Using a church in a recording
  • I recently saw this recording from this artist on FB. In it she uses a Catholic Church "St. Mary's" in her song "Most High God". This is the parish I grew up in and sang with the choir for three decades, So I'm a little protective of my old parish. Is this proper? Do you need the pastors permission or diocesan permission to use a church in this way?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=VJvK2blFNvo
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,361
    Well, she probably had the pastor's permission. She's a music minister for a Catholic parish, fwiw.
  • When parishes here are used for filming television shows or movies they have to get permission of the archdiocese (they review the script), the Blessed Sacrament has to be moved elsewhere, and a real priest has to be present to make sure nothing weird happens (even something like the actor-priest baptizing the actor-baby incorrectly).
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • If only the same guidelines had been in place when Fr Hood's Baptism was filmed.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • We would all be much poorer off in our knowledge and listening experiences of some of the world's great organs and organ literature if there were no recordings or recitals allowed. I see them as acts of praise, acts of thanksgiving for the gift of music, and as opportunities for evangelism.

    Indeed, an organ recital can be and often is a 'sacred concert' insofar as that the greater part of organ literature is based on sacred cantus firmi, chorales, and hymns, or was intended as ornaments of the liturgy. (The current decadent fad for playing Wagner transcription and such, all the rage now in certain university organ studios, is another matter altogether.)
  • I agree with MJO that choral and organ concerts are certainly permissible and have a rather well-established precedence. That said, this type of music video is a bit more debatable. I take comfort, however, that the lion's share of the video is actually taking place outside of the church and the narrative simply shows her entering the church to sing to God.

    I find it rather sad to read that she is a catholic musician.  What I find odd is that so many catholic musicians try sooooo hard to imitate pop culture. (Don't get me started... I was just lecturing my schola on Wednesday about the how/why we make music 'sacred' —i.e.: totally set apart for God.)

    I really hope she doesn't foist this upon her parish during Mass. Considering her backup choir in the video, I suspect she does, as I'd guess they are her choir members.

    I also find it interesting that she's standing there singing "there is no one like You" and yet they never pan and show Jesus in the tabernacle or even a crucifix. At least she's not standing there with her back to the altar, but still. ugh.
  • It's poor music and the video is dumb. Far from the poorest music or the dumbest ideas foisted upon the Church.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,361
    I would imagine the tabernacle was empty for that recording...at least it ought to have been. And it is shown in passing late in the video (no sanctuary lamp is burning that I can see.) But the image of the cross is shown in light in the background through the vestibule door, completed by reflection from the floor - a rather deliberate effect, I suspect.
  • Liam, I confess, I was skimming about. I didn't care to listen to the whole thing. And even if the tabernacle was empty for the recording, you could certainly close the door and make it look like she was singing to Jesus. But shot after shot is just of her face singing, and not the Person to Whom she was singing.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • MarkB
    Posts: 672
    It's a typical praise and worship song:

    -7/11 song: same seven or so words sung eleven or so times repeatedly, although stretching it out into six minutes is tiresomely excessive
    -"Jesus is my boyfriend" lyrics
    -Emotionally manipulative music and arrangement
    -Emotionally affected facial expressions and gestures on the part of the singers
    -The video and performance style highlight the musician's performance and appearance just like a secular counterpart

    It's not far afield from what OCP has attempted to do with their staff "artists," attempting to transform them into Churchpop, personality cult stars through rock/pop style music, videos, concerts and interviews. She's just imitating what she's seen from Hillsong and the like.

    She does have a pretty voice. I'd like to have her in my choir.

