Exploding the canard of a dichotomy between liturgical solemnity and ministry to the poor

Some years ago, when in my church in Italy I regularly had sung Novus Ordo Masses in Latin, with Gregorian chant and polyphony by Palestrina and Giovanelli, I was accused by liberal priests that I was not allowing the poor and the simple people to “participate”.   That was absurd, of course.  The idiot argument ran that the poor and the simple (a typically liberal condescension) didn’t appreciate or understand chant or polyphony.  Therefore, using that sort of music was somehow oppressive.  (My retort was that they though that beauty was only for the wealthy elite.  Keep in mind that those clerics were probably Communists.)

The fact of the matter was, however, that the church was more and more crowded on the days we had the glorious music, as word got around, by precisely the simple and poor people of the neighborhood.  It helped that the choir was outstanding, as is typical of small Italian towns.

I reject the liberal elitist attitude that the simple people – down there around their liberal ankles – must be fed a stream of bland pabulum, unworthy of sacred liturgical worship, beneath our true Catholic identity.

There is a fine piece today from The Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly.  The article helps to explode the a shallow and false liberal trope, namely, that doctrine is opposed to charity, that the intellectual is opposed to the pastoral, that elevated liturgical worship denies something to Los Pobres.

Preaching in Rome last Holy Thursday Pope Francis exhorted priests to be like shepherds who “take on the smell of their sheep”. This is an image that could have been crafted with Fr Wilfrid Faber in mind. While founding the London Oratory in the middle of the 19th century, Faber not only lived with the odour of his flock; he also exposed himself to the contagions that infected it and even gave nourishment to its fleas.

Blessed Pope Pius IX had asked the English Oratorians to employ themselves primarily in the conversion and instruction of the “educated classes”. The opening of the London Oratory in its first premises near the Strand, however, coincided with an overwhelming influx of Irish immigrants fleeing famine. Faber immediately found himself immersed in corporal works of mercy among the capital’s most desperate inhabitants.

Within two months of opening in May 1849, his new chapel had to be closed for de-infestation. The stench inside was said to bring on fits. Cholera and influenza were endemic in the neighbourhood. Fleas had invaded the Fathers’ cassocks, confessionals and rooms.

Faber suffered sleepless nights because of the itching. He nevertheless summoned enough energy to establish the Company of St Patrick, enlisting laity as “visitors” to patrol the local slums and “affectionately force” the Catholics they found there to return to the sacraments. [Read: A model for the New Evangelization?] The Company opened reading rooms across London and encouraged social cohesion through concerts and other entertainments. In Bloomsbury the Fathers opened the first Catholic “Ragged School”.

With the Oratory’s re-location to a more tranquil base in South Kensington in 1854, Faber might have imagined himself free to minister to the spiritual formation of his “poor Belgravians”. But the real poor followed him. A contemporary account describes Catholics from “the vile purlieus of Drury Lane” making pilgrimages across Hyde Park to be elevated by “all that is grand and solemn and sublime in the ceremonies of the Church”. Evidently there was no suggestion in those days of any dichotomy between solemnity in liturgy and ministry to the poor. Worshipping God in the beauty of holiness was seen as an instrument of “social outreach” in itself.


That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

You may not be aware that Fr. Faber penned some of the hymns people tend to enjoy singing, such as “Faith of Our Fathers”.

There is a lot more to this article and I encourage you to go over there and read the whole thing.  Fr. Large is a fine writer.  Farther along he drills into the complex character of Fr. Faber as well as the spirit of St. Philip Neri (a great personal patron of mine, on whose feast I was ordained).

Fr. Z Kudos to Fr. Large!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. mamajen says:

    We had similar discussions in architecture school. Modernism stripped buildings of their character and meaning. Social housing projects using the new “style” emphasizing function over form failed miserably (probably, in part, because the function they were pushing for was engineered and unnatural for human beings). Now we have people attempting to copy and paste history and meaning onto new buildings, and that never quite works. There was a reason for every little detail in a medieval cathedral. Much of the ornamentation was intended specifically for the poor and illiterate, so they could learn in a visual way even if they couldn’t understand the words.

