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quality of universality spontaneously springs. (1) It must be ho'y; and therefore must exclude all profanity, not only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who execute it. (2) It must be true art; for otherwise it will be impossible for it to exercise on the minds of those who listen to it that efficacy which the Church aims at obtaining when admitting into her liturgy the art of musical sounds. (3) It must, at the same time, be universal, in the sense that while every nation is allowed to admit into its ecclesiastical compositions those special forms which may be said to constitute its native music, still these forms must be subordinated, in such a manner, to the general characteristics of sacred music that no person of any nation may receive an impression other than good on hearing them.
So far for the Pope as an artist.
Now let me take some of Mr. Bagot's examples. For the moment I put out of the question that they come under the Church's ban. But, as he judges the matter from what he is pleased to call the artistic side, I will take him on his own ground. .
The drinking song from La Traviata was composed by Verdi for quite another end than to be played at the most solemn moments of Catholic worship. I need not recall the scene nor the subject of the opera. To associate such music with the Mass is repulsive to every feeling of decency, while to divorce it from its surroundings is, indeed, an 'insult offered to music.' Verdi would be the first to protest against such a caricature of his conception. Then, ‘A Movement,' from Bizet's L'Arlesienne, is turned into a Sanctus—a hymn which recalls the solemn worship of angels round about the Throne. Might not Bizet complain :
This does not represent my idea at all. That melody and those harmonies were conceived as illustrating one particular train of thought: they are one distinct conception. You have no right to misrepresent me or to vilify me as an artist. Were I to undertake to set the angelic hymn to music I should approach the task in a very different frame of mind to what I had when I penned that part of my opera ?
Such adaptations are artistic outrages which no self-respecting musician would attempt. Such things are done, more's the pity. That there were also days when a Mass was patched together from Le Nozze di Figaro and another from Don Juan is a curious contribution to a study on music and morals. That they do these things in Italy is an indication of the degradation of art in that once artistic country; and I will make a present of them to Mr. Bagot, together with the paper flowers, tinsel, sham marbles, stucco, and theatrical scene-painting which also find favour in that country. For my part, I am proud, as a musician, to take my stand by the side of the fearless Pius X., who recalls us to a better sense of true art. We need ieform here in England as well as elsewhere.
Mr. Bagot's blunders will perhaps better be recognised when I set forth what the Pope really has done. He does not confine us, as one would think from Mr. Bagot's article, to the plain, song; he allows the classical school, of which Palestrina and our English Byrde are the supreme types, and also modern music, provided it contains nothing profane. Pius X. is no dreamer of the past. He says:
The Church has always recognised and favoured the progress of the Arts, admitting to the service of worship everything good and beautiful discovered by genius in the course of ages-always, however, with due regard to the liturgical laws. Consequently modern music is also admitted in the Church, since it, too, furnishes compositions of such excellence, sobriety, and gravity that they are in no way unworthy of the liturgical functions.
You wouldn't think it, but Pius X. has committed the grave artistic error of saying that the music of the Church is one thing and the music of the world is another. And he has done worse ; he has acted up to his conviction.
Then, again, the use of an orchestra is not forbidden, but it is regulated according to existing laws. For instance :
The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments, such as drums, cymbals, bells, and the like.
A very fair orchestra can be got together without these. I would that such a law, as to the piano, had been enforced in Spain when I was asked to celebrate a Gild Mass. As soon as I began the service a pianist struck up a very cascade of arpeggios, and then treated me to a fantasia on Carmen, with other choice morceaux of a strictly nonliturgical character. I did not find the Toreador's Song any help to devotion ; neither do I fancy that Italians find it in La donna é mobile. I must leave Mr. Bagot to enjoy whatever spiritual advantages he can gain from listening to the drinking song in La Traviata, or from a Mass faked up from L'Arlesienne in a London sanctuary 'where a shilling is charged for a front seat.' By-the-by, when hearing the last-named composition (I use the word in its primitive sense) how, from a front seat, could he judge ' by the faces of the members of the congregation that it was a decided success, not merely artistic, but also devotional ? I fear that, on this occasion at least, the 'most brilliant style of the composition interfered somewhat with his own private devotions. I may be wrong.
The plain song, which Mr. Bagot affirms ‘has never been and never can be a form of music which evokes answering chords in the heart of the vast majority of the laity,' has, however, not only evoked the hearty admiration of great musicians (I do not say all parts of it), but has also been the staple music in the Church for more than a thousand years; and I don't think, if we take, say, France, or England before the Reformation, that it can be said that 'answering chords' were not evoked, nor that men did not find, when before the altar, through the plain song, a means of forgetting the cares of the world. Go over, for instance, to Normandy or Brittany and listen to-day, and then judge how far Mr. Bagot is correct in his statements. There is nothing like facts to correct fancies. The truth is, as Shakespeare says :
The plain song is most just: for humours do abound.
I can well understand that those who go to our churches for the gratification of the eyes, the ears, and possibly the nose,' as Mr. Bagot puts it, don't care for the plain song.
Candidly, it is not meant for them nor for bored converts. It is meant for those who come to pray.
