“ecclesiastical karaoke”

From CNA:

London, England, Apr 14, 2011 / 05:46 am (CNA).- A Grammy winning music director has delivered a stinging attack upon modern Church music.  Joseph Cullen, choral director at the London Symphony Orchestra, says that since the 1960s there has been a “glaring lack of sympathy” for “worthy sacred music.”

Writing in the April 9 edition of the English weekly The Tablet, [?!?] he praised the music used during last year’s papal visit to the United Kingdom. But he added: “Sadly such excellence is untypical of the vast majority of our Catholic churches. There is a glaring lack of sympathy for the heritage which should be the bedrock of worthy sacred music in today’s Church.”

[…]

He writes, “Low-quality material in both inspiration and facility is commonplace. Hymns are set to popular music (for example, “My God Loves Me” to the tune of “Plaisir d’amour”) with little regard to the inappropriateness of the original and well-known words.”

He also criticized the practice of a lone cantor leading the singing in parishes. “The misuse of one booming voice behind a microphone, an ecclesiastical karaoke, seems to have killed off unified congregational singing.”

[…]

“ecclesiastical karaoke”
0 votes, 0.00 avg. rating (0% score)
FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to “ecclesiastical karaoke”

  1. Paul says:

    I’m so glad that someone in a position of prominence had the courage to say this!

  2. jorgens6 says:

    I should have never read this book!
    Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    He also criticized the practice of a lone cantor leading the singing in parishes.

    I try not attend any Mass at which I anticipate the presence of a UAC (Ubiquitous Abominable Cantor), or indeed any singer(s) up front. Their place is in the choir loft.

    “The misuse of one booming voice behind a microphone, an ecclesiastical karaoke, seems to have killed off unified congregational singing.”

    But killing off inappropriate congregational singing may be an unintended benefit.

  4. JulieC says:

    It’s so true. When I attend the occasional OF Sunday Mass I can’t help but notice how the song leader has become such an overpowering presence in the liturgy.

    I hate to say it, but the OF Mass often has a nightclub-like atmosphere where people arrive and sit back like zombies in the pews waiting to be entertained (anesthetized is more like it) by the soothing, mindless music and the lovely voices—if you’re lucky and don’t get the song leader who sounds like Barney the dinosaur.

  5. traditionalorganist says:

    Henry Edwards,

    While I was organist at a Latin Mass, the Pastor informed me that the Choir Loft was actually a Catholic response to certain Protestant innovations in the reformation. When Protestants took Catholic churches, they used the existing choirs (up front) for their music. Since the Protestants were doing it, it must have been wrong!

    In either case, our modern Churches do not have a true “Choir” as existed in the old Churches of Europe, for one, because we lack monastic integration with major churches, and chant is not used to its fullest, if at all. But also, we lack the architectural sense. Sadly, the result is that the music “ministry” has become more of a show than a service.

  6. chironomo says:

    “The misuse of one booming voice behind a microphone, an ecclesiastical karaoke, seems to have killed off unified congregational singing.”

    Interestingly enough, the 2006 USCCB Music Document (Sing To The Lord: Music in Divine Worship) actually addresses this point pretty squarely. My only objection is that the solution proposed is a compromise:

    In order to promote the singing of the liturgical assembly, the cantor’s voice should not be heard above the congregation. As a transitional practice, the voice of the cantor might need to be amplified to stimulate and lead congregational singing when this is still weak. However, as the congregation finds its voice and sings with increasing confidence, the cantor’s voice should correspondingly recede

    They should have just gone the full 10 yards and said that the role of the “songleader” is unnecessary….nay, actually it’s counterproductive, and recommended it’s elimination.

  7. nanetteclaret says:

    Our “song leader” sings like she thinks she’s a country western star.

  8. chironomo says:

    And of course, those liturgical progressives that seem to always promote the idea of “Rome” heeding the advice of “lay experts” will conveniently ignore the advice of this particularly prominent “lay expert”, or else they will paint him as a “musical elitist” and therefore unqualified to make judgements about such things…

  9. La Sandia says:

    The thing that is the most irritating to me is the female cantor at our local parish who uses a sing-songy voice to say “Please join us in our gathering song…” She sounds like an overly perky flight attendant–you half expect her to start telling us to fasten our seatbelts and locate the nearest exits. The sad thing is that she actually has a pretty good voice; she just belongs on a Broadway stage rather than in the sanctuary of a Catholic church.