    Speaking for myself, I understand very little Latin, but a beautifully sung mass can still send chills up my spine. I don’t have a lot, but I have a keen sense of, and appreciation for, quality in all things. And I can’t stand condescension.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful post about beauty. I recall a recent argument that beauty in church and liturgy is all the more appreciated by the poor, especially the very poor and impoverished, when they see so little beauty otherwise in their everyday lives.

  3. I have 7 children and we are not wealthy. We would attend music with sacred polyphony over modern music any day because it is offers us hope; hope in something not of this world. The mass is a step out of the natural into the supernatural. It is a glimpse of glorious heaven from a withering world. When we present the mass with mediocrity and contrived sentiments, our children see right through the nonsense and their attention wanes and their interest in prayer, religion, and God is a missed opportunity. When we attend a mass with sacred polyphony and all the glories of our heavenly worship, then I see my children playing mass for the next 2 weeks, interested in prayer again, and energized about catechism. Sacred polyphony, the art and architecture of our Roman Catholic heritage are meant to inspire . . . and it works.

  4. Lepidus says:

    I’m willing to bet that Fr. Faber didn’t write the version of Faith of Our Fathers that’s in the Gather hymnal (except for the first verse). In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the state of perpetual grave spinning over that!

  5. frahobbit says:

    I wonder if that is the same Father Faber whose hymns and short prayers are featured so prominently in Father Lasance’s “The Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book” ?

  6. Late for heaven says:

    AMEN Henry Edwards!!

    As someone who has been poor all my life I heartily concur. In my desperately poor childhood the church was a haven, a place to feed my starving soul on Beauty. All around me at home was threadbare and cheap and chaotic but through the Church I could escape all that oppressive ugliness.

    I had an argument recently with my lapsed leftist son. He was repeating the trope that the Church should sell all her art and other beautiful things to feed the poor. I almost shouted at him that all that patrimony is MINE, all that beauty belongs to ME, because I am Catholic. I am poor and cannot buy my own pretties to hide away for my own private pleasure. This sense of corporate ownership in some of the best artwork in history gives me a sense of dignity that rarely graces the lives of the poor. I may not be able to point to my palatial home or precious heirlooms, but my mite contributes to the most beautiful artwork in the world, art that adorns the Kingdom of God on earth.

    To be sure my poverty these days is relative and I now can make beautiful art myself by the grace of God. However, I remember, I know that the Church feeds her children not only in the sacraments but also with beauty and orderliness and transcendence.

  7. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    But, Father; but, Father!

    Don’t you realize that there are two kinds of people in the world: “the haves” and “the have-nots” – that “the haves” are those who have gone to the right schools, where they took advanced degrees in the right fields of study, and were able to choose the right lines of work, get jobs with the the right firms, make the right investments (with infusions of Daddy’s money, of course), purchase the right kinds of houses in the right neighborhoods (also with ditto, of course), and along the way have had trips to Europe and tickets to symphony concerts, ballet and opera . . . they can appreciate classical music and other forms of beauty which demand some educational prepration . . .

    . . . whereas “the have-nots” spend their free time listening to God knows what barbaric so-called music on radio stations other than NPR, attend community college, or else no college at all, and live in squalid rental apartments, where they sup each evening on MacDonald’s hamburgers and fries from which they wipe the grease around their mouths with their sleeves (if they even wear shirts to the table). (If they even sit at a table, as opposed to sprawling upon an array of immense La-Z-Boy recliners ranged around their big-screen TV.) The very thought! God help us!

    If such as the latter had inflicted on them a rendition of Gregorian chant or polyphony by Palestrina, or by anyone else, they would in all likelihood sooner or later, react by raising their faces ceilingward and letting out actual howls like wolves.

    Now, we can’t have that in Church!

    Best to keep the music in Church as . . . simple . . . as accessible as it is, now . . . for the sake of inclusion of those for whom, you know, remembering to breathe with their mouths closed represents as demanding an intellectual challenge as they are capable of tackling.

    I hope you will reconsider your position, Father!

  8. samwise says:

    Holy Family Soup Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio is the longest operating in the city. Interestingly, it is also connected to the only parish that offers latin Mass regularly: Holy Family. This is due, I think, to the building’s location near downtown.

