Time To Purge Your Church of NON-Catholic Music
  • The US Government put away the Gangster Al Capone by proving him guilty of...tax evasion. The State of Tennessee jails drug dealers by passing a law that gives the state the right to charge tax on illegal drug sales and then easily puts these people away.

    People who truly want to put give Gregorian Chant the opportunity to assume its place of preference in the Catholic Church need to act to rid the church of all the bad music. But some people like bad music and to them it is good music. And you are in the midst of an argument of taste...and pastoral decision. The pastor is permitted to permit bad music if the people like it.

    But there is one thing that overrides pastoral consideration and it has the ability to rid the church of the plague of bad music that has taken over our churches...


    Bad theology.

    From www.fisheaters.com:


    The Church, given teaching authority by Christ and as the conduit for fullness of Truth on this earth, has the obligation to preserve Her sheep from deviations from the Truth and to to guarantee them the \"objective possibility of professing the true faith without error\" (Catechism, No. 890). Because of this, the Bishops will look at books published by Catholics on Catholic matters in their dioceses, giving them their \"okay\" if nothing therein is found to be contrary to the Faith (relevant Canon Law: \"Title IV: The Means of Social Communication,\" ¶ 822-832)

    The procedure works like this: when a Catholic writes a book on faith, morals, theology, liturgy, books on prayer, editions of Sacred Scripture, etc., he will submit his manuscript to his diocese\'s Censor. If the Censor finds no problem with it, he will give it his stamp, which reads \"Nihil Obstat,\" or \"nothing stands in the way.\" He then sends it to the Bishop for his review. If the Bishop finds nothing objectionable, he gives the book his \"Imprimatur\" which means, \"let it be printed.\"

    If the Catholic writing the book is a member of a religious order, the manuscript is first sent to his religious superior before it is sent to the Censor and Bishop. If the religious superior finds no impediment to publication, he will give the book his stamp of \"Imprimi Potest,\" which means \"it can be printed.\"

    Nowadays, after the Imprimatur, you might see these words:

    The \"Nihil Obstat\" and \"Imprimatur\" are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed.


    Does the text of LOOK BEYOND THE BREAD WE EAT teach doctrinal error?
    Can we make a list of other questionable songs and present them officially to our Bishops?
    Is it time.

    Someone told me that the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur don't apply to hymnals. See this link:


    It mattered then. It matters now.

    We do not "Break Break Together On Our Knees". We do not "Gather Round The Table".

    We cannot teach one thing as being correct and Catholic belief in practice in the classroom and sing words that defy this in the church.

    Taxes and Theology. Who knew that they would be so useful to rid ourselves of a bad element?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    The title of this post makes me want to violently object. But frankly I find nothing wrong with the idea. Has this been tried? I have to imagine most bishops wouldn't care (go ahead and ask this in the LA diocese...) but what about the few good bishops out there? Would Bp. Burke have banned a hymn upon request? Not a bad idea at all.

    However, I should point out for the thousandth time to the many blind eyes here that most texts are NOT objectively opposed to the Catholic faith; many on here are merely putting the worst construction on texts. "Look beyond the bread" - does this have to mean the substance is bread? No, the language can be figurative ("Very bread, good shepherd" from Lauda Sion), or more likely be referring to the outward appearance. A less poetic rendering of the text might be "Look beyond what appears to be bread". Now, I don't use this song. Nor am I saying that it is necessarily consonant with Catholic theology. Some here CAN be slow at times, so I will repeat myself a few times: I don't use this song, and I am not saying it is necessarily consonant with Catholic theology. I don't use this song, and I am not saying it is necessarily consonant with Catholic theology. I'm only saying that others will make the case that it is consonant by reading the text in a different, and possibly intended, way.

    So while I would hope that writing to one of the better bishops to say "I don't believe this song is appropriate for use in Catholic worship, do you agree?" would bear positive fruit, I won't hold my breath.

    And again, for anyone who missed it: I don't use this song, and I am not saying it is necessarily consonant with Catholic theology.
  • And this IS where the church has little place but to take a stand. The Bishops have admitted and agreed that they must take control over the texts of songs at Mass and do not, I am sure, have a clue how to go about this.

    Are we wrong to guide them?

    The question is this...is the consecrated bread the Body of Christ. Or are we taught that when we receive the Body of Christ we also NEED TO LOOK BEYOND IT?