    And don’t get me started on the arm-flailing employed by these cantors in a vain attempt to get the congregation to sing…

  10. Hieronymus says:

    He writes, “Low-quality material in both inspiration and facility is commonplace.

    As with most everything crafted in the 60’s. It’s funny, though, that many are willing to recognize the banality of the music, the architecture, the vestments, etc, but ignore the fact that the entire new liturgical system was inspired by the same zeitgeist. The NOM is to the TLM as the St. Louis Jesuits are to Palestrina.

  11. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Well Julie C, that’s what happens when modern culture is so strong and has infiltrated the minds of Catholics everywhere in the church. Also, because of poor catechesis in explaining what the Mass truly is all about, everyone expects the Mass as entertainment (save the pre Vat-II gen who got good catechesis and the exceptions out there) and forgets that it is the “source and summit of our faith” as in Lumen Gentium. Why it took me 27 years and months of solid effort to re-educate myself in Church teaching to understand what the Mass is about and to love it.

    As for the Cantor issue, I agree with the original poster that generally, a cantor can turn the mass into entertainment or turn it into a “Me” scenario.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    TraditionalOrganist: While I was organist at a Latin Mass, the Pastor informed me that the Choir Loft was actually a Catholic response to certain Protestant innovations in the reformation.

    If so, perhaps we ought not say that nothing good came out of the Reformation. But (for all I know) there were no choirs–in the modern understanding of the term–in Catholic churches before then. When the term “choir” may have referred to a schola of clerics chanting the propers, and whose proper place was within the sanctuary. (Perhaps someone who actually knows the history can clarify.)

  13. Madrigal says:

    While I agree with the comments re: lone cantors, I actually do not know what the alternative is. Did the whole congregation heartily sing while the organist played in the choir loft? Was there a choir at every Mass? Since I have never been to a Mass with chanting, I am not sure how this is done and how the congregation knew what to sing.

  14. Rich0116 says:

    Hymns are set to popular music (for example, “My God Loves Me” to the tune of “Plaisir d’amour”) with little regard to the inappropriateness of the original and well-known words.

    As much as I agree with the sentiment that we need more elevated music in the Mass, the mere inclusion of popular tunes need not be disqualifying in and of itself. No less a figure than J.S. Bach (no ecclesiastical slouch he!) incorporated commonly known tunes into his works in order that all lay people could participate, even if in a small way, in the ceremony and the singing. What matters more is the appropriateness of the material and that it is placed in the service in a modest and seemly manner.

    That, and removing the emphasis on the individual singer with the microphone who drowns the rest out would be a huge improvement.

  15. Ed the Roman says:

    I’m one of the voices behind the mike. I try not to boom, even though that seems to be what the pastor wants; he keeps the levels VERY high, and seems to think that the appropriate volume for the cantor is loud enough that in the pews, the cantor’s is the only voice one can hear besides one’s own.

    I do not wave my arms. I raise one hand to indicate “the intro to the hymn is over, start singing” or “verse in psalm ahead”.

    If I can find an excuse to use chant in Latin, I do.

    Please remember that very often, musicians are doing what pastors of souls direct.

  16. shane says:

    Yes, bad liturgy, music and catechesis have done a million times more damage to popular piety than the sex scandals have.

    And not just in the Catholic Church.

    The following is from a 2005 ‘Athens News’ editorial commenting on the sex scandals that have all but destroyed the reputation of the once revered Greek Orthodox Church:

    http://agis10.tripod.com/id15.html

    Priests are only spiritually beholden to the church. Their real employer is the state, which will this year spend 157 million euros on their salaries and pensions. They are, by law, civil servants, and poorly performing ones at that. Churches charge for their services, although they are supposed to be free. It goes beyond the big three, baptism, marriage and the Great Ushering Off: individual priests illegally charge to perform blessings, exorcisms and other indispensable services. In the countryside, itinerant priests who are supposed to service more than one village often refuse to do their rounds without inducement. Across the country, services are poorly attended because they are poorly performed. The Greek Orthodox liturgy, founded on the mystery of faith, the power of church theatre and a musical tradition going back to ancient times, is today mumbled out of tune, in neon-lit domes. In short, people aren’t getting their money’s worth, and are in the process losing the beauty of their tradition.[…]

  17. Random Friar says:

    I share Fr. Z’s “?!?” but I’m glad it came out there! I didn’t see him mention the other aspect of “karaoke” — the dreaded projector with song lyrics on either side of the altars. (I would not call them “hymns” in quite a few cases).

