QUERITUR: show tunes and wedding music

From a reader:

The Catholic church where my daughter is getting married does not allow the song from Fiddler on the Roof, "Sunrise, Sunset", to be sung at the ceremony because it is not liturgical

The Catholic church where my wife and I were married allowed the song, which was sung as our mothers were escorted to their seats before the mass began

Could you clarify the rule if there is one?

 

A church is not a Broadway theatre.  A Mass or any liturgy of Holy Church is not a time for show tunes. 

A wedding is not a musical tune review.

A wedding, while a joyful moment for many involved, is not just a opportunity to indulge personal tastes.

Music in church should be sacred music.  It must be rooted in sacred texts and connected to and appropriate for the Church’s liturgy. 

I agree completely with the decision to ban that song from use in church.  It was entirely wrong for the other parish to permit it.

Sadly, this division in discipline and understanding of what Catholic liturgy is, what the sacrament of matrimony is all about, creates confusion among the faithful.  It gives them the impression that anything goes (to name another broadway show) and that if a priest sticks to the Church’s true understanding of what sacraments are and what liturgy is, then he is being "mean".

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95 Responses to QUERITUR: show tunes and wedding music

  1. a catechist says:

    Amen, Father!!!! Save the sentimental schlock for the reception, if they must.

    Friends of mine got married with an hour of Adoration beforehand, which I had never heard of before. Is that a once-widespread custom that vanished? I don’t mean to start a rabbithole here, but it seems like if folks planning a marriage started with an hour of silent Adoration, they’d be less inclined to then insult that silence with wildly inappropriate music in the liturgy.

  2. cordelia says:

    THANK YOU Fr. Z!!!!!

  3. My cousin’s wedding had that song…

    And while I love Fiddler (I have a music background after all)..I thought it was teh dumbest thing in the world. It was arrogant too

    Catholic Marriage is about partcipating in sacramental life as man and woman together. You Kneel at the altar (most of the time) for a reason. You are asking Christ to bless and approve your vocational offering, each other and yourselves. In other words…

    The mass has nothing to do with you, in the sense that its not about your whims or desires. Its abotu prayer, and thanksgiving. Sunrise sunset isnt liturgical, why have it in a mass… makes no sense

    The same for any other Pop song.. its silly. The most important day of your lives together and you allow it to be infiltrated by secular society. Makes no sense to me!

    Kudos to Fr Z for his perspective, and kudos to the Priest who stood up for sound Catholic Liturgy, to coin a wise man’s catch phrase “SAVE THE LITRUGY, SAVE THE WORLD!”

  4. TJM says:

    I assume the reader was married in the very permissive 70s or 80s where anything went. Even my uber-liberal parish would not allow this type of music to be used at a wedding any longer. It is sad indeed that many practicing Catholics no longer have a grasp on what the Liturgy should be
    about – the Lord. tom

  5. Hugo says:

    I thought I’d seen it all

  6. Steven says:

    Father,

    In a respect, I must disagree with you that a work of music is a work of music [?] and that if it fits the occasion then use it. Music before the start of Mass does not need to be liturgical since no liturgical action is happening. If you are saying that only sacred music should be allowed in church then, churches/cathedrals being used by symphonies to have a concert would be completely ruled out as well unsless they play only sacred music.

    Let them play the song [Wrong.]

  7. petticoat junction says:

    The song can be played at the reception afterwards.

  8. RANCHER says:

    Steven
    I beg to disagree with you and I happen to also believe that symphonies have no place in Catholic Churches. Catholic parish halls or auditoriums, yes…but not in the repository of the Blessed Sacrament whether the Blessed Sacrament has been temporarily removed or not. Music before the start of Mass should be no different in terms of liturgigal relevance than music during Mass. The pre-Mass period is (or at least should be) a time of preparation for what is to come.

    One of the difficulties with the whole approach to liturgical (or in some cases very non-liturgical) music used at Mass or other liturgies is that it has become an “all about the performer” issue rather than serve its real purpose of prayer. In far too many churches the music is a performance not prayer. As TJM and others have noted the purpose of the wedding Mass is little different than any other Mass. It is a prayer of blessing for those uniting in matrimony. It is not an opportunity to mold the Mass into the personal preferences or expressions of those being united.

    I am pleased that there are at least some Catholic Churches today that have the intestinal fortitude to say “NO”! when abuses of the liturgy are proposed.

  9. There are regulations from the Holy See for concerts in church.

    A concert is a concert and a wedding is a wedding.

  10. Kudos to this parish for standing up and saying no…Save the non-Liturgical music for the reception. (That hour of adoration idea before a wedding is something I’m going to undertake)

  11. Matthew says:

    My personal favorite was the wedding of a former Christian Brother (F.S.C.) where the bride and groom walked down the aisle to the Beatles’ “With a little Help From My Friends.” Can you guess in which decade this occurred? :)

  12. RANCHER says:

    Fr Z
    I know concerts and symphonies are permitted in Catholic Churches under some circumstances…I just don’t think much of the practice. Churches are Churches, concert halls are concert halls. God Bless

  13. Along those same lines, I remember a battle waged years ago in the Archdiocese of Boston (I believe) when a directive banned the playing of “Oh Danny Boy” at funeral Masses. A typical mainstream press article appeared, it had quotes from clergy who said they’d disobey the directive, as well as quotes from Catholic laity saying that they would ‘demand’ the song. The Archdiocese called it for what it was: the only reason it was there was to generate sobbing.

    Some musician cashed in on it, and wrote a piece called the “Celtic Farewell”, which sets the Song of Farewell words (“May the Angels lead you into paradise…”) to the Danny Boy tune. It now appears in most music books found in the pews.

  14. I agree that Sacred Music “should” be the only sort used in church for liturgical celebrations. HOWEVER… it seems almost impossible to ensure this. Take, for instance, Bach’s Trio Sonatas – how do we judge them? What about Puccini’s Messa di Gloria or Mozart’s Requiem – neither actually intended for liturgical performance and yet both fitting. And what about music from Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar? Again, these are “sacred” in content but are they suitable? I would argue not.

    It really is very difficult and, Father, whilst I agree with your line in principle, I think it is almost impossible to police. A safer bet would seem to be choosing something appropriate and that might mean, sometimes, grinning and bearing the aesthetic medium in order to achieve a higher goal.

  15. Badger says:

    The traditional bridal march doesn’t strike me as being a particularly liturgical piece. Obviously instrumentals are more difficult to categorize. Researching a bit on the question finds that it was adopted from an opera wrote in 1848. It was first used in a wedding in 1858.

    The word not used here but should be is the word profane. That actually is proscribed. I’m not familiar with the song, but my intuition would say that it isn’t profane. If you want to rip all the secular and non-sacral parts of the wedding out, you wouldn’t be left with much.

  16. GeoF says:

    Rancher: I am pleased that there are at least some Catholic Churches today that have the intestinal fortitude to say “NO”! when abuses of the liturgy are proposed.

    Sadly there are many, many more churches where improvization and the tastes of the day reign supreme. I’ve see almost everything in the way of liturgical abuse from pick-your-own responsorial psalm, to singing the sanctus 9in english, of course) as a round, to liturgical dance to whacky Celine-Dionesque music known only to The Almighty and the parishoners of that particular church.

