Insipid Church Music: A Role in the Crisis?

As a liturgical musician I can’t help wondering to what extent the insipid and vapid music prevalent in our churches has contributed to the present crisis.

That there is more than a mere coincidental connection between the squishy feel-good liturgical music and the lax and casual atmosphere in our churches is clear to me- especially when I reflect upon what the great Philosopher Socrates had to say about the power of music.

musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated noble, or of him who is ill-educated ignoble.

It was a common saying among the Greeks that,

Like produces like

Does wimpy music produce wimpy character? Does squishy liturgical music produce squishy feelings and squishy prayer?

Image result for cheesy music

Much has been written about the scourge of contemporary liturgical music. Much has been said already about how the Churches’ treasury of sacred music has simply been abandoned; Gregorian chant and the sacred polyphony handed down for centuries was jettisoned and replaced with music remarkably ‘soft’ and sentimental by contrast. I think thoughtful people may now have legitimate suspicions that the prevalent music in our churches is not wholly unconnected with the present onslaught of scandal that is rocking the Church from top to bottom.

Or at least we might suspect that the current music in our churches is something of a fitting soundtrack to the crisis.

Image result for kumbaya

Now, as a liturgical musician, I might hold a somewhat exaggerated view about the importance of music. Nonetheless, shouldn’t we all be eager to find the causes that brought us to where we are? Undoubtedly, the causes are manifold.

Although it is tempting to explain every problem by a single cause, we might heed the warning of the ancient philosopher Empedocles

Image result for empedocles

when he was critical of those in his own day who attempted to explain the natural world in terms of one cause, saying,

For narrow are the means spread throughout the limbs and many are the miseries that burst in and blunt the thoughts. And having seen only a small part of life during their lives… they boast of having found the whole.

Having grasped one part of life we tend to think that perhaps we have grasped the whole.

And so, I will not claim that the sexual scandals in the Catholic church were caused solely by the vacuous and insipid church music that we have all been subjected to over the last fifty or so years. We have not just been subjected to this music, but we have been saturated and immersed in it. It fills our ears and imaginations and is seemingly inescapable. The sheer habituation to this music can’t help but to have affected and even shaped our affections and tastes as much as we try to resist. We find ourselves inadvertently humming it!

It would be a serious mistake to ignore liturgical music as a contributing cause to the scandal.

After all, as soon as the dust settles and justice is carried out, as soon as restitution is made, as soon as light expels the darkness and truth prevails…as soon as all this has happened, then we are surely going to make certain that it never happens again to whatever extent possible.

In this way, I suppose, we will make use of the saying (despite its dubious pedigree) “never let a good crisis go to waste,” difficult as it is to see anything good in the current crisis.

And so let’s gather our thoughts on the matter and reflect on the various causes, great and small, that have possibly contributed to what some are calling the “greatest crisis” to date in the American Church.  Our (non exhaustive) list of contributing causes will include things like,

  • The sexual revolution and breakdown of decency in our society especially during the later half of the twentieth century.
  • The wholesale abandonment by Catholic colleges and universities of authentic Catholic education and Catholic identity as became manifest in the Land O’ lakes Conference

Image result for theodore hesburgh

  • Lack of oversight by seminary admissions directors and vocation masters that allowed a homosexual subculture to thrive in seminaries.
  • The loss of faith and belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by seemingly even those in the church’s hierarchy.
  • The resistance to and rejection of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae

Image result for humanae vitae

  • The liturgical confusion and collapse of monastic orders that ensued after the Second Vatican Council.
  • The psychological toll of the abortion and contraceptive culture.
  • The stepped- up attack on the priesthood by the devil.
  • The world and the flesh.

But somewhere on this list – and let it not be last- we ought to place as a serious and real cause of the sexual crisis in the church the insipid, trite, uninspired and tedious music that has been forced on Catholics from coast to coast.

If the causes for the sexual scandal in the church that I have listed are more important, and if there are others that I have missed that are even more significant, at least I can say that the liturgical music that we have all been subjected to for most of our lives has provided the perfect atmosphere for the scandal- music that is all at once self-centered and ego-centric, saccharine,  narcissistic, enervating, banal and silly.

From Here I am Lord to Let There be Peace on Earth, from Eagles Wings to Fly Like a Bird, from Be Not Afraid to Sing a New Song, the music in our churches is universally destructive (for the top ten worst songs see here).

Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking,

Hey wait a second, I kinda like some of these songs.

