Bishop Vann Music Video
  • Although this was "published" two years ago, I've only just been introduced to it, and it appears to have recently received a lot of new traffic based on the comments.

    This is really something.

    https://youtu.be/JArgRppKm6c
    Thanked by 2MarkB Incardination
  • MarkB
    Posts: 878
    Horrid. Comments for the video have been disabled, so I'm assuming that lots of the recent commenters were thrashing it deservedly.

    The arrangement sounds like a cheap 1970s soap opera soundtrack, the vocals are obviously and badly autotuned, the affected pious gestures are embarrassingly corny, and Bishop Vann and the priest appear effeminate.

    Please, for the love of God and of the Church, if the Diocese of Orange and Bishop Vann have any self-respect, remove this laughably cringeworthy video from YouTube.

    This kind of crap makes me angry because it makes the Church look pathetic.

    Did they think this would bring young people back to the Church? How out of touch are they in Orange?
  • Wow. Just... wow.
    Thanked by 1MusicaEtCervisiae
  • Comments were disabled within the past hour. Expect the video to be removed next.
  • Shocked but not surprised coming from this Diocese.
    Thanked by 1NeilWeston
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    On another site, a viewer posted some of the comments visible at the time:
    image
  • Isn’t the Diocese of Orange in the center of the Orange County punk rock scene? If they wanted to be effective, they should have gotten some of the local punk bands involved.
  • I've just shown my boys this video. I felt the need to say that it doesn't intend to be parody or satire. When I pointed to the cathedral, several eyebrows ascended in disbelief.
    Thanked by 1NeilWeston
  • MarkB
    Posts: 878
    I looked at other videos produced by and "starring" the Vietnamese priest in the Vann video. Making such videos seems to be his "thing" and he has a fanbase. Is this kind of amateurish schmaltz characteristic of Vietnamese Catholic piety? There are a lot of Vietnamese concentrated in Orange.

    Is this what the Church means by "inculturation?"
    Thanked by 1NeilWeston
  • But seriously, if the Church is serious about this kind of "art", why don't they enlist the help of skilled, bona fide popular artists just as they did with composers of art music in the past? These kinds of songs would never pass muster in any sort of secular setting purely based on musical value, to say nothing of trying to work them into anywhere sacred.

    If I'm going to have to listen to something that has no place in a church whenever I step foot into a suburban parish, I'd at least like it to be AC/DC quality and not some boomer's idea of folk music.
    Thanked by 2NeilWeston CHGiffen
  • I originally thought I should tag this "amusements", but quickly realized that there is nothing funny about this at all. The derision with which the video was met by those who commented on it on YouTube (before the comments were disabled) is hardly surprising. Throughout my career as a church musician I have had to contend with those who propose banality as mission, little understanding its total lack of inspirational power. In a culture where people are exposed to high-quality musical production all the time (thanks to smartphones and Spotify), no longer can half-baked musical attempts cut the mustard. On the whole, in the more successful Bible Churches, the music is done very well by highly skilled musical professionals (whether you like the style or not). While I cannot imagine what possessed His Excellency the Ordinary of the Diocese of Orange to agree to perform in this video, I am sorry he was not better advised by his staff. I'm not sure Pastor Schuller would have ever countenanced something like this.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    Probably church music professionals are not the intended audience.
    Thanked by 2KARU27 PaxMelodious
  • Kathy,

    If I grant you that this is true, surely church music professionals will suffer as a result. I can almost hear it: "Bishop Vann doesn't have those hang ups, so what's your problem?!"
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    A good response would be, "Bishop Vann is not promoting this as liturgical music. This is devotional music, for singing on chancery rooftops or whilst preparing homilies."

    The eternity of God is something we all take for granted, but for many of our brothers and sisters it isn't something they have thought about before.

    If the choice at my deathbed is between hearing this song or Born to Be Wild, I hope it's this. While I agree there are better choices, and while I think the autotune and hand motions were ill-advised, I don't think this one should be despised.
    Thanked by 3KARU27 JL MNadalin
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    Kathy

    This is attrocious. And I am surprised at your lax defense of trashy music, (content, lyrics, composition and production). This is an embarrassment to our faith. Period.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    I don't think anything the bishop sings can be called "trashy," lyric-wise. The first verse is taken pretty directly from Psalm 90, which I am sure cannot be called trashy. So is the first line of the third verse. I hope you agree, Francis, that the Psalm is not trashy?