    Here's a brilliantly written and filmed parody of contemporary Christian worship music. It's called "The Worship Song Song":

    https://youtu.be/fWicNLXxtj4
  • Oops.
    I didn't watch the video, and won't, and I'm glad.
    But my commentary still stands.
  • Mark, thank you for that bit of entertainment. I love the forgot to mention Jesus moment.
  • jcr
    Posts: 96
    This is further evidence that the outside world has influenced the Church more than the other way around during our lives. There are many instances of this and the folks on this forum are well aware of it. I have often argued with students, choir members, and Evangelical relatives that the music used in the worship of God in necessarily different than the music of the pop culture and that the music of a corrupted culture must necessarily be corrupt. This video displays this on several levels that really require no detailed explication.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 59
    This is tragic but I’ve seen/heard even worse. Obviously this sort of music should be nowhere near the church let alone be part of the church. Lord have mercy.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 222
    Eh, it's not my preferred music style, and I certainly wouldn't approve of its use in the liturgy, but I see no problem with it as a devotional exercise. You're not the intended audience for this piece. Go take your musical elitism someplace else.
  • the music of a corrupted culture must necessarily be corrupt


    This statement has interesting implications, given the abusive behaviour and subsequent corrupt behaviour that have wracked the church in the last 50 or so years,
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,361
    If one imagines it's just the past 50 or so years, one is very naive.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    If one imagines the music sung in the church has not gone significantly corrupt in the past 50 years, one is also very naive.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • In the US, it was corrupt far before Vatican II. Let's not pretend that the 1950s were a cultural high point in the Church's history.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    as per chonak's request, moving post.
  • donr
    Posts: 968
    I watched the video and I didn't care for it at all. The whole piece focuses on the young woman who has a lovely voice and appears to play the piano to a degree. But I am shocked by the fact that the subject matter of the video was never featured in the video.

    I am sure they received permission from the pastor, but the vigil candle is lit and the tabernacle doors were closed. So that implies the Lord was present in the tabernacle.

    So the pastor should be in trouble by the Bishop. IMHO
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • jcr
    Posts: 96
    There is a level of egalitarianism that is just plain foolish. It is unfortunate, but evident virtually everywhere, that our culture has lost the capacity to gauge appropriateness and to make quality judgments with regard to practically everything. It is not elitist to identify the quality differences between or among things. By quality judgments I do not mean just good or bad, but rather to judgments among qualities (identifying characteristics) of things and to derive from such judgments a position on the appropriateness of a thing for the use to which it has been put. All music is not equal and is, therefore, not all equally appropriate for a given purpose. I won't go into this here, but many people speak of the power of music to communicate, but when pressed on an issue of appropriateness such as we have here and asked "what does the music say?", the answer is always to deny in some way the actual communicative power of the music. Try this sometime. Or try to answer the question yourself in relation to something you may find pleasing on some level, but inappropriate on another.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,694
    [Some of the comments in this thread are off-topic. Please stick to the topic of the original posting.--RC, admin]
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Don9of11
  • jcr
    Posts: 96
    I had intended to comment that permission from the pastor would be required to use the church and that there are conditions, mentioned by others, that need to be met. This is the case for concerts and other sort of "special" events.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,332
    I hope this is not off topic...can someone explain why for example during an organ recital or choral concert of entirely sacred music, the sacrament has to be put away? I am aware of the fairly old document about this that the Vatican put out, but honestly it never made a lot of sense to me. I mean, is there something about offering a concert of music which is going to offend the presence of Christ? Please explain. When i give a concert and the sacrament is taken away, it makes me feel that i am responsible for doing something in the church that is not acceptable, so questionable that we have to hide Christ from it. In my not so humble opinion whomever wrote the documet is promulgating a questionable view of sacred music which is not consonant with the major documents. I am not aware of the level of authority concerning it. I suppose i should look it up. This is a rather different question than the use of a church for a film for instance. In that case, it is understandable.

