Saturday, April 23, 2011

the woody woodpecker mass

The practice of rotating to a different liturgy each time the season changes might be a bit less objectionable, and slightly easier to swallow, if it were only the musical setting of the mass that is changed, instead of also the very text and order of the liturgy.  I could see a liturgical use in which the music of the mass differs, from season to season, or from early to late service, or whatever, but that would presume that the music being employed is worthy of the public worship of the Church.  I was spoiled with a fairly constant liturgy for a couple of years, and had almost forgot that many churches still do the rotation thing.  So a couple of weeks ago it was with some amusement, and trepidation, that I realized that the church I am attending had switched from the third mass in LSB, which it had been using for several weeks, to the first mass in that book, the so called Divine Service Setting One (pp 151-166).  I have come to term this liturgy "The Woody Woodpecker Mass."  The reason is the tune used for the Sanctus.

The blame for the text of the Sanctus in that order goes to the International Consultation on English Texts.  For the tune, however, we have a name, Richard W. Hillert.  To Mr. Hillert goes the distinction of giving the Church this music.  Worthy of some consideration is the vintage of both the tune and music, viz., 1978.  It was the bold age of brave experimentation and creativity.  In Divine Service Setting One what is being prayed is neither old nor new.  It is neither classic nor now.  It is pure 1970s LBW Lutheranism.  The Baby Boomers should be proud of the extent to which they have shaped the Church in their own image. 

What Mr. Hillert, RIP, failed to recognize, I fear, is that his tune may have been the result of watching too much TV as a child.  The next time you sing that version of the Sanctus (LSB, p. 161), especially when you get to the triple Hosanna, compare it in your mind with the signature hook in this little song:

I just can't take such a piece seriously, much less deem it worthy of the worship of our Lord.


Rev. David M. Juhl said...

I am wont to say that hearing Setting One reminds me of orange and brown everywhere...especially on the walls and in the shag carpeting.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Nice one, Fr. David. It was the age of wide open shirt collars, tight pants, Lew Alcindor, and Ron Burgundy.

Phillip said...

The church I go to know switches between 1, 2, and 3. I'm not all that bothered by it, though I do prefer 3. Of course, I grew up in a Methodist, er I mean Lutheran, church on the LW. What I find weird is Setting Four. We rewrote all the tunes to rhyme. Who decided Mass had to rhyme?

Paul said...

Yes, but perhaps those who have not been exposed to pop culture of the 70's will not make that connection?

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

True; then again, maybe now more will. Such is my hope. As they say on NBC, "The more you know."