LETTER :Out of tune with the Catholic Church

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The Independent Online
From Mr Kevin Mayhew Sir: Tony Scotland's piece ("CD success that could revive an ancient liturgy", 29 December) tells us about its author's prejudices but little about Gregorian chant.

I was brought up on the chant as a chorister at Westminster Cathedral, one of the few places in this country where it was sung regularly and properly, apart from the religious houses. The chant, except for a dozen popular pieces, was little sung in the parish churches, as anyone who was alive at the time knows.

I am not sure what Mr Scotland proposes as a "constitutional mandate" for a Pope, but his suggestion that Pope Paul VI acted without authority is incorrect. Paul VI was merely promulgating the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which has been agreed by the world's Catholic bishops.

It is also untrue to say that Pope Paul VI "ditched" Gregorian chant. This is the Pope who put his signature to the sentence: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy: therefore, all things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."

The Catholic Church Mr Scotland proposes does not and never did exist. Music, unfortunately, has never been a priority: witness the fact that we do not even pay our musicians. What we are good at is getting ourselves involved in the rough and tumble of daily life and trying to show God's love to his broken people. I wonder if Mother Teresa can whistle Gregorian chant.

Yours faithfully, Kevin Mayhew Rattlesden, Suffolk 29 December

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