Liturgical Troubles in England

This was posted on Fr Z’s blogsite, What Does the Prayer Really Say, which he has picked up from the Daily Telegraph. It’s about the ill treatment that the noted composer James MacMillan received over his music being used for the Papal Visit. James MacMillan has written about his experiences. It is very interesting to hear about the nasty tactics employed by some Catholics regarding the Liturgies celebrated by the Pope when he was in England. The Church is amazing how it can be place of real bullying and nastiness; often behind the secular world in terms of workplace justice and rights.

Fr Ray Blake’s Blog, Mary Magdalen, has also commented on this episode, as Fr Ray knows James MacMillan.

Here is Fr Z’s blog entry on the topic…

Composer James MacMillian explains what happened before the Papal Visit

Here is a story from The Telegraph about the trouble distinguished composer James MacMillian had with the liturgical establishment before the Holy Father’s visit to Scotland and England.

James MacMillan is a Scottish composer whose symphonies, concertos, operas, sacred music and many orchestral and instrumental works are strongly influenced by his Catholic faith. His St John Passion was premiered by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in 2008; his specially commissioned congregational Mass was performed when Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman during his visit to Britain in September. He and his wife are lay Dominicans and live in Glasgow. He also blogs at

Here are some paragraphs from MacMillan’s Telegraph article, with Fr Z’s comments in the square brackets.

How trendy ‘liturgists’ tried to stop my Mass being performed for the Pope
By James MacMillan Music, Last updated: October 27th, 2010

Writing music for the recent visit of the Pope to the UK was one of the most exhilarating but strangest experiences of my life. I was initially contacted by Archbishop Mario Conti, on behalf of the Scottish Bishops who had decided they wanted a new setting of the Mass in English for the huge celebration in Bellahouston Park. Also, it was to be the new English translation of the Mass which will be introduced, more generally, in the Catholic anglosphere next year some time. In the wake of this, the Bishops of England and Wales came on board so that the new setting would be used at the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park too.

There was not much time. A meeting was called in Glasgow where a group of clergy in charge of planning the papal visit and liturgical music for Bellahouston spoke with me and outlined the task at hand. I had to start quickly and, more or less, deliver immediately! This I did, after using my church choir as guinea pigs for the first drafts. [Here we go…] Then the problems began.

Unknown to me the new setting was taken to a “committee” which has controlled the development of liturgical music in Scotland for some time. [For God so loved the world, that He did not send a committee.] Their agenda is to pursue the 1970s Americanised solution to the post-Conciliar vernacular liturgy, to the exclusion of more “traditional” possibilities. They have been known for their hostility to Gregorian chant, for example, but have reluctantly had to get in line since the arrival of Benedict XVI. They also have a commitment to the kind of cod-Celticness that owes more to the soundtracks of The Lord of the Rings and Braveheart, than anything remotely authentic. There has also been asuspicion of professionals with this committee, and many serious musicians in the Church in Scotland have felt excluded from their decisions and processes, or have chosen not to become involved in territory which is felt to be hostile.

It became clear that my new setting had not gone down well with this group. The music was felt to be “not pastoral enough” [Read: It was too good. Read: It didn’t make you feel as if you were drowning in Lyle’s Golden Syrup.] and there were complaints (yes, complaints!) that it needed a competent organist. [Because “pastoral” music can be played by incompetents. The “Americanized” solution?] The director of music for Bellahouston, a priest and amateur composer, whose baby is this committee, was also informing all who would listen, that the music was“un-singable” and “not fit for purpose”. There seemed to be ongoing attempts to have the new setting dropped from the papal liturgy in Glasgow.
However, spokespeople for the Scottish Church had already been talking to the press [What would we do without the press these days? There are drawback, but without the press the old guard would get away with a great deal, just as they always have.] about my new setting, and the English were gearing up to use the music as well, at the Birmingham Mass. Any retraction of the new setting was going to fly in the face of the Bishops’ wishes and result in an almighty media car crash, which would not just be humiliating for me, but for the Scottish Church too. Fly-on-the-wall reports from the committee meeting confirmed that there was general anxiety of the consequences if the English went ahead with the setting at Cofton Park, and the Scots dropped it or reduced it drastically for Glasgow.

