A rock band’s Latin Credo

I picked this up from Vatican Insider:

Ooberfuse have just released a new single. “We explore old truths related to faith using contemporary language”

GIORGIO BERNARDELLI
MILAN
“Credo in unum Deum, patrem, creatorem coeli et terrae, visibilium et invisibilium.” The words are an unmistakable copy of the Latin version of the Creed. Except that their context is light years away from traditionalists’ liturgies. These are in fact the opening lyrics to Credo, the new single released by London rock band Ooberfuse on 11 October to mark the beginning of the Year of Faith.

[…]

Interesting.

Read the rest there.

What do you think about this?

A rock band’s Latin Credo
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59 Responses to A rock band’s Latin Credo

  1. RuralVirologist says:

    Just listened to a clip on Amazon. I was hoping for a more classic or gothic rock. And a non-English accent. Is this approved for the EF? Or only for parishes with drums and guitars?

  2. traditionalorganist says:

    Rock music should remain evil, and not try to assimilate what is good. If a house is rotten to a core, it does no good to put new siding and shingles on it. It is still rotten and is doomed to collapse. Music is the same way. Using an element of beauty in something ugly does not diminish the fact that it is by nature, ugly.

  3. kab63 says:

    Ugh. This pop sound is what’s now called rock? The music is too grating for me to even consider the lyrics! And a song called “Free Asia Bibi” raises all kinds of red flags. Give me my Flyleaf for Catholic metal. I find their hard sound to be a perfect compliment to lyrics about the ways our human failings crash into the saving grace of Christ and the Church.

  4. Dismas says:

    I don’t know but I suspect this kind of stuff may provide a stronger draw to a false new age mysticism rather than a call to true holiness and belief in God?

  5. VexillaRegis says:

    Not the worst Credo I have heard, but it’s certainly not rock. Rather monotone and boring, like eating cotton.

    An organist

  6. cmcbocds says:

    Holy m

  7. MikeM says:

    I find the beginning of it really grating… but I actually kind of like it after that.

  8. cmcbocds says:

    Oops! iPod Touch comment fail above. Sorry.

    On a spiritual level, Holy Mother Church has her own language and her own music. I’d rather not see the mixing of the sacred texts with the latest music innovations – in this case “fusion”.

    On an evangelization level, I don’t much care for the continued efforts to present the faith in a more culturally “relevant” way. Catholicism is rich enough – and counter cultural enough – without them.

    On the musical level, listened to three of this groups songs, including Credo and wasn’t fond of any of them or their music videos. Will be sticking to chant and the more traditional country-western (less rock – more twang).

    After re-reading what I just wrote it looks to me that I’m now officially old….

  9. Sissy says:

    I like all kinds of music (well, not rap, if you can call that music), but I prefer my sacred music to be something I can pray. Loud, discordant, percussive music doesn’t seem very prayerful to me. Just my personal preference.

  10. Melody says:

    This is synth pop. Not bad if you like that sort of thing.

  11. jimsantafe says:

    Pretty lame pop music, but no worse than what we hear in a lot of parishes today. In fact, better, since the text is neither trite nor heretical. But it, like most modern parish music, is far from the voice and genius natural to the Roman Rite. And emphasizing the last syllable of each word in a Latin text is grating!

  12. BobP says:

    It might take time to get used to but I can put up with it if it catches on. As long as it doesn’t stir up the passion of the dancers in the congregation.

  13. joan ellen says:

    To0 choppy…especially for Mass. Traditional Mass music raises our minds…and our hearts…sursum corda…to God.This does not cut it. On the other hand, I found the voices ok. The woman’s better than the mens.
    Of course, I expect the men to have ranges like Elvis Presley to be acceptable voices in my ears.
    But then that range may not lift up our hearts to God in a Traditional Mass either.

  14. FXR2 says:

    My 13 year old daughter, who listens to similar sort of bubblegum pop music, does not like it. She says it sounds weird. It is not the lyrics or the latin, it’s the music.

    fxr2

  15. JacobWall says:

    I was kind of split on this; generally, I don’t see a problem with pop/rock/folk religious music so long as people don’t try to put it into the liturgy. However, this is the Creed. Ignoring the fact that it simply isn’t good rock, I still think I would’ve probably said, “Sure it’s fine – just keep it out of the Liturgy and church building.” BUT …

    Then I read their purpose/inspiration/intent. I think purpose can speak a lot to what the final results will be. The words of one of the band’s members (my emphases):

    “Credo demonstrates that the subtle textures and nuances of our faith, condemned to silence because they cannot be articulated through traditional means, can be expressed through modern cultural forms and contemporary musical traditions. This insight was the vision that inspired the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council …”

    BS. They are saying that tradition is less capable of expressing “subtle nuances of the faith” than their bad pop music. They’re pitting their own pop music over and against the musical/prayer traditions of the Church. It sounds very much like “we’re making it better,” which can too easily become “let’s replace that old stuff that just doesn’t work anymore with our newer music that articulates the faith so much better.”

