Young Catholics and Sacred Music
  • Since implementing musical changes in the parish we have seen an increase of young adult Catholics. I am wondering if anyone knows of any good studies or surveys that would provide data around the interest of young Catholics in chant and more traditional liturgical practices. All of the articles I have found thus far are based more analogy than on hard data. This is my momentary Christmas anxiety distraction ;)
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores johnpb
  • Reverend Father,

    My experience suggests that Catholic youth (like youth elsewhere) yearn for what isn't a waste of time. If they can get the same milquetoast information from the culture as from a sermon, they're likely to tune it out. If they've been told (by word, or by example) that Mass is somehow about them, and if they've bought that lie, they may get exhausted because they're suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    Those who haven't bought the lie, but see that what they're frequently offered (musically) as not of enduring value are willing to see chant as part of the solution.... but they may not be aware of the existence of (or permission to use) chant.

    Additionally, if their only exposure to chant is Advent and Lent, or the Requiem's Ordinary, they're likely to conclude that chant is all somber (not sober) and depressing. Imagine the experience of the students I taught a class to, several years ago... when I sang for them other parts of the repertoire!

    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • jclangfo
    Posts: 134
    What I've heard from numerous sources is that all the data shows that what young Catholics want from their sacred music is for it to be objectively good. They have little preference, generally speaking, about style. They want whatever style it is to be done to a high standard. This at least is the claim of the DoM in my diocese, who says he did a study on this within the last decade.

    I say this as a Catholic young adult. There are a lot of boomers on this message board pontificating about what Catholic young adults want. I'm curious if anyone else on this message board is in the 20-30 age demographic.

    To put my cards on the table, I direct a contemporary choir at the campus ministry of a major public university. We play primarily praise and worship (license from CCLI), with about 30% of our repertoire being a blend of post-Vatican II Catholic songs from OCP/GIA and traditional hymnody. Students are excited to be a part of my choir because our choir has a great culture and we play objectively good music at a high level. Recruiting students to join my choir is easy. I've been doing Catholic liturgical music in a university setting for a little under a decade. Here are some observations I have made:

    1. Students want their music to be meaningful. Students love it when the lyrics are profound and the music sets in the text in a way that gives the text even greater meaning than when spoken.
    2. Students have no issue with old music, but will definitely take issue if the music program's culture is emblematic of a dated cultural perspective. Most people on this thread are aware of the theological impoverishment of much of the post-Vatican II music. This is unappealing to young people. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't sing folk songs though - it means you should find the gems and get rid of a lot of the stuff that doesn't deserve to stand the test of time.
    3. Young people want to be in a choir with other young people. A major impediment to the involvement of young people in a parish music program is a choir that has become a clique of old timers. Said clique has very often become about placating the feelings of the choir members rather than about being excellent at music. Young people HATE IT when a choir has accepted being bad in order to make the members feel good. No young person, ever, is going to be fired up about joining a musical ensemble filled with people their parents and grandparents age doing their jobs poorly. If you are trying to make changes to your music program, the singular most important thing to change is the culture so that your choir is pursuing excellence in a manner appealing to all age demographics.
    4. Young people tend to be non-ideological about music selections. Most of them like what they grew up with. If their parish had Breaking Bread, they probably like the music in it. Same if they had the St. Michael Hymnal. Same if they went to the Lifeteen Mass. If you pick songs that are objectively good, regardless of style, they'll probably like them. Furthermore, anyone who is telling you either "young people want all praise and worship" or "young people want all traditional music" is misrepresenting the vast majority of young people. They want the music to be good and generally enjoy it when the choir picks good songs from a diversity of styles. My choir has played praise and worship, folk, hymns, and Taize chants and the students in my choir love all of these songs.

    Switching from a normal Catholic music program to an exclusively traditional music program is unlikely to lead to long term growth in your young adult participation, especially the further you go towards chant. Instead, you're likely to fall into the following trap: that is, there is a pre-existing population of young adult Catholics, maybe 10% of the market, that has a strong preference for traditional music. If no other parish in easy driving range offers what this population wants, you'll quickly corner that segment of the market. However, this will not lead growth in the total number of young adults who attend Mass on Sunday, you'll just have poached people from other parishes. Meanwhile, you'll have given yourself a false signal that what you are doing is really motivating young people, and double and triple down on what you are doing. You'll then experience cognitive dissonance as to why what you saw working previously isn't producing results.

    To make more Catholic young adults attend Mass, you need to fundamentally change the culture of your parish. You need to equip the member of your parish to extend invitations to people they've never invited before, equip them to be on mission, and inspire them to live out their faith day in and day out in a way that an unbelieving world finds compelling. 95% of what will make people choose to attend or skip Mass has nothing to do with the music program. However, the competence of your music ministry says something major about whether the people at your parish care. If the music is consistently done badly, it sends the message that no one here cares. If the music is consistently done in a way that is self-serving to the members of the choir at the expense of the congregation, that tells the congregation that the parish is here to serve a clique of insiders rather than to serve them. And on the other hand if the choir is awesome week in and week out, that tells people "wow, people really care about liturgy here. This is something people think is important and maybe I should too. I didn't realize Mass was so important."
  • jclangfo, I'm in the 20-30 age group. I'm in college and plan a lot of the music for my Newman Center. Myself and the other musicians (mostly other students with a couple others mixed in) overwhelmingly prefer traditional music. The other students seem to be fairly supportive of traditional music. This is especially true among the daily mass attendees. I haven't gotten any negative feedback. I have had some questions on why we do what we do, but the questioner generally responds positively to my answers.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,264
    Father, one Lent I dug up a big piece of lawn and planted a garden as my anxiety project.

    I don't know of any studies. What I've seen, across the country, is an apparent decline in median age in parishes that take the liturgy seriously, in either form of the Rite.

    FSSP Masses are normally crowded with young families, and so are reverent Novus Ordo Masses. People will travel for these things, and spread the word. It can be a bad or aging neighborhood too. The music really matters, but so do other forms of reverence, including a robust confession schedule, solid preaching, beautiful ceremony.

    It seems to me that these good parishes also seem to have a stronger level of engagement. People stay after Mass, go to classes, etc.

  • Greetings, Father -

    I have one book that I would recommend heartily to you. It is -

    Music and Morals: A Theiological Appraisal of the Moral and Psychological Effects of Music.
    Author: Basil Cole, OP
    Publisher: Alba House, New York
    ISBN: 0-8189-0669-X
    It can probably be had from Amazon

    To that I will echo some of the above comments and would have this to add -

    It is of vital importance that you engage a musician of impeccable credentials and a gift not only with adult choirs, but an ability to relate to children of all ages and to imbue in them a love of the Church's historic chant, choral repertory, hymnody, and liturgy. It is often heard that the children in this area or that parish have acquired a great love of chant, etc., whilst those in another place have acquired the same love and enthusiasm for less desirable forms of so-called 'contemporary music'. Both sets of children, no matter their learned and taught taste, generally expect their music to be 'well performed'.

