Actually, I don’t really feel I need to defend myself from this, but I do want to address a few things, and let’s get the easiest thing out of the way first.
Microtonality really doesn’t make much difference to any discussion of liturgical music in the US, since only a very tiny handful of chanters can produce microtonal chant, and almost none of them born in the US, no matter what their ethnic background. I can’t do it. Nobody at my parish can do it. Even on Youtube, few can do it (to judge by what people have posted there).
I don’t think it’s un-American, nor do I dislike it. In my first parish back in the early 80s, we still had the same chanter the parish had had since the 40s, born and trained to chant in the Middle East. He was remarkable. And I enjoyed and appreciated his chanting. But he is no longer with us, and there are few like him who are these days, at least in the USA.
I do think that it is less accessible, at least on first exposure, but that it’s an academic point. How many chanters in the USA these days actually produce microtonal, Byzantine chant? Very few.
As far as my druthers go, we wouldn’t have any polyphonic music. Actually, polyphonic isn’t so much the issue as tonal is — that’s tonal, as opposed to modal, music. But however stronly my personal preference might be, I don’t think most Americans would know the difference between tonal and modal music. That’s not a statement about anyone’s intelligence or education, by the way. It’s merely a statement of fact.
I prefer modal music in church. Because it lacks a tonal center, it doesn’t resolve, so it sounds ungrounded and ethereal. But I don’t think most hear the difference between ending on the base note of the modal tone (the ison) and resolving to the tonic, so my preference is moot.
I suspect we will hear more modal music in church as time goes on, but I doubt very much that Byzantine and Znammeny — the original in either case, and not the tonal, harmonized version — will replace tonal, SATB music. This is particularly true with ethnic groups that associate their musical tradition particularly strongly with their identity, or whether their identity is respected, such as the Rusyns.
I might also point out that no matter what our musical debates may be, we should be glad we don’t have to deal with the things the Catholics do these days. We don’t have music with banal, humano-centric lyrics. We don’t have choir directors substituting miscellaneous hymns for liturgical music. Check out the Catholic blogosphere, if you want to see serious trouble. After all, we may disagree about whether to do a traditional Znammeny or SATB Arkhangelsky arrangement of O Gladsome Light, but both are O Gladsome Light.
For this, we should be grateful.