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Heretical Hymns? (Sacred songs that contradict church teachings)
Catholic Education ^ | August 29, 2006 | George Weigel

Posted on 08/29/2006 1:08:37 PM PDT by NYer

I love hymns. I love singing them and I love listening to them. Hearing the robust Cardiff Festival Choir belt out the stirring hymns of Ralph Vaughan Williams at what my wife regards as an intolerable volume is, for me, a terrific audio experience. It was only when I got to know certain Lutherans, though, that I began to think about hymns theologically.

For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological "source:" not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther's "Small Catechism." Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church's faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

Most Catholics don't. Instead, we settle for hymns musically indistinguishable from "Les Mis" and hymns of saccharine textual sentimentality. Moreover, some hymn texts in today's Catholic "worship resources" are, to put it bluntly, heretical. Yet Catholics once knew how to write great hymns; and there are great hymns to be borrowed, with gratitude, from Anglican, Lutheran, and other Christian sources. There being a finite amount of material that can fit into a hymnal, however, the first thing to do is clean the stables of today's hymnals.

Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the "Index of Forbidden Hymns." Herewith, some examples.

The first hymns to go should be hymns that teach heresy. If hymns are more than liturgical filler, hymns that teach ideas contrary to Christian truth have no business in the liturgy. "Ashes" is the prime example here: "We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew." No, we don't. Christ creates us anew. (Unless Augustine was wrong and Pelagius right). Then there's "For the Healing of the Nations," which, addressing God, deplores "Dogmas that obscure your plan." Say what? Dogma illuminates God's plan and liberates us in doing so. That, at least, is what the Catholic Church teaches. What's a text that flatly contradicts that teaching doing in hymnals published with official approval?


The first hymns to go should be hymns that teach heresy. If hymns are more than liturgical filler, hymns that teach ideas contrary to Christian truth have no business in the liturgy.


Next to go should be those "We are Jesus" hymns in which the congregation (for the first time in two millennia of Christian hymnology) pretends that it's Christ. "Love one another as I have loved you/Care for each other, I have cared for you/Bear each other's burdens, bind each other's wounds/and so you will know my return." Who's praying to whom here? And is the Lord's "return" to be confined to our doing of his will? St. John didn't think so. "Be Not Afraid" and "You Are Mine" fit this category, as does the ubiquitous "I Am the Bread of Life," to which I was recently subjected on, of all days, Corpus Christi — the one day in the Church year completely devoted to the fact that we are not a self-feeding community giving each other "the bread of life" but a Eucharistic people nourished by the Lord's free gift of himself. "I am the bread of life" inverts that entire imagery, indeed falsifies it.

Then there are hymns that have been flogged to death, to the point where they've lost any evocative power. For one hundred forty years, the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony sent shivers down audiences' spines; does anyone sense its power when it's morphed into the vastly over-used "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You," complete with "chanting bird and flowing fountain"? A fifty-year ban is in order here. As it is for "Gift of Finest Wheat." The late Omer Westendorf did a lot for liturgical renewal, but he was no poet (as his attempt to improve on Luther in his rewrite of "A Mighty Fortress" — "the guns and nuclear might/stand withered in his sight" — should have demonstrated). Why Mr. Westendorf was commissioned to write the official hymn for the 1976 International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia is one of the minor mysteries of recent years. "You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat/Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat" isn't heresy. But it's awful poetry, and it can be read in ways that intensify today's confusions over the Real Presence. It, too, goes under the fifty-year ban.

Hymns are important. Catholics should start treating them seriously.


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Humor; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: hymns; lutheran; worship
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1 posted on 08/29/2006 1:08:38 PM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer

love that graphic! it looks like the angel is saying "Shush!"


2 posted on 08/29/2006 1:09:38 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (hack for liberty.)
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
Jeff Miller, at The Splendor of Truth blog, intones his own contributions.


Heretical Hymns

Victor Lams posts about infiltrating the liturgical complex by writing outlandishly heretical hymns that will be snapped up by music publishers and then slowly trying to introduce real music. He has some very funny possible hymn titles of which I have put the words to one of them:

I Am The Resurrection Muffin

For the poor, the sad the downtrodden
Look to me the Resurrection Muffin
No half-baked theology for you or me
I am fully cooked plainly you can see

Chorus:
Repent deeply of all your sins
Look deeply upon the Resurrection Muffin
Your salvation now has truly began
available in Banana Nut or Healthy Oat Bran

Diversity in liturgy is no problem for me
Yummy Chocolate Chip and also Blueberry
I am the true paschal pastry
Eat of me and you will be set free

Chorus:

All the best liturgists fully approve of me
Chocked full of nuts like their liturgies
Pop me right out of that muffin tin
Enjoy the life of the muffin within

Chorus:

And here is another offering sung to Here I am Lord, and if you don't know the music that goes along with it - then count your blessings.

Here I am, Bored

Masses with guitar licks.
Heretical insipid fare.
Let me listen to you.
Fill me with despair.

Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.
Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.

This song is everlasting.
Pop music of I tire.
A total tonal bleakness.
Couldn't you all just retire?

Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.
Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.

Lyrics that are just plain dumb.
Hear my cry for help.
Hear me using these three words,
Gregorian Chant Now!
Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.
Here I am, bored.
Here I am.
Music that is a disservice, here I am.

