The place of "Contemporary Catholic Music"
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    I know many people (including myself) get a lot out of the music of the SLJ, the Dameans, and their musical descendants (Haas and Haugen of course, Joncas, Bob Hurd, Donna Pena, Jaime Cortez...). For me, personally, this is MY music- just like someone else might identify show tunes or the Beatles as "their music." I own their CDs, I listen to it in the car, and I've been to their concerts. A few of them have even stayed at my house while touring.

    Whatever you think of this music (I'll get to that in a second), it's probably better for a kid to grow up listening to it rather than the secular, vulgar, and immoral music of popular culture.

    Most of the songs I like from this genre aren't even sung at Mass anywhere I know of: they aren't in anyone's hymnals. You could buy the octavos from GIA and OCP, but most MDs don't. The instrumental accomp. on their studio recordings and concert albums is beyond the talents of most parishes (who has a slide guitar?), and most of those parts aren't even written down, anyway.

    And here's where I'm going.....
    The fact that I like this music, and get a lot out of it, doesn't mean (of course) that it is suitable for Mass. It may or may not be (we can argue about that), but the fact that I like it or don't like should not be a point in the argument.
    (I also really like Jimmy Buffet. And I really don't like organ music. See how that works?)

    So here's the question/discussion/curiosity part:

    I have no big issue with not hearing this music at Mass every week, primarily because I get to listen to it at other times. If I don't ever sing "You are Mine" in Mass, I'll still hear it in the car a few times a month, and probably sing it at a concert or something at some point. I have a piano and musical friends- I'll probably sing it in my living room. I pray and worship in non-liturgical settings on a regular basis, and sing this music (along with everything else you can think of) there.

    I WONDER....
    If the other "folk mass" Catholics who like this music didn't feel like Mass was their only opportunity to ever hear the music they like, ever ever ever- might they be less violent about its replacement. If they weren't relying on one hour a week for all of their spiritual, musical, entertainment, and social needs, might they be more able to let Mass be what it is supposed to be? If they knew they could sing 12 SLJ songs Wednesday night with their small prayer group, would they be upset about not singing 4 SLJ songs on Sunday morning? Could parishes moving toward traditional music mitigate hurt feelings by providing or encouraging other opportunities for people to hear, sing, and pray with the music they love?

    Just wondering...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,964
    I don't know of any regulations preventing folks from going naked and dancing around an open flame, if they so choose. Does anyone really care what they sing at devotions? I don't. Yes, there are music requirements for mass, but none for devotions, at least that I am aware of. What you propose, the people are free to do anyway.
  • Adam, like you say, it is quite suitable for everyday listening, but there are some songs (often discussed here) which offer a spectrum from vague to problematic theology. Is listening to this worse than "I want to hold your hand"? It might be. Not all secular pop music is amoral. One just has to be selective. I turned out OK (I think) after a youth of listening to Yes, Rush, the Beatles, 70s-80s rock music and now world pop styles. I think many of us might be very puzzled as to why you like this music, but that's your call.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    As a long time parishioner at an average church that uses this music exclusively at Mass, I never met anyone who said they came to that parish specifically for the music. On the other hand, many parishioners believed that this music is what should be at Mass--"because it appeals to the young people." This is a catechetical issue, not one about taste. I think taste certainly plays a role, but ignorance plays an even bigger one at the average parish.

    At the parish I am referring to, people's feelings wouldn't be hurt if you took away the music; they would simply say you are alienating younger generations. This of course is entirely false, but the belief is very persistent and entrenched, at least in my own experience.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 651
    Adam has a good point, which applies to a lot of different things in parish life. I've said this before, but... almost everybody only participates in modern American parish life during Mass. That's about all the parish life that even exists for most people, except maybe putting their kids in the parochial school or religious education). So everybody who wants to express himself or follow Catholic trends tries to shove everything into Mass. And so you get the incredibly long announcements, the kids forced to perform stupid actions in public, and so on.

