Go make a difference!
  • lacrimosa
    Posts: 23
    Isn't that what we're supposed to do as Catholic Christians? We take the love, peace, forgiveness, hope of eternal salvation, etc. out into the world and help others find what we have.

    So how can we find fault with a song which exhorts us to do that?

    I'm just a guy who sings in a couple of choirs at church. I'm not a trained musician, but I have worked with my voice and can do ok singing in a group and in leading the responsorial psalm. But I have no credentials or no way to back up my musical opinions and preferences.

    There are two songs that I've had to sing as a choir member that have made me want to hide under my chair. The first one is "Lord of the Dance" and the second one is "Go Make a Difference," which was a recent "Sending forth" song.

    If I had to explain to our director or the pastor or anyone else who wants these songs sung that I don't think they are appropriate for Mass, what can I say to them? I expect they might cite what they see are meaningful lyrics. But the "tunes" themselves are not appropriate, IMHO. How can I convince anyone of that? What can I cite to them?

    It took years for me to get to this point, but I finally see the value of chant and much less value on "feel good" music. It seems to me that the latter doesn't really inspire. For the moment while we're tapping our feet to "we can make a difference..." we might feel good about that possibility, but it doesn't lead to any meaningful change.

    One thing our music director has said that disturbs me is that if we hear people singing the closing hymn in the parking lot, then we know we did a good job. I've never discussed that with him, but it seems to me he's missing the point.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    Lacrimosa

    Not sure it will help to voice your opinion to anyone. Your prayers would be more efficacious to a situation like this. We share your grief.
  • Lacrimosa,

    (what an interesting moniker!)

    I observed in another conversation that once one has accepted the idea that 4 hymns are perfectly normal at Mass, it gets harder to distinguish good hymns from bad hymns, because unequal things are already being treated equally.

    Alas, when one is trying to lead a person away from schlock (or sacro-pop) or even good forms of bad options, one must frequently start from some point he does accept. I tried this argument, for example, when moving a choir to a choir loft from their accustomed place near the front:


    1) Why do you come to Mass? (Answer: to show my love for God)
    2) Great, so why do you show your love for God by having your back to him the whole time?

    3) Awkward silence.... followed by "What do you mean?"

    4) Where is God?

    5) Oh, I see, he's in the tabernacle and on the cross, and when I'm singing to the people, I've got my back to him.

    6) Exactly. Now, when you're upstairs, in the choir loft, you're facing God, and the congregation will hear you sing, so they can follow your lead.


    Thanked by 1petrus_simplex
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,613
    "The Bridge On The River Kwai" put the melody of the Colonel Bogey March as an earworm into the minds of a generation of Baby Boomers. In my quarter of the world, it didn't seem to cause them to emulate the self-sacrifice depicted in the conclusion of that film. Instead, the younger kids just sang the Comet Song named for the scrub cleaning powder. Have you heard it?

    Comet: it tastes like Listerine.
    Comet: it makes your lips turn green.
    Comet: it makes you vomit.
    So get some Comet and vomit today!

    So much for the value of a hummable earworm. Which raises the question: what evidence is there for the - unstated - assumption that a hummable tune will yield the fruit of discipleship envisioned?
    Thanked by 3Carol tomjaw eft94530
  • Carol
    Posts: 415
    Thanks for the earworm, Liam, I will have to think of one to stick YOU with one of these day.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • IdeK
    Posts: 38
    Sometimes I'm happy to be a cantor.

    Some weeks ago I was asked to sing such a song (I can't decently call that a hymn), a french equivalent : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--XkkKYR6Jw

    Well, I didn't know it well, and, unfortunately, I didn't have time to learn it. So I replaced it with the very suitable "sending forth" hymn that had been sung the week before.

    Alas ! It seems I never have time to learn awful songs like that.

    (Now it can work only because, as a cantor, I can't decently lead something I don't know well enough).

    I have yet to find a good explanation of why that kind of things is unsuitable to have my fellows cantors stop pushing for it.

