Are Drum Sets and Electric Guitars Ever Appropriate For Mass?


#1

I know we’ve covered this before, but I would like to hear why people think these instruments should ever be used in liturgical music at mass. It seems to me that these instruments are secular in nature, and that any time they are used in liturgical music they seem to “secularize” that music. Instead of sacred music you end up with something you would hear on a soft-rock radio station.


#2

I definitely agree :slight_smile: Although, one instance in which these instruments may be beneficial would be at a Youth Mass, where younger children who cannot yet grasp the concept of mass may find the music entertaining, and spike their intrest in attending church. …of course, this shouldn’t be their only basis of attending mass as they get older. but it’s a good starting point. :thumbsup:


#3

No, they shouold never be used in liturgy, IMO


#4

I don’t think that is a good starting point. Secularizing a mass in order to fill the seats seems to me to be the wrong way to spark interest. In a way that’s kind of tricking people into coming to mass, and if that’s the reason they came then they came for the wrong reason. Younger children should go to mass with their families to see the example set by their parents in appreciating the mass for what it is. I don’t think “entertainment” should have anything to do with mass at all. We should conform ourselves to the mass, not conform the mass to our interest in entertainment. It’s a question of humbling ourselves before Christ rather than having Christ humbling himself to our own interests.


#5

Well I know this is pretty useless, but here we go again.



***Musicam Sacram
***Instruction On Music In The Liturgy
Sacred Congregation of Rites * March 5, 1967
62. Musical instruments can be very useful in sacred celebrations, whether they accompany the singing or whether they are played as solo instruments. [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, Arial]"The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, Arial]"The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship, given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority, provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful."43[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, Arial]63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.44[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, Arial]Any musical instrument permitted in divine worship should be used in such a way that it meets the needs of the liturgical celebration, and is in the interests both of the beauty of worship and the edification of the faithful.[/FONT]

And for Music in Catholic Worship (Written by our territorial authority, The USCCB.)

  1. We do a disservice to musical values, however, when we confuse the judgment of music with the judgment of musical style. Style and value are two distinct judgments. Good music of new styles is finding a happy home in the celebrations of today. To chant and polyphony we have effectively added the chorale hymn, restored responsorial singing to some extent, and employed many styles of contemporary composition. Music in folk idiom is finding acceptance in eucharistic celebrations. We must judge value within each style.

“In modern times the Church has consistently recognized and freely admitted the use of various styles of music as an aid to liturgical worship. Since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy and more especially since the introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy, there has arisen a more pressing need for musical compositions in idioms that can be sung by the congregation and thus further communal participation.”'2

  1. We do a disservice to musical values, however, when we confuse the judgment of music with the judgment of musical style. Style and value are two distinct judgments. Good music of new styles is finding a happy home in the celebrations of today. To chant and polyphony we have effectively added the chorale hymn, restored responsorial singing to some extent, and employed many styles of contemporary composition. Music in folk idiom is finding acceptance in eucharistic celebrations. We must judge value within each style.

“In modern times the Church has consistently recognized and freely admitted the use of various styles of music as an aid to liturgical worship. Since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Liturgy and more especially since the introduction of vernacular languages into the liturgy, there has arisen a more pressing need for musical compositions in idioms that can be sung by the congregation and thus further communal participation.”'2

So yes they are appropriate for Mass. The documents on music from Vatican II state that no instrument is prohibited. I have heard many examples of electric guitars and drums played in an appropriate and reverent manner. Therefore they have been adapted to sacred use as required in the documents. Should they be the only options? Definitely not. But to deny them to people who find them an enhancement to worship is in accordance to the documents on liturgy.

Unfortunately, a lot of people on this board tend to either ignore documents they do not like or read their own biases into them. Anyway, let the games begin.


#6

Let’s see…I have been to Masses (plural) where the guitarist wore a suit and tie, and accompanied the choir in the classical style. These were extremely prayerful moments, and the music contributed to that. I have been to Masses where percussion was used effectively, again to classical pieces. And what would a trumpet voluntary be without a trumpet?

