An Open Letter to Praise and Worship Musicians
  • I would post it here but I would like to keep one version extant so I can keep correcting typos for a few days.

    I found this more difficult to write than I thought it would be actually. The problem is that P&W appeals to me not at all, so it was a struggle to write with genuine sympathy but many correspondents helped me see their point of view.

    here it is if you are interested
  • Jeffrey. It's wonderful! It's all that I'd love to say to so many good people who simply have not yet "gotten it". The only problem I see can be summed up by part of "Maria" from "Sound of Music":

    Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her;
    Many a thing she ought to understand.
    But how do you make her stay,
    And listen to all you say?
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Nice. Good letter.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,071
    Yup. The priests are often the missing link. Usually the folks who are doing praise and worship stuff at Mass today (as opposed to random 70's Catholic stuff) are pretty orthodox, good people. If a priest backs the renewal, they're usually on board (at the very least intellectually), provided they have some resources to draw upon. Fortunately, liturgical formation looks strong nowadays in a lot of seminaries.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I didn't enjoy it, honestly. It seemed to me you begged the question too much, "You should stop doing rock music because chant is the most beautiful music ever," etc. That said, I'm not the target audience, so I forwarded it to a friend who does do that stuff in a Catholic church, and I'll see what her response is.

    Like BruceL, I noticed and appreciated that you noticed the significant shift between these people and the Haugenites. These aren't the people pushing for "more of the same" and in a way they face the same problems we do. The difference is that we're leading the Church back to Catholicism, and they're substituting the music of the Mass for a quasi-protestant, quasi-worldly music. Their orthodoxy and eagerness to reform and contribute music of quality should be commended, but their efforts would be best put to use in the pursuance of Sacred music.
  • It took me a long time to appreciate that differences between Haugen etc. and P&W. Hard to say which one represents a higher quality of music, but that is not really the issue anyway, thank goodness.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,517

    I will forward this to some people to see what they think, although, I will have to be careful who they are. The parish where I am now is right in the middle of huge change since I became the DM, and the P&W group is teetering in loosing its identity. That is because I took over the P&W group as its new leader. I have created new arrangements of hymns and thaught them how to play them using the guitar (Ode to Joy, We Gather Together, etc.), and even accompaniments of chant hymns (in English of course) such as Veni Emmanuel and Creator Alme Siderum.

    They know I would prefer no guitars at any liturgy as I told them that straight out, but I am trying to bring them over to understanding true liturgical music. I am doing this at the request of the pastor. It is an interesting dynamic to say the least. My approach and the approach of most musicians would be to stay far away from 'them'. I would never had thought to come into their camp and take over the fire, so to speak. I will let you all know how this pans out.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I've actually heard some good "pop" arrangements of familiar hymns. It's not an unusable idiom, and it fosters a love for that repertoire. And then imagine the congregation's shock to hear their favorite "pop hymn" like Holy God We Praise Thy Name played on the organ! And Veni Emmanuel a capella! It's a decent way to segue out the guitar group, and allow them to take part in a more traditional group.
  • Francis, that is so incredibly interesting!
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    There is nothing inherently hideous about the guitar - think of Andres Segovia, etc. It's the "nun strum" that's so awful. Classical style can provide wonderful accompaniment and/or instrumentals. Unfortunately, many "liturgical guitarists" are 3-chord wonders.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think this letter is important more for the "traditional" side of the issue. I'm not sure people understand what is meant by "Praise & Worship", so I'll spell it out: it's not Mr. Old-washed-up-hippy playing "Gather Us In" while crooning into a microphone. It's the same music used in protestant churches today, performed the same way. It's a rock band instead of a folk idiom. Their music (some of it, at least) is of a higher quality on the general judgments of pop music than Haugen, Haas, SLJ, etc. We need to realize that this stuff mostly came into the Roman Rite in the same way chant has been coming back: people realize the musical bankruptcy of the state of American Catholic music and want something new. "Nun strum" is what they're getting away from, unfortunately they're committing the same errors as the 60s/70s generation by using/writing music that has no lasting value beyond 15 years.