    And all in the name of Vatican II, and the Year of Faith. Talking about misinterpreting. Someone should ask the Holy Father if this is what he meant …

  16. APX says:

    Hmm, I just downloaded it off iTunes. I was thinking of running it past our priest to use during our EF Mass along with that Latin version of Gather Us In. If they’re done on an organ and in Latin they’re considered reverent and ok for Mass, correct?

    All joking aside, as a musician, and a great appreciator of music, all I can say is Blegh! It’s like really bad synth pop. It had no depth or emotion to it. I’d rather listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Now THAT’S depth and emotion.

  17. jmgazzoli says:

    Doesn’t hold a candle to The Electric Prunes’ Mass in F Minor:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_in_F_Minor

    Just dig their Credo, man.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qx1i7Tjo7c

  18. FXR2 says:

    APX,
    I agree if this was good music it would help to carry the one true faith to unexposed areas of the population. It is certainly no appropriate for the Liturgy. If the kids will not listen to it it’s pointless.
    fxr2

  19. FXR2 says:

    JacobWall,
    I have to give them the benefit of the doubt, that the
    “subtle textures and nuances of our faith, condemned to silence because they cannot be articulated through traditional means”
    is because the traditional means are no longer used and therefore “condemned to silence”.
    I just do not buy into the malice here.

    fxr2

  20. AnnAsher says:

    I think I prefer the Creed un-tinkered with.

  21. FXR2 says:

    jmgazzoli,
    Still not appropriate for mass, but the PRUNES Kyrie is really good!

    fxr2

  22. chantgirl says:

    I would cut the kids some slack. It’s not my style- a little too emo- but I don’t have a problem with artists incorporating elements of their Catholic background into their work, even if it comes in a different form than we are used to seeing. I would also warn against characterizing certain styles of music (or art or literature) as evil. Art portrays all of the facets of human experience, from the highest heights to the depths, and happy melodies only portray a portion of human experience. Movies, music, paintings, sculpture, theater, and literature should (tastefully) portray the reality of the human condition after the Fall and bring the light of Christ to the dark places.

  23. APX says:

    @Chantgirl

    Maybe I’m getting to old in my 20s, and Emo has changed since its coming of birth with bands like Simple Plan and Jimmy Eat World, but I don’t get the Emo reference. I don’t really know what to classify it as other than Blah. Even I can find some smidgen of something musical to appreciate in bad music, but this has nothing. Even the St Louis Jesuits are better than this.

  24. If rock can invade the Church, why should not the Church invade rock? Fair is fair.

  25. Matt R says:

    @chantgirl, it’s not emo…but I agree with every point you made. Rock is inappropriate for liturgy, and music from the 1960s onward tends to be pretty simplistic. But it’s not evil, though I think it lends itself towards immoral topics, ranging from sex to Satanism (and I simply think it’s influenced by the emptiness and misdirection away from God in our society).
    @FXR2, I agree that it’s not malicious.

  26. chantgirl says:

    APX- Yes , I was a little loose with the emo reference. In my circle of friends, emo has evolved to be “sensitive guy” music, with little regard to the punk beginnings. I found this to be rather amusing, though.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=emo

  27. Fr Sean Coyle says:

    I don’t think that Ooberfuse are presenting this as liturgical music. This isn’t my kind of music but I’m 69. However, I am inspired by the fact that a group of young musicians in Britain has written a song in honour of Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, whom the bishops of Pakistan want declared as a martyr for the faith, in which they incorporate his word, ‘I know what is the meaning of Cross . . .’ He spoke these words on Al_Jazeera, I think, about a month before he was murdered last year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABOIQfhyh1g

    Bhatti was a Catholic politician in a predominantly Muslim country who once said, ‘My only desire is to be at the feet of Jesus’. Sandro Magister has published the testimony of Mr Bhatti, A Lesson of Holiness from Remote Pakistan, http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1347491?eng=y It shows how a foundational moment for this Catholic politician, whose example politicians in the West would to well to follow, especially those who ‘don’t want to impose their faith on others’, was a homily on Good Friday when he was 13.

    I welcome Ooberfuse as a group of young Catholics – I presume the three members are Catholics and as a missionary in the Philippines I’m delighted to see a young British-Filipino giving witness to her faith -trying to share their faith through the medium of music, even if the music isn’t particularly to my taste. They don’t claim to write liturgical music so we shouldn’t be judging their songs as such.

  28. I can hear the judges on American Bandstand already: “Well, Dick, it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it. I give it an 85.” (Personally, I’ve heard worse, but the Electric Prunes version is definitely better, and a more accurate text.)

  29. Christo et Ecclesiae says:

    Just happy someone mentioned Flyleaf on this blog! My night has been made.

    For Christ and for Church!

