Liturgical road-kill! (WARNING! Not for the timid.) Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Have you ever had the experience of driving down the interstate and spying from afar some dark lump alongside the road?

You know that it is some unfortunate critter who met its high speed end at the hands of the Michelin Man.  You know it is going to be ugly.  You don’t want to have to see it.  You tell yourself you are just going to pass by without taking notice.  You look anyway.

Someone sent me a link to a site that has archived of – I am not making this up – Folk Mass Music Original Recordings.

That’s right! You older folks can now re-live the days of the first “Folk Masses”, the so-called “Hootenanny Masses” referred to in liturgical writings of the day.

You younger folks can learn what all the fuss was about.

It’s like having a peep at road-kill. Fascinating and dreadful, and not in a good way.

Here is a sample from 1966, the ineffable Ray Repp’s “To Be Alive”.


Reason #35 for Summorum Pontificum.

To those of you who are too young to have known those halcyon days after the Council, when our liturgical worship was being destroyed by liturgist hacks and dimwit prelates, absorb some of this stuff and try to understand how our liturgical worship got to the state it is in today.

With the help of Pope Benedict’s vision, his “Marshall Plan” for our Catholic identity, and with the slow, inexorable influence of the biological solution being applied to older priests, bishops and others in influential roles, younger people are making necessary, healing corrections.

But.. oh… what a time. Oh, what we did to our identity as Catholics.

Just one more. See?  It is like liturgical road-kill!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ipadre says:

    It makes me shiver that I once sang and played guitar for that dreaded Holy and other garbage. Shows what God’s grace can really do. All of that “music” is not worthy to be sung around a camp fire, let alone the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  2. WBBritton says:

    /me stares blankly.

  3. Dustin and Jamie P. says:

    Oh. Oh my. My children were working on school when I played these. My four year old came up and asked, “May you please make that stop?” The rest of the responses were similar. Please, Mom, please make it stop.

    Quite a difference from the High Mass I and my daughter sang last night.

    St. Cecilia, pray for us!

  4. benedetta says:

    Not going to listen to these. Too frightening.

  5. Theodore says:

    I hate to say it but the Missa Bossa Nova posted above was better than what I heard last evening. We had something closer to Aerosmith (2 electric, 1 twelve string and 1 electric bass guitar, drums and an amplified violin) doing the Holy. The congregation, to their great credit, did not join in at all.

    The homily, however, was fantastic.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Z,

    I can hear the echoes of Rudy, Schladdy, and Richard!

    I think that a reprint of Mons. Bandas’ reflections on the liturgical life after the Council is warranted!

    Today is a good day to be part of “the Farm!”

    God Bless you Don John!

  7. Speravi says:

    It reminds me of the Mass at the end of “A Change of Habit.”

  8. Tim Ferguson says:

    If I recall correctly, Ray Repp left the priesthood and opened a line of big and tall men’s stores.

  9. Andy Milam says:

    Ok, I couldn’t wait….

    May God forgive my impertinence and lack of patience.


  10. Peggy R says:

    I think of masses at the outdoor amphitheater of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. Much better experience today.

    Anyhoo…did any one notice that the Missa Boss Nova Sanctus used the correct English translation “Holy, holy holy Lord God of hosts…”?

  11. Andy Milam says:

    @ Speravi,

    Change of Habit = Abomination of Desolation….it was the antithesis of the “Great Catholic Movie Movement” of the 1940s-1960s, starting with the Song of Bernadette and finding the last of the greats with The Cardinal. Change of Habit ended the era….


  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    I notice the Sanctus from the Missa Bossa Nova utilizes the proper translation, so it could again be used liturgically. Were it not terrifying.

  13. disco says:

    That missa bossa nova sanctus is proof that the new translation is not enough.

  14. irishgirl says:

    I wasn’t going to listen to any of this stuff, knowing that I am from that era in time where the ”Folk Mass’ was the thing to be in on Saturday evening. I rather cringe at the songs we used to sing back then-and how stupid we were to think that they were ‘cool’.
    Thank God I know better now!
    ‘Liturgical road kill’-oooo, that’s a good one, Father Z!

  15. amenamen says:

    What ever happened to Ray Repp?

    There is a brief mention of Ray Repp on the website of his “partner,” Richard Alther, the author of a novel, “The Decade of Blind Dates.”

    The biography from Oregon Catholic Press website extols the famous ex-seminarian as “the person most responsible for introducing folk music and the guitar into Christian Churches.”
    The OCP bio also draws the connection between liturgical music and the Church’s moral teachings:

    “Ray’s particular interest is showing the relationship between honest, authentic worship and social justice. Ray believes it is impossible to have one without the other, unless we have a misunderstanding of one or the other.”

  16. nialasfitch says:

    Alas, folk masses live on in my parish… Really.

  17. TNCath says:

    Oh my goodness! What a trip down Memory Lane–or Nightmare Avenue! I so remember these songs being forced down our throats (and, strangely enough, still in our memories) by well-meaning but completely misguided Sisters who were so committed to our “participating” in the Mass.

