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What's a Hymn For? (Catholic Music in the USA)
Standing on My Head ^ | November 1, 2007 | Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Posted on 11/02/2007 2:40:04 PM PDT by maryz

I'm having some problems with music in Catholic America. Part of it is my problem. I spent fifteen years in the Anglican Church with the New English Hymnal--which is probably the finest hymnbook ever published in the English language. Musically and liturgically it was the best that traditional Anglicanism had to offer.

Catholic music in England--well we won't even go there. Apart from a few islands of decent church music the Catholic church in England was a wasteland.

I am discovering that in the USA it is not much better. My problem is that I am actually unfamiliar with most of the music in American Catholic Churches because I have lived abroad for so long.

However, what I do experience is not encouraging. Who on earth is writing these hymns, publishing these hymns and choosing to buy, prepare and perform these hymns? Doesn't anybody know what a hymn is for?

Surely a hymn is first, and foremost part of our worship. That means the words are words that we use to address our praise, adoration and worship of God. So much of the stuff I come across isn't that at all. Instead it is sentimental language in which God talks to us to reassure us, make us feel better and comfort or inspire us. So..."Be not afraid...for I am always with you...Come follow me.. etc" This may be a pleasant enough devotional song to remind us of God's promises, and there may be times when it is appropriate to sing such songs, but Mass is not one of those times. We're not really at Mass to sing God's comforting words to ourselves. We're there to worship Him.

Another problem are hymns that simply put Scripture verses to music. "I am the bread of life...he who comes to me shall not hunger...etc" Again, the music may be pleasant and the words of Scripture are undeniably wonderful and true, but it simply isn't a hymn. The words are the words of Jesus about himself. They are not words of praise, worship and adoration addressed to God.

The second problem with much of the contemporary music is that it originates from solo artists or has been written for a choir to perform. If the words are praise and worship words, they don't translate well for congregational singing. An example of this is the well known prayer of St Francis, "Make me a channel of your peace." It was originally written as a solo performance piece, and as such it is nice enough, but try to get a congregation to sing it and it goes all over the place with its croon like phrasing and difficult wording. A good hymn has music that has a good steady, predictable rhythm so everyone can join in.

The final problem is that too many hymn writers seem to have little understanding of either Scripture, the symbols and types of the faith or the theology of the faith. The great old hymns that have stood the test of time were written from the authors' deep immersion in the great themes of Scripture, the great stories of the Old Testament and the great theological concepts that inspire and instruct us as we sing. The newer stuff tends to be dumbed down, sentimental and weak.

So what's a poor old convert priest like me to do? One experiences some pressure to 'give them what they like.' My inclination is to 'give them what they need.' In other words, to select hymns on the correct criteria and not bother whether they are 'new' or 'old'. I'm sure there are some worthy modern hymns just as there are some awful old hymns. Then we have to educate those in our charge to understand what a hymn is for and what makes a good hymn--and it's not just the ones we happen to like.

Finally, it seems to me that the underlying problem with the contemporary hymns is an almost universal lack of understanding in the modern American Catholic Church about what Mass is in the first place. If it is a gathering of friendly Christian people around the table of fellowship in order to get strength and encouragement from one another as we all think about Jesus, why then the contemporary hymns fit the bill very nicely, but then, so would quite a few snippets of music I can think of like--"My favorite things" from The Sound of Music.

However, if the Mass is meant to take us to the threshold of heaven; if it is meant to be a glimpse of glory and a participation in the worship of the spheres of heaven itself, why then the sentimental, sweet and comforting songs just won't do. They wont' do not because they are bad or untrue, but because they are not good and true enough. Worship that takes us to the threshold of glory needs to be, well...glorious.

But, it can be protested, not all parishes can manage to have a grand organ, a paid organist and a fine choir. True, and that's why the church recommends Gregorian Chant. With a little effort and just a little expense a small group of singers can learn Gregorian Chant which beatifies the liturgy simply and give is the transcendental glory that our worship deserves, and to tell you the truth, once you develop a taste for Gregorian chant--it's pretty comforting too.


TOPICS: Catholic; Worship
KEYWORDS: anglican; catholic; christianmusic; churchmusic; hymns; liturgy; sacredmusic
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1 posted on 11/02/2007 2:40:05 PM PDT by maryz
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To: AnAmericanMother; sneakers; Mercat; ninenot

A look at American hymns by a former Anglican.


2 posted on 11/02/2007 2:41:11 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz
I'm having some problems with music in Catholic America.