    If we are called into court and with a hand on the bible asked if we, as Catholics, BREAK BREAD TOGETHER ON OUR KNEES....do we lie? Or asked if we GATHER ROUND THE TABLE....do we do so?

    Letting children sing and believe through these and other songs may explain why a priest friend pulls his hair out when children tell him that when they go to Heaven they are going to be Angels.

    Tax Evasion and Lyrics That Rhyme But Do Not Reason are good bedfellows. It's time.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    Its way past time to rid the church of trite, improper and erroneous TEXT ...and... MUSIC. I, for one, would sign my name to a list!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,932
    I'm not a fan of "Look Beyond", but isn't there some possible orthodox interpretation of that Damean ditty?

    I've always taken it to mean:
    "Look (metaphorically, by faith) beyond the sensible accidents of the Eucharistic species...."
  • Metaphysics is always suspect....truth is always clear.

    An easy test is to grab a kid and ask them what they think.
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    I hate this song.

    If it is ever possible to demonstrate what makes music bad or good by any objective means, I am pretty sure “Look Beyond” will be the poster child for bad music.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "An easy test is to grab a kid and ask them what they think."

    So you advocate getting rid of "Adoro Te" because of the verse about the Pelican? I don't think children would get that. Ban "Praise My Soul" because of the line "In his hand he gently bears us"? Certainly can't go around teaching that God has a physical body! And if the PIPs really ARE so dumb that they can't figure out "Look Beyond", why SHOULD we use anything but the current ICEL translation? "Dew of your spirit" is certainly more obtuse than "look beyond the bread you eat, see your savior and your lord." Heck, I'm not even sure I understand what that means!

    My point is that a charge of a vague text contradicting Catholicism is NOT based on FNJ's biased reading of it. Even the Arian hymn can be understood in either an orthodox or heterodox way: "there was a time when He was not (existing)" or "There was a time when He was not (in the manner we were acquainted with him as)" Why don't we sing the Arian classic? Because we KNOW Arius was a heretic. I'm not aware that the same can be said of the person who wrote "Look Beyond".

    And I'm not saying all texts are unimpeachable. Although I don't pull out the "heretic" label without a blatant rejection of the basics of the Christian faith, if you want to make the case that a particular Haugen song is contradictory to Catholicism, I'll back you up on that. The guy has come out publicly in favor of open communion, ordination of women, and other non-Catholic beliefs. It's not a stretch to say that something like "All Are Welcome" represents a spirit contrary to Catholicism and so should not be used in Catholic worship. I'll get behind you on that.

    Unless we know the writer holds to the view we accuse his text of, I would propose that labeling that text as contrary to Catholic doctrine is uncharitable as per the Catechism's teaching of "best construction". And some texts just CAN'T be read in a good way; no matter how you read it, "Ashes" speaks incorrectly about a sacramental. In fact, look closely and you'll see everything in it should be being said of BAPTISM! I don't know Tom Conry, so I'm going to assume he's a good Catholic, and simply held to a false view of a sacramental. And that's certainly believable, as we know that the ashes are Catholics' "favorite sacrament"!

    To sum up, I'm all for banning texts, but to REASONABLY put a ban, you have to be darn sure that the text REALLY IS TEACHING what you think it's teaching! And until you have a letter from your bishop, what's stopping you from just using something else at your own church?
  • "So you advocate getting rid of "Adoro Te" because of the verse about the Pelican? I don't think children would get that."

    That's one part of the hymn that children WOULD understand....and one of the strongest hymn texts I know. The guy that wrote that hymn should have been made a saint. oh, he was.

    "Ban "Praise My Soul" because of the line "In his hand he gently bears us"? Certainly can't go around teaching that God has a physical body!"

    But he DOES bears us in His hand.

    But you do not, I believe "bless the cup", do you? And do you receive the Precious Blood from Earthen Vessels?

    "And if the PIPs really ARE so dumb that they can't figure out "Look Beyond", why SHOULD we use anything but the current ICEL translation? "Dew of your spirit" is certainly more obtuse than "look beyond the bread you eat, see your savior and your lord." Heck, I'm not even sure I understand what that means!"

    It's not that dumb people in the pews that we need to be concerned about. It's the thinking ones, especially the children who can understand symbolism but cannot understand things that are illogical.

    How do you handle it when a kid sings, "I am the Bread of Life." and than asks, "I am?"

    It's truth in advertising, the words spoken in church must be words that are the faith.

    Here's a list...