  18. moon1234 says:

    Wow! I am at work and thank the Lord I had my headphones on. My first response was starting to laugh, then I thought, wait, this music sounds like the into and transition music used for the 1940’s and 1950’s era westerns I was watching over the weekend. My first thought was a single rider on horseback crossing the Rio Grande into an unknown texas wilderness.

    Almost Dave Crocket, or Saniel Boone Style, especially with the “We are Christians” one. Wow. I can’t beleive that this was EVER sung at Mass.

  19. “the person most responsible for introducing folk music and the guitar into Christian Churches.”

    Heavenly Father, please help me. I really, REALLY want to strangle Ray Repp. Please forgive me. Amen.

  20. mitch_wa says:

    Hey that Sanctus is the right translation! Sweet!

  21. jbas says:

    What’s hard to understand is how this all came about within a year or so of the first big changes to the Order of Mass (the traditional Order of Mass, at that). And I’ll never understand why good Catholics cooperated with this sort of thing.

  22. Bryan Boyle says:

    Laughable as a parody if it wasn’t so true. I’ll go wash the blood out of my ears now.

    Didn’t Trevor Nunn use some of those tunes for ‘Cats’?

  23. Andy Milam says:

    This is yet another clear example of the hijacking of the liturgical action through “both/and…either/or.”

    Look to how the 1958 document is worded…modern music is appropriate if it can be rendered apt. Who defines apt? To the bleeding heart libby dibby nut jobs, Ray Repp is apt. To the orthodox Catholic he is crazy!

    When Bugnini and his cohorts started all of this in ’48, the scope of the Church changed. Even Pius XII wasn’t immune…especially when they push this stuff past him on his death bed in ’58. We must return to an objective model regarding the liturgical action and absolutely abandon the subjective. It cannot succeed. The subjective model is Protestant…but then again, that is what Bugnini, et. al. wanted!!!!


  24. Christine says:

    Wow. I haven’t heard that song in years. It’s like a bad flashback. I remember singing that at Mass as a kid. May Pope Benedict live a very long time!

  25. O Lord, remember when I told You that I didn’t think Mass music could be any worse than X and Y parishes had?

    Thank You for not laughing at me. And for not smiting everybody for musical crimes.

  26. jbas says:

    OK To be fair, I do kind of like the sound of the Basso Nova one, even if I wouldn’t want it used at Mass.

  27. ScholaLady says:

    Can someone help me out here? I’m not sure if I have learned “the sensation that comes from being alive.”

  28. Legisperitus says:

    Wow, it’s all become clear to me. Off now to write a song called… “Blame it on the Missa Bossa Nova.”

  29. cvbreno says:

    Unfortunately, the bossa nova mass, and similar show-tune variants , can be heard every Sunday at the majority of parishes in our diocese (Reno). My family sings in the only choir in the diocese that regularly uses gregorian chant and polyphony. We sing at the cathedral and a few other parishes on a rotating basis, but we are definitely unwelcome at others. Brick by brick, but still a long way to go around here. Most of the music leaders and “liturgists” are either ignorant of or militantly resistant to the Church’s liturgical documents.

  30. NoTambourines says:

    Did I see “They’ll Know We Are Christians” at the link? If you speed it up (if I’m thinking of the right one), and put your Telecaster on the bridge pickup, it’s almost indistinguishable from the verses to “Secret Agent Man.”

    ScholaLady: in the current repertory, you can also “share the flavor of life” in “Bring Forth the Kingdom.”

  31. riopeljm says:

    How my children were dancing to the “Holy Holy Missa Bossa Nova” says it all…
    my 7 yr old said “it’s not for mass, it’s for dancing!”

    When mass music makes you think of a frankie and annette movie, than there is a problem.

  32. frjim4321 says:

    The liturgical reforms were in their infancy at the time and one does expect infancy to be a bit messy. Critiquing Repp and the MBN is a bit like embarrassing a 14 year old publicly by showing bare butt bassinette pictures to his/her classmates. Liturgical music did in fact mature rapidly through the latter third of the century and I doubt that many were still singing Repp tunes and the MBN twenty years after they were released. They had served their purpose.

    Further Repp and the MBN folk need to be seen against the cultural backdrop of that day. When we see or hear just about anything from that era it jars the senses. Brady Bunch haircuts, anyone?

    What I find quite fascinating, however, is much of the music coming out of trad places and programs (Steubenville, Life Teen, etc.) is frankly quite worse than Repp, et al. At least in the 70’s we didn’t have to deal with hand motions to songs and tripe that is often seen at Sunday evening “teen” masses.

  33. Jim Ryon says:

    Not too different from what can be heard at my NO parish when our hootenanny group ‘performs’, especially the ‘it’s all about us song’.

  34. oledocfarmer says:

    The recurring theme of a lost vocation:

  35. Legisperitus says:

    I can’t dissociate these sounds from the sight of go-go boots.

  36. You older folks can now re-live the days of the first “Folk Masses”, the so-called “Hootenanny Masses” referred to in liturgical writings of the day.