Hey, join the club!!!
As the problems that some of us Protestant/non-denom Christians
have with "contemporary" music in our churches...
surely must equal or exceed your objections to what is going
on in your sanctuaries/churches/cathedrals!!!

(That is said with friendly, joint concern over "sacred music" that
I suspect a lot of Catholic and non-Catholics share!)
3 posted on 11/02/2007 2:47:44 PM PDT by VOA
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To: VOA
I thought one of the comments on the source blog was especiallly good:

Part of the problem is that 80% of everything is junk, and it is (usually) time that tells us what's junk and what's not. Most (not all) of the awful old hymns have been forgotten, so what remains from, say, the 17th and 18th centuries is mostly pretty good. Most of the rotten new stuff hasn't yet had time to be forgotten.

At least we can sympathize in true fraternal fashion with one another! ;-)

4 posted on 11/02/2007 2:51:58 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz

Ick! Don’t get me started!! It’s all I can do to stay til the end of our NO mass. We suffer from the Haugen & Haas curse. As soon as our (slightly more traditional) priest left, so did the wonderful choir director who incorporated some chant and Latin music into the mass. We ended up with full-blown Haugen/Haas garbage when the new choir director came in.


5 posted on 11/02/2007 2:57:49 PM PDT by sneakers (This Pennsylvania gal supports DUNCAN HUNTER for President!)
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To: maryz

I go to mass in spite of the music. I just try to keep my focus on the alter and I always leave (sorry Dad) before the final hymn.


6 posted on 11/02/2007 2:58:29 PM PDT by Mercat (Waddle around and make new friends.)
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To: maryz
At least we can sympathize in true fraternal fashion with one another! ;-)

One a thread that was criticizing "contemporary" church music on
FR sometime in the past year or two.....
I remember that one poster simply/bluntly said in so many words:
"any church music composed after 1965...is CR-P."

OK, maybe that was a blunt "broad brush".
But to a large degree...the poster might have been right!
7 posted on 11/02/2007 3:00:11 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Mercat

I go to the earliest Mass — unfortunately, not until 8:00 a.m. Almost never any music! :)


8 posted on 11/02/2007 3:03:56 PM PDT by maryz
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To: VOA
"any church music composed after 1965...is CR-P."

LOL! Sounds like a man who knows his own mind anyway!

9 posted on 11/02/2007 3:10:57 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz

I used to be able to get up that early. LOL We have 7:30 on Sunday and 6:45 on weekdays.


10 posted on 11/02/2007 3:11:39 PM PDT by Mercat (Waddle around and make new friends.)
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To: maryz; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Great post!


11 posted on 11/02/2007 3:36:33 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: maryz

Here’s a suggestion, dump ALL the hymns and go back to a sung Liturgy like The Church, Latin and Eastern did until Vatican II (with the exception of “low masses”) and the East still does.


12 posted on 11/02/2007 3:42:32 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: maryz
He's RIGHT!

We shouldn't be singing much of anything that hasn't passed the 100-year test. 200-year test is even better!

The Episcopal Hymnal is full of grand old Catholic hymns -- if you look in the back for the source materials, there is Gregorian chant all over the place and old (15th-16th c.) German Catholic hymnals as well as the standbys everybody knows (like "Crown Him With Many Crowns" and "The Church's One Foundation"). Really they have done a better job of conserving the Catholic musical patrimony than the Catholics have.

I'm going to give our music director the large organist's edition (spiral bound in cloth; two volumes) for Christmas.

13 posted on 11/02/2007 3:47:08 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Mercat; sneakers; VOA; maryz
I just try to keep my focus on the alter (should read: 'altar')

You will all appreciate this. In the 'From the Mail' section of this week's edition of The Wanderer, a MA reader recounts her terrible parish experience after a new pastor arrived and began telling jokes during the final blessing at Mass and introduced other novelties, such as clapping during the singing of a new Gloria "with a bouncy rhythm." She writes.

"Sunday Mass was like a show. My husband and I were appalled but nothing we said [to the priest or fellow parishioners] made any difference. Finally, I decided to beat them at their own game. When they clapped hands, I clapped mine longer and louder and threw in a few extra claps. Sometimes I beat the palms of my hands on the wooden pew in front of me in rhythmn with the music.

Well, that really riled the pastor. He told the "liturgy director" ( what's that? Is this something new?) to have words with me. I told her I was responding to the "bouncy music" and didn't see anything wrong with it. The pastor then talked to my husband, and told him to tell me to stop. My husband told him to tell me himself.