When word of this reached me and my publishers (who had negotiated with Church representatives in Glasgow) we were astonished. There had been no mention of a “committee” which was to pass judgement, aesthetical, liturgical or musical, on the Mass that had been requested by the Bishops. An almighty row erupted behind the scenes. The men who had met me hastily in Glasgow to initiate the whole thing now seemed to be backtracking. The Bishops didn’t know anything about it – until we raised it with them. Obviously, not having heard the music, they were in a quandary.What if the “liturgists” were right? What if the new music couldn’t be sung by ordinary people? What if the organ accompaniment was, in fact, a concerto for organ? What if the pastoral concerns of God’s people had been totally ignored by this elitist composer? MacMillan might know how to write operas and symphonies, but congregational music was totally different. (I have, in fact, written simple music for Catholic congregations for the last 30 years). [Part of the problem here stems from the insanity of thinking that everyone has to sing everything.] But they had put their faith in me, knowing what I had done for the Church so far, and they were to continue in that faith. I was contacted, separately, by four members of the Scottish hierarchy, directly or indirectly. The one who phoned me allayed my fears and confirmed their full support. Another met me on occasions to communicate the trust and goodwill of the Conference.

Only one of them seemed to have fallen to the subterfuge of the ideologues, and he sent me an upsetting letter. It was similar to another from the original meeting whoblamed me for manipulating the media and using the whole episode as an exercise in self-glorification. In all their years of facilitating the commission of new music, Boosey and Hawkes had never dealt with such rudeness and shoddy behaviour. They were deeply shocked; and I was embarrassed because of how my Church was being seen by my professional representatives and colleagues. I had dealt with all of them in good faith from day one. I worked professionally, delivering the music in days and continued to offer the Church my services to see the project through to a fruitful conclusion.

To further allay any bad feeling, I waived my fee. I love the Church and was determined that the papal visit should be a success. It was! Now we wait for the various Bishops’ Conferences to ratify the new translation. Then my publishers hope to get the music out and about the parishes of the English-speaking world. It is a relief that it will now not be known as “The Mass the Scots wouldn’t sing!”

In retrospect, it does seem a sad business, and I can’t quite get to the bottom of all the shenanigans which nearly scuppered the new Mass setting. I had to pinch myself on occasions when I was being accused of obscurantism. Were they right? But I rehearsed the work on many occasions with ordinary people in the pews in various parishes. They all picked the music up gradually. Not all parishes in Scotland could introduce the setting, I suppose. It requires competence in the accompanist and music leader. But this was a papal Mass – it had to be special. But I can imagine it being used enthusiastically in many countries around the world. There is a different “sound” to the new setting, which perhaps owes something to my love of chant, traditional hymnody and authentic folk music, and nothing at all to the St Louis Jesuits and all the other dumbed-down, sentimental bubble-gum music which has been shoved down our throats for the last few decades in the Catholic Church. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] And therein might lie the problem…[WDTPRS kudos to Mr. MacMillan.]

Fr Ray Blake, Mary Magdalen blogsite, also has these insightful comments:

James MacMillan reveals he had an awful time with a liturgical committee in Scotland over the Mass he wrote for the Papal visit. I have met James on a couple of occasions, far from being “il Maestro”, he is gentle, self deprecating, respectful, even deferent to clergy and the Church. Therefore it is surprising that he feels so strongly about how badly he was treated that he writes about it the Telegraph.

I have given up being surprised at how badly the Church can treat people; how arbitrary, partial, self serving, cruel, unprofessional those with power can be, when they exercise it. For some reason the bullying which is constrained in secular world by legislation, good practice guidelines and clear and open procedures, is unrestrained in the Church.

I am glad James has made this public, there is nothing like bringing things into the light to deter ecclesiastical bullying. It is the same type of bullying that coerced the victims of child abuse to keep silent, wherever it occurs it should be exposed. There is no reason for the Church to be less just than the secular world.

These days, when one wants to do something according to the mind of the Church, there always seems to be a fight.

Fr Ray is right. The people who often talk about justice and peace and rights are often those, who when confronted with opposing ideas, suddenly lose a taste for such things: a key sign of an idealogue, one who is not really interested in truth, but their own ideas.

What do you guys think?

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    Comments: 27

    1. Chris Sullivan October 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      I think I’d like to hear the music.

      I’m not sure that James MacMillan writing an article in the Telegraph about all this is really the right and loyal thing to do as it is quite damaging PR for the Church. We just don’t need to air all our dirty linen in public.

      Probably better just to offer it up and take some comfort that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t always get fair treatment from the religious establishment either.