    I say 'learned' because that is the crux and fundamental factor that determines into which group children will fall. Children (perhaps the majority of them) come to us knowing little or nothing about the Church's music - they know only what they are taught. If they are taught by a person who is skilled in forming their minds to the love of chant and choral music, and hymnody they will grow up loving those things and looking the other way when confronted with music of a very different genres and spiritual worth that mimic the styles of pop musicians, entertainers and such and haven't the vaguest resemblance to our heritage of Church music and its modern heirs. So, there are two very generalised camps into which our children may grow. Some will say that 'children and youth want "contemporary music" done well'. If that is true it is because they have so formed the minds of their students and implied or outright taught them to frown upon chant and other historic church music. The same is true of those children and youth who love chant, choral music, and hymnody. They love these things because they have been taught to love them by a skilled teacher who has instilled this love in them. It is, therefore, not tenable to say or imply that all children want chant, etc., or that all children and youth only want what is somewhat presumptuously referred to as 'Glory and Praise'. All (or perhaps most) children 'want' and value what they have been lovingly taught.

    It is the teacher and the teaching that are the most important elements in deciding with which camp one's youth will identify. It is not 'all children, or "today's children" like A, or that they all like B. They don't, and nobody should presume to say that they do. They like what they have been taught by a teacher whom they love and respect. If you want your children to love chant, choral music, and hymnody you should find a highly skilled and credentialed teacher who will teach them those things. They are not born liking chant or 'contemporary music'. They like what their respected and beloved teachers have taught them. Be very, very careful in choosing their teacher.

    Hierarchy is a reality that permeates all of creation, from the lowest insect or weed, to the loveliest of flowers and intelligent animals - even the elements of the cosmos and the building blocks of all matter, organic or other. Catholics, of all people, know that hierarchy is a condition of relationships in the Church, and of the Church's relationship to God. Hierarchy is definitive of all creation, human or Godly, and music, like art and literature, is no exception. All music is not equal - in spiritual worth, aesthetic value, aedification of the person, or in the development of intellectual and moral fibre - not to mention its contribution to human progress, civilisation, and heritage. Pop and various entertainment genres with 'sacred' texts are not by any stretch of the imagination equal to Bach, the renaissance masters, Gregorian chant, traditional hymnody with its highly literate texts and theological depth, and modern masters who write serious church music and are the true heirs of the masters of yesteryear.
  • jclangfo
    Posts: 134
    M. Jackson Osborne and I agree that people are going to like what they are familiar with and especially what they were raised with. For example, while Eagle's Wings is typically a term of abuse on this message board, any time I've programmed it the college students have been like "oh I love this song so much!!"

    MJO's take has an implied value judgement in it that I disagree with, which is, that since children will like whatever they grow up with, that they ought to grow up with chant. I think that all liturgical music is beautiful (or at least that there are many gems in every genre) and personally I hope that our children have a robust liturgical music education where they learn to appreciate what is excellent about every genre the Church has to offer. When I was younger, I thought of my preferred styles as "good" and "appropriate" for the liturgy and the styles I didn't like as being less good or suitable. As I've grown to appreciate what makes each genre of music great and how each genre of music goes about communicating a sense of the sacred, I've come to appreciate how they all reveal God to me in different ways. Personally, I weep at the liturgical balkanization of our parishes and I am a proponent of blended worship where people experience multiple styles of Music within the Mass. I wish we could get beyond saying "we play only [my preferred] style at this Mass" and instead play whatever songs are most apt for the celebration.

    I'd also like to address the ubiquitous trope on this message board of "young people who grew up with folk/praise/OCP/GIA flock to traditional music as soon as they are exposed to it." There's certainly a basis in fact to this trope. However, I think that the development of this trope misreads the facts. In my life experience, young people who grew up in a parish with a highly capable contemporary music program like contemporary sacred music. However, there are unfortunately a legion of incompetent contemporary music programs. There are particularly many incompetent contemporary music programs playing Haugen/Joncas/St. Louis Jesuits/typical post-Vatican II folk music. Young people have a vehement distaste for incompetent music ministries. As I stated in my previous post, an incompetent music ministry sends a loud and clear message to the parishioners that the Mass is something that the people putting it on think is unimportant. The trope that I am referring to is in my opinion the result of young people encountering capable traditional music after having only ever experienced incompetent contemporary music. Traditional styles of liturgical music have a higher barrier to entry in terms of talent (an actually capable contemporary choir has an equally high barrier to entry, but culturally we've come to tolerate contemporary music done poorly), and so your typical traditional music problem is more likely to be competent than your typical contemporary music program.

    Likewise, proponents of the supremacy of traditional liturgical music should have their eyes wide open that the process outlined in the previous paragraph works equally well in reverse. If you have a contemporary music program that is good and loved by the parish, and you replace it with a traditional music program that does a poor or milquetoast job, people will resent the change and create even greater demand than there was before for contemporary liturgical music. I'm hearing more and more stories of young priests coming into a parish, imposing exclusively traditional music when the contemporary music program was good and well loved, the traditional music being done poorly or "just ok", and the whole thing blowing up in the face of the priest leading to a return of the previous music. At the parish where I am now, the pastor tells me that a previous music director replaced everything with chant at our most popular Sunday Mass, and the congregation at that Mass proceeded to drop by more than half. I warn anyone considering doing this to consider that if you have a well-established contemporary music program, you likely have the institutional knowledge and ability to be good at contemporary music and that you likely do not have the institutional knowledge and ability to be good at traditional music. I've heard stories of entire contemporary music programs being replaced with the one or two people in the parish who knew chant, and of course, this doesn't end well.

    If it is important to you that your parish have traditional music, I agree with MJO's take that you need to find a music director with impeccable musical ability. This means at a minimum a bachelor's degree in music with significant experience in the desired genre. Some might say that even a master's is the minimum. I would add that this person also needs exceptional leadership ability, especially if you are planning a transition of music style, and that this person needs the pastoral skill to do it slowly and gently. It's a pet peeve of mine that job requisitions for Catholic music directors require a credential in music but no credential in leadership skills. In my view the ability to build a culture, organization, and inspire the members thereof is more important than technical musical skill, because when you have a culture people want to be a part of you can find people who have the skills. Really, no matter what style you want your choir to have, you want the above traits in your music director. I think that lots of people don't like the music at Mass because the parish is cheaping out on who the DoM is. If you want your choir to be awesome, you need to spend the money on an individual who has the skills to make this happen.
  • Re: the Gallup poll cited in the link above . . . let's hope and pray that "sermon content" is not what draws most Catholics to Mass.
  • I'm 32 and have been on this board since possibly my teens.

