From a reader:
Forgive me my ignorance – I am a relatively new Catholic, coming from the Methodist tradition. Why is Gregorian Chant more appropriate for Mass than “Gather Us In?” I like “Gather Us In.” It is singable even for the unmusical among us, and it reminds us that Jesus calls each of us by name.
As a preamble, music for liturgical worship is not a mere add on or decoration. It is liturgical worship. Therefore the texts used should be sacred texts. The texts of those ditties mentioned in the question are not sacred, liturgical texts. They are not the prayer of the Church. Moreover, the music for liturgical worship should be art. The ditties mentioned above are not art. In fact, they are at about the level of the theme-song of Gilligan’s Island. They are not worthy of use in the sacred liturgy. They are just bad music.
When we sing hymns or ditties in the place of the assigned texts of Mass, we cut the legs out from under our proper liturgical worship and shortchange ourselves, obscuring what Christ the High Priest wants to give us through Holy Church’s choice for our liturgy.
Another view is that the Church herself told us what music should be preferred: Gregorian chant and polyphony. I think we should do as the Council asked.
If we think we need music of no greater depth than the old Armour hot dog commercial tune in order to feel we are being “called by name” by Jesus, then we are in serious trouble. Game over.
The ditties mentioned above, and their like, foster a purely immanent sense of God and what goes on during liturgical worship, underscoring a notion that what we do in church is all about what we do and suppressing the essentially important dimension of God’s mystery and transcendence, without which we cannot have true Catholic liturgical worship of God according to the virtue of religion and a properly oriented Catholic identity.
This is all very black and white and brutal, but I wanted to be brief and get out one view of the question. There are other points of view, which I am sure readers will share.
This’ll be good.