      People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

      If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

      If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

      If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

      What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

      If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

      The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

      Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

      In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

      Mother Teresa of Calcutta

      God Bless

    2. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      That’s a fair point for debate, Chris. When should a person speak out about injustice, and when should they just take a deep breathe and walk away?

      And should they speak out publicly, or should decisions be made behind closed doors, while we all pretend not to see?

      I guess each person has to make their own decision based on the situation they find themselves in.

    3. Chris Sullivan October 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm


      I’m not sure that James MacMillan was treated unjustly.

      There were different opinions expressed as to the suitability of his composition (some of which he appears to agree with eg the concern that not every Scottish parish would have the technical skills to perform it and not everyone would be able to sing it all).

      Surely, those with concerns are entitled to express those concerns ?

      James MacMillan doesn’t seem to detail any actual injustice done to him.

      So, why go to the press ?

      If there was an actual serious injustice done that couldn’t be remedied internally, eg sexual abuse, rather than some artiste‘s latest work merely being criticised, then there might be a good case to go public.

      God Bless

    4. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      Filia’s extensive quote is from MacMillan’s original column on the topic (he writes a culture blog for the Telegraph). I see the man’s point. And I don’t think it was about the criticism, but about the way it was done.

      The bishops asked him to write a Mass in a very short time frame. He dropped everything and did so, no doubt neglecting paid work, but fully conscious of the trust reposed in him and the honour being paid.

      Then they sent it to be reviewed by people whose competence he clearly didn’t trust – and did so without telling him!

      Try and put this in the context of your own profession. I am a writer, and can easily imagine how I would feel if I gave up weeks of my time, and worked day and night, to produce, say, a book to commemorate a papal visit, tested it with readers, had it professionally produced, delivered it to deadline, and then found that – without even the courtesy of telling me – the bishops had sent it off to be reviewed by a committee of not-very-good book critics whose expertise was in a completely different genre.

      He certainly feels he was treated unjustly. I would too, if the circumstances are what he says.

      So my question stands.

      Clearly, we agree that in serious cases of unjust treatment (such as sex abuse) people should speak out. But at what point is unjustice serious enough?

    5. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      injustice, not unjustice

    6. Chris Sullivan October 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm


      The bishops are perfectly entitled to have a work commissioned by them reviewed by whomever they so choose; in this case it presumably was the bishops’ own liturgy committee.

      Perhaps it would have been better if James MacMillan was informed of this, but one can easily imagine that social nicety getting forgotten in the rush to get it all done on time.

      So there were some differences of liturgical musical opinion (hardly a surprise), hurt feelings, bruised egos, artistic sensibilities upset, someone’s pet artistic creation critiqued (the horror of it all!) etc. Unpleasant, yes, but hardly injustice.

      Injustice is when someone does not get what is their due. The due of artists is properly to expect criticism. That an artist gets criticism is not unjust, it’s just the nature of art.

      Get over it.

      Don’t sweat the small stuff.

      In the end the bishops chose to run with MacMillan’s composition and all ended well. MacMillan would have been better not to run to the press. The Bishops are hardly likely to have a whole lot of confidence in engaging MacMillan ever again after he has run to the press with this damaging story.

      But ask yourself JP, had one of your books been criticised, would you be writing a column to the NZ Herald to complain about it all and damaging the image of the Church in so doing ? I don’t think you would.

      God Bless

    7. bamac October 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm


      You say that James Macmillan should not have gone to the media but then members of the committee had already gone to the Scotish media … should they not have just gone to their bishops with their comments and /or worries? Surely James MacMillan had the right to put his point of view into the media too?


    8. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 4:48 pm

      Chris, I don’t agree with your assessment of the proper or actual process of this particular commission.

      But that really isn’t the point I’m trying to discuss. You define injustice as ‘when someone does not get what is their due’. That doesn’t really help, since we all have different views about what is our due.

      So again, at what point does a felt injustice justify complaining publicly on a blog post about the way you have been treated.

      I guess I’ll answer my own question: one answer would be when you have seen others treated this way, and know that private representations haven’t worked.

      Let’s say I wrote a blog for the NZ Herald. If I felt unjust criticisms had been made about a work of mine for political reasons (which is in essence MacMillan’s claim) I might speak out about that. If I knew that friends of mine had suffered the same experience at the same hands, I hope I would speak out about my personal experience (and theirs, if they were prepared to allow me do so).

