Recorded Music at Mass?
  • rob
    Posts: 147
    I can't quite tell the intended purpose (liturgical v. devotional), but it seems this could have a broader application:

    "Misulia generated Operation Let the Fire Fall (www.oltff.com), which provides tools for the 200 chaplains serving more than 1 million Catholic military personnel overseas.

    A 'Firebox' includes speakers, an iPod and a music-loaded website for Catholic military chaplains to enhance services and equip lay ministers to conduct Catholic lay services."

    http://www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyarchnew.aspx?action=9475
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    It is forbidden at the liturgy. A number of documents address this issue including Musica Sacrae and the mandate of the USCCB in STL. I worked on a project similar to this in the late 80s and early 90s and I canned it (pun intended) because when I learned what the church desires, I could not in good conscience move forward. The church elects to have unaccompanied singing as opposed to canned tracks. This is because the worship of God is supposed to rise directly from the hearts of men (that means women too).
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 311
    I was fired once for having the audacity to write to the pastor, citing the documents, asking him not to permit recorded music at funerals.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    I voice the Church's desire always, but defer to the pastor and make sure he knows I am behind whatever he decides.
  • I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, given battlefield conditions, something like this should be indulted. On the other, it hasn't been, so far as I know, and it does set a very bad precedent. I guess this is one time when I'm really glad I'm not a member of the Church hierarchy and don't have to make that decision.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    @Olbash -

    as my dad used to say (may he rest in peace), "Son, it's good to tell the truth, but it ain't always good to go around tellin' the truth."

    As much as it pains me to endure recorded music, as I have on rare occasion done, I can tell you that it's not a hill I'm willing to die on.
  • Apt and appropriate metaphor, JDE. I'm in agreement with JQ's indult proposal for military application only.
    That said, I would not support the transference of such a technical enterprise to a commercial firm, such as the one noted in the first post. The marketing of prepared mp3/IPod/amplifier "combo packages" is more than likely one that is heavily marked up in the cost to retail ratio, not to mention a likelihood that liturgical oversight for content would be nebulous at best.
    Having recently viewed the powerful, poignant documentary "Restrepo" that covers the deployment of a particular platoon in Hellman province, Afghanistan, it seems that many units have soldiers with guitars or capable singers to provide leadership for worship in the field. But if that is not the case everywhere units are assigned, it seems the USCCB could underwrite the cost of creating digital reproductions of actual organist's/ensembles' "live" accompaniments for approved repertoires.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410
    The idea that some place where you can't have [organ, schola, piano, choir, steel drum band] (like a battlefield), is a place where you should have recorded music at Mass or the LoH betrays (I think) a misunderstanding of the role of music in Liturgy. Those things (organs, scholas, pianos, choirs, and liturgical steel drum ensembles) do not exist to make Mass more interesting or entertaining- so there is no need to replace them with recorded music when they are not available.

    On the other hand....
    Recorded devotionals (like the Rosary, a musical Divine Mercy Chaplet, or even some kind of adapted LoH) for semi-private use (small groups of self-organizing lay people) are probably an excellent thing (and potentially a tool for evangelism as soldiers invite their non-Catholic Christian friends to "come pray with me sometime.")
    Thanked by 2eft94530 hilluminar
  • I'm with Adam. Recorded devotionals, even music right after Mass is fine in such circumstances.

    The gag rule on recorded music during the sacred liturgy should be retained. How I wish we could get to a place where devotions and Mass are distinct and complimentary. So many treat the Mass as their own private jukebox... I mean, two forms of communal prayer is a better thing than lumping our own favorites into the Mass.

    While I wouldn't fight my superiors on this, I probably wouldn't choose to work long for them, either.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I agree with Adam. A recording doesn't fulfill the same purpose of a sung liturgy.

    I tend to look at this legislation as very "liberal", if you will: "You won't allow the PEOPLE OF GOD to UPLIFT their own joyful voices at the Lord's Supper??"
  • Maureen
    Posts: 668
    I went and looked at the website. Holy crud, what a snafu.

    According to the history of the program, it never occurred to ANYBODY along the line that using recorded music _at Mass_ could possibly be a problem. Not to the bishop. Not to the laypeople. NO-BO-DY. There is no shadow of a figleaf of approval here, because it never occurred to anyone that you needed an indult. Everyone along the way was COMPLETELY CLUELESS about an edict which is not new.

    So now, you've got maybe HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Catholics at military bases and outposts all around the world, wrongly catechized on this topic. And when they come back, they're going to expect their home parishes to DO THE SAME THING.

    ARRRRRRRRGH.

