Hands Down, the best hymnal
  • If you want to see what a good Catholic hymnal might look like - far better than anything published by any organization - have a look at the Traditional Roman Hymnal put out by the SSPX. It has chant in chant notation. It has great hymns in four parts. The typesetting is outstanding. The organization is perfect. I don't even think it has a close competitor.

    Have you seen it? I urge you to get a copy. Sadly, it includes the inevitable attacks on Vatican 2 etc. at the beginning, thus limiting its market.

    I would love to speak with someone at SSPX publishing about putting this online for free download. All the music is public domain. I feel sure it would increase sales. And it is the right thing to do.

    Does anyone have a contact for me?
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,003
    Umnnnhhhh....FWIW, I've looked at that hymnal and although your comments about content are accurate, all the music (ALL of it) is pitched about 1 full step higher than it should be for comfortable singing. Women, in particular, will be stretching to hit the high notes.

    I'll take Ted Marier's, if they ever reprint it.
  • The drastic lowering of keys in hymnals over the last 50 years has dramatically reduced the singing in church, rather than increased it, as just a pitch or two lower can lodge them into an area of breaks in the voice.

    If there were a physical reason that caused vocal production to drop its center, then the lower keys would make sense, like doorways needing to be taller because people got taller.

    The people who made the decisions to drop the keys were not educated in vocal production. And the result of their work proves it.

    Lowering all the ones in Eb to D and even C made them "easier to play". But not as carrying in a room.

    I'm reminded of an organist who transposed each verse of God Of Our Fathers, normally in F, up a half step. People complained that they could not sing the final verses because they were too high. "There is NO WAY we can sing that hymn in G and Ab!"

    "But I started in D."

    We need to look at those hymn in their original keys and think about this.
  • WGS
    Posts: 261
    I don't have a copy in front of me, but as I recall, "the inevitable attacks on Vatican 2" were written by the much maligned Bishop Williamson. For many, that attribution in itself is enough to eliminate Traditional Roman Hymnal from use as a parish hymnal.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Given that bell curves of voice distribution for women peak markedly in the mezzo range, and those for men peak heavily in the baritone range - IIRC, the reference materials indicated something like a 10/30/10/10/30/10 split SSATBB - meaning that true SATB voices are a distinct minority in distribution - what do you think are the right ranges for congregations with untrained voices?
  • dad29,

    Keep in mind that the Marier hymnal does not shy away from higher keys. E-flats are plentiful and in at least one hymn - Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty (tune: Domnach Trionide) the melody soars to an F. My favorite challenge is the opening of the Anton Heiller Gloria which requires the congregation not only to begin but hover on a high E. Despite this, I've yet to hear any complaints from parishioners.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274

    Although you use that Gloria in the late morning.... It might not work as well earlier in the morning. My understanding is that we definitely get complaints earlier in the morning if the opening hymn is pitched too much to the head voice in terms of tessitura, especially in the colder months. Ted offered different keys fora few tunes for this reason, as I understand it.
  • Ranges that I think? Let's let the experts determine that, not me. The experts that choose the ranges that hymns were sung in before the dumbing down of the music began...you know, the bell curve that determined that the people would sing better when we looked at hymnals of the last 100 years with hymns that survived because people sang them, but we know more than they did, so we will lower the keys.

    Hey! Let's make the Mass better too! Let's get rid of LATIN!

    [It is possible to do this, successfully. You just need a king or queen willing to sacrifice lives to make it happen to succeed]

    Of course, voices peak in those ranges, but that does not mean that all music should be written in a very narrow range, gosh, otherwise we'd have a totally bland, colorless existence, with the entire world singing nothing but GREGORIAN CHANT!

    Having coached for a voice teacher, mezzo, whose students all became mezzos, struggling to sing g above the staff. Then seeing one vocalize to f above high C, who then switched teachers to sing soprano coloratura roles with ease...the high notes are always there. Singing consistently in the middle of a voice promotes only singing in the middle of the voice.
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 331
    that hymnal has many part-writing errors
  • BenB
    Posts: 36
    This particular hymnal was discussed here
    (starting Jan 15.)

