Saturday, May 27, 2017

JUST WHEN DID MUSIC BECOME SUCH A DIVISIVE ISSUE IN MOST CATHOLIC PARISHES? OH, YES, I REMEMBER (IT ALSO BECAME A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS!





One of the most unfortunate developments is the subjective approach to music in the Mass since Vatican II is that it has made music the single most divisive issue concerning the Mass, bar none. Vatican II did not intend this, but its subjective interpretation caused it. 

I am a teenager of the Folk Mass era of the 1960’s. It was very controversial even then but archaic today. This passing fad singlehandedly began the great music divisiveness in the post Vatican II Church. Prior to Vatican II only the actual Mass parts in a Sung Mass beginning with the Introit could be chanted with the option of simple or more complicated forms of Gregorian chant and polyphony. 

Some parishes were able to pull off complicated Masses writer by the great composers--but these were rare and the hierarchy was somewhat concerned about the secularization of the chants of the Mass for entertainment purposes then used in Masses actually celebrated. 

The 1960’s Folk Mass with hand clapping, foot stomping and secular instruments like the tambourine  began the great division not only in parishes but also families as to the style of music used at Mass resting solely upon personal tastes and the "kick" one gets from hearing music and this being the criteria for it being good or not.. When I could drive at 16 I went to the Folk Mass by myself not with my parents who despised this novelty. Vatican II can’t be faulted for this only its extremely poor, wrong and subjective implementation. 

The folk music movement which opened the door to fads in music in the Mass is what has made Catholics consumers of church music and church music has become a big business in the Church because fads and tastes are constantly shifting.

 Today the fad for some young people is “praise and worship music” borrowed from the non-denominational Protestant Churches. I had one well known liturgical musician in the Church tell me that what we are doing by giving into these kinds of musical fads, especially of the non-denominational type, is that we are preparing the way for our younger generation to leave the Catholic Church for these non-denominational sects because their music and preaching and fellowship will always be better than what we do because they don’t have the Sacraments of the Church as we do, so they create the hook of slick music in the contemporary style to get and keep member and they constantly test the market to see what works best for their consumers as fads and tastes change!

We simply have to get away from the fads of church music and the plethora of new hymns and hymnbooks that are a part of the consumerists' approach to worship in the Catholic Church today—a multimillion dollar business (and for Protestants too!). We need to be untied as a parish, diocese and universal Church in the manner in which we sing the Mass. Families need to be united too at Mass. This is the vision of Vatican II even in the limited amount of diversity it actually allows.  Ideally each parish should only have one Sunday Mass that is packed to the rafters not multiple Masses designed to please a consumer’s taste. But in multiple Mass parishes we need to be unified not divided in the manner in which we sing and worship. Let's go back to Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium and compare what it said about the revision of the Mass (which fortunately is still being celebrated in many places as the EF Mass) and look at what we did to it in the Ordinary Form as it is celebrated in the majority of parishes in the world today. Is there a disconnect? I would say so.

No matter how poorly the ancient Order of the Mass might have been celebrated here and there prior to Vatican II, in no way does it compared with the poverty of celebration today of the Ordinary Form. Thus, more than ever, we need Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium's vision of the renewal of the Ancient Order of the Mass, which the post-Vatican II developments compromised and destroyed.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Might one way be to move praise and worship,along with other contemporary music, to the parish center? Complimentary to that would be to choose a formally educated music director who has the proper background in liturgical music, and to listen carefully to their portfolio. A lot of liturgical arts disappear simply because those artists are not supported. That can especially be true in some urban centers and universities where artists often begin their careers. I remember BB King once said when he played guitar in the church he got a pat on the head, when he played in the bar he got a nickel.

Anonymous said...

There is one church I attend where the priest simply rings a bell to announce the beginning of Mass. He then says "open to page ### and we will sing the first two verses", and the priest begins singing. No music ministry, no folk guitar, no pipe organ, no mighty Wurlitzer. Its the priest and the parishioners in an unrehearsed and unaccompanied song. What's wrong with that?

James said...

Music doesn't have to be a divisive issue, and only becomes so when someone (OK, a priest new to the parish) tries to impose change, and in doing so wrecks whatever compromise has built up over preceding years. Reducing the number of masses on a Sunday morning is bound to cause trouble, since either the choir or the music group will end up feeling marginalized.