    While I am not as liturgically conservative as most on this board, I prefer organ and chant to piano, guitar, rock band, etc. I do think there is a place for contemporary music, but it must be appropriate for the Mass, and should be of an appropriate quality.

    I think you will find a lot more young people on this site than you expect. And I think young people are sick of being force fed bad music.
    Thanked by 1Jehan_Boutte
  • First of all, despite our deep differences, I'm happy that jclangfo has returned to regularly posting on this forum.

    I think the dichotomy between "contemporary" and "traditional" is a false one. There are many traditions in the church that have been incredibly destructive (poor operatic Masses, the music of the Cecilians) or seemingly concocted out of nowhere (modern Responsorial Psalm dogma) and should not be retained. Similarly, even in this creatively and artistically bankrupt age, there are present-day composers writing works of exquisite beauty and liturgical sensitivity that deserve a place alongside the masters of the past.

    I prefer the terminology "popular" vs. "learned", which eliminates most of the biases that tend to creep into these discussions.
  • I am 31, and while anecdotal, what I have observed is the following:

    Anyone my age or younger who is still going to mass is doing so volitionally as no parents can force them anymore. 90%+ of the time, they are seeking to be grounded in tradition, or are certainly very sympathetic to it. Any parish in the area that has any whiff of tradition tends to draw the younger families.

    Described as a trope above, I squarely fit into the category of someone who grew up on a 100% GIA diet, at a rather large parish with multiple choirs, trained cantors, and two organists. The program was, and is, very good. That said, I still felt like I had been robbed of my inheritance the first time I attended a traditional liturgy. I was quite angry, in fact. I was blown away the first time I attended a Christmas Eve mass that was adorned with a Palestrina mass setting. I was honestly dumbfounded; I didn't even know parishes did this type of music anymore. I thought it was squarely the provenance of special ensembles located in Britain for secular concerts. I had no idea it was even an option as I had never once, in 25 years of being a catholic experienced it. It was—to put it mildly—a revelation.

    A lot of the issue I've encountered in my own ministry with shifting music to the more traditional (with increasing inclusion of chant) has been the "why though?". "What's wrong with the music we have now?" Curiously, even my predominantly baby boomer choir is very open to the change whenever I take time to talk about the tradition of a particular style, or, increasingly, discuss the profound text of the propers, which, apart from the eldest schola members who grew up in the old rite, has been completely unknown until now. We had a very productive discussion about Rorate cæli desuper for instance. Anyone who is even nominally aware of the state of modern catholicism will suddenly be taken aback by the phrase, "Jerusalem is a wasteland". You won't find that line in any hymn, but it is so laden with meaning and profundity that it begs to be sung. So, oddly, it is the texts, and only secondarily the music that has resulted in increasing buy-in from my choir. I've also made public appeals to my parish by making little speeches before mass at various times; "this chant has been sung for hundreds of years and was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas himself!" sort of thing.

    There are a group of younger music ministers in my area (all under 40; most early-to-mid 30's, predominantly MM trained). As best I can tell, to the last one we are trying to reincorporate traditional music in our programs. I suspect that with the higher level of training, not only are their personal proclivities toward tradition showing through, but also their training to assess that the traditional polyphony, for instance, is objectively better music, and of a higher compositional and liturgical caliber than most of what is published by GIA and OCP. [If anyone feels compelled to argue this last point, I'd politely suggest this is not the thread and I'm sure there are 10's of previous threads dealing with this exact issue.]

    I can also report that I have received the most wonderful and surprising feedback from the most unlikely of faces. I particularly hear from people who visit our parish for the first time who notice a(n apparently) staunch difference from the music at their own parishes. They are always grateful for our music and most of them mention the chanting as specifically touching them.

    I've been told among other things:
    "it just feels so holy!"
    "I really felt like I could pray while you were singing."
    "It's very peaceful!"
    "I could just tell that you put a lot of effort into the music and that it's very important; it really made an impression upon me"
    "It's really different than what I'm used to hearing but strangely I really liked it."
    etc. etc. I even had one woman who was totally unfamiliar with chant ask me if I had made recordings that she could buy. She was so touched she wanted to listen to more outside of mass. If that's not a testament to the power of traditional music, I don't know what is.

    So I know that even if a few grey hairs don't understand it, the traditional chanting and motets ARE making a difference and impression upon many people—often those whom I'd least expect. I should mention, however, that it has taken 2.5 years to get to chanting all of the propers (almost exclusively in English), and prior to covid, that was alongside other hymnody. So it hasn't been a total bull in a china shop situation.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,140
  • Serviam, Bobby, others,

    I'm not 20-something, since my eldest son is now 24, but my experience with my own children and other young people mostly squares with what you've described.

    Sometimes "learned" is, in spite of itself, rejected. The daughter of the folk-group leaders (25 years ago) who joined my young-persons choir was overjoyed that we didn't sing what she called "Swing Through the Mountains".
  • Serviam, I've had people tell me some of the same things regarding chant. The one I get the most often is definitely "I was really able to pray while you sang the chant."

    I grew up in a contemporary parish with Breaking Bread as the main music resource. When I started college and began going to mass at the Newman Center where I am now, I was introduced to chant. I love the feeling of transcendence that comes with singing chant. It is so unlike anything else we hear. I feel immediately connected to the divine when I either sing or hear chant sung at mass (either in English or Latin).
  • That’s the most common comment for me too.

    My main thing is the link chant has with the past. sing something that every generation for a 1000 years has been singing... it’s genuinely transcendent—in the literal and figurative senses.

    In Europe I went to mass in a church that was (then) 987 years old. I did the math during the sermon and I almost quaked with wonder. Not only does my heart desire to worship in such spaces, it desires to worship the same way, to be a living link with the “past”.

    I’ve seen what modernism has done to the church (and it ain’t good!) which is why I seek to restore as much of our heritage as I can. I suspect the sentiment is similar for many other young people, which is why TLM communities are thriving.

    Put another way, since truth is truth is truth is truth, I believe that what was good for the church and for souls 1000 years ago is just as good for our souls today. (And most likely better than what we would seek to concoct.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,016
    I’ve seen what modernism has done to the church (and it ain’t good!) which is why I seek to restore as much of our heritage as I can. I suspect the sentiment is similar for many other young people, which is why TLM communities are thriving.

