Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dancing continued

Thanks to Njinsky for his link to a Zenit article on `liturgical` dance whch includes an essay published in Notitiae in 1975. I had trouble with the link but eventually accessed it from a computer with different anti-virus software. It`s a pity there is nothing more authoritative as an essay even in Notitiae (the official organ of the Vatican`s Congregation for Divine Worship) is far from binding. However it makes some good points including, I`m glad to see, the issue of participation.

While some forms of stylised dance have a place in some ancient liturgies (notably the Ethiopians) it has no place in the Roman Rite. However the urge to dance in church appears not to be so recent. I knew about the Seises in Seville cathedral and this article reveals:

The propriety of the religious dance was hotly contested at various epochs in the history of the Church. A council prohibited the practice in 692, but it was still very general in 1617. Saint Augustine was against it, but Saint Chrysostom took part in it. In the six­teenth century the dance was accompanied by a solemn game of ball in many French churches, and in 1683 it was the duty of the senior canon to lead a dance of choir-boys in the Paris Cathedral.

Well I`ve yet to see a ball game during Mass (just when you think you`ve seen it all......) but it does appear the whole concept of dance was severely frowned upon but survived somehow in Seville.

The Notitiae article says:

Neither can acceptance be had of the proposal to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because there would be presentation here also of a spectacle at which one would assist, while in the liturgy one of the norms from which one cannot prescind is that of participation.

Therefore, there is a great difference in cultures: what is well received in one culture cannot be taken on by another culture.

The traditional reserve of the seriousness of religious worship, and of the Latin worship in particular, must never be forgotten.

If the proposal of the religious dance in the West is really to be made welcome, care will have to be taken that in its regard a place be found outside of the liturgy, in assembly areas which are not strictly liturgical. Moreover, the priests must always be excluded from the dance.

We can recall how much was derived from the presence of the Samoans at Rome for the missionary festival of 1971. At the end of the Mass, they carried out their dance in St. Peter’s square: and all were joyful.

I have no problem with Samoans or anyone else dancing in St Peter`s Square after Mass or at a papal audience. All I can say is that it doesn`t help me to pray at Mass. In the meantime I suppose the whole issue will continue to be `hotly contested`.


Ben Whitworth said...

On the French ball game (a sacred precursor of 'le rugby'?), there's a tantalising snippet of a forthcoming book here: The author is the chaplain at Newcastle University (and he sometimes celebrates the traditional Latin Mass!).

Njinsky said...

Liturgical Dance, if properly ordered and performed, could really enhance any liturgical service. But why should it be restricted to young people, and especially the girls. Why can't the pensioners get in on the act. Is their dancing not good enough? It is time for some creative thinking. Why not ask for suggestions and really start some murmuring in the forest.

For the pensioners I suggest a little combo in a side altar playing some Glenn Miller.
At Christmas we could dance to 'The Story of a Starry Night.'
For Easter morning we could have 'Sunrise Serenade'.
For Harvest Festival there is 'Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anybody Else But me'.
At Pentecost we could dance to 'The Spirit is Willing' which would be especially appropriate for pensioners.
For weddings how about 'I Want To Be Happy' or, as a fall back, 'Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread.' And for Baptisms there is 'My Melancholy Baby'.

This kind of initiative would really bring about active participation and fill the pews.


Typical racist remarks from a priest who loves dressing up in cassocks and would have no hesitation in celebrating the Good Friday liturgy inthe extraordinary form and using the old prayer for the Jews

Mike Cliffson said...

This IS restrained. If you understand Spaniards, apart from the Med., at all: very.
By the same token: "happyclappy "doesn't quite cover it if you ever see Spàniards clapping coffins at a funeral.