The Crisis and Insipid Music- any connection?
  • Wow. Um. No. Poor liturgy may be an effect of a lackadaisical clergy, but not a cause, IMO. As people on this board have stated before, a great majority of these cases happened before Vatican II. For someone who purports to love classical education and who quotes multiple philosophers, he doesn't do a very good job making a distinction between cause and effect.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,332
    He may have some points, but I see the music as a result rather than the cause. The lax attitudes, people who should never have been ordained or accepted into orders, and the lax and ineffective leadership from Rome on down were the causes. In so many words, the church became in the world and of the world.
  • Wow, I have a lot of problems with this article.

    Gregorian chant and the sacred polyphony handed down for centuries was jettisoned and replaced with music remarkably ‘soft’ and sentimental by contrast.


    Except that paradigm of Roman Church Music was only handed down for about half a century at the grassroots level. Soft, sentimental music prevailed in the churches, and especially in the devotional life that knocked so strongly on Catholic hearts, for centuries before!

    Just look at the oeuvre of Fr. Lambillotte, for instance, or take a moment to peek around an old choir loft in any church, urban or rural, in the United States that has been left largely undisturbed. Notice the lush chromaticism, the trite triviality, and the copyright dates on the music. The worst offenders usually date from circa 1880 - 1910. The post-Pian period was an exception, not the rule, of church music in the post-Reformation world, in terms of its attitude towards plainsong and Palestrina.

    the insipid, trite, uninspired and tedious music that has been forced on Catholics from coast to coast.


    This line of reasoning ventures very near No True Scotsman territory.

    So many deeply and dearly committed Catholics that I know are attached to some of the very "worst" music ever written for liturgy.

    There isn't a hard and fast dichotomy between "committed Catholics" who adore chant and weep at Sunday Mass at their average parish and "cafeteria Catholics" who maliciously push saccharine sacro-pop in order to murder the faith of millions in its sleep.

    Many people, many, many people, know far less about liturgy than they do about doctrine and morality. Well-meaning, committed Catholics are also "forcing" this on themselves, willfully, and with great joy.

    Incidentally, they felt the same way about the Romantic slushie machine.

    The challenge, then as now, is not to destroy people who like this stuff, in order to spare the "righteous," but rather to teach them to love what is better. Indeed, I think this is one of the things that went most wrong with the Pian reform. People were singing, at liturgy, with genuine devotion and love of God. And they didn't understand why their songs had to be taken away and changed out for different, difficult, unfamiliar, more sober, and unexciting stuff.

    Here's some pre-conciliar music that I've found in almost every choir loft I've visited:

    Enjoy! I have a huge soft spot for this stuff, especially Benedictuses

    It's like family Christmas traditions. We talk about centuries-old traditions, and that's very true in Christian worship. But in reality, it only takes 10 times that you trimmed the tree a certain way as a child that you will grow up and tell your kids, "When I was a kid, my daddy always climbed the ladder with me and held me up when I put the star on top."

    In the same way, when most uninformed Catholics use the word "traditional" in reference to music, they refer to what they know, and what's been done within their own living memory. Which is as perennial as they've ever experienced.
  • I haven't read the article yet, but does it seem reasonable to suggest that bad (i.e., insipid) music does in fact contribute to a softening of morals?

    The American Church has, for decades, been soft. How deaf were the ears on which Pope Pius X's instructions fell?

    On the other hand, nudge-nudge, listening to the good stuff and not really believing it could have the same effect. Truly, there's a cancer on the body ecclesial.
  • I just don't see that soft, sentimental music is per se destructive of the inividual's piety or morals. Especially not in a devotional context.

    Does singing a sweet love song to his lady soften the chivalrous knight, or embolden him to fight more determinedly for his love? Does having a "soft" side round out otherwise hard and rough masculinity?

    As I wrote above, I think the deafness that met St. Pius X's instructions was similar to the deafness that meets reform attempts to day:

    It's not that the people lack devotion, are evil, and are obstinate.

    It's that they are in fact deeply devoted, many of them, (if lacking in liturgical formation), singing lustily, and they do not understand why the songs that nourished them in a genuine faith (one which, I have observed in many concrete cases of colleagues and parishioners, is strongly doctrinally orthodox and committed to lived morality) have to be replaced with unfamiliar ones that feel more sterile.