  30. It seems that this is the result of a request to the band to produce some contemporary music for the Year of Faith:

    http://marianews.com/wordpress/6015/the-catholic-church-in-england-calls-upon-electro-pop-band-to-write-music-to-promote-vocations/

    It also seems that the band members are either Catholic or philo-Catholic. There is nothing about their piece, based on the parts of the text of the Credo, that is intrinsically evil. Obviously, as it does not set to music the entire Credo, it is not meant for liturgical use.

    There is something very moving about the use of their use of a contemporary idiom for presenting the creed of our ancient faith. Certainly, the use of harmony, a chant like style, and sustained synthesized support (much like the Byzantine ison), is not without a meditative element. I think it is, in some ways, more successful than liturgical efforts such as the famous Missa Luba of the early 1960s which ended up being a forced hybrid — and so is well forgotten.

    The music is probably not very sophisticated and the harmonies, at least for musical experts, not very sophisticated, but I was left moved by the earnestness and, yes, piety, of the production. It is possible to write religious music that has no possible liturgical use (I think of Vivaldi’s Gloria) that can move people to think further on what the words say. May this project bring those who would never even think about Christianity to wonder. And wonder, as Aristotle said, is the beginning of the love of Wisdom.

  31. JacobWall says:

    @fxr2 – you could very well be right. Perhaps they are referring to the fact that Latin has been given the boot, and hence the Creed in Latin has now be “silenced.”

    Others here have also mentioned that they don’t think this is being presented as liturgical music, or an improvement on or replacement for liturgical music.

    As I suggested in my last comment, if this is the case, I don’t have a problem with it either. My problem with it was based on my reading of what that band person said, and I completely see the possibility of my reading being wrong. Thanks for pointing that out. A couple of more questions could clarify that, but it’s not worth any in depth investigation. As long as we don’t see anyone trying to stick this into a church, I’m fine with it.

    I dislike the musical style, but that’s another point. If they’re not presenting this as Liturgical music or an improvement on the Liturgy, let them go for it!

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear @traditionalorganist, no, rock music should definitely not remain evil. And then who said it is evil. Indeed I couldn’t agree more with dear @chantgirl (except, well, I wouldn’t have thought about “emo” too.)

    Nor would I have thought about rock. It is not. No way. Soft pop, that’s what it is, and that’s not slander but characterization. (Though I can imagine better soft pop too…) Personally I like pop, though personally I like forms of pop that are a bit harder, and that you can chant along with.

    Also: appropriate for the liturgy. Yes. By style, that is; there may have been songs in the same style more qualitative. Not appropriate for a general decree to use this and no other music in Church, of course. (But for such a degree, Mozart and polyphone would need to go out to. If that was the plan, then of course we’d have to stick to Gregorian chant alone. The Church, at the Council of Trent at latest, decided for more varied form of liturgy, within a safe ground bordered by rubrics.)

    Dear @JacobWall, I would disagree with them on that point. But that’s that. There are so many people that say erroneous things, and myself one of them… I think we can leave it at that.

    I wonder whenever I hear a really good rock song, Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival, or a really good rocky country song, The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash, in a Four Last Things context, in official liturgy… But of course, that’d be Four Last Things, and thus perhaps a bit unpopular.

  33. Andkaras says:

    I think it goes without saying that this is not intended as liturgical music ,and I would be extatic if my children latched onto this “culturally catholic ” style of young music as long as they still ask me to sing the credo proper at bedtime. :) I give it a thumbs up.

  34. Definitely non Liturgical….I wouldn’t mind listening to this…say sitting through traffic in LA.

  35. Melody says:

    Um, I feel the need to post an example of actual good Christian synth pop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_RwGmJzLyc
    It’s called “Suffer” by the Echoing Green.
    It’s very Catholic, especially the chorus:
    “Isn’t this world something wonderful that we were made to suffer
    both it’s majesty and cruelty?
    They fall away…
    And is grace not something beautiful that we were made to suffer?
    —The lucid touch of clemency.
    And our tears become a sanctuary we are made to suffer,
    with tenderness and empathy.
    We are made to suffer. ”

    It’s certainly not Liturgical music, but I love listening to it on my own time.

    The problem with this group Ooberfuse is they are trying to be a Catholic band. A lot of mediocre groups try to get a following by making religious music. Simply put, our Lord deserves better rock. The best religious rock is made by regular bands who happen to believe, not those who believe and happen to be a rock band.

  36. MikeM says:

    JacobWall,
    With regards to the band’s statement, I think an appropriate response is to quote the cultural masterpiece King of the Hill, from the episode Reborn to be Wild…
    “Can’t you see, you’re not making Christianity better. You’re just makin’ rock ‘n’ roll worse!”

    I think that a lot of readers here would really like that episode’s message about religion, even though the characters are protestant, not Catholic.

  37. kbf says:

    I can sometimes cringe at the kind of comments made by @traditionalorganist because it falls into the traddie cliche that makes people appear as living cliches.

    The mass is the mass. nobody was suggesting that this was intended as anything other than what it is: music for popular consumption. Music is no more “intrinsically evil” than money, it’s what you do with it and whether or not you allow it to subvert your catholically-formed moral compass that is at issue.

