I OFFER some comments on Fr. Purney's letter concerning the National Music Commission.
1 Although professional en-1 gagements have prevented me from attending some of the meetings, 1 have been fully informed by a fellow-member of what took place.
1—The commission's work so al far hardly seems impressive when compared with its omissions. For example, the statement concerning permission to sing in English, advice to publishers should have been prepared and issued six months before the date on which they became effective.
The detailed directive promised in the commission's recent statement could have been ready by now: The drafts have existed for nearly a year. No significant action has been taken on the fundamental issue that texts for music must be designed accordingly.
I have repeatedly urged commission members that re. presentation should be made by the,commission as a whole to the translation committee, but to no avail. My own efforts with the translation committee have been fruitless; at a recent meeting one member said : "Composers can set anything to music." Maybe, but it won't necessarily be easy to sing, especially for congregations. Purses can be made from sow's ears, but they won't be silk ones. With 30 members the " commission is one of the largest (if not the largest) in the world—far too large to be efficient. As everyone with experience of Boards and committees knows, there is an optimum size, beyond which the efficiency of the group diminishes in inverse proportion to its members.
It is not the business of the commission, as Fr. Purney claims, "to reflect the views of the majority of English Catholics", but to assist the implementation of the Vatican Council's Liturgy Constitution.
Compared with what has been done in other countries, the work of both translation committee and music commission appears lamentably slow. The period elapsing between the promulgation of the Liturgy Constitution and the promised revision of the Roman Missal was intended at a time of fruitful experiment. Yet we have hardly begun: inept translations of the Ordinary and Holy Week; vernacular music only now permitted. It is no wonder that so many priests (as I know from the letters that Teach me) are profoundly dissatisfied with the inefficient and undistinguished way in which liturgical matters have been and still are being handled.
Anthony Milner, Lecturer of Music, London University.