I know, I know. So do I. But this should not surprise any of us. We have already stipulated that music is inexorably powerful in its influence. The sheer repetition and enforced familiarity with it is irresistible to the ordinary ear. That’s the whole point that Homer was making to us (nearly three thousand years ago!) in his description of the irresistible singing of the Sirens. All of Odysseus’ men would have perished had they not plugged their ears with beeswax.  Odysseus himself was only able to withstand it because his men tied him to the mast.

Image result for sirens homer

In other words, as sad as it is, and I hate to say it, we are all guilty of contributing to the present crisis in so far as we have failed to plug our ears against the insipid liturgical music of our day.  I am reminded of the wit who changed Captain Oliver Hazard Perry’s famous line, “We have met the enemy and they are ours!” to “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Image result for oliver hazard perry

Because we ourselves truly are contributing to the sexual crisis in the Catholic church by our inactivity and cooperation with the background music of this crisis.

Oh, c’mon!

you say,

That is ridiculous!

You only say that because you did not take Plato seriously in his Republic, whereas I did!

In other words, music has a tremendous impact on the soul.

Now imagine for moment a typical Catholic congregation who attend a typical mainstream Catholic parish Sunday after Sunday. Does the liturgical music that they hear week in and week out have an impact on their souls?

The answer is obvious.

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About marklangley

Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see theLyceum.org) Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their twelve children.
This entry was posted in Homer, Homer Sightings, Sacred Music, Socrates, The Mass and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Insipid Church Music: A Role in the Crisis?

  1. Proff Scridd says:

    I cannot help but think that we’ve heard some protestant-derived music at Sacred Heart from time to time 😉 But in all seriousness- right to the point (if correlative as much as causative)!

    • marklangley says:

      We have met the enemy….:-)

    • Howard says:

      So it’s OK to give the Pope a pagan title (Pontifex Maximus) — no problem there. And it’s OK to rededicate the Pantheon as Sancta Maria ad Martyres — no problem there. It’s OK to invoke the sibyls in the liturgy, and it’s OK to employ Plato and Aristotle to construct a Catholic philosophy — no problems there. BUT, any exposure to Isaac Watts, and before you know it the priests will be buggering altar boys?

      GET A GRIP ON REALITY.

      • Richard A says:

        Isaac Watts wrote “Kumbaya”?

        • Howard says:

          If all Protestant music has liturgical cooties, Isaac Watts has liturgical cooties. And yes, the whole question is at about the level of “who has cooties”.

      • marklangley says:

        Actually, I had meant to reply to Proff Scridd that it is not the protestant hymns that I am complaining about – which are by and large my favorite hymns (e.g. Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, Now Thank We All Our God, and so many by Isaac Watts) But rather the barren and vacuous music written in the last 40 years by Catholics for contemporary worship. I much prefer “Now Thank We All Our God” to “Gather Us In”.

        • Howard says:

          I will admit to having sung “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” when the cantor wanted us to sing “Sing a New Church” — which it requires a heroic act of virtue to interpret as other than heretical.

      • Lenore Arbaugh says:

        I agree, Howard. I get your point. It is really a wrong move to tie our own pet peeves, whether valid or not, to this horrible, crisis in the Church which is the direct result of sin. This article really has the effect of minimizing the demonic sin that apparently has spread through our Church.

        • Lenore Arbaugh says:

          And guess what ? I also do not like the vapid and insipid music as you call it. I think it is a symptom rather than a cause. It is a symptom of a lack of reverence and respect and a casting aside of centuries of beautiful music which brings out hearts close to Heaven. On that we can completely agree.

        • Howard says:

          Bingo. Look, I don’t object if a parish chooses to go with only Gregorian chant, and I will not defend the modern hymns that at are both bad art and very dodgy in content, but we should be realistic about cause and effect.

  2. Daniel Kintz says:

    And the Mass of St. Ann does not help things.

  3. declan says:

    A lot of the composers of those awful songs are homosexuals. We can assume that this was known to the people choosing this music for our services. Sort of like affirmative action.

  4. CJ says:

    Mr. Langley you are spot on. Having next to zero competence in the field of sacred music, but from the perspective of a Catholic father I see my children exposed regularly to music that is in a word unserious. These jingles make light of the miraculous encounter that is the Mass. If we can make light of such a thing what then is it to make light of morality and the sacred in other ways all the way up to our Bishops who permit same. Your article is very astute.

  5. Conor Cook says:

    This is true, at least to the extent that it represents the larger issue of a failure of right worship of God. This is most certainly a cause of the crisis, and until we reclaim right worship, we will be lost on our own.