    In fact, there's a family of homeschoolers near me that are not only extremely committed to Catholic teaching and living, but also deeply to the intellectual life (brilliant kids), and to musical formation, both parents being professional musicians, and all of the kids multi-instrumentalists, vocalists, outstanding readers, etc. However, their musical tastes are, frankly, less than Motu-Propriate.

    Their family life, personal generosity towards the Church, community, and needy, and the formation of their children puts mine to shame. Am I going, then, to argue against sacro-pop from a moral perspective, when I have such a counter-example, and one for which music is not only a nice thing, but a priority and deep love?

    That said, however, their seriousness and good musical training has left them open to beauty and quality wherever it is found, and some of the kids that I work with find great joy in learning the heritage of the Church in song. And this, I think, is the path forward. Building love out of love, not instilling hate for the less worthy love.
  • Nothing,

    If it's true that the truth can't lead a person away from God, but that truth placed in the wrong context can, then the attachment some people place on the "devotional" music, to the extent it leads them to reject the music proper to the worship of God is the context which leads people away from Him. If we prefer our own version of things over what God tells us, then clearly it is we who are wrong, not God.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • Motu-Propriate
    :)

    Am I going, then, to argue against sacro-pop from a moral perspective...
    This is where I think we possibly encounter some danger. I would certainly agree that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But... I think we have to continually strive to educate and build up the correct understanding of good sacred liturgical music, rather than opening the door to acceptance of - sorry I can't be more delicate - musical crap.

    I wouldn't compare Lambilotte on his WORST day to Kumbayah, for example. And I don't think that arguing that there may, indeed, be those who are quite devout, but attached to their Kumbayah as a real argument in favor of maintaining that as a musical standard. (Substitute any equivalent musical crap in for Kumbayah - I simply choose that as the archetype).

    So clearly there has to be a line in the sand somewhere. And that line isn't based on simply the fact that there may be devout people who aren't attached to chant (for example) and see it as "sterile".

    I'm not saying that your viewpoint is wrong, per se... just that we have to be very careful and clearly distinguish our parameters.

    If we have an obligation to properly form our conscience, surely we can make the same argument regarding liturgical music.

    I can't comment to the article... but I think the premise is not entirely flawed. If the high-point of chant was the 12th-13th centuries and there was a decline from then to the 19th century... a decline that happened as humanism, modernism, and liberalism began having more and more sway within the Church (and in Her music), surely one could relate the decline liturgically, spiritually, and musically as each reflecting the other. Kumbayah (the archetype) is the end-product that reflects the extent of the decay, not the starting point of the problem. But clearly there is some connection between the profanation (musical or otherwise) of the Liturgy and the moral / spiritual decline that is fairly evident in so many cases.

    In that light, the family that is devout... are they devout BECAUSE of Kumbayah? Or in SPITE OF?
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • Let's not get side tracked with the homeschooling family. Not only are we not talking liturgical use of music in this instance, we also need to expand our horizon of the Church as the world (not just America, as this author had referenced.) The church's crisis has infected various continents- can we argue that it is all the same music in Germany, Ireland, Argentina, the US, Rome, etc? I don't see how you can claim a *universal* crisis on music in America.

    Incardination- I am interested in more details of the "profanation of the liturgy." A span of 7+ centuries is quite the range in time. I am not learned on liturgical history, but I wonder if the "descent" is as clean or simple a bell curve as you imply.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 71
    The article is a gross oversimplification, but the general point of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi is true: how we worship necessarily influences how we believe and live.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Chris,

    It's a partitive genitive --- No-Name, as it were, not Nothing. :-)

    I think that the overall lack of liturgical propriety feeds a tremendous lack of unity, unanimity, and also renders the liturgy itself and its ritual inarticulate of the mysteries they were crafted and are intended to convey.

    On that point, from me, you shall have no dissent.

    Rather, my beef is with this idea that poor music is inflicted on Catholics by unknown malicious actors, rather than inflicted on the liturgy largely by well-meaning, genuinely devout Catholics. I also attempt an answer to question of why they would be doing this, and why the well-meaning are puzzled by attempts at positive reform, or indeed sometimes outright hostile to them.