    I cannot attest to the ranges, nor to the organ accompaniments given therein, but I must say the content is superior to any other hymnal I've seen. There is suitable music for most any occasion. I have particularly found the section on the Requiem Mass/Burial Service extremely useful, and the inclusion of Media Vita, one of my favorite chants I haven't seen in any other music book, has made it a joy to own.
  • I remember friend Don Roy taking me to task for the part-writing in the earlier discussion!
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    maybe you could rip out the pages of the hymnal with the negative VII stuff? ;-)

    and WHY do we always get into this discussion about hymn ranges?! Is it so hard to understand that vocal ranges are *different* for *different* people?! Hymns are written comfortably for SATB. In most churches, everyone sings the soprano line. but NOT EVERYONE is a soprano. Therefore, to *compromise,* hymns ought to be transposed down. duh.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    i really should apologize but truth is, that was fun!
  • Yes, Don, sometimes it's hard to see the music for the parallel fifths.
  • Marajoy, you may have the solution. Transpose them down a fourth and an octave for the baritones, then on the next vers, take it up an octave plus a half step for the altos, then down a....

    Now, having reread your post, I am not sure if you think that hymns should be transposed down since melodies are written for sopranos...

    It's not that easy.

    A composer, and there are much better ones than myself on this list, when writing a hymn has to compose as if she is driving a semi-truck with mirrors. The melody of a hymn is the easy part, the other parts, they are what the mirrors are for. While you are writing a melody, you are concerned that it falls in the range of singers. And the alto and tenor and bass as well.

    If you write a tenor part up to E you are ok. If you write a D as a high note, that's ok. If you only take the tenors to a C, then you have problems...tenors will not like their part, you will have problems with voice leading, as you have limited yourself to a very small tonal area to write in. Take them down to e...ok, but down to d or c....tenors will be less than happy. And if you fully take advantage of your basses, writing down to a G....then lowering the soprano part a whole step drops them down to F....

    A soprano melody and also part together determine exactly what notes can be written for the tenor and bass, as Hindemith wrote. It's a science, so the moment a really, really good composer writes a hymn for a key, messing with the key of it can destroy everything about it.

    Dropping a hymn in pitch is not a solution. They work in certain keys. Each key, even if you are singing wiht an organ in equal temperament, still has its own character. More people than we think have relative pitch and are bothered when the music does not 'sound' right to them.

    Pythagorus and others believed that each planet sounds a pitch and these pitches are all audible to us and sound a chord. We do not hear it because it has always been there, since our birth. The harmony of the spheres.

    Hymns in their original keys have their own tone colors.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Um, pitching things for mezzos and baritones doesn't particularly change the relative compass one can work with, it just focuses the tessitura. And untrained singers in the pews (which is the overwhelming majority of Catholic folks) singing a few minutes once a weak have only the remotest chance of developing their ranges above their second passagio point.... When choosing how to pitch for the congregation, the needs of the choir and the organist are secondary considerations.

    I recall attending a 7:30 AM Sunday Mass at a local parish in the past year; the organist and rather breathy teenage cantor were clearly sopranos, and they pitched all of the hymns up from the written key, by a major second and even in once case a minor third. (I can tell - I sing tenor, and it was even high for me.) The congregation went mute. It was sad to witness. Blaming the congregation for being lazy, effectively, would have been the wrong reaction.
  • So you advocate dropping all hymns to be comfortable for the congregation?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Wow, that's so not what I am saying.

    It depends on the tessitura of the melody (and the quality of how the extreme pitches, if any, are prepared) and the placement of the hymn vis-a-vis how warmed up the voices of the congregation are (in poorly heated churches in the winter in the Northeast, for example, they may need a lot of warming up at the earlier Masses, so the opening hymns in those cases are the most sensitive in this regard).