    There are many different methods to inspiring and evangelising through music. You’d be surprised how many truely orthodox catholics are currently “subverting the form”. I’d entreat you to listen to some Catholic rap by the likes of “Fr Pontifex” where the music speaks of the martyrs, the mass, the eucharist, denouncing abortion, mercy, salvation, the authentic priesthood. So by logical extension do I summise that if these themes were somhow interwoven into the Missa Cantata Obligata Sumata Blagata a16 with continuo it’s considered a worthy enterprise irrespective of how good a composition it actually is, whereas if it is rap or rock it is intrinsically evil and the message it conveys somehow invalidated?

    It’s quite ligitimate to discuss the merits of the particular piece, but I’d suggest there’s a danger of begining to look like the living cliche of the high minded, lace-effected, intellectual snob that is so often associated with “traddies” when people start to adopt a closed minded attitude to anything new or innovative.

    This is an excellent example of exactly how new media can reach:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_tC4fv6FE

  38. Crucesignata says:

    I think it just goes to show how awesome Catholicism is and that even secular bands can’t help seeing how awesome it is. :P Even if the song should DEFINITELY not be used in Mass (God forbid…), I think that singing the Credo is way more awesome than most of the popular lyrics out there, lol.

  39. traditionalorganist says:

    @kbf, I’m honored to be a cliche…but I’m really not one. I’ve studied music for 24 years and am quite accomplished at multiple instruments… so, I have a tendency to view music seriously. Rock music is banal in nature. Its rhythm is tribal, its melodies simple, and its attraction is mainly showmanship (my humble opinion…else why all the lights?). My opinioin is that putting the sacred words of the Credo to Rock Music does the words injustice. What took thousands of years of monasticism to set prayer to Chant should not, again in my opinion, be the subject of popularization in rock music. Besides, words on not music. Words accompany music, and even form an integral part, but still are separate. Gregorian Chant successfully unifies music and words such that each is the NATURAL complement to the other.
    Music, as an art, expresses our innermost aspirations. It is an experession, but one that can create errors if used unwisely. At the risk of being “extremist,” rock music, once on par with pornography, has become accepted, not through any artistic merit, but through continued popular devotion.
    I really believe that what we listen to affects the way we think. And I am referring to the MUSIC, not the words…so many people confuse these.
    In any case, the core of my argument is: I just plain don’t like rock music! I’ll leave it at that.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear @traditionalorganist…

    Rock music may be banal or “all showmansip”. [As a matter of fact, it need not necessarily be banal, though the pop music example we have here is; nor is it all showmanship, because no concert attendance comes for the lights, and else why all these 1. CDs 2. coverbands.]

    But that only means “by style less in quality”. And you seem to opine that it is positively evil to set sacred words to music in a style less in quality. The sacred words may deserve something better; and have indeed in history have got something better. But that does no way make it somehow evil to also compose it into another style, however less in quality.

    However, you pay rock music an undeserved compliment; and that’s the popularization thing. I know you are the musician; but classical music at its best time was popular. The Little Serenade is still apt to whistling by the unlearned. The Ouverture of Bizet’s Carmen is highly popular and has, by rhythm and melody, not so very much unlike rock music. Other than you I do like rock music; but you do not need either rock or pop to be popular.

    And there is nothing wrong, and much right, in sacred words being composed to in a popular way.

    If rock music wasonce on par with pornography, that’s an example of a problematic conception of morality as exposed by G. K. Chesterton in On American Morals, and I say no more because I do not want to offend your nationality (as neither did Chesterton), but would probably do so inadvertently. I’ll say, though, that in overcoming the idea that rock music be on par with pornography, we overcame an error.

  41. traditionalorganist says:

    @Imrahil…Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your reasoning, and it makes me recognize the real narrow-mindedness of my comments…My thoughts never come out the way they are intended. In fact, you are quite right about popularization. I believe there is a Mass by Byrd or Tallis which is based on a popular tune…I can’t remember which.

    So, my opining earlier was NOT meant to convey that it is positively evil to align sacred words with profane (non sacred) music. I’m trying to approach this topic from a very theoretical standpoint, and the issue I see is really in pedagogy. It seems that the point of this music is to attract people to vocations and/or to teach people about the faith. (I believe that’s what I read on the website…) I see this as a good motive, but with a danger. Rock music is inherently emotive, more so than “classical” music. Being emotive is not bad, but it is usually fleeting and is not very tangible. It’s meant to really attack the senses and “convert them in the instant,” as it were. It seems to me that there is need of a more solid expression of the truth. I feel that there is a need to reintroduce people to a Greater Beauty, that has been neglected for so long. Even in modern art, there is a void where once great beauty rested. Modern art and modern music in the classical sense also are strongly devoid of beauty. In the same way, It seems that this sort of rock music is not a solid way to attract people to the faith because it lacks the timelessness that the faith should espouse. I am probably overthinking this…

    I’m not an SSPXer, but I appreciate the old ways and see value in evangelizing the old fashioned way. basically, I think it’s counterproductive to evangelize using traditional prayers etc with rock music. The two just don’t go together, objectively speaking.