    Look Beyond
    To Be Your Bread
    Earthen Vessels
    We Have No Glory
    One Bread, One Body
    To Be Your Bread
    Gift of Finest Wheat
    Sing to the Mountains
    Flow River Flow
    I Am The Bread Of Life
    Let Us Break Bread

    Any song that list listed as BASED UPON a psalm. People. It is a Psalm. Sing it as it is. Don't change it. It's part of the Bible.

    Eagles Wings

    This is the beginning of a list of sings that must be examined. Some have severe theological issues. Some have the major flaw of the people taking upon themselves roles that are not theirs....do WE bless the cup (all priests on the list are exempt from that question) and are WE the bread of life?

    WE need to stop singing that WE are something we are not. WE need to start a list and let people know what the flaws we see are.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,094
    With all due respect to Noel, this is both the question at hand and the difficulty. I wholeheartedly agree that theology is the way to clear ourselves of the "junk" music that abounds within Catholicism. But I wish it were as simple as Noel states.

    I say that because even as I write, the American Bishops are meeting to deal with the fallout of the election and their document on citizenship. Clearly, there is no consensus among our pastors on many questions regarding this issue, so why should we expect it for this question. I have had several bishops tell me point-blank that they do not have the competency to make judgments on this material.

    All I am saying is that our theological prowess is uneven and prone to hit and miss. It is then left up to those of us who are loud enough to move this question along. But even here, there are divergent views. So, we are left to persuade, cajole and struggle to remove the material in hand and question each other charitably when we look at texts.

    So, while I certainly appreciate Noel's commentary, I wish it were so simple. I advocate his position, but I wear the scars of what he suggests also.

  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    But Noel, those texts are NOT all objectively contrary to Catholic teaching. Unless you are discounting the discussions had on this forum with myself, Cantor and others, these texts are not plainly contrary to Catholic teaching. In fact, I would gladly of my free will use "I am the Bread of Life" and "Gift of Finest Wheat" in Catholic worship, as appropriate. You prohibit pieces based upon psalms, but I challenge you to TRY to keep me from singing "The King of Love my Shepherd Is" or "O God Our Help in Ages Past". You'll find out the true meaning of "Fightin' Irish"! You do not have a consistent metric for exclusion of these texts. Well, you may SAY "these are inconsistent with Catholic theology", but what that means is "Noel thinks they're inconsistent with Catholic theology". And by all means, Noel may be right! He's certainly right about Ashes (although he left out "Supper of the Lord" - look it up, the theology is 100% Lutheran!) But beyond that, what's his metric? Songs that use figurative language? Any text that has the "b word" (bread)?

    I would propose that you do not have a consistent metric which would eliminate those texts and leave others which are both traditional and valued. And I don't say that because I don't want those songs (with the exceptions listed) to disappear; I do!! BUT when you take your rationale for not using these songs to Das Liturgikommittee chaired by a "progressive liturgist", you need to have a stronger case than "these songs are contrary to the Faith". You need to articulate it solidly for each and every case, otherwise your case will have holes blown through it just like one can regularly see Todd from "Catholic Sensibility" doing. Until you're building your case for purgation from the Faith itself and not from your own biases, you won't CONVINCE anyone. I know, I've been there.
  • Everybody to your corners and count to 10 . . . or maybe 1,000.

    While I agree 100% with Noel, I'm afraid that this argument will wage even unto ages of ages.

    I think the answer is simple. Just as our friend Fr. Zuhlsdorf says, "Say the Black, Do the Red," I think that the Universal Church through the CDW should simply, plainly and clearly mandate that only approved books, that is the Gregorian Missal, et al., are to be permitted for liturgical use. Period. End of discussion.

    So, may I add a new slogan to our list, and modify Fr. Z's?

    Say the Black, Do the Red, Sing the Chant
  • It is not in line with the tradition of the Church to prohibit any text that uses the word "bread". I see NOTHING wrong with "Gift of Finest Wheat". Some of the Communion Antiphons for the Church year say "He fed them with finest wheat". Clearly the Church would have us sing that phrase during the reception of Communion. Unfortunately, Noel, your argument does not hold water, as already illustrated beautifully by Gavin.