I continued clapping and beating my palms against the pew during the Gloria. Now, the pastor has told me he will get a restraining order against me.

What do you think of this? Very truly yours

The paper suggested that the woman try to get 20 friends together and request a Mass in the "Extraordinary Rite." Otherwise, to check out other parishes in the surrounding community.

Some of us have had similar encounters at our local RC parish. Such a priest would not be responsive to the suggestion of a TLM and, besides, would you actually want him celebrating it!? The Catholic Church is big. My suggestion would be to start with prayer and ask the Lord to guide her to a parish with a holy priest, a reverent liturgy and a community where her God given talents can be of benefit.

14 posted on 11/02/2007 3:57:44 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Kolokotronis
Here’s a suggestion, dump ALL the hymns and go back to a sung Liturgy

You've got my vote . . . but nobody ever listens to me! :(

15 posted on 11/02/2007 4:05:10 PM PDT by maryz
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To: AnAmericanMother
The Episcopal Hymnal is full of grand old Catholic hymns

I'll have to get me one of those sometime!

16 posted on 11/02/2007 4:06:20 PM PDT by maryz
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To: Kolokotronis; maryz; Frank Sheed
Here’s a suggestion, dump ALL the hymns and go back to a sung Liturgy ...

RCs, correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't that be considered a High Mass in the Extraordinary Rite? In the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches, ALL Divine Liturgies are chanted, even those that qualify as a 'low' Mass in the Latin Rite. While this is a commendable suggestion, K, the Latin Church does not offer a comparable alternative, be it in the low Mass of the TLM, or in the Novus Ordo Rite.

For RC's, Eastern liturgies are always chanted. It narrows the possibilities of such 'novelties', other than for an Entrance, Communion or Recessional hymn. These chants follow a set rhythmn thus precluding the introduction of modernist tonalities. In the Maronite Catholic Church, the liturgy is sung in strophic chant. All seminarians are expected to learn these ancient chants and rhythmns as they form the central focus of the liturgy. Regardless of which Maronite Divine Liturgy we attend, the words always follow the same strophic chant. Oddly enough, certain parishioners who have attended the Novus Ordo liturgy while traveling to places where there are no Maronite Churches, often inquire into 'when' our hymns will expand to include these more contemporary ones. It is usually me (the RC) who has to explain the history of the Maronite liturgy to them. Ignorance of faith is not limited to the Roman Catholic Church :-)

17 posted on 11/02/2007 4:18:20 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: maryz

What’s a hymn for? How should we know. Haven’t heard one in thirty years.


18 posted on 11/02/2007 4:21:31 PM PDT by LordBridey
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To: maryz
My problem is that I am actually unfamiliar with most of the music in American Catholic Churches because I have lived abroad for so long.

Rejoice, and be glad! What we have are what sound like pop songs and nursery rhymes with trite, silly words ( I won't dignify them by calling them "lyrics").

Another problem are hymns that simply put Scripture verses to music. "I am the bread of life...he who comes to me shall not hunger...etc" Again, the music may be pleasant and the words of Scripture are undeniably wonderful and true...

And made wonderfully politically correct, too (and I'm speaking specifically about "I am the bread of life")! What a bargain!

I've begun a big collection of Gregorian chant and sacred Medieval and Renaissance polyphony CDs. It's so beautiful there's no comparison.

19 posted on 11/02/2007 4:25:56 PM PDT by BlessedBeGod
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To: NYer
but wouldn't that be considered a High Mass in the Extraordinary Rite?

As I recently learned, what we always called a High Mass (parts of the Mass sung or chanted, with one priest, as opposed to priest, deacon and subdeacon) in the old rite is really a sung low Mass. It was news to me. I couldn't comment on the NO.

20 posted on 11/02/2007 4:33:26 PM PDT by maryz
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To: VOA

“Join the club — we meet at the bar.” hahah. naw, but, truly it is poor. This too shall pass, surely. With our Latin Masses just instituted EVERY Sunday, as of last month, we have the most beautiful, heavenly choir and organ, and chants. Y’all come, it’s quite beautiful.


21 posted on 11/02/2007 4:43:27 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Mercat

I can only go to the early, NO-music mass. Until the Latin Masses were instituted, of course. The ditties, for me, are agony.


22 posted on 11/02/2007 4:45:05 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: maryz

Sometimes ear plugs and a rosary are the best alternative.
Hopefully future generations will have the fine, prayerful chants and other music that we had fifty years ago.