    Perhaps this of trip down memory lane provides valuable therapy and consolation for folks like those who hold forth in anti-translation blogs as they enter their sunset years, lamenting that Benedict’s restoration of continuity with tradition signals the end of their salad days dream of destroying the old church in order to build a new one it in their own image, to “sing a new church into being” (to coin an apt phrase?).

  37. chcrix says:

    That was a pretty low grade graphic on the Bossa Nova. For a moment I thought it said “Father Peter Schickele”. Then, I thought no, couldn’t be. You can’t parody this stuff.

  38. qowieury says:

    That missa Bossa Nova Sanctus is not terrible. It even uses the new translation. I could see some parishes using it now. If the drums were calmed down a bit, perhaps removed, the vocals would be fine.

  39. Centristian says:

    “You older folks can now re-live the days of the first ‘Folk Masses’…”

    Re-live the days? Ha! If only. Some parishes may have left them behind (about ten minutes ago) but those that have, for the most part, have replaced folk music with “praise” music, which is even worse. Many parishes in my neck of the woods still feature folk Masses, as such, however.

    Just last Sunday I experienced the joy of a “Gospel” Mass (at least I think it was a Mass; it seemed more like a Sign of Peace service). Splendidly awful, with exquisitely talentless singers performing the Gospel music, no less. They really outdid themselves. What an epiphany.


    “And I’ll never understand why good Catholics cooperated with this sort of thing.”

    Again, that past tense thing. What choice do they have? The “good” Catholics, alas, don’t get to just show up at church and tell the priest and the musicians “here’s how you’re going to do Mass today.” Wouldn’t that be nice. Not how it works, though. We get what they give us. Good Catholics can read blogs like this one, they can fancy themselves supporters of the “reform of the reform” movement, they can shop around for a better parish with a better liturgy, but in the end, wherever they happen to land on any given Sunday, good Catholics are at the mercy of the guy behind the altar.

    Tu autem Dne. miserere nobis.

  40. jarthurcrank says:

    “Father Peter Schickele”

    Yes! There is always P.D.Q. Bach’s Missa Hilarious, which includes “K-k-k-kyrie” and an appearance of the Batman theme in the midst of the “Angus Dei.”

  41. mbutton says:

    “That one may smile and smile and be a villain!” -Hamlet

  42. thefeds says:

    The Horror, oh the Horror!

    with gratitude, to Joseph Conrad.

  43. amenamen says:

    A Change of Habit – paradigm for liturgical worship

    At the end of the 1969 film, there is a depiction of an offertory procession at a Mass celebrated ad orientem. What is most striking is the absolute disconnection between the musical entertainment on one side of the altar railing (still there in 1969) and the dignified ritual actions of the priest and altar boys at the altar.
    The nun (Mary Tyler Moore), arriving very late for Mass, makes a brief attempt to kneel and pray, and she seems a little distracted by the statues, but she is totally captivated by Elvis, making eyes at him, and staring at him with utter rapture.

    I wonder how many choir leaders actually imagine themselves as the Elvis character. I wonder how many priests feel like that priest in the background, practically ignored, simply providing a venue for the real show. It would seem that Hollywood was able to capture a kind of paradigm which many strive to attain.

  44. Will D. says:

    Both pieces were vastly better than the Haugen and Hass dreck that fills our OCP “Bustin’ Bread” hymnals at my parish. Not that that’s an overly high bar to surpass.

  45. Robert_H says:

    Peter, Paul and Mary come to mind…and not the Saints.

  46. paxchristi says:

    Lord have mercy: I cringe as I recall that the Ray Repp-ertoire was me and my halfdozen cronies over 30 years ago. There was no music at one of our parish Masses, so we strapped on our guitars and did the Hootenanny Liturgy. Our poor shocked congregation never did quite cotton on to the revamped lyrics to Four Strong Winds … I pray there is not a special sacrificial place in purgatory for those of us who inflicted such liturgical and musical mayhem on others.

    Now, as to the Bossa Nova Missae, I think I would prefer this particular Sanctus to the three Revised settings now in use for our Canadian province: the compositions sound like they are the mindless hummings of a toddler in a sandbox. Shudder.

  47. MissOH says:

    …. I would be roflol if it was not so sad. And this was “better” and “more authentic” than a missa cantata?!
    I am happy that everyone in my family is alive in every way too (whatever that means)…since it is really impossible to speak with the deceased members of my family but Ray Repp really thought kindergarden lyrics were a good choice to sing during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
    The bossa nova had a good beat, but I want to listen to that beat on the radio or on a date night with my husband at a jazz club, not at mass.

    The unfortunate result is still too many parishes in the grip of Haugen Hass dreck or throw your hands in the air praise while the reality of what Vatican II called for is ignored….

  48. mbutton says:


    This movie perfectly captures the absurdity (and danger) of this sort of liturgical arrangement.