    Oremus pro invincem

  17. First

    You would be left with ALOT. We have 2000 years of Sacred Music to draw from. I am sure there are some keepers in there somewhere. Hmm Gregorian chant for one… Missa Cantata’s, Missa St. Cecilia, “the Call” from Ralph Vaughn Williams(good communion piece… look up the lyrics), Bist Du Bei Mir, Panis Angelicus, Any Solo Ave Maria (Lizt, schubert, Bach), I could go on and on. Then there are magnificent hymns, Lift High the Cross, Rejoice the Lord is King, Praise to the Lord (which a gifted organist can do amazing things with on the pedals).

    Now since there was a beatles reference. (ugh!)
    My home “parish” I was cantoring one morning, and our deacon asked me to lead people in “All you need is Love” …I refused, naturally. I watched in complete astonishment when the music director lead them off… complete with a full roll on the keys.

    Mass isnt about us people. Its bout God, and our immortal salvation. Call me crazy, everyone talks about the beatles outlasting every other musician, I am pretty sure God outlasts the beatles though. So, just maybe we should be concerned more about what is fitting for him, rather then what we think is cool or special or neat.

  18. ALL: Remember that there is an important factor to consider here. It can be a little elusive, but it needs to be considered.

    Connotation.

  19. Badger – indeed. The Bridal March by Wagner is from his opera Lohengrin. This is my point. Whilst I agree that we must guard against unsuitable music, I would want to guard against being stuck-up about aesthetic style over substance. If clergy limit music solely on their personal aesthetic tastes, is that not as bad as being a TV presenter-style celebrant moulding the liturgy to suit and emphasize the individual?

  20. Roland de Chanson says:

    “Sunrise, Sunset” at a Catholic wedding Mass (or NO service)?

    Catholics should relearn what they have forgotten. Tradition. Our elder brothers in the faith do not forget.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

  21. Ohio Annie says:

    I seem to recall seeing online a listing of music that used to be forbidden to be played at Mass. One item was the famous Ave Maria that everybody loves, the reason given was that it was intended as a performance piece and not a liturgical piece. How far we have fallen. And landed in the orchestra pit, I guess.

  22. Bill Marshall says:

    If “Fiddler” is allowed, then why not “Stardust” or any number of other gagging pieces of secular music.

    There are places for such music but its not at Mass. Have we lost THAT much knowledge of our Traditions?

  23. Kirk Rich says:

    The 2nd verse of Sunrise is sooooo Jewish. Why would non-Jews find this appropriate or desirable?

  24. puella says:

    God bless your correspondent for having the guts to write and ask :)

  25. Romulus says:

    Badger and Gregory: My mother has told me that at her wedding over 50 years ago, the bridal march from Lohengrin was specifically prohibited as a secular work by an irreligious composer. That his works had lately been associated with scandalous and violent events didn\’t help either. It\’s always been my impression that use of the Lohengrin bridal march is not a Catholic custom.

    I do happen to be a Wagner fan. But the liturgy is not about anyone’s personal taste.

  26. RBrown says:

    There is no worse experience at a wedding than to hear “We’ve Only Just Begun”, with, the first few bars having been sung and my gagging suppressed, a woman leans over and says, “I love this song”.

  27. RBrown says:

    There is no worse experience at a wedding than to hear “We’ve Only Just Begun”. Then, the first few bars having been sung and my gagging suppressed, a woman leans over and says, “I love this song”.

  28. RBrown says:

    oops. Delete the first post.

  29. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    We were given a list of acceptable wedding hymns by our priest for our wedding (OF), most of which came from the hymnal (Catholic Book of Worship III [Canada]). The book has an imprimatur so shouldn’t have been a problem except that my wife and I are both classically trained so we didn’t use a single one of the suggestions, such as the ubiquitous “Eagle’s Wings”, and the priest was kind enough to permit our suggestions. Instead:

    Entrance: “Laudate Dominum”, Mozart
    Pslam 128: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord”
    Communion: “Ubi Caritas”, Duruffle
    Recessional: “O God Beyond All Praising”, Tune: Holst

    Go with music that centres on God, giving Him thanks, rather than the couple. And surprise your priest by making special musical requests…he’ll be pleasantly surprised when they are sacred music instead of secular music.

  30. Mike says:

    GeoF: The way I read your comment, you imply that singing the Sanctus in English is a liturgical abuse. Did you mean that, or was that a typo?

  31. Badger says:

    The understanding that liturgical means a place apart from the culture is not a Catholic one. Please tell me the liturgical place for bridesmaids as mentioned in the post above this one. They are a borrowing from royal pageantry. If I were feeling prudish, I would call them an anachronism that has no place in a wedding. Half a high mass is a borrowing from royal pageantry. It doesn’t make those parts wrong, but let’s at least get their origins right. And making this argument doesn’t make every attempt to place secular culture in the Church right. I for one happen to enjoy a high mass, even if a low one is shorter and still fulfills my obligations.

  32. Joe says:

    Steven’s remark that the Liturgy had not begun at the point mentioned is unfortunately fostered by the authorities of the Church, when they allow eulogies or ‘seminarian reflections’ after Communion because “that’s not the Liturgy”.

  33. Mila says:

    Hugo

    As they say, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. I can top this one. A relative of ours chose the prelude to La Traviata to be played during Communion at her daughter’s wedding! I don’t know if the look on my face made any impression on her; apparently not. The wedding is taking place in another country. My husband keeps asking how can they allow this. My thinking is nobody has informed the priest about it, and so they’ll get away with this monstrosity.

  34. “Comment by Steven — 13 January 2009 @ 12:18 pm”

    If you were correct (and you’re not, okay?), it would be no less inappropriate for a male singer to do Sammy Davis Jr’s number on behalf of the groom: “What Kind of Fool Am I?”

  35. John P. says:

    Amen, Father Z!

    I (somewhat) recently served at a wedding Mass, and before Mass this song was played. I was rather upset about this occurrence, because I thought they should be playing more religious songs. I can deal with Canon in D by Pachelbel, Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring, or other CALM songs with no words or lyrics, but I was disgusted when I heard “Sunrise, Sunset” in church. I was very relieved to see this, as I thought I was being “too traditional” by thinking this song was inappropriate for Mass.

  36. chironomo says:

    Ahh… the parish Music Director’s largest can of worms…right here on WDTPRS! To whoever it was above that said:

    ” I assume the reader was married in the very permissive 70s or 80s where anything went. Even my uber-liberal parish would not allow this type of music to be used at a wedding any longer.”

    Then your parish is not as “uber-liberal” as you think! This type of thing and others that are far worse are still allowed in many places. From “Music of the Night” (Phantom of the Opera) to “My Heart Will Go On” (Titanic), the list of Pop-Songs-as-liturgy is longer than anything Kasey Casem could put together.

    To the above who wrote:

    “Take, for instance, Bach’s Trio Sonatas – how do we judge them?”