    I'm preparing a two-evenings session for some of them about the history of the liturgy (I'm a historian that happens to sing) and will incorporate some stuff about the history of liturgical music in it - that will get them a hint about gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, at least, and maybe we'll go to a mass in the syriac rite at St. Ephrem in Paris, that'll be for the WHOW effect.

    But then, how can you fight relativism in sacred music ? I don't know. I hope wonder at gregorian chant and eastern chant will help.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,726
    If I did Go Make a Difference, my congregation would laugh their rear ends off. A previous director did Lord of the Dance, and the chuckles and smirks were plentiful, although that has been more than a few years ago. I still like this version:

    http://www.dioceseofwenchoster.co.uk/hymnal/hymnstore/HM&A142.htm
  • ncicero
    Posts: 16
    Lacrimosa, contrary to what others have said, I think you should approach your director about this- you seem like a level-headed person that could present a clear argument. The reason being, many of the people who program this sort of music consistently live in a fantasy world where "everybody" enjoys their music and sings along heartily- when of course you know that isn't true.

    As for your concerns about "Go Make a Difference", it's really hard to justify the inappropriateness of a piece based on the music alone, and as you've pointed out, there's not really a textual objection to this piece. Shallow? Perhaps. Simplistic? Absolutely. Certainly the Mass is neither of those. But heretical? No. (Note that Lord of the Dance could likely be considered textually inappropriate as well)

    Perhaps a good place to start would be to burst the bubble- simply say that not everybody enjoys that type of music or thinks it's appropriate for the Sacrifice of the Mass, and you'd appreciate him keeping that in mind when planning. Any music director, regardless of liturgical or musical ideology, should respect that.

    If you need some talking points on style, simply point out that the church HAS it's own style of music. "Go Make a Difference" almost sounds like you could have heard it on any pop/rock radio station in the 90's. Maybe a rock musical. These are great for private devotion and even communal use outside of Mass, but shouldn't we also celebrate what makes us unique as Catholics? Shouldn't we go to church and experience the sacred with all of our senses? I'm convinced that parishioners should indeed leave Mass singing, but with no mistake that what they just attended was an encounter with the divine, and not an (often poor quality) attempt at being "hip"?

    Sorry for my novel- I hope everything goes well for you!
  • My wife calls that song and all songs that have, or could possibly have a prominent strumming guitar part “campfire Jesus songs.” Because that’s where they are appropriate.
    Also, my wife is Presbyterian. When I took her to an Extraordinary Form Mass for the first time, she left saying “wow, I feel like I actually went to church!”
    I took that as high praise for the Mass itself, not the least of which was the music, coming from a Protestant. :-)
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Carol
    Posts: 415
    "God's Blessing Sends Us Forth" to the St. Elizabeth tune was one of my favorites as a child and still is. It is also called the Crusader's Hymn by some. This has a similar message as "Go Make a Difference" but the tune is definitely more reverent. We had done this for the recessional hymn at confirmation until our current pastor put the kaibosh on it (thank you Fr!.)

    Now we occasionally sing "Beautiful Savior" to St. Elizabeth, but I dislike the syrupy words. OCP strikes again! :(
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 727
    So how can we find fault with a song which exhorts us to do that?

    There's nothing wrong with the song - it's just doesn't fit the liturgy.

    Why is this so hard for some people to get?
  • it's really hard to justify the inappropriateness of a piece based on the music alone,


    No, it isn't. Ask this question: in a healthy society would most people associate this with the august worship of God, a tavern, a teenage party, a concert hall or computer-hacker's convention. If it's anything except the first category, musically speaking, it's unfit for the Mass. Why? That's actually not that hard: if the music calls us away from the worship of God, when that is the very action in which we are engaged, it is unsuited to keeping us focused on (and thus at some level participating in ) the Mass.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    I think a large part of the problem is that people mistake pleasant emotional experiences for spiritual experiences. Or they equate being moved emotionally in a happy way with being moved spiritually or having an experience of God. I think that's a huge problem with youth ministry and so-called "youth Masses" and the style of music used with youth.

