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Friday, September 11, 2009


Speaking as someone who is a youth minister and who has a youth mass for his parish, I agree that especially for the youth, there needs to be a greater appreciation for Chant and Sacred Music, and not just praise and worship music. If we are trying to form "Lifelong Disciples" and not just "High School Disciples" then the recovery of the full tradition of the Church's liturgical practice needs to occur particularly in youth group settings.

Although Ratzinger in Spirit of the Liturgy makes a distinction between music that is Beautiful and music that is Useful. I know plenty of people will argue with me on this, but I find that some praise & worship, some hymns, etc., can serve "utilitas". I know one praise & worship type musician that is trying to use that music to cultivate chant among the young congregations. And it works. He uses a lot of unaccompanied chant when he leads music for the Mass.

The hilarious thing is that while many Catholic youth ministers (though definitely not all, mind you) are ditching our Church's traditions, many post-modern Protestant churches and ecclesial communities are adopting them fully. Things like "prayer beads" (they still aren't ready to embrace Our Lady and her rosary yet, but they are close), Gregorian chant, liturgies, Divine Office, Lectio Divina, icons and sacred art, candles, incense, bells and whistles (ok, not whistles...). One of the biggest thing they are doing is recovering the silent, contemplative, and mystical tradition of the Catholic Church.

See 'Contemplative Youth Ministry' or 'Downtown" by Mark Yaconelli for some of this emergent-church, post-evangelical ministry.


Martin Luther created hymns out of bar songs.

Christian Praise

People learn to praise in the way that they are taught to praise and see others doing so. As a worship leader then you should teach Christian Praise as you feel led to. Don't expect others to follow your preferences, just lead in such a way that others will see your good works and follow.

If change is what you seek, then be a leader of that change.

Carl E. Olson you feel led to.

Ah, yes, feelings: the most objective, balanced, perfect, and exalted guide to everything good, holy, and Godly. Ahem.

Sandra Miesel

I think there was a mistranslation above: Renaissance era Church music mixed profane and sacred music, which is not the same as "profanity."


I am confused and a little disappointed that there is a constant refrain concerning guitars and the Mass. Why is the organ seen as some sort of necessary religious instrument? The guitar more closely resemble the biblical instruments for liturgy while I am told that the organ was actually a pagan instrument used for entertainment while the Christians were being slaughtered in the arena. No I am not opposed to the organ, I appreciate its contribution to sacred music. I just don't get why strings and seen as deplorable and is looked down on by those in the know.

Carl E. Olson

Larry: Part of the answer, I think, is that guitars can be used to play many types of music, ranging from rock to jazz to folk to classical, but it seems that most of the guitar music used in Masses is rather banal folk/rock in nature. And, as regular readers of this blog know, I like a lot of different types of music (outside of a liturgical setting), including guitar-based rock, jazz, etc., but I don't think the guitar music used in many liturgies is conducive to contemplation, prayer, and reverence. It is, put simply, pop/rock music—and often of second or third-rate quality at that. It is true that most Eastern Catholic churches don't use organs (or any musical instruments) because the organ was played in ancient Rome while Christians were being killed in the Coliseum. But most organ music used in churches is, I think, religious in nature; in other words, you don't often hear the organ played at Mass in the style of The Doors; the organ has never been much a pop/rock instrument, so there is a different dynamic at work. While it is interesting to discuss/debate different instruments, the larger issue is really one of style and purpose.

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