    Unfortunately, I believe that it is going to be very hard to continue this battle unless and until the Church makes much stronger and unequivocal statements. Every single time the Church speaks officially or non-officially, on the record, or off the record on the liturgy, She seems to suggest that wisdom is in the middle. In the documents, sections speak of allowing different styles in the liturgy. When pressed by someone posing a question, Cardinal Arinze even allowed for the occasional use of guitars in the liturgy for what he called "special occasions". I agree WHOLE-HEARTEDLY that the "mind of the Church" and Her traditions suggest the use of chant and "better" truly sacred music. The writings of Pope Benedict suggest his preference. But in the interest of being pastoral, it seems that the Church is not ready to PROHIBIT and BAN types and styles of music or instruments. Therefore, we can (and should) keep fighting this battle, but bear in mind that we have scant evidence in favor of a "chant only" position or a "ban guitars/pianos altogether" platform.
  • GIFT's OK?

    Are YOU the bread of life.

    Do YOU bless the cup and share it.

    It is a scandal to say and sing words that tell people that you have ursurped the role of the celebrant.

    The change will never come from the Bishops. They are priests who are like the President of the US...no power! It will come from the Pope or from Us. As long as we sit back and complain, the sales of guitar strings will continue to increase.
  • Songs that papraphrase and twist the meaning of psalms should definitely be banned. Any alteration of accepted translations should be vetted by the local bishop....unless you are in Portland, OR, where they approve ANYTHING....before use.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,932
    Noel writes:
    Are YOU the bread of life.,

    Let me check... Uhhhhh, no. But, hey, that's not in "Gift of Finest Wheat". Lose one point for a spurious challenge.

    Do YOU bless the cup and share it.

    1 Cor 10:16: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?" So who do you think St Paul meant by that "we"? Of course the roles of the priest and of the people in the celebration and offering of the Eucharist are not to be equalized, but if the expression is orthodox coming from St. Paul, it's still within the bounds of orthodoxy coming from Robert Kreutz.
  • Gift of Finest Wheat isn't the strongest example to use for this argument, I'm afraid.

    But, in defense of my position regarding "Sing the Chant", and in support of Noel's broader assertion, all we need do is look to the official texts to be sung for Corpus Christi as found in the Gregorian Missal to find the richness of the teaching of the Church in terms of Eucharistic theology.
  • I love it...I have been feeling spurious.

    At first and second reading, I can't see that we are the we he was....

    But people are programming and singing this without a moment of the thought the we have spent talking about this.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,176
    The file cabinets in our choir room are 1/3 or more full of trash that is not fit for mass. Selections range from something set to a theme from "The Sound of Music," to "Lead Me Lord." I don't know if my predecessor is responsible or if the stuff is older than that. Something is leading me to make some secretive trips to the dumpster in the dark of night.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    This is the problem: your right to control the music I do ends at the doors to your church. You say those two texts are contrary to Catholic doctrine. I am unconvinced of that assertion. Despite my disagreement with you, I am your friend, I respect you, and I'm 100% on your side. And yet you haven't convinced me. How will you go to the MD at the nearest suburbanite church, trained by David Haas, and convince HIM that he needs to drop "Gift of Finest Wheat"? How will you make the case to an apathetic priest or bishop? The flaw in your reasoning is largely the same: assuming you have the sole right to decide how the text must be interpreted by every hearer and the spirit in which it was written. In fact, that seems to be the issue leading to 99% of the arguments over specific texts...
  • Why is "One Bread, One Body" on the list as well?

    To be sure, it's no piece of musical genius; it was conceived for strumming guitars. But what is wrong with the text? The text is wholly scriptural. In as much as the people will sing it, it can be accompanied on the organ, and it is wholly scriptural (and almost verbatum with the communion antiphon for several Sundays of the year) I see no real reason not to sing it.
  • Gavin, we cannot get away with saying it's bad music. Though we can point out musical reasons that make it bad music, it's another thing to question the theology.

    When we do that we throw the ball into a court where we are not proficient, hence we lack the threat of knowledge, and put it into a court where ALL priests have qualified to play. Suddenly they ARE the authorities, and they do have pride. Let's give them the opportunity to think things over....

