Saturday morning quotes 3.46: We accept change
Today’s post is a bit brief as we are completely immersed in preparing to release Adoro Te, the first of our three recording projects for 2014. The theme, which is relevant to many facets of modern life, is accepting change.
The so well-worn as to be toothless saw, “The only thing constant in life is change” is attributed to François de la Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680), and is excavated from his comfortably moralizing tome, Maximes et Reflexions Morales du Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1664). But the ever-changing theme is much older and can be traced to Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – 475 BC), quoted in Plato’s Cratylus (402), “Everything changes and nothing remains still…and you cannot step twice into the same stream.” From one perspective, Heraclitus must have been the inspiration for those environmental regulators who thus far have mismanaged our affairs using the theory that “dilution is the solution to pollution.”
Certain changes are certainly good, mutatis mutandis. For instance, in the US we are seeing a slow-moving trend of acceptance in the area of spousal choice, and we are even experiencing a breath of fresh air from the doctrinal direction of Rome. In his short tenure, Pope Francis has done much to restore a sense of benevolent leadership to the administrative aspects of the Church, and we see a positive shift in the melding of a true and ancient spiritual purpose with the actual state of the modern human condition.
But an area in need of clarification is the participation of women’s voices in sacred music. While containing much that is quite good for music, for the past 111 years, the 1903 motu proprio of Pope Saint Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini, has served to limit the participation of women’s voices in singing the ordinary of the Mass. Unfortunately, for many of the less broad-minded, this has been inappropriately extended to the restriction of women’s musical voices in ways that were never intended and, apparently, the restrictions were almost instantly rescinded by Pius X himself after a 1909 reality check.
Women have always participated in singing chant and we have examples from the past, the best-known of which is Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179). The outmoded restriction on women’s voices is no longer observed at the Vatican, and the idea is in need of updating by traditionalists here in the US.
In a few weeks (April 2014) we will be releasing Adoro Te, a recording of solo chant hymns and Marian antiphons sung by Donna Stewart. Recorded live in the warmly resonant Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus, Cleveland, we have captured the essence of the music’s devotional character with directness, clarity and a sense of musical purpose informed by two decades of singing chant in its liturgical context. For those who have expressed an interest in learning this music, we will be publishing a booklet with all the scores newly set in chant notation with texts, translations and accompanying descriptive notes.