Friday, June 6, 2014


Should this sort of liturgical planning guide for music at Mass be anathema today? Will your Pentecost Mass be superficial razzmatazz or chant that propels you to contemplation and prayer, not to mention reverence and piety in the traditional understanding of that in Catholicism? Or will it be superficial hype masquerading as prayer and piety?
Is it going to be folk music, worship and praise music, Protestant hymns or newly created Broadway sounding ditties written in a contemporary style for Pentecost Sunday?

Or is it going to be the chants of the Church prescribed in the Missal and the Roman Gradual?

Whose taste will prevail? The music director's? The pastor's? Or God forbid, the liturgy committee's?

This is what the Church will choose for Pentecost Sunday:

The Entrance Chant, chanted in simple or complex chant or polyphony:

Refrain: The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia; and that which contains all things, knows every language spoken by men, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Verse: Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let those who hate him flee before his face.

Or Will your music director or someone in authority pick this song for you as the entrance song?

The Sequence (Latin):

Or will you hear this?

The Offertory Chant:

Confirm, O God, that which you have accomplished in our midst; from your holy temple which is in Jerusalem, kings shall offer presents to you, alleluia.

Or will the one in music authority in your parish pick this?

The Communion Chant:

Suddenly, a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, in the place where they were sitting, alleluia; and they were all filled with the Holy spirit, and announced the great things God had done, alleluia, alleluia.

Or will the one in authority in your parish pick this as the communion song?

The Roman Gradual does not prescribe a recessional hymn. Tradition continued at Papal Masses is for the Regina Caeli to be chanted during the Easter Season and the Salve Regina outside of Easter and prior to recessing.

In addition to these chants, do our Catholics understand that the other hymns of the Mass are each and every part of the Mass to include the readings also? Do they see the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Our Father and Agnus Dei as the authentic hymns of the Mass or do they feel that Catholics really haven't sung at Mass if they haven't sung some king of hymn or song from a hymnal during Mass?

If these were chanted at Mass and it was understood these are the music or songs of the Mass and no one needs to plan otherwise or use their own tastes and preferences to select music or songs, how much more unified would we be as a Church? Truly Pentecost would have come!

But let's face it, the contemporary songs that I posted in the videos above get one's adrenalin rushing like at a rock concert. The English chant videos I post propel one to prayer and contemplation without razzmatazz.

Is razzmatazz liturgical? Ever? Or is is superficial hype?  

What music on Pentecost Sunday will be sung at your parish for the entrance, offertory and communion? Whose taste will have conquered the Church's selections? 


John Nolan said...

Don't forget the Sequence 'Veni Sancte Spiritus'. Known as the Golden Sequence, it is believed to have been written by Stephen Langton (c.1150-1228) who was Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of King John and who drew up Magna Carta which is still part of English and American law.

Resist the temptation to sing it as a hymn in the setting by Samuel Webbe. Give the congregation the original and beautiful Latin chant and encourage them to sing it alternatim with the choir (each musical phrase is repeated). It is one of only two obligatory Sequences in the Novus Ordo and there is no excuse for anyone who calls himself a Catholic not knowing it. The Latin is so easy-peasy that even a child can understand it. I daresay even Pater Ignotus can understand it.

'Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium'

See what I mean?

qwikness said...

Is Praise music bad on its own? If there was a Praise Music night at church once a week for the youth group followed by a speaker and more songs. No communion or Eucharist present. Would that be wrong? I don't think the Catholics need to do that because the Baptists have that covered but it might satisfy a need for these charismatic types. Leave the sacred pious music for Mass when in His presence. But to sing Praises of Joy and Allelujah might as I said do something for somebody who otherwise would stray.

Joe Potillor said...

qwikness, on it's own no.

At my parish, we'll be singing the Byzantine propers (as I attend a Byzantine parish) And we'll sing my favorite hymn

"Heavenly KIng, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious One

WSquared said...

qwikness, you touch on a point that I have indeed raised at numerous other times: there's a place for Praise and Worship Music or Christian pop in the Church.

But it's not clear at all that MASS is "that" place.

One of the real problems that I see is that many to most Catholics have no spiritual sense of "Church"-- they have little to no sense of the Mystical Body of Christ that is nonetheless Incarnate; visible in the world.

When they think "Church," they either think of their parish church or "the Vatican," where the latter is full of a bunch of "old, celibate white men" who may or may not be doing "stuff that Americans don't like." We also squish "being Catholic" into one scant hour a week, so we somehow think that God's invitation to "come as you are" means that anything and everything that we "like" should be "represented" at Mass.

It's also common for enough people to say that they "go to Church." Okay, but Catholics don't just "go to church" in any popular sense of the expression. Catholics go to Mass, where we receive Christ, Truly Present in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We are no Church without Him.

Moreover, we boil music down to mere "taste," when music that is appropriate for Mass and the music of the Mass is not about what we or anyone else "likes" and "doesn't like," but what the Church gives us and why. If we're often so quick to jump on those who speak the Truth with a harsh tongue, saying that the person may be right, but completely wrong in the delivery, then why don't our thoughts on tone and delivery apply also to Sacred Music? A lot of the "words" may be "right" for some of these pop songs at Mass, but it does matter how those words are conveyed, which always begs the question of what Mass actually IS in its spiritual reality. That last question should not constantly be the elephant in the room.

John Nolan said...

W Squared

In England Anglicans go to church and Catholics go to Mass.

It used to be said that Anglicans go to church in order to be seen, Nonconformists go to chapel to be part of a congregation, and Catholics go to Mass because they are obliged to.

Henry said...


It's not a question of whether music is good, bad, or indifferent. Rather, the question is whether it's part of the Mass. Especially some of the great old traditional hymns are important parts of our heritage of sacred music.

But however impeccably faithful, wonderfully devotional and holy they are, they don't belong at Mass. As Pope St. Pius X said over a century ago in urging actual participation at Mass ... We should not sing at Mass, we should sing the Mass.

George said...

Come, Holy Spirit

Heal our wounds
our strength renew;
On our dryness pour the dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away!

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray!

The above might be taking a little more liberty with the translation than some would like.
Which might be a convincing argument to sing it in Latin.
I kind of like it though.

Anonymous in Archdiocese of Detroit said...

At my parish, we will have a folk-pop band and the enterance hymn will be "All Are Welcome", and the closing hymn will be "Sing A New Church".

rcg said...

Did you notice the one video advertised Mass starting every Sunday at 4PM? I wonder how hungry those people are by then!!!

John Nolan said...

George, I quite like the Webbe hymn version, written in the 18th century when chant had almost been forgotten. But the circumlocution required to render what can be easily Englished from Latin - wash what is dirty, moisten what is dry, heal what is ill, bend what is stiff, warm what is cold, straighten what is crooked - to make it fit a poetical metre which can then be set to a hymn tune destroys the immediacy of the original.

The original is poetry; not a redundant word and set to an unforgettable melody which is quite easy to sing. Sing it! A simple crib might be useful to those who have no Latin, whereupon they will quickly discover that virtually every Latin word has an English cognate.