Bizarre claims by those who dislike sacred music
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,654
    I've had two colleagues, over the past year or so, share with me letters/emails written by people who oppose the changes in music taking place in their parishes. Two of the claims stood out as being truly bizarre, and I'm wondering if others have encountered similarly strange claims regarding sacred music.

    One mentioned that we need to sing patriotic songs in church every Sunday or else our second amendment rights would not be protected by God. This person seemed to believe that singing America the Beautiful at the end of Mass each weekend would be the only way to protect the gun rights of American citizens.

    Another more recent email said that young people were leaving the church and JOINING ISLAM because the parish eliminated drums and guitars from the Mass. This person seemed to think that Gregorian chant would lead someone to go off and find the Muslim version of Life Teen (which doesn't, I would assume, exist).

    These were both legitimate complaint letters from legitimate people.

    Can any of you top these? Do you have your own interesting examples?
    Thanked by 2Ben Yanke Salieri
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    .
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Keep the drums and guitars.

    Make America great again.
  • The nuts are feeling empowered by the internet and, I'm sorry, Trump.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,091
    I can't top those, but in my years in the trenches, I certainly encountered some strange things. The most disturbing for me was after a Mass where I - then acting as a temporary leader of music ministry after the music-liturgy director was unilaterally told his position was being cut from full-time to small part-time and, understandably, resigned - announced during announcement time that a search for a part-time director of music and liturgy was being undertaken. A congregant came in fury at me after Mass and harangued me about having any paid musicians in a church - he was deeply offended that anyone should be paid for what should be freely given. You can probably complete the algorithm of the conversation. (I had the advantage that I was always a volunteer, and donated my stipends for cantor services back to the church, but would fully expect to pay someone for whom sacred music was their professional livelihood.)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    As Dr. Mahrt says: “would you pay a plumber?” Some people I know don’t like paying for singers, which of course means they care not one whit about quality. I know an all-volunteer schola can sing as well as pros, but pay the director and organist at least. But these people seem to be in matthewj’s first camp... Sort of.

    The ones I get are nowadays the self-fulfilling prophecies of “The church allows other things, so there can’t be objective standards, and youth want it [praise and worship stuff], not Latin.”
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,630
    Another more recent email said that young people were leaving the church and JOINING ISLAM because the parish eliminated drums and guitars from the Mass.

    What the heck? Are they serious? If one were after guitars and drums they'd probably have more luck with the death-metal Satanists than Islam. Last I knew, instrumental music in worship was forbidden by Koranic law.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,888
    Yep. You see what happens when you hire Eagle Death Metal.
  • Patriotic songs! This illustrates, I think rather nicely, what some people really worship.
    It would be unthinkable for anyone to sing, say, Lauda anima at a sports or patriotic event (and we might be glad), but scads of people think that the Church exists only to pray for the state. Mind you, they don't want the Church meddling in what they consider politics and the state's business, and zealously guard that 'wall of separation', but as soon as the state is in danger or there is a disaster they come running to the Church to pray for it.

    These examples of bizarre claims are really surrealistic, aren't they? It's incredible what too many people think belongs and doesn't belong in Church. They haven't a kindergartner's understanding of what the Church or the mass IS.

    One bizarre comment I've heard too many times from people responding to chant, or Bach, etc., at mass is 'God doesn't care about that'. Interesting! How do they know this? One is left assuming that they do believe God does care about the 'music' which they are so benighted as to prefer. Me? I would be inclined to think that God doesn't care about these precious paranoid second amendment (the Death Amendment) rights.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,203
    A priest once told me that since it was Lent, we were supposed to sing from the Lent section of the hymnal.