    When we start talking difficult rhythms, uncomfortable intervals to sing it's jargon to them. Ask them about Theology and they may well dig into the issue for you. They WANT to talk about theology. They WANT to help people understand and believe. And they also have pride that gets them attention when they act upon their knowledge...
  • Just in moments ago:

    Eucharist vs. the Word

    And More on Forms of Absolution

    ROME, NOV. 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
    Q: Could you succinctly state the relationship between the importance of the Eucharist versus the Word of God in the liturgy of the Mass? I was on a Eucharistic retreat with a group of Catholics, when the leader of our group said that we as Catholics believe that the Word of God is as important as the Eucharist. I have always been taught that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, but after she said this I did some research into adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Word of God, and it seemed that there was more than a little validity to her statement since the "Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us" ... and God speaks to us though his inspired Word, etc. Please clarify this. -- N.C., Cleveland, Ohio

    A: I would like to begin this answer by recalling a conversation I had during my seminary years with an elderly Catholic layman while on vacation in upstate New York. This wise gentleman, of Lithuanian descent, rented canoes in the Adirondacks and often dealt with evangelical Christians who tried to win him over by saying they had the Good Book. He replied that as a Catholic he not only had the Book but moreover frequently met the Author.

    Although one might discuss the theological precision of the anecdote, it does reflect a fundamental truth with respect to the different forms in which Christ is present to us. God certainly speaks to us through his inspired Word, and the Church teaches that he is present when the Scriptures are read. This presence, however, as Pope Paul VI teaches in his encyclical "Mysterium Fidei" is a real but transitory presence enduring while the liturgical reading lasts. It is, therefore, not of the same class as the substantial real presence found in the Eucharist.

    From another angle we can also consider how Scripture is fulfilled in Eucharistic worship.

    "The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us" this is the foundation of our faith. However, the same Word who took flesh in Mary's womb, who died, rose and ascended, is the same one who said, "This is my body … this is my blood," and is thus present body, soul and divinity under the species of bread and wine. In every Eucharistic celebration the entire mystery of Christ from the incarnation to the ascension is truly made present anew, albeit under the veil of sign and symbol.

    From this perspective the Eucharist is thus "more important" than Scripture because Scripture's ultimate goal is to lead us to union with Christ through full participation in the Mass. The Mass is a sharing in the worship which the Incarnate Word offers to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

    Yet, from a different perspective and precisely in the context of the Mass, the question as to the relative importance of Scripture vis-[-vis the Eucharist is relatively meaningless.

    In every Mass we are like the disciples going to Emmaus, except we already know that Christ is present among us. Like them, our hearts should burn as we listen to Moses, the prophets and the New Covenant as they speak about Christ. At the same time we are aware that in the end we will recognize him only in the breaking of bread.

    Therefore it is not a question of the superiority of one over the other but of an inseparable interrelationship and ordering of one toward the other. Precisely because Scripture is ordered toward Eucharistic worship, the celebration's external form necessarily follows the road to Emmaus. All the historical evidence available shows us that the celebration of the Word and the Eucharist have always formed a single act of worship. Likewise, Scripture is so intimately intertwined within the fabric of every single prayer that we can say that without Scripture there could be no Catholic liturgy.

    Conversely, and from a historical perspective it is also partially true that without liturgy there would be no Scripture, for one of the major criteria for determining which books eventually made it into the biblical canon was whether the book was read in the liturgical assembly.

    Therefore the contraposition of Word and Eucharist does not correspond to an authentically Catholic vision of their intimate relationship.

    It is true that, historically, Catholics have not been assiduous Bible readers. During the greatest part of the Church's existence books were a luxury few could read and fewer could afford. The lack of direct Bible reading did not mean that there was total biblical illiteracy. Most Christians were imbued with biblical salvation history through church decorations in painting, sculpture and stained glass. The huge reredos enshrining the high altars of many cathedrals harmoniously wove in the stories of Genesis, kings, prophets, Jesus' ancestry and the principal events of the New Testament, while centering everything on the sacrifice of the altar. In this way they provided a visible scriptural background to Catholic worship.

    In today's changed circumstances the Church actively encourages all Catholics to possess, read and meditate on the Good Book, while not forgetting to make frequent visits to the Author.

  • It also may boil down to one's own perception of where one stands in relation to God. Is it proper for us to think:

    Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All
    I am the bread of life.

    Look at the capitals. In our prayer, in our study of the scripture, where are we in relation to God? And someone more knowledgeable than I needs to post and tell me what our singing of texts that place us not only on a level with God, but saying the words of God, does to our thinking and understanding.

    We are charged in the article from Zenit above to understand the importance of scripture.

    ""The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us" this is the foundation of our faith. However, the same Word who took flesh in Mary's womb, who died, rose and ascended, is the same one who said, "This is my body … this is my blood," and is thus present body, soul and divinity under the species of bread and wine.""