    Incardination,

    I would certainly not rank Lambillotte with Kumbaya, either.

    I'm not arguing maintenance of the standard, so much as that, in improving the standard, we have to understand that people who do mediocre things for God are not necessarily doing them out of malice or spite, and that those things we devoutly wish they would never do again are, in fact, genuine expressions of their own devotion which, in their experience, they have been (1) encouraged to do by spiritual fathers and shepherds, (2) which they understand are permitted and, indeed, normal at Catholic liturgical celebrations, and (3) which they experience as fruitful.

    This makes the difficulty of improving things that much more sensitive.

    PolskaPiano,

    Let's not get side tracked with the homeschooling family. Not only are we not talking liturgical use of music in this instance...


    Actually, in their case, we are. Which it why I brought them up. They are very involved in the music making at all levels in their own local parish.

    --------------------------------------------------

    More broadly, I think Incardination's "decline" narrative does warrant careful consideration. After all, if "Kumbaya" is viewed as the nadir of a downward trajectory, the most distant point from which is viewed as, therefore, an apex, I think we run a real risk of damaging the devotional life of the faithful in the opposite direction.

    If "Kumbaya" is the essence of content-free saccharine music in liturgy that is entirely foreign to the liturgical music of the Western Church, then what is polyphony, with its roots in (or at least strong affinities with) the madrigalist tradition? Is Palestrina halfway down the slip-slide from the sober austerity of plainsong that is the only acceptable church music?

    Or is plainsong itself the golden mean between Puritanism and hyperemotional aestheticism or horizontal sugar-water?

    Where does the virtuous mean lie? Doesn't the virtuous mean of a parish music program have room for both music of propriety that leans emotionally and devotionally and music that leans towards austerity?
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 765
    After reading the article, I have to agree with the author's basic premise. He does not claim that poor quality sacred music is the sole cause of the current crisis, but rather a contributing factor (amongst many). I don't think it's possible to determine how great of an impact music has had, but it certainly is a factor.

    At no point in Church history has music been perfect and it never will be this side of heaven. We can debate musical style and fads all day, but certainly we can agree that poor quality texts (from theologically ambiguous to outright heterodox) being inserted into the liturgy has caused people to doubt the Faith. Whereas if we had safeguarded the use of Sacred Scripture (i.e. The Word of God) as out primary if not sole source of sacred music we would be in a better situation all around.
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • A diet of burgers and beer will sustain life, but mental and physical agility, and health, are better sustained by a more balanced diet.
    legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi
    the law of worship builds the law of belief [Prosper of Aquitaine (attrib.)]

    It's the words, stupid! And not just vacuous songs, but the watered down liturgical translation we had for so many years.
    I too feel general support for the author's view, he lists 9 other factors, but he does not think music the least important of them..
  • There is an audience that wants to believe this stuff. "Things I don't like caused bad things" will always have an audience, because confirmation bias is a real problem.

    But the answer, of course, is no, not in any serious way.
  • Doesn't the virtuous mean of a parish music program have room for both music of propriety that leans emotionally and devotionally and music that leans towards austerity?


    I tend to think of it more as a balance between emotion and intellect. (I don't really see chant as "austere".) If chant is pure intellect (it is not) and polyphony / hymns are pure emotion (they are not), the balance is in having a diversity such that it appeals both to the intellect and the emotions. Kind of a "man does not live by bread alone" equating to "Catholics don't worship by chant OR polyphony alone".

    I wouldn't argue - ever - for a chant-only Liturgy. I wouldn't see that as the ideal. Nor would I argue for a polyphony-only Liturgy (even if the highest representation of that art) for the same reason. We can't draw souls to the Faith musically with only one part of the tool-set. (We CAN, but we won't be nearly as effective.) Even the Council of Trent debated on banning that new paradigm - polyphony - and decided not to, which clearly endorses the "let not the perfect..." philosophy.
  • When I was a kid and my mother still a young woman, I heard at home a lot of records by the Bill Gaither Trio, Joe Wise, Dan Schutte and the St. Louis Jesuits, and other similar music I can't name anymore. The only rock music she ever listened to was Jesus Christ Superstar (briefly but enough times I knew it). Meanwhile, in Catholic grade school when the student body sang at Friday morning mass, we sang Kumbaya, "Immaculate Mary your praises we sing," "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love," "Whatsoever You Do..." and most other hymns in the "Monthly Missalette." Sometimes she played guitar at the Folk Mass, the electric bass line (not played by her) to "Lord Have Mercy" I still remember from 45 years ago.