    We need to challenge this new movement in the Church as Jeffrey has done. But in doing so, we also need to be fair to them and not associate with them slurs like "Haugen-Haas", "3-chord wonders", or anything else. It's a new movement, and their orthodoxy, talent, and enthusiasm can serve the goals of real sacred music if we are careful to dialog with them in a respectful and factual manner. Assuming they're just about the "old regime" is like the people who assume we at the CMAA are going to bring back 20 minute Low Masses with "To Jesus' Heart All Burning".
  • I've spent lots of time listening to this music in the last two weeks. What I find striking--and I think this is why I didn't recognize how and why it is different--is that it is the same stuff that the evangelicals were doing in the late 70s and 80s. 2 chords is more like it actually. I'm really not sure there is a decisive answer as to whether it is musically improved over Haugen... Some of it is but lots of it is even less substantial. And it is the same in the sense that really matters: pop style imported to liturgy. anyway, more later...
  • And Jeffrey, the worst thing about it is that it uses popular music styles, so every so often one of them really hits current emotions and becomes a hit. This means it will still be floating around ten years form now as part of protestant worship. The Lamb Of God of Twila Paris is one. See you tube.
  • Believe it or not, an octavo edition of Paris' "Behold the Lamb" (or whatever it's called), together with "How Beautiful" are to be found in the archived music files of our choral library. My predecessor actually had the choir sing these at Mass before I arrived. Thanks be to God the choir is now singing things like Willan's "Rejoice, O Jerusalem, Behold Thy King Cometh" for Advent III and Peter Warlock's "Bethlehem Down" on Christmas Eve. There are still some who pine away for some Joseph Martin bonbon they used to sing on Good Friday ("Come to the Cross" or some such thing), but I think they're slowly coming around to stuff that while some may debate are still not appropriate for Mass are at the least of a superior quality to the latest Christian Rock "hair band" ballad that passes for "worship music".
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,100
    P&W in the Church seems like the continuation of a trend that started a few decades back: the adoption of Protestant charismatic music by Catholic charismatics.

    If I remember the late '80s aright, charismatic groups welcomed an influx of music from the Vineyard denomination by composers such as Carl Tuttle. The idiom was "contemporary Christian", and the songs often expressed noble sentiments of adoration, but the music had its limits.

    The songs were most at home in unstructured worship settings. They aimed at building up emotion and release, supported by waves of music from a guitar band. They had come from a denomination that intentionally made its worship services unstructured: John Wimber, the movement's principal founder, was a contemporary-Christian musician who had spent years in Quaker fellowships.

    I trust that the people behind that music were and are fine Christians, but they weren't operating from a mindset that understood worship the way the Catholic Church does. When you're freeform on principle, then liturgy is a foreign concept.

    The closest thing to such a service among Catholics was a non-liturgical gathering such as a prayer-group meeting, not a Mass or the Divine Office. So if current-day P&W is more of that same trend, then it really can't help Catholics to build a sense of worship.
  • The thing is that much of this music is effective in doing what it is intended to do. I find it manipulative but that's from being overdosed on this stuff when I was a kid. So that others understand what this is all about, here is a sample. this is in a retreat setting but you can easily see why people who attended this would ask why we can't have this approach at Mass.

  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Sorry, but I couldn't watch this video clip more than 5 seconds. I really tried. It's just too... cheesy (sorry for the expression. I'm not a native English speaker.) What a difference you see between the Colloquium video clip and this. Also guitar is not meant to accompany the congregation singing in a church setting. It's either for a small group or recreation (accoustic guitar), or for a loud concert with amp. Guitar itself is a pretty instrument, but it's the association and how it's been used in our daily life determine its appropriateness, just same as with pop-style music, it may be a pretty melody, but how we normally use the pop style music? The instruments and style of music I think have their natural tendency where they belong, and I don't think it works well when people try to do it in an unatural way. When we have organ in a church, why we try to replace it with guitar? It's like when you have a nice crib in your house, why you try to use Pack-and-go portable crib? (This is the best analogy of a mom.)
    I also heard many teens say after a retreat that they cannot recreate that feeling again that they had at the retreat. This is all about feeings that cannot last long. This kind of music misguide them that the faith is all about feelings.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I watched all of Maher's video, and I encourage you all to do the same. I would say that it builds in intensity, but that's the wrong word. "Increasingly insistent" is more like it.