    The person who says the words "This is my Body ... this is my Blood" at Holy Mass has been chosen by God to say those words and we, as Catholics are not allowed to say those words during the Mass with him. Some may think this is not important. Some may think they have every right to say these words. Some think that they as women may say these words and validly consecrate bread and wine.

    Where is the line drawn?

    FROM THE GEORGIA OUTDOOR NEWS: [I'm not kidding] concerning the name of God.

    Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, in a note informing prelates of the Vatican directive, said the indications "do not force any changes to official liturgical texts," but might cause "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments."


    "The Vatican goes on to note that this practice had "important implications" for New Testament Christology.

    "When in fact, St. Paul, with regard to the crucifixion, writes that 'God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9), he does not mean any other name than 'Lord,' for he continues by saying, 'and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord' (Phil 2:11; cf. Isaiah 42:8: 'I am the Lord; that is my name')," the Vatican note explained.

    "The attribution of this title to the risen Christ corresponds exactly to the proclamation of his divinity," it continued. "The title in fact becomes interchangeable between the God of Israel and the Messiah of the Christian faith, even though it is not in fact one of the titles used for the Messiah of Israel."

    "Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds," the Vatican concluded. "Apart from a motive of a purely philogical order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context, nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.""


    Here Rome says it is not right to pronounce this name and admits that this is only a problem in songs and intercessions...is what is really being said here is this?

    You have taken it upon yourselves to pronounce the name of God, which is forbidden, and now it must stop.

    How soon will Rome tell us to purge more than just this....and return to purity of scripture.
  • May I add that I am the last person to claim that I, in the life I have lived, in the words that I have said, consider myself better than anyone on this list, or on earth.

    A friend asked me the other day, "Excuse me, I don't know how to ask this, so I am just going to do it. I really can't see you working in a church."

    So, I'n not a hisser at a TLM Mass. If anything I would be the target of hissing. I have been known to and recently chastised for not remaining in the church during a sermon.

    So all the things I post here are questions of wonder. I stand, when I guess that I should be kneeling, in awe of God.

    I do not feel the style of music currently prevalent nor the texts being written reflect the awe of God that they should, and rather more accurately seem to be appropriate for a rock star, clutching a guitar and singing about tragedy before they retire to the wings, get in their limo and go back to a hotel room which they intend to destroy before leaving town.
  • And from a blog:

    "Two-thirds of church-going Catholics don't endorse the Church's articulation of the Real Presence (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity). Estranging the people from the language of the Mass will not change this. Good, effective catechesis will.

    [the bloggers response:]

    Perhaps the language currently being used by the Church to articulate the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is lacking. When traditional hymns like Panis angelicus and Ave verum corpus are supplanted by "Christ has no body now but ours" and "You and I are the bread of life", is it any wonder that Catholics don't see the Eucharist as Jesus Christ present under the forms of bread and wine? Good catechesis on the Real Presence requires sensitive language, sacred language. If we use secular terminology like "plate" instead of "paten" and "cup" instead of "chalice", eventually we'll use the word "picnic" instead of "banquet".

    See http://thecrossreference.blogspot.com/2008/06/liturgy-what-is-sacred-language-and-why.html for the rest of this interesting commentary.
  • Gavin:

    Setting aside the argument for or against the use of hymnody (texts and tunes) borrowed from our Protestant (read: separated) brethren, I invite you to open up any one of the many hymnals available from the "big three." Turn to the section marked "Eucharist" and find for me one hymn, just one, that makes clear reference to any one of the following theological, dogmatic teachings of the Church: body, blood, soul or divinity of Christ present in the Eucharist. Now count how many use the words, "us, bread, cup, loaf, food, meal, table."

    The problem isn't with texts derived from scripture, as "Gift of Finest Wheat" and "I Am the Bread of Life" are. The problem is that all we ever hear about is how "God becomes bread" and "we become bread" and "share your bread." Bread, bread, bread. Formulas (words) are not Truths, but they reveal truths. When you tamper with them, or dilute their meaning, you risk tampering with the Truths they reveal. For most progressivist types the phrase, "He gave them bread from heaven containing within it all sweetness" would stick in their throats like a dry crust of bread because it contains both poetic beauty and points to a Truth about the Eucharist they don't want to focus on: The Eucharist and receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ contained within it are something that comes to us from heaven, and it's not about us.

