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CALVERT SHENK

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KP: These composers were, in a sense, caught up short by the vernacular (at least poor trans lations which weren't going to last long anyway). What about the e fect of the misunderstand ing of the concept of "active partic pation"?

cs: Yes, that too. Big name composers were not awfully interested in writing lots of little refrains for congregations to come charging in on in the midst of a polyphonic elaboration or in the midst of any other kind of music. Not that it is disreputable to write that sort of thing and in fact it can be very useful, but it does not attract the in terest, generally speaking, of serious composers whose main activity was not in the Church.

KP: Do you see a somewhat similar situation in the Anglican Church when the Book of Common Prayer was first introduced? English composers simply switched rom writing Latin polyphony to writing English polyphony like Tallis or Byrd and produced some quite respectable things but that changed as a result ofwhat? A Puritan attitude? Or am I getting that wrong?

CS: I think you are, frankly. There was a very brief period, shortly after the second Book of Common Prayer came out in the reign of Edward VI when it was almost official ly mandated that English church music should be pretty much one note per syllable and preferably without accompaniment, but that was very short lived. Meerbecke's Prayer Book Noted was practically the only thing that we have of any consequence in that vein. After that the great Elizabethan and Jacobean composers wrote quite elaborate verse anthems and settings of the services in a style not unlike contemporary motet styles on the continent. Generally speaking, English liturgical music was not especial ly impoverished for very long by the introduction of the vernacular liturgy. I think this was so for two reasons. One was that a good many quite Puritanical English Protestants who had no love for Romish practices did have a considerable love for fine music. And another reason being that, of course as we know, the text of the translation of the litur gy in the English Prayer Book was one of surpassing beauty and quite glorious English prose with a good deal of the rhythmic cursus of the Latin transposed into English terms which made it a rather gratifying exercise to set to music- something which can not often be said of Roman Catholic texts produced since the Council.

KP: This is what I was hinting at earlier when I was talking about cultural factors. The Elizabethan Age was a high point of English culture and so a very beaut ful translation of the Roman rite-albeit a theologically garbled version of the Roman rite as edited by Crammer but nonetheless a beaut ful text-was produced. I don't see that we are at that stage culturally.

CS: That's true and also for a very paradoxical reason. As Cardinal Ratzinger points out, a culture which is not informed by faith is going to be an impoverished culture. The word, of course, comes from "cult" etymologically. The cultural influences on the faith and practice are apt to be less and less rational if the culture itself is not influenced by faith. So there is a good deal to that diagnosis.

KP: Could you say then that the prominent liturgists at the time of the Council, and espe cially those who were in charge ofimplementing the liturgical reform a ter the Council, were in luenced by a culture which was not Christian in their reform of the liturgy?

CS: Well, I wouldn't go that far in relation to that first generation of liturgists at the time of the Council. Many of them were primarily influenced by their reading of Christian liturgical history, which now it appears they may have been mislead by his torical opinion at the time. The kind of liturgical archaeologism which Pope Pius XII condemned-assuming that the earlier you go back, the purer and the worthier of em ulation it is (i.e. third century liturgy or second century if you can find it), coupled with the assumption that certain practices of the early Church were universal which we now believe were rare (such as Mass facing the people) and a lot of unwarranted assump tions about what music in the early Church must have been like. Those three factors had a lot of influence and were not at all "secular" assumptions. They were held by

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