    But the idea that one should resist as a matter of principle the reconsideration the pitch of a hymn based on the congregation's likely ability to sing it is an impoverished one from a ministerial perspective.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Yes, drop all hymns if they go above a certain point. (but, obviously, we will have the same problem on the lower end if the melody encompasses more than an octave...)

    however, I believe that our primary disagreement lies around what exactly that "comfortable point" for a congregation is. I don't think we're going to come to an agreement on that, especially since I don't think this is something that can be "fixed" or "changed" with one Mass a week on Sunday mornings!
    I listen to my choir, myself, the congregation, and especially the men in the congregation who drop things an octave when they get too high, and I think a high "d" is "uncomfortably high." You are free to disagree, but even as a semi-professional singer, I will not want to be singing in your congregation on a Sunday morning, and if I had any reluctance to being at Mass, then that extra effort to reach those high notes might just be what persuades me to stop singing!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,537
    Are there multiple editions of this hymnal? My copy (fourth printing, 2006) doesn't seem to have any polemical commentary.
  • marajoy (by the way, I like your blog) it's a hard decision to adjust keys.

    I've always felt it did not make a difference what keys they were in, but more and more have been confronted by people who really should not have a clue that the keys have been tampered with, but have been.

    Rather than drop keys for early Masses, I propose singing hymns more appropriate for that hour. But in so many churches every Mass has to have the same music at all Masses, so this can be difficult to do.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,310
    The earlier the Mass... the Less there should be congregational singing. Whatever became of low and high?
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    Regarding lowering the keys of hymns because the melody ranges are too high, try this little test:

    When approached by someone who levels this complaint, sit them down and pick any (any) hymn pitched in the key of E major (as many of them used to be), with the highest pitch being top-space E on the treble staff, and have the complainant (who likely can't read music, but knows that high E's a damn high note to sing) sing through a verse. They'll likely complain about how they have to strain to sing that high and how uncomfortable it is.

    Then, without giving them the number in the book for "I Am the Bread of Life", start playing the refrain and have them sing it. They'll scream their brains out on the refrain, and won't care that the tessitura of that song has a nearly two-octave range, going down as low as A below middle C at the beginning of the verse and all the way up to the very same "E" they complained about in the hymn. After they've sung a verse and refrain from memory ('cuz it's one of those pesky songs they can sing without words and music for the first verse), have them take up the song book and turn to the music for it. Imagine their chagrin when they realize that it goes just as high as the hymn they complained about.

    As a convert, first from the Presbyterian church where the congregation would sing in four-part harmony because the hymnals provided it, then from the Episcopal church with its vast music treasury, I only first encountered the phenomenon of "melody-only" hymnals, "text-only" song books and missalettes, and organ accompaniment books that provided "lower key" versions of hymns when I started playing for Catholic parishes. Even if the accompaniment books didn't provide a "lower key" version, often the one version that was provided was already in a lowered key for hymns that I was familiar with in my Protestant days. This is why most of the free accompaniment arrangements (T. Tertius Noble, etc.) can't be used with Catholic versions of standard hymns - the keys don't match, or the melody has been altered.

    Usually the complaints about hymns have nothing to do with them being in keys that are too high. The above experiment proves it. Usually the folks who complain about the hymns being too high simply don't like hymn singing, and will come up with whatever useful red herring to excuse their lack of knowledge, appreciation or understanding of hymnody.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274

    There's a reason people can do the vaulting in IATBOL: it's a counterintuitive example of good leading for untrained voices (The Sisters Toolan actually were sophisticated writers, believe it or not) - the highest note is prepared over a series of steps, but painful tightening of the voice is likewise prevented by the series of preceding drops, and the progression is reasonably intuitive. (Bach, btw, did the same thing, obviously with much greater artistry, but it's one reason why Bach is often easier for choral tenors to sing than Handel, who didn't seem to care about such preparations but instead just used the tenor parts to fill in the holes in chords....) That's why IATBOL is not a great example of test what "too high means" as compared to a hymn where the tessitura is more the problem.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    "The earlier the Mass... the Less there should be congregational singing."

    Um, no. That's not a principle embraced by the Church in its vision for liturgical music in the OF.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,537
    I had to Google what IATBOL means.