    She always was the most devout woman I'd ever knew, always in selfless service to others, always bringing food and other comforts to dying elderly neighbors, giving old widows rides to Sunday mass. She graduated a 4-year Catholic Bible study program at a monastery, and now teaches a bible class in the parish hall. She is a leader in her chapter of the 3rd Order (secular order) of Franciscans, which she joined before I even have memories (I'm almost 53).

    I don't think that soft or insipid church music corrupts morals AT ALL. In fact I sing some now in our parish choir, and admit I admire the hymns of David Haas when we sing them in 3-part choir (no basses in choir) accompanied and led by our Music Director playing a fine pipe organ. I so much like our choral/organ versions of David Haas that I bought one of his CDs and was shocked at how insipid and blasé his own arrangements/recording was to my ears.

    All that said, I'm in search of a sung mass, of maximum chant content, of Latin mass (the latter more out of curiosity and expectation I will love it. But when a priest asked me (based on my inquiries about a Latin Mass and chant when working the roof of his catholic school out of state) "so I take it you are of the right wing of the church?" I said (before I even knew what would come out of my mouth) "all wings Father."
  • Poor liturgy may be an effect of a lackadaisical clergy, but not a cause, IMO.

    This is essentially saying that the way worship is simply an effect of who we already are, but not formative of who we become. You can argue which way the causation is stronger, but it's hard to deny that music has an effect on how we think of ourselves and even how we behave. Naturally the "causation" we're talking about is not mechanical, as if singing certain songs will automatically produce bad actions, but that it sows the seeds of weak sensibility which is opposed to a clear and strong living out of the faith. Even the otherwise lackadaisical Music in Catholic Worship recognized the connection when it said, "Good celebrations foster and nourish faith. Poor celebrations weaken and destroy faith." And certainly music used is an integral part of the goodness or the poverty of liturgical celebrations.

    I see the music as a result rather than the cause.

    Again, why does it have to be simply one or the other? Is death metal (to take a rather extreme example) simply an effect of a certain way of thinking, or could it also be a cause (not "the" cause) of more people adopting that same kind of thinking and acting?

    We're not opposed to saccharine, shallow songs not simply because the text expresses saccharine, shallow thinking, but because the music to which the text is set can engender and reinforce such thinking. A song like "Precious body, precious blood," is not objectionable only because it expresses bad theology, but also because its reinforces a soft and overly-familiar attitude towards the Eucharist, as expressed in the musical style of the song.

    Otherwise we're holding to the strange notion that the liturgy and music used in seminaries is really of little consequence, since bad clergy are only the cause, but not the effect, of poor liturgy (which includes music).
  • Carol
    Posts: 319
    WillWilkin and I have similar experiences except I am ten years older. In the late 60's the associate pastor at our church actually came to our home with a portable record player and a few records and asked my mother to form a folk group. She did as he asked and provided music, with many of her children in the group, for about 25 years. She also collected many of the records or the St. Louis Jesuits and the Medical Missionary Sisters.
    Does anyone remember the "Missa Luba"? I think it was a Mass from Africa.
  • Incardination- I am interested in more details of the "profanation of the liturgy." A span of 7+ centuries is quite the range in time. I am not learned on liturgical history, but I wonder if the "descent" is as clean or simple a bell curve as you imply.

    Polska, I think I didn't express my thought very well. :)
    If the high-point of chant was the 12th-13th centuries and there was a decline from then to the 19th century... a decline that happened as humanism, modernism, and liberalism began having more and more sway within the Church (and in Her music), surely one could relate the decline liturgically, spiritually, and musically as each reflecting the other.