    Donuts actually relieve _a lot_ of this pressure. People are really happy to set up little tables in the "Gathering Space" (although that does further discourage gathering, in some cases), but they're even more happy to set up in the school cafeteria during after-Mass donuts. (Because people will talk to them, and there's food.) Sodalities and guilds (where they survive or are being founded) and small prayer groups also relieve this pressure. You can even make the kids do their little skits in a donut area, where people can get up close and take pictures, and everybody is happy. Lent soup does the same, and that's why a lot of groups are starting to hold cafeteria meetings that are open to the parish at large (chili dinners, potluck, et al). I don't really know much about small prayer groups because they kinda creep me out (bad college experience), but providing parish resources for small prayer groups to use if they like is probably a good idea.

    So yeah, if people wanted to have Eighties folkie karaoke at their small prayer group, that's fine. And I have to admit, they are a lot better songs, singing along casually at the Rosary Gathering at the UD Arena, than at Mass.

    We don't have to be all scorched earth all the time. You really do catch a lot of flies with honey, after all.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    I'm not asking whether it's allowed or OK to sing David Haas at a non-liturgical prayer time.
    I'm just asking if perhaps doing so would allow people who do like that music, or feel spiritually nourished by it, or whatever, to have an outlet so that they don't feel like Mass is the only place where they get to sing it.
    (Let's put aside that I'm talking about "CCM" and apply this principle to Pop Christian radio music, or Mexican folk hymns, or whatever people like).

    More expansively, I'm saying:
    If Catholics had a communal prayer/spiritual life outside of Mass, could they stop trying to have all their needs met in Mass, and let Mass be what it is?
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473

    Yes in theory you are on to something. Of course the reply would be "Why, exactly, can't we just sing this at mass ALSO like we have always done?"
  • "it's probably better for a kid to grow up listening to it rather than the secular, vulgar, and immoral music of popular culture."

    No, since it blurs the line between what is sacred and what is secular. I have a non-Catholic friend who loves to listen to the "Apologetics" who sing popular songs, changing words to make them religious.

    It's sick. Take a perfectly good rock and roll song and be enjoying it and suddenly find the words have been altered.

    It's like finding a fly in the bottom of the lemonade glass that you have just chugged down out of thirst and swallowed most of.

    Were those little chunks of ice or....flies?

    But singing bad music at novenas and devotions is a time-honored tradition and one that works. When people complain that their favorite leid is not longer permitted at Mass, offer to sing it at a prayer service.

    They won't come, but it helps eliminate the complaining. They cannot sing it at Mass because it is music that affects the emotions, music that is created to permit people to express their innermost feelings and that's what personal devotion and devotions outside of Mass can be all about.

    Personal testimony and witness are not part of the Liturgy of the Mass. It can be part of a devotion.

    Not that long ago that's what went on weeknights in most Catholic churches.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    popular songs, changing words to make them religious

    I'm horrified. Really.

    They won't come

    and I guess that's the real problem with my idea, isn't it... people are lazy.
    It's easier to just demand that someone else (the pastor) require that someone else (the music director) provide them with whatever they want during the one-hour (or less) they plan to be there.
    It's too much work to invite your fellow parishioners and non-Catholic neighbors over for a thursday-night dinner with prayer and singing. Or to organize a monthly, non-liturgical Praise music night in the social hall. Or to even get a recording so that you can listen to "On Eagle's Wings" in the car. Or learn how to play four chords on a piano or guitar and have your own Carey Landrey sing along on a camping trip. Or.... Or....

