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Wednesday, October 08, 2008



*shakes head* *makes sign of the Cross*

Michael Hallman

Wow, that is just awful. I wish I could say I was amazed, but sadly this sort of liturgical audacity is not uncommon.

The only thing I would mention is that Morning Has Broken is actually not a Cat Stevens penned song, just one that he sang, and it is acceptable for liturgical use, as it is frequently the hymn for morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Josh Miller

Oh man. "Morning is Broken." This will mark the second time I complain about the song today, having heard it at Morning Prayer.

I don't care if we rock it out to Cat Stevens or play the original Gaelic melody: what an objectively terrible song from a lyrical perspective. It is my sincere hope that one day, when we get a new translation of the Grail psalter and thus a new set of the Hours (read: sometime around when my AARP card comes in the mail), that this song has been thrown down the memory hole.


I think it was 1988. We had a small group of people who had been together at our parish in NH providing music for the 10:30am Folk Mass (downstairs in the basement/hall).

They were led by a woman who had a beautiful soprano voice; someone who had appeared in several local theater musical and such like. Her back up consisted of her brother on electric bass and two guitarists; one was a lousy singer, and the other one was lousier.

They had a name for their group, and their repertoire consisted of things like "Abraham, Martin and John".

We got a new pastor. He cut out the downstairs Mass and moved them upstairs. They used to perform in front of the congregation, talking to each other during Mass, fiddling with their instruments, and such.

The new pastor married a former nun after a year with us and *he* was replaced by a fellow who wanted them moved out. They resisted. One day, he asked them to a meeting at the rectory, and told them to bring along their "play list". Of the fifty or so songs on it he allowed three. I remember because as a member of the Liturgy Committee I was there.

That was the end of the folk group. There have been no efforts to revive it since.

Thank God.



I'll have to disagree that Morning Has Broken is automatically acceptable for liturgical use simply because the words are those of a hymn. The Holy Father, among others, has written about this extensively. While it is true that liturgical music exists to support the text, not all music is up to that task and appropriate for liturgical use. The music must be judged apart form the words to determine suitability. An argument could be had whether, in fact, Morning Has Broken fits the bill, but the words do not settle the matter in the affirmative.

A Fine Mess

Well, the first and hopefully LAST rock mass we attended had young people singing newer songs, such as Go Light Your Candle or something like that from the Christian radio station. Although we could stomach the music, sort of, it was their dress that disturbed me. One young person who was EMHC had shorts on that were soo short...well, for the sake of one of our young boys, we went to another communion line. I am glad the person objected to the music but it is still going on and with the young where we are.


As a late boomer I have long believed that this "relevance" nonsense, sometimes foisted on another generation long before they even thought of it or demanded it, has been the sole product of my own generation's obsession. This example just confirms that belief.
That, I think, was the genius of JPII in jumping over our heads and talking directly to the next generations.

The sad part is, I do like those songs. And as a rock band, I thought the Doobies did some things that others had not done up to that point. But liturgical music?
And Spirit in the Sky. That old chestnut. I played guitar in a combo in our Baptist church in my youth, and that song we weren't allowed to use. Even they had the sense to see its serious theological errors.


Regretfully, I attended a teen Mass in which screeching, hard rock music was used. To say that the words and sound were indecipherable, ear shattering and horrific is an understatement. One guitarist was slamming down on his electric guitar while raising his leg in the air as if at a rock concert. At one point, I literally had to put my fingers into my ears to muffle the over-amplified assault on my senses. At the end of the Mass, the priest jokingly said to the musicians, "you certainly were having fun" out there. Is this the proper response for the insulting noise these musicians inflicted on the awesome dignity of worshipping at Mass? It was torture being in there and when I made a bee line for the door at the end of Mass, I felt like I had walked out of hell instead of Heaven.


uggghh.... I'm considering going to ND for a Ph.D., so this definitely isn't encouraging. But this too shall pass. I hope.

Why Catholics Can't Sing:

Christine the Soccer Mom


By the way, last artist is Norman Greenbaum. (Yes, it's in my iTunes list, what can I say?)

We had Life Teen at our last parish (which was WAAAAAY more orthodox than our current parish), and had some really phenomenal singers. They did tend to do Praise and Worship at that Mass, and I've got to say in all fairness that, while I am not inclined to go to that Mass any more, it did help me transition from my dipping into Evangelical Protestantism days (never thought of leaving the Church, but...) back to my Catholic faith as a revert. And if I'm not mistaken, we've actually had some vocations from that Mass at that parish. So it's possible.