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    “they can appreciate classical music and other forms of beauty which demand some educational prepration . . .”

    The sad thing is that people who are actually educated about music, today, can scarcely even find work, whereas the people with money are those of degraded musical tastes, like Rappers.

    The real problem is that music in churches has become a social, “habit,” and not an actual chance to raise the mind and heart to God. Music for Mass, today, has become an unthinking music, that is sung by automatons. Real Church music demands an active engagement of the body, the mind, and the soul. Of course, if the vast majority of people listening to music (any music) today, realized that they do so in the presence of God, they might blush. Try turning on that heavy metal song and pretend it’s a prayer. Pretty disgusting, isn’t? On the other hand, “Send in the Clowns,” makes a lovely, wistful prayer. People can’t tell good Church music from bad Church music, largely, I suspect, because they can no longer tell good prayer from bad prayer. Try pretending that Lord of the Danse is a prayer addressed to the Almighty and see how ashamed it makes you feel. I think we need this, “prayer test,” as a way to judge appropriate Church music. Why do the poor appreciate polyphony and chant? Because they know how to pray. They know what prayer sounds like, what it feels like, and they find the same sounds and feelings in chant.

    The Chicken

  10. backtothefuture says:

    The liturgy feeds both poor and rich.

  11. La Sandia says:

    Well said Father. You could also mention that no less a friend to the poor and marginalized than Dorothy Day was supposedly quite traditional in her devotional practices and piety–the Rosary, Adoration, even wearing a mantilla after such practices had fallen to the wayside for most Catholics. I’m not familiar with every aspect of her life but from what I understand she would be quite surprised to hear people say that there is a contradiction between traditional expressions of the Faith and care for the poor and oppressed.

  12. Heather F says:

    Holy Family Parish in Toronto is located in Parkdale, a rather low-income neighbourhood. When I first moved to Toronto, it was my local parish. It and its near neighbour, St. Vincent de Paul, are served by the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. They minister to the poor in the neighbourhood, certainly. But they also take their liturgy seriously, offer plenty of masses in both the OF and EF, operate a seminary, have a wonderful professional choir and offer a sung Latin Mass every week (when I lived in the neighbourhood, it was a Latin OF – it is now in the EF and I’m planning on bringing my RCIA group there on a “field trip” in the new year).

    There is no dichotomy. Where else can the poor experience such beauty for free?

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  14. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    In Latin countries, wearing a mantilla (veil) for special occasions, including church occasions, has always been the norm, and the custom persists today among many families.

    In much of the U.S. up until the early 1960s, women customarily wore hats, gloves, skirts or dresses, and high-heels when they went out for any purpose other than the most casual social visits or workaday errands. The custom of wearing the mantilla instead of a hat to church was by no means unknown throughout the U.S. generally, but it was encountered much more frequently in areas of the U.S. with a significant Latino population; in areas of the country with a much lower number of Latino residents (up until the 1960s, that is), such as New England and the Upper Midwest, to see the mantilla in church would have been fairly unusual.

    A crepe veil with a hat would have been worn by English-speaking women for a funeral.

    My impression is that Opus Dei, founded by the Spanish priest Saint Josemaria Escriva, has helped to popularize the mantilla even in those parts of the U.S. where the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of the local population would almost universally have worn hats to church.

    The traditional church head-covering for most English speaking women in the U.S. (at least north of the 38th parallel) was the hat, and not the mantilla.

    Nothing wrong with mantillas; they’re charming. But for women who haven’t themselves been into wearing a mantilla, a hat or scarf has always been a perfectly acceptable head covering in church.

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  16. Nan says:

    MAM, cleaning out my mom’s house, I found an inexplicable mantilla, in a little plastic case. I know it wasn’t hers and can only suppose that my grandma bought it on a trip to Rome, probably because that trip took place around 1970, when polyester pantsuits had become the norm and women no longer wore hats.

