Thursday, July 7, 2016


When somebody says to me that they would like traditional Catholic music at Mass, my first thoughts go to Palistrina, Gregorian Chant, or tunes such as Panis Angelicus, or at least, “Jesus My Lord, My God, My All.”  

Nay nay.

The vast majority of the time they means songs like “On Eagles Wings,” and “Be Not Afraid.”  Songs by and large from the folk era of the 1970s.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  But it reminds me of the late 1970s in this way:  It was then that it seemed people were holding tenaciously on to music from the 1940s and 50s as traditional Catholic music while folk was trying to muscle in and get rid of that tired stuff.

A lot of the music from the 40s and 50s was a bit saccharine.  The 70s stuff was often theological soft.  

Is it just me or do we not seem to have a real movement of liturgical music at the moment save for praise music like that which come out of Steubenville?

Oh, the poor music director - weighing the balance between that which are truly musical treasures from our history, what is an oldy but a goody, what is facing the sunset of use, what is currently on the seen, and the new and innovative that excites some and disgusts others.  God bless you musicians!  Know of my prayers today!


Pat said...

Concerts are being held in Most Holy Mother of God parish church in Vladivostok, Russia, as the faith begins to return there.

The Christmas concerts (organ, orchestra, choir) are really important as a method of evangelization--and they are not playing music from the '40s or the '70s.

As is the custom in Russia, each piece of sacred music is explained by an announcer (giving the theological background for the piece).

The church is filled with people young and old and from all walks of life. Many have never set foot in a church. Afterwards, people express interest in converting or returning to the faith.

Chris P. said...

Whenever I hear "On Eagle's Wings" on a Sunday, I panic and quickly try to figure out if someone died and I wasn't paying enough attention.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression all of our "old" stuff was in Latin and was hard to sing without any training.

Did the laity sing during Mass before VII?

Anonymous said...

There are some nice newer choral works from non-Catholic composers, often updating old hymns, for example:

Dan Forrest:
Joseph Martin:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I hear "All Are Welcome", it sounds like a kindergarten marching song.

And "Gather Us In" sounds like a sea shanty.

And I refuse to sing "Song of the Body of Christ" - dismal.

These songs, and others I dislike, have lyrics that are about us instead of God.

On the other hand, I love "You Are Mine" and "Here I Am, Lord".

And "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" and "This Is My Song" (a patriotic song by Gustav Holst) are favorites of mine.

Like American Bandstand, maybe it comes down to a good tune, and if we can dance to it!

Fr. V said...

Oh no!!! Another song RUINED for me!!! Anon., you have done great damage!!! All I can think of now when I hear the song, "Gather us in" is a bunch of pirates singing the song with mugs of grog singing in gruff voices. "Gather us in the lost and the lonely - ARG mateys.

Anonymous said...

If there is anything that brings on great opinions and discussion it is music. Hum, I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Fr. V -

HA! I see you feel my pain about "Gather Us In". ARRRR.

And can you not picture kindergarteners, marching around the classroom with their knees up and their elbows swinging, to "All Are Welcome"?

Enough. My work here is done.

God bless you from St. Bernard Parish

Anonymous said...

Upon hearing the refrain of "All Are Welcome" I am reminded of the scene from Poltergeist in which the medium is "cleansing" the house of spirits and sending them into the light while semi-chanting the phrase, "All are welcome, All are welcome!" Try getting THAT image out of your head the next time you hear the song.

Also, perhaps Fr. V would be willing to share some of his hit songs from "Felt From the Heart" that he collaborated on during his seminary days? ��

Matt W said...

"Felt from the Heart", Anon? Is that a Guns-n-Roses version of a ghastly hymn?

At Mass this weekend we (or rather, they) sang "Sing a New Song" during which I always think "Why, when it's so bad and the old ones are so good?"

Anonymous said...

Matt W., no, "Felt From the Heart" was the title of the "album" (cassette tape). It was an attempt to parody how silly and community-centric some of popular music had become. The sad part was, often when it was shared with others to get a laugh, some thought it might actually be "good" enough to use at Mass. D'OH... the irony! Here's a sample of the lyrics from the song, "Here We Are Together" (with guitar and tambourine and hand claps):

Here we are together,
in this space,
sharing together,
hand in hand, face to face.
Isn't it great?
Put division on a dusty shelf,
Let's eat together,
'cause you're my other self.

I think Lin-Manuel Miranda was going to use this in "Hamilton" (NOT)

Fr. V said...

That was the problem - most people thought they were serious songs. Music is SO BAD that you can't even make fun of its triteness.

Here was another that had a kazoo bridges:

Where is Jesus now
Look both high and low
Where is Jesus now - and just where did He go?
Do you know what you're looken' for
Do you know where Jesus is (is, is)
He's in you and me, that's where Jesus really is.