    The best way to describe this is "mantra music" which has more in common with Buddhist devotional practice than Christian.

    It is also clearly coming out of the whole "grunge" approach to drums-and-guitar pop music.

    It's also pretty light on doctrinal content. From it, I understand that he wants to "lay it down." He rather goes on about it.

    I also heard many teens say after a retreat that they cannot recreate that feeling again that they had at the retreat. This is all about feeings that cannot last long. This kind of music misguide them that the faith is all about feelings.

    Precisely. That's the danger. I've seen this over and over, too.

    I'm afraid my attitude toward it is that it's a bill of goods.
  • "The closest thing to such a service among Catholics was a non-liturgical gathering such as a prayer-group meeting, not a Mass or the Divine Office. So if current-day P&W is more of that same trend, then it really can't help Catholics to build a sense of worship."

    Jeffrey's point is illustrated in "real time" by the fact that (of unquestionable faith) Matt Maher's music, with that of many confreres, is used with great frequency at both the para-liturgies and scheduled Masses at FUS (Steubenville.) This isn't known just from first-hand testimony, it's also in the campus hymnal. To be fair, chant and other more traditional forms grace those pages as well.
    But it does beg the question among those in this forum: can and should such a plurality of forms be sanctioned for use at worship under the current or future document canons, even if chant (and polyphony) are evidently returned to the primacy of "pride of place" globally?
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Some People(I mean catholics) will be worshipping God with music they feel comfortible anyway no matter what the Church says. Even if the Church stops this guy for certain styles, there will be some others who will come out with some weird stuff. The music is so powerful, and it does preach people. It seems that the responsibility and the judgement of the individual musician became so crucial after the Second Vatican. The church musicians have to be well educated first, and work hard to promote and educate the people with sacred music that is holy and truly beautiful. I'm afraid to say that many parishes seem to hire MD who are not quaified to do this important job. I know some pianists with degrees who end up coming to the church, and get a job as a MD, and try to share their talents and music without much regard to the liturgy and what the Church says. Sadly, the pride of their talent seems to take away the humility that is required to be a church musician. The humility and the beauty that's what we share with others in our music when we worship God.
    God is love, and His love is shared with His sacrifice and humility. If we don't strive for this humility we cannot experience the true love of our Lord who comes down to us in the bread form.
  • I believe John Michael Talbot falls into this category also. I like his music - to meditate and enjoy. I also like certain religious oriented classical music - to meditate and enjoy. The point is that worshipping is not about this sentimentality, in either stylistic extreme, or anywhere in the middle. Liturgical music has to do with the Liturgy. Even when it is music during a meditative period in the Liturgy, that's not the same as general meditation.

    I also think part of the problem is people, who are involved in the Liturgy, don't even know the dynamic ebb and flow of that Liturgy. What the difference is between what is Ordinary and what is Proper. Where it is found, and why it is found there. The pieces of the Liturgical puzzle DO fit together logically - but you have be taught and tuned in to that logic. It is a "ritual" with both form and function - and that is for the liturgist, musician, and priest to learn and understand.
  • Yes, that is precisely it. What we have in P&W is sincerity without knowledge. In this sense, it is slightly different from the wave of music reform from the early 70s, where there really was an agenda (though it too was sincere in many ways). the major, number one thing that has to happen in response is education (music education too), and that goes for not only the players and singers but also priests. Let me quote a comment that appears here:

    I'm a cantor and I sing for a Sunday night Mass at a large-ish parish in a major city. We sing praise & worship music at this Mass not because I want to or because I don't know any better but because that's what the pastor wants for this Mass. He insists on having a designated "praise & worship Mass" and really believes people want it. Honestly, I feel embarrased singing it at Mass. Most of the congregation is older, mainly baby boomers. We get a decent turnout; I attribute it to the fact that it's a "last chance" Mass. The few times teenagers show up I can see them laughing at me and I don't blame them. And it does elicit a kind of egoism that makes me uncomfortable, just as you wrote. I do get showered with compliments after Mass, adding to my discomfort (it's not about me!) I would love to do chant. I'd especially love to do it from up in the choir loft and not from the sanctuary where I sit for the entire Mass (that's a whole other topic - don't even get me started). But as long as the pastor remains hostile to anything that smacks of pre-Vatican II (Latin, chant, the extraordinary form of the Mass) I will be singing praise & worship music at this Mass. My only consolation is that there are those who really do find that it helps them worship God. However that begs the question, "How do you define worshipping God?" But I digress.