  • Kathy, I'm not sure just in what sense your offering is supposed to be an example of 'bizarre'.
    It would, on the surface, seem to be an example of sage counsel.
    On the other hand, considering the cultural-liturgical milieu in which we live, such counsel might be so unfamiliar (or unwelcome) as to seem bizarre to certain types.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    Kathy's claim is somewhat akin to using the "liturgy guides" that come with a subscription to many missalettes. It's another way for OCP and GIA to influence what you do and when you do it. I will admit that these types of seasonal headings can be useful, especially if you must prepare music from a book you've never used before and you don't know what selections are available. However, if you have some experience as a DM, you can just use the index to find something suitable. I do agree, though, that there are people out there, clergy included, that think those seasonal headings are sacrosanct and should always be followed.
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 209
    Here within spitting distance of DC the prevalent model of parish employees as public servants carrying out the will of "the people" seems to be the root of some strange attitudes. About 5 1/2 years ago, when the pastor began reforming the liturgy in the parish, one member of the "old guard" met with me privately to convince me that I could establish a great notoriety among local parishes by fostering the coexistence of folk band and traditional choir. Another person introduced himself to me by reciting his resume of experience as extraordinary minister of holy communion, liturgy committee member, pastoral advisor etc., spanning over about 3 decades; this he did to establish himself as an authority on the liturgy (though he admitted complete unfamiliarity with liturgical books and documents -- then again, they seemed, in his experience, not to be so important). Others seemed to expect that the pastor would fall on his knees and beg them to stay when they threatened to leave the parish because they didn't like the music.

    Something that actually struck me with a particularly deep disillusionment was when the old guard kept referring to hymns and chant as "classical music," which caused me some initial confusion until some further probing revealed that they referred to anything composed before about 1960 as "classical music." In their minds there were only two kinds of music, folk band music (which they called "our music") and everything else (which they called "classical"). To them, Gregorian chant and Beethoven were synonymous.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    Good observations, JonLaird. I have also noticed that some people completely deny Church history prior to 1969.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    A priest once told me that since it was Lent, we were supposed to sing from the Lent section of the hymnal.


    Oh, well. I guess I have done it now. I used hymns from the "transfiguration' section for Transfiguration Sunday. LOL. Remember when priests were some of the most highly educated people in the parish? Good old days!
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,654
    I was hoping a hymnal I recently worked on would be SATB in the pew edition and in alphabetical order rather than in season-related sections, but sadly this did not come to be. It's still a pretty great hymnal with melody-only and in sections though.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 327
    ...youth want it [praise and worship stuff], not Latin.


    No, people in their 50's and 60's who think youth want it are the ones who want it (apologies to anyone in this forum who may be of that age) and therefore shove it down their throats.

    The seed sown on rocky soil...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    I am 68 and have lived through all the silliness in church music. I am also a retired school teacher who understands teenagers. They laugh at old hippies and their music. It is the last thing they want in church.
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 201
    Nice to see that sarcasm isn't dead.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,203
    I was hoping a hymnal I recently worked on would be SATB in the pew edition and in alphabetical order rather than in season-related sections, but sadly this did not come to be.
    Sadly, this same thing happened to me not long ago, too. Could have been a fantastic hymnal!
    Thanked by 2JonLaird CHGiffen
  • Why no SATB in the pew edition? What stopped that?
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,003
    My guess, considering the way publishing companies work, is:

    1. It's too expensive to make all the pew copies with that much paper and ink.
    2. They can then sell a larger choir edition for even more money.
    3. They'l also have an even larger, more expensive accompaniment edition, in which they will do all they can to stretch hymns over 3 pages so you have to turn them back and forth while playing!

    The solution is parish printed worship aids with either public domain music, or contemporary music used under paid license. If the USCCB refuses to compile one, single, authorized hymnal, then there should be NO hymnals at all. Even the best hymnal is to some extent limiting, considering the vast amount of music actually performed regularly in the Church's Liturgies.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,398
    Why no SATB in the pew edition? What stopped that?

    Probably a combination of (1) those in charge (whether pastor or liturgy committee) who don't know how to sing, let alone that SATB has been the tradition for ages; (2) economics foisted on us by the publishers of hymnals; and (3) a who-cares malaise in untutored congregation that could care less.

    Whatever it is, it's a terrible situation, and, yes, I know that there have been quarters where melody only hymnbooks have been in place for years.

    Addendum: Steve Collins also give good reasons above, posted while I was typing my reasons.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,654
    If the USCCB refuses to compile one, single, authorized hymnal, then there should be NO hymnals at all.


