The 10 Worst Catholic Songs of All Time
  • I stumbled upon this video today. I agree that almost all of them are awful, but I think I can find some that are worse. Anyway, they make some good points in thier discussion:
    Thanked by 2MarkB Don9of11
  • The comments section reveals the real problem in Catholic music today: people assuming that, since a song is personally touching to them, that it is also eminently suitable to the liturgy.

    Commenter "David" basically calling for the priests to be censured/defrocked for not supporting the Church's "finest artists" like Marty Haugen (LOL) should be ashamed of himself.
  • Those aren’t the worst. Ever sing “Anthem” or “Ashes” by Tom Conry? What about “Alle Alle Alleuia”?
    Thanked by 1PolskaPiano
  • Commenter Norma shows another interesting dimension: people don't always have the same opinions about what is genuinely good music and what isn't:

    As a long time church musician, to be fair, the renditions you played are absolutely terrible! So cloyingly sweet, drippy and sung with no energy!
    But you did miss one that is still in the Gather book — Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. GAG ME!! I refuse to play it.

    Personally I find it less than helpful that people are so disparaging about music that others find helpful at difference stages of their life: older music (the sort which many of you promote) sounded like a dreadful dirge and turned me off going to church when I was a teen. But it has become a conduit to prayer for me now 30+ years later, and I'm still in the church to experience it because I was nurtured by folk-inspired music in the meantime. Likewise, I don't much care for some of the CCM-style music which some of today's teens like.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 273
    I agree with the criticism of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" as it appears in hymnals. I think it's dreary music even though the text is profound. I'd refuse to play the versions in Gather and Breaking Bread too.

    I'll also risk incurring the wrath of posters here by saying I don't like "Soul of My Savior." It turns an excellent prayer, the Anima Christi, into a schmaltzy, effeminate poem with contrived rhymes and weds it to a melody and SATB arrangement that sounds like a children's lullaby.
    Thanked by 3Carol Liam CHGiffen
  • Carol
    Posts: 488
    Mark, I was just reading the Anima Christi prayer before Mass yesterday and contrasting it unfavorably with the lyrics for "Soul of My Savior." Also, I really like the tune St. Elizabeth but OCP has the insipid words of "Beautiful Savior." Talk about gag!
  • This comment, from the Catholic Talk Show profile itself, offended me:

    Yes. There is a reason parishes play these songs. It’s because the music directions [sic] have bad taste.

    We all know that this is simply not true. All of us making a go of a practical living out of this thing, at some time or another, have to reckon with, and accommodate, at least some of the poor taste of our pastors, congregants, etc.

    It's neither fair nor just to put what is a community expression, the church music culture in a given place (which we are all working to adjust and repair), on the shoulders of a single, often quite powerless, employee.


    What's with the hatred for "Soul of My Savior" and "Beautiful Savior," though?

    Beautiful texts.

    We all want our likes and dislikes to be founded on universal, easily demonstrable principles. This gives us the leverage to enforce them.

    Unfortunately for us, they most often are not. Too often in that case, then, the temptation is to resort to mockery, to assemble the mob and coerce others into agreement.

    I'm not a big fan of the tone these gentlemen take. I feel like they're jumping all over my mother's piety.


    I remember that I was sitting in church as an eight-year-old during my parents' choir practice at 8 p.m. They were singing, "We Remember," which was a parish favorite. I don't program it, but at that time and place, it was a favorite. I was looking up at the Cruci/Risi-fix on the wall and overcome by the reality of the death of Christ by the lyrics of the hymn. I wept tears.

    As I said, I have reasons not to program it liturgically, but it kind of hurt me inside to listen to these men mocking it. And I mostly agree with their ideas.

    Imagine now someone who disagrees with their ideas hearing this. But you don't have to imagine it --- the comments are full of people who feel that their piety is being gleefully stomped and jumped up and down on.


    Context: I ultimately learned all these lessons primarily from my work within EF communities, where the rules are much stricter, and I had a greater presumption of docility towards tradition on the part of the congregants.

    What I learned instead was that, although the extremes are less pronounced, the feelings are no less strong. The community dynamics, and receptivity towards the music are the same. And the way that people attempt to leverage their preferences into universal principles is identical.