    Under that mistaken way of thinking, if a song moves me or pleases me emotionally, it's causing me to experience God, therefore it's a religious song and appropriate for Mass.

    But, no, it's just emotional manipulation through music.

    And if emotionally pleasant=spiritual is the premise, then no wonder you have people writing Disneyesque and Broadwayesque and Top40esque "liturgical music" and the big three publishers marketing such songs.

    The Church's pastors ought to do more to teach people what spirituality is, what prayer is, and what it is not. Almost every Catholic spiritual master has warned about not relying on pleasant emotions as a mark of or guide to spiritual experience or progress.

    Spiritual experience produces joy, which is deeper than pleasant emotions and can exist in the absence of pleasant emotions.

    One of the unique virtues of chant is that it is not emotionally manipulative music. Chant allows the text, the Word of God, to speak to the soul in a profound way, a serene way, by elevating the Word above mere recitation, using music as the means to invite and promote reflection on the text intellectually instead of responding emotionally to the music's rhythm and mood.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    Almost every Catholic spiritual master has warned about not relying on pleasant emotions as a mark of or guide to spiritual experience or progress.

    Bingo. Well put.

    One of the unique virtues of chant is that it is not emotionally manipulative music. Chant allows the text, the Word of God, to speak to the soul in a profound way, a serene way, by elevating the Word above mere recitation, using music as the means to invite and promote reflection on the text intellectually instead of responding emotionally to the music's rhythm and mood.

    Double Bingo
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,528
    Carol mentioned "God's Blessing Sends Us Forth", paired with the tune "St. Elizabeth", as a childhood favorite. My guess is that people who like GBSUF really are liking the tune, because the text doesn't fit it well.

    The meter of the tune, based on the number of syllables in each line in the classic "Fairest Lord Jesus", is 5.6.8.5.5.8, but GBSUF squeezes in more: 6.7.9.6.6.8
    "God's news in spoken word / Joyfully our hearts have heard / O, may the seed of God's love now grow / ..."

    So Westendorf the author is awkwardly forcing things to fit, when really he just should have written a text to fit a different melody. With some work, he could have made the text fit well with the tune LEONI ("The God of Abraham praise").

    Texts like GBSUF -- focused on the congregation, how it feels, and what it should do -- are a bit too didactic to be really suited for worship, where the self-forgetting spirit of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving should be foremost. But such is the case for most hymn texts by Omer Westendorf. He spent his career writing new texts for classic tunes, and most of them are songs about the congregation more than about God directly. For example, his rewrite of "We Gather Together" turns a song about divine providence into an instruction about how the congregation should act during the liturgy. I call it "singing the rubrics".

    It's not a new phenomenon, not a product of the Vatican II era, or anything like that. A hundred years ago people like Cardinal O'Connell were writing hymn texts which were just as much devoted to giving pat little lessons. One of his didactic hymns is a good analogy for GBSUF: "The Blessing At The End Of Mass" (mp3):
    "Lord, bless us all before we go / From this Thy holy place;
    May all our lives be sanctified / And hallowed by Thy grace.
    And may the holy sacrifice now offered unto Thee
    Bring praise and glory to Thy name through all eternity."

    I suppose I should give Cdl. O'Connell some partial credit for having some lines in that verse that are focused on praising God, alongside the parts that focus on the congregation. For that matter, "The Blessing At The End of Mass" would be an improvement on "Go Make A Difference".
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,730
    I'm not really sure I trust anyone who can't be moved by chant. That said, I'll give any of you the benefit of the doubt if we ever meet.
  • Richard,

    Forgive me for responding to your post pre-edit rather than post-edit. The implication pre-edit was that chant is emotionally manipulative.

    I don't think that MarkB is implying that there isn't emotion in chant, simply that it is subordinated to the intellectual aspects of the music. Nor would I think that because - on some level, at least - music in general has a component of emotion, that we would equate that to "emotionally manipulative". Manipulative implies a degree of design, i.e. that the music is designed first and foremost to target an emotional response rather than an intellectual one.