    1. The decline over a span of centuries is very clear in chant. Melodies were tampered with and badly maligned, there was large-scale evisceration of melismatic passages, and both the written and oral tradition were neglected. Fast-forward from the 13th/14th centuries to the 19th century and we see the calls for Liturgical Reform - particularly with regard to music - that lead to Solesmes and Pius X.

    2. Many of the great composers for polyphony (Palestrina, etc.) wrote their polyphony in a way that borrowed from the chant. But as the chant declined, one can certainly argue that there were corresponding decline in polyphony, eventually leading to the sentimentalism and romanticism mentioned by Nihil above and then declining more and more rapidly until - well, you can fill-in-the-blank with whatever you see as the epitome of that decline.

    3. Certainly, "profanation of the liturgy" isn't something you can graph with data points to chart something that leads from a high-point to a corresponding fill-in-the-blank with whatever you see epitomizing the liturgical decline... but that decline also didn't simply happen with a flip of the switch and a certain Council. The liturgical atrocities we see - consecrating a candy-bar? consecrating a cookie? having a drone to fly in the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance during a procession? - are symptomatic of a larger long-term decline. Perhaps that liturgical decline is more nuanced over the centuries, but it is certainly discernible in retrospection. As just one example... speed Masses of 10-20 minutes in the early 20th century?

    4. I don't think I have to discuss moral / spiritual decay within the Church... Presumably you'll grant that decline just as I would grant there is a cyclical nature to moral / spiritual growth and decay. I'll even grant that the fact that some of us (including myself) would say that it is worse this time could well be symptomatic of living during the time in question. People always think that they are in the end-times, as far back as the Apostles. (I'm not suggesting these are the end-times, just that we sometimes exaggerate the evil from which we suffer in the present.)
    Thanked by 1a_f_hawkins
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,554
    a balance between emotion and intellect


    Bingo!! The "God Is Grandpa-Nice" bunch is not only wrong, but mildly poisonous. The "Rigorous Intellect" bunch would push 12-tone, too. Chesterton's description of the Church as 'wildly reeling but still erect' calls to mind your 'balance' analogy, too.

    Chant IS the via media, having sweetness in its popular hymns and rigor in its Proper Graduals. It also has wonderful word-painting, but that can't be appreciated until somebody educates the singers and faithful about it.
  • Hey, Nihil, Korman! That's the Christmas Carol Mass, I presume?
    (Asia: where old Masses go to die.)
    as a liturgical musician, I might hold a somewhat exaggerated view about the importance of music.

    Bingo! Music is our hammer, the thing that makes everything else look like a nail. If music is an integral part of the liturgy, how can we separate its effect from that of the liturgy as a whole? And how often does one find bad music in otherwise excellent liturgy? If you're hearing Dan Schuette, you're probably also experiencing ad populum, a fulsome Pax with your neighbors, communion standing with a bevy of female EMHCs...you know the drill.

    If that's really Jesus physically present, you should want everything to be its absolute best. If not, then all that matters is that the PiPs are happy. So, first the words (or the concepts), then the music.

    We say, "It's the music" because we have an exaggerated sense of our own importance. It's not nothing, of course. But show me a scenario where the work of David Haas sends somebody to Hell.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,332
    But show me a scenario where the work of David Haas sends somebody to Hell.


    Maybe it just sounds like Hell.
    Thanked by 2Carol JL
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,436
    "Maybe it just sounds like Hell."

    Eye has not seen, ear has not Hurd...
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I'm sure someone famous has written that there is no music in Hell, only noise.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,332
    And your point is? LOL.
  • stulte
    Posts: 203
    The American Church has, for decades, been soft. How deaf were the ears on which Pope Pius X's instructions fell?


    It depends on where you were. I still have my grandfather's Liber Usualis from when he was in seminary in Philadelphia in the 1930s. There are also his notes written on the blank pages in the back of the book about the church modes and stuff for chanting the psalsm. On the other hand, it also has a hymn of some sort with an Italian text on a loose sheet of paper folded and stuck in. I should look into a translation of it sometime to possibly get a better idea of the devotional life back then.
  • But show me a scenario where the work of David Haas sends somebody to Hell.
    Hmmm... I guess it might depend on whether you see the music as merely for those that are already Catholic. I mean, let's face it... someone who is a strong Catholic isn't going to let Haas destroy that faith.