    The truth is, when I listen to such music, I cannot see how it could be used to bring someone closer to God. I by no means intend to say that someone can’t love Jesus any more if they listen to it…no, that’s not my place. It just seems so ugly to my ears, I can’t understand why someone would choose this over some Bach.

    Sorry for the rambling nature of my comments…

  42. Imrahil says:

    Dear @traditionalorganist,

    thank you very much for you insightful and thorough comment…

    I happen to think that the “we must set our contents to popular music so that people are converted or experience vocations” is not much based in reality, except of course (but that counts too!) in respect to that poor Christian perhaps tempted of disbelief which is ourselves. C. S. Lewis once said that Faith is called a virtue because fallen man is not totally reasonable, and you have at times to defend your own faith against emotional dislike. If that is so, then at the time we do need all help we can get, emotional ones too. I heard that St. Thomas somewhere advocated to take a warm bath when tempted of some sin, forgotten which.

    “We have to use modern music for conversions” is 75% excuse. I do not say that in blame; it is said subjectively honest. But it is excuse for a good thing. And in fact, the music is used – like all good music – for the greater glory of God and for the fun of it.

    And maybe it is used to refute the specific misconception (which can be a hindrance to the Faith) that the Church disapproves of such-like music.

    I certainly believe that religious music can bring you closer to God as opposed to no music. (Anyway unless the “no music” is a Rosary or so…) I even believe that not explicitly religious music can, for that matter, but then a good piece of roasted pork can too, and we might come from the hunderedth into the thousandth as we say around here.

    Concerning solid expression of the truth: There certainly must be elaborate, intellectual (so-to-say) music. But then even Palestrina in all his glory cannot replace a good Catechism:-) It is true that rock music is more emotive than classical music. But emotions are always at the center of music (or we’d call it math)… and then, the distinctly intellectual music is a marker of very few epochs. It can (to all I know) be said about Palestrina; it can be said about Bach; it can be said about Vienna Classicism, but coming to think of it I’d make same reservations where Mozart is concerned. (Gregorian chant? Its own characteristicum is that it was not composed at all — the height of what tradition can be.)

    Now interestingly – the following paragraph is a bit OT — Classicism was revolted out of the fashion by a movement called Romanticism; that is well known; what is perhaps not so well known is that Romanticism was on the whole quite friendly towards the Church, and had quite probably some religious background, even if in emotions only. And 160 or so years later, an actual topic treated by E. T. A. Hoffmann, the Sandman, even though in the meantime he had been turned into a cute children’s puppet, reappeared in all its traditional glory of scariness in one of the best rock songs up to this day, Enter Sandman by Metallica… and in the middle of that we have “When I lay me down to sleep”. True to origins, isn’t it? … [And of course in its traditional form. If I die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take. Not any of the death-concealing variants now in fashion acc. to Aunt Wikipedia.]

    Anyway, in Germany the custom has always been to sing popular-style music in the liturgy. Franz Schubert composed a “German Mass” which actually was not a Mass but devotional prayers during Mass — you know the thing we shouldn’t do if we believe the liturgy reformists — which are charmingly beautiful but not really so complex (people should sing them!). In the 1870s someone, eternal rewards by God!, composed Segne Du Maria (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb2ADH2_zdM), which is (good) pop music if there ever was one. In the same years, there was the Culture Struggle, and lo! we had A House full of Glorie is watching in a rather military style (to my ears, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVQB5aPejwU beginning with 1:05). And of course, there’s then Holy God We Prahaise [sic!] Thy Name. And Silent Night. Silent Night is inofficially part of the liturgy. At the end of a the Midnight Mass, the lights must be turned out, except candles and the Christmas tree, and you then there is Silent Night. Maybe, and I’m (half) serious, that’ll appear on the Missals one day. The faithful at any rate would be heavily disappointed if it were left out.

    Perhaps you understand why I don’t mind a little Shine, Jesus, shine, Eternity or Laudato si.

    And there’s another thing. To me, hope is a mystery. Love is basically clear and faith is the dogmas, but hope is a mystery.
    Now I’ll defend the Dies irae any time, first of all because it’s a hopeful song which some kind of people just tend to overlook. (You just do not like rock music. Maybe you understand me, so, that I just do not like people who forget any stanzas beginning with the third…) But what hope really is, is – to me – inexpressible in words. But it seems to be expressible in music – in another song. And not a classical one.
    I’m speaking of The Man Comes Around.

    Forgive (also @all), if you endured me up to here, for my excessive length.

