Bad Music in Mass

*Does *bad music please God? While it satisfies our need to 'pray twice to the Lord by singing', does God like it? I wonder. When it's obviously bad -- I mean really bad *-- I suspect God might feel agitated. Might He prefer that we *not sing, when we can't? Might He prefer that we not *assemble and play groupings of instruments that don't go together? Recently attending a Mass with *attrocious music, I couldn't help ponder this question.....again. **:o

I think it might depend on the reason for the bad music. If people are trying their best it’s one thing, for example a group of children, or just parishioners whose enthusiasm is greater than their musical talents, then I’m sure He woudl be understanding.

On the other hand the dismal level of music and the seeming banishment of Gregorian Chant and traditional hymns at many parishes, while it may not offend God, I think it does make it harder for some of us to be as reverent and to feel we are praying to our potential which may offend him indirectly.

My father was once told as a child in choir by a priest that he would do greater service to God by lip sinking. LOL. :o :blush: That was Pre-Vatican II though.

Some people (and congregations) are totally clueless about traditional hymns, chant, etc. If they like the sentiment of a particular song, and if it sounds like the music they listen to outside of church, they will think it’s “good” music. So, if they are presenting mediocre music at Mass but sincerely believe it to be “good” music, and are putting forth their best efforts, I think God is certainly pleased. And if they are presenting excellent music but even their best efforts are pretty weak, I think God is pleased with that, as well, as long as they are trying their best. (I surely hope so, because that was my situation when I first returned to playing the pipe organ! Weak skills but sincere performance, until I improved enough to sound decent).

OTOH, if they DO know better, but continue to use exclusively mediocre music simply because it’s easier, perhaps God is not so pleased with that – not so much because of the music itself, but because of the lax attitude and the failure to strive toward excellence. However, doing a makeover of a particular parish’s music is not an easy task, and usually must be undertaken slowly and gently.

One thing which I am sure is not pleasing to God is the amount of fault-finding, prideful attitudes, and backbiting which so often goes on behind the scenes in so many church music departments, and sometimes from the congregation as well. And that can happen whether the choir is singing pop-style songs or Gregorian chant. :frowning:

Well, let us compare the best choirs that man has to the choirs of angels in heaven.

Which do you suppose has more musical talent?
Which is more pleasing to God?

I humbly propose that the best man can come up with is not going to be comperable at all to what is in heaven sung by the angels. Yet it will be pleasing to God anyway.

Perhaps God is not using the same ears to listen to the music as we.
Perhaps God is listening to the heart of the singer and not merely the audible qualities of the music.

[quote="joandarc2008, post:3, topic:181874"]
My father was once told as a child in choir by a priest that he would do greater service to God by lip sinking. LOL. :o :blush: That was Pre-Vatican II though.

[/quote]

Reminds me of the choir director who described one person as having a lovely voice -- for the Altar Guild! :D

My Grandma always told me that the Bible says to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord"... a JOYFUL noise, which doesn't necessarily mean a GOOD noise :D She's not much of a singer obviously. But I'm sure intent counts

[quote="KingAlfred, post:1, topic:181874"]
Does *bad* music please God? While it satisfies our need to 'pray twice to the Lord by singing', does God like it? I wonder. When it's obviously bad -- I mean really bad *-- I suspect God might feel agitated. Might He prefer that we *not sing, when we can't? Might He prefer that we not *assemble and play groupings of instruments that don't go together? Recently attending a Mass with *attrocious music, I couldn't help ponder this question.....again. :o

[/quote]

I don't think God is a music critic and I don't think he responds to our prayer, praise, song and worship in any way other than reading what is in our hearts. The most beautiful cantata or chant Mass or sacred music performed by the most talented artists whose lives are sinful and hearts are far from God is heard as discordant jangling and noise in heaven. The most pathetic plinking on out of tune instruments and off-key singing by singers whose hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit and whose lives reflect their humility and holiness are heard as fitting accompaniment to the angelic choirs of heaven.

Yes, God loves everyone who makes a sincere effort to praise and worship through song. I don't think that's in dispute.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't aspire to make the best possible effort to have the best possible musical accompaniment for Mass. We need to consider that is one thing which is entirely relative. It's one thing when it's a small mission church struggling to find even one person willing to cantor; but quite another when a large, thriving urban parish with lots of resources makes a conscious decision to have mediocre music.

