Look at this beautiful Catholic church that was just built and dedicated. It looks Byzantine and has a beautiful setting for the Tabernacle. This beautiful church replaced one of those ugly 1960's/1970's structures. The times they are a-changing!
And, please read the text that has the beautiful songs that were sung. This definitely wasn't a guitar mass
Ah, but the signs, the signs.....
First, it's set up for versus populum
celebration. That odd structure on the west wall is only a shrine for the tabernacle; it doesn't have any relationship to the altar. The real altar is set on a stage-like platform with no rails or anything else besides the height change to set it apart.
Second, the music: Marty Haugen can sound OK with a big pipe organ powering it-- which they did not have (the organ hasn't been purchased yet, but I give them points for trying, and it looks like it will be a nice instrument). All the hymnody, however, used Anglican or Lutheran music, except for the obligatory singing of Veni Creator Spiritus
. And while I'm surprised that they made it all the way to verse 5 of "All Creatures of Our God and King", the fact is that it has seven verses. Of the various anthems, well, again Ralph makes an appearance. The Mozart and Biebl are very lovely (and in the case of Ave Verum
, inevitable), but the two OCP anthems taken from the triduum
liturgies are, well, in my opinion undistiguished.
Also, there's this curious line in the description of the organ: "This unusual placement of the Great Division permits these pipes to be voiced in a manner that will allow this instrument to lead hymnody and service music without overpowering the assembly." You know, I don't think most Lutheran and Episcopal parishes worry about this. At our parish the replacement of the organ after the expansion of the church was prompted by the observation that the congregation had no trouble drowning out the organ; our organist played the hymns with every stop pulled. The usual concern is whether the organ can adequately fill the space and have an adequate tonal compass; it is generally taken for granted that the congregation and the organ can hold their own against each other. This phrase bespeaks a timidity about congregational singing.
Attitudes about liturgy are shifting in the American RC church. But they still have a long way to go.