(1) Sing an art song; play for God with all your art (with all your skill);
(2) Sing artistically;
(3) Sing with understanding,
(4) Sing the way the ars musicae teaches” (A New Song for the Lord, 123-4).
“The Church must not settle down with what is merely comfortable and serviceable at the parish level; she must arouse the voice of the cosmos and, by glorifying the Creator, elicit the glory of the cosmos itself, making it also glorious, beautiful, habitable, and beloved” (The Feast of Faith, 124).
Five Types of Music
Benedict identifies five kinds of music that are opposed to the essence of the liturgy.
“First of all there is the Dionysian type of religion and music. In not a few forms of religion, music is ordered to intoxication and to ecstasy, music supposedly of holy madness, through the delirium of the rhythm and the instruments.Music becomes ecstasy. We experience the profane return of this type today in rock and pop music. … Music has become today the decisive vehicle of a counter-religion. … Because rock music seeks redemption by way of liberation from the personality and its responsibility, it takes, in one respect, a very precise position in the anarchical ideas of freedom, which predominates today in a more unconcealed way in the West than in the East. But precisely for that reason, it is thoroughly opposed to the Christian notion of redemption and of freedom as its exact contradiction. Not for aesthetic reasons, not from reactionary obstinacy, not from historical immobility, but because if its very nature, music of this type must be excluded from the Church.” (Liturgy and Sacred Music)
“Second, there is music that provokes; it rouses people for various collective goals. Third, there is sensual music which drives people into the erotic or is in some other way essentially intent on sensual feelings of pleasure. Finally, there is rationalistic music in which the tones simply serve rational construction, but no real penetration of the mind and senses ensues” (A New Song for the Lord, 156).
Disintegration of the Liturgy
“(What) we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy which at times has even come to be conceived of as a liturgy celebrated as if there were no God. It is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence” (Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, 149).
Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony as Orientation
“The liturgical music of the Church must be subject to that integration of the human state which appears before us in the incarnational faith. Such redemption is more arduous than that of rapture, but the struggle is the exertion of truth. On the one hand, it must integrate the senses into the spirit: it must correspond to the impulse of the sursumcorda (lifting up of your heart). On the other hand, this effort aims not at pure spiritualization but at an integration of sensuality and spirit so that in one another both become person” (A New Song for the Lord, 157).
“Sacred music that is in the framework of this movement (of continuity) thus becomes a purification of human, their ascent. But let us not forget that this music is not the work of a moment, but participation in history” (Ibid).
“An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage and according to the orientation of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony” (“Tribute to Professor DomenicoBertoluccci,” Sistine Chapel, June 24th, 2006).
“This does not mean that all church music has to be imitation of this music (Gregorian chant and Palestrina). They are models given here that provide orientation” (Ibid, 158).
“Liturgy is for all. Catholicity does not mean uniformity. Thus it must be simple, but this is not the same as being cheap. When admitted into the Liturgy, the cheap, trite, or the musical cliché often found in secular popular songs cheapens it, exposes it to ridicule, and invites failure. The craze for utility over virtuosity leaves nothing but schmaltz for the general public. A Church which only makes use of utility music (Gebrauchsmusik: music for the masses) has fallen for what is, in fact, useless. She too becomes ineffectual. The difference between functionality (uti) and relationship (frui) is rooted in the beauty of gratuitous love as expressed in the Eucharistic liturgy. Sacred music can never be seen as primarily functional” (The Feast of Faith, 100-1).
Note: Gregorian chant provides the orientation for sacred music, because it is uniquely the Church’s own music. It should be sung for four reasons: (1) It facilitates participation by the faithful because the music is the perfect confluence of text and music and is most suited to the liturgy (2) its austere melodies distinguish the essentialdifference between sacred art and entertainment (3) it is characterized by its unobtrusiveness, serenity, and universality, and (4) it is a sign of unity among diverse ethnic Catholic groups who gather either internationally or in the local parish churches.
Inculturation: One Heart and One Voice
“The first and most fundamental way in which inculturation takes place is the unfolding of a Christian culture in all its different dimensions: a culture of cooperation, of social concern, of respect for the poor, of the overcoming of class differences, of care for the suffering and the dying, a culture that educates mind and heart in proper cooperation; a political culture and a culture of law, and so on” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, 201).
Benedict XVI challenges objections to music sung in European countries:
“It is strange, however, that in their legitimate delight in the new openness to other cultures, manypeople seem to have forgotten that the countries of Europe also have a musical inheritance which plays a great part in their religious and social life. Indeed, here we have a musical tradition which has sprung from the very heart of the church and her faith. One cannot, or course, simply equate the great treasury of European church music with the music of the Church, nor, on account of its stature, consider that its history has come to an end. ... All the same, it is just as clear that the Church must not lose this rich inheritance which was developed in her own matrix and yet belongs to the whole of humanity” (The Feast of Faith, 125-6).
Latin in the Ordinary of the Mass
As for the use of Latin: “I would be in favor of a new openness toward the use of Latin. When no one can sing the Kyrie or the Sanctus any more, no one knows what Gloria means, then a cultural loss has become a loss of what we share in common.” He favors the Liturgy of the Word in the mother tongue, “but there ought nonetheless to be a basic stock of Latin elements that would bind us together” (God and the World, 117-8).
Benedict’s Apologia for Sacred Art
“Next to the saints, the art which the Church has produced is the only real ‘apologia’ for her history. It is this glory which witnesses to the Lord, not theology’s clever explanations for all the terrible things, which lamentably, fill the pages of her history. The Church is to transform, improve, ‘humanize’ the world – but how can she do that if at the same time she turns her back on beauty, which is so closely allied to love? For together, beauty and love form the true consolation in this world, bringing it as near as possible to the world of the resurrection” (The Feast of Faith, 124-5).