It cannot begin with Latin

Via Chant Café, the blog of the Sacred Music Programme (oh, all right, Program) at the University of Notre Dame has published the first part of an interview with Jeffrey Tucker. Much as we might regret it, we cannot just launch straight back into Latin everywhere, more's the pity:

JJ: One of the things that we are constantly asking ourselves at Notre Dame is how to take the repertoire that Catholics have grown up with since Vatican II and use what’s already there to build off of towards a full experience of the Church’s musical tradition. Where do you think the inroads are?

JT: I think what we are doing has to build off of the current experience and repertoire. I can tell you from long experience, because the question you are asking right now has been at the core of my strategic and theoretical thinking for the last ten years. It cannot begin with Latin; it has to begin with English. The reason is that language is absolutely essential to the way we think, who we are, and how we regard ourselves as a people. It’s so closely tied to our identity that it’s non-negotiable at this point in history. The church gave us the gift of vernacular with the Second Vatican Council, and it’s not a point to regret, but something we have to deal with. For me, the ideal is always Latin, but it’s ridiculous to think you could start there. You can try to implement the singing of the Mass in Latin and there will be a core of people that will love everything you’re doing, but it will not last because there will be a different core of people that will be deeply offended because they just aren’t ready for it. This is the great mistake, I would say, that was made in the years following the council. There’s a reason why this didn’t happen, but there’s also a tremendous confusion about how the vernacular applies in the liturgy. On one hand you had Vatican II clearly elevate the role of Gregorian chant above which it had ever been elevated in the history of the Church. On the other hand, you had the council give permission for the vernacular, but it was left open exactly how this was to be applied. It is obvious to me that the tension between these two things was not fully anticipated and the Council Fathers were not aware of the tremendous difficulties this would create. Suddenly all the Gregorian chant seemed irrelevant, mainly on the grounds of language.