    Are you seriously suggesting that playing a Bach Trio Sonata on the organ before a wedding, and having the Bride’s best friend from High School sing “Sunrise, Sunset” as the Bride walks down the aisle are somehow arguable as the same thing? They are not, and that is obvious. There is no nuance involved there.

    There is an extensive section in the Bishop’s document on music, Sing To The Lord, that deals with music for weddings, and they at least had the fortitude to say in no uncertain terms that secular music is inappropriate and unsuitable for use in the wedding liturgy. However, there are always those musicians and pastors who will say that the time before the Mass begins is not “in the wedding liturgy”, so it is OK to sing all manner of things.

    If a couple is going to get all bent out of shape and go elsewhere for their wedding if they can’t have this or that song sung, then perhaps it might be for the best if they do so…

  37. Geo F. says:

    MikeSorry that my comment about the sanctus being sung like a round was not meant to inply that “Holy,Holy,Holy” was an abuse whereas “Sanctus,Sanctus,Sanctus” is not. I just threw in the vernacular comment there as I couldn’t fathom the Sanctus being sung like “row,row,row your boat” in Latin. So, if we’re changing the language to “be comtemporary” or to mock the solemnity of the original setting (as it feels while enduring these whacky musical settings) then I guess that that would be the wrong reason for turning to the vernacular.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  38. Mareegirl says:

    As someone who regularly sings for weddings in my parish, I’m glad this request was denied. I’d also like to do away with “There Is Love,” by Peter, Paul, and Mary (or one of the three), which is something I am regularly asked to sing. However, my least favorite “hymn” to sing at weddings is “All I Ask Of You,” which contains the verse, “Someone will be calling you to be there for a while. Have you time? I’d like to be with you.” Um, do what now?

    I’m starting to rant. To summarize: No Broadway at Mass, pls thx.

  39. Clara says:

    It does seem to me that people are being a bit hard on the questioners. They seem to have asked the question in good faith, and “Sunrise, Sunset” is a lovely song. Of course it’s sentimental, but it’s appropriate to have some sentiment at a wedding. And even if they aren’t fully in line with Catholic tradition, they were at least trying to follow a family tradition.

    None of this is to say that I disagree at all with Fr. Z’s reply. There may be some borderline cases (like the Wedding March, which incidentally was *not* permitted in the chapel where I was married) but Broadway show tunes are not a borderline case. Anyway, if a song has lyrics, and those lyrics in no way concern the Catholic faith, then it probably isn’t liturgical music. But they should by all means enjoy the song at the reception — make it a slight adaptation of the family tradition.

  40. Geo F. says:

    Mike: Sorry [for the sloppy posts above ...and]- my comment about the sanctus being sung like a round was not meant to inply that “Holy,Holy,Holy” was an abuse becauseit was not in Latin
    I threw in the vernacular comment as I couldn’t fathom the Sanctus being sung like “row,row,row your boat” in Latin.

    So, if we’re changing the language to “be comtemporary” or to mock the solemnity of the original setting (as it feels while enduring these whacky musical settings) then I guess that that would be the wrong reason for turning to the vernacular.

    My anti-spam word is Think Then Post…for me it should be: revise then post…Ha !

  41. ckdexterhaven says:

    The wedding march wasn’t allowed in the church I cathedral I was married in.

    I can top all of you people, my husband’s brother was married in a barn (not Catholic, but married by a Presbyterian minister). The bride marched in to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. The minister didn’t care! Hooray for Fr. Z for saying no to Sunrise, Sunset, next thing we know, it’s going to be Led Zeppelin in the chapel. Sorry to go off topic.

  42. Argent says:

    One we said “No” to: Every Breath You Take by The Police.

  43. Shane says:

    I had never heard of the piece from Loehengrin not being permitted in a Catholic wedding. I have a dear friend who is to be married this summer, and I do know that she wants this piece. Given that, I would like to hear some information that people may have on this sort of thing.

    The question has been asked above in one way or another, so anyone who is able to answer it would be most helpful to do so, and that question is, what causes something to be liturgical or not?

    So far as I can tell now, it seems as though the criteria is that a person composed the song for a liturgical purpose, which would lead to the rather abusrd notion that a man could compose precisely the same piece with precisely the same notes, orchestrations, and so on, and yet if at the outsest he intended it as sacred music it would be, but if he did not, it would not be, ever to be inappropriate for liturgy. Surely, I am missing something, and would be most thankful to anyone who could clarify this for me.

    Apart from that, what distinguishes a piece as sacred and appropriate for use in the liturgy? I am aware of official Church documents and their statements such as that the music ought to be beautiful, not trite, and so forth. But beyond that, what makes the difference? For example, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is often used in liturgy, and indeed to my knowledge has been for centuries. Yet, this was a symphony, not something intended as a sacred work. So what exactly is going on, and when my friend seeks to select music for her wedding – wishing to avoid at all costs the banal, awful music that will be provided in the missals available at the church and turning to the greater catalogue of the great composers so as to select something of beauty, by what means is she to make her choice?

  44. chironomo says:

    Shane;

    In addition to being a tacky wedding processional, the Wedding March from Wagner’s “Lohengrin” has a long history of banishment from Catholic weddings.

    1. It is from an Opera (Strike One: Tra le solicitudini says this is a no-no)
    2. The context in which it appears in the opera is less than savory.
    3. It was prominently a part of the “Black List” for Catholic liturgy following the promulgation of “Tra le solicitudini”.

    If all else fails, remind the bride that the song is composed in such a way that it intertwines the musical themes of the bride (Elsa) and her lover (Lohengrin),whom she is thinking lustfully of whilst she is walking down the aisle to marry another man. That should be enough reason to choose a better processional. Opera carries so much baggage with it.

  45. RC says:

    The logic should be so straightforward:
    (1) A wedding is a church service.
    (2) A church service is an act of worship.

    (I know, this is complicated.)

    (3) The music in a church service should contribute to the act of worship.
    (4) But “Sunrise, Sunset” does not contribute to any act of worship.
    (5) Therefore, it is not suitable for a church service.

    Besides, if they played “Sunrise, Sunset” at their wedding, it was practically an insult to the mothers. It’s about how rapidly the older generation is aging.

  46. Liam says:

    The tune from the finale of Beethoven’s 9th symphony has been adapted for hymn texts. The actual symphonic setting is not used in Catholic liturgy except as an abuse, I would venture.

    I know of many Catholic churches that do not permit the 19th century wedding marches (Wagner & Mendelssohn’s) that became popularized in Protestant churches and then in American movies. Part of the problem with people’s expectations is that they’ve often conceived a movie production in their imagination about how their wedding will go.

    Of course, if people did as the ritual books indicate, and had the bride and groom as part of the liturgical procession (they are, after all, the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony…), then perhaps people might get those movies out of their heads, but I digress.

    In any event, I’ve never know parochial practice on this point to be neatly aligned along the traditionalist-progressive axis. I know many progressive music directors I know spent a lot of capital trying to persuade pragmatic pastors over many years (since the 1980s, at least) to bar/limit/manage the non-liturgical music at weddings and funerals, et cet. This is actually a point of practice where traditionalists and progressives may be aligned together against pragmatists.