    When you think further it is a little strange. In the parish I play for, after Mass, there is instruction of the cathecumens in the church after Mass. Yet no document insists that the sacrament be removed when instruction takes place in the church. As well, i have noticed, that during painting, or renovation of a church the sacrament is usually in the tabernacle, and again I know of no directive that demands the removal during such activity. I may be mistaken, but if an activity is so questionable in the church that the sacrament has to be placed elsewhere, that why would that activity even be allowed in a church?
  • Amen to that , Greg!
    I have often felt the same way.
    A recital of organ music that was composed specifically for the mass, or which was conceived for the organ specifically to glorify God in his house (as the greater part of organ literature does - except for some modern concert music) is a sacred event and our Lord present on the altar is the very one being hounoured. This applies equally to sacred choral concerts and sacred organ recitals. Our Lord on the altar would be pleased by this offering of sacred music.

    I know that this is a common practice, but must say that at Walsingham and UST's St Basil's Chapel the Sacrament has not been removed. One wonders at the irrationality of those who are so inimical to organ music.

    Another thing that vexes me is that pastors and clergy in Catholic churches seldom deign to attend these recitals, whether they are by their own organist or a visiting artist. In Protestant churches the pastor would not think of sitting at home while a beautiful recital was being given in his church. It's a given that he will be there and that he will personally support and encourage such events.

    As for recordings in the church? They should be recognised as a means of evangelism to all who hear them. Quite many are those who have been brought into the Church by having heard the beautiful music of the Lord's house.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Elmar
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,332
    Thank you MJO. Yes, I had a friend who returned to the church after hearing the Faure requiem. She said that she sensed the Holy Spirit using the music to draw her to the sacraments.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,225
    I have never understood that either, unless there is some fear the organ concert could get into secular music that is clearly inappropriate. i heard "The King of Instruments" played at a recital in a church and I didn't feel it was particularly appropriate for sacred space. Such pieces, at least in my view, don't belong there. The narrators were costumed and the whole thing was silly.

    Of course, if you are playing Messiaen, you should be taken out and scourged for assaulting innocent ears.

  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 933
    I do think one obvious exception is when all the chairs in a church are turned around to face the organ. I’m not keen on anyone but the organist sitting with their back to Christ (and even then...).

    Part of the problem, as I see it, is that a bunch of non Catholics come in and do not reverence our Lord in anyway. No bueno.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Elmar
  • Carol
    Posts: 690
    I sang in a choir that gave a concert including Mozart's Requiem in a Catholic Church and the tabernacle was open and empty. A fellow chorister, who knew that I was Catholic, remarked, "Oh, the priest takes the communion out so we don't turn our backs on God." She wasn't Catholic, but she was impressed by this sign of reverence.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,225
    Maybe God knowing you were doing Mozart escaped in advance.

    Kidding aside, many Protestants and even Nones have no idea what is going on in a Catholic church. To them, it is adorned with "stuff" and they don't know the significance of any of it.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 344
    I’m trying to remember the last organ recital I went to that stuck entirely to 100% certified-sacred organ music written for liturgical use. Most programs seem to be a mixed bag: somebody’s Mass or Magnificat, some neutral preludes and fugues and an organ symphony, and then an orchestral transcription and a few light novelties (Flight of the Bumblebee on pedals or what have you). That’s good standard programming that more or less draws a crowd and fills up the collection plate. But short of removing the Blessed Sacrament beforehand, what’s the church to do? Pause after the Couperin versets for all to kneel and sing O Salutaris and Psalm 117 while the priest and a server with lighted candle come to remove the Blessed Sacrament, and then pick up with the rest of the program?

    The same thing seems to happen with choral concerts, unless it’s Messiah or some other major work: you get mostly sacred music, and White Christmas or some such at the end.