  43. Imrahil says:

    Now interestingly – the following paragraph is a bit OT — Classicism was revolted out of the fashion by a movement called Romanticism; that is well known; what is perhaps not so well known is that Romanticism was on the whole quite friendly towards the Church, and had quite probably some religious background, even if in emotions only. And 160 or so years later, an actual topic treated by E. T. A. Hoffmann, the Sandman, even though in the meantime he had been turned into a cute children’s puppet, reappeared in all its traditional glory of scariness in one of the best rock songs up to this day, Enter Sandman by Metallica… and in the middle of that we have “When I lay me down to sleep”. True to origins, isn’t it? … [And of course in its traditional form. If I die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take. Not any of the death-concealing variants now in fashion acc. to Aunt Wikipedia.]

    Anyway, in Germany the custom has always been to sing popular-style music in the liturgy. Franz Schubert composed a “German Mass” which actually was not a Mass but devotional prayers during Mass — you know the thing we shouldn’t do if we believe the liturgy reformists — which are charmingly beautiful but not really so complex (people should sing them!). In the 1870s someone, eternal rewards by God!, composed Segne Du Maria, which is (good) pop music if there ever was one. In the same years, there was the Culture Struggle, and lo! we had A House full of Glorie is watching in a rather military style (to my ears). And of course, there’s then Holy God We Prahaise [sic!] Thy Name. And Silent Night. Silent Night is inofficially part of the liturgy. At the end of a the Midnight Mass, the lights must be turned out, except candles and the Christmas tree, and you then there is Silent Night. Maybe, and I’m (half) serious, that’ll appear on the Missals one day. The faithful at any rate would be heavily disappointed if it were left out.

    Perhaps you understand why I don’t mind a little Shine, Jesus, shine, Eternity or Laudato si.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Sorry also for the repetition. The reason is that I put in the comment and WordPress didn’t seem to react, not even with “is awaiting moderation”.

    Feel free to ignore all my comments. But especially ignore the preceding one; it’s all in the one immediately above already.

  45. kbf says:

    @traditionalorganist: as I don’t have long to write I’ll leave you with this thought for now:

    Missa L’homme arme. Parody masses, of which there are over 40, based on a 14th century French drinking song (the rock music of the day). The two most popular written by Palestrina in 4 and 5 voices respectively.

    Your thoughts?

  46. The Masked Chicken says:

    But emotions are always at the center of music (or we’d call it math)… and then, the distinctly intellectual music is a marker of very few epochs. It can (to all I know) be said about Palestrina; it can be said about Bach; it can be said about Vienna Classicism, but coming to think of it I’d make same reservations where Mozart is concerned. (Gregorian chant? Its own characteristicum is that it was not composed at all — the height of what tradition can be.)

    What a topic! Mozart is considered the apex and (roughly) terminus of the Classical Period, so he defines a period.

    Emotions are not at the center of music. Communication is at the center of music. The processing centers for written music is right behind and slightly below the speech center on the left side of the brain. The emotional portions are processed on the right side. Just as communication requires a certain deep structure within a language, so does music. High brow music (up to, say, 1901) is very structured with large-scale and small-scale order. Every college-trained musician takes at least one class called, “Form and Analysis.”. The similarity to a language is unmistakeable. Music also has a geometric structure. I have done more than almost anyone to reconstruct the geometry of music, having written a Master’s thesis and an award-winning paper on the subject.

    Babies (even, apparently, in the womb) who listen to Mozart, or any high brow music show increased mathematics skills over a control group. High brow music is patterned music and pattern recognition is what mathematics and some other cognitive properties are all about. Not so strangely, rock and pop music do not show these effects. They have little deep structure, very little long-range organization, are repetitive – in some ways like watching a feral child speaking.

    Now, the Mass is an organized worship action, with long-range and short-range order, a deep structure, and a communicative act between man and God. The music for the Mass should have these attributes to be a fit companion. Some popular music has these qualities, but not a lot, and they don’t have them precisely because they put emotions first. The structure is at the service of the emotions and degrades the communication channel (to use a term from Information Theory). In the best cases, the emotions flow from the structure. This takes real musical talent. Have you ever heard a song where the next notes just had to be those particular notes? The sense of emotional release is palpable, but it stems from the coherent structure of the muic. Gregorian chant is highly structured and the emotions flow from the structure. It is certainly fit for Mass music. A Jazz Mass (and there are at least two of which I know) is a display piece.

    Rock music, emo, whatever, is a great way to arouse emotional responses, but not a very good way to communicate eternal truths. The physiological responses to rock music just simply do not line up with those of a contemplative Mass very well. The OF, having less inherent structure than the EF, is much more tolerant of music in this regards. This is not to say that certain rock music that approaches a chant-like quality might not approach something fitting for a Mass, but it is by virtue of the chant element, not the rock element, that it does so. Centuries of papal and Concilial pronouncements have said that ordinary secular music just does not fit the Mass. Modern neuroscience, I put forth, would agree.

    The Parody Masses mentioned are re-workings of the L’homme Arme song by skilled composers having intricate and extended structures where emotions serve rather than are served. Using the drinking song as a melody for a contrafactum hymn (like at least one Hagen-Haas song, if I recall) would have drawn people who recognized the hymn out of the Mass. The song, by itself IS unacceptable for Mass. It is the re-working that makes it acceptable.