Funnily enough, there's absolutely no trace of the consumerist mentality in our parish's folk group. Most of the musicians have been playing in it for twenty or thirty years, and the music must have remained pretty similar throughout that time. I used to avoid masses that the folk group played at, but now that we just have a single Sunday morning mass, I've come to appreciate what they do: their music has a touching optimism and innocence about it, and every Sunday I feel like I'm being transplanted back to 1968.

We're lucky to have a good adult choir and children's choir too, and strangely the pop-chart mentality is more obvious in their repertory, with a bit too much Paul Inwood for my tastes. Come to think of it, what we think of as a pop-chart mentality has always been present in parish church music, with successive generations introducing innovations and discarding earlier forms. The revivals of chant and the Palestrina style in the 19th and early 20th centuries had very little impact on most parishes (and even where it did, choirs wouldn't have been singing Palestrina, but rather simplified imitations by the likes of Franz Witt and Michael Haller).

It's possible to bring folk groups and choirs together, of course, and often churches advertise for music director capable of coordinating both forms of music. But it takes a pretty exceptional individual to pull this off.

Henry said...

"No matter how poorly the ancient Order of the Mass might have been celebrated here and there prior to Vatican II"

Why do you always begin--as though it's obligatory--with a bow to the "fake history" of the pre-Vatican II era? I attended both daily and Sunday Mass in 8 different parishes in 4 states in 3 different regions of the country before the end of Vatican II, and never witnessed a single noticeably "poorly celebrated" Mass. Whereas now, most folks have to attend that many before witnessing a single Mass that's not poorly celebrated, in some noticeable way.

Julian Barkin said...

".... When I could drive at 16 I went to the Folk Mass by myself not with my parents who despised this novelty. Vatican II can’t be faulted for this only its extremely poor, wrong and subjective implementation. "

Father I think this well sums up why it took off so well and ingrained itself in your generation, who now runs the Church clerically. Kudos and many praises for you (and graces/blessing from Christ you were committed) to go alone to Mass despite your parents not going to the Folk Mass, as you could have just rebelled fully and not gone at all. However, that spirit of rebellion, combined with the age of youth (16-25) is the adulting portion where you think for yourself and come into "YOUR" identity faithwise, and would you agree this whole ethos or environment, liturgically and theology, is YOUR Generation's definement in the Church, hence why a number of your confreres are stubborn and won't cater to (Radical and) the nouveau Traditionalism becoming this generation's "Crie du" rebellion? (that is, the kids who haven't become Nones or actually are left still to care about the Church?)

Julian Barkin said...

" Today the fad for some young people is “praise and worship music” borrowed from the non-denominational Protestant Churches. I had one well known liturgical musician in the Church tell me that what we are doing by giving into these kinds of musical fads, especially of the non-denominational type, is that we are preparing the way for our younger generation to leave the Catholic Church for these non-denominational sects because their music and preaching and fellowship will always be better than what we do because they don’t have the Sacraments of the Church as we do, so they create the hook of slick music in the contemporary style to get and keep member and they constantly test the market to see what works best for their consumers as fads and tastes change!"

Glad you observed this. In my Archdiocese, this is exactly what is being given to the young people, and forms the basis of their "choirs" if you call them that. Even though there are choir "leaders" or "musicians" who are skilled in the finer arts, few will be brave to experiment or dare to circumvent the trends because either A) They are lax in the faith themselves and not Orthodox, or B) they know they would be kicked out of the music parts of their parish, even volunteer wise, because their pastors are clericalist tyrants who want this crap, or maybe C) everyone involved just doesn't know any better from the pastor down to the laity, and they are just trying their best with what they know of the Faith to worship the Lord via song.

Julian Barkin said...

"We simply have to get away from the fads of church music and the plethora of new hymns and hymnbooks that are a part of the consumerists' approach to worship in the Catholic Church today—a multimillion dollar business (and for Protestants too!). We need to be untied as a parish, diocese and universal Church in the manner in which we sing the Mass. Families need to be united too at Mass. This is the vision of Vatican II even in the limited amount of diversity it actually allows...."

Father, I agree with your thoughts, but I do not have faith in the laity to get together on this, unless it's purposely for establishing a Latin Mass where all this is "vogue." Most families and laity simply treat the Mass as obligation and leave as fast and hurriedely as they came. Do not expect the Body of Christ to heal itself like that, without some sort of "IV INFUSION" of some kind of "Drug" as it were. What, I don't exactly know unless its authoritative and from the top down in an "obey or leave the Church" kind of manner.