In fact, one of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols, “Silent Night”, was written specifically for the guitar.

I have also been to Masses where the strum-strum of the guitar is enough to put somebody to sleep, and the music was insipid, shallow, and appeared to be made for the guitarist alone; certainly not offered as worship. I have been to Masses where the organist was of the Nancy Faust school, and the hymns sounded more like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and the procession for Holy Communion seemed more like the seventh inning stretch.

It isn’t the instrument itself, just as alcoholic beverage isn’t the problem with alcoholism. It’s how it’s used.


#7

Are Drum Sets and Electric Guitars Ever Appropriate For Mass?

Yes. They both can be played in a manner that supports the prayer of the community.


#8

That’s true, but think back to when you were a little kid, and mass seemed to last for-ev-er. Kids can’t comprehend what’s going on at such a young age–sure, they can look to their parents as examples, but it can only go so far. Eventually they will need to decide for themselves if how they feel about mass - whether it’s a blurry jumble of words they don’t understand, or a feeling of family and warmth. After they decide, then they can choose if they’re going to get more passionate about their faith.
I don’t believe adults should look to the music as a primary reason for coming to mass at all. But in cases with kids, who, in their early years, only really understand emotion, I would say that that would be the only time it is permissible.


#9

No. These are purely secular instruments, and although morally neutral in themselves, have too many connotations with pedestrian and profane music to be considered appropriate for sacred use. It is not enough that they be used at Mass just because one likes them. I like the music of highland bagpipes, but I would never encourage their use at Mass. I doubt most of you would argue with me on that one!


#10

The Mass that I attend uses both electric guitar and drums, and is one of the most reverent and worshipful Masses that I have ever attended. As has been stated, it’s not the instrument that is inappropriate, but the way they are played. Any instrument can be played in a manner that is inappropriate for Mass.


#11

Both drum sets and electric guitars (which the OP specified, not any and all guitars) are among the most secular instruments in western culture. They are intimately linked to the most secular styles of music (and lifestyles) in western culture. The religious compositions that are written for them, and the manner in which they are played in church, are imitative of secular music and performance. Therefore they create in the listener the most intense associations with secular music and culture, and not high music or culture either. Their use and their music are the antithesis of “sacred” (that is, set aside for a holy purpose). They are without question profane (look it up if you don’t know what it means).

All this talk about how they might be useful for youth Masses is exactly because they do produce, and are intended and expected and desired to produce, those secular associations. They are considered useful for youth Masses precisely because they are profane, because they are part of, and make one think of, not sacred things but the secular culture.

And the kicker is that when they do produce those secular associations, they always make the Church and the music and the Mass seem to those listeners like a pale imitation of the real secular culture they are aping. And by reasonable inference to those listeners, the Church and the Mass and the Faith itself may come to be seen (consciously or subconsciously) as pale imitations of “reality”. That may be the worst damage of all, that the entire enterprise and all associated with it comes across as “cheesy” or “lame” to the very people it was supposed to attract.

On top of all of that, the use of drums goes against the maxim that in liturgical music the music is in service of the text. By emphasizing the beat of the song (and guitar strumming also does this to a degree), the music becomes primary and the text just rides along, bolted to the rhythm.


#12

When our youngest daughter was Confirmed about 18 years ago, the lowlight of the Mass was the drumming of someone with about the same ability as a two-yr. old chimpanzee. Knowing beforehand that this was going to be the case, I contacted the DRE who assured me that the music would be just fine since SHE, afterall, had a graduate degree in liturgical studies from Santa Clara University. Uh huh. :rolleyes:

I guess you know my sentiments. :smiley:


#13

Our parish is small and poor. We don’t own an organ or piano. At mass we have a guitarist, and he does his best to play in a classical style. However, the guitarist for our Spanish mass plays professionally in a mariachi band and every song is played in mariachi style, complete with a flourish at the end. It seems much less reverent.