3 posted on 08/29/2006 1:11:43 PM PDT by NYer ("That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah." Hillel)
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To: NYer

Get rid of "Kumbaya" forever!


4 posted on 08/29/2006 1:14:55 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NYer; Cletus.D.Yokel; TonyRo76; redgolum
For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological "source:" not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther's "Small Catechism." Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church's faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

This is most certainly true.

5 posted on 08/29/2006 1:27:20 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson (Old school Lutheran)
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To: AnAmericanMother; ninenot; Desdemona
Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas ping.
6 posted on 08/29/2006 1:31:46 PM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Charles Henrickson

My wife, who is not Lutheran, can not understand why I don't feel at home unless there is a loud organ and hymns in the "old fashioned" style.

I've tried to explain to her the significance hymns have to the Lutheran liturgy, but it falls on deaf ears (probably from the last organ solo).


7 posted on 08/29/2006 1:34:41 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: NYer

I just keep my mouth shut during those "We are Jesus" songs. I know my husband is tired of me elbowing him every time our choir sings a song I don't like. :o)


8 posted on 08/29/2006 1:35:07 PM PDT by samiam1972 (Live simply so that others may simply live!)
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To: the invisib1e hand

Annunciation by Fra Angelico, 1433
Tempera on wood
Cortona, Italy

The angel is saying: the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee

9 posted on 08/29/2006 1:36:15 PM PDT by Carolina
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To: NYer; Cletus.D.Yokel; redgolum; TonyRo76; Irene Adler; Southflanknorthpawsis; ...
Then there is the even worse "contemporary worship," which inspired me to pen these parodies:

AWFUL SONG
Tune: "Awesome God"

Our song is an awful song,
It's filled with empty fluff--
Of Christ, not near enough--
Our song is an awful song.

SHAME, CHURCHES, SHAME
Tune: "Shine, Jesus, Shine"

Shame, churches, shame,
For this brand of "creative worship."
Lame, music, lame--
That's what you admire.
Spine, churches, spine--
Blending in isn't so "courageous."
Check out your roots,
Church, and sing some real hymns.

10 posted on 08/29/2006 1:38:00 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson (The wag tailoring the doggerel)
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To: NYer
I love it every time I have a chance to post this! "The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music" has been posted here before, but it never hurts to refresh people's minds...
11 posted on 08/29/2006 1:39:36 PM PDT by redhead (Wasilla, AK: Proud to be Valley Trash)
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To: NYer
Next to go should be those "We are Jesus" hymns in which the congregation (for the first time in two millennia of Christian hymnology) pretends that it's Christ. "Love one another as I have loved you/Care for each other, I have cared for you/Bear each other's burdens, bind each other's wounds/and so you will know my return." Who's praying to whom here? And is the Lord's "return" to be confined to our doing of his will? St. John didn't think so. "Be Not Afraid" and "You Are Mine" fit this category, as does the ubiquitous "I Am the Bread of Life...

I once held the opinion that for a congregation to sing in the divine "I" wasn't kosher, until I stumbled upon hymns in the Byzantine tradition that used that device. Then I began not to care that much about that "defect."

I love "I am the Bread of Life." To sing it is to sing Scripture. Just as a reader doesn't become Christ when s/he proclaims Scripture in the divine "first person," a cantor or a congregation is not at fault when they do the same. If the hymn proclaims Scripture in a sense that agrees with Tradition, I no longer care if it is in "the first person."

The rest of the article is right on the mark.

12 posted on 08/29/2006 1:42:24 PM PDT by Teˇfilo (Visit Vivificat! - http://www.vivificat.org - A Catholic Blog of News, Commentary and Opinion)
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To: ArrogantBustard

Don't forget the shaggy-bear Tom Conry, who loves to write Communist anthems for church settings, among others. He and his contemporaries at Oregon Catholic Press are responsible for a lot of the dumbing-down of Catholic praxis.


13 posted on 08/29/2006 1:42:48 PM PDT by redhead (Wasilla, AK: Proud to be Valley Trash)
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To: Carolina

thanks. I figured with the thread being about bad hymns and all, it was "shush."


14 posted on 08/29/2006 1:45:18 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (hack for liberty.)
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To: Charles Henrickson
Mash here hard core, "old school" Catholic hymnody ... this material is ancient and timeless, and truly expresses the eternal Truth which Our Lord entrusted to the Church. That modernists have tried to throw it all away never ceases to annoy me.
15 posted on 08/29/2006 1:47:45 PM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: redhead

Their name is legion, for they are many.


16 posted on 08/29/2006 1:48:25 PM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: All
Here's some Gregorian Chant to listen to online for free.

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

17 posted on 08/29/2006 1:54:03 PM PDT by FJ290
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To: redhead

Great link .... just curious, but have any RC hymns infiltrated the Byzantine Church? (Father has a few reserved for certain seasons).


18 posted on 08/29/2006 1:54:32 PM PDT by NYer ("That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah." Hillel)
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To: ArrogantBustard

And Marty Haugen is Lutheran -- why do we have to put up with his mass of cremation? The fifty year ban isn't long enough.


19 posted on 08/29/2006 1:55:06 PM PDT by Nihil Obstat
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To: Charles Henrickson

LOL


20 posted on 08/29/2006 1:56:07 PM PDT by ecomcon
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