  49. chantgirl says:

    I didn’t think I recognized the To Be Alive song, but once I heard it some long ago Catholic school Mass memory came rushing into my head. I also second the comment about the Missa Bossa Nova sounding like spaghetti western music. I’m in my early 30s so I didn’t live through the upheavals in the aftermath of Vatican II, but looking back on the turbulence and the nonsense that went on, I am trying to put myself in the shoes of Catholics back then. I cannot imagine the confusion that ordinary Catholics who had been brought up with notions of heaven/hell, reverence at Mass (or just reverence toward the sacred in general), traditional, predictable liturgy etc. must have felt in that time. The shifting sands must have pulled the rug out from under a lot of people’s faith. My Mother describes a period of time when she would go to Church on Sunday and the Mass would change from Sunday to Sunday. She grew up in a time when Catholics were taught that there was no salvation outside the Church. I can only imagine the heartbreak and confusion of many people who believed that there was no salvation outside of their church, and this was what their church had become. People who saw the Mass as theirs to experiment with probably caused others to see the Mass (and much of religion) as a construct of men, and probably led to people losing faith in the Liturgy being an other-worldly thing. I don’t think I can judge harshly many of the regular Catholics who fell away from the faith in the years after Vatican II. I would not have felt secure in a Church where the Mass was at the mercy of weekly or monthly whims of men, in a Church whose priests and religious were leaving in droves or staying in the Church but openly dissident. God have mercy! My first reaction to seeing videos like this is to laugh (trying to be trendy usually looks amusing later on), but the spiritual toll of the past 50 years has to be staggering. God only knows how many souls have been lost as a result. It is difficult not to be angry at priests/ bishops/cardinals who should have known better.

  50. Lucas says:

    I’ve heard horror stories from my parents about what Mass was like right after the NO went into effect. My Dad told me he freaked out the first time and he wanted to leave, but my Mom said “No matter how bad it is, its still Catholic”

    They tried to find other churches, but they were all pretty bad. Priests with long hair and combat boots, folk masses, removal of crucifixes. Etc etc

  51. APX says:

    @ mitch_wa
    Hey that Sanctus is the right translation! Sweet!
    Yeah! Sweet! Now we don’t have to use those lame Mass settings they gave us for the new translation. We can use these old folk Mass settings instead!

  52. APX says:

    I’ve heard horror stories from my parents about what Mass was like right after the NO went into effect.

    By dad was an altar boy when the NO went into effect. He said one Sunday they were in cassocks and surplices, and the next Sunday they “were in some white robe thing”.

  53. avecrux says:

    We sang that Mass at our parish and school… and here I am, 30 or so years later and I still know every word to “To Be Alive”. Wow. What they did to us as children….

  54. rosaryfixer says:

    Hey, cowboy music is not dead yet in the liturgy. Two years ago I attended a funeral in our diocese of Orange, CA. The melody of the “Lamb of God” sounded very familiar! Just sing “Oh bury me not, on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl…” to yourself and you can sing that “Lamb of God” with no music in front of you. This past week I attended inadvertently, a funeral Mass. “Jesus, lamb of God,” was sung to some newly formulated sung Mass. The priest tried to sing the doxology with this new music and was totally lost. Am I mistaken in thinking that “Jesus, Lamb of God,” is not a proper translation of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal Agnus Dei? OCP, rest in peace, PLEASE!!!

  55. nanetteclaret says:

    That “Bossa Nova Mass” was so antique. I mean, really! How 1963. A “Cool Jerk Mass” or “Boogaloo Mass” would have been way more groovy in 1966.

  56. St. Epaphras says:

    If you look at a 1965 (?) translation of the Mass, this Sanctus would be from that one. That was after the Mass started to be said in English and actually was a pretty straightforward translation of the TLM but with some changes and some things left out (part of Prayers at the Foot and also the Last Gospel). Yes, for a vernacular Mass, it was far, far better than what we got in 1970 or whenever the totally redone made-up-from-scratch Mass came out. Our new translation is an improvement, of course. I know everyone here “d’un certain âge” knows this. The comment is for the younger readers.

  57. QMJ says:

    Fortunately, I am not old enough to have suffered this. Though my day may be coming. The closest thing to this I have experienced is the Sanctus set to Scarborough Fair. On another note, they’re great material for movie soundtracks of that era.


  58. wmeyer says:

    Will D.: OCP has much for which to answer, but at least this year we don’t have any sexually ambiguous figures on the cover.

  59. jeffreyquick says:

    What’s saddest is that there’s no sense of irony at the site; the author appears to be affectionately nostalgic.

  60. Therese Z says:

    I have the original little blue Ray Repp songbook, if you’d like to offer it (or a photo of it burning) as a prize sometime.

    I have most of this music on mimeographed pages I collected as a student organist and guitarist. I put them away and I’m thrilled I kept them, because they are hilariously dreadful. I have to check the site out to see if my brain snaps awake and sings along with most of the listed titles.