    Put another way, since truth is truth is truth is truth, I believe that what was good for the church and for souls 1000 years ago is just as good for our souls today. (And most likely better than what we would seek to concoct.)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,253
    I agree anecdotally, but there's no good data, because nobody who is a trained social scientist has done a methodologically rigorous study.
  • Matthew,

    What are you agreeing with?
    What would a rigorous study contain?
  • Thanks everyone!! I think it should be stated that the purpose of returning to chant and more traditional practices is not MERELY to appeal to this or that audience. We MUST seek to respect the integrity of the liturgy and the Church's official teachings on the liturgy. Folk music etc. doesn't fit the form of the liturgy neither in its organic development nor its official teaching. My purpose is not primarily to attract young adults, but to glorify God through the liturgy that the Church has reverently handed on. If we do that, we will speak to the hearts of any person of good will. I mean seriously, who can argue with replacing modern artistic expressions (which point to themselves and us) with singing the Scriptures in a pure and humble manner? Chant is like our Blessed Mother-pure, humble, a servant to the Word, etc. The objective case for liturgical changes needs to be first and foremost. With that in mind, my hope in asking the question is simply to help older generations understand the appeal that chant and many traditional liturgical practices seem to have to Catholic young adults.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 414
    Be careful. A parish I'm very familiar with was a gem of the diocese. Had 3,200 families registered and packed Masses five times per weekend. Thriving volunteer ministry.

    A new, traditionally-minded pastor was assigned. Former Legionary of Christ. Took a strong-arm approach to changing the music at Mass and made an explicit effort to attract young adults. He remarked, "Tons of young adults are coming to the Sunday evening Mass." It wasn't tons. He was seeing what he wanted to see and interpreted an increase of a dozen or so young adults at that Mass time as a positive sign. It didn't increase above that.

    Meanwhile, the entire choir program was alienated, most quit, the MD was driven away, families left for other neighboring parishes, registrations in the catechetical programs plummeted, the parish has to beg for volunteers, the offertory collapsed, and the pastor was removed by the bishop less than two years after he started because the parish registrations dropped to a little over 1,000 families in that short time and the parish began to run a severe deficit budget. That was before Covid-19.

    Young adults don't fund parish budgets. Baby Boomers do. When the Boomers are all dead in 10-15 years, remaining parishes are going to cannibalize off each other for the few remaining Gen-X, Y and Z Catholics who bother to attend Mass. It's not going to be pretty. There will be a lot of parish consolidations and closures in every diocese.

    Returning to chant or more traditional music must be done gradually for it to work in most parishes. You can't take people's favorite music away from them suddenly. Saying that you're respecting the integrity of the liturgy won't fly when your offertory drops by $500k and St. Moderna four miles away is playing happy-clappy music at Mass and is solvent financially.
    Thanked by 2Liam Elmar
  • I have seen that happen as well on a smaller scale, in one case. The pastor could probably have kept most of the congregation if he had implemented the changes over the space of two or three or four years instead of...a handful of weeks.

    I have also seen the opposite happen, sadly - a thriving sacred music program with chant, polyphony, and classic hymns unilaterally cancelled all of a sudden, and not because of lack of demand.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • I laud Father's comment just above here, his rationale and zeal for the Lord's house.
    And I laud the humility and integrity from which it sprang.

    I wish and pray you all the good fortune that you deserve in this regard and will put your parish on the prayer list at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham.

    I hope that you have a bishop who shares your integrity and who will support you all the way.
    Thanked by 1CatholicPriest
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,016
    We MUST seek to respect the integrity of the liturgy and the Church's official teachings on the liturgy. Folk music etc. doesn't fit the form of the liturgy neither in its organic development nor its official teaching. My purpose is not primarily to attract young adults, but to glorify God through the liturgy that the Church has reverently handed on.


    Yea, those links really lay it out. experience for 50 years too...

    in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

    “Deep pain” is putting it mildly. I say promotes heresy and apostasy which amounts to spiritual death.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 tomjaw
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,253
    Joseph Shaw is a good man. He is not, however, a social scientist, and while he makes reference to such, this is an example of what we want to avoid.

    A rigorous study is one that can pass peer review and not be mistaken for ideological fluff, ideally one directed by a pair of researches, one who has a bit of a personal interest (at least, as a practicing, traditionally-minded Catholic) and one who has only professional interest, e.g. as a sociologist who studies religious practice in the USA. Before being published, such a study could be presented to liberals who wouldn't ever profess the Apostle's Creed without a mental reservation but are still fascinated by Catholicism just as much as it could be presented to the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

    Peer review is of course fraught, but at the end of the day, I think that interested Catholic social scientists should do a good job and not worry about that, nor should they worry about proving their anecdotes correct.
    Thanked by 2Liam Elmar
  • Regardless of what polls, whether worthy of peer review or not, show, it really doesn't matter what 'most people', or 'most young adults', or 'most children', etc. are said to like, prefer, or do - what matters is what is objectively right and orthodox. This is the beauty of Father's rationale, motives, and objectives. It isn't the Church's calling to cater to and coddle those whom Jesus called 'luke warm', or the unorthodox, or any other 'cherry picking' and conditional (un-)believers. It is the Church's calling to teach the Gospel in all its joy and pain, to teach what is True, and to hold its liturgical mysteries in inalienable and indeflectable awe - not to water them down to please anyone, certainly not those who demand that the mass be accompanied by half-'sacred' texts set to music derived from entertainment genres to keep them entertained. We live in a 'what most people want, do, etc.' society. Jesus did not ask what most people wanted - and had no concern about how many checks were coming in, nor did he cater to those who wrote them. He told them the mind of God and what they ought to do. And, he respected all the ritual aspects of Jewish life and its music, and would never have watered them down one iota.
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 130

    I have a suggestion: Why don't you ask the teens and twenty-somethings in your parish about music in the liturgy?

    I get that the church is not a democracy run by opinion polling. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't at least check from time to time to make sure the message is getting across.

    If you ask the question, you can then have a dialogue about what liturgy means and why you believe that certain music is more suited to the liturgy than others. You can also find out what their beliefs are as well. And if those beliefs are wrong or ill-formed, you can take appropriate measures to correct that.

    One of the reasons to be Catholic is that we are part of a communion of saints (and the not so saintly) which has produced great art, great music, and great thought all to the greater glory of God. If we fail to communicate that, we betray who we are and hobble our efforts at evangelization.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,253
    I mean, it does, because there are some people who are only convinced by what people want They will never believe that the church asks for chant above all, and everyone here knows that there's absolutely nothing to back up a pastor unless his bishop is also willing to back him up, because the liturgical law isn't ironclad in the way that it ought to be.