  6. Carol says:

    If we believe as we pray, maybe we also believe as we sing. At least 75% of the time at my church, we sing about ourselves: We are a pilgrim people, Gather us in, We will arise at the sound of our name, We are the old, We are the young, Let US build a city of God, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with ME! Not to mention the utterly un-singable melodies, so many of which turn the liturgy into a whiney Disney musical reject. The constant repetition of these vapid ideas and tunes must be mind-bending.

  7. William says:

    I deeply disapprove of folks arriving late and leaving early, but there is no other recourse — the glad-handing, needless commentaries, and dreadful music at the beginning of Mass keep me purposefully late. The raunchy and inappropriate music at Communion time destroy any possibility for interior reflecting and thanksgiving and add to that the obligatory public reading of this weeks bulletin — well, following Communion, it’s out the door and out to my vehicle where I can pray and reflect (nunc dimmitus servum tuum…..). I steadfastly refuse to sing anything by Dan Scutte, et al.

  8. Therese says:

    Great article, and I agree. I do think, however, you left out a crucial cause of the crisis in the Church; more then a collapse of sexual ethics, it’s a collapse of faith- a denial of “no salvation outside the Church” (I’m happy when we get no salvation outside of Christ these days). Maybe that’s where we get some of our repetitive and vapid music from; because, after all, if none of us are really that bad of sinners and if Christ saves pretty much everyone anyway, what is there to get all excited in singing about?

  9. Larry Brooks says:

    May the Lord have mercy on us all. For those who choose to scapegoat the homosexuals
    for all that is wrong in the Church including your so called insipid music borders on insanity. Nextime you get on your heterosexual high horse you may want to reflect
    on the great frescoes and paintings that decorate the grand basilicas of Europe, and likely many others as well. Lots of these grand spectacular works of art were painted and carved by men with same sex attraction, homosexuals. God alone knows how many masterpieces of art and indeed music are the product of men who struggled. And while you are accusing them for everything under the sun consider how many billion sins of fornication you’ve ignored. How many million acts of adultery and pornography, contraception, abortion, etc. mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    As for the quality of church music; at least they try. I seriously doubt God has ear plugs when His daughters and sons sing his praises, no matter how their brothers and sisters insult their prayer. Church music, hymns, songs of worship etc. need to be created in each generation even as we hold to the great works of past ages. Or are we to examine the sexual preferences of every musics and artist. The beam in our eyes is blinding us to love our sisters and brothers even as we teach the truth of Jesus Christ on all moral issues. Jesus loves you, all of you; so much that He died to offer us salvation.

    • Daniel Kintz says:

      It is never a good thing to justify homosexuals/homosexuality by the works created. Because homosexuality is defined by sex. It cannot be defined by love. It cannot be defined by marriage. And it cannot be defined by children. It is defined when two folks of the same sex engage in perverted sexual activity. Were sex not involved the relationship could not be homo-sexual. Homosexuality is defined by sex, heterosexuality is defined by God.

    • John-Paul Volkenant jr. says:

      Quite the interesting comment, might I say.

      As far as I can tell, anyone in their right mind won’t blame the homosexuals for everything under the sun. Some may feel same sex attraction, however they can be chaste and realize that this attraction isn’t conforming to their inherent nature, and as a result, not participate in it. The sin of sodomy comes in when they act upon it. Unfortunately to say, the society today has advanced and encouraged homosexuals to act on it. So, ultimately,, it’s not the homosexual’s fault for everything; it just comes back to the culture. But of course, in all cases you can’t deny free will.

      My question on your address of the quality of church music is this: why do they even need to try? Why fix a cart that’s not broken? The Church reached its heights through the traditional forms of liturgical music. When we have hymns like the chant “Rorate Caeli”, why make a “Fly like a Bird”? Practically speaking, Holy Mother Church should be in contradiction to the ways of the world. But ideally speaking, the world would subject itself to Holy Mother Church.

  10. MarWes says:

    Of course the horrible church muzak is contributing to the Church crisis, just like the horrible church architecture, horrible church “art” and priests telling the obligatory horrible jokes during sermons (pardon, homilies.) The dumbing down of the Church has been going on for at least a half century.

  11. John-Paul Volkenant jr. says:

    Mr. Langley, I commend you for making such a great observation, and a natural one at that. With VII has come a serious degradation of liturgical music (I just can’t help but notice that all the best liturgical music has come from a premodernist church). Music is so crucial in the formation of the individual, and you see how crucial it is with the growth of the church. As Socrates shows justice in the man by showing justice in the city, so do we see the importance of music to the individual by seeing the effects of music with Holy Mother Church. However, I do see a greater issue at hand with the church. I’d like to give you my full thoughts on a lunch period. But great work!