  61. Nun2OCDS says:

    At that time I was an Episcopalian and had just graduated from college. My childhood best friend and I were sharing an apartment. She was Catholic and told me about the music at her parish church. That was back in the good(?) old days when you had to attend the parish in whose boundary you lived – no choice. I couldn’t believe the music was as bad as she described. She told me “come and see.” I accepted the challenge. My Anglican ears were shocked. Was that even Christian? Gosh only a few years earlier we were forbidden to watch Elvis! His offspring were playing in Church. I waited 25 years before entering a Catholic Church again.

  62. liebemama says:

    Sister Barbara did teach us to play the guitar to half of those songs listed in our Catholic grade school… I still know those songs by heart! Now, here in Germany, the girls’ choir began singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and other gems in English during Mass!!!!!!!! I am still numb and amazed that I know every single word of those songs we sang at daily Mass in elementary school. It is a good reminder that our children really soak in everything they are exposed to in this young age and to be very watchful.

  63. amenamen says:

    The lyrics of Ray Repp’s “To Be Alive” express a vague feeling of exhiliaration and freedom, but there is nothing to indicate it is about Jesus, the Eucharist or the Catholic faith. It could just as easily be a commercial for a soft drink or a TV show.
    Remember the Pepsi generation? “Come alive!”

    “To have everyone in our family” makes me think of the Darlings:

  64. Speravi says:

    frjim4321 ,
    You have a good point about the abysmal music being produced by the “praise and worship” movement, a movement that cannot be considered “trad.” While indeed these groups attempt to hold to orthodox doctrine, I think they can be seen as part of the same thirst for novelty and attitude that the Mass needs to be spiced up in order to be either relevant or a most effective a vehicle for devotion. In either case, it does not seem these are particularly efficacious means to aid the raising of the intellect and the kindling of the will. Rather they seem to electrify the atmosphere of the liturgy in such a way as to stir the passions. Passionate feelings give a sense of consolation which is easily interpreted as something spiritual, but they are not a safe indicator of authentic spirituality (of course feelings are not bad either).
    Whatever one thinks is the right direction for Sacred Music, we should all try to be on the same page in accepting the principles laid down by St. Pius X and repeated again and again (including at Vatican II) since that time with regard to Sacred Music. Nothing profane must be admitted, and what is admitted must serve the ends for which the Liturgy is offered.

  65. jjoy says:

    My husband and I are listening to (and singing along with!) the songs on the link. His comment: “These songs are like liturgical leisure suits- you look back and smile, but you wouldn’t be caught dead in one today!”

  66. yatzer says:

    I went to the Episcopalian version of a “folk mass” my first year of college (1965). I went to another just to make sure it was for real. Then I dropped out of Christian behavior in general. Somehow God pulled me back and then called me into the Catholic Church, where there was the same awful stuff I’d heard as an Anglican. Eventually I dropped out again. The Hound of Heaven followed and eventually brought me back via a couple of holy priests and a parish where the sound of bongos is never, ever heard. This is the greatly condensed version. The point is that music is one of the things that sets the tone and indicates how seriously one is to take what is happening.

  67. gracie says:

    The influence of Edie Gorme’s music on our Catholic composers needs to be recognized:

  68. Bryan Boyle says:

    Well…if you look in the ‘Music Issue’ throw-away (they should do it at the beginning of the year rather than at the end…toss it, that is…) from OCP, you’ll still find Repp dreck in there. You have to hunt for anything approaching Catholic hymns in OCP (and I’m sure LTP or any of the other Usual Suspects that have enthralled musicians who pass themselves off as Church musicians.).

    Father: is it wrong to pray for the acceleration of the Biological Solution?

  69. You know, now that I think about it, I have sung that bossa nova Sanctus. But it was just marked as composed by Scholtes (no Mass name), and there wasn’t any of the harmonies or guitar stuff — just a capella and normal. The melody line had been tweaked to be more normal, and the words were the translation we’ve just retired.

    Hm. Can’t think where or when it was. Probably back in the Seventies somewhere. Maybe out of the Missalette.

  70. HeatherPA says:

    Dear Lord, forgive your people… Thankfully there is no clip of the “folk” Our Father that I endured for three years in a parish before we moved. I never could stand it and always felt like I didn’t really pray it because of the music.

  71. keithp says:

    Heck this is no worse than what goes on at my former parish.

    One Sunday we were treated to “Colors of the wind” from the Disney annimated movie Pocahontas as the entrance and offering/communion hymn.

  72. templariidvm says:

    Did Johnny Cash do a cover of that Ray Repp song?? just askin . . .

  73. jesusthroughmary says:

    The entire Missa Bossa Nova is actually in the provisional English translation used before ICEL got their filthy, Masonic hands on it. So it’s actually superior to anything Haugen, Haas and Co. have produced. Also, it has more cowbell.

  74. Alice says:

    Oh, for the good old days of dancing up to the altar with the rest of the kids in the congregation while the schola guitararum played “Friends All Gather ‘Round the Table of the Lord.” NOT.

  75. Novum Eboracense says:

    Hasty Liturgical Change + 60’s Cultural Revolution = Chaos in Doctrine and Practice.