Oh, and during Lent and Advent, they would do the Agnus Dei and would often have a cantor sing Ave Maria on Marian feast days. I'd love that, even if it was hard to interpret for our Deaf parishioners from Latin to ASL. ;)

But, yeah, I'd be totally turned off if that set was pulled out in Mass. I mean, Norman Greenbaum? That song has the line "I've never been a sinner ... I've never sinned..." UGH! Even in my least devout days, that line bugged me!

Dan Sheehan

I'm afraid the new pastor at my church has allowed the Saturday vigil Mass to be taken over by the Guitar People. It is, at least, the Saturday Mass, which we attend only if necessary. But still.


Most Catholic music is focused on 'adoration' music of the Eucharist. For this expression, we have some of the best music, along with the Orthodox church. But for personal prayer expression, we fall short. There are many songs I've come to appreciate from the Protestant music, especially for the young believer.

These songs may be used since we don't have our own more contemporary songs to use. I remember these songs and at the time they were fine. I remember when we used 'jazz', ethnic, more popular songs and pieces at Mass in an attempt to bring the worshiper closer to God personally, not just bring the believer into the heavenly realm. To me, Catholic music is often bringing believers into a heavenly atmosphere but sometimes we just need to be with God here today, a more personal connection. That may be the attempt.

Fr. Cory Sticha

I'm becoming more and more convinced that when we try to compete against the "entertainment culture" on its own level, we lose. Badly. This post shows this very clearly. I like some 60's and 70's rock, including Spirit in the Sky, but to play it at Mass? *shudder*


For the record, "People, Get Ready" was a hit for Jeff Beck. Rod Stewart was merely the vocalist, something he has done with Jeff Beck, off and on since 1968. I happen to love the song, but shudder to have it at Mass.




Seriously, has anyone ever heard a "guitar Mass" or "folk Mass" or "rock Mass" featuring good singers?

Best Guitar Masses I've ever attended: Healing Masses in Puerto Rico in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

And yes, I've attended horrifying "guitar Masses" in Spanish too where the scales were too high for the voice range of the singers to reach.

We must understand that not all Catholic music is liturgical music but, for our sake, all our liturgical music should be Catholic music less we have to suffer travesties such as this one at Notre Dame in our own churches.

The distinction between liturgical music and religious-themed music is a crucial one and one we need to learn and relearn constantly.



Comment from "A Fine Mess: "One young person who was EMHC had shorts on that were soo short...well, for the sake of one of our young boys, we went to another communion line." I was recently at a Mass in San Diego and a very attractive lady, dressed nicely -- except for way too much cleavage showing....was EMHC. I was wondering if the young priest celebrating Mass noticed...

RE any singing during the Offertory and Communion -- does anyone wish for silence so that one can properly prepare for the offering of Christ to His Father? How about spending time contemplating our Lord during Communion with Him? Why does there always have to be "noise" and focus on the "community" instead of silence for centering our focus on God?


In response to those who would wish silence during Communion...

I haven't read the newest music documents released by the church, but at least in the old ones it specifically stated that the two great processions of the Mass, the Entrance and the Communion processions should be accompanied by congregational music (i.e. singing) as a means of fostering unity in the one body of Christ. I'm not sure what the new documents say, but have my own copy on order...I'm a flutist and liturgical minister of music...

To be truthful, I like a mixture of older and contemporary music at Mass, but no popular songs! The list here just makes me shudder. I also like a lot of praise and worship songs and listen primarily to the contemporary Christian radio station in my area, but I wouldn't want these songs at Mass either. I wish I could convince our Music Director to use some Latin chant once in a while, but no luck yet on that one.

I do miss the former pastor of my parish when I lived in Ohio. Not a Latin liturgy, but very sacred and strong liturgically, plenty of contemplation time, nothing rushed, etc. Most parishes I've been to since seem like they are just trying to rush through and get finished so the next Mass can get started.

Peace and blessings to all.


Confession time! When I was a teen doing the "youth mass" back in the seventies, we had a really groovy nun mentoring us; I remember singing "Morning Has Broken" (OK, still love that one, but St. Patrick's lyrics are better than Eleanor Farjeon's), CSNY's "Teach Your Children", "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, and- here's the capper- "Let It Be"! Oh, the shame! Hopefully not eternal shame... What has me nonplussed is that the (typically) older people there seemed to like it. Being Canadian, maybe they were just being polite... We're like that, here.
With you, amkflutes, on the mixture of old and new. The trick, I think, is to lay on the harmony and such that it's almost as good as Palestrina. Well, OK, distantly approaching anyway. And lots of slow; kids don't know how to do slow, but when they hear it they really like it, I find.


Eleanor Farjeon wrote "Morning Has Broken" NOT Cat Stevens. The music is a Gaelic Tune written in an Irish Monestary. Some people should get their gripes right before putting them to pen and paper.

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