    So there we have it. By the way, I'm told on very good authority--directly from someone who should know--that the reason OCP continues to publish what it does has nothing to do with with the tastes of the people who work there, the musicians who sing it, or even the people in the pews. It all comes down to the widespread view that pastors themselves are the main source of demand for this music.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    The very people this music is designed to engage... mock it. How is providing it "pastoral"?

    The Mass is infinitely more than a tent revival. Why treat it as such?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,517
    To me it has become crystal clear in the last 15-20 years. This music (P&W) is all about emotion, and MY feelings about God. That may have a place in your personal prayers, or in a gathering of Christians wishing to express devotion to God. But as Steve noted, the liturgy is a RITUAL. And the ritual is completed by the priest. The people need not even be present for there to be the remittance of sin which is the primary reason why the Mass is celebrated.


    Hanc ígitur oblatiónem servitútis nostræ, sed et cunctæ famíliæ tuæ, quæsumus Dómine, ut placátus accípias, diésque nostros in tua pace dispónas, atque ab ætérna damnatióne nos éripi, et in electórum tuórum júbeas grege numerári. (Jungit manus.) Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

    Quam oblatiónem tu, Deus, in ómnibus, quæsumus,

    We therefore beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to receive this offering of our bounden duty, as also of thy whole household; order our days in thy peace; grant that we be rescued from eternal damnation and counted within the fold of thine elect. (He joins his hands together.) Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Which offering do thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things.

    He makes the sign of the cross three times over the offerings.

    benedíctam, adscríptam, ratam, rationábilem, acceptabilémque fácere dignéris:

    to bless , consecrate , approve , make reasonable and acceptable:

    He makes the sign of the cross once over the host and once over the chalice.

    ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectíssimi Fílii tui Dómini nostri Jesu Christi.

    Qui prídie quam paterétur (accipit hostiam), accépit panem in sanctas ac venerábiles manus suas (elevat oculos ad cœlum), et elevátis óculis in cœlum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipoténtem, tibi grátias agens,

    that it may become for us the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Who the day before he suffered took bread (he takes the host) into his holy and venerable hands (he raises p. 467 his eyes to heaven), and with his eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee,

    He makes the sign of the cross over the host.

    benedíxit, fregit, dedítque discípulis suis, dicens: Accípite, et manducáte ex hoc omnes.

    he blessed , brake, and gave to his disciples, saying: Take and eat ye all of this,

    Holding the host between the first fingers and thumbs of both hands, he says the words of consecration, silently with clearness and attention, over the host, and at the same time over all the other hosts, if several are to be consecrated.

    Hoc est enim Corpus meum.

    For this is my Body.

    As soon as the words of consecration have been said, he kneels and adores the consecrated host. He rises, shows it to the people, puts it on the corporal, and again adores. Then, uncovering the chalice, he says:

    Símili modo postquam cœnátum est,

    In like manner, after he had supped,

    He takes the chalice with both hands.

    accípiens et hunc præclárum Cálicem in sanctas ac venerábiles manus suas, item tibi grátias agens,

    taking also this excellent chalice into his holy and adorable hands; also giving thanks to thee,

    Holding the chalice with his left hand, he makes the sign of the cross over it with his right.

    benedíxit, dedítque discípulis suis, dicens: Accípite, et bíbite ex eo omnes:

    he blessed , and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, and drink ye all of this;

    He utters the words of consecration over the chalice silently, attentively, carefully, and without pausing, holding it slightly raised.

    Hic est enim Calix Sánguinis mei, novi et ætérni testaménti; mystérium fidei: qui pro vobis et pro multis effundétur in remissiónem peccatórum.