  76. RMT says:

    Both songs were a step up from the “Missa Luna” that is now making its rounds…

  77. ejcmartin says:

    Paxchristi, I must sadly agree. The Canadian options for the Sanctus are dreadful and unsingable. Every Mass it seems the congregation stumbles terribly in attempting to sing it.

  78. xsosdid says:

    We still have “Life Teen” at my parish, which is Christian Rock Mass, really. I can’t tolerate it and neither can my kids who are insulted by the attempt to trick them into being catholic by making the liturgy look like a Glee episode.
    I grew up in folk masses and remember how we thought this was such an improvement…because we were there out of obligation raher than to pray. I had my own little sky-blue leisure suit!

  79. NoTambourines says:

    I always found “Youth Ministry” patronizing. I’ve avoided the Life Teen Mass for a while, but the ones I’ve attended have been afflicted by what you might call Liturgical Bloat.

    By that, I mean things done during the Mass that aren’t the Mass, upsetting the natural “rhythm” (not the tambourine kind) of the liturgy. I felt like it was hijacked by the musicians (and I say that as a musician), like a concert that happened to have a Mass attached.

    And the music… I agree with Hank from King of the Hill, “You’re not making Christianity better, you’re making rock ‘n’ roll worse!”

  80. Sword40 says:

    I survived these horrible events and I will not “re-live” them. Not for one second.

  81. jflare says:

    Ummm….hmmmmm.. Words..escape me.
    Some of it could pass for music that I remember hearing during a few outdoor Masses long ago. Or the sing-along around the campfire the night before. When my folks were involved with Marriage Encounter, I recall the overall movement..had a tendency toward being..liturgically relaxed.
    On the whole, it’s not too bad for folk music, though I suspect we could find something play instead.

  82. jflare says:

    “I always found “Youth Ministry” patronizing. ”

    Boy! I can relate to THAT!

  83. jflare says:

    “One Sunday we were treated to “Colors of the wind” from the Disney annimated movie Pocahontas as the entrance and offering/communion hymn.”

    That..IS..a joke. Right????

  84. ccrino says:

    You have done a wonderful thing in posting this, as I don’t know how many people I can torture with it.

    I also have to say that I have very clear memories of this era (Sons of God, hear his holy word…. Anyone? Anyone?) but I don’t think I ever heard To Be Alive sung at an actual liturgy. I do know that words because (ahem) we had the album.

    Here is the true story: all of that glop was published originally by FEL, run by Dennis Fitzpatrick, who then ended up suing one diocese after another for copyright violations on the hundreds of mimeo sheets run off in those years. Dennis couldn’t publish anything while wrapped up in this. He needed some sort of musical outlet, and assembled a schola of men to sing, nay *chant* the mass and that was the music once a month at our Newman Center Sunday evening mass. So, the man who was originally most responsible for Repp (personal favorite “I am the Resurrection and the Life” – at least it was based on Scripture) was also responsible for the first time that I heard the mass chanted. Strange, but true. Eventually I discovered polyphony and put away these childish things. (Cowboy music. You’re right.)

    Bottom line: people weren’t evil or the spawn of Satan. Well, no more than most. It was the sixties and then the seventies. The changes in the liturgy hit at the same time as the folk/rock youthquake. Who knew what was going on? It was not pretty. On that we can all agree. But we lived through it. The Spirit is with the church, and in the end we all hope to be in the heavenly choir. (Where I’ll be very sad if we sing Sons of God, but I’ll bet we won’t have to sing To Be Alive, because we won’t be.)

    Side note: I was in St. Peter’s basilica this fall for a mass with 8000 people and the music sounded like the teen youth guitar group of a Sunday evening. Now *that* was sad. Tragic, even. So, promise me it won’t be like that in heaven….

  85. APX says:

    Fear not! The Missa Bossa Nova is alive and well in liturgical use.
    At first I didn’t recognize it because the version Fr. Z posted was missing the tambourine and was in the original translation. I’m only 26 and I’ve heard this used at Mass.

    The Gloria actually says “to men of good will”.

    Probably the worst Mass song I’ve heard thus far has been this one:
    Whip out the lighters, sway along and feel the Spirit of Vatican II mooove you. Groooovey.
    Okay, from a musical perspective, it’s not that bad, and I confess I’ve already downloaded it from iTunes, but for Mass…no.

  86. kjh says:

    that “Bossa Nova Our Father” was really cool, cat… :(

    How bad that was! Some of the songs are not that bad (thinking of something like “Take Our Bread”), but they should never have found their way into the Liturgy…

    And I don’t like the “Praise and Worship” music at Masses (“youth” Masses, so to speak) – but I especially don’t like the introduction of drums, etc. into their ensembles.

    My wife seems to think that this kind of music was necessary to keep the youth of that time engaged with the Church. I can’t say that I agree with that, and I think that the general trend that resulted in the OCP “hymns” of today definitely was a bad thing! So – I’ll say that I think that these songs were probably a major detriment to the development of the liturgy.