    This is everywhere, and to navigate these dynamics successfully is the key to our work. And mockery is not the way to do that. I've been on both sides of it -- I know it.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,341
    Although we agree that we don't like the selections they are putting forward, the tone of mockery is truly not a good way to draw people out of that camp. I don't think it is even possible to 'draw people out'. It requires an act of God that the scales fall from their eyes. Prayer, education and gentle persuasion is our best tact.
  • jcr
    Posts: 59
    The whole discussion regarding the relative quality of musical selections is a trap into which no discerning person should stumble without careful preparation and realistic expectations. Such conversations all too often degenerate into arguments over what I like versus what you like. It is quite possible to recognize the quality of a piece of music without liking it. It is also possible to like a piece of music while knowing full well that it is rubbish. I grew up through my teen years in an Evangelical environment where the musical fare was pretty "popular" in its orientation. Prior to those years, my Dad sang as part of a professional octet in a very large somewhat liberal protestant church in Hollywood that was pretty "high church". I worked in what added up to about 15 different churches between the ages of about 19 until about a year ago when I left a position for a variety of reasons. I am now approaching my 77th birthday and in those many years have no pat argument that will be understood and accepted by those who want to defend inferior music for church. The reason that this is so is that "the man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still". Understanding and being blown away by a devastating aesthetic argument are two different things. These fellows disparaging the musicians, composers, etc. are going nowhere with this simply because:
    1. they don't know what they are talking about
    2. if they did know what they were talking about, the arguments they would have to present would be mystifying rather than enlightening to those they are trying to convince
    3. The real problem is one of a change of mind and heart in people and this is not accomplished by these methods.
    People need many things and bullying is not one of them. We bring people along by small steps and by experience with the transcendent beauty of fine, well crafted, beautifully performed music. You cannot just sit someone down and give him a lesson he doesn't want about a subject he doesn't care about and expect that he will gratefully go off a changed person. It requires a bigger investment than that. Most of you on this blog know that and have given a large chunk of your lives in the service of the idea that it is possible. Hope is a theological virtue and one that I see demonstrated here all the time. Keep on keeping on!
    Thanked by 2Carol NihilNominis
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 200
    Oh my. I have to laugh, because if I don't I think it'll just be despair. We'll just keep on singing chant and polyphony, it's just easier.
  • jcr
    Posts: 59
    I hope that I haven't contributed to anyone's despair. There are some successes that have been recorded, but they are purchased at a price. The problem with quality judgments is that they require a willingness to change because it makes sense to change. Many folks are trapped in a mind set that is very difficult to cut through. In the last church my wife worked was a protestant church where a family member of ours said that they still sang traditional hymns but that when the older folks died off it would all go contemporary. The theology is going that way now as they shop for a new pastor. We need to get to younger people than ourselves and let them know that history did not begin when they were born. How can that be done? Each situation requires its own solution. Note that the guys in the 10 worst Hymns broad cast want to blame the problem on the "old" people. Well, as one of the old people, I abandoned popular music around 1963 because it was pretty awful. I listen every now and then because we need to know what is going on, but my periods of doing that have slowed 'way down more lately. It is the truth that our culture is sick. We can strive to improve it, or give up and let it go without a fight. Can we have an influence? Sure! Will it be enough? Maybe not. However, as Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, "God has not called us to be successful, He has called us to be faithful."
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,339
    "The 10 Worst Catholic Songs of All Time"? Talk about hyperbole! I wonder how many pre-Vatican II hymnals the creators of this video studied.
  • There is hierarchy throughout creation...
    what would be some of the worst chants?
  • I'm surprised "One Breaaaaad (pause/gasp) One Bodyyyyyyy" didn't make the list :)
    Thanked by 2Carol Don9of11
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 274
    Although we agree that we don't like the selections they are putting forward, the tone of mockery is truly not a good way to draw people out of that camp. I don't think it is even possible to 'draw people out'. It requires an act of God that the scales fall from their eyes. Prayer, education and gentle persuasion is our best tact.

    Francis, your statement reminds me of how some here on the forum characterize devotional music of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's somewhat poetic that music from the last 25 years is meeting with uncharitable remarks. Of course, perhaps I am the only one who sees this distinction and I do not direct any hostility toward Francis, only that what he said is true of many here on the forum.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,930
    It is good advice indeed from Francis. While we can have a laugh at inferior songs, the way some people write on the internet comes across as really insulting and unappealing. Sometimes readers contact me to say so.
    Thanked by 2Don9of11 CHGiffen
  • In addition to insulting parish-goers, I worry that this kind of emotionally-driven, humourous criticism can lead to the idea that we're taking stances based on personal preference, rather than the sober guidelines and ideologies of the Church. If we want to be taken seriously, we need to present serious, theologically-grounded critiques of this repertoire, rather than assuming that laughing at how stupid it is (not that it isn't stupid, mind you) is all that needs to be done to win over the average Catholic.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I couldn't finish the episode. Anyone notice the priest seemed uncomfortable with the tone of the conversation?
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • MarkB
    Posts: 273
    Better than griping about bad and inappropriate music, why not offer good and appropriate music as a model? Then record the Mass and post it instead of a podcast so that people can view and hear what a well-prepared and celebrated Mass is?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,616
    MarkB it's too large a topic surely? there are churches of all sizes and resources. A neighbouring parish has a Sunday congregation of about 60 and no musical instrument, there is official good and appropriate music, from GS or some adaptation to English. But I could devise at least three quite different exemplars suitable for them, just from the books I have on my shelves.
  • Schoenbergian,

    I agree with most of what you've written in your most recent post, but it is important to take the actual blood pressure of actual "average" Catholics, and not use some convenient stereotype of "average" Catholics.
  • This list presupposes that something worse will never be written.
    Thanked by 1toddevoss
  • There is hierarchy throughout creation...
    what would be some of the worst chants?

    Homo quidam
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,155
    Does anyone remember "moratorium on the music of Hagen and Haas?" Regardless of your views, it was really funny.
  • Ghmus,

    It took hold among those who already inclined to it, converted a few, and hardened the position of its opponents.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 273
    I think you can add to the list this song being recorded as the 2020 LAREC theme song. Salsa music at Mass? Archbishop Gomez might be the new president of the USCCB, but his archdiocese is a mess and his annual conference spreads error and poor example:
  • Archbishop Gomez might be the new president of the USCCB, but his archdiocese is a mess and his annual conference spreads error and poor example:


    Your use of the word "but" surprises and confuses me. Given how the choice is made for who will be president, and given the state of the bishops in this country (in terms of their teaching, governing and sanctifying; I don't know the state of anyone's soul) surely it should have read " ; unsurprisingly, his archdiocese..."