23 posted on 11/02/2007 4:46:50 PM PDT by rogator
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To: maryz

This thread is ridiculous. Flat out ridiculous. You’re bitching about hymns that say ‘Follow Me’ or ‘I will comfort you”? For real?


24 posted on 11/02/2007 4:49:11 PM PDT by ShadowDancer ("To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.")
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To: ShadowDancer

What’s a hymn for?


25 posted on 11/02/2007 5:09:43 PM PDT by LordBridey
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To: maryz

I don’t think this will turn into a Catholic - Protestant fight. The problem is the same on both sides of the river.


26 posted on 11/02/2007 5:39:01 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: NYer

Amen!
Worked for me.


27 posted on 11/02/2007 6:00:37 PM PDT by netmilsmom (To attack one section of Christianity in this day and age, is to waste time .)
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To: rogator; maryz

You want Hymns?

http://tinyurl.com/3322n8

http://tinyurl.com/2qzdom (only a little heresy here!)

http://tinyurl.com/2pkdmn

And my all time favorite, though not from the Mass, as I remember it anyway:

http://tinyurl.com/2mw7aw


28 posted on 11/02/2007 6:51:08 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: maryz
If you play the piano, be sure to get the small copy of the organist's edition (it's about 8 by 5), because some of the hymns are unison and the accompaniments are lovely. The 1982 Hymnal cuts out some of the old faves (like Kipling's "God of Our Fathers") but by and large it got rid of a lot of Victorian deadwood in the 1940 edition. It is also noticeably more Catholic than the 1940. It does carry on the tradition of having four parts for most hymns, which is a lot of fun if you read music. The small choir hymnal (1 volume) has the four parts where the hymn is not sung in unison.

There's an entire volume of service music, which includes both chant tones and modern settings for the Ordinary. It's close enough so that the settings could be used for a Catholic service, too.

I would have to break my hundred-year rule in the case of some of the new hymn tunes in the Hymnal. Just one example is the new setting of "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy" No. 469 - text written by Frederick W. Faber, the English Catholic convert. I don't like the old tune, "Beecher", it's too square and clunky, but the new tune (which you can't find on the net because it's still under copyright), "St. Helena" by Calvin Hampton, is a perfect fit to the meter and the sense of the words. It's in 6/8 time and it rocks like the sea.

On the other hand, SOME of the new hymns are rotten in tune (usually because they're trying to include some ethnic music, e.g. Hispanic stuff which is too pop) or in text ("Earth and All Stars" is just as silly and ridiculous as any modern liberal trying to be all relevant could be). They have messed with the text of some hymns trying to bring them up to date, thank the Lord it's not "inclusive language" but you can always just sing the original words. You can't expect every number to be a hit, I suppose . . . .

But just stick your head into the bookstore of any large Episcopalian church or (especially) cathedral if you have one handy. You'll also be surprised at the lovely rosaries, icons, and other art they have on hand. They may be heretics, but artistically they are always in good taste, and many Episcopalians are just not-quite-Catholics. (We're probably going to see more of them swimming the Tiber as the ECUSA implodes. Better drop by that bookstore soon. . . )

29 posted on 11/02/2007 6:58:47 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: ShadowDancer

You must not have heard “Be Not Afraid”. Aside from its doubtful place in hymnody, it’s a pop abomination.


30 posted on 11/02/2007 6:59:59 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother

I have no idea what melody you’ve heard it sung to but yes, I’ve heard it and I have no problem with it at all.


31 posted on 11/02/2007 7:08:39 PM PDT by ShadowDancer ("To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.")
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To: ShadowDancer
I don't think there's more than one melody, because it's still under copyright.

The melody is inappropriate for a Catholic hymn, as HH BXVI has pointed out, because it contains the emotional 'hooks' of a pop tune. It's also just not 'serious' enough musically for a hymn. For a song, o.k. if you like that style, but not a hymn.

But the words are a problem also, first because they don't serve the proper purpose of a hymn. Again, not all Christian songs are hymns. Second because they turn the focus away from God and towards the "I". Look at how many times the text contains the words "I" and "me". I know it's supposed to be God speaking, but when it's sung the congregation is singing. That's just backwards.

It's kind of frightening when you look at the productions specifically from OCP and the St. Louis Jesuits, and notice how many of the hymns are all about "I, me, me, mine."