  87. kjh says:

    re: @ccrino “Sons of God, hear His holy word…” – yikes! memories…

  88. Trad Tom says:

    I am horrified and somewhat embarrassed to say that I was able to sing along with both songs! Obviously we sang them at Mass; I never stayed away even one Sunday. The euphemism at my parish was the 9:30 “Contemporary Mass.” Thank God those days are over; however, it isn’t much better at my “active participation” Mass of today: it’s the same old Haugen, Haas, St. Louis Jesuits dreck.

  89. rcg says:

    Went to a rock mass on Holy Family Sunday. The Gather hymnal had a forward wherein they remarked at how far the folk mass had come from the simple guitar and drums, to now include amplified basses and electronic music! That was pretty painful.

  90. APX says:

    The Gather hymnal had a forward wherein they remarked at how far the folk mass had come from the simple guitar and drums, to now include amplified basses and electronic music!

    Actually, that’s nothing new. It’s actually A LOT tamer now than what existed in the 70s.

  91. dnicoll says:

    Oh. My. Word.

    Now I know why the guitar twangers at our church are so bad if they were encouraged by this rubbish. (Our orgsn is marginally better but not much – we actually sound better without music which is saying something).

  92. mendezjb says:

    There was nothing wrong with those songs. Except the lyrics, the singing, the music, the instruments, the Protestant-ness, and it’s complete unsuitability for divine worship. Other than that it was great!

  93. Springkeeper says:

    LOL! It sounds EXACTLY like all the music at the Baptist church I left a year or so ago. Thanks for another reminder of why I’m glad I’m finally home!

  94. Cassie says:


    OK, I’m seriously thinking I might have to go to confession for watching that Elvis clip. Horrifying, really. Ugh. It made my skin crawl. I could only get through about 10 seconds of it.
    My dad is a big Elvis fan. I have to make sure this is NOT on the TV when we’re over at my parents’ house. I don’t want my children seeing that!
    I had forgotten about these songs – yes, we sang them all when I was growing up in the Diocese of Rochester in the 70s. No comment on whether they are still being sung (assuming there are any churches still open there in which they could be sung – pray for that Diocese!).
    Where I am now, an excellent priest I know (convert from Southern Baptist) made a point about worship once – and how God has shown us how He wishes to be worshipped, and yet we often insist on doing it our way. He drew the following analogy: when he was a child, he asked his mom (as we all do) what she wanted for her birthday, she always said something such as, “I want you to keep your room clean” or “I want you to get along with your siblings”. Being a mom of four I have done the same thing and I am sincere when I say it. He then went on to say that he usually went and bought her something (often with his dad’s money) she didn’t ask for, and didn’t give her what she DID ask for. He said that the presents he gave her weren’t “bad”,they were nice presents, and she did appreciate them, but they weren’t what she asked for.
    He said that’s how it is with our worship of the Lord. He’s shown us how to do it, He has told us what is pleasing to Him, but we give Him something else.
    I guess because it makes US feel good.
    Not quite the point, is it?

  95. Charlotte Allen says:

    Strangely enough, a lot of the stuff isn’t that bad. The Missa Bossa Nova Sanctus is at least a part of the Mass, and musically speaking, it’s pretty good–much better than the monotonous drivel by, say, Dan Schutte and Bernadette Farell, that we have to sing at Mass today. Ray Repp (back before he left the priesthood and got into gay grandfatherhood) was not untalented as a composer. And the version of his “I Am the Bread of Life” on the Folk Mass website preserves Jesus’ original words–“I will raise him up. It was before the radical feminists decided that Jesus was a sexist and changed the line to the more PC “I will raise you up.” You can see that those 1960s composers and arrangers were far more technically accomplished and musically literate than today’s composers of “contemporary” church music. The problem is that none of that music belongs in a Catholic liturgy. But it would be fine in a Jars of Clay concert.

    I loved all the period 1960s stuff–those album covers! Also the photos. There’s one of some of the folky singers. They’re standing in front of the altar in a Catholic church. But it’s a traditional ad orientem high altar with the six high candlesticks flanking the tabernacle, the kind of altar that every Catholic church had. The photo obviously from the brief period before the progressive pastors remodeled the churches and threw all that stuff out. The singers in the photo are strikingly young–in contrast to the strikingly middle-aged folk musicians who visit that very same music upon us at Mass today. It’s a snapshot of a brief, naive, and vanished few years when there was still enough of the edifice of traditional Catholic culture and traditional Catholic institutions left standing that the youthful liturgical innovations seemed harmless and fun. But then the traditional infrastructure collapsed, the young people took over, and as they aged they moved into positions of power where they could do a lot of harm. And so we got the mess of today. Even that UTube clip from “A Change of Habit” seems charming: Yes, Elvis is the cantor, but the nuns are in their traditional habits, the priest is in his traditional chasuble, and the ladies in the congregation are all in dressy Sunday dresses and hats.

  96. Jim Ryon says:

    rjim4321, Steubenville is orthodox, but hardly trad (if by the epithet trad you mean traditional). Some of their masses, remind one the videos of the LA closing liturgies that Father posted.

  97. Rich says:


  98. jedesto says:

    It’s time to revive the SMMMHDH (Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas). That won’t solve our problems with church music, but it could be a start.