    For this is the Chalice of my Blood, of the new and eternal testament; the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.


    This is why the overly-stressed importance of active participation is a weak argument. The ritual is complete and is fully composed with all of its music in the official books of the church. NO ONE has anything to add to the Mass. It is perfect in itself, by itself. As a composer of sacred music, the best I can do concerning the Mass might be to compose a new setting of the ordinary in polyphonic form. Other than that, anything else seems like a vane effort. I don't believe that anyone's music and singing, including my own, have any bearing whatsoever on the efficacy of the ritual and the remission of sin. Period. I might even go so far as to say that most of the music (and the preaching) these days is no more than a tickling of the ears. We seem to write music and words that only try to convince ourselves of our great goodness and holiness in the sight of God and assure ourselves of his love for us when in truth the main thing that pleases him is our obedience to him, and in partaking in the sacraments, especially confession and the Mass.

    "For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    Now to contradict myself, I will also say that God is pleased that we worship him, but we should worship him as He desires, not as we think. And that, my dear friends, is where this type (P&W) of music falls short.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I don't believe that anyone's music and singing have anything to do with the efficacy of the ritual.

    I too will contradict you with my former boss's saying on the Mass: the graces in the Mass cannot increase or decrease, so long as it is valid. Those graces CAN, however, be made more or less easy to obtain through various practices. That's the danger in illicit, irreverent, etc. Masses.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Gavin, babies like to eat food with their fingers. They need to eat, so moms let them. But as they grow up, should we teach them how to eat properly or let them keep eating with their fingers, because it's easy for them? Think of the mess they make and germs they get from their unclean hands.(that's what we get if we let people do things in their way) Proper way of eating is a ritual thing, too, like at a family dinner. (I guess you can do however you want to do, when you are alone.) When the kids learn to do it in a proper way, it also pleases the parents. (Once again, I'm a parent. I see our relationship with God in our relationaship with kids and parents. Kids often don't understand when parents ask them to do certain things out of love. Often times it's best for them just to learn and obey, then the wisdom and the understanding come in later.)
    God discipine us for a good reason. I don't see any part of the mass that expresses a personal devotion in your own way out loud. We say the same prayers together, and the priest says the same prayers every Mass.(except for some occasions, but it's not their own prayers either. The Church has set up according to what God wants us to do. In other words, it's His action, not ours. We obey and participate.) Why only the music going into so many directions? Personal feeingful musics don't seem to match with other parts of the Mass at all. The Church gave some freedom to choose 'appropriate music' for Mass, assuming that the church musicians understand what appropriate music is after the 'supreme model of the Gregorian chant." But somehow this freedom is abused and misunderstood out of ignorance and their pride.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I have a response from my fellow organ student on this:

    Well, first off there was nothing offensive about the article. If anything, I mostly agree with the writer's (Jeffrey..?) POV. Actually, the first part was funny; it was like the story of my life. I have to admit, I do like P&W music, but I also love what I believe he termed the 'traditional music' of the Church. I actually prefer that type of music within a liturgical context, and I attend churches that use the traditional music. I am finding it hard, however, to bring this style of music--chant included-- into the liturgy at my parish (which I don't attend when I'm not working there), especially in the youth mass. (Can we say... liberals? :P)
    The one thing with which I hesitate to agree is the assertion that P&W music is something imposed on the rest of us by the older generation. From my experience, it's the older people who are more likely to respond negatively to the music and the younger ones who really connect with it. I've also seen it used effectively as a tool for evangelization, especially at retreats and Steubenville conferences where thousands of youth get fired up about being Catholic and living it. Music is a big part of these events, and I've seen how it really moves them. They're drawn to Christ, and as they learn more about Him they get into the traditional aspects/practices of the Church. The (conversion) experience with the music works as a sort of gateway to orthodoxy. When P&W music helps youth do that, I really can't disregard it altogether. The writer mentioned LifeTeen, and I agree they went way left w/r/t what they do liturgically, but I try to model our ministry from what I gleaned from Steubenville (which teaches straight-on Catholicism) and from working with other Catholic P&W leaders.

