Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sweet Music

Between the Pope and Kermit, it seems to be quite the musical week. You know how it is when you get something into your mind and can't seem to let it go? That's how it's been for me and liturgical music this week. Please bear with me.

I'm the first to confess I'm not a fan of Gregorian Chants. That said, I do own one CD full of them, and - in the right context - that music can fill my soul.

Maybe it's that I was a child of the 60s, or played too many guitar masses as a young girl. But, for me, at Sunday mass, I prefer something a little more 20th century...preferably with an edge.

Here are some of my favorites:

Open My Eyes. (Sample it here)
Go Make a Difference. (Sample it here.)
Tryin' To Get Ready. (Sample it here.)
One Bread, One Body. (Sample it here.)
In This Place. (Sample it here.)
Canticle of the Free. (Sample it here.)
Springs of Water. (Sample it here.)
What Wondrous Love. (Sample it here and imagine the lyrics.)

My, my. I feel a hear a new playlist in the works.

Do you have links to your favorite liturgical music?
Share them here!


At 8:10 AM, July 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember, going to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about us and what makes us feel good and is pleasing to the ear. It is about entering into the Paschal Mystery. We are present again at the foot of Calvary. Would you be clapping along, playing a 6 piece band complete with tamborines and drums then?

At 1:59 PM, July 03, 2006, Anonymous Inspector Fruiteau said...

Gee, Jesus sang a hymn after the last supper - and it wasn't a somber chant, it was a joyous hymn!

Oh, that all of us would experience the joy of our salvation at communion. I personally think that the 6 piece band, tamborines and drums is more appropriate. I fear that most of us are like Michal who chided King David for his inappropriate display before the Ark. When I remember the cross of Christ, it is not with somber sadness. It is with exhilarating joy.

The cross turns mourning into laughter, death into life. Rejoice!

At 10:21 PM, July 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say the music had to be somber, just an appropriate expression of reverance for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Anyway, Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, makes the following excellent points on appropriate music for the liturgy:

The choice of texts and music for the liturgy is not merely a question of personal taste but entails the deeper question of ecclesial communion.

In general the criteria used for the approval of suitable texts is that the hymn or song be inspired by Scripture or the liturgy although vested in a poetic form, and also that the text should be, in some way, a confession of faith, expressing perennial and orthodox truths rather than current issues.

In the case of Protestant hymns, they may be used in the liturgy provided they conform to Catholic doctrine. Any hymn that contains doctrine contrary to Catholic teachings, or is ambiguous, should not be used.

Liturgical melodies are there to assist prayer and should be distinctive in style and tone from worldly music. Their function is to elevate the spirit — not set the foot tapping or the imagination rolling.

Therefore, they should never be baptized versions of current hits — or, as is more common, hits from the previous generation — but should seek to express the religious value of the text for, in Catholic tradition, the text always has priority over the music and in a sense is its soul.

The dearth of good liturgical music is fairly understandable given that after the introduction of the vernacular, parishes found themselves almost overnight with the need for music adapted to the new liturgy. The repertoire of traditional vernacular and Latin compositions was unfortunately judged insufficient, or worse, out of fashion or irrelevant.

As Mozarts don't come a dime a dozen, and the need for new music was pressing, most parishes took what they could get and they got a lot of dross although some fine pieces were also composed.

Almost every country experienced a period of generally dreadful music, especially in the 1970s. In Spain, for example, many traditional American or English tunes were adapted with new words, raising tourists' eyebrows as they heard Spanish versions of "Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen" or "Land of Hope and Glory" belted out at Mass, or even the "Lord Have Mercy" and the "Sanctus" sung to the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "Help."

This invasion of the profane into the realm of the sacred is a recurring problem in Church music and has always been strenuously combated.

Around the time of the Council of Trent, for example, many bishops complained about the use of secular melodies as musical themes for polyphonic masses, such as the one inspired in a popular ditty called "Bacciami amica mia" (Kiss me, my dear). St. Pius X , both as bishop and Pope, also fought against the fashion of individualistic opera style music in Italian churches.

In recent years there has been marked, albeit slow, improvement in many places. Along with the recovery of many traditional songs, and even some return to the use of Gregorian chant and classic polyphony, some serious contemporary composers are addressing the problems of music for the liturgy.

Although it will probably take several decades, it is probable that a new corpus of good liturgical music will be formed in accordance with the principles of the Second Vatican Council and authentic Catholic tradition.

At 10:17 AM, July 04, 2006, Blogger CafeCath said...

Inspector - Nice shiny new blog you have there. Thanks for stopping by. Great comment. You're welcome here at the old Cafeteria anytime.

Anon - You said: "Liturgical melodies are there to assist prayer...elevate the spirit — not set the foot tapping or the imagination rolling." What if liturgical music could do all that, and then some? (I know it can!)

- CC

At 11:50 AM, July 04, 2006, Anonymous Deacon DW said...

I think that contemporary music can be appropriate when it is done well and shows thoughtful preparation. To kind of throw something together at the last minute is similar to faith without works, especially for those who were born with a guitar in their hand.

I posted a good example of 20th century music on my blog for Independence Day. Follow my homepage or name link to check it out.

I actually got the idea from hearing the song at the local University Catholic Center, where I sometimes go with my wife and kids. My wife likes it because it reminds her of the 60s and 70s. The Catholic Center offers a "laid back" atmosphere, of which I try not to be too critical.


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