    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,361
    FWIW, the tabernacle would/should be empty during any concert use of a Catholic church (unless the tabernacle were in a separate chapel, which would be more common in older cathedrals, esp very old cathedrals).
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Flight of the Bumblebees
    Such offerings are all but de riguer in recent times. To me they are an affront. To start with, such arrangements have no business on the organ at all - it isn't exactly as if there weren't more real organ literature than all of us together could ever play. People do this because they think it will make the organ more popular and widen its appeal and thereby 'save it'. The whole idea is cretinesque. At the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, with no less that Ken Cowan as professor of organ all students are required to put this garbage in their repertoires and to perform it at all their recitals. (This is one of the nation's top organ studios!) A large number of virtuoso recitalists will as a matter of course assault their audiences with the Valkyries and worse. Then, there is the travesty of moving the console centre stage in front of the altar and having cameras to display his or her feet. One goes to a recital to be enlightened by and enjoy real organ music. This is rather like displaying a Kinkaid in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa. Some churches have even given their sacred space over to Phantom of the Opera and silent movie performances.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,225
    I think a big part of that is that pipe organs are mostly in churches. Many municipal organs and theater type organs have been removed. The secular venues for that type of music don't exist. If you play, you play where the organs are.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 933
    Kidding aside, many Protestants and even Nones have no idea what is going on in a Catholic church. To them, it is adorned with "stuff" and they don't know the significance of any of it.


    Just got done with a funeral a few minutes ago... tell me about it.

    70ish people and even the family members (who were, in theory, raised catholic) didn't know when to stand/kneel etc. Then you get all the non-catholics who won't even do as instructed:

    "Please kneel."

    *sits back with arms crossed in an obvious sign of protestation to this popery*
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,225
    We had an attendee at a funeral who washed her hands in the holy water font. We looked at each other and said, "Protestant." I found that many raised Catholic have been away from the church so long they don't know what to do, either.
  • WGS
    Posts: 262
    You might be interested in this Theatre Organ site: https://www.dtoskimball.org/

    In 1970, a "Mighty Boyd Kimball Organ" was transferred and installed in a new location at John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Delaware. The organ is maintained and promoted by the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society. For more information and examples of its fantastic sound, check out the website.

    (By the way, John Dickinson was the penman for the Articles of Confederation and was also the first President of the State of Delaware.)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • ...don't know what to do.
    This is hardly a phenomenon limited to Protestants or 'been away too long' Catholics. In today's culture even most Catholics who faithfully attend every week don't know what to do, or won't do it, unless they are told by the priest or a tacky announcer, or would-be cantor to stand, sit, or 'now we do such and such' or to sing such and such, which they will likely not do anyway - and if they do it's only mumble singing. Nothing, absolutely nothing is spontaneous. They actually 'invite' their people to sing! I do not need an invitation to sing, thank you, it is my joy to do so and will do so spontaneously without an insulting 'invitation'. All this is an affront to everyone and a vert ugly blot on the mass.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 980
    Just put a sequence in and most of the people don't know what to do from the sequence until the end of Mass.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Um, what is a sequence?
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    Cathaholics. God Save the Queen and her subjects... especially Politics and Religion.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,694
    I can think of a reason for the Blessed Sacrament to be removed during a concert: it makes possible for non-Catholics to attend the event without any concern that they would be failing in reverence toward the Most Holy.
  • tandrews
    Posts: 103
    So I have a renaissance ensemble doing recordings tomorrow in the Cathedral for their concert titled "Holy Week in France." Yea or nay on the removing the blessed sacrament?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,694
    Here's the CDWDS document on concerts in churches:
    https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/concerts-in-churches-2164

    At item 10f it urges that the Blessed Sacrament be reserved in a side chapel if possible.

    Doing recordings is not quite the same as offering a concert, but it might be good to ask the rector if he wants to relocate the Sacrament for the recording session.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Elmar
    Posts: 370
    I'd like to add that item 10 if said docuent starts with the sentence (my emphasis):
    "In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinary can specify that: ..."
    Then there is a reference to C.I.C., can 938, par. 4: "For a grave cause, it is permitted to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist in some other fitting and more secure place, especially at night."
    Yet this document fails to explain why having the Blessed Sacrament present in a church concert is comparably "grave" as the risk of being robbed from an insufficiently secured tabernacle.

    This leaves me even more puzzled than before... thanks to all posters who offer their valuable hypotheses to a question not adequally addressed in the documents (that I know of at least).
    I can think of a reason for the Blessed Sacrament to be removed during a concert: it makes possible for non-Catholics to attend the event without any concern that they would be failing in reverence toward the Most Holy.
    This comes close to my pet hypothesis: that people may be offended by seeing other people not giving proper reverence to the Blessed Sacrament, but who can hardly be blamed for not doing so.

