaning
DMWP=Don't Mess With Perfection -- do I need to explain this?
DS=Dan Schutte -- a popular author and composer of way too popular music for the mass
DTD=Done To Death -- like the dozen or so hymns repeated so often that they lose their meaning
EP=Ex-Priest -- questionable authorship -- shouldn't faith and life in the Church be presumed of those who write or compose music for the Church
G=Germanophobic -- I can't comment on this; I might be taking it too personally
H=Heretical -- not just trite, trivial or mundane but down right opposed to the faith
HH=Haugen&Haas, -- the twin towers of Roman Catholic music who have a few good pieces but compose far too much and without much discretion to what they publish
HL=Hella Lame -- well....
LC=Leftist Crap -- music with an agenda that is not the Church's
NAU=Not About Us -- not addressing the faith or the faithful
SIGV=Singing In God's Voice (i. e. we are not God) -- be careful about singing with God's voice
SWTR= Stick With The Rite -- when paraphrases of the parts of the mass are less than accurate
TMV=Too Many Verses -- what, can there be too many verses? Not for a Lutheran!
WIG=Where is God? -- it might be a good idea for the music of the Church to at least mention the Lord
The whole reason I post this is because too many folks shrug their shoulders and suggest that it is no big deal. Why get all excited about the Church's Song? The problem is that the it IS the Church's Song -- not the arena of personal taste or feelings. The music of the service should reflect the faith of the Church and the lection for the day and the season of the Church Year. The sad truth is that we too often approach the Church's Song with less seriousness than the director of a movie approaches the sound track to his film. He knows what we sometimes forget -- it counts. The music of the worship service is not a thing indifferent nor neutral (without values). We cannot afford to be cavalier about the Church's Song.
This brings up another point. What is the deal with so many "worship ministers" or "worship and music directors" who plan and put together the music for the Divine Service? The Pastor is the one responsible. A responsible Pastor will work in partnership with the parish musicians but the Pastor is responsible. He cannot and should not delegate this important responsibility. He can and should seek out assistance and expertise from the assisting ministers of the liturgy but he should not duck what is his responsibility.
Too many Pastors do not have a clue how to start in picking out the hymns for the Divine Service. Never mind that we have very effective helps available -- Lutheran Service Builder, the book LSB Hymn Selection Guide. In fact, the best place to begin is by growing in familiarity with the hymnal -- Pastors using the hymns of the Church in their own devotional lives. What a concept!
While I will admit there are a few things of varying quality or usefulness in Lutheran Service Book, I believe that we have one of the finest collections of hymnody ever assembled for the Lutheran congregation (heck for any Christian congregation). No less than Carlos Messerli believes that the hymn section of LSB is not only superior it is far superior than to any other Lutheran hymnal in print today! I concur. Even so, I have to laugh and sigh at what the priest did with his musical review and its critical code. I only wish no church body had to look at the hymns of the faith with such a discerning eye. Would that all had the confidence in their worship books that we have in Lutheran Service Book! While I might have done things different, I was not charged with the responsibility of putting together this hymnal and in the hymn portion of LSB there is a great wealth of good hymns -- no, make that great ones! It is not the end of all hymnals -- hymns are living things and new ones are always being written. As Nagel and LW put it:
We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day-the living heritage and something new.
In its hymnody each age of the Church reflects what it returns to God for the great blessings it has received from him. Some of the Church's song is always derived from a previous era.
The early Church developed its music from the psalmody of the synagog, to which it added the strophic hymns of Greek and Roman converts. When the liturgy became the sole property of the clergy, there arose a need for hymns in the language of the people. Thus there came into being the great body of Latin hymns introduced and promoted by Bishop Ambrose of Milan and his followers. In time these again became the property of the clergy and hierarchy. The Lutheran Reformation once more restored the Church's song to the people in their native tongue. From then on the Lutheran Church became known as the "singing Church." The song of this Church has weathered and withstood such influences as pietism, rationalism, modernism, and universalism in one form or another.
The hymns in Lutheran Worship [or Lutheran Service Book] draw on the vast treasury of Christian hymnody old and new, with words that speak God's law and Gospel and express our faith's response and with music that nourishes both memory and heart.