".... Ideally each parish should only have one Sunday Mass that is packed to the rafters not multiple Masses designed to please a consumer’s taste. But in multiple Mass parishes we need to be unified not divided in the manner in which we sing and worship...."

No Father. As a 34 Yr old. young adult recently married, I am against you on this. My wife and I, are at the point in our relationship, where if we aren't blessed to have a rare weekend we DON'T have any commitments, we get slaughtered by one of: 1) weddings, due to our peer group being at that age range (think multiple weddings in a given year on Sat nights.,) 2) my wife's extra, weekend commitments as a teacher supervisor for school group/team outings and I often tag along as responsible hubby/assistant (e.g. pack mule, ha ha ha, or moral support,) 3) Social gatherings such as FINALLY seeing our wedding party members and their significant others/friends, in what is limited social time on our precious weekends; all while working full time Mon-Fri jobs AND having to attend to house duties; 4) Extra-liturgical duties, such as youth ministry for teens, which usually is NOT on a Friday night in most parishes, but attached to a Saturday Evening vigil Mass, or a Sunday evening Vigil Mass.

Now in all this you honestly want to force the Church to have only ONE Sunday Mass? Some weekends, a 10-1230pm timeslot simply is NOT doable for the younger generation, pre- and post-marriage!!! Thank the Lord a local parish of mine has a 530pm Sunday Mass, else my wife and I would be in dire MORTAL SIN FROM MISSING THE OBLIGATION OF SUNDAY MASS!!!! Sorry Father but I do not think your argument would hold much water on this one with my generation.

Gene said...

We are worried about music (which is pretty much awful in most parishes) when the Pope just appointed an openly pro-LGBT Archbishop in California?

Dialogue said...

Julian Barkin,

You're to be commended for struggling to preserve your faith in the midst of various social demands. Do you place these social demands on a par with ecclesial demands? If others of your age do consider social demands to be of greater value than ecclesial demands, is it possible that they can be converted to a different way of thinking?

Marc said...

Julian, I'm 33 with 2 children, one of whom is 4 months old and lives in a hospital and the other is 19 months old. We make it to Mass every Sunday. Our parish has two Masses: 7:30 and 9:30 am.

I would charitably suggest you get your priorities in order before you have children or you're going to have problems keeping the practice of the faith in the future.

James said...

Julian makes a fair point, since mass times are often a lot more restricted now than in past decades, and who ever heard of changes to mass schedules being made in order to make the times more family friendly?

We almost always make the 10:00 mass, but with three young children (5, 3 and 1) it's always a frantic rush, with zero time for prayer or reflection beforehand (though I do go through the Gospel reading with my eldest daughter the day before). I long for the good old days when we could attend a mass at 11:15.

Julian Barkin said...

Marc, While it's good you are in similar age range as I, and already have children, based on prior responses here on this blog and your's now, you are NOT charitable and I will not dialogue with you on that. It's basically "shut up and obey" as it were. Also, your past responses also have me questioning whether you are radically traditionalist or not, and your current response was actually rude. Take a hint from Dialogue how to reply to posters.

Dialogue, as your comment is TRULY dialoguing, I will certainly reply in earnest here. Some of the social demands, I cannot be rid of. Thankfully I do attend my obligation on weekdays, and even partake selectively in offerings of the Latin Mass (see my profile pic,)
I also partake in some extra ministry outside of Mass, as I am trying to take Fr. Z's advice of "being the maquis" for numerous reasons including, trying to be a positive example of a "Trad." Since this is a Traditionalist Blog, I will say that a pastor down the road, MIGHT look more favourably on Traditionalism and a possible TLM offering, if one who approaches does more for the regular (Arch)diocese/parishes in one's community. (FR AJM: Would you agree with me on that?)

And yes, I DO COUNT AS A TRAD, as I go to more than one offering of a TLM a year, have my own blog, and even serve occasionally in the EF. That cassock and surplice in my profile pic, btw, I had to purchase on my own for the TLMs (ok, honestly my dad got it for me as a b-day gift.) While hardcore Trads would revile me as shoe scum, regular joe Catholics would point a finger at me and call me "Trad"

Julian Barkin said...

Continued ...

My wife, solely raised in the novus ordo and rebuffing my attempts to want to go Traditionalist (though I admit, I am obnoxious at times with my attempts,) doesn't always see eye to eye on certain things. The weddings, I cannot just rebuff. Unfortunately, my wife places her friends and family (even distant) as a priority in her life, while friends in my life take a backseat and I don't mind dismissing them if they either become heretics or radical traditionalists. I also have few, if any close friends, and save one, they have all become married before my marriage. Those events are all her "side," or friends, some whom came to our wedding, and it is sadly one of many compromises I make in my marriage I cannot get rid of.