    Another reason not to “wreck-o-vate” the church — bare walls on which folks feel the need to hang tacky banners (there are some good ones, even great ones I’ve seen, but that’s the exception that proves the rule) or have slide presentations, videos, etc.

  18. As much as I agree with the sentiment that we need more elevated music in the Mass, the mere inclusion of popular tunes need not be disqualifying in and of itself. No less a figure than J.S. Bach (no ecclesiastical slouch he!) incorporated commonly known tunes into his works in order that all lay people could participate, even if in a small way, in the ceremony and the singing. What matters more is the appropriateness of the material and that it is placed in the service in a modest and seemly manner.

    The thing is, secular music by definition has no place in the liturgy, no matter how good it is and no matter who composed it. Nothing that savors of the world should be in the Mass. It instantly draws our minds and hearts away from worship, no matter how tastefully done it is.

    And I just do not buy the idea that sacred chant and polyphony are inaccessible to the masses. Their beauty and power are certainly accessible, even if the people cannot join in. And — have you noticed? — chant actually serves as an aid to memory.

  19. irishgirl says:

    I used to be a cantor before I decided to attend the EF Mass exclusively-and I now feel ashamed at some of the things I did.
    I did raise my arms-or else it was one hand, I forget now-when it was time to begin a song. I tried not to ‘belt out’ when I sang. The church where I did my cantor work was [ still is] a large building (19th century), so I didn’t know whether people sang or not.
    That being said, I say ‘BRAVISSIMO’ to what Mr. Cullen said!

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    Ooorah! to Mr. Cullen. And in the Bitter Pill, too, where Certain Parties may read it and weep. Or reform.

    Ed the Roman: You might try suggesting ever so gently to your pastor that over-miking is counterproductive. It not only drowns out the congregation (who feel no need to sing when their ears are being melted by sound and often just tune out), it also gives “cover” under which people chat, rummage through their bags, and generally do their own thing.

    I realized this the Sunday that the sound system gave out. The priests are ordinarily miked on the altar, and it was very instructive how our young priest reacted. He stepped up and began to speak slowly and clearly while projecting his voice. We could hear him in the back in the choir loft. Even more instructive was how the congregation reacted — everybody hushed and leaned forward, listening intently. You could have heard a pin drop in the place, and at the Sanctus everybody sang LOUDLY.

    Everybody’s acoustics vary (and our rector did claim that the REAR speakers were working . . . ) but it’s worth a try.

    (When I cantored (before we got staff) I just stood well away from the mike, faced some other direction, and ignored the horrible thing. There is no need for it in a decent acoustic space.)

  21. AnAmericanMother says:

    Rich,

    No less a figure than J.S. Bach (no ecclesiastical slouch he!) incorporated commonly known tunes into his works in order that all lay people could participate, even if in a small way, in the ceremony and the singing.

    The key there, I think, is incorporated. When a devout and talented composer uses popular melodies in his work, he fundamentally transforms them. There’s a long, long history of such work in the Church . . . nobody ever suggested that the ubiquitous ditty “L’Homme Armee'” was appropriate for Mass, but just about everybody who was anybody wrote a Mass based on it (including Josquin, Pierre de la Rue, and even Palestrina!)

    Idea: just sing the good stuff and tell all the pop fans that it “incorporated” their favorite tunes. With enough learned blather, we could probably convince them that “On Eagles Wings” is buried somewhere in “Tu pauperum refugium”. Maybe.

  22. Centristian says:

    My parish featured a liturgy not long ago for which a visiting choir sang Palestrina’s brilliant “Pope Marcellus Mass” to spectacular effect. The “glaring lack of sympathy” for “worthy sacred music,” I would have to argue, cannot be ascribed to the average worshipper in the pews. The reaction to that Mass, afterwards, from so many amazed worshippers in attendance was, “to think of what we’ve lost,” or words to the same effect.