    Let me point out something even more important about these hymns from the "Eucharist" section and why they should be avoided. When looking at the official books of chant, more specifically the texts, appointed for the communio on any given Sunday, one more commonly finds passages from the psalms or the gospel of the day, or some connection between it and the other processional chants for the day. Nowhere at any time do we read by example or instruction that the song, hymn, whatever, at the communion procession needs to make references to the Eucharist, let alone to us being bread. Once again, it's not about us, it's about the mystery and transcendent experience of encountering God in a way unlike any other.

    In a nutshell, and with limited exceptions (which I'm sure will be rapidly pointed out to me), even if the texts of the more popular "sacro-pop" ballads sung during communion at your average suburban parish are based on scripture, they tend to shift the focus from the experience of encountering the transcendent God to an exercise in sollopsism.

    SAY the BLACK, DO the RED, SING the CHANT
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thank you frogmanNJ and David Andrew. I see now more clearly why direct quotes from the Bible and addressing God as "I" in our Hymns are so dangerous, whether it has poetic value and Biblical references. My priest also told us that Jesus is not a gift (people commonly refering it merely as a thing) in the Eucharist, it is a person.
    We can tell that our voices are getting too loud after the VCII. I am the Bread. I am the Voice. I'll lift you up ... (this is also mentioned in the book, "Why Catholics Can't Sing." Today's music has done a great deal in replacing God with "I"

    'The power of the people' are expressed everywhere in today's liturgy. Often times I wonder why there are so many people in the altar with all different clothes, like extraordnary ministers (I think that's the proper name) and colorful choir members who are right in front of my eyes on the altar (our Sunday choir is on the altar with regular clothes. My chant schola refuses to go to that choir seat. We sing from the middle pew. I think we kind of embarrased them). I have to admit that I get very distracted looking at their dresses.
    The focus on the Eucharist is covered by many distractions, so many people at the altar trying to do many different things (part-icipation). The highlights are more on the creative homiies and attractive music. No wonder it's so hard to see the Eucharist as the main focus. I don't know why many priests cannot stop this. Did they loose their authority already? It's so scary to think about the power of the people over the Church. I wonder people are thinking that we are the Church, so we don't need priests any more, and how many people truly think of the Church in Vatican as the head and listen to her?

    I really hope the musicians can do something. Today's music is really damaging our faith, and we all know how powerful it is.
  • Many years ago I have found it necessary to use the following criteria
    when selecting music for Mass from our hymnal. I needed to efficiently use my choirs rehearsals time, and my planning time to create effective liturgies at a large suburban parish while holding two jobs. I gave the hymnal a once- over and used a heavy marker to cross out rejected hymns so I did not have to give them any more thought. I also circled the "approved" pieces. This is mostly a time saver for planning and keeps you prepared for sessions with the liturgy committee.
    The Following criteria is a based on a hierarchy starting with the lowest level and is meant
    as a very simple guide through this mess.
    Eliminate songs which:( get a marker and put a big "x" through the entire piece. This is important).
    1. Contain texts which can be accepted by an atheist without a conscious objection.
    2. Have no content about God
    3. Refer to the altar as "table", and the Eucharist as "bread," "wine," "cup" in the absence of acknowledging the real
    4. The text's content does not move much beyond the message of "we are here" or "we are people."
    5. Say "It's all about me." - the conspicuous "I" songs
    6. The musical form cannot be performed with excellence.
    7. The musical form is inferior.
    8. depend far too much on a unique accompaniment or cannot be sung well acapella.
    9. if the repertoire is becoming too large and the congregation seems to loose possession of THEIR music.

    Select music which:
    1. Addresses God the Father directly -especially for the entrance hymns.
    2. do not vary from the actual texts of the psalms and the ordinary ordinary,
    3. Expresses the movement and action of prayer: adoration, praise , contrition, thanksgiving,.
    In this way the music become prayer.an action , a "verb" in a sentence. I 've told liturgy committees that there are
    two types of hymns;
    hymns that act like verbs or actions,
    in contrast to hymns which act like nouns or themes.
    for example, instead of singing about St. Joseph, I would praise God for St. Joseph.
    4. Has a record of success
    5. is Gregorian hymn (Latin or English)
    6 Use the Latin chant ordinaries or ordinaries which resemble Catholic chant
    7. Use propers whenever possible;or hymns which resemble the propers
    8. The congregation or choir could eventually sing well, even in your absence.
    9 The congregation (please include yourself) will expect to be hearing or singing in heaven.
  • Soon 26 parishes will close in our city (and more across the entire diocese).
    The dwindling attendance and vocations justifies these closings. Yet
    I think it is our careless treatment of the Holy Mass that has driven people away.
  • Ralph, not sure where you are, but many parish closings are predicated on two major factors: needs to raise money to pay off abuse lawsuits and changing demographics. If you look in the suburbs, Catholic church congregations are growing in many places. I don't think the faithful are shrinking in number. They are just moving about.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Catholics growing in numbers? or confused protestants?
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    We have over 700,000 Catholics in 38 parishes and a diocese with 59 active duty diocesan and religious order priests, including the bishop. Our 42-year-old pastor has commented that he is the third youngest priest in the diocese. There are 4 men in the seminary right now. Do the math. But the music is pretty much the same here and it's not keeping them away!