  47. therese b says:

    For processionals..
    Charpentier (good Catholic – worked for Jesuits) Te Deum, or if you are feeling ecumenical….
    Handel (bad Lutheran – worked for Hanoverian usurpers) Entracte – from Solomon (Arrival of the Queen of Sheba)

  48. chironomo says:

    Q. Apart from that, what distinguishes a piece as sacred and appropriate for use in the liturgy?

    A. Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.

    On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the suprememodel for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.

  49. Nathan says:

    Very interesting discussion. I’m of the opinion that a big part of the problem with wedding music is that prospective brides, grooms, and families have been taught that the wedding ceremony is “theirs.” As with all the sacraments, and especially with the Holy Mass, it belongs to the Church, and to her Bridegroom, Our Blessed Lord.

    I also think far that too many of us probably approach our marriage ceremony in the same way a spoiled child demands presents–if it’s not completely what I want, then I don’t want it all. Hence the necessity for pastors to put up with a lot of irate families.

    In Christ,

  50. chironomo says:

    Ooops! Forgot to cite source for the above:

    Tra le solicitudini – Pope Pius X (1903)

  51. I jokingly suggested Led Zeppelin for our wedding, and by wonderful humorous coincidence, in the next meeting we had with the priest, my wife asked about music and he immediately replied (unprovoked) “No Led Zeppelin or anything…” I have always wondered if my wife was behind that….

    But seriously, as our church had (and still does) an excellent organist, we just went to him and said “use your own judgement but keep it traditional” and we got the most beautiful wedding music ever.

  52. Shane says:

    chironomo,

    Thank you for your answer, it is not unhelpful.

    However, beyond simply helping my friend to get over the Wagner piece, I would like to be able to guide her in selecting proper music, and beyond even that, I would like to understand what constitutes sacred or liturgical music in general.

    For example, in quickly looking up information on this, I came across the suggestion for a really quite wonderful part of a church web site which gives much advice for wedding music, including allowing individuals to listen to a wide variety of possible selections. It appears to be a very doctrinally orthodox church, and it also expresses all of the same ideas about sacred and liturgical music that I have seen elsewhere: that the music be sacred in nature and origin, not secular, etc…. really all that has been expressed here. However, when I look at the selections suggested on the page, they are all beautiful, yes, but many of them were composed for expressly secular purposes, just like Lohengrin – for example, Handel’s Fireworks and Water music, or Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D. Thus, I sense either a deep hypocrisy or something which I am quite entirely missing! Being one who has read many Church documents, knows a fair amount about liturgy, and happens to be a musician and composer myself, I am reasonably well qualified to understand these things, and so that’s really what I’m trying to do.

    God bless

  53. Kradcliffe says:

    My parish (Old St. Mary’s in Cincinnati) wouldn’t even let us do “Here Comes the Bride” or that other traditional wedding march on the way out. Not that I minded in the least.

    I walked down the aisle to Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and we left the chapel to Ode to Joy.

  54. Shane says:

    I read Tra le solicitudini, but I couldn’t find the line which chironomo said explicitly prohibited operas?

  55. David Andrew says:

    Another way of looking at this is that so much of the music selected for weddings, even instrumental music from Western art music composers (a.k.a. “Classical music” composers) has found its way into television and movie depictions of the sacrament of marriage that make a mockery of the sacrament and its celebration.

    To that end, I would say that any piece of classical music that has found its way into the post-modern cultural psyche with these kinds of uncharitable or downright scandalous depictions of the sacrament should be considered carefully before being put to use.

    I won’t, however, step out onto the thin ice of “we musn’t use instrumental music of Bach or Handel because they weren’t Catholics.”

  56. Mitch says:

    Father Z,
    As you were writing this response I bet you wanted to yell it out on a megaphone for all Catholics to hear. It seems no matter how much it is repeated about what is appropriate Liturgical music people do not want to hear it and certainly do not retain the information…

  57. Dove says:

    This discussion makes me wish we could have a similar one about the music a funeral masses. I was asked to sing at one mass where not one note of Gregorian chant was to be sung. I did not know any of the music, but it was “requested by the family”. I declined to sing. Well I want a sung Latin Requiem Mass in the EF with black vestments and Dies Irae.

  58. Emily says:

    Usually I agree with everything I read on here, but this is a tough one for me.
    I *like* operatic and musical theater pieces. Some of them are truly beautiful. I am a musical theater actress, so that’s what’s familiar to me. At the same time, I am a cradle Catholic, who sings in my church choir and is familiar with hymnody.
    I don’t see a problem with “Sunrise, Sunset”, or “Believe” or “All I Ask Of You” before the Mass. Within the Mass, of course, there would be none of that, and hymns only (or pieces such as the “Ave Maria”). I don’t see the problem with the Trumpet Voluntary or Mendelsohn for the processional/recessional. What am I missing? The same goes for the Prelude–what is there, vocally? Not a whole lot, especially if you don’t hire an operatic soprano to sing it.

  59. Steve K. says:

    Just recently having been married (at my parents’ parish), I feel I must share. My wife and I got married at St. Bede’s, Williamsburg VA (in the old chapel there, which now serves as the chapel for campus ministry for the College of William and Mary, lovely mix of traditional baroque Catholic interior and colonial Virginian exterior, but I digress), which is Novus Ordo, but celebrated quite orthodoxly (I could not get married in the EF because my wife is not Catholic… yet). This parish runs a tight ship when it comes to weddings. Right at the outset, you are given a booklet with all the don’ts – and there was a section that emphasized what was musically correct and what was not. They strongly suggested you worked with the parish music team and let them guide you in your music choices. That’s what we did, and we ended up with better music than either of us could have ever come up with. They had a “menu” of appropriate choices for each part of the liturgy that called for music, and the music director played a sample of each for us on the organ. We went with his recommendations and hired him to play the organ and one of the parish vocalists to sing. It was lovely.

    They were at pains to explain to couples (and parents!) up front that marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament, that there were thus proscribed rules governing the ceremony (not to mention getting permission to marry in the first place), and that no exceptions were tolerated. No unity candles, flashes during the ceremony, and so forth.

    My wife was rather overwhelmed by it all, “you Catholics and all your rules” but she ended up being impressed and loved the liturgy. She had never been to a Catholic wedding in her life, hers was her first.

    Kradcliffe – my wife was also walked down the aisle to Jesu and we left to Ode to Joy. Also, “here comes the bride” was strictly forbidden at St. Bede’s as well.

  60. Steve K. says:

    Shane –
    ” I am aware of official Church documents and their statements such as that the music ought to be beautiful, not trite, and so forth. But beyond that, what makes the difference? For example, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is often used in liturgy, and indeed to my knowledge has been for centuries. Yet, this was a symphony, not something intended as a sacred work. So what exactly is going on, and when my friend seeks to select music for her wedding – wishing to avoid at all costs the banal, awful music that will be provided in the missals available at the church and turning to the greater catalogue of the great composers so as to select something of beauty, by what means is she to make her choice?”

    One is never going to write a guide that would cover every possible piece of music. It’s a judgment call by proper authority adhering to Church guidelines. Your friend should choose as well as her understanding of the Church’s position permits, then run it by the parish.