    Contrasting Palestrina’s great work with the effeminate contemporary Masses and songs, and emasculated Protestant hymns we’re used to hearing each week, and having been reminded of what we have, indeed, been robbed of, it’s a wonder to me that the whole parish didn’t rise up in rebellion the following weekend and slay the awful, pony-tailed cantor who has the audacity to retain in his repertory Haugen’s “Mass of Creation” and gems like “On Eagles’ Wings” and “Gift of Finest Wheat”, still, in the year 2011. At least he hasn’t got a guitar; other parishes aren’t so fortunate.

    Sacred polyphony and Gregorian Chant match what the liturgy is in a way that so many other styles of music do not. They possess a timeless quality, sounding just as appropriate for liturgical worship in 2011 as in 1211 or in 1611. This is music that will never, can never, go stale. The music that has been written for the liturgy in this age, however, in many cases, is always stale because it reflects the trends and fancies of a moment in time. So much of what we hear at Mass, therefore, is not timeless at all, but dated and passe’.

    The world moved beyond the 1970s in 1980, but it so often seems that the clergy, “liturgists”, and Church musicians never did. They got stuck there; couldn’t bear to leave. And why they couldn’t be persuaded to move on is beyond me; the 1970s represent just about the ugliest, most unfortunate decade I can think of, in terms of Church music, vestments, architecture, design, and liturgical trends.

    That anyone should elect to wallow in that era in perpetuity is a mystery; that the great preponderance of the clergy and all those involved in planning and presenting the liturgy should wallow in it is more flummoxing, still. I know clergy and church musicians who were not yet born in the Seventies who are nonetheless stuck in them, yet they view those of us who value tradition as “nostalgics”.

    It’s always refreshing when a traditional Protestant hymn is chosen instead of one of our awful, dated, “contemporary” Catholic hymns. Alas, those familiar Protestant hymns are invariably ruined, thanks to rewriting on account of a petulant modern demand for inclusive language. Not only, then, do we have an ecclesiastical culture that fosters the creation of its very own bad art and music, but one which actually assails and molests the better art and music of other traditions in order to make it more like our own low-quality stuff. No matter, I suppose, that it is barbaric, gauche, unethical (and illegal?) to so tamper with an artist’s work. Our contemporary liturgical environment’s inexplicable need to degrade and emasculate trumps true art’s right to her own integrity.

    Good as many traditional Protestant hymns are (when left alone), they still don’t approach what the Catholic liturgy demands of the Church, musically, for the creating of an atmosphere best suited to Divine worship. Congregational hymn singing is not what the Mass of the Roman Rite calls for. It calls for liturgical music of a finer quality that chant and polyphony epitomize, led by trained talent, and joined in by the rest of us, as often as that is possible or makes sense. Sometimes liturgical music is best heard by the congregation and not sung by it.

    Most Catholics, of course, have no issue with that concept.

  23. Alice says:

    AnAmericanMother,
    A few Sundays before I left my old job (I’m an organist) the sound system quit. It was exactly as you describe. Even the normally energetic babies (the only Mass at the parish is during morning nap time) were calm. It was sacred. I wish we could just lose the microphone, except when it’s actually necessary. The one problem is that Father can’t project for hours on end and heaven help us if Father said a word (let alone an entire Eucharistic prayer) that we couldn’t hear. :P

  24. kbf says:

    Fr,

    The article doesn’t say, and you possibly wouldn’t know, that Joe Cullen was the Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral for about 3 years from 1994-’97 under James O’Donnel. I had the pleasure of knowing Joe at Westminster and not only is he an outstanding organist but also an accomplished singer. He has always had quite a lot of sympathy for good music and liturgy, so being the DoM at Leeds Cathedral prior to Westminster must have been a struggle for him.

    I’d keep an eye out for Mr Cullen, he’s starting to find his voice now the church is starting to listen!

  25. Centristian says:

    “7. Laypeople live essentially stable lives, and look to the church to be surprising and innovative, especially in the liturgy.”

    I’m in hysterics. Hysterics. Co-workers are staring at me. Hysterics.

  26. JKnott says:

    Good point Traditionalorganist: “In either case, our modern Churches do not have a true “Choir” as existed in the old Churches of Europe, for one, because we lack monastic integration with major churches, ..”
    In the classic interpretation of the Spiritual Life, using the common description of the Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive Way, what chance is there in the average NO to get past the Purgative Way, if even that? Most of the music, and certainly its disc jockey maneuvers fly in the face of the “Night of the Senses”. It’s almost like a trap to keep the soul from rising above the beastly.
    “Ascent of Mount Carmel” it definately is not.
    The EF and it’s chant keeps the soul moving forward and upward to our end goal.
    Pretty sad all around.

