Sunday, 31 March 2013

Musical settings of the Credo

In the contemporary liturgical age, musical settings of the Credo are scarce.  The Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition has gone a considerable way to changing the liturgical ethos that spurned the sung Credo by adapting the melodies of Credos I and III to the English text of the Creed.  Chanted Credos should (in Latin in the first instance), and might one day again, be commonplace.

What, however, about the great repertory of polyphonic, orchestral and other choral settings of the Credo, amassed throughout the ages?  The current General Instruction seems to prevent such settings being used liturgically, as it mandates the Credo being sung by the whole congregation together, or alternatim (but not by the choir alone, in contrast to the Gloria).  

A musical setting of the Credo might actually bring alive that faith which the congregation is professing.  In Easter Time, does the Paschal Mystery resonate more when the Creed is merely recited, or when a setting like the following is sung?  I think particularly of the words Crucifixus etiam pro nobis, sub Pontio Pilato; passus et sepultus est.  Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas.  

Are we depriving ourselves of a possible source of spiritual nourishment by preventing that which previous generations held dear (and which, in the final analysis, can only serve to support and illuminate the themes conveyed by the text)?