      For all of that, I feel some disquiet that a dispute between a committee of the Church in Scotland and a Scots composer has made it all the way around the world for us to discuss on this blog. As I said in my first comment, all we have to go on is MacMillan’s column and Fr Z’s inserts. Fair enough, I think, for MacMillan to say his piece for his hundred or so readers. Is it fair for it to be put on at least three other blogs, or is MacMillan’s disagreement being used for political capital?

      This is why I’d much rather talk in general terms about whether or not, and on what occasions, it is appropriate to publicly criticise the Church.

    9. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks, bamac. I didn’t realise that the committee had already talked to the media. If an injustice hadn’t occurred up until then, it certainly did at that point. What were they thinking?

    10. JoyfulPapist October 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      So we might also ask whether or not, and on what occasions, it is appropriate for church officials to publicly criticise contractors or employees of the Church.

    11. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 7:51 am


      It would be wrong of the liturgy committee to go winging to the press but I missed reading that in the article. Can you show us where that was mentioned ? All I read was this, which seems perfectly in order:

      However, spokespeople for the Scottish Church had already been talking to the press about my new setting, and the English were gearing up to use the music as well, at the Birmingham Mass. A

      Spokespeople for the Scottish Church would not necessarily be the liturgy committee, and talking about the new setting is not necessarily criticism of it.

      God Bless

    12. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 8:01 am


      Before even contemplating going public with a criticism of some internal Church dispute:-

      1. It would need to be a SERIOUS injustice, not just come composer piqued that his latest creation came in for a bit of criticism.

      Criticism of art is not injustice. Because artistic criticism does not infringe what is due the artist. The artist/writer is in fact DUE criticism, because that’s how art/writing progresses.

      If the criticism was uncharitable then that uncharity could be unjust.

      2. The supposed injustice should be dealt with internally first. In this case it was, and was apparently resolved in MacMillan’s favour. There was no NEED to go public.

      All that achieved was to further muddy the good name of the Church.

      God Bless

    13. FXD October 29, 2010 at 8:51 am


      ‘Criticism of art is not injustice. Because artistic criticism does not infringe what is due the artist. The artist/writer is in fact DUE criticism, because that’s how art/writing progresses.’

      I think, with respect, you’ve missed the point Chris. When one speaks of liturgical music, one is speaking of an integral part of the liturgy. I don’t blame you for missing this – many people in these post-conciliar times are ignorant of the fact. Allow Sacrosanctum Concilium to elucidate:

      ‘The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations…In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.’

      In other words, we must be careful in our criticism of musical work which reflects the inherent liturgical music of our Roman tradition.

      The crucial question lies around whether the criticism of the music stems from an ideological bent against the liturgical tradition of the Church.

    14. JoyfulPapist October 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

      No, Chris. The injustice wasn’t the criticism. That is made clear in the article. The injustice was the implication that the work in total would be rejected by people who were not part of the original contract.

      What is your problem with artists? You seem to be very dismissive – words like piqued, artiste, a bit of criticism. Do you resent people earning their living through the creative arts?

      Let’s say someone commissioned you to build a brick wall. You built it according to the specifications you’ve been given. Then someone unknown to you comes in and says it should have been a wooden wall, and they don’t want it. I’d think you’d be a little piqued. Your artistic sensibilities might be wounded by that bit of criticism?

    15. JoyfulPapist October 29, 2010 at 9:01 am

      So we come back to ‘who defines a serious injustice’. Is it the person who has feels unjustly treated? And if not, why not?

      Because we agree that it is okay to go public with a serious injustice. And we (or at least Chris and I) disagree whether an injustice has been done.

      So who decides?

    16. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 9:04 am


      we must be careful in our criticism of musical work which reflects the inherent liturgical music of our Roman tradition.

      I agree.

      But that doesn’t mean that every composition using Gregorian chant or polyphony gets a pass merely because it’s Gregorian chant or polyphony.

      It’s irrelevant as to whether or not those doing the criticism were part of the original contract. The bishops are quite entitled to seek whatever review they deem fit. It is absurd to try to limit criticism to only those who were part of the original contract; that would be unheard of in artistic circles.

      Your last point in 14 is a little rich. The things I say get critiqued all the time around here but I don’t get piqued by criticism. Criticism is part of life. People just need to harden up and accept it.