BTW, shouldn't this thread be in Liturgy and Sacraments rather than Traditional Catholicism?

[quote="joandarc2008, post:3, topic:181874"]
My father was once told as a child in choir by a priest that he would do greater service to God by lip sinking. LOL. :o :blush: That was Pre-Vatican II though.

[/quote]

I stand corrected "lip-syncing" as I have now been informed as to where that comes from. Thank you. I also want to say that at some Teen Services music might be considered bad to the older crowd but good to the younger crowd. It is tough to try to judge what God likes as not one of us really is Him.

[quote="puzzleannie, post:8, topic:181874"]
I don't think God is a music critic and I don't think he responds to our prayer, praise, song and worship in any way other than reading what is in our hearts. The most beautiful cantata or chant Mass or sacred music performed by the most talented artists whose lives are sinful and hearts are far from God is heard as discordant jangling and noise in heaven. The most pathetic plinking on out of tune instruments and off-key singing by singers whose hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit and whose lives reflect their humility and holiness are heard as fitting accompaniment to the angelic choirs of heaven.

[/quote]

What Puzzleannie said.:D

I went to two of the most inspiring Masses last week, our Pastor gave the Band the week off. It was on New Years Eve Mass and New Years Day Mass. Not a note of musical instrument. The Priest called out the Title and Page No. of the Entrance and Ending Hymns and lead the congregation in singing them and yes it was off key in these well attend Masses.

The amped up band that plays at some of our Masses are pretty good musicians and have great entertainment value, unfortunately they get carried away with themselves and wind up being a distraction to the Liturgy. I think with todays music feeling the full presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, less is more.

I hope God appreciates the effort, even if it doesn't come up to professional standards.

My thought on Sunday mornings is that this is the voice God gave me and this is the voice he wants to hear, so I sing.

But I can't help thinking of one day we were praying Vespers after Mass. There are several people in the group with strong voices but they weren't there on that day. So the rest of us carried on as well as we could with the opening hymn. Oh, it was sooooo bad! At one point everyone started laughing at how awful we sounded. But we made it through. And I hope it was pleasing to God.

My father was once told as a child in choir by a priest that he would do greater service to God by lip sinking. LOL. That was Pre-Vatican II though.

As one who cannot sing a note, this is all I ever heard growing up from priests, nuns, and anyone within earshot in Mass. What I always wished they would understand is that a person who cannot sing is totally unaware of it, because it sounds good to them, perfect in fact. A little charity goes a long way here in how one breaks this news to others. People never tell you, "you can't sing," they usually try to dilute the message with "can you sing a bit softer?" or words to that effect. That doesn't help someone who makes noise like fingernails on a chalkboard but thinks they are giving the 3 tenors a run for their money.

For many years I just sung them to myself, making no noise and very little lip movement. But you know how people are, they can't just worry about their own worship, they have to critique everyone else around them, and so it was years of hearing everything from "why do I waste my time coming to Mass if I don't participate" (I guess the recited prayers and participation in the Sacrament means little) to "you must sing with the voice God gave you," meaning that if I don't I'm some kind of slacker.

So now I don't sing at all, and it is a constant source of friction when it comes to the Gloria and the Lord's Prayer, which my parish sings. I recite them, not real loud, and I try to say my words in a manner that meshes with the verse of those singing, but it doesn't always work. My pastor noted it one day and thought I should sing also. After years of this do/don't stuff, I told him my singing is a light switch - if he wants it on, fine, but if it goes on, I'll not turn it off again, and he will have to deal with anyone who has anything to say about the effects of it.

Frankly I wish people would mind their own business and worry about their own worship. I'm really not receptive to having my worship critiqued by other people, usually those who need a missalette in their hand to say the Nicene Creed without error. :(

[quote="CarrieH, post:4, topic:181874"]
Some people (and congregations) are totally clueless about traditional hymns, chant, etc. If they like the sentiment of a particular song, and if it sounds like the music they listen to outside of church, they will think it's "good" music. So, if they are presenting mediocre music at Mass but sincerely believe it to be "good" music, and are putting forth their best efforts, I think God is certainly pleased. And if they are presenting excellent music but even their best efforts are pretty weak, I think God is pleased with that, as well, as long as they are trying their best. (I surely hope so, because that was my situation when I first returned to playing the pipe organ! Weak skills but sincere performance, until I improved enough to sound decent).

