New “Index” of Forbidden Songs?

Over at Orthometer Fr. Erik Richtsteig is developing an INDEX OF FORBIDDEN SONGS.

He is examining hymnals and assigning the songs within to various categories.

His introduction is amusing:

Here we go again. Mean, sick, and sad priest attacking poor innocent hymnal: this time “Gather”. Gotta wonder why so many hymnals are titled in one word imperatives; “Gather”, “Worship”, “Fibrillate”, etc… BTW, I am ignoring the psalms and service music.

Here are some of the categories in a legend he provides so that you can get a sense of his sense of the hymns/songs/ditties/commercial jingles he has judged to be unfit for Catholic consumption.

DO= Dubious Orthodoxy,
DMWP=Don’t Mess With Perfection,
DS=Dan Schutte,
DTD=Done To Death,
HL=Hella Lame,
LC=Leftist Crap,
NAU=Not About Us,
SIGV=Singing In God’s Voice(i. e. we are not God),
SWTR= Stick With The Rite,
TMV=Too Many Verses,
WIG=Where is God?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. What a wonderful post! From the perspective of someone who grew up with the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal, pipe organ, and full choir, so much of the music in the Catholic Church has been a bitter trial. Even the traditional hymns have been mauled (and neutered) in the name of political correctness.

    Another frustration that the competing hymnal companies have not always mauled and neutered the texts in the same fashion. There is no consistency even in the destruction! No wonder so few people in the congregation actually sing.

  2. Fr Matthew says:

    “SIGV” shouldn’t be a problem. We do it in Gregorian Chant too; like the Easter Sunday introit, “Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum….” where we sing along with the Lord, or the responsory, “Homo quidam fecit coenam magnam…” where we repeat the words of a parable, including part where we speak in the voice of the host of the banquet, who represents God. Those are just two examples off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are more.

  3. HyacinthClare says:

    David Zampino, you said it!! Thanks, Father, for the link to that website.

  4. benedetta says:

    I really appreciate the entertaining diversion…An antidote to suburban boredom…

    I am sure some will be frustrated to discover that many priests cannot satisfy shopworn stereotypes. That’s ok because the change is very good…

  5. William Tighe says:

    As a member of one of the “Eastern Rite” ecclesiae sui juris that follows the Byzantine Rite, this is, fortunately, not a problem for me. The only objectionable “ditty” I have found in that context is one of the two versions of the Cherubic Hymn (“Let us who in a mystic way represent the cherubim …” etc.) authorized for use in the Melkite Catholic Church which begins “We represent the angels, we are like the cherubim …” which is sung to music that seems to be perfectly appropriate to a performance in a Near Eastern belly-dancing show (perhaps whoever put it together was attempting a form of “inculturation”).

    There are, however, real and major problems of liturgical translation among Eastern Catholics, problems which I discussed in this article in 1998:

    In my own Ukrainian Catholic metropolia its bishops took the decision some decades ago (the only Byzantine Eastern Catholic jurisdiction to do so, I believe) to use the Roman Rite’s English ICEL 1970s translations for prayers that are substantially the same in the two rites,, the Creed (but with the “we” of “We believe …” changed to “I”) and Sanctus. Strangely, but perhaps not surprisingly, there appears to be no interest in, and certainly no action towards, replacing these “lame-duck” (as well as “lame” generally) versions with those of the new translation soon to come into force in the Roman Rite.

  6. Joan A. says:

    How about adding secular songs, particularly love songs, that have psuedo-religious contemporary words overlaid? You cannot change the meaning of a song by just changing the words and the secular feeling comes through. It is a “sacrilege” both musically and religiously.

    I particularly cringe when “Plaisir d’amore” (“The Joy of Love”!!!) is played. Other offenders are “Drink to Me only with Thine Eyes” and the “Ode to Joy” movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. These belong in the concert hall, not at Mass.

  7. RichR says:

    WIG=Where is God?

    Reminds me of a time my men’s gregorian chant group was asked to sing with one of the local choirs. Besides singing our own stuff, we sang in common with the standard choir. One of the hymns was “The Servant Song” (Will you let me be your servant, let me be as christ to you…..). After singing the whole song, I turned to the guy next to me and asked, “Now who are we singing this hymn to?” Without missing a beat, he replied, “To ourselves, for our own mutual sanctification.”

  8. John Nolan says:

    I have yet to hear Martini’s bitter-sweet ‘Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment, chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie’, composed as long ago as 1780, used as a hymn tune, and if it were I would be tempted to sing the original lyrics. There is a popular worship song ‘Let there be love shared among us’ written in 1979 which uses the tune ‘Les bicyclettes de Belsize’, written in 1968 and recorded by Mireille Matthieu and Connie Francis among others.

  9. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I often refer to “SIGV=Singing In God’s Voice” as the error of “Voice of God” (VOG).

    It appears throughout the Gather hymnal.

  10. o.h. says:

    I have more than once, at Spanish masses, had the opportunity to hear the Padre Nuestro sung to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”

  11. chloesmom says:

    At the vigil Mass this evening, the organist played Schubert’s “Serenade” when the congregation went up to Communion. She has also been known to play “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, the Adagio from the Elvira Madigan concerto of Mozart, and Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat, Op. 9 No.2 — all badly – and a trial to the ears of a pianist who would love to hear some good sacred music some day in our parish. I’m not holding my breath, but I do pray a lot for patience and perserverance.

  12. Pachomius says:

    Two things occur to me about this (in between bursts of Christ Be Our Light, Eagle’s Wings, Be Not Afraid, and so on):

    1. A lot of this… musical waste matter (Christ Be Our Light, Eagle’s Wings, Be Not Afraid, Here I Am Lord, Blest Be The Lord, In Bread We Bring You Lord, A New Commandment) sounds uncannily samey. Maybe they were all written by the same delirious flute player.

    2. A lot of these… ahem, “hymns” (a list curiously similar to the one I gave above, actually) are absurdly difficult to sing, and have stupidly difficult-to-remember hymn tunes. Possibly the latter is because they all sound so alike, down to the same penultimate-line-of-the-stanza key-change.

    And I will raise him up, on eagle’s shadow, to shine in the valley of the arrow of the day…

  13. John Nolan says:

    Yes, what is it about flautists? Every parish music group seems to have one programmed to double the vocal line at the cloying interval of a major third.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Can we add “ME” for the me songs, totally centered on the individuals or the congregation?

  15. irishgirl says:

    I saw those lists over at Fr. Eric’s blog-I have to admit that I used to like singing a lot of those songs!
    Reading the ‘ratings’ made me laugh, of course-what a biting wit he has!

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