    The real point is that our emotional response is not the best guide, in itself, of the measure of the spirituality of any act.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,730
    I started to say profound music is, if anything, more emotional. Whether emotional manipulation is worse than 'spiritual' manipulation or not still depends on who pulls the strings, I think.
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    I like this song based on both the words and the style.
    The words are straight-forward and perfect for a Sending Forth song.
    The style works best with strong energy, especially with a solid bass line, drums, jazz flute, etc.
    This would be hard to pull off with a bland organ accompanist or a congregation that prefers more staid execution.
    Our congregation loves it and we're a vibrant, loving, and exciting parish.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    Perfect if it's the "sending forth song" of a religious jamboree.

    Does. Not. Belong. At. Mass. Not before. Not during. Not after.

    You're entitled to like the song based on whatever reason you want. Like rich_enough said, there's nothing wrong with the song as a song. But it's not suitable for Mass.

    Kind of like this style of music, this super rocked-out arrangement of a traditional Christmas carol, isn't suitable for Mass, even though it's done. Click on the large video of "O Come, All Ye Faithful". You won't believe that's a Catholic church. You won't believe that's Christmas Day Mass:
    https://www.churchnativity.com/music/

    That's a "vibrant, loving and exciting parish" too whose music has "strong energy, bass, drums, etc." But they get music at Mass all wrong except for the chanting of the Sanctus, Amen and Agnus Dei that they regularly do, which is a really weird contrast with the rest of the music they perform at Mass.
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Unfortunately, MarkB, we once again disagree. Yet, in some ways, agree.
    It's probably a mere matter of taste.
    I get, though, your problems with the Nativity parish.
    My parish's "Leadership Team" wants to be just like them.
    (It's not going to happen).

    Can you spell out why "Go Make a Difference" has no place in Mass?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    As concisely and as simply as I can: "Go Make a Difference" has no place in Mass because its musical style is secular, not sacred. It sounds secular. It is secular music even though it has religious lyrics. Secular things have no place in Holy Mass.

    To elaborate a bit: when you cross the threshold of the church door you enter a sacred place. That you enter a sacred place should be manifested architecturally, artistically, visually, aurally, olfactorily, musically, ritually and behaviorally. The secular and profane should be left outside.

    If the inside of a church appears and sounds and is pretty much like the outside, what's the point?

    Some misguided clergy and parish leaders think becoming more secular is the answer to dwindling attendance and disinterest in Catholicism. It sometimes works to boost attendance in the short term, but it doesn't have longevity because it's eventually unsatisfying to human spiritual hunger, and often better sources of secular entertainment or inspiration can be found apart from a secularized church worship service. Churn at Nativity Parish is a big problem, according to reports I have read.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,726

    Some misguided clergy and parish leaders think becoming more secular is the answer to dwindling attendance and disinterest in Catholicism.


    I find it strange that some believe that while I am witnessing a surge in converts to Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic parishes. Those groups are hardly known for being secular.

  • Can you spell out why "Go Make a Difference" has no place in Mass?

    It's very clearly anthropocentric. It's not even a hymn, really. And Mass is not the place for anthropocentric pop hits.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,528
    I could understand the intention to create an easy, comfortable experience for outsiders: having the interior of the building look like an auditorium or a shopping mall food court; having no-brainer music that sounds like evangelical choruses from Christian radio. Some clergy and musicians might think that a soft-style approach would help some people feel comfortable setting foot in a Catholic parish church if their background didn't include the faith.

    This approach has its limitations, though: it doesn't provide the liturgical formation that growing Christians need. It reminds me of the idea of having separate Masses for various age groups of young people on Sunday. It's well-meant, and some people say they like it. But it creates a ghetto situation, and doesn't lead the children into the regular parish experience.

    If there were a Mass conducted specifically for "seekers" as a transitional experience for them -- where they wouldn't be expected to know the rites, sing the songs, stand or sit; where people who aren't Catholic and aren't ready to receive Holy Communion could stay in their pews without standing out: there might be some benefit for some souls.