    I am with traditionalorganist in this regard. So is the Church. So is science. The aesthetic sensibilities of any culture where there is a large and varied secular music is often made unsubtle for things outside of its cultural view. The Mass is universal. It takes a universal music to fit it.

    The Chicken

  47. Sissy says:

    Chicken, I always learn so much from your comments. Thank you very much.

  48. traditionalorganist says:

    @kbf

    I personally love some ancient popular tunes as well as medieval music. However, saying that it is the “rock music of the day” should be understood only in terms of popularity, not in terms of musical worth. Ancient popular tunes are typically very ordered, with a definite structure. Why not use Greensleeves as an example? This is an incredibly beautiful piece, which is likewise not a great feat of musical form. But it is objectively beautiful. There are some rock pieces which exhibit similar structural qualities to ancient folk tunes, but there is something else different. It’s hard to put one’s finger on, but that something different makes for the controversy we have.

    @imrahil,

    Wow thorough comments! Your thoughts about Romanticism are very interesting. In fact, moving further, I’m of the opinion that the evolution of music made a dramatic shift with Richard Wagner. His music seductive, and I don’t mean this in the most positive of senses. It is beautiful, but its beauty is dangerous. It lacks traditional form and seeks to recreate it…a man centered approach. My real controversial premise here is that Richard Wagner is the forefather of Rock Music. My reasoning, and I apologize for using vague generalities, is that his music appeals to the base emotions in a similar way to rock. He removes the Theocentric part of music, the traditional form, and this lends to an anthropocentric structure. I read an article in first things last year that has a similar premise I think. Those who listen to Wagner know that his music is extremely accomplished. I think the philosophy around it is dangerous because, according to my theory, it brings music down further to man. Instead of being man’s expression of God or of things greater, it is man’s expression of man. And, this is precisely what the musical form of most rock music does. It is an emotive expression.

    Going back to the medieval folk tune, these were not emotive expressions. They were beautiful melodies around a simple structure that, like all music, exuded emotion. But the emotion was controlled. It was not out of control and was governed by a natural structure. Rock music by definition lacks control. That’s part of the appeal. Yes, there is natural structure as well, but it is not the same.

    The Chicken has some wonderful insights at this point. Emotions are not at the center of music. Communication is at the center of music. How true! Music IS language. What happens when we forget poetry? What would English be without Shakespeare, Tennyson, et al. These are governed creations and are meant to bring us higher. And They proceed from the natural order. If comparing to Rock Music, Rock is at best normal conversation, at worst sheer profanity, as is evident by “artists”( how I loath the misappropriation of that term) like Lady Gaga.

    Music is meant to meant to communicate a higher existence. It is meant to be a reflection of a governing order. When it falls into Chaos it loses meaning. Another quick thought: atonal music, also stemming from Wagner (in my opinion) , also helped to create the dichotomy between rock and “classical” in the current sense. Now, classical music is seen as unapproachable because it is sheer math/form, with but lacks the Beauty that defines music. It’s as if I decided I was only going to speak in iambic pentameter but with random words from the dictionary!

    Hopefully that makes some sense.

  49. Imrahil says:

    Dear @traditionalorganist,

    maybe you must (if you choose) endure another of these comments of mine, by a time… In the meantime, thanks for the compliments, and your comments make very much sense. I accept at first instant your assertion that Richard Wagner is the forefather of rock music.

    Just some thoughts, randomly selected on all the topics mentioned here. On the rest, maybe later.

    I can accept your “anthropocentric as opposed to theocentric” as a neutral qualification, and in that case you’re most probably correct on that. However, if anthropocentric means “bad” and effectively “sinful”, the thing is quite another matter. It does not. The Incarnation; some explicit doctrine from Gaudium et spes; the hereditary loathing of Catholic Christianity against any trial to equate nature, even mere nature, with sinfulness (quite opposed, however, to some traditions I once detected in Puritan sermons from the new world, where “the natural man” actually does figure as a synonym for sinner); and a couple of things like that speak against it.

    Hence also, bringing music further down to man is not dangerous, or if dangerous, at least of an unavoidable and riskable danger. If music is brought further down to man, then man is brought further to music. Note that you never find as much hearers of classical music (except perhaps among 1. those who hear it from class consciousness 2. those who actually have this opinion that rock is a moral evil; I don’t count either for what follows) than under the most decided rock (heavy metal, etc.) music hearers.

    As to Wagner, the only thing I may perhaps find negative about him is that he repeats and repeats and repeats (in the Ring) a “da dam da dam da daaaaa” semi-theme, with the last tone a quart (?) higher than the preceding. That’s perhaps a bit boring (although it does fit to his endless heroicism which, perhaps, is also a bit boring). Of course that paragraph was mere philistinism, and not to be taken serious.

    Rock music does not lack control. It does contain sequences that lacks control… that is all control except one: they have an ultimately fixed ending.