    Terrible idea. See the Canadian hymnal for examples of what would happen.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,203
    I believe one issue is that the standard arrangements are often copyrighted, even for tunes in the public domain.
  • @matthewj O don't even get me started on how horrible the CBW III is. I bought a choir edition thinking it would enhance my singing in the choir, you bet it didn't. It is horrible. Just horrible.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    I don't think any of us would want a USCCB hymnal. By the time it got through the committees and publisher-dominated reviewers, it would be nothing but trash.
  • CCCB published another hymnal, "Celebrate In Song" which is even worse. It has 3 horrible mass settings in it and it has nothing but contemporary hymns, or traditional tunes set to copyrighted text. Horrible. I hate it and I will never use it, another product of CCCB's music torture.
  • I disagree about CBW III.

    It's far from great. But it doesn’t deserve blanket condemnation, as above. There is much in it useable, and defensible; and much of what remains is still excusable.

    Neither does the idea of an approved national hymnal in general deserve such condemnation.

    I agree about Celebrate in Song, though. Serious waste of paper, that.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Gotteslob is usable.
    Thanked by 1ZacPB189
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,203
    Gotteslob is usable.

    It has some wonderful old hymn tunes that are so beautiful! I wonder if there was a time in the early days of modern hymnody when melodies had to be beautiful, before the vertical completely dominated the horizontal.

    I spent a Christmas in Cologne, and fell in love with this, which isn't terribly beautiful in that melodic way, but is rather fun to sing!
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Yes, I think “usable” might be an understatement, but its being in German and my being mostly unfamiliar with their hymns meant that I only noted it gives quite a bit of chant, even though it uses modern notation, well beyond the Jubilate Deo minimum, and and that it has the full translation of “Großer Gott, wir loben dich” without repeats and extra eight notes.

    It really varies. I like the tune for “Lift High the Cross,” especially for the verses, though the refrain is a bit tiring. LOVE UNKNOWN and COE FEN are also more recent. There is schmaltz in late 19th century hymnals, but I am not opposed to “O Lord, I am not worthy.” LOURDES, for the French and English versions of the Lourdes hymn, is wonderful. I find the adapted Pergolesi melody for “God of Mercy and Compassion” is beautiful, and then there’s anything by Faber.
  • Thanks for Zu Bethlehem geboren, Kathy.
    I had much fun teaching my boys' choir this when I served my Lutherans.
    There is a charming organ prelude on this by Helmut Walcha, which would be nice for Christmas prelude music, or during communions.

    There is a fascinating little book of such German sacred songs called Lieder Perlen, which, I think, can still be had from Concordia. Wonderful for children and adults alike.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,229
    its always funny to me that the RC condemned the Lutherans for venacular singing (which they always did and do so well)....then when vII came all Catholics had to immediatly beging congregational singing in thr venacular.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,653
    Say what you will about the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council - irony was not their strong suit.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,895
    @ghmus: there are many reasons that some say the Novus Ordo was Protestantized, or at least designed to look Protestant.
    Thanked by 2Ben Yanke CharlesW
  • dhalkjdhalkj
    Posts: 53
    The solution is simple really. Just start singing chant in a nasal Middle Eastern way and presto the youth will be able to get what they want at home and won't have to go join Islam.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    @ghmus: there are many reasons that some say the Novus Ordo was Protestantized, or at least designed to look Protestant.


    I think this has been well established and was deliberate.

    Just start singing chant in a nasal Middle Eastern way and presto the youth will be able to get what they want at home and won't have to go join Islam.


    Hallelujah! I love it!
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,455
    I disagree about CBW III.

    It's far from great. But it doesn’t deserve blanket condemnation, as above. There is much in it useable, and defensible; and much of what remains is still excusable.

    Neither does the idea of an approved national hymnal in general deserve such condemnation.

    I agree about Celebrate in Song, though. Serious waste of paper, that.


    I have to agree with Andrew here. I think the Canadian CBW II was on the right track. Something went awry with the third edition. I must say that since my choir has begun singing the psalm verses in four parts, I have come to appreciate the psalms in the CBW III. (The CBW II had many Gelineau psalms and those were an excellent resource) If a refrain is something I don't favour, I usually exchange it with a Sommerville refrain and it usually works nicely. The Canadian ICEL Gloria in the "Celebrate in Song" is fab especially with the harmonies and descant.

    The first post reminded my of my best friends (and they were my very best friends) from highschool. Two became evangelical protestants and the last converted to Isalm. Not sure the GC was the cause of my Muslim friend's conversion though since she probably never heard it in her lifetime.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    I have decided people can and will believe most anything. The crazier the more likely it is to be believed. What was the old saying that when people believe in nothing, they will believe anything that comes along?
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,455
    when people believe in nothing, they will believe anything that comes along?