    Alternatively, there are people that do know that the church asks for chant, but they believe that in fact we need to take advantage of other forms in order to reach out to people who don't like chant; rigorously demonstrating who likes chant, i.e. very often younger people, and who doesn't, i.e. very often Boomers, is not an irrelevant consideration, particularly for people who are committed to the Novus Ordo. If you're instead committed to the traditional liturgy, you may have to convince people that young people want it (also lacking for rigorous sociological evidence, but it's there for the anyone willing to study it), but you're more often than not adding, not taking away, and so the calculation is different.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,140
    Be careful doing a three card Monty from "there are young people want it" to "all/most young people want it." If you try that, it may kill your credibility if it's not proved in fact.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,016
    They will never believe that the church asks for chant above all

    I have lived with these types for decades... even when they KNOW what the church sanctions, they reject it wholesale and argue for what THEY PREFER just the same. There is no convincing them. You just have to shake your shoes and move on.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw bhcordova
  • Francis,

    Based on what exists in most parishes (and I'm not in most parishes) is it reasonable to posit why they will never believe that the Church asks for chant above all?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,016
    My honest take is that they are more interested in singing a new church into being than being in the true singing church.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • who are "they" in your last post?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,016
    Many of the musicians in my previous choirs, priests and deacons who pushed agendas based on their personal preference for music at the liturgy.
  • jclangfo
    Posts: 134
    I've gotten behind on responding to this thread! I'm happy to see so much discussion. I wanted to reply to a few points:

    Anyone my age or younger who is still going to mass is doing so volitionally as no parents can force them anymore. 90%+ of the time, they are seeking to be grounded in tradition, or are certainly very sympathetic to it.

    When I started college and began going to mass at the Newman Center where I am now, I was introduced to chant. I love the feeling of transcendence that comes with singing chant. It is so unlike anything else we hear. I feel immediately connected to the divine when I either sing or hear chant sung at mass (either in English or Latin).

    I love contemporary music not because it replaces the tradition of the Church, but because it expresses the tradition of the Church. The experience of transcendence I experience from contemporary music draws me closer to God and is an experience that I personally feel much more strongly from a particularly genre of contemporary music than I do from chant. The genre that speaks to me the most is praise and worship. There are many beautiful praise and worship songs that set the texts of Scripture or otherwise expound our faith as Catholics.

    Each genre of liturgical music has its own way of communicating transcendence and sacredness. Most people on this message board are most familiar with how chant does this. I'm not as familiar with chant, but I would attempt to describe the sacred sound of chant as being derived from using different modes, having a certain harmonic structure, synergy between the type of singing and the organ, and having a subtle rhythm but not a meter as to be able to set any text seamlessly.

    Praise and worship has its own particular strategy for achieving a sacred sound. Praise and worship derives its sacred sound primarily by using complex chords that have a mysterious or ethereal sound to them, such as sus2, sus4, maj7, 9/11/13 extensions, and inversions such as C/E or C/G. Praise and worship songs, the good ones at least, will build a chord progression that uses these tools to reach a point of tension and then resolve to the tonic, and then repeat. Additionally, praise and worship songs will mimic the effect of organ in chant of having having certain sounds sustained over long periods of time. A common compositional technique in praise and worship is to construct chord progressions that have one of their notes in common for several chords in a row. And when there is a fuller ensemble, there are various instrumental techniques to mimic the organ, such as putting sustain on guitar so it will produce a continuous sound rather one that sounds and then exponentially decays.

    To illustrate, check this out:
    The chord progression for this song is really cool, which you can see here:

    Folk music also has its way of communicating transcendence and sacredness. However, in my opinion, the style of folk promoted by OCP/GIA is very difficult to achieve a transcendent and sacred sound with, and as a result much of the post-Vatican II Catholic liturgical music was neither transcendent nor sacred, even to those who have learned how folk styles communicate these things. In my opinion, if you go and listen to the original recordings of the St. Louis Jesuits, you can hear how they were trying to make sacred folk. However, a de-evolution occurred where incompetent parish music programs could not get a sacred sound out of these compositions, and then GIA/OCP descended into publishing contemporary music where there was not even an attempt made at being sacred - to the point where such genres as liturgical jazz were being unironically promoted.

    Compare the de-evolution outlined above to what was actually called for by Vatican II:
    Adapting sacred music for those regions which possess a musical tradition of their own, especially mission areas, will require a very specialized preparation by the experts. It will be a question in fact of how to harmonize the sense of the sacred with the spirit, traditions and characteristic expressions proper to each of these peoples. Those who work in this field should have a sufficient knowledge both of the liturgy and musical tradition of the Church, and of the language, popular songs and other characteristic expressions of the people for whose benefit they are working.

    The above is paragraph 61 from Musicam Sacram. My opinion is the tragedy after Vatican II is that instead of taking the elements of the popular music in our own culture and learning how to make a sacred sound out of them, we just took the popular music and put sacred (sometimes pseudo-sacred) words to them. I think that we've finally turned things around with praise and worship music, which is the first fully-developed attempt to make a sacred genre of music out of the elements common to the music in our culture.

    In response to the comments above about coming from a contemporary music program and then experiencing the sacredness of chant for the first time, I've also had many people come into my choirs from more traditional backgrounds and be impressed by experiencing the sacredness of praise and worship for the first time. This can go both ways.

    I suspect that with the higher level of training, not only are their personal proclivities toward tradition showing through, but also their training to assess that the traditional polyphony, for instance, is objectively better music, and of a higher compositional and liturgical caliber than most of what is published by GIA and OCP. [If anyone feels compelled to argue this last point, I'd politely suggest this is not the thread and I'm sure there are 10's of previous threads dealing with this exact issue.]