  61. Pseudomodo says:

    YIKES!

    We had this as our processional song for our wedding so many years ago… and we were married in a German speaking parish to boot!

    For our 25th anniversary mass ar the same parish (with the same priest) we asked about another pop song to be played after the mass and dismissal: ‘When I’m 64′ by the Beatles.

    Oh well…

    I have heard that some of the classic ‘catholic’ music by Schubert etc. was considered worldly and not fit for mass.

  62. JaneC says:

    Shane, I think that part of the reason many instrumental works are allowed and others are not has to do with connotation. First of all, the original context of a piece and the composer’s intention both matter, at least to a certain extent. The Wagner piece carries with it the connotation of the operatic action it underscores in its original context, and is thus obviously inappropriate for a church wedding–I would argue that it is just a inappropriate as “Sunrise, Sunset” or a song by the Beatles. A Bach organ work, made to be performed in church and without secular connotations, absolutely would be appropriate.

    We move into more fuzzy territory when we get to two other kinds of options, one of which is more relevant to the discussion at hand than the other. The first would be sacred music composed using tunes that are secular in origin. This debate has been raging ever since Dufay wrote his Missa Se la face ay pale, based on a French love song, in the early 1400s, but it’s not such a common problem now (“Celtic Song of Farewell” mentioned above notwithstanding). The other type of music, as you mentioned, is non-programmatic instrumental concert music, such as the Canon in D or Handel’s Water Music, or even vaguely programmatic music like Vivaldi’s Spring. These are definitely fuzzy territory. I would argue that the fact of a piece having been written for a secular venue doesn’t automatically make it inappropriate for sacred use, but that these kinds of pieces need to be evaluated individually. This is where a well-formed conscience and a careful consideration of the mind of the Church in musical matters will help.

    Like many things in life, musical choices are not always black and white, but always keep in mind that Gregorian chant is THE music of the Roman Church. The further removed in spirit and style a piece is from chant, the less likely it is to be appropriate for Mass. Thus, show tunes and opera are right out, concert music by Mozart or Haydn would be a bit better, J.S. Bach organ works better still, Duruflé or Palestrina an excellent choice, and chant best of all.

    I don’t think there’s a deep hypocrisy in suggesting that Pachelbel is a better choice than Wagner, but I think it is a problem if someone is suggesting that Pachelbel is the best choice.

    Incidentally, our wedding music featured the proper chant introit, gradual, and Alleluia, the Palestrina Missa Assumpta Est Maria, Palestrina’s motet “Surge proprera amica mea,” Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, and two movements of a Bach organ work. But if you can’t muster the forces to do that, or if your family will fall over in a dead faint if you sing anything in Latin, there’s still no reason not to have beautiful, appropriate music. Save the show tunes for the reception.

  63. Jayna says:

    I’m of the opinion that a big part of the problem with wedding music is that prospective brides, grooms, and families have been taught that the wedding ceremony is “theirs.” As with all the sacraments, and especially with the Holy Mass, it belongs to the Church, and to her Bridegroom, Our Blessed Lord.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about recently (a side effect of having too many friends get married at once). My parish is very progressive, and yet, if I were still living in this area if/when I do get married, I would want to get married there (long story). Would I be within my rights to request that the ceremony follow a more traditional route? While my requests would be more in line with the wishes of the Church, they would also be asking to change the norms of the parish itself. So, in that circumstance, am I left to find another church or should I be allowed to ask that my parish pay attention to things they’re supposed to be doing anyway but aren’t?

    That may sound like a stupid question, but it is in essence tailoring the ceremony to my personal beliefs/tastes.

  64. JaneC says:

    Jayna,
    My husband and I faced exactly that problem just over a year ago. Our solution was first of all to bring in a priest from somewhere else, so that the local priest didn’t have to do anything that would be unfamiliar or uncomfortable for him. Second, find your own altar servers who know what they’re doing, preferably adults who are harder to push around than children. Third, give a list to the pastor and/or parish wedding planner of anything you’ll be doing that’s unusual for the parish. They will likely veto at least some of it. Argue your point as best you can, and as politely as you can. You will probably get most of what you want, as long as your expectations are reasonable with the resources you have at your disposal and not at the furthest end of the spectrum from where the parish is now, but you’ll have to be willing to give up a few things. For example, we wanted no EME’s, parish wedding coordinator said there had to be four, and we whittled her down to two; we wanted incense, parish wedding coordinator said the censer hadn’t been used in years, so we brought our own incense and capable thurifer, and the groom and best man spent the night before the wedding polishing the parish’s old censer.

    What you want to do is not tailoring the ceremony to your personal taste. It is taking the opportunity of the only Mass you’ll probably ever plan to tailor it to the Church’s taste.

  65. Jayna says:

    Jane,
    Well, I will say on the bright side that everyone in the parish is completely aware of my inclinations. I have a feeling that were I to be married in that church, they would be amenable to my requests because they know my feelings on the matter. I know I wouldn’t get, you know, a full EF Mass or anything, but a little Latin here and there wouldn’t kill anyone (though you wouldn’t know it from the way some of them talk). I couldn’t possibly replace my priest as the celebrant, though. I love him dearly and he would be the one I’d ask to perform the marriage even if it weren’t going to be at his church.

    I was just trying to feel out if that could appear to be my trying to have a bespoke ceremony, as it were. I certainly don’t want to be seen as Bridezilla. (I say all this like I’m getting married any time soon. I’ll be lucky if my priest is still alive by that time!)

  66. Shane says:

    JaneC,

    I made the statement about hypocrisy if the argument was, “The Lohengrin piece is not appropriate for the Liturgy because it is a secular work. Secular works are inappropriate for the Liturgy. Instead of Lohengrin, may I suggest Handel’s Fireworks Overture?” Obviously, there’s a problem in that statement! :) Now, if there were something more to it than that, then it would not necessarily be hypocrisy, and this is what I was asking: is there something more to it then that? You gave a very nice answer which was very helpful on many levels. At the same time, I still see somewhat of a tension in the statement that music’s secular origin disqualifies it from liturgical use, insofar as that those asserting this seem often to be OK with some secular works, just not others. The reality, then, would seem to be that it is not merely a work’s secular origin, but something on top of that which disqualifies or qualifies a piece.

  67. Mike says:

    How could the Schiller/Beethoven “Ode to Joy” (An die Freude) have *any* appropriate application
    to a litugical setting? It is not a prayer in any sense of the word. As much as I like the words
    of “An die Freude” and the music of Beethoven, this has as much right of place in a Catholic wedding
    service as “I’m Henry the Eighth I Am” by Herman’s Hermits.

  68. JaneC says:

    Mike,
    It’s because they’re thinking of all the hymn texts set to the tune, not Schiller’s poem. And there’s nothing inappropriate about “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Provided, of course, that it doesn’t supplant the chant Propers… :)

  69. Shane says:

    Mike,
    It’s because they’re thinking of all the hymn texts set to the tune, not Schiller’s poem. And there’s nothing inappropriate about “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Provided, of course, that it doesn’t supplant the chant Propers… :)

    I think that the brief exchange illustrates the two “positions” regarding liturgical music between which I see tension.