    I've discussed it with her before, and evangelization is a big aspect of it for her. One can't argue with her observation that doing "P&W" brought youth into her Mass. In fact, I honestly feel like an angry old curmudgeon from that: my opinion is that youth should come to Mass regardless of the music. They don't because they had bad catechesis. So my response is to just be angry and bitter about it. Her church gets youth, and if my last one grew it was just trads who came for the slightly better music and great liturgy. Yes, Jeff and many others (including myself) have had great successes with traditional music and youth. But this was with youth already in the church, and in Jeff's case the ones already there for lifeteen.

    And I've certainly learned from my discussions with my friend and Jeff's articles that this "P&W" idiom is unworthy of the slurs used against it by many here and at NLM. One can see from reading this response that this woman is not a liberal, or a priest-wannabe. She just thinks she's doing what's necessary to improve the liturgy. And so are we. In so many ways we face the same struggles and our desires stem from a sense of duty and orthodoxy, rather than the tired washed-up-hippie sentiment that permeates the "folk Mass". So I think it's high time that we recognize the allies we have in the "Catholic P&W" movement and see in what ways we can learn from them and allow them to learn from us.
  • Gavin, that is precisely what I tried to do in my post. So I'm not sure what you mean by the "slurs" at NLM.

    The other thing that needs to be honestly admitted--and the P&Ws need to be realistic and know this and deal with this instead of us denying it--is that many people are gravely offended by the presence of anything resembling rock music at Mass. It angers their sense of faith. It sickens and offends and embarrasses them. This is a fact. This reality should also be considered when they imagine that their music is evangelizing people. For some people, it drives them away. Any P&W Mass might include one person who has come back to the faith for the first time in 40 years. It might include someone who is seeking answers and their view of Catholicism is informed by the general impression that chant is part of our liturgical structure. What will THIS person think about seeing people perform as if it is a liturgical American Idol? This is the danger that comes from exalting preference and taste above what the Church asks of us. Every attempt to cater to one taste ends up alienating someone else.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Oh Jeff, I mean the commenters. I saw a lot of people assuming these are the same musicians as the Haugen peddlers. Frankly, I rarely care what's on NLM anymore due to the comment box. If they only got rid of that, it'd be an amazing site. I rarely have a beef with any of the main contributors anymore (although I think Shawn needs to stop obsessing over minutiae, the same could be said for us :) )

    I can't disagree with your point Jeff, as someone who doesn't step foot in a Catholic church without getting paid. And I've never even seen P&W itself (although what I've seen at protestant churches tells me I wouldn't care for the Catholic version). However, a P&W person would rightly point out that there are those who are driven away by chant. I tend to reject the notion that getting butts in the pews is an end to itself, but it's a good thing and it seems that those people did it and I haven't. My former church recently instituted a 9:30 EF Low Mass. Great, yeah, it's restoring Catholic culture and all that. But on the other hand, all it's doing in terms of people in the Church is saving some trads a trip to the inconvenient Mass time at the large city 30 minutes away. In fact, I didn't HAVE to deal with people being driven away by chant because they left when my former boss introduced an easy English chant Gloria! (I forget the title) At any rate, people leaving the Church is not a valid criticism of music, any more than "I don't like it" is a valid criticism of any hymn.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Evangelize with feeings. I guess 'end' justifies the 'means' here.
    I know contemporary group people in my parish very well, and they are the nicest people I know (and with the best intentions) But when it comes to the Liturgy, they don't have a slightest idea. All they know is bring many people to Mass and sing happy songs to Jesus, because Jesus loves us. There are lot more than that in our Liturgy. They are my dear friends and I love them, but I cannot love the ignorance.
    I think it's better that the church (priests,cathechists, MDs) help them to learn more about the liturgy, than pointing out that their music is in a wrong direction.
  • The comboxers at NLM have driven many people away. Of course it is possible not to read them but they are too interesting not to read. Sometimes I just try to avert my eyes, though there are enough insights to sometimes make it worth it. Part of this is a problem of online culture. As a general rule, public comboxes attract people who want to be nasty and rude and complain. Meanwhile, people tend to be sweet and helpful in private emails. This isn't always true of course but this is the tendency of online culture in general.

