Amy Welborn has some news about attempts to get some decent norms established for Catholic Church Music in the USA. The people pictured above will be serving on the advisory committee.
Talk about opening Pandora’s Box??!! There are so many upside down ideas about music at Mass. I knew a bishop in England who legislated that no one could use church music written before 1963 in services where he was presiding. Others want the other extreme with nothing after 1963 being allowed. Where’s the common sense? Surely the question is not the date of the hymn, but whether it is liturgically and doctrinally correct, whether the hymn actually leads us to worship (rather than being Jesus talking to us like ‘I am the Bread of Life…) and whether it is good poetry fused with good music. Mustn’t the other standard be that it must be singable by a congregation? Finally, isn’t it common sense that the music (whatever style it is) is performed by competent musicians?
The main problem with hymns in our churches is ignorance and cheapness. First, we don’t know what good worship is, and second, we don’t want to pay for it. To know why we’re so ignorant check out the book Why Catholics Can’t Sing.Making arbitrary chronological decisions is looped. In fact there are plenty of great hymns out there–both ancient and modern. There is also some upbeat praise and worship music that is very serviceable (if disposable). What is terrible is when any style of church music is played badly. A lousy organist is just as bad as a lousy praise band. I know which I like, but if I had to choose between an untalented organist with a choir of tone deaf Latinists attempting Gregorian Chant I’d go for the talented praise band every time.
To renew music in our churches we need pastors and congregations who will take the trouble to go on a course to learn about hymns and church music, then take a deep breath and shock horror! yes, spend some money hiring a decent organist and choir director. If possible this person should be also be an Anglican because they (like the devil) have all the best music.
If anyone out there needs a resource for good Catholic church Music check out The Music Makers. Jeremy deSatge is an Englishman (and convert from Anglicanism) who knows his stuff, writes wonderful traditional Catholic music and helps people out of the woods on this hot topic.