    Mike’s sentiment seems to be that these pieces are secular in nature, not based upon any liturgical or Scriptural texts, and thus have no right to be used in the liturgy.

    JaneC, your position seems to be more along the lines that you expressed in your nice explanation for me.

    (Forgive me, please, should I have misrepresented either of you.)

    And so therein is the question: must a work be precisely of a liturgical or sacred origin, and based upon liturgical and sacred texts, or may other works be appropriate by virtue of their beauty and at worst neutral (as opposed immoral, as in for instance in the case of Lohengrin) associations?

  70. Mike says:

    GeoF: Now I understand. No problem re: typo. Just wanted to make sure what you were saying (or trying to – I’ve made that mistake many times before).

    I’ve heard some good and bad renditions in both languages, but if it were to be sung to “Row, Row, Row your boat,” that would cause agita even for someone like me – who much prefers a well-said OF Mass to an EF Mass any day.

    In fact, I just tried to sing (quietly, to myself), the first verse of the Sanctus to that melody. Ironically, the current wording fails, no matter how I do it. The new English (Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Hosts…) works much better. Not to give anyone any ideas… ;-)

  71. Gravitas says:

    This HAS to be a joke?

    Father, no one who has read your blog could ever send that email!!!

  72. Maureen says:

    If enough time passes and the old secular associations are covered over by the new sacred one, I suspect that there’s no harm done.

    I’m a bit torn about this “Celtic Song of Farewell” thing. I’ve never heard it, and most of the common Irish tunes set to hymns don’t work very well, in my opinion. (And I usually don’t think much of the arrangements, and hymnwriters often credit Scottish tunes as Irish or with some crazy wrong title, which drives me wild. “Marie’s Wedding”, forsooth! Or OCP saying the tune of the oilskins and jumpers song was one of ancient tradition, instead of just looking up the songwriter credit and paying the poor people! But I digress….)

    OTOH, I’m pleased that more people are singing and becoming familiar with the beautiful traditional texts of the Church’s real funeral songs. And there are other hymn tune settings that I _have_ heard, although none quite as pretty and unearthly as the chant tune is.

  73. TJM says:

    Gravitas, I think you may be onto something! Do you think it was a plant from Bishop Trautman? Tom

  74. Antiquarian says:

    For what it’s worth, the description of the context of the Lohengrin march given here is completely inaccurate, and the synopsis given by chironomo is entirely wrong– in the context of the opera, there is nothing particularly immoral about the wedding march. It is still, however, wholly inappropriate for a Catholic wedding, if for no other reason than it comes from a secular source, and in context, it comes after a wedding– which is never consummated. Why would anyone even want to use it, then?

  75. Shane says:

    It is still, however, wholly inappropriate for a Catholic wedding, if for no other reason than it comes from a secular source

    This is what I’m trying to understand…

    Here is a list of music recommended for a wedding by a Catholic Church’s homepage which makes the very same point: music of secular origin is not appropriate for liturgical use. Further, I have found many other sites making the same argument and recommending many of these same pieces, as have I seen reports from individual Catholics that in their weddings, music “of secular origin” was prohibited, and yet when listing what they did use, they include some of these:

    Trumpet Voluntary – Jeremiah Clarke
    Trumpet Tune – Jeremiah Clarke
    Trumpet Tune in D – David N. Johnson
    Trumpet March – Jean-Baptiste Lully
    Prelude to the Te Deum – Marc-Antoine Charpentier
    Rondeau – Jean-Joseph Mouret:
    Minuet – Jeremiah Clark
    Royal Fireworks Music: Overture – George Frideric Handel
    Canon – Johann Pachelbel
    Allegro marziale – Frank Bridge
    Rigaudon – André Campra
    Sonata No. 3: Allegro maestoso – Felix Mendelssohn
    Prelude in E-flat major – Johann Sebastian Bach

    Many of these are from expressly secular sources, and so therein lies the great confusion I am trying to sort out.

  76. David2 says:

    chironomo,

    Not wanting to go down a rabbit hole here, but I think I need to correct you about the operatic context in which the “wedding march” originally appears.

    Elsa has married Lohengrin whom she has just met, and whose name she does not know and has been forbidden to ask. The couple is in fact being escorted to the bridal chamber to consummate the union.

    Throughout the Opera, Elsa never has eyes for any other man than the man she marries.

    The English translation of the march is:

    “Faithfully guided, draw near
    to where the blessing of love shall preserve you!
    Triumphant courage, the reward of love,
    joins you in faith as the happiest of couples!
    Champion of youth, proceed!
    Jewel of youth, proceed!
    Flee now the splendour of the wedding feast,
    may the delights of the heart be yours!”

    Not appropriate for Mass, but not as unsavoury as suggested by you.

  77. “Entrance: “Laudate Dominum”, Mozart
    Pslam 128: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord”
    Communion: “Ubi Caritas”, Duruffle
    Recessional: “O God Beyond All Praising”, Tune: Holst”

    THAT is a good music setting for mass, especially the recessional.

    And its God centered. Now new and inventive :) (JUST kidding)

  78. Matt says:

    my wife and I were married last summer:

    Bride\’s entrance: Jesu Joy of Man\’s Desiring
    Introit \”Deus Israel conjugat vos\” (LU p. 1488)
    Kyrie from Missa de Angelis (LU 149)
    (There is neither Gloria nor Credo)
    Gradual \”Uxor tua\” (LU 1489)
    Alleluia \”Mitat vobis\” (LU 1489)
    Offertory \”In te speravi\” (LU 1225), followed by a hymn \”Ubi Caritas et amor\”
    Sanctus from Missa de Angelis (LU 150)
    Agnus Dei from Missa de Angelis (LU 151)
    Communion \”Ecce sic benedicetur\” (LU 1492), followed by a hymn \”Come adore\”
    Recessional \”O Sanctissima\” (LU 821)

    God Bless,

    Matt

  79. TNCath says:

    This post is a good example of why so many priests I have known would much rather have three funerals in one week than one wedding in a year’s time. As one elderly, well-respected priest in our diocese was fond of saying, “Oh, for the coming of the kingdom when they are neither given nor taken in marriage!”

