Westminster Cathedral's Master of Music addresses Vatican

 Martin Baker, has become the first Master of Music of Westminster Cathedral to address a study day at the Vatican. In a talk delivered on Monday, entitled "Musica sacra - una sfida liturgica e pastorale" (Sacred Music, an liturgical and pastoral challenge), Martin Baker spoke about the role of the Choir in liturgical celebrations. The study day was organized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, to mark the anniversary of 'Sacrosanctum Concilium' - the Vatican II document on the Liturgy. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, was promulgated in 1963, and this conference forms part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Vatican II.) The place and importance of sacred music has often been reflected upon throughout the twentieth century, from the Motu proprio of Pope Saint Pius X, through the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, featuring in letters by the late Pope John Paul II as well as in sermons and writings by the current Pope Benedict XVI. In his talk, Martin Baker examined how far 'pastors of souls' had responded to the challenges of Sacrosanctum Concilium which provides the directive to foster and promote both the Church's treasury of sacred music and the choirs that sing it. He concluded: "At the moment, whilst pockets of excellence in church music do exist, they seem to exist in isolation. Clearer guidance from Church hierarchy would encourage and support many musical establishments and could facilitate a renewal of all that is good in the Church's musical tradition. Whilst being grateful for the statements on sacred music in Sacrosanctum Concilium, it is worth acknowledging that we currently have to look beyond, to the writings of theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, to elicit a degree of clarification. " "Especially given the direction the liturgy has taken in the years since Vatican II, a clear case can be made for the need to re-evaluate and expound upon these directives in the light of forty years of experimentation, even floundering in some quarters. Perhaps the time has come for some explicit guidelines as to the role of the Cathedral choir. We feel that the pattern which exists at Westminster could be well used to help recovery of the Church's choral tradition elsewhere. However, we cannot work in a vacuum, or without support of these aims from the highest level." Source: Archbishop's House

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