As a twenty-something Roman Catholic, I have to ask, what is wrong with Eagles Wings, and Here I am Lord, and City of God?
I grew up with the hymnal "Glory and Praise". The Church I considered my home still has blue Glory and Praise hymnals. So for some of us, we don't really know what is the difference. Those are the songs that for me define Catholic, compared to some Protestant songs.
The Church I currently go to has Mass books with the Mass and the songs in the same book.
Please explain whats wrong with the above songs. I'll reply later, but I have to go to work now. So I'll see your response, but not for several hours.
Admittedly, some of the "Glory and Praise" songs sound like they could be pitching laundry detergent, but I really enjoy "I Am the Bread of Life" and "City of God" and "Seek Ye First..."
Wrong? I don't know if I would say wrong, more like, close but no cigar.
To my untrained ear a lot of the 1970's - 90's tunes are too choppy, too many eighth notes. Too much prancing about, not built for those of us from peasant stock. Not written to be sung by those with little confidence in their ability to sing. Just an opinion, but they won't last.
A lot of the traditionalists also point out that the lyric content is oriented toward I, I, I and not so much toward worship.
On Eagle's Wings is supposed to be based on Psalm 91 but I'll be darned if I can figure out where in Psalm 91 the refrain comes from:
And He will raise you up on eagle's wings, Bear you on the breath of dawn, Make you to shine like the sun, And hold you in the palm of His Hand.
Then there's the whole minor key to major key change in going from the verse to the refrain. The emotional tone seems a little forced.
Here I Am, Lord. Pretty good melody in the refrain, much better than the verse which always seems labored to me. Do you know the derivation of the phrase: I will hold Your people in my heart? I don't know why that phrase makes me grit my teeth but it does. Maybe if I knew it was based on Scripture, I could get used to it.
City of God? Can't comment, haven't heard that one enough recently. I could make a wise-ass comment about how I remember it but that would be pointless. I think maybe it's starting to fade from the scene.
There's nothing particularly wrong with any of the current tunes that are played over and over and over again but we tossed aside a lot of good tunes for no better reason than being 'up to date'. And we just follow OCP's suggestions for appropriate tunes without much thought. Some of the old tunes are still in the hymnals. They just don't get played. Why not?
Once in a while, I like singing something that has stood the test of time. In some way it connects me to everybody in the past that sang the same song.
I think the article makes a good point that OCP sells a whole product line that is helpful to most parishes with limited resources. Better than inventing the wheel from scratch. But they do have a particular vision of Catholic liturgy and they are only lay people with no particular authority.
The problem with these happy-clappy songs -- one problem, anyway -- is precisely the fact that they give pleasure. Sacred music should not be ugly, of course. But it should not be an aesthetic experience for its own sake. In some protestant traditions, church music exists to be manipulate enthusiasms, to sweep the hearers along, especially with rhythm and syncopation that seek an outlet in a physical response. This is very different from what it should be doing, which is supporting prayer. The happy-clappy songs are so busy and invasive that they destroy the inner serenity and composure most of us need for genuine prayer or contemplation to exist. Furthermore, they inhibit community worship, in that they separate the able singers from those less nimble. Sacred music should be a reflection of perfect communion, in which all of us are doing the same thing.
Music that derives from secular pop models denies the sense of the sacred, implying that whatever is good enough for us in our daily lives is good enough for God. It reinforces a subtext that the Church is really about progress and change and rejection of the old and pandering to the young. It prepares the ground for liturgical novelties of every sort. It lacks the vertical dimension and thus fails to lift the mind and heart. It is a reflection of our own trash culture, reinforcing the idea that even worship is all about us. In the end, it's our own self-image that we're worshipping, our own expectations that we serve, our own appetities that we gratify. In the end, this new music boils down to self-worship.
Fair question and you've already received some excellent answers and if you reread them all for me, I agree with all they said.
1. Most are more difficult to sing. Traditional hymns are easier, much easier, the only problem might be if your voice can't cover the scale plus an extra note or two, and that goes for the modern stuff too.