  80. Fred says:

    I’m a church musician – as being a musician is more an avocation than a profession – I am in the role of subbing in at lots of parishes (including the local cathedral) and play at many parishes for weddings. What would be so helpful – though in theory it shouldn’t be – would be some assistance from the office of worship of the diocese setting out the parameters for wedding music (and weddings in general) to “enforce” as it were that this is a sacrament. A wedding is often an opportunity to bring back to the Church a couple of people who may only be getting married in the Church out of custom/parental pressure/etc. – and when some parishes allow some music/others don’t – the bride (most of whom have been led to believe by the wedding industry that the day is all about them and their wishes) understandbly can be confused (if not downright angry) that what she has heard/seen at one parish is not allowed in another parish just down the street. If all the pastors/liturgists/organists knew they had the support of the chancery (and “documents” to back them up) it would go a long way towards better wedding ceremonies (and the ability to instruct the couple on the meaning of the marriage sacrament). I don’t think I’ve known any priests who really wanted Broadway tunes (though there are probably some who do) as prelude (or worse yet during the ceremony), but it wasn’t worth the headaches being “Fr. No” (the bride complains, the mother of the bride complains, the mother of the groom complains, the maid of honor, and on and on….”my cousin had Sunrise Sunset at her wedding just last year”). Maybe some of the couples shouldn’t be getting married in the Church – that’s obviously a topic for another post. I hope to live to see the day when couples actually walk in as couples (as described in the rubrics!) And for what it is worth: we used the following – Walton: Crown Imperial March, Vaughan Williams – Hyfrydol; Mozart – Alleluia for processional/recessional music – the mothers were escorted in to Schubert Ave Maira played on a marimba. (Of course, diocesan standard doesn’t mean there won’t be “loopholes” – the Kansas diocese prohibits Saturday evening weddings – as some parishes have adequate number of priests to accommodate, others don’t – and so all brides are to be treated equally – no weddings on Saturday evening – but sad to say, if you are a member of a big parish and are generous….an exception is made). What most of the Kansas brides do is come to the Kansas City Missouri side and “rent a parish” – several of the older, very beautiful downtown chruches make a significant income renting the church for weddings – often to Kansas residents.

  81. Mike Williams says:

    As someone on the fringes of the Church music profession (choir member and occasional substitute organist) I’ve really only heard the horror stories instead of experiencing them. But I know a choir director who had a long struggle with a bride who wanted Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” sung during the Mass. Now, that’s a beautiful aria, but it’s not suitable– when he pointed out that the character is saying to her father that if she can’t marry the man she loves, she’ll go down to the Ponte Vecchio and throw herself into the Arno, it turned out that the bride neither knew nor cared what the words said, she just liked the melody. He eventually won by offering her other choices.

    And one example of a slightly gray area– I attended a wedding of two actors, all very lovely, nothing inappropriate, although I couldn’t quite place the processional. I knew I’d heard it but wasn’t sure where. It turned out to be the wedding march from The Sound of Music! (Well, the scene DOES take place in the Abbey church… but I wonder what the SSPX’s Richard Williamson, who so despises the Sound of Music, would say about that?)

  82. Tiny says:

    If people don’t like to follow the guidelines of the parish music director or the parish priest they could always have recourse to this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6067002.stm

  83. Rachel says:

    My husband and I were married a few months ago in October. We had a very traditional EF sung Mass. The Gregorian propers were used but we also used some other music for the processional, reccessional, etc. We used Trumpet tune, Trumpet Voluntary, Canon in D for the bridesmaids, Air on G string for my processional, Mater Plena Gloria for the offertory, Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart) and Adorate Devote for communion and for our recessional (which we were able to do, there were no objections to the music) we used the Great Gate of Kiev because it sounded triumphant and we both loved the melody.

    We took a lot of time to choose the most appropriate music. The Mass itself was Mass VIII (the Angels) and we only chose liturgical appropriate music for the actual Mass itself. So, I know that there is a lot of confusion but one can use some very beautiful music for a Catholic wedding Mass without resorting to pop music and show tunes

  84. Experienced Catholic says:

    Having come out of the Catholic tradition and stumbling across this website, I am almost speechless [Would that were the case. o{]:¬) ] and dumbfounded at the vitriol, inflexibility and immature slavishness to the celebration of the Mass. The first stunningly inconceivable statement is that music begins and ends with a basis in, or acknowledgement of, the Gregorian chant. Growing up in the Catholic Church I found nothing so depressing, unmusical and almost insulting to God [ROFL!] as the Gregorian chant.

    This style of music was introduced by Pope Gregory around 600 AD. The claim that this is the only acceptable form implies that all those who preceeded Pope Gregory were not tryuly participating in the sacrament of properly celebrating the Mass. Even the most zealous would agree that sucha position is untenable. Remember that we are called to “celebrate” the Mass. [] It is expected that we fully infuse ourselves in the sacrement and become part of the process to create or strengthen our relationship with Him and His Son. The obligation of the church is to create an environment that fosters growth and deepens that relationship. Anything which detracts from that should be reduced as much as possible. [How dogmatic! o{]:¬) ]

    Arguing about whether or not a piece of music should be allowed at a wedding or service is truly laughable. [Only if you have not the slightest clue about what liturgy is really about and what sacred music is for.] If the music brings the person into a closer, deeper and richer relationship with God then it should not only be allowed, but encouraged. [And Broadway show tunes bring you closer to God. So... reason and Catholic sensibility swirls slowly around the bowl on the way into the void....] this takes me back to the supposed greatenss of the Gregorian chant. That form of music in no way, shape or form enhanced the celebraton of the sacrament. It distracted and caused many to only want the ordeal to be over so they could escape from the assault on their being. Now, if someone finds that form to be the ultimate support for them, by all means they should try and employ it as often as posible. [And thus the writer makes his own tastes the ultimate measure of what is appropriate for liturgy.]

    Keep in mind that the Gregorian form was developed by a man with his own preferences for music. [Not only entirely lost in himself, but working from the myth that Gregory wrote the chants.] If Pope Gregory were to be alive today, it is questionalbe he would think that form should be used. [And he would know!] It may have been fitting and proper for his time, but to claim that those who preceeded him, or those who think it is a horrible degradation of the Mass, are wrong is the height of arrogance.

    For those who are prepared to tear my post apart, or dismiss it, I refer you to the following:

    Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
    praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute,
    praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
    Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
    Psalms 150:3-6

    The Sour Grapes Award

  85. therese b says:

    After reading “Experienced Catholic”‘s post, I would like to revise the advice I gave to the bridesmaid in the post on head-coverings. Wear earmuffs.

  86. wsxyz says:

    The name “Experienced Catholic” is too long. It’s better to abbreviate it somewhat. “Ex-Catholic” seems about right.

  87. Experienced Catholic says:

    It is truly regretable that you preferred to simply add inane comments instead of actually responding to the points I raised. It is much easier for you to simply post ad hominem attacks and modify my post than to actually respond in a mature fashion.

    As far as your comments about the origin of the Gregorian chant I present the following:

    “Traditionalists point to evidence supporting an important role for Pope Gregory the Great between 590 and 604, such as that presented in H. Bewerung’s article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.”

    As stated there is a difference of opinion as to the origin of the form. I chose to go wit the earliest possible date in order to give the claims of its superiority some weight. I could have gone with other opinions that claim it wasn’t developed until the Middle Ages. This would indicate that for over 1000 years Catholics were using the “wrong” form of music.

    Also, you claim that secular music should not be used if its source was questionable or its purposes wrong. If such indeed is the case, then applying that standard the Gregorian form should not be allowed based on the following:

    “Gregorian chant appeared in a remarkably uniform state across Europe within a short time. Charlemagne, once elevated to Holy Roman Emperor, aggressively spread Gregorian chant throughout his empire to consolidate religious and secular power, requiring the clergy to use the new repertory on pain of death.”

    The chant wasn’t spread through the Holy Roman Empire in order to provide the most perfect way of praising God, but for the secular reason of consolidating power. And, of course, a threat of death tends to gain acceptance quickly.