  17. Transportsjoie says:

    Having been a professional organist and choir director for 40 years, who do you think (by and large) are those who drill Palestrina, Vittoria, and others into their choirs? The poor!! Many Church musicians, including myself, would be considered poor – and some of us have chosen poverty or a simple life in order to devote our time to our art.
    What does “poor” mean? Does it mean not having the resources to own a car ( insurance here in Canada is probably twice what US residents pay) travel or own a home? Not having these things in no way implies that a person is lacking in intelligence or education. Some of us “poor” are highly educated. We know how to prepare gourmet meals on the cheap and also dress better than most people who come to Mass.

  18. AMTFisher says:

    Lepidus, have you seen the original verses? If we hadn’t been overrun by the Spirit of Political Correctness, Tolerance, Relativism, and the like, we could be singing verses like:
    Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
    Were still in heart and conscience free:
    How sweet would be their children’s fate,
    If they, like them, could die tor thee!
    Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
    We will be true to thee till death.

    Faith of our fathers, we will strive
    To win all nations unto Thee;
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    We all shall then be truly free.
    Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
    We will be true to thee till death!

    Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
    Shall win our country back to Thee;
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    England shall then indeed be free.
    Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
    We will be true to thee till death!

    But instead, why not sing happier lyrics about our inclusive-ness? That will definitely teach people how to practice our faith in the culture….

  19. John Nolan says:

    I’ve never encountered the Gather hymnal, but Faber’s ‘Faith of our Fathers’ doesn’t make sense in a non-English context. “Faith of our Fathers! Mary’s prayers/Shall win our country back to thee:/And through the truth that comes from God,/England shall then indeed be free.”

    Even the first verse, which refers to the Elizabethan persecution, and the title itself, which recalls pre-Reformation England, are not really exportable.

  20. StWinefride says:

    St. Philip Neri (a great personal patron of mine, on whose feast I was ordained).

    Father Z, you mentioned the other day that you like Padre Pio, did you know that 26 May is also the anniversary of Padre Pio’s baptism? There is a board with all his dates in the little church Sant’Anna in Pietrelcina just round the corner from where he was born. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his First Holy Communion and Confirmation – 27 September.


    San Pio, prega per noi!

  21. Gail F says:

    Back in the day when all the priests wore lace and brocade and the music was all chant and Palestrina and it was all formalized and in Latin no one EVER helped the poor. There were no Catholic charities, hospitals, schools or — wait a minute….

  22. MarkG says:

    I’ve gone to TLMs (mostly unofficial) since the 1970’s, and I’ve never seen a correlation between financial status and attendance. The local SSPX Chapel has cars ranging from Lexus SUVs all the day down to 1990’s used cars still in service (no bus service available). The local FSSP parish even has people getting off the city bus stop in front. I actually consider TLMs a better mix of income levels than the average parish.

  23. Lepidus says:

    AMTFisher – Yep! I remember that well – back in the 70’s and 80’s when my parish used Paluch instead of OCP. A few years back, I was helping a family member choose some music for a funeral. I was going to recommend that hymn…until I saw the disaster that it has become. I especially liked the 2nd verse (or the first one that you copied above). However, once I saw what the radical feminists did to it, I kept my (former) suggestion to my self.

    John Nolan – I’ve never seen the verses that refer to England before either. If that was part of Fr. Faber’s original, I would assume that they were dropped when sung elsewhere. The current version from the “peace and justice” crowd has verse two as the following. I can’t find the rest of them with my resources at the moment, but safe to say there is nothing about “dying for Thee”.

    Our mothers, too, oppressed and wronged
    Still lived their faith with dignity;
    Their brave example gives us strength
    To work for justice ceaselessly.

  24. Look at old paintings of the great priest saints like Philip Neri and Ignatius, and see the rich vestments they wore…. And then try to convince me that this hindered them from serving the poor!

    We are living in an iconoclastic period and the poor are suffering for it!

  25. Isn’t it Fr Frederick William Faber who composed those Hymns and gave us some great spiritual works like All for Jesus and Under the Cross.
    Or is Wilfrid Faber the same priest as Frederick?

  26. Michelle F says:

    Claiming that only “educated” people can appreciate art and music is like claiming only “educated” people can tell the difference between perfume and manure.