      God Bless

    17. JoyfulPapist October 29, 2010 at 9:26 am

      Yes, you’re right Chris. My irony was overdone and I apologise. And it wasn’t even clear, given that my point is that someone doing a job according the specification on which they have been briefed is entitled to object to that specification being tossed out the window by people who were not part of the original agreement.

      And the point about tradition wasn’t mine, it was FXD’s. I agree with you that it was a good one, though.

      Leaving all that aside, at what point is it valid to criticise the church in public? Can we please discuss this point, which I think to be the most interesting?

      I think we agree that it is valid to criticise church officials in public under some circumstances – we’d all be hypocrites if we disagreed, since I think every one of us has supported public criticism of church officials in one context or another over the last 12 months.

      And this thread makes it 100% agreement that such public criticism is a bad thing, to be resorted to only if the matter is serious.

      So how do we decide?

    18. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 9:27 am

      Do you resent people earning their living through the creative arts?

      Not at all.

      But the phenomena of some artists being excessively upset by criticism of their art is rather well known, and the “il Maestro” type of reaction is even mentioned by Fr Blake in his defence of MacMillan.

      God Bless

    19. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 9:35 am


      that my point is that someone doing a job according the specification on which they have been briefed is entitled to object to that specification being tossed out the window by people who were not part of the original agreement.

      I agree.

      I think that MacMillan is on solid grounds that the liturgy for a papal Mass may well be rather different to that used in the average parish, both for reasons of available talent and the personal liturgical tastes of the currently reigning Pope.

      I’s still rather like to hear his composition.

      I come back to by point that public criticism of the church ought to be limited to serious matters, that the public news media (even blogs run by daily papers) are a different media to the Catholic media and Catholic blogs, and that internal avenues ought to be followed up first.

      I think we are going to be in serious trouble if every little squabble in the Church gets blown up in the news media. The Church just doesn’t need that.

      Didn’t St Paul say we ought to refrain from public lawsuits and sort out these matters internally ?

      The way this little spat has gone public smacks of a partisan agenda by people who are more interested in furthering their partisan sectarianism than they are in the wider interests of the Church as a whole.

      God Bless

    20. Andrewesman October 29, 2010 at 9:38 am

      If you don’t want James Macmillan, we’ll have him like a shot!

      If anyone is interested in the (utterly gorgeous) Macmillan music referred to (which is neither unsingable or complicated; the man is a parish choir director), it is available to listen to here:

      The Kyrie is from the Missa de Angelis, but the rest is Macmillan–and if you listen, the technically good organist is necessary for the ruffles and flourishes entirely appropriate to a Papal Mass; I assume in many parishes they can be safely omitted.

      In any case, when did Church become play-school? Lots of people are capable of learning lots of things, including new Mass settings. We don’t need to dumb everything down and slather it in syrup, and that Gloria is EPIC. Listen to it.

    21. JoyfulPapist October 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

      The way this little spat has gone public smacks of a partisan agenda by people who are more interested in furthering their partisan sectarianism than they are in the wider interests of the Church as a whole.

      Yes, I agree. As I noted above in 8:

      …fair enough, I think, for MacMillan to say his piece for his hundred or so readers. Is it fair for it to be put on at least three other blogs, or is MacMillan’s disagreement being used for political capital?

      Mind you, that way of pushing a partisan agenda is exactly what is being complained of here.

    22. Chris Sullivan October 29, 2010 at 9:59 am


      Thank you for the podcast links , which I look forward to listening to with great pleasure.

      God Bless

    23. bamac October 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      My humble apologies… it seems that I did misread the wording.
      All committee members should surely have kept their opinions amongst themselves and with the bishop who had set them the task and not written the upsetting letter to James MacMillan.


      Thank you for he links to the music…. it must have indeed been a wonderful Holy Mass … Will be saving both tracks .. it brings back memories of high Masses I have been at in years past

      Shallom … Apologies again

    24. dave morgan October 31, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      howdy peeps! :)

      damian thompson, has blogged on this topic, and added a few comments

      here are his words

      I’m so glad that James MacMillan has used his Telegraph blog to reveal some of the bullying and skulduggery of Scottish Catholic liturgists who wanted (but failed) to stop the Pope hearing his specially composed English Mass at Bellahouston. The story sits neatly with my post about Bishop Kieran Conry’s snide attack on Martin Baker, the director of music at Westminster Cathedral. The bishop suggested that Mr Baker went out on a limb by arranging for the papal Mass at Westminster to be sung in Latin; but, as Baker told the Catholic Herald, he did so with the full backing of Archbishop Nichols and the Pope. +Kieran, by the way, is furious that his criticism of the cathedral came to light.