  12. Insipid music is the ‘soundtrack’ of the crisis, for sure, but it betrays also a widespread rejection of what the Mass really is. You sing as you believe. If you believe the Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of Christ to the Father, then what you wouldn’t sing at the foot of the Cross, you wouldn’t dare sing at Mass. Then again, you believe as you sing. It’s hard to say which comes first, interior apostasy or insipid music? Maybe there’s a third term — as my Grandfather would say, in his Empedocles-like way, “When someone asks you chicken or egg, you ask him to tell you about the rooster.”

  13. Jose Ybarra says:

    Traditionally Church chant was created to sing the psalms to praise and glorify God as was the Jewish custom during the time of Christ, The sacred psalms were sung when the people made their pilgrimages to Jerusalem. to pray in the temple. Originally, our Churches were designed in imitation of the Jewish temple with the Holy of Holies where God dwells as the focal point of the Church. Our Church liturgy and vestments are also based on the Jewish Temple. The Church was designed as the temple where our Triune God dwells and should be respected and treated as God’s holy house. Our music should be based on the psalms like Gregorian Chant which was created specifically to inspire prayer and praise God. Sadly, we have made the Church a social hall were we come to be entertain with popular songs and clapping and feel good similar to Protestant Churches. In order not offend our Protestant friends who say we worship Mary and images of saints and that Christ is not really present in the tabernacle of the Church, we have removed most statues, and altar which is now consider a table where the meal is celebrated facing the people. The tabernacle has been moved to a side room, giving the impression that Christ is not present in the tabernacle and is not the central focus of the Church.
    Our music should be biblical, sacred and prayerful to inspire our souls to glorify and praise God. It should create the inspiration to contemplate and move the soul to the awareness of God’s holy presence here with us in the Church. May The Holy Spirit guide us!

  14. Me says:

    It diminishes the severity of the scandal to insist that it has anything at all to do with church music. The shepherds fed their flock to the wolves. A little bit more Gregorian chant isn’t going to help us out of this mess…nnot when the shepherds were not moved by the mass itself.

  15. Nancy Edwards says:

    Is it okay to listen to “insipid” music outside of church? Can I sing along with Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher on my car radio? I don’t think Sirius has a chant station. I suppose you listen to classical when you’re not listening to chant, but honestly, what do you sing when you’re doing the vacuuming?

    I understand that your comments were directed to liturgical music, but as you said, music is a great influence, so I really wondered what you thought. Does this limit what I can play for fun on the piano? Do I have to quit playing French horn in our senior cituzen’s band because they play marches and ragtime and even Beach Boys?

    And what about Christmas carols?

    Help!

  16. Matthew D. says:

    Music in Church needs to be Catholic, that’s for sure. It’s not and that’s harmful. But the crisis is caused by Communion in the hand (and to a lesser extent the distribution of the Precious Blood). If we can salvage Eucharistic piety, I believe, that everything will come right over time.

  17. Thomas says:

    Unlike our Protestant brothers and sisters, we Catholics have no other outlet for our music besides our liturgy settings…that is the problem today! Much of the post-Vatican II music is very nice, very singable, etc. I agree that it is not helpful as liturgical music, but that doesn’t make it bad music, nor should it be banished from Catholic life. As the world’s largest Christian denomination, we should have listening channels for popular Catholic music, encouraging the creation of more music and songs–about Saints, about Popes, about miracles, etc. We are in this debate because we haven’t given our Catholic music culture anywhere to exist except in liturgy!

    • Linda Putman says:

      Thomas, we’re not a denomination. We’re the Church.

      Much of the post-V II music is bad because it is heretical. And because it’s an unfortunate fact that too many of the members of the congregation don’t know the faith well enough to know heresy when we hear it, it is very dangerous.

      Blessings.

  18. I attribute my priestly vocation (and my appreciation for high-quality liturgical music) in large part to the fact that in pre-Vatican II Catholic grade school, we sang a daily High Mass in Gregorian, as well as an array of dignified, non-sentimental hymns.

  19. Morrie Chamberlain says:

    and then there is the contemporary choir at so many Catholic churches with 80% me, me, me. This toe tapping song from Phillips, Craig & Dean (all Protestant pastors) would seem to give the go ahead for Catholics in mortal sin to receive communion, somehow bow rather than bend the knee (which fortunately we still do). The greatest is not Jesus about to be received but still remains in some distant time. Some even might be confused that they are God.