    But treating the whole parish as though they aren't able to appreciate the authentic rites, or genuine church art, or music that sounds like church music: as though these things were over their heads: that's really a kind of disrespect, and an imposition.

    The soft-style approach is ultimately even deceptive, because Christianity is not a low-commitment religion that people can reasonably take or leave, according to their personal tastes and preferences. Belonging to Jesus is a matter of high commitment.
  • It's probably a mere matter of taste.

    We have more than taste to indicate to us what is appropriate for mass - we have the GIRM and other liturgical law, our knowledge of music, liturgy, and history, and most of all, the teaching and tradition of the Church. And then we have the practice - the "taste" - not just of ourselves and our congregations (what we or they like), but that of knowledgeable and prudent people, which should be valued more than that of those who are misinformed or ignorant.

    Instead of asking for proof or arguments why a particular song is not appropriate, why not ask - "What is most appropriate? What is the standard?" The Church has already told us - Gregorian chant. "The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.” By almost every benchmark - rhythm, text, melodic shape - "Go Make a Difference" is far from the standard. (Even on a purely musical and poetic level it's pretty weak.) There is simply better music (and text) out there - so why not aim for that rather than try to justify what clearly falls short?
    Thanked by 3MarkB irishtenor KARU27
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,528
    Peter Kwasniewski's post on NLM today, on the theme, "The way is the goal", expresses further the notion that the medium is the message; style is content.

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2019/02/the-way-is-goal-against-reducing-mass.html
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 994
    Echoing rich_enough, this is what I try to teach my students: when reading the documents, try not to filter them through your experience of what is currently going on in the parish. Try to take the documents at their word when they make recommendations. Then try to figure out, "How can I do what the Church is asking of me? How close can I come to what the Church lays out as the ideal?" It may be that we can't, in our present situation, pull off full Gregorian propers, polyphonic motets, and grand organ music. How close, however, can we come to that ideal?

    This is a far better mindset to begin than the all-too-common method which starts from the other way around. For example, "I want to do X, Y, and Z. Now I will look at the Church's documents to find out if they are specifically prohibited. They're not? Great!"

    This second way of operating is what leaves us with R&B Honey From the Rock propers, Polka Masses celebrated on folding-table-altars, and Hillsong at Mass. They're not specifically prohibited, so don't try to force your taste on me!

    On the contrary, if we start by trying to be as obedient as possible to what the Church consistently recommends as exemplary, we will find that the Good, True, and Beautiful will follow fairly easily. This doesn't impose uniformity, but allows for adaptations to local circumstances, while still focusing our efforts on the objectively Good, True, and Beautiful.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,730
    try to figure out, "How can I do what the Church is asking of me?

    Let me take the contrarian position that this is what one should not do, lest one waste too much time with the Ordinary settings in approved GIA OCP hymnals or documents like Sing to the Lord. I think I've gotten better results starting with things I learned to love in libraries (Bach cantatas), classes (Graduals & 9-fold Kyries), non-Catholic churches (chant in English), concert going (Mozart & Haydn), and early music festivals (Victoria & Josquin), and then searching out loopholes as needed.
    Why would one consider 'aptness' somehow superior to 'taste'?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 994
    Respectfully, Richard Mix, I don't buy that at all. It seems that rather than starting with the Church's consistent recommendations (Gregorian chant, polyphony, pipe organ) you're starting with "stuff I like." That allows it to come down to taste. Your taste is (obviously) good, so I'd probably have a lot of respect for what you wind up programming, but someone else might use that same line of reasoning very differently.

    For example...

    starting with things I learned to love in libraries (Robert Burns poetry and settings of his texts), classes (Berg's Wozzeck), non-Catholic churches (Hillsong), concert going (Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA), and early music festivals (chanson de geste), and then searching out loopholes as needed.


    For the record, I'm not recommending spending too much time on supposedly Church-approved resources like Gather or Breaking Bread, but on Church-recommended genres, as described in official documents.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,542
    I played heavy metal in high school. I studied jazz in college. I enjoy both styles but will never include either of them in the Mass.

