Why the Bad Music at Mass?

Why the Bad Music at Mass? February 13, 2015

Fr. Longenecker writes here on why Catholics can’t have good music, and he makes a decent historical argument:

Suddenly we were flooded with new hymns–most of which had banal lyrics, crappy folk music and trite sentiment. The Catholics didn’t sing the old hymns because they didn’t know them. In the meantime they were having lots of awful new songs shoved down their throat and they (quite rightly) didn’t bother singing them because they knew deep down that they were either unsingable or execrable.

. . . Furthermore. I have asked Catholic priests if they ever received any training at seminary in the tradition of hymnology, sacred music, chant or the proper way to choose hymns for liturgy. The answer has almost always been a resounding “No.”

But let’s be clear: That explains why we had bad music last year, last decade, last late-millennium.  What explains why we have bad music today?  We don’t care.


I don’t me we the people sitting in the pews because we are required by canon law to attend Mass on Sundays, so Sunday we will be there.  I mean we the people who own the responsibility for the liturgy, and really just don’t give a crap if the music is deplorable.

That’s why.

Not everybody everywhere can have high church and amazing complex world-class choral compositions.  So be it.  Everybody everywhere can have simple, decent music at Mass.  That’s the human condition: People sing.  People are made, by God, to sing, the Bible tells us so.  Original sin do what it will, an awful lot of people are capable of singing well enough.

Singing bad songs, or singing good songs badly, is not the only choice.

If there is bad music at your parish, and it goes on for more than six months, it is because someone has made the decision for there to be bad music.

That is why.

We can’t have nice things if we refuse to have nice things.


File:Solar flare (TRACE).gif
This is my brain thinking about Church music.

Photo: Solar Flare, by NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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