Other demands, for example, are entertaining her core friends and other Catholic friends, although I do want to keep in touch with those of hers prior to an organizational and leadership change in her parish's youth ministry. I came into her life before that change with those people. Dialogue, what do you think will be the response to me saying "We socailize with your friends too much." Might I add the core female friends of her's were her bridesmaids and "lifelong" friends, most or all emanating from her parish youth ministry during intermediate elementary/high school years? Let's say I impose such a limit. I do that, and then that would look GREAT to a future divorce lawyer and an annulment committee: "Controlling husband who socially isolated his wife." Let's add to that, that feminism runs rampant like a beast with rabies in the civil/criminal courts AND the Catholic Church hierarchy/chanceries as well. BIASED verdict anyone? So again, another sacrifice I made for my marriage and my wife. However, I will make every effort NOT to get to that stage ..... ever ... I commit till death do us part and realize Marriage IS a vocation, an optimal way to do the Lord's work and I'm supposed to get my wife to heaven, and she, I, as an ordinary way of sanctity in the Body of Christ. That's what I signed up for on the altar. Thank the Lord for the Latin Mass community (environmental influence), my best friend in faith, certain Trad blogs, and the Catechism for teaching that, as my Catholic mother (emphasized certain things like Mass obligation and not being a fidget in the pews, not other catechecal things) and my schools and parishes FAILED to teach that.

I am not sure if this was the road you were going down Dialogue. Does this fill you in more? Or were you asking about something else? Can you clarify?My wife, solely raised in the novus ordo and rebuffing my attempts to want to go Traditionalist (though I admit, I am obnoxious at times with my attempts,) doesn't always see eye to eye on certain things. The weddings, I cannot just rebuff. Unfortunately, my wife places her friends and family (even distant) as a priority in her life, while friends in my life take a backseat and I don't mind dismissing them if they either become heretics or radical traditionalists. I also have few, if any close friends, and save one, they have all become married before my marriage. Those events are all her "side," or friends, some whom came to our wedding, and it is sadly one of many compromises I make in my marriage I cannot get rid of.

Julian Barkin said...

Cont 2 ...

4096 chr limit ugh! Other demands, for example, are entertaining her core friends and other Catholic friends, although I do want to keep in touch with those of hers prior to an organizational and leadership change in her parish's youth ministry. I came into her life before that change with those people. Dialogue, what do you think will be the response to me saying "We socailize with your friends too much." Might I add the core female friends of her's were her bridesmaids and "lifelong" friends, most or all emanating from her parish youth ministry during intermediate elementary/high school years? Let's say I impose such a limit. I do that, and then that would look GREAT to a future divorce lawyer and an annulment committee: "Controlling husband who socially isolated his wife." Let's add to that, that feminism runs rampant like a beast with rabies in the civil/criminal courts AND the Catholic Church hierarchy/chanceries as well. BIASED verdict anyone? So again, another sacrifice I made for my marriage and my wife. However, I will make every effort NOT to get to that stage ..... ever ... I commit till death do us part and realize Marriage IS a vocation, an optimal way to do the Lord's work and I'm supposed to get my wife to heaven, and she, I, as an ordinary way of sanctity in the Body of Christ. That's what I signed up for on the altar. Thank the Lord for the Latin Mass community (environmental influence), my best friend in faith, certain Trad blogs, and the Catechism for teaching that, as my Catholic mother (emphasized certain things like Mass obligation and not being a fidget in the pews, not other catechecal things) and my schools and parishes FAILED to teach that.

I am not sure if this was the road you were going down Dialogue. Does this fill you in more? Or were you asking about something else? Can you clarify?

Marc said...

Wonder no more: I am definitely a radical traditionalist, and I am not always very charitable. Be that as it may, I am simply offering you advice from my experience.

Robert Kumpel said...

The last time I heard really solid music at a Mass was...so long ago, I can't date it. It was a schola singing Gregorian chant at your former parish in Macon at one of the monthly TLM's.

The fact is, music at most Masses is just a distraction to me any more. When I hear that the organist, pianist, folk group or whatever couldn't make it and we have to have a Mass without music, part of me rejoices. Most music in most parishes is somewhere between unbearable and mediocre. Just turn it off and let's have the Mass.