  27. AMTFisher says:

    Lepidus and John Nolan,
    Outside of the English context, that verse doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it could easily be changed to fit an American (or many other nation’s names) if you play around with the words a little.
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    America shall then be free.

    And hey, if the govt forces the Church underground in the next few decades, we’ll definitely need it ;)

  28. StWinefride says:

    AMTFisher, Lepidus:

    The fourth verse to Faith of Our Fathers goes:

    Faith of our fathers! we will love
    Both friend and foe in all our strife;
    And preach thee too, as love knows how,
    By kindly words and virtuous life.

    This hymn is always sung, with much gusto, at the London Oratory at the end of the Rosary Crusade of Reparation!


  29. Moro says:

    I love this. We need our liturgy to be so beautiful and irresistible that people can’t help but want to be part of the Church. It should be such that like the emissaries of St. Vladimir the faithful don’t know whether they are in heaven or on earth. No need to make the rest of us suffer through the off key screaming of “Jesus es mi alma” out of “respect” for the “poor and opressed” as a response to “la voz del pueblo”

  30. Transportsjoie says:

    According to “Jubilee Hymns”, a booklet published by the Archdiocese of Toronto in 1942, a Fr. Faber also wrote “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All” – such a beautiful hymn and such a shame that it was removed from nearly all post Vatican II hymnbooks. We need to hear this hymn again, and again:
    “Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all!
    How can I love Thee as I ought?
    And how revere this wondrous gift,
    so far surpassing hope or thought?
    Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
    O make us love Thee, more and more;
    O make us love Thee, more and more.

  31. Stumbler but trying says:

    “sung Novus Ordo Masses in Latin, with Gregorian chant and polyphony by Palestrina and Giovanelli”
    Sounds so beautiful and something I long for.

    “I was accused by liberal priests that I was not allowing the poor and the simple people to “participate”. ”

    Sheer hogwash…I bet the folks at my parish would be amazed at how much more we can adore in the beauty of silence and uplifting chant. The loud singing (out of tune I might add) and the drums and whatnot are just too distracting and I pray not to be critical but it is a struggle. Father has a wonderful voice though…I think I may approach him one day and ask him about Gregorian chant and more reverent music. He is approachable and very friendly.

    Please pray for me to do so and hope that he will consider it. I live in L.A. where, God forgive me, the liturgy is not what it can gloriously be.

  32. Traductora says:

    I’ve never understood the theory that “the poor” don’t need anything beautiful. It’s not only condescending, it’s cold and heartless and treats other people as if they were just social services cases.

    But that’s my whole objection to the constant mention (in things such as the dread “Intercessions” or even some of the propers of the Novus Ordo) of “the poor,” because it implies that “the poor” are somehow some other breed of creature and really could never be found among us fat and glossy people with our GIA missals.

  33. Legisperitus says:

    Fr. Faber had a special devotion to St. Wilfrid, but his own name was Frederick.

  34. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    How many are inculturated or peer-pressured into resisting things immediately delighful (or only enjoying them secretly) because such music, art, archtecture, etc., is supposedly ‘too highbrow’, etc.?

  35. vetusta ecclesia says:

    The Oxford Movement, which led to modern High Church Anglicanism (and to the Ordinariate) , flourished in the slums of Victorian Britain where the pastors worked with dedication with the poor while their churches and worship brought beauty, dignity and a sense of the sublime to drab lives of chronic deprivation.

  36. StWinefride says:

    There is an article on the Oxford Movement mentioned by ‘vetusta ecclesia’ here:


    (my emphasis)
    …These slum churches and their priests are far too many to mention, but their audacity and their piety are to be marvelled at. The Church of England, at this time, looked upon ritual as a wicked aping of a Papist Church. Vestments were horrific to most, and yet in places such as the mission church of St George’s in the East, thuribles were swung, genuflecting was encouraged, the sign of the cross was made frequently, devotion to the blessed sacrament was taken for granted. Confessions were heard, holy anointing was practised. Here a group of priests, led by Fr Charles Lowder, were carrying through their interpretation of the Tractarian message. The poor must be brought the ministry of Christ, in the celebration of the sacraments and the preaching of the gospel.

