Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Rise of the "Hootenanny Mass"

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A Chronicle of the Reform:
Catholic Music in the 20th Century
By Msgr. Richard J. Schuler

pp. 20-22


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In the United States, during the 1966 congress and following it, the battle developed along lines similar to those in Europe. The Church Music Association was affiliated with the Consociatio and (with the exception of its president, Archabbot [Rembert] Weakland [later Archbishop of Milwaukee who retired in disgrace]) stood in support of the principles outlined by the papal international association. On the opposite side, supporting Universa Laus, were the liturgists as represented by the Liturgical Conference and many members of the official bodies set up by the American bishops and dominated by Father Frederick McManus. These were the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy and its Music Advisory Board.

Father McManus was in close relationship with Father Annibale Bugnini, secretary of the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy in Rome. Together with Father Johannes Wagner of Trier and Canon George A. Martimort of Paris, they promoted the liturgical innovations that were so devastating to church music both in Europe and in America.
The resistance of the church musicians to the activities of these liturgists and even efforts at discussions about the disagreements were characterized by Father Bugnini, speaking at an Italian liturgical convention on January 4, 1968, as “four years of musical polemics.”15 Controversy was noted even in Rome between the Congregation of Rites, long the authority in liturgical and

15 Cf. Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform after Vatican II p. 17 (footnote).
A Chronicle of Reform, by R.J. Schuler

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musical matters for the universal Church, and the newly established Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, of which Father Bugnini was secretary. As Father Bugnini used the Consilium, so in the United States the liturgical revolution against the Roman rite and its treasury of sacred music was led by Archabbot Weakland as chairman of the Music Advisory Board of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. He and Father McManus achieved the ends set forth by Universa Laus through the official American agencies organized to fulfill the directives of the council. Since Father McManus was a part of the Consilium and also the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL), he was the
key man in introducing into the United States all the plans of Universa Laus.16 He worked through the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, the Liturgical Conference, Worship and the Music Advisory Board.

The Music Advisory Board was set up in 1965 to assist the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in musical matters. It had been the proposal of the Church Music Association of America that, as in England and in Germany, such advice be sought from the existing national association of musicians instead of organizing still another group, but the suggestion was not taken. With the introduction of the vernacular into the sung liturgy, questions of chants for both priest and people
had to be solved. Other problems concerning the education of church musicians for the vernacular changes, professional training for church musicians and teachers of church music, new hymnals, the position of the pipe organ in new churches and many other matters were to be brought to the attention of the experts appointed to the board.

According to Archbishop Paul Hallinan, secretary of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, the new board was to be made up of “musicians, music critics and authorities in pastoral liturgy.”17 He further stated that the bishops were seeking advice about a broad statement on the principles of sacred music, the selection of a musical setting for the Our Father, and help for seminaries. Members appointed to the board in 1965 were: J. Robert Carroll, Monsignor Richard B. Curtin, Louise Cuyler, Rev. Francis J. Guentner, S.J., Paul Hume, Theodore Marier, C. Alexander Peloquin, Rev. Richard J. Schuler, Robert Snow, Rev. Eugene Walsh, S.S., and Archabbot Rembert C. Weakland, O.S.B. The first meeting was in Detroit, Michigan, May 4 and 5, 1965. Archabbot Weakland was elected chairman and Father Schuler, secretary. Father McManus announced that he was the liaison with the bishops and spoke about sacred music in the new liturgical legislation. Archbishop Dearden, chairman of the bishops’ committee, and other members of that committee welcomed the members. Although it was not as yet obvious, the stage was now set to accomplish in sacred music what the Liturgical Conference had
achieved in the renovation of the rites and ceremonies. The plans of Universa Laus could now be implemented despite the wishes of the Consociatio or the Church Music Association of America. In fact, some members of those organizations would even be involved in carrying out the work. In a word, the Music Advisory Board was intended to become a rubber stamp in the United

16 Cf. Gary K. Potter, “The Liturgy Club,” Triumph, May 1968, p., 10- 14f.
17 Unpublished minutes of the meeting.
Cum Angelis Canere, Appendix 6

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States for the proposals from Universa Laus as presented to it by Father McManus. The Benedictines, Father Godfrey Diekmann and Abbot Rembert Weakland, were cooperators, one as editor of the liturgy magazine, Worship, the other as chairman of the Music Advisory Board. A few musicians on the board fought against the introduction of the plans of Universa Laus, but they were out-numbered and were eventually replaced on the board by more cooperative
advisors.18

Typical and perhaps most interesting of the innovations engineered through the Music Advisory Board by Father McManus, Father Diekmann and Father Weakland was the “hootenanny Mass.” The scenario began in April 1965, when Father Diekmann delivered an address entitled “Liturgical Renewal and the Student Mass” at the convention of the National Catholic Educational Association in New York. In his speech, he called for the use of the
“hootenanny Mass” as a means of worship for high school students. This was the kickoff of a determined campaign on the part of the Liturgical Conference to establish the use of profane music in the liturgy celebrated in the United States. Universa Laus had already begun a similar effort in Europe.19 In September 1965, the Catholic press began to carry reports of the use of hootenanny music by those in charge of college and high school student worship. In February
1966, the Music Advisory Board was called to meet in Chicago, with an agendum that included a proposal for the use of guitars and so-called “folk music” in the liturgy. It was clear at the meeting that both Fr. McManus and Archabbot Weakland were most anxious to obtain the board’s approval. The Archabbot told of the success of such “experiments” at his college in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where, during Mass, the students had enthusiastically sung, “He’s got the
Archabbot in the palm of His hand.” Vigorous debate considerably altered the original proposal, and a much modified statement about “music for special groups” was finally approved by a majority of one, late in the day when many members already had left. But once the rubber stamp had been applied, the intensity of the debate and the narrow margin of the vote were immediately forgotten. The Music Advisory Board had fulfilled its function; it had been used.

The press took over. American newspapers, both secular and ecclesiastical, announced that the American bishops had approved of the use of guitars, folk music and the hootenanny Mass. Despite repeated statements from the Holy See prohibiting the use of secular music and words in the liturgy, the movement continued to be promoted in the United States and in. . . .

18 At its meeting, December 1 and 2, 1966, in Kansas City, Missouri, under the leadership of Archbishop Hallinan
and Father McManus, the following were retired from the Music Advisory Board: Monsignor Curtin, Fr. Schuler,
Fr. McNaspy, Louise Cuyler, Alexander Peloquin and Paul Hume. In their places the Archbishop appointed Rev.
Paul Byron, Rev. John Cannon and Rev. Robert Ledogar. Also added were Dennis Fitzpatrick, Haldan Tompkins
and Richard Felciano.
19 At the Chicago congress, the Ailgemeiner Caecilien -Verband of the German-speaking nations had introduced a
resolution against such profane music which had already begun to appear in Europe (See Sacred Music and Liturgy
Reform after Vatican II, p. 182-185); news reports from Europe, including the city of Rome, report the use of beat
music, youth combos and folk music; the reaction from the Vatican was also reported calling for an end to such
abuses (Minneapolis Star,Januaiy 4, 1967) with Father Bugnini himself explaining that “everything profane and
worldly must be excluded from church services.”
A Chronicle of Reform, by R.J. Schuler
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