    All this was going on totally behind the back of groups like CMAA and even NPM. Because it never occurred to anyone that we might have anything to contribute.

    ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

    On the bright side, the "Catholic Lay Service" (which they also made up new, despite 5 zillion real liturgical services they could have picked for laymen to lead) doesn't have any bloody liturgical value whatsoever and is just a mundane approved prayer service, so it being accompanied by recorded music is meaningless and not an abuse. Also, if you've got a chaplain who's not Catholic, then obviously it's nice to have Catholic music for Catholic services, and I suppose you want a service that's not a real liturgy (like Liturgy of the Hours would be).

    But the website is definite that the music includes "Downloadable Tracks and Song Sheets: The musical tracks are produced especially for Catholic liturgical use. They come in an easy to follow format in a comfortable, low vocal range that encourages participation and prayerful singing." They also suggest: "Enhance Masses, Communion and Prayer services, weddings, funerals, reconciliation services and holy hours. "

    I don't blame the people behind this. But I do blame the bishops for not knowing better and teaching better than this, and thus leading people to be inadvertently disobedient and badly catechized.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 668
    The contact form on the website has a time limit. It's not very long, either.

    It may be better to contact the Knights of Columbus directly, since it's their baby.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410
    Knights of Columbus.
    For men who don't qualify to be in the Boy Scouts, the Masons, or the Swiss Guard.
  • I'm not KofC, Adam. But I suspect you might want to walk that back after you do some homework. Catholics automatically, BTW, don't qualify to be "Masons."
  • rob
    Posts: 147
    Frankly, my reaction was the same Maureen's: How could this have happened, and how will it be used as a precedent to support the practice in other setting? If it's good enough for the Archdiocese of the Military, why not for others doing battle in the trenches?

    I wonder too what music is programmed and under what rights/permissions.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    In general, this is a bad precedent.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,711
    You can count on the K of C to obtain all the necessary rights and permissions.

    It's possible that copyright might be waived by the publishers. If I understand aright, the US government also has some immunity from copyright obligations, and that might be invoked. (Just the other day, a member of one of the US Air Force bands explained to us at school that they are free to make arrangements of copyrighted music without paying any fees.)

    Or the K of C might just make a deal with the publishers for some agreeable payment.

    Anyway, the OLTFF program appears to bear the endorsement of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (on the www.oltff.com website), so that's probably the place to address any concerns. I wouldn't bother them: the Archbishop has a tough enough job already with the shortage of priests.
  • Charles, Adam is exactly right. Men don't qualify for Boy Scouts (well, except as troop leaders), there aren't many openings for Swiss Guards (and, uh, don't you have to be Swiss? Or not anymore?), Catholics can't be Masons...which leaves the K of C by default. It's sort of like the Catholic Church that way...the absolute worst Christian denomination, except for all the others. But as Rocky Fisher said, "Where we gonna go, Boss? You got da woids uh life."
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410
    So my statement was accurate?

    A bit mean spirited, and I should apologize for that.
    I have had nothing but bad experiences with the Knights. At my home parish they were little more than men's social club, except they occasionally dressed up and paraded around for no apparent reason at Mass. They harbored a mentally handicapped child molester (out of stupidity, not malice), and then about year after that member was institutionalized, his name showed up in calligraphy as a founding member on their over-done poster-sized charter. The really great part, though, was the already-inappropriate, and now tragically comical, money collecting cans bearing the motto "Helping the Retarded" that showed up from time to time after that.

    I'm sorry, but I am really not a fan of the Knights of Columbus.
    This initiative, while certainly not as heinous as the behavior I just described, reinforces my (certainly under-informed) impression of the organization as being full of men who like to go do things that make them feel and look important, without knowing enough about the things they are meddling with.
  • Adam, JQ's analysis of your deductive reasoning is correct.
    However unfortunate your experiences and impressions of your local chapter may be, the more unfortunate result was a public indictment of a fellow Roman Catholic fraternal organization. That alone gives me pause. The KofC experience goes way beyond beer and bowling or swords and antiquated uniforms. As I've observed them locally and nationally, their influence in areas of evangelization, vocations, right to life issues and, aligned with the Catholic League, addressing anti-Catholic prejudice seems admirable, again to me.
    Many of us may bristle at the notion of their taking point, literally with swords, at the parish confirmation during the episcopal procession, but if you look at that as an anachronism, you may miss the larger symbolism of the Church Militant. The Swiss Guard mention actually attests to that symbolism. Dan Brown fiction notwithstanding, the Guard exists for very real reasons, historical and contemporary.
    This Sunday's gospel exhorts us to turn the other cheek as a gesture of humble love towards enemies. But what if you're a Coptic Catholic peacefully at worship which then is beset upon by jihadists with blood lust against the infidels? What if you're at confirmation at your Texas parish and Westboro Baptist is down the street condemning your soul to hellfire?
    Those anachronistic swords might take on a whole new perspective for you then. Not as weapons, but as symbols of Christian perseverence. I know this seems contradictory, what with our own history of the Crusades and Julius II etc. But, the dress up part of KofC is really not their focus, as I understand it. YMMV.