    ahhh but I do feel compelled to argue this point! if the mods want to snuff this out then more power to them, but to make this quick: I don't think it's feasible to argue that an entire style of music is objectively superior to another style of music. If you evaluate the quality of praise and worship based on the criteria of Gregorian Chant, well, it won't score very well, but that's basically a circular argument. As outlined above, praise and worship uses a different strategy to achieve its sacred sound, so the compositional tactics they are using aren't directly comparable. If you go to some more neutral criterion such as compositional complexity, the best praise and worship songs can go toe-to-toe with the best Gregorian Chants. However, they'll be complex in different ways. If you go through a gregorian chant and a praise and worship song (provided you've chosen quality exemplars of both) and assign chords, the complexity will be similar, but the types of chord progressions will be really different. Praise and worship will have more complex rhythm, while chant will be more complex in other ways. In fact, the more I've learned about music theory, the less convinced I've become of claims of superiority of Western classical music, in all its forms. There's lots of cool stuff in Western classical music, but there are also many complex and unique ideas that come from the blending of African and European musical traditions to create the musical genres of the USA. How African polyrhythm developed into the rhythms of blues, jazz, rock, and Gospel is particularly intriguing. And these uniquely American genres of music are the starting material in the effort to take the culture of our country and build something sacred out of it. GIA/OCP, as I've argued above, have largely done a poor job in this effort, but I dispute the claim that this has anything to do with the objective superiority of a given genre of music.
    Thanked by 1MarkB
  • jclangfo
    Posts: 134
    Put another way, since truth is truth is truth is truth, I believe that what was good for the church and for souls 1000 years ago is just as good for our souls today. (And most likely better than what we would seek to concoct.)

    Truth doesn't change, but culture does. Much of how we worship comes from how cultures socially construct what is and is not sacred. So while the theological content of our liturgical music should remain stable till Christ returns in glory, we should learn ever new ways of articulating sacredness in a musical language that people will be capable of understanding as cultures change.

    Praise and worship often has a significant effect on young people when they first encounter it, because it puts sacredness into a musical language that they already know how to understand. On the other hand, lots of people have not been exposed to Gregorian chant previously, and many people fail to experience its sacredness on first hearing because the musical language is foreign to them.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 414
    In all honesty and fairness, many Catholics haven't been taught nor experienced beautiful and appropriate music at Mass. Look how many parishes turned "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" into a dirge during the past four weeks or sang that awful contemporization by Steve Angrisano: "Come, Come, Emmanuel".

    When most priests try to chant prayers at Mass, it sounds awful. Be honest. They need coaching. When most parishes try to sing Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris Hostia at Benediction, it drags and is off key. Be honest. Or consider that a lot of parishes that attempt the ICEL chants or the Jubilate Deo Latin chants in Advent and Lent have a mic'd-up soprano cantor leading it who adds amplified warbling vibrato to every note. That's the vast majority of Catholics' experience of chant. No wonder so many hate it: what they've heard sounds awful, and I'd hate it too. But they think that's what chant is instead of realizing that they've heard chant sung incompetently.

    Bishops and pastors need to put resources into liturgical and musical training. Until they equip more people to provide beautiful music at Mass, the music will continue to be awful in so many places. It's not a matter of forcing a parish and musicians to do what they aren't ready for or aren't able to sing well; that will be a disaster. It's a matter of training leaders of music who have open minds or putting competent musicians in place who can skillfully lead the parish in a new direction gradually.

    For example, here's what I've done since August at a Breaking Bread parish that had previously not experienced chant:
    1. I started chanting solo the Communion antiphon from Fr. Weber's The Proper of the Mass (either option i or ii, so the people hear an authentic, neumatic or melismatic chant melody instead of just a psalm tone), including a verse or two, starting when the priest receives the Sacrament until the choir has received Communion. Yes, we have indoor worship and choirs in our state.
    2. After the choir has received Communion, the choir sings a cappella one of four Latin chants that I taught them: Ave Verum Corpus, Adoro te Devote, Ubi Caritas et Amor, or Jesu Dulcis Memoria. (Some of those I have cut so that the chant doesn't last more than 90 seconds.) When I introduced a new chant at Mass, we sang it for four consecutive weeks to give the congregation a chance to hear it repeatedly. Now we rotate among those four, and I hear congregants singing along. I think four brief Latin chants is a reasonable repertoire for now in order to give the parish ample opportunity to gain confidence singing them and to learn to sing them by frequent repetition.
    3. Then we sing an OCP Communion song until the vessels have been purified.

    So for five months, every week at Mass the beginning of Communion has been heavy with an experience of chant, which I think is an excellent place for introducing chant at Mass. I found it's a place I could add chant without taking away anything that the parish likes to sing: after all, we still sing an OCP song towards the end of Communion and during the purification of vessels.

    I have had no complaints about it. None. To the contrary: people have remarked resoundingly that chant helps them pray better at that moment, and they love it. I think that's amazing in a parish that had never sung chant at Mass previously. I have succeeded in establishing a new paradigm for Communion music in which chant is expected and appreciated.

    I think it's important that I haven't overreached. My formula has been that every Mass will have: the chants previously described at the start of Communion, 1-3 quality traditional hymns, and 1-3 quality OCP hymns, depending on what fits best with the readings or the liturgical season. So at every Mass there will be something to suit anyone's musical taste. Something for everyone, while moving in the direction of chant and sacred music.

    During Advent we chanted the ICEL Holy, Memorial Acclamation, Amen and Lamb of God a cappella. That was another gradual step and was also received well. We'll sing those again during Lent.

    Also amazing is that I had ten new choir members join in the fall, including three young adults in their twenties, and they told me that the reason they joined is because of the sacredness of the music the parish and choir are now singing and the quality of performance.

    So far, so good.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 414
    To jclangfo,

    Thank you for your analysis of how you see some P&W music offering an experience of transcendence by using subtle chord progressions underneath a melody. I agree with you that Maher's "Christ Has Risen from the Dead" is a good example of that. I tend to think that his "Remembrance" and "Your Grace Is Enough" don't succeed as much in that respect and are more like Christian soft-pop.

    For contrast, I think this is an example of an inept attempt at P&W music building melodies on a foundation of a subtle, repetitive chord progression that OCP recently promoted:

    One problem I see, however, even in the good examples of P&W music is that the P&W style imitates secular pop music very closely. P&W chord progressions could easily be imagined to be from a John Mayer or Ed Sheeran song; those composers and others use techniques similar to what you said characterizes the best of P&W music. The close association with secular music risks bringing the profane into the sacred liturgy and turning minds towards earth instead of heaven.

    Another problem is that quite a few P&W songs have "Jesus is my boyfriend" quasi-romantic lyrics that are extremely weird and uncomfortable. Consider Steve Angrisano's "Come, Lord Jesus, Come", which features the lyrics: Come, Lord Jesus, come, come and fill my heart with your life, hold me close, Lord, hold me tight, and come, Lord Jesus, come. Ewwwww. Very few men want to sing such gushy drivel about Jesus.