    “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship”

    Come, now is the time to worship.
    Come, now is the time to give your heart.
    Come, just as you are, to worship.
    Come, just as you are, before your God.
    Come.

    One day every tongue will confess
    You are God.
    One day every knee will bow.
    Still the greatest treasure remains for those
    Who gladly choose you now.

    Come, now is the time to worship.
    Come, now is the time to give your heart.
    Oh, come. Just as you are to worship.
    Come just as you are before your God.
    Come.

    One day every tongue will confess
    You are God.
    One day every knee will bow.
    Still the greatest treasure remains for those
    who gladly choose you now.

    [Repeat]

    Come, now is the time to worship.
    Come, now is the time to give your heart.
    Come, just as you are to worship.
    Come, just as you are before your God.
    Come.

    Oh, come. Oh, come. Oh, come.
    Worship the Lord. Oh, come.

    Come, come, come…

  20. Sally Park says:

    We sang one last week at the youth mass with this line, “Now is your time to shine; Take up your cross.” WHAT!?!? It seems to me that a good word to apply here is “incongruent.” The vapid and narcissistic music is incongruent with the beauty and depth and holiness of the mass. It manifests a painful ignorance and thoughtlessness of what we’re there to do, and BE! I find more and more, as I age, things all work together. It may SEEM a stretch to connect the touchy-feels music with the scandals, but I don’t think it’s in error to conclude it’s a not insignificant part of the mix.

  21. Bill Kane says:

    What you say is not without merit, but you come across as a liturgical snob. Some of the comments here above border on disgusting. Western polyphonic music is simply one of a number of legitimate genres of music, preferred by those who love it, but which does not connect with those who do not. You too readily dismiss the valid and worthwhile liturgies which do not conform to your ideals and you do this at your peril.

    • If you think you are free to say that Mr. Langley comes across as a “liturgical snob,” then I am free to say that you come across as a liturgical and musical cretin. Instead elevating men’s hearts and minds and drawing them heavenwards, your “whatever-music-the-consumer-wants” principle debases and trivializes the liturgy, and drags it down to the lowest common denominator — sentimental or pop-type music with lyrics devoid of solid doctrinal content.

      • Bill Kane says:

        Given that I started by saying that Mr Langley’s comments were not without merit, and that I did not espouse any particular genre of Liturgical music, you have a blind leap to suggest that I come across as a cretin.
        For more than 30 years as a liturgical musician, I have always strived to achieve to the fullest extent, given the capability of the musicians, congregation and Celebrant, all of the aims of Musicam Sacram. The Sacred Liturgy is celebrated with reference and joy, with music and singing, and appreciated and encouraged by our late Cardinal Winning, our Archbishop’s and Bishops.
        Some styles of Sacred Music are beyond our reach, but we trust that the Good Lord will not hold that against us.

      • William says:

        Father, I couldn’t agree more. Why are we not allowed music-less Masses? Many, many congregants wouldn’t mind in the least. Many times I leave Holy Mass so exasperated for having been forced to endure the Haughen, Hass, Schute garbage that is so prevalent — the teeth marks on my steering wheel attest to the fact.

        • The reason is that the reformers detested the Low Mass and considered common vocal participation to be the ONLY form of participation in the Mass worthy of the name. You could not be left alone to contemplate the mysterium tremendum on your own. It was anti-social, and contradicted the “theology of assembly” that was the basis for the creation of the Novus Ordo Missae. So you had to be barking out responses and singing ditties with the rest of your fellow assembly members, urged on by the Gigantic Amplified Electronic Voice. The minimum ditty count had to include at least the “Gospel Acclamation,” the former Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamation and the “Great Amen.” Again, what you detest is the product of the bad theology underlying the reform.

  22. Scott Hrabar says:

    The answer is no and yes:

    No: the music is the result of a purposeful and malicious assault on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which was accompanied with the attitude that Mass needed to be “modern”. Thus, the music is a symptom of the crisis. Keep in mind, the liturgical rot started before bad music was the norm.

    Yes: the happy-clappy musak eschewed sin and the need for forgiveness, and focused on everyone being awesome. Of course that’s going to have repercussions.