    But how many times have we read of those who converted to Catholicism after taking part in Mass? At seeing the respect and devotion that accompanies the Liturgy, celebrated in a way that sees beauty as a reflection of God? Could we perhaps agree that the greater likelihood is that one would be converted from a context that is sublime rather than from one that is pedestrian?

    One of my choir members in a past choir a few years ago was a convert. She was looking for God. She went to a number of churches (both Christian and Catholic), but each time left knowing that she hadn't found it. The first time she heard the high Mass (at our church) she recognized the sublime nature of Catholic worship. She joined the parish and then joined the choir.

    Some may say "emotional conversion". I think, given a chance to talk with her, one would realize how false that is. She was a thinker, and she was one of the most zealous (in a good way) people I've ever met. She has subsequently moved to another part of the country, but we still keep in touch.

    I've seen several examples (in the last 7-8 years) where non-Catholics have been profoundly moved by the music in particular. I've mentioned before the situation where some traveling people (Catholic and Protestant mix) stopped by during Holy Week one year on their return trip to Miami. They had a long conversation about the nature of the Triduum service they had just taken part in, culminating with one of the Protestant men stating - "for the first time, I can see that there is a difference between my religion and the Catholic Faith". From the Catholic gentleman's letter to my pastor, the discussion was prompted by both the music and the unexpected nature of the Latin Mass form to which both the Catholics and the Protestants, apparently, were unaccustomed.

    Had another situation where a professional trumpet player that had joined us for a wedding was talking about the music more than 6 months after the wedding... and how he was reassessing his own spirituality as a result. It took him back to a time in his life (as a Protestant) where he was religious. He had a similar "for the first time in my life..." moment.

    Believe me, the choirs involved just aren't that good. Its not like we have the Sixteen up in the loft. We simply do our best with good caliber music, both chant and polyphony. And I don't have my ear to the ground, trying to winkle out these types of stories... these were just several random examples that I found about about after the fact from other people who had some first-hand knowledge.

    So, going back to your statement - a scenario where poor music sends someone to hell... I'd much rather be in a position at my last judgment of at least having fostered a chance for facilitating conversion, for facilitating the Faith, by using the best music I reasonably could; than in trying to explain why I didn't use the best tools I could in my efforts to draw souls to Christ. Who knows how many opportunities are available for conversion?

    Clearly there is more than music involved in converting souls; in teaching the Faith... but good music lubricates the process. It provides the setting that show-cases the Liturgy, the worship of the Universal Church.
  • pfreese
    Posts: 30
    “Someone who is a strong Catholic isn't going to let Haas destroy that faith.”

    Allow me to say a few things about Haas. I actually had him as a theology teacher at my Catholic high school years back. I was not that strong in my faith back then (as a typical teenager), and while I didn’t completely come back from the edge after my semester with him, I still vividly remember “Mr.” Haas’ very genuine faith and almost Christlike charity. He was very learned in Scripture, he always resisted our best efforts to try to repackage Jesus in a sort of SJW political radical (hey, we were kids...), and he was also a surprisingly tough grader. His witness to the Gospel was very powerful, and this was incredibly helpful at a time when many of us had considerable doubts about sticking with the Faith.

    This is to say nothing of the countless family members I’ve seen tearfully follow along to “You Are Mine” at funerals, with more sublime resignation than I’ve ever seen anyone do the same with Mozart’s “Ave Verum.” Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer like to sing all chant all the time at mass, and I think much of the criticism towards Haas’ compositions is valid. Personally, I put much more fault in the activist liturgists who tried to insert his music into parts of the mass where it didn’t belong in the first place. That said, I think if you did a theoretical lineup of all the people that Haas’ music helped bring to Gehenna versus all the people whose faith was strengthened by it, the latter would be considerably longer.
  • If the high-point of chant was the 12th-13th centuries
    One could argue that Asperges I is an unneccessarily prettified/professionalised version of Asperges II. So I suggest a decline already evident after the 10th century.
    Jerome says: "Listen, young men whose duty it is to recite the office in church: God is to be sung not with the voice but with the heart. Nor should you, like play-actors, ease your throat and jaws with medicaments, and make the church resound with theatrical measures and airs." commentary on Ephesians 5:19
  • pfreese, first let me be very clear - I meant no disrespect or personal assessment of Haas. I simply was responding to the point Jeffrey made about music - it was more of a fill-in-the-blank thing. At the end of the day, it isn't a personal assessment of any composer - it is about the music itself.