    I was not right to say that emotions are at the center of music. What I meant, and still mean, is that the thing is at the center of music which, if successful, we call beauty. What I implied in that, and still mean, is that arousing emotions never can totally be absent from beauty; although it can be absent from truth. What I also meant is that if we do distinguish between a music more to the intellectual side and one less so, then the former is historically the more seldom, and its last expression, with which – I note that of course also in a morally neutral manner – the Freemasons were quite d’accord, was set aside by a movement aroused by genuine Christian feeling.

    I totally agree with you that whoever made up that distinction between E-Music and U-Music (earnest music and [u]entertainment music), as we say around here, destroyed genuine musical feeling. However, I happen to have heard a composition by Schönberg once and it was beautiful. I don’t know whether it was atonal, but if it was you didn’t hear that out.

    What is higher (as in: meant to bring us higher)? In the normal understanding of the word, the Midsummer Night’s Dream is not meant to bring us higher. Actually very little works are, and those that are — such as Goethes’s poem “Noble be a man, helpful and good” — often achieve the precise opposite in the [here:] reader’s feeling.
    [The Bible is not, either. The Bible sometimes gives military commands about what to do and not to do – some arguably hard to achieve; but still they’re plain commands and at least easily enough comprehensible. The Bible, most of the time, tells a fascinating story; a story which is in itself the Revelation of God and which we also believe to be Revealed Truth. But the Bible has few passages, if even them, that would “try to bring us higher”.]

  50. Imrahil says:

    Addition to the last parenthesis: in the usual sense these words are used.

  51. traditionalorganist says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    If you are still viewing this thread…I will just comment quickly regarding one aspect of your comment. I did not mean to imply that anthrocentric music is evil. However, anthropocentric music must not be completely without a theocentric quality. If you’e read the Silmarillion of Tolkien, recall the creation. The divine music, although sowed with discord by Melkor, was made still beautiful by Eru. God ultimately rules music, so He can never be fully removed. Music, even if we purposely make it as devoid of God as possible, still affects our soul on a deep level. I maintain it affects the way we think. My argument is really one of the purpose of all music. Even if music is about us, it should take us beyond us.

    A side note, although breaking my promise here…by higher, I meant to elevate our senses, our thoughts, and our soul. Essentially, to bring one higher, I mean to bring us closer in some way, often emotionally, towards God.

  52. AnAmericanMother says:

    kbf,
    Can’t resist commenting, as I was just working on the weekly choir column, and the subject is . . . L’homme armé.
    It was not “the rock music of the day”, and it wasn’t a drinking song. It is supposed to have been composed by Antoine Busnoys, an accomplished poet and musician of the Burgundian School (and employee of Charles the Bold), in reaction to the fall of Constantinople (along with a lot of other works, including a deploration by DuFay) and also in honor of St. Michael. So it was “classical” music as we think of it now — not “of the people”, not “commercial” but written by a court musician, probably the most renowned professional composer between DuFay and Ockeghem.
    Palestrina’s two Masses are easier for modern choirs to sing, but I believe that Josquin’s are probably better known and more often sung.
    The Palestrina settings are late outliers (if you don’t count a couple of modern composers who’ve had a crack at it); the overwhelming majority of the L’homme armé settings fall between 1450 and 1500. Therefore they are not technically speaking “parody masses” but “cantus firmus” Masses.

  53. Katheryn says:

    Wow, never in all my life did I think that another person would confirm my suspicion… Wagner is the music of a dirty old man! I have never liked it, and it has never sat well with me, ever, and I have a degree in opera! Interestingly enough, the one piece of his that I find tolerable is his string serenade that he wrote for his wife’s birthday… A much higher aspiration, for sure!

  54. Katheryn says:

    Sorry for the excessive exclamation points. I was excited.

  55. AnAmericanMother says:

    Exclaim away!!!!! :-)
    I agree with you – I find Wagner’s music both ugly and boring, by and large, even Tristan which people generally seem to enjoy more than the Ring.
    But I’m notorious for being highly suspicious of anything composed after 1802, so my opinion isn’t very valuable.

  56. Katheryn says:

    Yeah, Wagner’s blah.
    However, I will always love Beethoven, Poulenc, Faure, and Dvorak.
    As for some very modern composers, Morton Lauridsen and John Tavener know what’s up.

  57. AnAmericanMother says:

    OK, I’ll confess to a sneaking admiration for Poulenc (at least since my daughter’s college choir sang the Chansons françaises ) and for Fauré as well. Our choirmaster is a big fan of the early 20th c. French composers (he did a Fulbright at the Conservatoire de Lyon) and he’s slowly but surely convincing me. We do sing Tavener’s “The Lamb” and it’s good but requires intense concentration (at least if you’re singing alto!) and I do feel a great sense of relief when it finally goes into E minor and stays there.

  58. Katheryn says:

    I’m a fan of French composers to a point… I think some of them are way too into the new age movement (Debussy comes to mind) and my “spidey sense” alerts me similarly to Wagner. That’s probably why I prefer Poulenc and Faure… They seem to retain a sense of the sacred in their major works.