    You are right that leaving Catholicism because of the music is not justified. On the other hand, I recall going through 6 years of attending Mass at a parish where their music made me so angry that it was mid-week before I got over it. I had a few days of peace before I would get mad all over again. You can't really live this way. Mass should be a time of holiness and peace, not the most infuriating hour of your life. I grant that it shouldn't be this way, and we all could use an attitude adjustment. But, still, it is reality. I've been in parishes in which all good musicians have either been driven off permanently or sit in the back pews with imaginary earplugs on. This is really tragic.

    What is important for P&Ws to remember is that there isn't a Catholic in 2000 years who could have attended their Mas and not been thoroughly scandalized by what they hear and experience. P&W people all imagine that they are firing up everyone for Jesus but they need to think more broadly about the whole of our tradition and the sense of faith that one draws from it.
  • Mia writes, "I know contemporary group people in my parish very well, and they are the nicest people I know (and with the best intentions) But when it comes to the Liturgy, they don't have a slightest idea. All they know is bring many people to Mass and sing happy songs to Jesus, because Jesus loves us. There are lot more than that in our Liturgy. They are my dear friends and I love them, but I cannot love the ignorance."

    I know you didn't mean to, but there are elements above, Mia, that at once sound like they sprang from Glenda of Oz and the Wicked Witch as well.
    You share your appreciation for that class of folk, their heart and intent, and then dis them in the next breath with the " sing happy songs to Jesus, because Jesus loves us" characterization. Yes, there is so much more for them to know and infuse into their portion of responsibility for sung worship and the Divine Liturgy itself; but despite what others may say, my experience is that their lack of progressive knowledge and practice is due to a lack of liturgical leadership by whatever priests and pastors have occupied their rectories and chanceries. Loving them doesn't mean hating their ignorance necessarily. Loving them means engaging them in the truths about our Church's traditions and canons. We, unfortunately, cannot simply say "Your sins and singalong ditties are forgiven, go and sin/sing no more."
    That is precisely what I'm called to do at my place with those cantors and directors (as well as clerics) who don't show the zeal or inclination to move progressively towards solemnity.
    I'll tell you this, though- one of my leaders who does dialogue with me at least once weekly, and only knows what we'd term "sacro-pop" had the latest of one of those epiphanies last Sunday. We began Perpetual Adoration after the last evening Sunday Mass that night and his group was called upon to sing Pange Lingua/Tantum ergo for the procession and transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the chapel of adoration. He had to learn the St. Thomas version. The next day he was all agog over "how cool that was...we should be providing more of this for the kids.....they gotta know about this stuff!"
    "Welcome to my job" I said to my friend. What do you think I've been doing here for 15 years, for 4 in the school, etc. All said with a smile, of course. It's a big liturgical universe for most RC's. So, I'm reminded of another movie quote, this time from Carl Sagan's "CONTACT"- "Small moves, Ellie, small moves."
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Charles, did you finish the last part of my post above?

    " I think it's better that the church (priests,cathechists, MDs) help them to learn more about the liturgy, than pointing out that their music is in a wrong direction."

    Isn't this what you are saying?
    I don't love the ignorance,( whether it's mine or others,) that's exactly why we need to help them.
  • Yuppers. And your summary works for me. We're on the same page.
    I'm just the fly in the ointment that buzzes when diverse repertoires are lumped into a pot and called menudo.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I can't and don't talk to my contemporary group friends anything negative about their music. Our schola just have to work hard to sing beautifully and hope they will be attracted to the beautiful music.
    One funny thing was when they found out that we are singing from the pews in the middle, instead of singing in the front facing the congregation, the contemporary group thought we were doing it because it was better acoustically. (Our church doesn't have a choir loft)
    Well, I wasn't sure what to say, I just said I agree and your group might want to try sometime.

    There's a beautiful painting,( I don't know the artist or the title, It's in the front page of the Pope Benedict 's writing, 'Liturgy and Church Music' in CMAA front page ), where all the people on earth drop their instruments on the ground and look up heaven and listen to angels' heavenly singing. I'm hoping this will happen someday.