From a reader…
When I go to Mass in the Ordinary Form, I notice that the congregation sings, even if it’s a more traditional parish that sings the ordinaries and the Pater Noster in Gregorian chant in Latin.
Meanwhile, when I go to the Extraordinary Form, the congregation is silent and stoic when it comes to the responses, the Ordinaries and the traditional hymns at the start and end of Mass. Why are Latin Mass Catholics so stubborn when it comes to singing those parts which are proper to the congregation to sing? It seems like the Ordinaries, being of much simpler chant notation than those of the propers, is designed for congregational singing. I know popes in the pre-Vatican II days have even written on this issue. What gives?
I know. It is like pulling teeth. As a kid, I remember Lutherans being able to sing in 4 part harmony from the pew hymnals. Then again, when pretty much all you have is the Word and preaching, that’s what you get.
Catholics have that and a lot more. That “more” involves mystery, the tremendum et fascinans that drives us to our knees in silent awe and longing.
That’s one reason.
Moreover, it was a clerical thing for centuries to sing texts. Non clerics were not encouraged to sing Mass texts. That, of course, went by the wayside a long time ago. Some priests still bash it into people that they should never make a peep at Mass.
Lately, however, it seems to me that most people – who have some dignity – don’t really want to sing the infantalized slop that passes for church music over the last few decades. Honestly, most of the dopey ditties have about as much appeal as the theme song to Gilligan’s Island and as must depth as the commercial jingle for My Little Pony. Remember that? HERE Lord have mercy.
And then there are the aging hippy pop combos who are there because “that’s what young people want”. How embarrassing!
I recommend the classic book, which tackles the issue, by Thomas Day, now revised and updated since it was first released. He hits the nail on the head many times.
Why Catholics Can’t Sing: Revised and Updated With New Grand Conclusions and Good Advice