    Context matters.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,730
    I've recently been enjoying Schumann's Burns choruses, especially Op. 55, and if I were an even greater enthusiast I'd probably be led to finding a way to use ">the Op. 147 Mass (who knew there were German elevation motets! O salutaris is tucked between Benedictus & repetition of Sanctus). For Wozzeck,, well, maybe try the Unitarians ;-) or just get a weekday job.
    A big part of the problem as I see it is the 'figuring out', but with much respect, Irishtenor, I don't think either of us would buy the notion that telling people to do something they don't like could ever lead to 'stuff Benedict would have liked'.
    Thanked by 1mburrier
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    God doesn't care about the genre, the timbre, the medium.
    The Church doesn't, either.
    As musicians, we receive our instructions largely from the Psalms.
    The Psalms tell us to praise, worship, give thanks, and do so with joy.
    And, sometimes, with sorrow.

    The best reason to program a song like "Go Make a Difference" is because you can and because the message is in accordance with Sending Forth.
    Several church musicians simply haven't been trained to bring the ebullience necessary to make such a joyful, encouraging song work.

    Focusing merely on ancient chant and pipe organ are dead ends.
    Such are the best ways to turn lively sacred art into decrepit museum pieces.

    In other words, many church musicians lack imagination cum talent.
    That makes them angry, boring, and (hopefully) replaceable.


  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,726
    Focusing merely on ancient chant and pipe organ are dead ends.


    And the anointed have been saying that for how long now?
    Thanked by 1mburrier
  • Umm... no.

    We aren't simply musicians - we are liturgical musicians. It's not about what floats our boat as hip cool cats or as "artists", it's about the worship of God and what's relevant in that context.

    The Church is pretty clear about the preeminence of chant. That doesn't mean chant alone. That doesn't mean music only from one period of time exclusively. But at least recognize that there is at least as much danger from trying to be "relevant" and "cool" or to program music simply "because we can" as there is to being tied to a lone genre of the rich diversity of sacred music that is available to us.

    If my "palette" of repertoire doesn't include "Go Make a Difference" and similar, don't make the mistake of thinking that I only work with black, white, and gray. It's just a different range of colors than what you may prefer.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,542
    Obvious Troll is obvious.
    Thanked by 2MarkB irishtenor
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,528
    God doesn't care about the genre, the timbre, the medium.

    On what basis could one state that? Private revelation?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    In other words, many church musicians lack imagination cum talent.
    That makes them angry, boring, and (hopefully) replaceable.


    Let me add to that that besides lacking imagination and talent, many church musicians (not the ones you sarcastically mean) lack knowledge of the liturgy and of sacred music and of the Church's liturgical documents, and those are exactly the musicians that are OCP's and GIA's bread and butter. They play the lite sacro-pop that the major publishers promote, publish, showcase and recommend in their quarterly "liturgy planning" guides and believe in their ignorance that such music is suitable for Mass. Actually, many of them secretly wish they could be rock stars and misuse the Mass and parish congregation as their concert venue; church is the best gig they'll ever get, and their egos take it.

    mburrier, you're not engaging in discussion. You're not responding to points, reasons, evidence or argument. You're being repetitive and tiresome, and for some reason you came to this forum to grind an axe. Why are you so angry about the church's liturgical music tradition and standards?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 994
    Sorry for piling on, but...

    As musicians, we receive our instructions largely from the Psalms.


    This is flat-out false. The psalms are lyric poetry, full-stop. They are not instructions of any sort.

    Our instructions for worship come from the Holy Roman Catholic Church. For starters, I recommend you read:
    --Tra le Sollecitudini
    --Musicae Sacrae Disciplina
    --De Musica Sacra
    --Sacrosanctum Concilium
    --Musicam Sacram

    These are from whence our instructions come. If you aren't at least familiar with what's contained in these documents, you may as well just be parroting what some OCP "peritus" has told you at an NPM convention. Focus on playing and singing music that is worthy of the worship of Almighty God and you'll be on the right track. Eschew anything that focuses on the congregation, rather than God. It's not about us; it's about God.
  • To be fair to MBurrier,

    There is a difference between claiming 2+2=4 and claiming 2+2=5. One is factually accurate, and the other is simply mistaken.