2. Impoverished theology bordering on masonic, at least for the song I detest "Gather us in". With no mention of Our Lord, I imagine this being sung at Masonic Lodges. Compare the theology in traditional hymns vs the happy emotional sentiments of modern songs. Think of "Lord who at Thy First Eucharist didst Pray" "Crown him with many crowns" "Church's One Foundation" (yes, I know that was written by Protestant-it still works for Catholics) Father, We Thank thee, Humbly Lord We Worship Thee, Holy Holy Holy,
3. Since these poor songs bump better ones, I dislike them all the more. Catholicism is imbued with tradition and Tradition and the idea that one epoch of Church history, 1960 and on has the "best" music is preposterous. Sure, add a few modern songs, but most of them belong at that Sunday 5 pm Guitar mass.
4. I do like "Gifts of Finest Wheat" among modern hymns
Ah, yes, the "liturgical music director" will now direct the congregation. Vapid,sing-song drivel more suited for a hippie commune or 1970's soft-drink commercial than any sort of Catholic religious service is the hallmark of almost all NO churches I've had the misfortune of attending in my lifetime. I am 30-something, not in my 20's, but had the opportunity to hear traditional Catholic hymns in my childhood before the predominance of OCP drivel. I pity you, Gopher. Post VATII Catholic liturgical music is some of the most God-awful dreck ever yowled and screeched by human throats. I strongly advise you to explore the traditions of your Church prior to the revolution Father Limpwrist, Bishop Aging Hipster and their heretical cronies try to deny ever happened.
On a purely temporal level and as a music lover, it's a lousy, sappy, dated song.
On a spiritual level it's a non-focused humanistic window dressing feel-good pop song that has not a thing to do with the sacred liturgy or our history.
The melodic structure you hear in our sacred music dates back to what was heard in the temples of the Israelites before our Lord walked the earth. It's the soundtrack of our faith. Such brings with it reverence and offers depth and meaning.
The poppy self-help pop songs bring with them a feeling of wanting to tie a rock to my head and jump in the river behind my house.
I think most Catholics just chalk it up and realize they go to Mass because they want to spend an hour with their Savior and receive His Body and Blood... so the music gets a pass. But I always notice that not many do sing the 'new' stuff, more lift their voices to the 'old' stuff.
Check out the archived articles on music found on Adoremus's website, especially the article by Fr. Paul Scalia (son of Judge A. Scalia) 'Ritus Narcissus: Why Do We Sing Ourselves and Celebrate Ourselves?' .
Imagine the following scene: You arrive at Mass on Sunday, eager to thank God for His goodness to you. You slide into the pew early, kneel in prayer, and direct your praise and worship to your Lord and God. You stand as the song leader introduces the opening hymn: "Table of Plenty". Suddenly your praise comes to a screeching halt, not because of your own prayers, but because of what you are singing. In fact you are no longer praising God at all, but singing to the others:If the topic interests you, I would recommend Thomas Day's 'Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste'. You can find it used on the internet.
Come to the feast of heaven and earth!
Come to the table of plenty!
God will provide for all that we need,
here at the table of plenty.
Now it gets worse: you begin to sing His lines:
O, come and sit at my table
where saints and sinners are friends.
I wait to welcome the lost and lonely
to share the cup of my love.
And so at the very beginning of Mass, your conversation with God is derailed and transformed into a participation in the congregation's introspection.
You've already gotten my responses re: not so much 'wrong' as less than they could be.
I would also point to the Catechism. What does the Church say about liturgical music and do these songs fit or are they 'shoehorned' in to the Church's intentions for music?
1157 Song and music fulfill their function as signs in a manner all the more significant when they are "more closely connected . . . with the liturgical action," according to three principal criteria: beauty expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments, and the solemn character of the celebration. In this way they participate in the purpose of the liturgical words and actions: the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful:
How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears, distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my facetears that did me good.
1158 The harmony of signs (song, music, words, and actions) is all the more expressive and fruitful when expressed in the cultural richness of the People of God who celebrate. Hence "religious singing by the faithful is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises as well as in liturgical services," in conformity with the Church's norms, "the voices of the faithful may be heard." But "the texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine. Indeed they should be drawn chiefly from the Sacred Scripture and from liturgical sources."