    As a computer guy, I had learned COBOL and other computer languages, including SNOBOL, and had heard of WATBOL and DIBOL, but not IATBOL. Except that I had learned it after all.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Ok, so even if David Andrew's test is true...so what? If lowering an actual hymn makes it more likely that people will sing it, and that they will complain less, then WHY NOT lower it?!
  • Because it has a tonal center that makes it work. Lowering it means that the pitch that the composer/arranger set it at was not the "perfect" one.
  • But this is foolishness:

    Um, no. That's not a principle embraced by the Church in its vision for liturgical music in the OF.

    There WAS NO vision. The Church made the decision to drop all restrictions about music and sung texts and walk away, hoping it appears, to get rid of choirs, that even back in 1936 were said to be difficult, and let "the people do" what they wanted to do.

    At first it was cool, 1906's free love and free music...and then publishers decided to take control and create a machine to seize the moment and insert a throwaway. money making pulp hymnal in the hands of every US Catholic.

    And they did a pretty good job.

    Remember, this was a time in which priests and nuns got to dress just like us! And stop driving black cars. And ride motorcycles!

    Remove all the restrictions and make a free church!!!!

    Why insist that the choir be hidden? Put them up in front of the people! LET THE PEOPLE GATHER ROUND THE ALTAR AND BE PART OF THE CONSECRATION! TRANSUBSTANTIATION IS NO LONGER A MYSTERY!

    There were controls in place that made the Church The Church. And the music of the church Church Music.

    Abandoning those controls was like handing teenagers their driver's license, keys to the family car and a six pack of beer.

    All statements that chant and latin were to be preserved were obviously seen to be a nod to traditionalists who were old and not going to be an influence for long, so "give them a bone" by the crazies that took over.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Tell me how you really feel....
  • Wow, guys and gals, this thread is humming "I wonder as I wander..."
    My twopence, in bullets:
    *I'm sorry, JT, I couldn't endorse an RC parish/cathedral/basillica using an SSPX hymnal, standing on general principle, no matter how competently comprised. If SSPX would "hand over" its editorial content to HHHitchcock/Adoremus, without its introduction, and it received NO/I from the local See, that would pass muster.
    *Liam, nice observation about the "sisters Toolan." Very few folks know of Suzanne's sibling. I've had the pleasure of meeting them both. And I agree with your point about the counterintuitive strategy that compels the amateur to unwittingly fulfill a hymn's tessitura demands. That's also attested to by the adherence to "O say can you sing" as our national anthem- it ain't only for divas, and people will reach that Eb/En every time they're allowed to join in without the Whitney Houston hystrionics.
    *Is it really ever necessary to argue the merits of hymn transposition for either the choir or congregation? Aren't there larger considerations in force when choosing hymn repertoire? If we opt for IN BABILONE because of its ease over ABBOT'S LEIGH nine times out of ten, doesn't that impoverish the standards? If you have a jones for EBENEZER or ST. PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE, how often should you impose that upon all? Then, uh, there are the texts. See "Pluth, Kathleen."
    *Tessitura for choir members: if a director cannot competently coach tenors/sopranos to not try to chest down to the occasional Bb's or A's below (ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR comes to mind) or altos/basses to chest up to THAXTED then the director needs some remediation, not the singers. As stated, singers do respond to iron fisted/velvet gloved leadership if the conductor has their spit together in the first place. (BTW, kudos to those who stop rehearsing a piece if they EVER hear a bass drop to the sub-octave.) I have four basses who, if left unattended, would belt out ever'thing in Mass, and we sing the waterfront of forms and styles. That's when my hand has to talk to them, in performance. And they darn sure know to watch for the talking hand via my instructions at rehearsal.
    *Lastly, and I haven't mentioned this for a few years, whether any congregation takes up a chant, hymn or song, all other factors being equal, well....that's on them, not me, the organist or the choir. 'Nuff said.
  • Charles will be dangerous when he gets both hands typing again....and there is little there to argue about!
  • I'm officially dangerous, Noel. MRI taken last week, waiting for orthodoc (pun alert) to return from Rio to determine if I have blown my rotator! But, I take the arm out of its nest while the laptop is on my.....legs. (I really don't have a lap as much as a burial mound anymore.) Six weeks in a sling so far sucks wind. Take heart my Knoxville friend that the silver lining prevents me from strapping on my stratocaster. But I do miss playing my flute. Side benefit, I think all conductors should consider wearing a sling now and then without the requisite injury. One handed conducting can prove a blessing in disguise for many of us. I do notice the differences between conductors at colloquium when they switch from chirononmy to conducting. Less can often prove to be more if your brain will mitigate the body's impulses to paint huge murals in front of their singers while you should be decorating Faberge eggs.
    The less is more principle was brought home to me by singing in Mahrt's choir this year.
  • JeanL
    Posts: 21
    I have no problem with singing an SATB hymn in a higher key if it is sung in 4 parts, but that is not practical in most congregations. Assuming most congregations WILL be singing in unison (unless the Holy Spirit teaches the world to sight-sing over night), unison hymns will be the norm, and in that case it is better to do in a lower key b-flat to d. There can be some argument that organum and drones evolved to allow lower voices to partake in the singing of chant. Perhaps some chant books should be notated with those techniques if higher keys are to be insisted upon.
  • Charles,