    There is a different difference if one claims "I like chocolate ice cream" and another claims "I like raspberry swirl ice cream". These claims do not impinge on factual questions of the goodness of chocolate or raspberry swirl.

    There is yet another difference if one (faithful Catholic) person claims "Pope Alexander VI is the worst pope in history" and another (also faithful) Catholic claims that "Pope Francis, currently reigning, is the worst pope in history". Here, one must identify what it means to be the worst pope, and gather sufficient evidence to render a judgment, but it is possible to do.



    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    OCP posted this new video of Steve Angrisano, who composed "Go Make a Difference," talking about his new composition of Psalm 51. It's like an imitation James Taylor ballad. The ironic thing is that prior to playing the song he talked about how important it is to give appropriate expression to the words of the psalm musically, yet I don't think he succeeded in that at all in this composition. It's semi-bluesy and in the style of an unplugged, soft-rock romantic ballad. Total mismatch of words and music. "Go Make a Difference" better matches the words to the musical style.
    https://youtu.be/IS7O10Va4K8?t=260

    Maybe okay for a youth retreat campfire. Definitely not suitable for Mass. I wouldn't even use it at a penance service. It departs so much from an appropriate sacred style for liturgical music by bringing the secular world into the sacred liturgy.

    Is this the sort of music that Archbishop Sample said in his letter is dignified and proper for Mass? Definitely not! OCP, take note.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    God doesn't care about the genre, the timbre, the medium.
    The Church doesn't, either.
    Then how does one explain the many documents outlining what genre, timbre and mediums the Church approves?

    (e.g., THIS! https://www.amazon.com/Papal-Legislation-Sacred-Music-1977/dp/0814610129)
    Thanked by 2MarkB CHGiffen
  • Just my 2 cents... I met Angrisano at an immersive chant workshop. His heart is in the right place.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,726
    As I would say, his heart is in the right place but his behind isn't. Of course, being a southerner I would probably add, "bless his heart." Notice how I might have cleaned that up a bit?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,730
    the many documents outlining what genre, timbre and mediums the Church approves?

    As soon as that definition of objective beauty gets nailed down, I imagine the legislation will look less like weather reporting and a single document will suffice.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,069
    They already PERFECTED the single document on sacred music over 100 years ago... no one listened.

    https://adoremus.org/1903/11/22/tra-le-sollecitudini/

    Papal Letter to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome – December 8, 1903

    Among the cares of the pastoral office, not only of this Supreme Chair, which We, though unworthy, occupy through the inscrutable dispositions of Providence, but of every local church, a leading one is without question that of maintaining and promoting the decorum of the House of God in which the august mysteries of religion are celebrated, and where the Christian people assemble to receive the grace of the Sacraments, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, to adore the most august Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and to unite in the common prayer of the Church in the public and solemn liturgical offices. Nothing should have place, therefore, in the temple calculated to disturb or even merely to diminish the piety and devotion of the faithful, nothing that may give reasonable cause for disgust or scandal, nothing, above all, which directly offends the decorum and sanctity of the sacred functions and is thus unworthy of the House of Prayer and of the Majesty of God. We do not touch separately on the abuses in this matter which may arise. Today Our attention is directed to one of the most common of them, one of the most difficult to eradicate, and the existence of which is sometimes to be deplored in places where everything else is deserving of the highest praise — the beauty and sumptuousness of the temple, the splendor and the accurate performance of the ceremonies, the attendance of the clergy, the gravity and piety of the officiating ministers. Such is the abuse affecting sacred chant and music. And indeed, whether it is owing to the very nature of this art, fluctuating and variable as it is in itself, or to the succeeding changes in tastes and habits with the course of time, or to the fatal influence exercised on sacred art by profane and theatrical art, or to the pleasure that music directly produces, and that is not always easily contained within the right limits, or finally to the many prejudices on the matter, so lightly introduced and so tenaciously maintained even among responsible and pious persons, the fact remains that there is a general tendency to deviate from the right rule, prescribed by the end for which art is admitted to the service of public worship and which is set forth very clearly in the ecclesiastical Canons, in the Ordinances of the General and Provincial Councils, in the prescriptions which have at various times emanated from the Sacred Roman Congregations, and from Our Predecessors the Sovereign Pontiffs.