    I guess, deep down, my question is:
    "I enjoy this music, too. Why can't other people who enjoy it be more like me?"
  • Taste.
  • You know, people are not lazier than they once were. They are just busier. A lot more women work full time now, both genders are being asked to do more at work and pressured by society to involve and be involved with their kids organized activities. There is just no more time. The Protestant churches have figured this out, though. They have a night or two a week for fellowship and activities and people come. They are good at marketing these things and don't underfund them. Remember they don't have to give half their offertory to a diocese. They also don't have artificial "territories" like our parishes. In the old days, people lived in neighborhoods with a local church and never considered traveling across town to another unless because of some scandal. The Mass was the same there as it was down the street (by and large). Those neighborhoods are gone now and folks bounce around parishes for the slightest reason. I know because I do this too. I don't sing at my parish because I prefer to sing at the cathedral that is trying to do some good music but still struggling to find singers. The Church has essentially done everything in its power to kill parish life IMO.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Like I said, I don't think most people go to Mass for the music, so sending the music somewhere else doesn't really fulfill a need that's being met at Mass. But maybe people do go for the music.
  • It seems that people will switch parishes over music. Many of us have, I believe, but for many they will switch not FOR a particular music, but AGAINST one (like chant).
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Excellent distinction.
  • How deeply thankful I am for the Anglican Use and knowing that if it disappeared tomorrow (it won't) I could then attend an Eastern Rite Parish. It is something of a puzzle to me why Eastern Rite entities haven't grown exponentially in the last forty years from serious Roman Rite emigrees who cannot culturally tolerate the anti-culture that is so fiendishly shoveled down their throats. No, they just keep going and get a little more dumbed down each week.
  • We're still hopeful that we can fix our boat.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Not that I'm saying it's a good thing... Mr. Osborn, do you think "defection" to the Orthodox camp may be more popular than going Eastern Rite? or perhaps people just plain don't know about the Eastern Rites.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I think most people don't know, Jam. I've actually met, in visiting Orthodox churches, a LOT of former Catholics. And I'm sure the Episcopalians picked up a lot after Vatican 2. I don't know if this is a common Eastern mindset, but I have an Orthodox friend who tells me that the Church doesn't need to evangelize because those who want to join Her will come.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    it does seem to me that Orthodox evangelism is primarily directed toward "getting the word out"--showing people that the Orthodox church exists and what it's all about--as opposed to actually convincing people that it's true or something like that. It's quite laid back compared to most of American Christianity.

    But another thing I thought of for Mr. Osborn... Many of the most hard-core (about liturgy) Roman Catholics I know--they'd be called "pre-Vatican II types" by some of my peers here--are completely in love with Latin and with the EF Mass... only. I know many who greatly respect the Eastern Rites but just don't understand the Eastern liturgical forms. Perhaps most dissatisfied Roman-rite Catholics prefer to "stick it out" in hopes of improving their own rite rather than attending another rite?

    just throwing ideas out there.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    On the fly and probably shouldn't comment until I have a chance to read everything and think about it, and slightly OT, but I am nothing if not hare-brained and heedless, and this is a hobby horse of mine:

    A root cause of inappropriate music at Mass is inappropriate EVERYTHING at Mass- the wide-spread reaction to the Big News that the Eucharistic Celebration was the Source and Summit of our Faith, was to think that all of Catholic life, or at least all of parish life, should occur within the context of Mass.
    Devotions were also denigrated in many quarters.
    So, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays in many parishes has been inadvertently relegated to mere background for kindergarten graduation festivities, brownie fly-ups, election of new members of the parish council, pep talks from the local K of C, youth groups reporting on their retreat activities, farewell roasts for retiring DREs...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,964
    G, I have said for some time that one of the worst things that happened after Vatican II was the incorporation of everything into the mass. Even the other sacraments are losing their identities and are now add-ons to the mass.

    Eastern Catholic Churches: Our churches don't exist in many places. Where we do exist, our churches are small. I have found that many traditional Catholics can't deal with the culture shock in going from west to east. Although we are Catholic, our theology and practice can be very different. The east is a different mind set.

    Anglican Use: Long may it prosper. I would like to see it in my area, since there is a small core of people who would support it.
  • Yes, I've been told over and over that baptisms and first communions (even weddings) are parish events and should be celebrated when the most people can attend, but it just diverts attention away from the main point of Mass. I just don't buy it.