    One of my best musical experiences was singing the Duruflé Requiem many years ago with Theodore Marier conducting left handed. His broken right arm was in a sling. It confirmed your less-is-more theory.
  • We need to accept that people who came before us may have had a reason for what they did.

    The Catholic Church, by ignoring everything the Anglican Church did to move to English is proof that often this is not done.

    Hymns that appeared in 50 years or more at certain keys were not written for SATB choirs, but for congregations.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Actually, there is a significant body of hymnody that was developed for congregations that sang SATB.

    But more important is the fact that The People have largely outsourced their music - that is, they have increasingly foregone singing for listening. A lot of this has to do with the snowball effect of broadcast media (let's mark that as radio in the 1920s), but also public music education is much less vigorous than it used to be in the first decades of the broadcast revolution.

    The subset of congregants who sing/play music outside of worship is much smaller than it used to be. That is a rotting core, and it has a significant effect on the ability of the congregation to sing.

    It also doesn't help when fathers don't model singing for their sons. (My father, coming from a solid German-American Catholic family, did model that - even he stuck out in the 1960s; it's only gotten worse since.)
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,662
    Back to the discussion at hand...

    The SSXP Hymnal is used successfully by these folks: www.detroitlatinmass.org and these folks: www.windsorlatinmass.org

    I believe they printed a sticker that said something like, "though we don't agree with all the statements written here, we choose to use this hymnal because of it's excellent content," and put it on the page with the forward. Or at least that was their original idea (I was just leaving the music program there when they decided to get the hymnals).
  • Actually, there is a significant body of hymnody that was developed for congregations that sang SATB

    I find it funny that Catholics can't even imagine such a thing happening. In the Baptist Church of my youth, this was the norm for every song, every Sunday: four parts. Everyone in the congregation adopted a vocal part as part of his or her identity. I didn't know this was unusual until I found myself in the Catholic world. I gather that Protestants are now facing similar problems today of widespread musical ignorance.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,003

    My concern about the pitch was not based on having a choir sing the material--just the congregation.

    Yes, I know there's a difference between the aural/sentient impressions left by F Major as opposed to E-flat Major. Tough cookies; if the congregation won't sing the hymn, it's NOT because their delicate sensibilities of mode/mood were offended.

    It's because it's NOT singable in the range it's printed.

    Personally, I have no problem with ignoring the congregation's wishes--or cutting them out entirely. But all these Popes seem to have other ideals in mind.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    "But all these Popes seem to have other ideals in mind."

  • Why were they singable for years and years and years by congregations...and now suddenly they have to be lowered.

    What has physically changed in the human body that justifies the alteration?

    The higher the key, the better it carries in the room filling it with sound and making people more comfortable to sing.

    As long as you do not exceed the limits of the original keys. These hymns were not composed for choirs to sing, but for congregations.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Jeffrey Tucker hit the nail squarely on the head.

    In the U.S. around 1800, a large proportion of Protestant hymnals (and even some of the Catholic material...what little there was) contained very lengthy introductions on musical rudiments, notation, vocal production, etc. They sometimes included excurses on the spiritual, physical, and intellectual benefits of singing, and ministers were preaching this from the pulpit. Going to church meant singing a part, not only because it was who you were, but because it made you a better person.

