Thursday, June 29, 2017


How apropos that Fr. Fox wrote this comment as I have been writing in my parish bulletin about the liturgy and the divisiveness we have today in our parishes over the kind of music and what is sung in our Masses. This is my bulletin letter, in part, from last Sunday:

One of the most unfortunate developments in the subjective approach to music in the Mass 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 approach 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 of a Sung Mass beginning with the Introit could be chanted with the option of simple or more complicated forms of Gregorian chant and polyphony. No one complained or demanded that their favorite style of music be used or extra Masses created to please the various tastes of parishioners.

The 1960’s Folk Mass with hand clapping, foot stomping and secular instruments like the tambourine led to great liturgical division not only in parishes but also families. 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, subjective and wrong implementation.

The folk music movement opened the door to fads in music in the Mass. We Catholics are now 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 muscian in the Church say 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 members and they constantly test the market to see what works best for their consumers!

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—a multi-million dollar business. We need to be united as a parish and as families in the manner in which we sing the Mass. That is the vision of Vatican II. Ideally each parish should only have one Sunday Mass that is packed to the rafters not multiple Mass designed to please a consumer’s convenience in Mass times or tastes in music and Mass style. But in multiple Mass parishes, like St. Anne, we need to be united in the manner in which we sing and worship. That’s Vatican II’s objective approach and thus mine.


ByzRus said...

At Divine Liturgy, propers are always sung. No one complains. They are beautiful and the style of chant particular to the Byzantine Ruthenian Church, to me, is familiar and soothing. It is a shame that the same isn't the case in the Latin Church. So many years of chant abandoned in favor of hymns adapted from other churches and popular culture. I agree that special masses take on a consumerist stance as liturgists and directors of music attempt to create 'meaningful' and 'relevant' experiences. A week ago at solemn high mass, propers were chanted and it was otherworldy. To be freed from the 4 hymn sandwich at just one Roman Mass did so much good for many that were in attendance. After mass, people commented repeatedly on the beauty of the music.
My point, while I always thought ad orientem was the most divisive post-concilliar issue; evidently, people starved for beauty of word and sound is equally high on the list.

Fr Martin Fox said...