    Beauty and holiness were to go into the midst of squalor and depression, as a witness to the Catholic faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, present and active in his world. And, perhaps most significantly, the sick and dying were to receive this sacramental presence as far as was possible. Deathbed confessions, the oil of unction, even, occasionally, communion from the reserved sacrament became the priests’ weapons against, for example, the appalling East London cholera epidemic of 1866…”

  37. Vecchio di Londra says:

    What is extraordinary about Fr Faber, and what it shows us is possible to God, and to anyone dependent on God, is how he packed so much work into such a short life.
    After some years as an Anglican parish Rector, he was already 33 when he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1845. When he died at the young age of 49, within those fifteen years, he had founded a Catholic parish church in a gin-shop in what was then a crowded and notoriously crime-ridden and pestilent area of London near the Strand (Dickens was haunted by his childhood memories of this district) a district teeming with poor and flea-ridden workers, many of them Irish immigrants; he had then founded and almost entirely built a uniquely large, splendid and exquisite baroque Catholic basilica (The London Oratory) – was famous throughout the country not just as a formidable preacher, in an age where that was almost a form of art and political activity, but also for his movingly devout celebration of Holy Mass and his effectiveness as a confessor. His kindness and wisdom drew in rich and poor alike and made countless conversions. He somehow found time to write many instructive books, as well as hymns, and three volumes of poetry.
    I see his ‘Spiritual Conferences’ are available http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Conferences-Rev-Frederick-William/dp/0895550792/ref=pd_sim_b_1
    and his book on ‘Kindness’. Faber’s style, though Victorian, is lively and forceful.
    His message always seems to echo what Fr Z has been saying about the need to see a dedication to the purity of the liturgy with a dedication to good works (the chapters are ‘Kindness in General/Kind Thoughts/Kind Words/Kind Actions’):-
    “[Man] has one power in particular which is not sufficiently dwelt on…It is the power of making the world happy, or at least, of so greatly diminishing the amount of unhappiness in it as to make it quite a different world from what it is at present. This power is called kindness.”

  38. jbpolhamus says:

    It was also suggested to Fr. Faber while the Oratory was still in King William Street, that as it had become so popular with both the wealthy and the odiferous poor, that separate masses should be held in order not to offend the noses of the wealthy and important parishioners. Faber refused in bald terms. It is a characteristic part of the London Oratorian experience that solemn liturgy is no bar to the expression of joy, and that its appeal, when projected earnestly and consistently, spans the economic spectrum. Make no mistake about it, however, it’s a complete experience, musically, artistically, liturgically, doctrinally. It all goes together, and the faithful appreciate it. Cut off a leg, and the body will eventually collapse.

  39. THREEHEARTS says:

    Before anyone of this age writes or talks about Father Frederick William Faber, they should read what a contemporary of both Faber and Newman writes about them both. The best of them all is “Faber’s works, life and letters”. Fr Faber was just about to the working classes the best of all and most loved of all priests. Fr you are wrong about Faith of our Fathers. The words are fabers but the music is no longer his the music he wrote truly “Stirs one’s breast”. [Did I say he wrote the music? BTW… there are two musical settings of the hymn that I know of.] I cannot remember a week as a catholic growing up in england not singing this hymn along with his music. My father was named for him as were so many other men in the church of my fathers time. In Fr. Bowdens book there is are two truly delightful mstories one on how they got rid of the fleas and two after preaching retreats to the Irish girls, who became prostitutes to survive when all else failed Fr Frederick got down on his kness before them and prayed, “How can I touch your hearts? I have prayed to Jesus; I have prayed to Mary: to whom shall I pray next? Im will pray to you my dear Irish children, to have mercy on your own souls”. The whole congregation fell on their knees and nothing was heard except their sobs and their prayers.

  40. John Nolan says:

    My favourite hymn of Faber’s is his evening hymn “Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go”, containing such lines as “Do more than pardon; give us joy,/Sweet fear and sober liberty” and “Labour is sweet, for Thou hast toiled;/And care is light, for Thou hast cared”.