    Actually we're pretty fortunate that most Catholics aren't really strong believers. If every one of ours said a 5 minute confession as required during the Easter season our priests would be booked solid 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 25 weeks!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    That, priorstf, would be a great use of their time (both the people and the priests!)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Well, your problem CAN be solved, as I just found this: http://www.thecatholichymnal.com/ I could make criticisms of it, but the fact is that this is THE BEST SOURCE AVAILABLE for sound Catholic texts and music to sing at Communion! Thanks Noel!!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Congrats, Noel, on the hymnal. Looks good!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Noel, that hymnal looks really good. Has there been a thread on it? I'll make one.
  • Thanks to all...
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343

    As it has been said many times... 'it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness' and with this you have lit a blow torch! Our thnx.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Noel, pursuant to our conversations above, I'm curious if you've pursued and/or have obtained a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur for this fine project.
  • I have embarked upon the Nihil Obstat....will tell you how the quest progresses. It is important to me that this happens.
  • Book has just now been accepted been accepted for examination by the Diocesan Censor.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,155
    I concur with David Anrew in his comment about the "Eucharist" section in many popular hymnals. However, some hymnals have a"Benediction" section, and often thoses hymns actually touch on the Truth of the Eucharist.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    In this way the music become prayer.an action , a "verb" in a sentence. I 've told liturgy committees that there are two types of hymns; hymns that act like verbs or actions, in contrast to hymns which act like nouns or themes. for example, instead of singing about St. Joseph, I would praise God for St. Joseph.

    Or sing to St. Joseph himself.

    Ralph, this is the single most important idea I have ever heard, regarding the music we should sing.
  • Looking back over the last 150 years in hymnals and making choices for An Anthology: Eucharistic Hymns • Benediction • Hymns To Mary, it became clearer and clearer to me how low the hymns have sunk. Reading through the texts of these "old" hymns reminds one of the pride of being a Catholic. And the true focus of our faith.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    In all humility, I don't think the era has anything to do with it. Good hymns can happen anytime! (And bad hymns, too.)
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Alleluia Alleluia Let The Holy Anthem Rise

    verse 2 problem text: "... his death was ONLY slumber ..."

    Summary: Jesus was not dead but rather unconscious (swooning means fainting)
    when taken down from the cross, and later revived in the cool of the tomb.

    In my choir hymnal I noted a possible solution:
    modify text from "ONLY" to "SHORT AS" (death was real, duration was brief)

    I had misgivings about this text, but ended up selecting the hymn for use as the final hymn on Easter Sunday. After the weekly Wed eve Holy Hour (adoration and benediction), a parishioner approached me to talk about this very text. The gentleman does not sing, but always opens the hymnal to the scheduled numbers and reads along. I wonder how many other parishioners noticed, but have not bothered to talk to me. Worse, I wonder about the "twice-a-year visitors" whose minds received this bit of bad catechesis.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,176
    Sometimes the problem is non-Catholic musicians. Or often as bad, musicians who have converted to Catholicism. Many come through RCIA understanding Catholic doctrine, but not Catholic tradition. And why should they? It usually isn't taught. I have met too many who think that what they did in the reformed church of whatever is also appropriate in the Catholic Church.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    I thought the problem with Alleluia, Alleluia... is it sounds like a drinking song.
  • How light the bread of angels upon the human tongue!
    This precious weight of glory that binds the Church in one!

    © 2005 CanticaNOVA Publications

    Kathy's hymn...an excerpt...

    How could anyone not love this hymn?


    Has anyone ever been moved to compose a tune for it?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,343
    I just saw it a few days ago and would like to take a good stab at it!