    Yes, that is what my mother said when they all started converting. I was so sad about it. We were all in the youth groups together, sang all the crazy songs we loathe so much here... but they really didn't understand the Eucharist. The two who converted to Protestantism had a real faith in Christ, in that they had a prayerful relationship with Him and still do. They are wonderful Christian women and mothers. But if they truly understood the Eucharist, they would have never left. The third met a Muslim man and fell in love with him and his enthusiasm for his faith.
  • I can, hoping not to sound 'uppity' about it, embroider a little in a similar vein to what canadash just said. As an Anglo-Catholic those some decades ago who, unlike canadash's friends, did, in fact, understand the Euchaarist very well, believed it with all my heart, mind, body, and soul, held it in deep reverence, and was horrified at the music, horrible translation, and liturgical manner of the Romans, and could not understand why anyone who was an orthodox believer could bear to participate in such a charade.

    And, I know a number of young men who went to Orthodoxy because of the liturgical chaos of the Church into which they were born. One is now in a Greek monastery. Of course Orthodoxy has its faults (though they are not as terminal as Anglicandom's), but it is dead serious about Eucharistic praxis and understanding - and the reverence and honour due to the All Holy.

    (Of course, we know that Anglicandom has since defiantly sailed off the edge of the orthodox world, and that another, fully and truly Catholic home beyond the Tiber had to be found for us. Thus, we have the Ordinariate. But it certainly wasn't Roman liturgy and Eucharistic 'understanding' as exemplified in liturgy that attracted us. No. Not at all. It was the safety and soundness of the magisterium and theology that said one thing whilst most 'liberated' Catholics did another. We now have the best of both worlds, and, have our cake and eat it too.)
    Thanked by 2CharlesW canadash
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,550
    We now have the best of both worlds, and, have our cake and eat it too.)


    Cake is good!
  • ...good!

    Especially with Sarum icing!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • @Andrew%20Malton @candash

    I can agree about the psalms, but really mainly for the CBW II. I like your idea of replacing the refrain with a Sommerville Refrain or if I could I just write in his style. Have you ever tried a TBA (Thomas Barrett Armstrong) refrain? Usually set to Sommerville tones, I like his psalms. Sometimes, I write my own settings with Sommerville tones just because the quality of that style is probably better. The hymns, I must disagree about. I stopped using them ages ago. I use the CBW II for most of the hymns, and a lot of the psalms. I just lost my interest in CBW III. And my priest just bought 100 new ones for the pews, (we never use them) and 30 choir editions. We almost never use those hymnals. The music ministry is in outrage. I have only seen them used by the other groups (contemporary) once. Just really need a place to vent about my least favourite hymnal (aside from Glory and Praise 3rd edition, even more of an abomination)
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • I like Fr Sommerville's psalm tones too, in part because in those the underlying Gregorian tones are most clearly audible. But there are other psalms in CBW III which are interesting melodically and hamonically. A confident cantor can sing them with little or no accompaniment, if you want a "chanted" sound. Also since they are the "Grail" translation you can sing most of them metrically, like Gelineaux, if you like.

    There isn't a lot of "contemporary" in there: at my parish the pit band folk choir sing from Gather.

    Have you looked at the Bishops' recommended hymns for CBW III? That at least points out some less-used corners of a big book.

    The worst of CBW III is the "alt." editing, which in some cases has produced theologically impossible poetry. And sure, it's a big hymnal and any big hymnal has a few turkeys. (We sang a couple last night to go along with readings from Laudato Si' ; so even the turkeys are good for something. )
  • mahrt
    Posts: 512
    "Usable" reminds me of a remark of Cardinal Ratzinger: "Utility music is useless."
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,354
    I was hoping a hymnal I recently worked on would be SATB in the pew edition and in alphabetical order rather than in season-related sections, but sadly this did not come to be.

    Sadly, this same thing happened to me not long ago, too. Could have been a fantastic hymnal!


    This happened to me, too.

    COINCIDENCES!
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    .
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,343
    Wow: somebody is nostalgic for her salad days in the 1980s.