    “Faith of our Fathers” is a stirring affirmation of Catholic identity in a country where the state protestant religion is dominant, and the former Catholic churches and cathedrals are in the hands of heretics, something that doesn’t obtain in America. It is a plea for the conversion of England. At Benediction we still say the “Prayer for England”, written by Merry del Val, which asks Our Lady to “look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry” and to “intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the chief shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son”.

  41. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Following up on Vecchio di Londra and Timothy Ephesus’ comments, there are lots of works by and about Faber in the Internet Archive (he was an Arthurian poet, among other things – there’s even a German translation of his Sir Lancelot), and Kindness is read aloud at LibriVox.org.

    R.H. Benson’s autobiographical Confessions of a Convert (also available at both Internet Archive and LibriVox) gives a vivid glimpse of his own work with the poor, later in the century.

  42. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In the course of his interesting comment above, The Masked Chicken says, “Try turning on that heavy metal song and pretend it’s a prayer.” Well, sometimes you do not have to pretend.

    Sir Christopher Lee’s concept album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross would better be described as symphonic than ‘heavy’ metal, but includes a fair bit of prayer, including a chorus singing St. Luke 23:16 as adapted in the Response at Compline and Psalm 70:23 in Latin in response to Charlemagne praying verses 9 and 18 of that Psalm. This is obviously dramatic music, though it makes use of liturgical texts. (Compare the musically very different example of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.) Whether its deliberately ‘heavy metal’ successor, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, also has this element, I do not yet know.

    The Chicken also says, “People can’t tell good Church music from bad Church music, largely, I suspect, because they can no longer tell good prayer from bad prayer.” Where Psalms and other Biblical texts are concerned, the latter is not an issue. I think of the 2008 ‘unblack metal’ album, Day of Darkness and Blackness, by the group Fire Throne, with settings of Psalms 13 and 88 in English and of verses from other Psalms, Prophets, Exodus, and the Apocalypse in Polish and English. As far as the music goes, they seem to think, like various others before them, something like, ‘Why should the devil have all the good tunes?’ Whether you agree that it is a good style, or an appropriate one for the verses set, are further discussions. They are not, so far as I can see, intended as “Church music” in the sense of offered for liturgical use, but are, I believe, offered as alternatives to metal which glories in evil, for those who find certain musical styles of metal attractive. So, it seems worth attending to intended or appropriate use as well as textual and general musical qualities: for example, good ‘devotional’ music need not be apt for a liturgy.

  43. Missionary Greg says:

    Thank you for inviting me to post. An observation I made about a 375 year old Franciscan Mission Church and Monastery, the church is still an active church ,the monastery part is converted into a museum, there did not seem to be any conflict between High Church, service to the poor, or mission outreach i.e. evangegliztion . Most of all love of the Mass and the Eucharist was central. The Church is simple yet ornate with a beautiful wood carved high altar that exists today, flanking the Altar on either side is a wood carving of St. Francis and the other Our Lady. Although the poorest of the poor at the time the altar vestments ,which still survive,altar vessels and other implements for mass were of precious metal, the best they could do at the time, they still survive today. They did not buy these the wealthier Church obviously donated them.To me this was first of all a sign of respect to almighty God in the Eucharist and secondly respect for he poor . Respect for God by using the best they could give and to the poor Indians because it spoke of the meaning of the Mass This is Unique. For them evangelization was bringing the fullness of the Truth to the first missions here there was no conflict , no ecclesial tension . The Mass , The Mission, Preaching and Salvation. It is no wonder why Pope Benedict said we need to model our missionary efforts from the missionaries of old.

  44. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Further following up The Maked Chicken’s metal matters, the Christmas carol sampler loaded by the progressive power (rather than ‘heavy’) metal band, Theocracy, on their own official YouTube account, is worth considering – also in the context of Christmas carols generally, and ‘commercialized’ ones in particular. Theocracy retain more prayerful and theological text than is often the case with more ‘straightforward’ performances, in recent years, and their (instrumental) ‘Carol of the Bells’ strikes me as appealing (though probably not very accommodating to trying to sing a religious text, or Wilhousky’s, for that matter).

  45. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    And yet further: the Encyclopaedia Metallum in its geographical listings notes no bands for the Vatican City State. Would the formation of an unblack metal band there be an apt contibution to the New Evangalization?

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