    That said, I think if you did a theoretical lineup of all the people that Haas’ music helped bring to Gehenna versus all the people whose faith was strengthened by it, the latter would be considerably longer.
    Can we agree that the lineup on the side of Gehenna should be zero? And if it is not, perhaps that fact should disincline us from using that particular music to represent our worship?
  • Most of this music we are criticizing is intended to stir the emotions, nothing wrong with that except that Mass is not about ME and my emotions, it is about worship of GOD.
    Question, is the decline of popular devotions the cause or the effect of the placing of devotional song in the Mass? [Perhaps that should be purple.]
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,579
    I don't believe one can make a serious case that there's been a decline in the morals of the church since Alexander VI. This suggests that there might if anything be, as Orson Welles puts it, an inverse relation between crisis and insipidness.
  • Richard: I've been waxing nostalgic for an age in which the worst that could be said of a Pope is that he got jobs for his bastards.

    pfreese: I only met David in a workshop situation, and my impression was "jaded", not "evil". But he was with Lori True who really IS nuts.

    Incardination: it's not that bad music will send you to Hell, but that only great music will send you to Heaven. "Preach the Gospel. Use notes. Use the Festival Trumpet only when necessary" -- St. Francis (attrib.), paraphrased. In my own case, I wasn't converted by the music, but the music kept me in close enough contact that I could be converted.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • The 'Swiss' cuckoo clock is an illusion, it's Bavarian. And the Swiss had a civil war 120 years ago. But Orson Welles was a great raconteur.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,436
    I must . . . because it's Friday afternoon:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_ZmJx2If6U

    And let's not confuse Bavarian with the Black Forest (says the guy with two great-grandparents from Baden, one from the Black Forest in Württemberg, and the last's eventual spouse from the Swabian district of Bavaria, whom he met while doing masonry on one of Ludwig II's construction fancies, and the first three all emigrating because of the Kulturkampf).
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,579
    There's never a thread drift cop around when you need one ;-)
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,848
    The autumn leaves threads drift by my window ...
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • jcr
    Posts: 20
    The difficulty with discussions of this topic stems from murky definitions of terms and the fact that not everyone who claims to be a Christian of whatever stripe really buys into the actual teachings of Jesus or of any serious church. It is a fact that corrupt cultures produce corrupt art and corrupt art tends to influence a culture in a negative way. I would not classify gospel music in the same category as some of the material that I have heard lately. Perhaps if we could differentiate between worship and evangelism we could make some headway. This distinction is often difficult for evangelicals to make. Much more recently, Catholics seem to be unable to distinguish between these things also. I would suggest an examination of this distinction to help bring clarity to a part of this argument.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • JCR,
    Perhaps if we could differentiate between worship and evangelism we could make some headway. This distinction is often difficult for evangelicals to make.


    Worship is directed at God. Evangelism isn't. It's END is God, but it's directed at human persons.

    Perhaps evangelicals can't distinguish between the two because they see little difference between worship of God and celebrating the community. That would certainly explain the problem you've noticed within Catholic circles, where it exists. Abp Annibale Bugnini insisted that the Mass be in the vernacular because the addressee needs to be able to understand what is said to him...… That is, Bugnini understood that the Mass (which is properly addressed to God as an act of worship) was, rather, addressed to man.
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,308
    An important distinction! The worship of God has the purpose of giving glory to God, and also has the effect of promoting the sanctification of man. The latter is good, but it's a side effect.

    If people shape the act of worship in a way that gives priority to the side effect more than to the primary aim, then everything fails. The love of God and His initiative toward us (and the Church's response to that) lose the central place in our act of worship.