    Regarding their involvement with the "karaoke music ministry package," again, not a hill I'd die on either regarding its use in military field operations.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410
    Point taken.

    I apologize for my statement.
  • Boys like shiny sharp things. Jesus told His disciples to buy some. Works for me. Just because some past leadership mistook the sword for an evangelization tool doesn't mean it doesn't have its proper use. Though for "its proper use" I'd rather have St. Gabriel Possenti's tool.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    Jeffrey:

    Got some of those sharp shiny things too!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,276
    The Knights can range from effective to irrelevant. Our parish chapter has had an interesting history.

    When I was younger, they were mostly old guys who wanted to get away from their wives and drink beer. I was always afraid to get too close to them when the swords were shaking in the air in trembling hands. In the 90s, they strongly resembled a motorcycle gang. When not in their dress uniforms, they wore biker vests, jeans, and chains.
    They seem to have returned to a semblance of normalcy in more recent years.

    Now they help fund school projects, buy educational materials, and do community service projects. I still think the uniforms look a bit silly, and have in the past considered the possibility that the feathers were being worn on the wrong ends. However, they seem to be good guys with good intentions these days.
  • Blaise
    Posts: 439
    Well, the KofC business above aside, I am wondering, as I'm sure many of you are, about the quality of the canned music........

    Masses under austere conditions, I'm sure we can let this sort of thing slide if even the His Grace the Archbishop of the Military Services supports it, provided the music so canned is actually of high quality.

    When these servicemen and women return stateside, however, I just hope they don't expect us to use it.
  • rob
    Posts: 147
    But, if the use of recorded music is prohibited, for reasons so fundamental to the nature of the liturgy as those discussed above, how can it be permitted based on pragmatic considerations? And, it is being allowed simply to "support the troops", why shouldn't it be allowed to support other needy and deserving communities?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    It doesn't "support the troops" to foist illicit liturgical praxis upon them.
  • There must be others on the list who served in the military and played for Mass as I did her in the US and in Germany, traveling out in the field in the general's Huey with the official military pump field organ.

    Worship in the military on a base could be formal but in the field it is very basic.

    I doubt that anyone returns from military service expecting or wanting Mass to be like it is in the field, and even military chapel Masses are also more of a "here we are in a generic building saying Mass" sort of thing.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 311
    @JDE and Francis: For the record, the case I mentioned involved recorded secular music, a pop song that had overtones about drug use and suicide. Out of idle curiosity, JDE, would this be worth dying on said hill? Francis, would you defer to your pastor on that?

    As for the military recordings, I am much more concerned about the state of music in American parishes than some relatively minor abuses in the military. If music in the parishes were improved, then it would bear fruit throughout the life of the Church. I doubt we'd even be having this discussion, as it would probably never enter into the minds of the chaplains of our great armed forces to use canned sacropop.
  • Michael, you've pounded the nail squarely into the last portion of the top of this thread's coffin. There are distinctions and discretions that always need to be made in all our ministerial obligations. And I do think this issue, as raised by Rob, is a tempest in a teapot insofar as many of us, save FNJ perhaps, cannot typify the military worship ethos on base or in country. And what we do on the home front ought and hopefully inform the military heirarchy and pastorates.
    And as unfortunately usual remains the issue of a well-intentioned organization's ill-advised foray into subsidizing a vendor's commercial enterprise with apparently little interest on the part of the prevailing ecclesial authorities.
    All too familiar...
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    Michael, if I were weighing my livelihood and my obligation to provide for my family against a liturgical abuse for which I was not responsible, no, I would still not die on that hill. I sat by while a priest played "From a distance" over the loudspeakers at a Christmas Eve Mass after he had just come back from the Gulf after Desert Storm. At the time, that was my only source of income.

    However, as if more proof were needed that God is not mocked, while Miss M was crooning away, the wind shifted, and it started blowing the smoke from the censer into the Sanctuary instead of carrying it out the window - in a minute the whole chapel looked like a smoke grenade attack.