  27. capchoirgirl says:

    Re: Alice: a couple points
    1) Father could, of course, project for hours on end, if we taught them how. Classically-trained singers (of which I am one), and actors, and opera singers can do long pieces without microphones. Ring cycle, anyone? It’s simply a matter of supporting the voice with the breath–not shouting.
    2) “Word we couldn’t hear”–I’m Deaf in my left ear, and wear a cochlear implant. I have 20% hearing in my right ear. These are recent problems–I wasn’t born this way. I have no problem with the parts of the Mass that are supposed to be “silent”–as in, we aren’t supposed to hear what the priest is praying. But it is so frustrating to not be able to hear things that everyone else around you is hearing, that I *do* get unhappy when I cannot hear the priest. It’s very frustrating.

    As for music, in general–I’m not opposed to a cantor. I think the cantor is good for letting the congregation know when to begin, for example, or for leading new hymns. At my parish, we use an older hymnal, and even though I’m well-versed in hymnody, there are many hymns that I, and my parents, do not know. A cantor is then helpful in “teaching” the song. Of course I have seen cantors that are totally out of place and think they’re doing a solo act at a club, but the abuse of a thing does not nullify the thing itself (or something like that).
    Of course I want good music. I haven’t sung “Gather Us In” in more than a year and I am thrilled about that. :) But I don’t think a cantor should ‘drag down’ the music–not if s/he is a GOOD cantor.

  28. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Hymns are set to popular music (for example, “My God Loves Me” to the tune of “Plaisir d’amour”) with little regard to the inappropriateness of the original and well-known words.”\\

    There was a time in music history when the same composition would be sung with Latin words in church, French for a banquet, and sped up and played on instruments for dancing afterwards.

  29. asophist says:

    From 1966 thru early 1968, I was the (first) congregational singing director at my parish. I was in my late teens at the time. It was an ego trip for me and I belted ‘em out like I was singing the Star Spangled Banner. I’m not proud of this. The only salvageable thing here is that, in a conspiracy with the organist, we discontinued – after a couple of months – using the insipid hymnal that was foisted on the parish. Instead, we mimeographed copies of the traditional hymns (including many Latin ones) and a few good Protestant hymns, and put them in the pews before Mass every Sunday, so that the congregation would have them handy and would be able to sing acceptable music every week. How the parishioners thanked us for saving them from the hated new music! You should have seen the hundreds of smiles that lit up the church the first Sunday we did this (it’s a big church – seats about 600). Even the pastor thanked us. The newly established parish council (who had ordered the new hymnals) had a different reaction. Fortunately, they couldn’t stop us and gave up resorting to sabotage after a couple of attempts (which we overcame). Then we got a new pastor. His innovations at mass were so loathsome – and he disinvited the organist and I in favor of a guitar and drums for a spell – that the organist and I left that parish forever. If anything, this story may serve to show that even an egotistical belter of a song-leader (God save us!) can do some good.

  30. APX says:

    And don’t get me started on the arm-flailing employed by these cantors in a vain attempt to get the congregation to sing…

    I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that perhaps if they chose music that the congregation could actually sing, that might increase the amount of singing. I recall attempting to sing a church song (I refuse to call them hymns, as hymns suggest something sacred) in which the time signature changed five times. FIVE TIMES!!! I’ve been playing music for 18 years out of my 25 years of existence, and I have never performed anything with five time signature changes! There is no way a 1.5 page song should have five time signature changes. And then there’s all the 16th notes and syncopated rhythms of some of these songs. Give me back my 4/4 time signature and quarter notes please.

  31. Brad says:

    I love plaisir d’amour, especially as heard in The Heiress! But as Cullen is aware, however the lyrics are rewritten, the tune being used is erotic: the thrill of eros and the heartbreak of eros’ treachery. Why not cut to it and just have the people in the pews graft pablumy words onto Meatloaf’s “bat out of hell” or the latest Gaga illuminati offering? It’s amazing how the devil has fun with us.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_ZKwYJtzpA&feature=related

  32. Ceile De says:

    These cantors have nothing to do with musics. When did anyone see a male cantor? It’s about some people in the church ensuring a woman is as prominent in the sanctuary as the (they hope, just for now) male priest. They got rid of the tabernacle (prize for finding it in LA cathedral), they downgrade the priest to presider, they have a menagerie of lay people wandering around the sanctuary during the Mass like cattle in an Indian traffic jam. And they will have a loud lady with one hand in the air blasting the rest of the Mass away with overly loud singing of not very good hymns. I can’t tell you how many parishes that template fits. And now because it’s a “ministry”, no one dares get rid of it as that seems to come with tenure. Just like the hoard of EMHC’s who descend on the altar regardless of whether they outnumber the rest of the congregation or not. We didn’t used to have all this nnosense – why on earth do we have it now?