    It is with real satisfaction that We acknowledge the large amount of good that has been effected in this respect during the last decade in this Our fostering city of Rome, and in many churches in Our country, but in a more especial way among some nations in which illustrious men, full of zeal for the worship of God, have, with the approval of the Holy See and under the direction of the Bishops, united in flourishing Societies and restored sacred music to the fullest honor in all their churches and chapels. Still the good work that has been done is very far indeed from being common to all, and when We consult Our own personal experience and take into account the great number of complaints that have reached Us during the short time that has elapsed since it pleased the Lord to elevate Our humility to the supreme summit of the Roman Pontificate, We consider it Our first duty, without further delay, to raise Our voice at once in reproof and condemnation of all that is seen to be out of harmony with the right rule above indicated, in the functions of public worship and in the performance of the ecclesiastical offices. Filled as We are with a most ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church. And it is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple.

    Hence, in order that no one for the future may be able to plead in excuse that he did not clearly understand his duty and that all vagueness may be eliminated from the interpretation of matters which have already been commanded, We have deemed it expedient to point out briefly the principles regulating sacred music in the functions of public worship, and to gather together in a general survey the principal prescriptions of the Church against the more common abuses in this subject. We do therefore publish, motu proprio and with certain knowledge, Our present Instruction to which, as to a juridical code of sacred music (quasi a codice giuridice della musica sacra), We will with the fullness of Our Apostolic Authority that the force of law be given, and We do by Our present handwriting impose its scrupulous observance on all.


    Love the last part... You Have No Excuse Any More!!!!

    Hence, in order that no one for the future may be able to plead in excuse that he did not clearly understand his duty and that all vagueness may be eliminated from the interpretation of matters which have already been commanded, We have deemed it expedient to point out briefly the principles regulating sacred music in the functions of public worship, and to gather together in a general survey the principal prescriptions of the Church against the more common abuses in this subject. We do therefore publish, motu proprio and with certain knowledge, Our present Instruction to which, as to a juridical code of sacred music (quasi a codice giuridice della musica sacra), We will with the fullness of Our Apostolic Authority that the force of law be given, and We do by Our present handwriting impose its scrupulous observance on all.

    Read the doc on the link above.
  • >> The best reason to program a song like "Go Make a Difference" is because you can

    actually, that's about the worst reason I can think of.
    OK, yes, in fact, I can; but if I did, that'd be the last thing I did as CD.
    My place not to put something in there because I can, but to program, within the guidelines given by the Church cited above, what I believe will give glory to God and hopefully draw the hearts and minds of the congregation to Him in prayer.

    BTW I believe some of the documents above forbid the use of music with a pronounced beat - which would include the back beat of "Go Make a Difference".

    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Fair point.


  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 994
    Just because something (the timbrel) is mentioned in Scripture doesn't mean that you have free rein to use it during Mass. It's like you're free associating or doing a Mad Lib or something.

    Murder, adultery, thievery, bathing our feet in the blood of our enemies -- all mentioned in Scripture. They don't have a place in the Sacred Liturgy.

    "Make a joyful noise" -- are you sure you know what that means? Are you sure you know *when* and in what context we ought to make a joyful noise?
  • MBurrier,

    The "gatekeepers" are trying to be faithful to what the Church has taught over centuries. They're not self-appointed.
    Why do you claim they have meager understanding and mediocre talent, since you don't know the talent of any of these people?

    The stoning of blasphemers is also mentioned in Scripture. Should we incorporate that in liturgy? What about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, since those might be musical sounds?
    Thanked by 1rich_enough