      There’s a liturgical culture war going on here and, for the first time in 40 years, the liberals sense that they’re on the losing side. Bishop Conry makes it sound as if the casus belli is the use of Latin, and indeed he’s been very thorough indeed in discouraging the use of the ancient language in his diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Also, I gather that certain bishops are putting pressure on seminary directors not to teach their students too much Latin. A few years ago, they needn’t have worried: seminarians didn’t want to learn it. Now the students don’t wait for permission from their seminary to teach themselves the venerable prayers (and, when no one is looking, the rubrics of the older form of the Roman Rite). This is causing dismay verging on panic among the more hardline soixante-huitards of the Magic Circle.

      But this is about more than Latin: James MacMillan’s Mass for Blessed John Henry Newman is in English, using the revised translation of the Mass that will come into wider use next year. I wonder if that fact contributed to the foul treatment he and his publishers received at the hands of Scottish “liturgists”, whose preferred style of worship makes a Pentecostal tabernacle look like Brompton Oratory. Taken as a whole, the bishops of Britain are officially committed to supporting the new translation but privately divided on its merits.

      Although I sometimes give the impression that the Magic Circle is uniformly liberal, the truth is that it reflects a liturgical spectrum ranging all the way from horrified opposition to the conservative reforms of “Ratzinger” to mild and ineffectual acquiescence. In many dioceses, the more solemn and accurate English translation will be introduced reluctantly – and I’ll be very surprised if Lefty priests who, ahem, forget to say the new words face much in the way of discipline. Those who do refuse to use the new English Missal can expect hearty support from the Tabletista “ministers” who crowd around them on the sanctuary and (in their imaginations) co-consecrate the Host.

      It’s tempting for me to fall into the trap of over-simplifying the situation. But “culture war” is a fair term for what is going on. Back in the 1980s, the American sociologist James Davison Hunter argued that the liberal-conservative battles would be fought within rather than between religions. At the time, the Catholic Church in this country was so totally under the sway of Archbishop Derek Worlock’s followers, and traditionalists so bitter and marginalised, that there was no war to speak of. That has changed, and one of the people who is changing it is a lay Catholic who, 20 years ago, would have been a most unlikely champion of conservative tradition, James MacMillan. More on that in another post.

      i wonder if the situation in england is similar to nz?

      “magic circle” is damian’s name for the trendy lefty people, including bishops, who hold the authoritarian “power” in the uk, and force everybody to accept what they want for the church

      i think i agree with damian; that this issue is far wider than just a few people annoying james macmillan. there is a whole generation who have been brainwashed with regard to the liturgy, and they don’t want to let go of their control

      i wonder if nz is similar?

      peace :P

    25. Don the Kiwi October 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      I wonder if NZ is similar?”

      I suspect you’re not far off the mark, Dave.

      The liturgical troubles, it appears, are not only in England. The new “missalette” being made available this weekend has had no imprimatur from Rome. Now whether or not that is necessary I’ll leave to more learned than I on this topic. However, it does seem to fly in the face of the lack of a “recognitio”, and it appears that the NZ bishops have acted off their own bat to produce this. One conservative comment I heard was, – “This puts us technically in schism with Rome.” which may be overstating the point, but it tends to exhibit a rather serious doubt.

      Does this make our bishops the members of a “magic circle”? I believe they tend to be of a more liberal bent than conservative, with the possible exception of Bp. Barry Jones, but “magic circle” seems to me to suggest a sniff of paganism, and I don’t think our bishops are anywhere near that type of description.

    26. TTM October 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Filia: great article. Thanks. :-)

    27. Benedicta October 31, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks for the link to the podcast.

      I thought the MacMillan setting was great. I especially loved the Sanctus, but it was all good.

      I have taught music to our parish and they are a very unsingable crowd overall. But if you introduce it right and give them practice time they do get there.

      I would certainly think that this Mass setting would be usable and would like a copy. I have not had time to look at the NZ setting but that will be fine too.

      At out parish for special occasions, I taught them the World Youth Day Gloria. That is very impressive and they sing it very well. It seems hard but in fact isn’t. A good male voice (for strength) to hold up the verses helps, and the parish can certainly belt out the refrain…’Glory to God in the Highest…”

      The organ parts are always adaptable. The WYD one sounds hard but in fact is very simple.