    The only expression not in the Psalm itself as far as I can see is "Teach us to be patient even as we wait." But I can't find anything condemnable there either.

    If a bishop spoke these words in a homily I would be happy to hear such a homily, and if he prayed them I would be happy to pray with that prayer.

    I don't feel the same about the music or the production, but the words are fine.
    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • Kathy,

    Ps. 90 gave the Devil something to hurl at Christ, but gives us the text for the Tract for the First Sunday of Lent, one of three psalms at Sunday Compline, responses in the Divine Office throughout Lent and.....On Eagle's Wings.

    When St. Francis de Sales says something (or Abp Sheen says something) I take it to be soundly Catholic and (sometimes) challenging. When His Holiness Pope Francis says nearly identical things, I find myself having to be reminded of Francis de Sales and Abp Sheen, for else it sounds "sometimes Catholic and profoundly worrying".
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    Again, On Eagles' Wings is musically inappropriate for Mass. But is there no room for it in anyone's private devotional life?

    Are those our 2 choices: satan or liturgy? What about the other hours of the day? What if people want to praise God with a little of the old Rev. Carey Landry on the safety of their own private youtube playlist?

    I think we should keep our eyes on the ball: liturgical music.

    This is not that. And it's not heresy. And some might find it helpful to prayer. So I don't see the point of bashing it.
    Thanked by 3Andrew_Malton KARU27 JL
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Since this track is just one on Fr. Binh's album, I expect the intended audience is his existing base of friends and fans.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • MarkB
    Posts: 878
    If a similar video had been produced by and starred a group of sincere Catholic teenagers and was filmed in their home or at a park, some leniency in assessing it would be advisable and owed in charity.

    But the video was produced with the express approval of and starred the ordinary of the Diocese of Orange, dressed in his official clerical vesture and filmed at the chancery office, at the bishop's desk, and within view of the cathedral. That gives it quasi-official status as representing the Diocese of Orange.

    Again: teenagers = "okay, I understand." Bishop of Orange = "what the heck was he thinking? Is he out of his mind?"

    Age and position in the Church are relevant for deciding how to respond, evaluate and critique. A bishop is held to higher standards than teenagers.

    Seems to me that maturity, good sense and taste would lead responsible adults to realize how awful the video is and that it presents the Church in a poor light, not the least reason being because it is so easy to mock the amateurish production values of the video and stars the bishop himself.

    It makes the Church look pathetic. Therefore, I will bash it. I will bash it mercilessly, which I would not do for a similar video made by teenagers.

    P.S. Teenagers would probably be able to produce a higher quality video.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    I suppose what I'm really feeling is that many excellent musicians have experienced the kind of rejection that many are levelling at this video, and I don't think it's a good way for us to treat each other in the Church. By all means, the liturgical worship of almighty God should have the highest standards. Quantum potes, tantum aude. But otoh I don't think we should beat each other up if we are all preaching the true God, esp outside of a liturgical context.
    Thanked by 2NihilNominis KARU27
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    MarkB,

    Teenagers are pretty great, and I know a number of them who could be amazing bishops in the long run.

    In the meantime, bishops deserve respect, and the benefit of the doubt that their initiatives are well considered and may be helpful to their flocks.
    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • Honestly, is it worse than this?

    Schmaltz has always been, schmaltz will always be, in every age.

    This is kind of a non-issue. Cutesy, perhaps, like +Sheen on What's My Line.
    Thanked by 3Kathy KARU27 MNadalin
  • Kathy,

    I have for some time tried to address the question (off forum) of what constitutes good music or bad music without reference to the dative case.

    In regard to this video, it's a "lip-sync", so far as I can tell, and the point doesn't appear to be to have anyone grow closer to God. If its purpose is to entertain, I suppose it can find an audience.

    Our devotional life should lead us to Truth Himself. This music and the misused text can't lead people to God because they're not oriented to the same.

    I agree that there is good music which isn't suited to liturgy. (I'm getting ready to have an Elgar fest on Oct 31st, for example, but I might expand the repertoire slightly.)