    A third problem is that the performance of P&W music, often requiring a worship band in the style of a rock ensemble, directs attention to the performers in a way that makes them the focus, not the sacred liturgical action. Nowhere is this more plain to me than during so-called XLT "Adoration". For those who don't know what XLT is, it's Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament while P&W music is performed. At every XLT that I have witnessed, the musicians upstaged the Eucharist and made it impossible to adore because they didn't shut up and their music was obviously more important to them than the exposed Blessed Sacrament, no matter how much they pretended otherwise. I think XLT is an excuse for P&W musicians to perform for a captive audience under the pretense of Adoration. It's like Catholics who want to play and sing Hillsong music said, "Hey, we can play the music we love just like the Evangelicals do but make it Catholic by performing the music while the Eucharist is exposed." It's terribly difficult for P&W in the context of liturgy to avoid appearing like a concert. P&W in pure concert settings is one thing; at Mass or at Adoration, it requires restraint in order not to upstage worship, and I don't know that it can succeed at doing that because of the rock-concert instrument ensemble required and the reliance on lead singers as the focus of the performance. How do you avoid P&W Masses being de facto concerts interrupted by the prayers of the Mass?

    You and others might enjoy this parody of P&W music: "The Worship Song Song"
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,938
    While the appalling treatment of the choir of Westminster Cathedral, has reached a lull, and they are singing at Mass etc. again. This letter (published on a blog) by one of our Catholic musicians may provide some relevance to the above discussion,

    In contrast to the uproar created amongst the parents of the choristers of Westminster Cathedral Choir as a result of the proposed changes to the choir school, I wish to add a more positive note.

    In Catholic Churches all over the world, and for some fifty years now, the Church liturgical experts have tried to make the Mass more relevant to the beliefs and daily lives of ordinary people and that does not include plainsong and the works of William Byrd and Palestrina. During this time Catholic choirmasters have battled to save the deposit of sublime music handed down to us from antiquity. Unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle because the clergy, most of whom have been educated in post-Vatican II seminaries, have been indoctrinated with the notion that the Mass comprises the three ‘C’s: Communication, Celebration and Commitment. This is the governing principle now prevalent amongst Catholic Priests and has resulted in a transformation of Catholic culture.

    Most of the beautiful music which is sung by the choir of Westminster Cathedral was definitely not written for the new English Mass and it simply isn’t good enough for the choir to be singing Missa Papae Marcelli whilst, in the sanctuary of the cathedral, the celebrants are sitting down and looking at their watches. The music and the liturgy should be in complete unity and complement one another and a visit to a sung Tridentine Mass will demonstrate how this is achieved.

    Perhaps many of the faithful who attend the Cathedral services enjoy the music but the Mass is not some form of entertainment which excludes people who don’t like classical music.

    The Cathedral choir had always been under threat from the liturgists who feel, rightly in my view, that in the English Mass different music is required and the choir should not be so remote from the proceedings, stuck out of sight well behind the main altar. It might be a better idea to place it at the back of the cathedral in order to lead the congregation in the communal singing.

    Now that the Church has embraced the English Mass it is logical that Westminster Cathedral should also embrace the new music which emphasises the element of dialogue and communication with the faithful. A choir of such international renown is not necessarily needed for this purpose.

    Yours faithfully,

    Joseph Bevan LLB
  • How very, very sad, tomjaw.
    Such contempt makes one weep.
    Such presumptuous effrontery boggles the mind.
    From what Stygian realms is such preposterous cheek inspired?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • davido
    Posts: 383
    A thought about praise and worship music:
    - it is not choral.

    Historic Christian practice is that liturgical music be centered on unison, choral singing, demonstrating our “oneness” in Christ and imitating the angels. Historic practice also dictates that the voices sing without instruments, even the term a cappella (like in the chapel) demonstrates this fact.
    All the developments of “traditional” sacred music styles can be traced from these two original traits, choral and a cappella: the use of the organ as alternate “choir”, or as a wind driven support for voices; the four part choral texture of traditional hymns; the “choirs” of instruments in Gabrieli pieces; the development of harmony from the plainchant tradition.
    Additionally, the witness of the Eastern Church, which still only rarely admits instruments, and the witness of various Protestant sects that, to purify their worship, forbade instruments (Calvinist psalm singers for one).

    PandW music does not seem to me to be descended from the choral tradition. If anyone thinks otherwise, I’d be interested to hear the arguments.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,173
    Yikes, that almost reads like a parody, tomjaw, but I'm almost certain it is sincere, if horrifically misguided. Kyrie eleison!
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • MarkB
    Posts: 414
    The letter by Joseph Bevan reproduced above does make a valid point about attempting to sing during the novus ordo Mass settings of the ordinary composed for the preconciliar Mass. The quip about "celebrants sitting down and looking at their watches" is probably a sarcastic swipe at singing a Sanctus or Agnus Dei that lasts four minutes or a Gloria that lasts six or seven minutes.

    In the preconciliar Mass, the ordinary was sung while the priest proceeded to quietly pray the parts of the Mass proper to him; the singing overlapped with other liturgical actions. In the novus ordo Mass, the ordinary is the only liturgical action occurring when those parts are sung; the Mass doesn't proceed until the singing has been completed. For that reason, I agree that attempting to import terribly long settings of the ordinary into the new Mass is usually ill-advised. As well, composing new ordinary settings for the new Mass that last several minutes because they imitate a preconciliar musical style of repetition and counterpoint and thus require lots of time to develop the music is usually ill-advised.

    As a recent example, I offer the "Mass of the Americas", composed by Frank La Rocca and commissioned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco's Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music. It's a dignified composition, but it just takes too darn long to sing (or for the congregation to listen to because they'll never sing it) in the context of a novus ordo Mass. Look at the world premiere of the setting. Watch the clergy during the singing of the Sanctus:

    The Sanctus lasts nearly three minutes, which isn't as long as some Sanctuses last. The clergy are shown looking around awkwardly and shuffling while the piece went on for a length and at a tempo they were not accustomed to; arguably, it lasted an unduly long time that unnecessarily delayed the liturgical action. Even Archbishop Cordileone appears uncomfortable. It illustrated Mr. Bevan's point that the new Mass is not suitable for every setting composed in a style appropriate for the preconciliar Mass.

    The same Mass setting was sung during an extraordinary form Mass one year later, and it is not at all awkward in that context. Compare:

    In the new Mass, the parts of the ordinary have a different role, a solitary role, than they did in the preconciliar Mass. Since they are the sole liturgical action when they are sung, they should be completed in a modest time. That doesn't mean they can't be beautiful; it does mean people shouldn't be made to endure an unduly long piece that will make many of them look at their watches, stare at the ceiling or twiddle their thumbs.