    • The bad music is ultimately the product of bad theology — the Mass as “assembly,” rather than a sacrifice offered to God. If the primary presence of Christ is in the assembly, as the liturgical reformers and modern liturgists told us, and it is the assembly that offers the sacrifice, well, the music has to reflect that. Hence, lowest-common denominator music and endless yammering about “gathering,”

  23. Rob Maloney says:

    The basis for this current music is pop and folk music. Pop and folk are simple and almost instantly likeable and learnable. Also, after some time hearing them over and over again, they are easily despisable, like a pop song you couldnt get enough of once that you now can’t stand. The top ten and dozens others suffer from a bland limited range of ‘niceness’; of composers, Dan Schutte is the worst. Banally cheery, positive. New music guy at parish seems to think we have to learn his Missa My Little Pony, with its unglorious Gloria. I still like stuff by Haugen, Haas, et al., but they are tiresomely familiar. There are several hundred songs to choose from; why not be venturesome.

    This is another problem, uninspired music directors. I heard Ore. Cath. Press sends a weekly list of recommended songs to music folk; glancing around various churches a given week, looks like they mostly follow that.

    However, those who want to get back to polyphony, chant etc., have a hard road to follow. I think it unrealistic to expect it possible at many parishes. Assuming you have any support. It seems at the several parishes I’ve been at, talented music directors who include good, formal church music have often been replaced by ones who tend toward “Your Catholic Hit Parade.” The future is grim!

  24. ch says:

    Dies Irae for liturgical music

    Day of wrath, O Day of mourning!
    Earth to ashes now returning!
    Gather, by the millions, burning!

    Cleansed at last by cataclysm
    Butchered rhyme and battered rhythm,
    Neopagan narcissism!

    On that day, Lord, when thou comest,
    And our dreadful hymnals thumbest,
    Smite the ugliest and dumbest.

    Smite them, Lord, yet of thy pity
    Take their songsters to thy city:
    Even Haugen, Haas, and Schutte.

    Spare them on the stern condition
    That they feel a true contrition
    for the Worship III edition.

    Doom them not to loss and ruin
    While the darker storm is brewing!
    They knew not what they were doing.

    On that day when Palestrina
    Dare not touch a celestina,
    What will Sister Ballerina?

    With thine eyes that pierce like lances
    Still her heathen silly dances
    And her flirting with Saint Francis.

    Purge us of the prim and prissy,
    Ditties fit for Meg or Missy,
    Not for Francis, but a sissy.

    Cantors who thought nothing grander
    Than a sheaf of propaganda
    Writ like office memoranda,

    Raise them to thy room to bide in
    Where their hearts and ears may widen
    To the strains of Bach and Haydn.

    Let their hearts within them falter,
    Hearing, as they near thine altar,
    Seraphs sing the Scottish Psalter.

    Seize those devils set to pen a
    Hymnal neutered of its men, ah,
    Fling em all to black Gehenna!

    Fling them one and all to mangle
    Their pronominals, and wrangle
    Lest a participle dangle!

    Who held manhood in derision,
    Preaching double circumcision,
    Suffer now their own revision.

    Though the songs of Hell are naughty,
    None by Handel or Scarlatti,
    At the least they’ll have castrati.

    Pitch, O Lord, the bald and raucous
    Slogans of a leftist caucus
    Down to Sheol, or Secaucus!

    Save their singers, though: restore em
    To a silent sweet decorum,
    Saecula per saeculorem.

    Various are the throngs of heaven:
    Some were lump, and some were leaven,
    Some as lame as six or seven.

    When the demons hear thy curses,
    And this world dense fog disperses,
    Heal the hobbled, not their verses.

    Hush me too, Lord, when I grumble:
    In thy mercy make me humble,
    Lest On Turkey Wings I stumble.

    Though Haugen sing “Hosea” evermore,
    Save me, I pray! but keep me near the door. Amen.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2006/01/dies-irae-for-liturgical-music/

  25. Jim in Perth says:

    On a positive note, I see broad agreement that much of today’s music is not only inappropriate, it demoralizes the people and undermines the theology inherent in the liturgy. I too agree that many post-Vatican II songwriters need to be retired – as difficult as that may be – and replaced with something – new or old – and better.

    One thing that was only mentioned in passing is the “unsingability” of the service music that has come out with the new Mass translation. The arhythmic music which followed the release of that new text is impossible for the average person to sing. Which is extraordinarily frustrating if it is your desire to raise your voice in worship of God!!

    Finally, I attended a different parish for a change a few years ago. It was the month of December. The closing hymn was – indeed – Kumbayah, the quintessential Advent hymn, right? I wept – and they weren’t tears of joy or adoration – and never went back.

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