  33. JCCMADD says:

    I could sum up the music of vac ii in one word It -STINKS..

  34. Brad says:

    Ceile De, depressingly for me you just described my parish with two exceptions: tabernacle is prominent (trade off for the confessional booths being used as broom closets) and our EMHC refer to themselves and are referred to as EMs. :-(

  35. AnAmericanMother says:

    Ceile De,

    When did anyone see a male cantor? – we have four – all staff singers in the choir. Our cantors sing from the choir loft in the back.

    APX,
    Amen. The hideous stuff by Joncas, Haugen et al. is difficult to sing and almost impossible to sight read cold. I’ve got nothing against meter changes per se but the pop church music composers seem to throw them in at random and WAY too often (Josquin has two in his “Tu pauperum refugium”, 4/2 to 3/2 and back again, but at least they’re logical). Add to that the strange random syncopations, the weird intervals, and the words that don’t fit, and Houston we have a problem. If OCP’s offices burned down tomorrow (no loss of life please) it would be a mercy.

    Alice & Capchoirgirl,

    Exactly. Our choirmaster was talking just last night about how so many politicians and pop singers RUIN their voices because they don’t know how to breathe or project.
    When my husband was in the Army, they had a class for officers on how to shout orders. The final exam went like this: the instructor put a squad at one end of the football field, and the examinee at the other. Examinee had to march the squad around from 100 yards away.
    Unless the church is chock full of noisy people, I can stand at the railing in the choir loft and make myself heard all the way to the reredos. Without screaming. Without a mike. It’s all training.
    Why not a class for priests in proper breathing and voice control?

  36. What is wrong with “On Eagles’ Wings”? It’s no Gregorian chant, but what makes it worse than any other hymn? The text is pretty closely based on the first half of Psalm 91.

  37. Lirioroja says:

    abiologistforlife,
    The problem with “On Eagles’ Wings” isn’t the text. It’s the music. It’s horribly syncopated and each verse has a different rhythm. It’s so hard to follow that no one, not even trained singers, sing it as written. It has not a few octave leaps which is tricky for trained singers and murderous on the average congregational singer. It’s also hard for most women to sing because it goes down to an A below middle C, thus requiring flipping briefly into chest voice and quickly back into head voice. That’s what’s wrong with “On Eagles’ Wings”. However you’re right about the text. It’s not only orthodox it’s right out of scripture. Why this particular song was picked as the exemplar of bad liturgical music when there are so many worse ones out there (where the text is as bad the music) I don’t know.

    I’m with Ed the Roman. I’m also one of those dreaded cantors. I’m also doing what the pastor (who signs my paycheck) wants. Were it up to me I’d be singing good hymns and chant from the choir loft. It’s not up to me though. And there is no educating the pastor as he is of a certain generation and is wedded to the ethos of that age. I pray for him and ask that you all do as well. And pray for me too. I do the best I can under many constraints and it’s easy to get angry and bitter about it all.

  38. APX says:

    @abiologistforlife says:
    What is wrong with “On Eagles’ Wings”? It’s no Gregorian chant, but what makes it worse than any other hymn? The text is pretty closely based on the first half of Psalm 91.

    It’s better as a solo instrumental song. I have a friend who’s a professional cellist now. Back when we were in high school at one of our Ash Wednesday Liturgies she played On Eagles’ Wings as a cello solo with a pianist to accompany her. Far better than any time I’ve heard it sung. It actually made me cry because it was so beautifully sombre.

    There are some real doozies out there now for songs, however.

  39. Ed the Roman says:

    AnAmericanMother,

    The Music Director is a degreed professional musician and a certified sound engineer. The pastor does not care what he thinks, and does not care what I think.