    Some of that thinking stuck around, but most of it didn't. Witness that the United Methodist Hymnal still contains John Wesley's directions for singing (in addition to 4-part writing most of the time). These thoughts could apply equally to Protestant hymnody or to Gregorian chant:

    "If [singing] is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing."

    "Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven."
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "There can be some argument that organum and drones evolved to allow lower voices to partake in the singing of chant. Perhaps some chant books should be notated with those techniques if higher keys are to be insisted upon."

    YES! ISON! Surprisingly easy to sing and it makes anything sound 100x more awesome. It even sounds all right with basses and altos together with sopranos and tenors on the melody. Try it with modal chants such as Veni, Veni Emmanuel... exquisite.

    Of course, ison is irrelevant to SATB hymns and pitch-lowering and all that discussion atm. Drones only sound good with chant/modal music as far as I know.

    As for SATB pitching down... I used to be one of those complainers that songs were pitched too high when I was at church... this is because at a certain point I grew embarrassed of my head voice and tried to chest sing everything. Switching to the alto part made all the difference. I grew up in the good ol' Church of Christ, where part-singing was a matter of course. (I have since been beaten out of my chest voice by voice lessons, so that's not a problem anymore, and I can hit an E comfortably now, F and G on good days.)

    I don't know if it is possible to get your average Catholic in the pew to sing in parts like we did growing up. That was ALL we did pretty much, sing and listen to sermons, so we didn't have things like, I dunno, sacraments, to distract us from that. We had singing Sundays and weekly singing devotionals and all kinds of things like that. Everyone learned their part by ear, sitting next to others who had been singing that part for years and years, or learned to sight-sing shapenotes like my grandpa, who can belt out any bass part in CoC shapenotes cold, totally by himself.

    nevertheless, I do think a majority of Catholic congregations are sadly underestimated.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    haha, yep, grew up with that one, except the blue cover version
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781

    because (as has been already stated on this thread---see Jeffrey's post right above yours and several others,) people in the congregation *used* to sing in 4 parts, and now they don't. that is why it makes sense to lower hymns.

    And also, I admit that I don't understand a ton about tuning and temperaments, but why are you so focused on the "tonal center" and the sound of the key that a piece is in? If you were to play a piece in a Werkmeister temperament, it's already going to sound a LOT different even in the same key as the same piece on a meantone temperament instrument. (does that mean that Bach-style organs should never be used to accompany hymns? hmm... lol)
    I have trouble believing that congregations could possibly become as attached to particular keys for particular hymns as you make it sound.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,274
    Well, people with perfect pitch often have problems with transposing. My composition TA in college loved to transpose things by a tritone in sight reading exercises to foil the perfect pitchers.

    In training as a horn player in my youth, we had to learn to transpose all over the place, because it's a F instrument and a lot of classic orchestral repertoire parts for horn do not come transpose for horn. (Instruments in Bb have to transpose a bit; instruments in D or Eb a bit more; instruments in F have to transpose a lot more. Like the lovely horn solo in B in Brahms 2d Symphony - the player has to transpose a tritone.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,014
    I think the congregation doesn't sense anything about keys other than range - it's either in a range they can sing, or it isn't. They don't get tonal centers or temperaments. Isn't it amazing how things of such importance to persnickety musicians are of little consequence to the vast majority of people? I also don't remember singing anything in 4 parts in Catholic liturgy or devotions. I remember unison singing which was the tradition for both chants and hymns. I think some of those 4-part advocates may be transplants from Protestantism where that was the norm.
  • Thanks for yet another insult!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,014
    Not an insult, but a fact. Over the years, i have seen music education for children cut back to the point that congregations grow up no longer knowing music very well. Oh, they know what they like to hear, but have no understanding of how it is produced. It amazes me, but some seem to think the process is almost magical. Of course, it isn't. It just takes years of work and practice to be decent at it. But I would maintain that 4-part congregational singing is not really a Catholic tradition in the U.S. Is there really any reason why it should be, other than we musicians might enjoy hearing it?