32 posted on 11/02/2007 7:15:56 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: ShadowDancer
Our choirmaster pointed out (during a course he taught on the history of Western church music) that this cycle has taken place repeatedly over time.

Whatever the popular music idiom of the time happens to be -- whether Roman pagan songs, Italian opera, or Marty Haugen -- starts creeping into the hymns sung in church. After awhile the church says, "Enough! This is getting disrespectful!" and tosses them out and tries again.

33 posted on 11/02/2007 7:18:20 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: AnAmericanMother

The “I’s” in that are about God and that you can trust him. There is nothing even remotely pop about that song. I just called my 13 year old daughter down here and asked her if she remembered the song. She is not overly religious nor even remotely perfect. She was nervous to sing it outloud so she took my cell phone and recorded herself singing it. She remembered it. She would kill me if she knew I was telling you this but I need to. She didn’t remember it because it sounded like Christina Aguillera but because it meant something. It isn’t all about your preception. It’s a beautiful song.


34 posted on 11/02/2007 7:41:23 PM PDT by ShadowDancer ("To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.")
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To: ShadowDancer
Well, I remember the song too - that doesn't mean it's good - or appropriate for a hymn.

Whether or not somebody likes it isn't really the issue. The music is objectively "pop" because of the structure - specifically: the chord progression (I could play it in my head, it's so typical), the syncopation of the first line of the verse, the steady climb upward in thirds, and then the resolution through a 7th to the tonic. That style (and specifically the cadences on "be not afraid" and "come follow me") is pop, not hymn. If you listen for it, you'll hear it in everything from Perry Como to an advertising jingle. But it ought not to be used during the Mass.

And as for the "I"s being about God, I noted that. Of course objectively that's obvious, but when you're singing it, it confuses the first person (the singer) with the Person who should be being praised. It's backwards.

35 posted on 11/02/2007 8:23:47 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: maryz
Finally, it seems to me that the underlying problem with the contemporary hymns is an almost universal lack of understanding in the modern American Catholic Church about what Mass is in the first place.

We’ll get it right when the priest and the people face the same direction in a posture of jointly offering this unbloody sacrifice of Christ to the Father: in Christ, through Christ and with Christ. Until that happens...It’s all about US!

36 posted on 11/02/2007 8:47:32 PM PDT by veritas2002
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To: ShadowDancer
This thread is ridiculous. Flat out ridiculous. You’re bitching about hymns that say ‘Follow Me’ or ‘I will comfort you”? For real?

I think the "bitching" is not just about what these hymns say, but also about the fact the they have replaced other, more traditional hymns. The older hymns also say "follow me" but in different words and in a richer, more reverent and majestic manner.

37 posted on 11/02/2007 8:56:48 PM PDT by marshmallow
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To: maryz

He’s preaching to the choir here. :-)

Some of the modern Catholic hymns are sappy social justice
guitar-strumming feelgoodism. They are from (Oregon OCP???).

The hynmals need to keep the old time hymns that are better grounded both musically and spiritually. And it wouldnt hurt to import Anglican hymns as part of that.


38 posted on 11/02/2007 10:22:44 PM PDT by WOSG (Pro-life, pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-strong defense, pro-GWOT, pro-capitalism, pro-US-sovereignty)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Whatever the popular music idiom of the time happens to be -- whether Roman pagan songs, Italian opera, or Marty Haugen -- starts creeping into the hymns sung in church.

Wasn't there some concern about this during the Council of Trent?

A spurious story has Palastrina's Missa Papae Marcelli (written well before the Council) saving the day for polyphony music in the Church. Many of the bishops were concerned that this new style of chant was too beautiful for the Mass - that it would detract from worship.

I vote more Palastrina for the Latin Rite!

39 posted on 11/03/2007 12:04:05 AM PDT by TotusTuus ("Father of music")
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To: AnAmericanMother

“I would have to break my hundred-year rule in the case of some of the new hymn tunes in the Hymnal. Just one example is the new setting of “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” No. 469 - text written by Frederick W. Faber, the English Catholic convert.”

In the 1982(which is what we use)?


40 posted on 11/03/2007 12:50:11 AM PDT by neb52
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To: ShadowDancer

It would be nice for the song to be written in the correct person. Why am I singing that people should follow me? I’m no one special. I am not the source of comfort, Christ is. Why should I sing that I will comfort you?


41 posted on 11/03/2007 1:34:23 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: ShadowDancer

I agree with you, but I daresay don’t even try to argue with any of these folks, they think they are better than the rest of the schlubs who find anything worthwhile with any of this so-called crappy music.