Let us have no more vapourings about 'the superficial treatment to which the most divine of the arts has been subjected by the authorities of the Church,' or about a practical ‘divorce of religion from its highest earthly coadjutor,' or ' of the total want of artistic discrimination shown by Pius X. and his advisers.' I find the superficiality, the divorce, and the total want of artistic discrimination in Rome, indeed, but not at the Vatican; but-at Mr. Bagot's address.
Again, I read in the article on The Pope and Church Music some words with which I agree. But let us see how we get on.
The love of melody is strong in all nationalities and in all classes; and, in the lower classes especially, mere harmony will scarcely supply its place. We venture to say that a simple melody, however insufficiently rendered, will appeal to the sense of the majority of laymen with greater directness than any harmony will; and that we have yet to learn that the senses are not very important factors in any form of religious worship.
Mr. Bagot has yet to learn a few things. Meanwhile I ask : What, is Saul also among the prophets ? No; for a few lines on I read that the plain song is monotonous and lacks melody. To speak of it in this way is a curious exhibition. One of my objections against the Gallican chant, as restored by the French monks of Solesmes, is its over-elaboration. Plain song is anything but monotonous. As for lacking melody, why, it is essentially melody and nothing else. It is grave, diatonic, pure and simple melody, with rhythm free and swinging. It is full of a haunting beauty of an unworldly kind. On the other hand, harmony of any sort is alien to it, and even the accompaniment of the organ is contrary to its purely vocal and simple melodic nature. I grant that to one who seems to accept Verdi's drinking song in La Traviata as fitting music to accompany a solemn act of worship plain song may not appeal, for it is unworldly in conception, its ideal is spiritual, and its object is to take men away from the busy hum of the world and leave them free and undistracted before the altar. Does not liturgy seem to demand a staid and solemn diction ? Archaicism, I hold, is one of its most potent charms and a great factor. Who would think of mingling slang expressions of the day with the matchless music of the Authorised Version of the Bible? If this holds good of the words how much more of the music
t is difficult toside the Church converts, I thinter
which is intended to invest them with a greater soul-searching and heart-lifting power ?
As plain song is perfect melody and has nothing properly to do with harmony, while I accept Mr. Bagot's words I must entirely reject his conclusion as being based on a complete misunderstanding of the very nature of the plain song itself.
The final error which in his opinion stamps the Papal edict as ill-advised is to the effect that Protestants will be no longer attracted to our churches, and that converts will be fewer, and, in fact, that the Ritualists will get them all. Well, if that be so, my Anglican friends are welcome to all such, for I am old-fashioned enough to prefer quality rather than quantity. Some kind of converts, I think, would lead a more tranquil life outside the Church altogether. They do us no good; and it is difficult to see where they find happiness or how they can ‘feel religious when they feel bored.'
If the effect of the new regulations be, as Mr. Bagot prophesies, to lessen the number of visitors who are there for the gratification of the eyes, the ears, and, possibly, the nose,' I, for one, shall be unfeignedly glad, for I have no desire to see our houses of prayer turned into concert halls, or the sacred mysteries of our worship made a raree show for the stranger within our gates.
Does the Catholic Church organise her worship for Protestant * ears, eyes, and, possibly, noses'? Does she even take them into consideration ?
Of course there are those who come to listen and remain to pray; but when we have so much to do to make our own people solid Christians we cannot spare the time to go out fishing for whales with sprats. And how often does it happen that the fish, when caught, turns out to be but a pitiful red herring!
If the decree be carried out loyally in this country we shall approach more closely to the old Catholic type of musical service which has been so largely kept in our national cathedrals—a type devotional, melodious, sacred, and national withal.
I cannot imagine the organist of St. Paul's or the Abbey playing the drinking song from La Traviata as a voluntary, or arranging an anthem out of Bizet's opera. And why should we have a lower standard ?
If at St. Paul's no singer is allowed who is not a communicant, why should we, of all folk in the world, be laxer, and evade the law? Why should we admit non-Catholics, who disbelieve in the words they sing, to form part of our choirs and exercise what the Pope calls ' a real liturgical office'? These are anomalies of our present situation, and show how necessary is some reform.
Why, too, I may ask, should costly choirs be kept up for the e yes, the ears, and possibly the noses' of the non-Catholics who, Mr. Bagot says, form the very large proportion of the congregations,
when our churches are in debt, our schools in danger of being starved, and our clergy, many of them, living in poverty and want ?
No; I feel strongly that, thanks to the clear and determined action of the Pope, it is now possible for us to get rid of what has been a source of real weakness and undoubted disedification. I don't want to play to the gallery of the British public, which, after all, will be more favourably impressed if we follow a higher ideal than we do at present.
According to Mr. Bagot our people have felt the difficulty, and some have solved it in the practical way of leaving the High Mass to the stranger. To take away the cause, and, in the words of the Pope, to make special efforts to restore the use of the Gregorian chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times,
will result in solid good all round. I would much rather see our people standing up and joining in a simple melodious plain song Mass than have them sitting down to listen to the soprano roulading up the scale or to the basso slowly getting down to his deepest notes.
These things being so, what are we to think of Mr. Bagot’s contention that the educated portion of the community, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, will openly resent the insult offered to music by those responsible for this unfortunate and illogical decree'? Those who know the nature and object of sacred music will be grateful to the Pontiff who has recalled us to the true artistic ideal of the music of worship as opposed to the worship of music.
ETHELRED L. TAUNTON.