#14

Well, I don’t have any problem with electric guitars, but i’m not a huge fan of drums, basically because they are loud, and possibly difficult to control the volume of. The worship band at my (Life Teen) parish uses e-guitars, also acoustic, e-keyboard, and djembe. And 3 singers, who you can rarely hear above the congregation singing. So, i don’t think that the instruments used can ever secularize the hymns/p&w songs. If a song is about Jesus, then it’s about Jesus. And i’m not advocating screamo-Jesus music, basically because im’ not a fan of screamo. If, however, we were to use a kazoo, it wouldn’t secularize the music, but it just might trivialize it…
I disagree that you end up with something that you would hear on a soft-rock station, because the only time you hear the Lord’s name there is in vain.

If you automatically associate e-guitars with pedestrian and profane, you need to exercise your imagination more, and read my comment below.
Every year at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa on St. Patrick’s Day, there is a bagpiper.

One of the really, really great things about Catholicism is our ability to “baptize” symbols for our own use. For example, the cross was a pagan symbol, but we use it now to identify ourselves, and remind ourselves of our Lord’s sacrifice for us. All Hallow’s Eve supplanted Samhain, there’s even a pagan drawing on the cover of the Catechism. So, as I stated above, the “new generation” of praise and worship may imitate secular music, but it does a whole lot more.

I disagree that e-guitars draw people to think of the profane. Our music is about Jesus. “Today’s Music Issue” draws people to think of the profane.

Praise and worship does NOT draw people to view the Church as a pale imitation. At my (Life Teen) parish, we teach SOLID ORTHODOX (with a small o) Catholicism. And we get 20 teens EVERY week. If you want to see teens PRAISING the Lord and doing it in LOVE of Him, come to Annunciation of the Lord Parish, Ottawa, Ontario. If you want to see a pale imitation of a hymn, open the CBW III.


#15

Let mind and heart be in your song: this is to glorify God with your whole self (Hesychius).

Psalm 150

Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness.

O praise him with sound of trumpet,
praise him with lute and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipes.

O praise him with resounding cymbals,
praise him with clashing of cymbals.
Let everything that lives and that breathers
give praise to the Lord.

Our Lord came to fulfill the scriptures, not to do away with them - every word. Yes the Psalm even says with dance.


#16

In the words of an Irish drinking song, ’ And it’s no, nay never!’


#17

Not the way they use them.

I’ve been moved to tears by Bon Jovi songs. There are a couple of heartbreakingly beautiful rock songs, some of which are deeply religious in feeling (though not usually in content). I defy you to hear the guitar in “More Than a Feeling” by Boston and not be moved.

But it’s all hard/hair/guitar rock. The stuff they use for music liturgy is predigested gobbledygook, designed to appeal to the Britney Spears generation without offending their white-shoe wearing parents. Their guitar playing is just uninspired noodling, and the lyrics are second-rate free verse even Jim Morrison wouldn’t touch. In short, it’s an outgrowth of early-90s Complaint Rock.

I think, if you could play the electric guitar on a par with Axel or Hendrix, it might be good enough for Mass. But it’s not at all the right kind of feeling–it’d be like having a bagpipe liturgy. That’s not a hard and fast rule, though; Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar cover of Pachelbel’s Canon is a very fine piece of music.

So, since soft rock is bad rock, and good rock is generally not conducive to the right frame of mind, there really is no place for rock at Mass. What a shame–guess we’ll have to use our centuries of musical know-how.

Pange Lingua Gloriosi, anyone?


#18

I’m not so sure. Your quote from Sacram Musicam states that instruments that are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only are to be prohibited from liturgical celebrations. So what instruments would you classify as suitable only for secular music if not drum sets and electric guitars? What musical instument is more secular than an electric guitar?


#19

i would classify the kazoo in that category, because it’s simply a novelty item. drums and e-guitars are used in p&w, and so are not exclusively secular. Like i stated in my last post, i feel the music at my Life Teen parish is more worshipful than my parents’ parish.


#20

What is a kazoo and would anybody really know it? Drums and Electric guitars WEREN’T used in P&W back in 1967.

Life teen masses are an abomination as they completely destroy the sense of the Sacred and violate so many Rubrics of the Mass


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