    It's even disrespectful to treat something which is a supreme value, an end in itself, as though it were a mere utilitarian means to another end. When that happens, our attitudes are distorted, and the liturgy and the sacraments are being -- to use one of the Holy Father's notable terms -- "instrumentalized". Used. Exploited. By striving for a side effect and trying to control the results of grace, we would be failing to trust in God.
  • jcr
    Posts: 20
    In a recent conversation with a choir member I made the suggestion that instead of striving to find out what the congregation likes it would be interesting to think about what kind of music God likes. She was startled at the suggestion, but saw that the act of worship might require this kind of inquiry.

    Worship is certainly directed toward God. Evangelization, relevance, entertainment, "feels good" stuff is all directed toward man. I am convinced that the church that pays genuine focused attention on making its worship what it should be will have a shockingly different result than those that direct it toward man. "Praise and Worship", baptized Broadway, "Come to Jesus" songs, and the like are just directed to the wrong goal and, therefore achieve the wrong end.
  • WillWilkin
    Posts: 22
    But who can presume to actually know what music God might prefer? Personally I prefer Gregorian chant but where in the Gospels do we read of Jesus chanting? My guess is his Latin wasn't very good. I am not a Gospel expert but it seems music has very scant mention there at all.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 954
    where in the Gospels do we read of Jesus chanting? Matthew 26:30, presumably in Hebrew or Aramaic, I doubt there was much call for Latin, even Pontius Pilate probably preferred Greek.
    I also prefer Gregorian chant, but do not think that the TLM somehow sprang directly from the mouth of God.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • It is likely that when Jesus quoted scripture or the psalms he would have chanted or cantillated them. It would have been unthinkable for a devout Jew of that time to deliver the Sacred Scriptures in other than the chanting voice - so holy were they, in such awe were they held, that merely to speak them would have been gross disrespect. It is to our shame that we rarely, if ever, have the respect to sing the scriptures today.
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 245
    God has no need of our praise.

    We, on the other hand, do have a need to worship God. And to do so in ways that bring us to closer knowledge and love of Jesus.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,554
    My guess is his Latin wasn't very good

    You may want to re-think that comment.
    Thanked by 1MarkB
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,308
    Mark 14:26: "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • ...had sung a hymn...
    Many scholars have posited that, it being Passover, this 'hymn' was one of the Hillel psalms. 'Psalm' and 'hymn' are pretty much synonymous in New Testament translations.
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  • WillWilkin
    Posts: 22
    When I was a kid, in the early 1970s, at the same church where we had a folk mass, I also heard the entire mass sung by the priest. In English, but still SUNG in a Gregorian-style mode/melody. I LOVED IT! I wish I could find that today, Latin or English, but SUNG.

    There is a Latin mass on Sunday evenings about 25 minutes from my house, and there is a Gregorian choir (and Latin mass) about an hour the other direction. But at this time in my life I do not want to abandon my local parish where I grew up and where my parents are and where my son and I sing in the choir. The music there is the 4-hymn format ("Word and Song" hymnal), the Responsorial Psalm sung by us in 3 parts (no basses in the choir). It is not the chant and conservative music I would prefer but I've heard much worse music at other churches.

    If my life weren't so busy and my roots so deep where I am, I'd make the 2-hr round trip Wed nights for Gregorian choir rehearsals and Sunday morning Latin mass. But for now I have to believe the music at my mass is still pleasing to God because it comes from devout parishoners doing the best they know.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,332
    My guess is his Latin wasn't very good.


    He probably had little occasion to even speak Latin. It would never have been used in the temple or the synagogues. Greek was more widely used in the east than Latin but not for Jewish worship.

    The TLM sprang from Trent trying to impose order on the degraded and corrupted liturgy that had become the norm in the west. When you look at what Trent had to deal with, it gives you a new level of respect for the council fathers. Corrupted liturgy, priests and bishops with wives, lovers and children, poor levels of priestly education and the chronic need for seminary training. On top of all that, Protestantism.

    Chanting? He probably did chant, but we can't know. Jewish worship has changed from the temple times so what we see and hear today may or may not represent the norms in the days of Jesus. Some would have you think practices in the church and synagogues never changed nor varied from early times. Those practices were corrupted then restored, reformed then rewritten, and fell into disuse then were brought back.