    To attempt to return this thread to the original topic, I think young adults might like the Mass of the Americas setting at the EF Mass, if they attend the EF, but many would grow impatient with it at an OF Mass, even if they enjoy traditional sacred music. It's not just the style of music itself that draws people, young adults included: it's the way the music turns the Mass into beautiful sung prayer; it's the way music and ritual join in effectively celebrated liturgy. And the OF and the EF have different criteria for what works well.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,209
    There is an inherent problem with this thread - in the title. For the OP young Catholics and Music is an incidental concern given his desire for chant, a priority most of us share.
    The discussion is mostly about the use of music at Mass. Now the purpose of music at Mass is to enhance the words and, absent authorisation of other texts, that means the words in the missal. To quote the
    Council of Trent (heavily abbreviated) 22;8 : the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people ... the holy synod charges pastors, ... that they .. during the celebration of mass, expound .. some portion of those things ...
    So - the Church wants the words of the Mass to be understood by the faithful. The words are in prose (mostly), and if they are to be enhanced by music that means not forced into some sort of repetitive metrical tune but chanted.
    But we also need to set the question in a wider community framework. The Roman Gradual, to oversimplify, is the 8th-century Court music of the Pope, sent to the Court of Charlemagne, and refined/developed in great monasteries and collegiate Cathedrals. And note that these communities have/had an even larger musical corpus in the Office, the music of which is quite distinct from the Gradual, and includes metrical, often rhyming, hymns.
    jclangfo has a distinct view in part because his working setting is a particular sort of community, significantly different from the average parish. Within that community P&W may well play an important part.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,209
    MarkB - but of course if a chant setting of the Ordinary is used this timing problem is manageable.
  • 35 here.

    No studies to show, but anecdotally, I know a lot of serious young Catholics my age * and younger that go out of their way to attend the traditional parishes in their diocese.
    I think the seeking youth are drawn to something different. I believe they go where there is a perceived depth be it music, a solid priest, other young people who are serious about their faith. I believe the music could be the first draw, but I don't know how many people would stay because of the music, or how many people would even appreciate an all chanted mass that they can't truly participate in.

    It is important to remember there are many faithful Catholics to whom music is secondary or tertiary in mass.

    *I don't feel young anymore, thanks to my joints and back, but I still squeak in under my diocese's ever expanding definition of "young adult* haha
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Mark's views just above here are well and respectfully reasoned. Still, I, most Anglicans, and large numbers of Catholics, most especially Ordinariates, are quite accustomed to and appreciate settings, historical or modern, Latin or English, that take more time than what he advises. We especially have the tradition of the 'cathedral service' which always includes choral settings of the ordinary which (within 'reason', i.e., Vaughan Williams's incomparable Mass in G-minor) are not particularly time-sensitive. As far as people and clerics who would look at their watches, stare at the ceiling, or twiddle their thumbs, they are quite obviously in the wrong place for the wrong reasons and should not be allowed to rob the rest of us of a beautiful, appropriate, and deeply spiritual exercise. Our response to the mass should be that of the disciples at the Transfiguration: 'Lord, let us remain here forever'.

    Mark's observations about the different roles of the ordinary in the OF vs. the EF, are of scholastic interest, have a certain validity, and are undoubtedly well-intentioned. Still, I do not see that historical settings of the ordinary are ipso facto inappropriate for the OF (see the above paragraph). The mass unfolds graciously in its own sacred time space. Those who are concerned about time, it seems to me, have different and unfortunate priorities that don't include a gracious and splendid mass. Too bad their noise is often successful in robbing the rest of us of a mass which is beautiful beyond description and knows no competition.

    As for P&W music, it is all about P&W music. It's appeal is strictly emotional (there is nothing there, absolutely nothing, for the mind or the soul) and induces an adrenaline driven experience which should not be confused with a genuinely spiritual one. Those who go to mass to have an 'experience' or, like certain Protestants, to hear or sing their favourite songs, are there for the wrong reasons. Contrary to what those to whom music is music and it's all the same would have their people believe, all music is not equal in aesthetic or spiritual or moral value - and some of it, like P&W, can actually lead people astray. The above parody, supplied by Mark, really says it all.
    Thanked by 1Jehan_Boutte
  • Reverend Father, (somehow OP seems insufficiently undignified)

    May I suggest a presentation, whether a bulletin insert, a series of sermons, or a sit-down conference with food matters less than the content, in which you present the following ideas:

    1) The Mass is outside of time, so what we do here must be more than mundane, by its nature different from our every-day world.
    2) There are prescribed texts which almost never get used... and music for those texts already exists. Once one agrees on the singing of the texts, there is more than one setting of those texts.
    3) The Church has been (in the past) a great patron of the arts, both for the sake of the arts and for the sake of fitting instruments of worship of God.
    4) The Mass is fundamentally theocentric, so you will face God, whom you are addressing for most of the prayers. Everything at Mass should reflect the same awareness.

    If you're feeling brave, make it a presentation with time for questions. If you do this, however, be prepared to rely on the teaching of the Magisterium and the saints, rather than studies of sociologists.

    [others can/should add other points to this list, but if you start from here, you'll open the door to more of what you want (rightly) for your parish]
    Thanked by 1CatholicPriest
  • I'm 31 years old, so I'm still a "young pup". Good music will always draw in the crowds, but being that sacred music is there to edify the liturgy, it has a special function in the temple. I've always enjoyed church music form a young age, even though my Dad tried to feed us a steady diet of country (Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks and the like etc.), I never took to it. For a while growing up I attended little chapels that said the EF mass and choirs usually sang whatever they could get out of the St. basil's, Gregory hymnal. Not until I got into my teens did I experience more ecclesiastical music on a grand scale. Since then I've been hooked in the industry and do what I can.

    A good priest that is able to deliver an effective homily is a plus, and the people will be drawn to a good, holy, charismatic man, that is able to lead his flock. A good strong community is also a plus. The people can tell what is truly genuine or else they will leave. In the whole its not just about one thing or another that makes a parish grow, but its the sum of all its parts. Good spiritual experience and needs of the soul met, good art, good fellowship, and consistency are all parts that make it what it is.

    That's my two cents.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,209
    So if prose implies chant, there are several sorts of chant, so which is for your congregation?
    In Latin the Church offers 3 (3 and a half) models for Mass: GR, the Kyriale, and GS (and KS). In English we lack an authoritative corpus, but an even wider range is available, from full GR of the English Gradual through the alternatives offered by Fr Weber, or different styles like Anglican chant. The official GR and GS (KR and KS) provide quite different models for a well trained schola or for an untrained* cantor, what you do depends on the resources you can deploy.
    And has instructed dioceses to train cantors. Ha!