42 posted on 11/03/2007 2:07:20 AM PDT by SaintDismas (.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Thanks for the suggestions!


43 posted on 11/03/2007 2:35:04 AM PDT by maryz
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To: wequalswinner; ShadowDancer

Many people like the songs you have mentioned and there’s absoutely nothing wrong with singing them in church - but just NOT in a Mass. They’re not liturgical songs.

They’d be fine for, say, some kind of prayer service, or perhaps to preface the parish Bible study program, etc. But they’re overly personal and overly sentimental for use in a formal liturgical setting. Furthermore, many of them are actually soloist pieces and would sound much better if sung by an individual with the appropriate accompaniment than droned through by a congregation.

Something that sounds great when sung by Cristina Aguillera is not going to sound great when sung early Sunday morning by a roomful of people mostly over the age of 60. And I have noticed that men frequently refuse to sing these songs at all, probably because the words are so emotional and feminine.

So I don’t think people on this thread are condemning these songs, but instead are simply complaining that they don’t “fit” in the Mass. In the 19th century, Church authorities had to weed out many operatic-style songs that did not fit with the Mass (and it was the old Mass, too!) and some of the songs are still popular and still with us today - but not in the Mass. This is the same situation.


44 posted on 11/03/2007 3:38:04 AM PDT by livius
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To: maryz
What's a hymn for?

That's easy -- a her :)

But it also seems that with the elimination of a lot of the old "hymns" from the churches, the pews are now primarily filled with "hers".

45 posted on 11/03/2007 5:50:10 AM PDT by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Uncle Chip

LOL! You’ve got a point there!


46 posted on 11/03/2007 5:51:38 AM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz

I agree with you whole-heartedly. Most of the songs in churches today are so sappy and then I feel somewhat self-conscious because I’m not singing along with the congregation.

I leave the service feeling like I should have been standing on a mountain with a Coca-Cola in my hand, teaching the world to sing.


47 posted on 11/03/2007 5:58:01 AM PDT by senorita
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To: senorita
I kinda wish you hadn't suggested that image! Yes, it's à propos and I did laugh -- but it's gonna be awful hard not to think of it the next time I hear one of those "hymns"! ;-)
48 posted on 11/03/2007 6:05:20 AM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz

I can help this convert out!

The Mass is supposed to be sung. That is the priest, choir and congregations are supposed to sing or chant the prayers and responses of the Mass. Over the centuries, until the 20th century, this is how the liturgy was celebrated and there were no hymns in it. Hymns were added to the Mass during the first half of the twentieth century when many churches started celebrating “dialogue” Masses (which were in Latin), in which the prayers and responses were spoken by the priest and the congregation.

The use of hymns became even more popular after Vatican II and in most places hymns have replaced the singing or chanting of the parts of the Mass, which was not something that the Council Fathers had wanted. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy decreed that Gregorian chant was to have “pride of place” in the liturgy but it gave permission for other forms of music to be used as long as they were truly sacred and liturgical. Well, the rest is history as they say. The liturgists and music experts dumped Gregorian chant faster than you can “St. Louis Jesuits,” and they introduced traditional Protestant hymns and soon after, folk songs and much new, but banal, music into the Mass. And Fr. Longenecker is right. Many of the contemporary songs that are used in Mass are not only too hard for congregations to sing, they are doctrinally unsound.

There is a solution, of course, and that is for parish music directors to re-introduce Gregorian chant into the Mass. It can be done and it should be done in Latin. Chant is not too hard for people to learn and bringing it back into the Mass would do much to restore the beauty and solemnity of the liturgy. After all, the chant is the liturgy sung: it is the words of the liturgy put to music and, therefore, the most appropriate form of music to use during the Mass. Chant promotes a greater participation of the congregation in the Mass and it eliminates the need to sing hymns. And, just as an added bonus, it would mean the end of “guitar” Masses or “folk” Masses.


49 posted on 11/03/2007 6:53:36 AM PDT by steadfastconservative
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To: steadfastconservative
Hear, hear! But it's not so much "this convert" who needs the help as the bishops -- a stiff-necked group if ever I saw one!

Historical question: wasn't the Mass silent in Ireland, from Cromwell's time, I guess, since saying/attending was punishable by death, so they had to keep a low profile? I think I read that had a big influence on the American chuch.

50 posted on 11/03/2007 8:03:29 AM PDT by maryz
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