Daily Archives: September 3, 2009

Just what we need: another “new” song book…

In today’s Cathnews comes the annoucement that there will be a new third volume of the “As One Voice” song books.

I wish someone would tell publishers of new “liturgical songs”: ENOUGH ALREADY! We have have more than we can cope with at the moment. The constant bombardment of new material for use in the liturgy means that there is never enough time for us to assess the quality of the new material. For that matter, there is hardly enough time to reflect on the music we already have.

Not that that important task has gone unattended. In response to the request in Liturgiam Authenticam, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has commissioned the National Liturgical Music Board to compile a list of “approved hymns” for use in the liturgy. The task that this group was faced with was so immense that they simply had to put some limits on it. In the end, they decided to go through five readily available collections, “As One Voice”, “Gather Australia”, “Catholic Worship Book”, “New Living Parish Hymnal”, and “Together in Song”. The result was quite a long list (well over a thousand titles) of titles that got a “yes” vote. Of course, the point of such a document is not so much those items that got a tick, as those that failed to meet the (rather wide) criteria.

Although the resulting list has been sent to Rome for approval (as LA required), it is, I understand, now a public document. Unfortunately, it is not yet available on the ACBC website (I understand this is due to external factors beyond the control of the ACBC office). If you want a copy, I suggest you email Bernard at bfk at ozemail dot com dot au .

I have gone through the whole list and intend to post a review on it in the near future, but (as one of the compilers told me this afternoon) it is unlikely that in its current form this list will make much impact on what we sing on Sunday mornings. And this for several reasons:

1) It is not complete. It doesn’t include ritual music (for the reason that the new mass translations etc are not yet available) and they did not look at the much wider pile of “resources” used by our parishes and schools beyond the five collections named above (they are currently working on that, but it is, as you understand, a huge undertaking)
2) What is really required is a list of those songs that DID NOT get a tick. Such a list can be inferred from the positive list that the Board has produced, and it is my intention to publish this list when I get a Round Tuit (if you have one in the cupboard, please send it to me).

The practical usefulness of such a list is really as a basis for a future resource to be published. As of this moment in time, there are no more available copies of three of the hymnbooks surveyed: New Living Parish, Catholic Worship Book, and Gather Australia (I understand that the remaining copies of the latter two went up in smoke when the Feb 7 bushfires burnt down the publisher’s storehouse).

But the last thing we need in this climate of rapid change is a new volume of music that has not been through this exhaustive process of evaluation.


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A funny thing happened on the way home last night…

Well – not funny – an averted tragedy followed by a very embarrasing experience.

I was driving at about 5pm (just on the start of peak hour) along Ferntree Gully Road, when saw up ahead on the left hand side of the road a little-tacker who could not have been more than two years old, walking along playing with a stick. That’s odd, I thought, there’s no-one with him. To my horror, I saw that he was heading directly for the road, not at all aware of the danger he was heading into.

I slowed right down and sounded the horn – he looked up but kept coming. There was a stream of traffic – but most of it was now slowing down as I was. My main concern now was to get to the boy before he stepped out into the traffic. The cars in front of me went past him without stopping, but I came to a halt just as he was stepping onto the road. I jumped from my car, and stepped out into the inside lane of traffic (it was a dual lane road) to stop the traffic coming behind me. By this time the little lad was on the road in front of my car. I ran around, scooped him up, and carried him back to safety. Several other drivers stopped and jumped out, and we started looking for the boy’s parents. A neighbour came rushing up – he had seen the boy wandering down his street – and helped us locate the child’s home. Needless to say, his mother was greatly relieved – she had noticed him missing only moments earlier.

So! Tragedy averted. Now the embarrassment began.

My car was still parked in the middle of the road on Ferntree Gully in peak hour traffic. When I went to get back in to move it, I found that I had (automatically, and quite by instinct) LOCKED it when I jumped out! (God knows how I did that – I didn’t stop to do it, that’s for sure). My keys were locked inside, still in the ignition. You can guess how silly I felt. One of the other drivers who had stopped loaned me their mobile phone so I could call Cathy to bring the spare key, but then was the long wait while all the traffic banked up behind me.

The neighbour stayed with me for moral support, but after the motorists who had witnessed the incident had passed, I was then left to endure the irrate reactions of drivers who were caught in the resulting traffic jam. Some motorists did stop to ask if they could help. But most swore or sounded their horns at me as they went past. It was very hard to feel good about what I had just done after enduring all that.

Which just leads me to think once again how important context and information is to interpreting anything that we encounter around us in our lives. We like to think that we are impartial and rational judges, that our judgement and opinion is actually worth something. But how often are we simply woefully short of viatl information that would make sense of what it is that we are trying to interpret? This is, it seems to me, the only explanation of why we (you and me and all the rest of the human race) rational human beings so often violently disagree on this matter or the other: we each come at reality from different angles resulting from different experiences and the acquisition of different sets of information.

This is not to say there is not a true reality “out there”. The situation I described really happened and is the only real explanation of why a car came to be parked in the middle of the road during peak hour traffic. . But the motorists who got angry at the dill who parked his car in the middle of the road were not privy to these vital interpretive facts. As the wise Terry Pratchett once wrote, “The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.”


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