  99. Charlotte Allen says:

    About “A Change of Habit”: I’ve never seen the movie, but I googled it. The plot seems to involve some nuns who decide to work in a black-ghetto charity clinic run by “Dr.” Elvis Presley. Because the Protestant blacks are leery of Catholic nuns, the nuns, including Sister Mary Tyler Moore, doff their habits and wear secular dress while at the clinic. Dr. Elvis, not knowing that Sister Mary Tyler Moore is a nun, falls in love with her, and she in turn gets a crush on the King. What I think that last scene in the movie on YouTube signifies–with Sister Mary Tyler Moore back in her habit at Mass and Dr. Elvis leading the congregation in a gospel-inspired hymn–is that both have reconciled themselves to the fact that love between them cannot be. Sister Mary will always have a warm spot in her heart for Dr. Elvis, but her true vocation is in the Church. That doesn’t seem so bad–and it’s a plot in line with earlier Hollywood movies about attractive nuns who are temporarily tempted by fetching men (I’m thinking of “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison” starring Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum) but who in the end remain true to their vows. Of course, if “Change of Habit” were made today, Sister Mary would realize that the Catholic Church is an oppressive, evil, patriarchal institution standing arbitrarily in the way of true happiness with Dr. Elvis–and she’d leap out of that pew and run out of the church with him a la “The Graduate.”

  100. my kidz mom says:

    gaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!! **runs from the room SCREAMING**

  101. A.D. says:

    I wasn’t going to listen to the Bosa Nova “Holy Holy”, because I figured no such abomination ever happened in my parish. No such luck. I listened anyway and I could instantly sing the whole thing. We sung this repeatedly and with great gusto, as I recall now.

    As for the new translation, I’m sure it’s a step in the right direction. However, I keep stumbling over the “and with your spirit”. I realize now it would be easier for me if it were “Dominus vobiscum” with the “et cum spiritu tuo” response.

  102. claiborneinmemphis says:

    My parish is sooooo cool that the ‘minister of liturgical music’ arose during Mass last week to announce (via her microphone) that even though “Rise Up Jerusalem” is no longer in our hymn books, she was certain that most of us knew it by heart, and by golly she was gonna play it for our recessional song.
    And she did.
    And most sang loudly and with great gusto.
    And there was some foot-stomping to the beat.
    And, yes, at the conclusion, there was raucous applause.


    I reaaaaaally love it there.

  103. Indulgentiam says:

    I listened to about 44 seconds of “To Be Alive…” before my left eye started twitching and i had to stop. I just couldn’t bring myself to go near the “Bosa Nova” YIKES! Sadly this is nothing and i mean NOTHING compared to what goes on at “spanish mass” very small m. AH YA YIA ! mariachi guitars, accordions, maracas… NO i’m not kidding. The Lord in his great mercy delivered us from that nightmare over a year ago. I now travel, and i mean TRAVEL, to a neighboring state, to a small Church, in a really bad neighborhood, for the Traditional Latin Mass. And brother am I GRATEFUL!!! “lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” the unalterable truth.

  104. NoTambourines says:

    I salute you. I made it exactly 18 seconds into “To Be Alive.” Then again, in a rodeo, you only have to hang on for 8 seconds.

    The bossa nova reminded me of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado.” Not because it was suave and mellow and had Stan Getz on tenor sax, but because the guitars at the opening were indeed… “slightly off key.”

  105. Geometricus says:

    I actually read all 104 comments, something I never do at blogs. The comments are more fun than the videos.

    Of course the music is inappropriate for mass, but add on the stilted way it was mis-performed in most parishes and you have a disaster. Thank God for Fr. Z, Benedict XVI and the reform of the reform.

    Fr. Z will remember fondly how he steered me away from stuff like this in the ’90’s when he was an associate at my parish in the Twin Cities. I will always be grateful for his encouragement to embrace my musical heritage as a Catholic, a heritage that “no one can take away from you.” I now run my own chant group that sings regularly at both OF and EF masses in the Twin Cities. Thanks Fr. Z!!

  106. quixoticfreak says:

    Holy. Cow.

  107. Taylor says:

    Well, I must admit that the music has an energizing effect. HOWEVER, it is not fit for worship. That is obvious to me. The music is all about the music – selfishly oriented. Thanks for posting this.

  108. Kathleen10 says:

    In our churches in Connecticut we are typically treated to Protestant hymns most weeks, sometimes all the music is in that vein, so it’s definitely an improvement over these examples. But oh to hear gospel songs that should be full of emotion like in The Color Purple sung so slowly and somberly by our reticent Catholics…I yearn for Gregorian Chant…To be fair though, last week our choir sung Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel so beautifully we all were quite attentive and appreciative….

  109. Kathleen10 says:

    I must tell you all that I am so often uplifted by the spirit found by your comments, so I have to thank Father Z and all of you. It’s heaven to find a place where kindred spirits gather. You all know so much about the Mass and different particulars, I often have no idea to what you are referring, but your chat is awesome. Thank you!

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