  40. benedictgal says:

    My parish is stuck on Spirit and Song and some of the other items from OCP’s arsenal. It seems to me that OCP (nor GIA, for that matter), has ever heard of Sacramentum Caritatis No. 42. I went through most of Lent suffering through bad music that was not even relevent to this sacred and solemn liturgical season.

    It really breaks my heart because the Church’s rich patrimony of sacred music is being lost on our youth group.

  41. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    I am a devout Catholic with a preference for the Traditional Latin Mass and a professionally trained musician. It’s rather difficult to be an organist/cantor… I sing and play organ from the choir loft, and I have tried various “volumes” and balances between my voice and the organ. I tried to sing more quietly for a period of time, and there were complaints. “We want a cantor who will sing loud (sic) down at the front of the church,” etc etc… “Why do you sing in Latin during Communion meditations? Vatican Two forbids singing in Latin…” etc etc… “Can’t you sing something happier and more modern?” “We love your voice; why won’t you sing louder like you used to? You know everyone used to clap for you, but they haven’t been clapping lately.” It’s difficult to please everyone as a musician, particularly factions of parishioners. It often becomes politically unpleasant and downright nasty. I try to please God and obey the Pastor, who is in Authority over me as his musician. I know that Christ is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in the Church. I sing for Him. Please pray for your musicians.

  42. benedetta says:

    I agree that there is worse out there than On Eagle’s Wings in particular. Just because a composition is contemporary shouldn’t disqualify for that reason alone. But even On Eagle’s Wings, combined with the top 40 or so, it’s just been on heavy rotation for so long now. There is just so much else out there that hasn’t been tried, whether old or new. And people don’t sing, even the hit parade. Whether you have a choir or a cantor it doesn’t change that. It seems if you have a choir people might feel a little less uncomfortable attempting to sing whatever it might be but with booming microphone with piano, no, people don’t sing with that.

    What do the rubrics say when it comes to the emcee on the mike?

  43. benedetta says:

    Also the problem is not the singing of On Eagle’s Wings or any one Haugen in isolation, is it. The greater issue is the overall lack of reverence and attention to the heart of the Mass and that there is a top 40 that seems to work well with other outright liturgical abuse or the tendency to push the envelope in whatever aspect can be pushed to satisfy an insatiable though now incoherent political agenda, stripping the Mass of the sacred and its proper independence from one group’s favorite agenda. If you have an opportunity to sing On Eagle’s Wings in the context of a meaningful, reverent Mass that cares for the celebration of the Eucharist and premises the congregation’s spiritual development based on that, well, I say, how wonderful for you and how can we get that going here.

    Since this is not about the practice of one parish or one pastor I couldn’t lay this at the feet of one musical director either. If you trek all over one diocese and see that everyone insists on the Mass of Creation even the ones with active choirs, well…this the new gibberish as far as I’m concerned. It’s meaningless and the resultant deprivation of contact with the sacred quite harmful.

  44. John Nolan says:

    The choir loft came in with the Counter-Reformation when the congregation were encouraged to focus on the sanctuary and the liturgical drama enacted there, without rood screens and choirs in the way. If you have the luxury of a choir and a chant schola, by all means leave the choir in the loft and move the schola (properly vested, of course) to the front of the nave.

    Above all, don’t put up with bad liturgy and music at Mass. If you have an ounce of musical intelligence, learn the basics of Gregorian Chant (scientia ballistae non est) and volunteer your services. If you are rebuffed, vote with your feet and your money. Priests are overworked and can’t be expected to oversee the music; most would be grateful if a committed layperson took over responsibility.

  45. cl00bie says:

    This reminds me of a Mass I attended where the organist was going to be off, so she recorded the hymns, psalm and mass setting on the organ and had a young girl who volunteered to lead the congregation singing at the mic.

    At the beginning of Mass, father said: “Welcome to the karaoke Mass”. You could see the girl’s face drop, and how hurt she was by words I’m sure he didn’t mean in a hurtful manner.

    I am a music minister. My ministry is helping to add music to the Mass. When I do the responsorial, I am proclaiming the word. I am deeply offended by the attitudes I’m seeing here that betray a decided lack of caritas (that’s Latin, by the way). We sing the music that is available to us that has been purchased by the parish under the auspices of the diocese. We pray the words we are given in song as best we can. And if you don’t like it, well… You get up there and do better.

    If you can’t. Well… You figure it out.