    Father was not pleased. But I imagine God was pretty amused.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    BTW, it's not nice to sandbag. If you had described the song or the circumstances, I might have refrained from "going around telling the truth."
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,570
    I was asked to play 'For a Season, Turn, Turn, Turn' for a funeral, and in the presence of the pastor I said I could not in good conscience, play it. They brought in an electric guitar and other singers, and I had to sit in the pew and watch. I do draw the line, but only when it jumps outside the realm of the Big three publishers and into the pop realm.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 668
    Sorry for my freakout... in my defense, I was sick. Fever and Internet posting don't mix.

    Maybe music directors need some kind of role-playing job training, sorta like you get for retail jobs. Instead of "I understand what you're saying" and "Why don't I call some of our other stores to see if they have it in stock", you could have classes in saying, "Yes, that would sound lovely as a motet before Mass". :)
  • rob
    Posts: 147
    I wish I could be as sanguine about this development. Per the promoter, "20 units are being used at bases from Afghanistan to Greenland and, the Pacific to Parris Island (S.C.), as well as U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, with 15 more on the way...", and has been "'blessed' throughout the military chaplaincy."

    So, it's apparently already found a foothold within the U.S. and I think it's just a matter of time before it makes its way around the corner to St. Peter's in Beaufort or up the road to Charleston. In fact, given the mobility of military chaplains and their congregations, I'd predict it'll become a fixture at most military chapels within the various dioceses of the U.S. The spread of the practice (or, at least, questions about the practice) into adjacent parishes is inevitable.
  • Rob,

    The military advertises and PAYS for church musicians on bases here in the United States and around the world - In Berlin, Germany my checks were made out in the late 1960's by the Occupation Forces.

    The only places these will be used are where there are no organists to play. And, personally, I have little interest in edge of battlefield reed organ pumping.

    The use of pre-recorded organ music for singing goes back to barrel organs in England a long time ago. Seen any lately? Seen any at all? It's because they complicate the life of the priest who ends up having to push the buttons to get them to work while he should be saying Mass.

    The military began passing out fake trumpets that play taps for funerals where they cannot find a trumpeter. Funeral directors and families are unhappy about this and it is not taking over.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    Has everyone seen that awful video of the Austrian priest and servers "recessing" to some tiktok video music (someone mentioned Jerusalem or Jerusalema, or something like that)?

    Besides the obvious abuses going on for such to be considered the end of a liturgy, is pre-recorded music also disallowed for the entry/exit processions, or can this parish at least be cited for that?
    What a disgrace.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,276
    Haven't seen it, and maybe that's a good thing. I was always told that the recessional comes after the dismissal and is not part of the mass. I did a recessional hymn to get the cast of thousands off the altar, then played a postlude to usher folks out the door. But the priest who told me about the dismissal is correct. Mass is over after that.

    Recorded music was forbidden at my parish.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    Mass is over, but is the procession a part of the liturgy?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,276
    My understanding is that the processional is but the recessional is not.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,172
    I would think it is if they go down the full aisle, rather than just out through the sacristy.
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 213
    @CCooze

    The Introit serves as processional music for days outside of Sunday. Usually though we are accustomed to singing whatever hymn is applicable for the day, then sing the Introit. Very few times have we done this at the chapel I attend.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 991
    I believe that technically the introit (as it is a proper) is indeed part of the liturgy, while Mass technically ends at "ite missa est". This is why there is a certain latitude for how recessionals are handled (we go straight to postlude, for instance).

    That said, the video is indeed disgusting. And all the old people (no offense to anyone here... but it is clear that everyone who attends the parish is of a certain generation) smile and clap along like idiots.

    Frankly, it was a disgraceful show and not worth of the sanctuary. It's as simple as that. No doubt someone will accuse me of being some rigid trad for this opinion (though likely not anyone on this forum), but the sanctuary deserves respect. If they wanted to make @$$es of themselves after mass in the courtyard, that would be one thing, but replacing a dignified procession with that tripe whilst simultaneously forgetting that they are in the house of God is very disturbing.

    Much like architecture (ie- the way a particular generation builds a church), the way one conducts a liturgy tells you all you need to know about their interior life. Same for music. I'm sure we all saw the video out of germany a year or two ago with that wretched woman shouting into a megaphone during mass whilst the organist played his best "hammerklavier" (pun intended) rendition.

    I'd love to see the ghost of St. Alphonsus Liguori show up at the west end portal whilst this was taking place. I'd pay good money to see that, and I'd lend him my best notted chord free of charge. Consider it a tithe.
    Thanked by 2sdtalley3 CCooze