    Peculiar observation from my own church: When our young priest became pastor, he ordered the Blessed Sacrament to be removed for concerts, without giving public notice of this change.
    Of course the sanctuary lamp wasn't lit, but still people were revering the empty tabernacle ... this even didn't stop when the tabernacle door was left slightly open to make things more obvious (to those who knew what this meant, still no explanation).
    BTW our pastor always personally gave a word of Welcome to the House of the Lord, which is strongly recommended by our bishops.

    This only ended after the local (still more or less catholic) brass band stoped giving their concerts in our church over a dispute about what was acceptable music, and organ concerts were discontuinued a few years ago due to little attendence.
  • cmbearer
    Posts: 71
    Doing recordings is not quite the same as offering a concert, but it might be good to ask the rector if he wants to relocate the Sacrament for the recording session.


    Having to remove the Sacrament during a "recording session" would certainly put an end to "livestream Masses"!
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 950
    This is about veiling the sacred, which is psychologically, not to mention canonically and spiritually, essential.

    The church consists of a temple which houses the altar of sacrifice and reserves the most Holy things (normally veiled), surrounded by progressively less sacred spaces: where the levites assist in their role (the choir); where the faithful can watch, or be close to, the place of sacrifice (the nave); where the faithful enter shelter and gather (the narthex); where the church is situated (the churchyard); and the world outside. In my parish church there are a total of (I think) 28 stairs, in six flights, and three doors, from the secular pavement to the tabernacle.

    A concert is not a ritual activity, it is pro-fane, “in front of (outside) the temple”. That doesn't mean dishonorable or improper, but not sacred, not of the sanctuary, and doesn't belong there. (To what extent the intrusion of technical apparatus to record or broadcast a sacred ritual, profanes the latter, I'm not sure. I'm not keen on broadcast Masses, and I don't think I've ever watched one all the way through. But the Church has allowed it almost as long as it's been possible.)

    In larger churches and cathedrals the chancel has been surrounded by a wall, at least since the 13th century, which veils the sanctuary still further, and historically allows somewhat more profane activity in the nave and even east of the high altar. Or rather, it allows life in the nave to go on without the special reverence towards the altar of sacrifice, and later towards the reserved sacramental presence of God. Public sermons or recollections ...organ recitals ...religious tourism.

    If our churches had chancel veils (as was still common in England where in the Sarum rite the chancel was veiled for the whole of Lent) it would be appropriate to close them when profane (but honorable) activities are going on outside it. And it seems to me that the practice of removing the Sacrament for the duration, and crucially, extinguishing the sanctuary lamp, has the same effect.



    Thanked by 3a_f_hawkins Elmar Liam
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 980
    I thought we were to kneel before the altar, not kneel before the tabernacle
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 933
    You kneel before the altar because of Who is reposed upon it.

    This is one of my big beefs with saying mass versus populum. I once complained to a priest of a small church with a comparably cramped sanctuary, "why cant we simply have the servers walk in front of the altar and bow that way when they need to cross the sanctuary, rather than walking behind and bowing to the altar and putting their butts up to our Lord in the tabernacle?!". I was told the idea is to reverence the altar, however I find it rather odious to bow to a chunk of marble when our Lord is reposed a few paces behind your back in the tabernacle. I simply cannot stomach the idea.
  • In response to a certain comment a ways up from here - even though the Sacrament may not be on the altar one should always make a profound bow (bent fully over from the waist) to the altar itself, which is God's throne. Likewise in passing in front of any other altars which may happen to be in the church - or at out of doors shrines. (Incidentally, a profound bow, not a genuflection) to the Sacrament itself was customary in Sarum usage. If I am not mistaken, this is also Eastern usage.)
    Thanked by 1Elmar