    Your apparent attitude indicates that those who utilize more modern forms of music in their celebration are violating the sacrament of the Liturgy. If that is the case, then it would be clear that these people are intentionally sinning and they would need to repent and ask forgiveness and absolution for their sins. I may be misinterpreting your position, if so, feel free to clarify.

    You impress me as someone who confuses dictate and rules for spirituality. I saw and see so many like you who diligently attend Mass, paying no attention to what is going on, really not participating who leave the church and behave abominably, but believe that by jumping through the Mass hoop means that they satisfied their obligation and get a celestial check mark for showing up on Sunday.

    It is more than abundantly clear that going through the motions and fulfilling your obligation is hardly something to aspire to, even if you use the “right” music. Using the wrong music and being on fire for God and actively participating and making God the center of your life sure seems like a more desired form of praise and worship.

  88. Experienced Catholic says:

    “The name “Experienced Catholic” is too long. It’s better to abbreviate it somewhat. “Ex-Catholic” seems about right.”

    Comment by wsxyz — 14 January 2009

    Based on your silly post, wsxyz, it is clear why the Catholic Church is losing member s and why ex-Catholics make up the 2nd largest religious group in the world.

    Your narrowmindedness, prejudice and arrogance is the clearest example I can point to to prove my point that they symbolism is unimportant if the substance is lacking. You want to hold onto your biases and believe that following the ritual is all you have to do.

  89. Experienced Catholic won’t be joining us anymore, alas. We are far too narrowminded, prejudiced and arrogant to benefit from the deep insights his posts offer us.

  90. wsxyz says:

    Ex-Catholic: It is more than abundantly clear that going through the motions and fulfilling your obligation is hardly something to aspire to, even if you use the “right” music. Using the wrong music and being on fire for God and actively participating and making God the center of your life sure seems like a more desired form of praise and worship.

    Are you claiming to have been blessed with personal insight into the mind of God? Shall we conclude from your assertions that, although Jesus Christ promised to protect His Church from error, your personal judgment is in harmony with the Divine Will, while His Church stands in opposition to Him?

  91. Kathleen says:

    Theme to “Ice Castles”
    I will survive

    at least ‘henery the eighth CELEBRATES marriage. sort of.

  92. Jennifer S says:

    Though I doubt Experience Catholic will read this, I want to point this out:

    What Pope Gregory did was not write the chants, but compile them. You argue that “Gregorian chant appeared in a remarkably uniform state across Europe within a short time. Charlemagne, once elevated to Holy Roman Emperor, aggressively spread Gregorian chant throughout his empire to consolidate religious and secular power, requiring the clergy to use the new repertory on pain of death.” (without, I noticed, naming your source that you quoted from.)

    This statement brings to mind several things. As a history major, I studied the history of Germany with Dr. John Sommerfeldt, who is one of the premier scholars on medieval history, in particular German history. First, Charlemagne was able to spread the POPULARIZATION of the chant BECAUSE it was already in use in multiple places throughout the empire. They didn’t go around printing off copies of the chant (seeing as during this time, there is still no printing press which wasn’t created until much, much later). Charlemagne advocated the use of Gregorian chant, which popularized him with the Germanic populace, which already had much of the chant already in use and in place.

    Also, to quote Father Ralph March, a Cistercian monk who lives across the street from my University who worked on the Sacred Music in Rome with Pope Benedict when he was younger, who works with our Collegium Cantorum and teaches the men in the group Gregorian chant, and teaches the History and Theory of Gregorian Chant, offered every semester, (and this should be said in a Hungarian accent) “Gregorian [the title] is often misleading. These chants were already there and in place in many places across Europe. Many of the chants arose directly from the Psalms from the Jewish people. Pope Gregory gathered them all together, compiling them. That is where the name comes from.”

    I, being the lowly 22 year old I am, feel and experience a wonderful sense of elevation when attending Mass at Cistercian Monastery, where the monks and the brothers chant Gregorian chants for Mass. I grew up with the more secular pieces, and while I enjoy participating in singing, and have done so in choirs, I innately recognize that there IS something sacred in Gregorian chant. Though when ‘we sing, we pray twice” as St. Augustine said, I am increasingly moving towards going to Masses where Gregorian chant is used more and more often.

    You accuse many people here as being those “who diligently attend Mass, paying no attention to what is going on, really not participating who leave the church and behave abominably, but believe that by jumping through the Mass hoop means that they satisfied their obligation and get a celestial check mark for showing up on Sunday.” You lecture those as being uncharitable towards you, yet mention none of your own uncharitableness to those on here discussing. Is that not the pot calling the kettle black?

    Though I recognize your opinion, and your right to say it, I do not have to agree with it, paraphrased from Voltaire. I combated your comments with some of my own, and from some very good, sound sources. And I also placed my opinion on the forefront. Though you will probably choose to discontinue to read this blog, feeling insulted etcetera, I pray that you will graced with charity in the future to recognize that you were being rather unfair.

    God Bless,
    Jennifer

  93. Margaret M says:

    First, I’d like to say that I think I recognize Experienced Catholic’s distinctive vocabulary as that of a man from my parish. This man once YELLED at a priest before Mass, while the congregation was assembled, because of a Latin grammar mistake in a song the priest had NO hand in selecting.This song is actually hundreds of years old and has been a part of our choir’s repitoire for almost that long. From what parish do you hail from, O wise one?

    Second, and back on topic, I as a young Catholic am dismayed at the lack of traditional music at Mass. Not just at weddings, but at daily Masses. For example, during the Christmas season the “contemporary choir” director at our parish decided he wasn’t going to sing the Gloria at Mass. The song he had written for the purpose had the word Gloria in it, but it was not the Gloria in any sense of the word. It was all about “Look at little baby Jesus in the manger, oh how wonderful, the shepherds are coming to see him, etc.” When I first heard that song, I seriously considered walking out. I would much rather have the Gregorian chants back, please!

    Well, that’s my two cents. I’ll shut up and go away now.

  94. Calleva says:

    Fascinating, Captain…

    Speaking as someone who had Widor’s Toccata as we left the Church I think I should probably go away and hide. It was my mother-in-law’s request, but still……

    I had read that one of the fave tunes for the bride’s entry is ‘You’re Beautiful’ by James Blunt. I think Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ isn’t far behind. Then there’s ‘the Wind Beneath My Wings’… But I don’t know if this schlock is permitted in Catholic churches (my guess is that anything is permitted at some of the more liberal ones).

    I’m actually not sure how relevant Ex-Catholics rant was. Can anyone tell me? Do people have Gregorian Chant at their weddings? I suppose Salve Festa Dies would be nice, maybe as guests are filling the Church.

    How about Verdi’s ‘Dies Irae’ as the Mother of the Bride enters?

    I’m not sure that frowning on Wagner’s music because he had unconventional religious views (growing closer to eastern religions I gather) is any wiser than, say, not allowing Mozart’s music because he was a mason.

  95. Tara says:

    While I haven’t had any horrific wedding music to report, I did have occasion to approach our parish priest last year after the music group had sung “Let it Be” yet again at *communion*. He could see nothing wrong with it!