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    I think the point is precisely to have people grow closer to God, by reminding them of God's eternity and creation's contingency.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 878
    This is the last I will say on this thread: people won't grow closer to God when they are turned off by an incompetent and embarrassing presentation, regardless of the merits of the message considered in itself. Nobody who isn't already Catholic would be drawn to the Church by that video, and I believe even most Catholics would roll their eyes and cringe upon viewing it. It will especially disgust men and boys and make them think that priests are lame instead of admirable. The only group that I think would tolerate or enjoy that video are old Vietnamese Catholic women, and that only because there's a Vietnamese priest singing in the video. The Diocese of Orange is the home of Disneyland, for goodness' sake... local people's expectations for quality of performance entertainment are quite high. Disney would not be successful if it produced videos as awful as this one. This video doesn't measure up at all.
  • local people's expectations for quality
    Well, Micky Mouse was the first thing that came to my mind.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    I don't despise attempts to reach out to old Vietnamese women.
  • :-)
  • Kathy,

    I don't disagree that the goal is to stimulate growth towards God, but I don't see that video as attempting, much less accomplishing the goal.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    Chris, why don't you think the video is attempting that goal?
  • I'm going to defend this, too: cheesy? sentimental? mushy? sappy? sure. But this kind of emotional religious song is normal and popular in Brazil, too. It touches the hearts of some, and here, too, there is a greater expectation of warmth, emotional expressiveness from clergy, from men, etc. The line where it is 'too much' is in a different place.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • Kathy,

    I'll look again, as time allows, but I didn't see a crucifix, or images of the psalmist, or a tabernacle, or any such thing. When we see images of the bishop and one of his clerics, the exterior, only, of that dreadful building.

    I'll admit that the video may be appealing to some segment of the population, but it won't draw that segment closer to God, because it's not attempting to do so.

  • Everybody calm down and watch the vidya again with x2 playback speed. This was clearly made for comedic purposes.
    Thanked by 1MarkB
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    this video popped up after i watched the one discussed:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3H5f7oePQE

    This is a modern treatment of Catholic music that inspires sentiment in a good way. Not my cup of tea as this is somewhat sentimentalized chant, but heh... I would rather see this any day.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    BTW... comments that reflect the video I posted above are a bit dif than those Chonak posted...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    Look, there are legitimate reasons to respectfully make one's needs known to a bishop, and that would include asking for better liturgical music. But I don't see the point of deriding a bishop who is singing a Psalm, outside of liturgy, in a way that maybe helpful to some of his flock.

    On the other hand, I have a story about older Vietnamese Catholics.

    In my parish in San Diego several decades ago, we had enough language groups that we received a dispensation to have a second Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper in Vietnamese. I had been adoring the Eucharist for a while in a separate building after the English/ Spanish Mass, and came back to see how the Vietnamese Mass was doing.

    After a while, they got stuck. What happened was, the young choir leaders did not know how the Liturgy ended, so they sang a regular hymn, and the priest waited, holding the Blessed Sacrament, and the choir didn't know what to do, and the priest waited.....

    I knew the musicians a little, so I took the Pange Lingua music to the keyboardist, and he played it a little before starting to accompany the hymn.

    What happened next was amazing. The church erupted in full throated singing by the older members of the congregation, who knew the Pange Lingua by heart, from learning it as children under oppression.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen BruceL
  • TCJ
    Posts: 861
    When you have that many language groups, just use Latin.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    .
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    FWIW, the recording of Pope St. John Paul II singing the Pater noster with the music track background isn't totally silly. The clip linked above by Nihil is only part of a five-minute track that starts with the plainchant Attende, Domine:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMy-V8C4eic
    The album was a jubilee-year Sony production that added music to various existing recordings, so it didn't involve Pope John Paul making any music videos himself.

    After Attende, Domine it places orchestral music under a papal homily in Italian starting on the words "Thou art my Son; this day I have begotten thee" and proceeding to a reflection on the fatherhood of God. Eventually the Pater noster follows, with a pulsing soundtrack; I suppose they were trying to sound "contemporary", after the track had started with chant and proceeded to a more "classical" sound from the orchestra. Considering how many goofy religious-cultural projects have been produced with the approval of church officials in Italy in the past few decades, this one was not one of the worst.

    Full album:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpT_KCsc7IY
  • Kathy,

    But I don't see the point of deriding a bishop who is singing a Psalm, outside of liturgy, in a way that maybe helpful to some of his flock.


    If this is addressed to me, I'm not deriding a bishop. I'm simply insisting that what he's doing isn't calculated to bring anyone closer to God. Two humans, a cross without a corpus and the outside a glass cathedral are the visuals here, and nothing in this picture could be out of place in a Disneyland advertisement.

    Chonak,

    My apologies.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Hi, Chris: that quote isn't from me.
    [Update: Thanks for clarifying.--RC}