Friday, May 07, 2010

Choral Music in the Public Domain

This article, a lambaste of OCP that a Facebook friend posted as a note, "The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music," by J.A. Tucker, is a little too "snarky" for my tastes, although I am substantially sympathetic with his viewpoint.

I do wonder, and still can't figure out why "One Bread, One Body" is not a good Communion meditation. Maybe it is because I'm not well-formed enough in music. Maybe it reminds people too much musically of "Let it Be," especially since the original accompaniment of "One Bread, Once Body" was piano. On the other hand, "Let it Be" was originally intended by Paul McCartney to have "religious" overtones, even if it is about his own mother, rather than the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On the other hand, I love and prefer chant, polyphony, and traditional hymns. These are the mainstay at my own parish, the choir of which is directed by the great Lee Erickson, who also directs the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Chorus. He does, on occasion, slip in a dignified OCP staple, even one by Jan Michael Joncas.

The best part of the article is the link to the Choralwiki, a source for public domain downloadable choir music.


Timothy said...

Hurray for the Choral Public Domain Library! I often browse it, or use it to aid in my listening to Pandora et alia.

Nate said...

I think one of the problems people have with it is the a) obscurity of the verses "woman or man no more" for instance. the use of the phrase "one cup of blessing which we bless" which seems to imply that it is OUR action that matters instead of God's.

I personally think that its lyrics are so confusing and "meatless" that I wouldn't like to sing it. Not to mention that it has absolutely no life in the music itself. It's very ploddy, has very unnatural stops etc. it's bad poetry to begin with and the music doesn't in any way make it any more cohesive.

Robert Gotcher said...

The lyrics are shorthand for bible passages (the third verse from the Didache). I don't think they are meatless so much as obscure unless you are aware of the bible passage. For instance: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3), and "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10).

I don't think it makes a good hymn, although I don't mind singing it myself.