OTOH, if they DO know better, but continue to use exclusively mediocre music simply because it's easier, perhaps God is not so pleased with that -- not so much because of the music itself, but because of the lax attitude and the failure to strive toward excellence. However, doing a makeover of a particular parish's music is not an easy task, and usually must be undertaken slowly and gently.

One thing which I am sure is not pleasing to God is the amount of fault-finding, prideful attitudes, and backbiting which so often goes on behind the scenes in so many church music departments, and sometimes from the congregation as well. And that can happen whether the choir is singing pop-style songs or Gregorian chant. :(

[/quote]

I really agree with this. The last paragraph is especially good. Our church has a different set of musicians, each bringing various levels of proficiency to the table, for each Mass. I often think the best advice may be the old line, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I hear many comments made that are critical only and not the least constructive. I do also agree that musicians, like everyone who provides a service, should always strive to improve their skills and not just be 'satisfied,' or 'stuck,' as my priest would say.

As a musician myself, who is not always in the position of choosing the music for a particular Mass, part of my objection lies with the Missal. There are 'hymns' in there that just should not be there!! I've seen different Missals. Some are certainly geared to the 'pop' mentality. Musicians who repeatedly choose such music for Mass are certainly justified in defending their choices by saying that the selections are from the Missal. Some of the younger musicians don't even know the more traditional hymns - really! For those who prefer more traditional music, myself included, it is a challenge. I remind myself, though, that the main focus of the Mass is not the music! It is also important to remember that there are 'different strokes for different folks.' What doesn't strike you as especially worshipful may sincerely touch or reach someone else. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said they liked a piece of music that I thought was really awful! If you think about it, you probably hear similar conflicting comments about the priest's homily on any given Sunday, too.

Another thought is that if you REALLY find the music of a particular Mass offensive, try attending a different Mass. It may be an altogether different experience if it is a different set of musicians.

Not wanting to speak for God, I agree with various comments that God looks at the heart - good advice for all of us. If it truly is a "joyful noise", given in the proper spirit to the glory of God, I have no doubt God is pleased, even if our human ears are not!

Keep a song in your heart!

I think a lot of problems would be resolved if we followed the directions of Vatican II and restored Gregorian Chant to its place as the preferred music, replacing the "hits of the 1970's". To me, and I am by no menas a good singer, simple chant is much easier to sing than the "modern" (as of last century) stuff and sounds so much more beautiful.

King Alfred, what are you personally doing to improve the music at this particular parish?

Have you offered your voice to the choir yourself?

Are you willing to support the costs of a decent choir director and organist? This is one thing most parishes don't seem to be willing to pay for.

I really like what everyone has to say here and it is funny because my dh just said to me on Saturday that he does not sing in order to keep the hymns more "pleasing to God's ears." I like to mix it up a bit. Where we are we have a lot of music and the women that does the responsorials is at times a little - off. But she is motivated and that is the point. However, that being said there is much to be said for a quiet mass too. That is why we switch our mass times around to get both the "joyful noise' and the "quiet reverance."

I heard the same thing growing up, but I LOVE to sing. Granted I didn’t sing very loudly at Church but I still sang.

Then we got a pastor who was really a terrible singer: tune/bucket, you know the saying. But this man insisted on singing/chanting the Preface and the dialogue. To him, it was more important that we sing those than avoid his voice – and he put a lot of time into practising. Do you know that I greatly respected him for that and I have no doubt that God was pleased – the 4 mo old baby I saw shudder at a particularly sour note was less so. :smiley:

But one thing this pastor did was give me the confidence to sing louder and one day I found myself having to lead Evening Prayer on a feast when we had planned to do the Celebration of Light (lucenarium). The thought of speaking the Proclamation of Light rather than singing it was distressing so I picked up the book and started chanting it at home. I taped myself and realized that I could do this – and much better than the pastor. In fact, I wasn’t half bad. I never would have had the confidence to do that without his example.

Since then I’ve found myself leading the singing at EP several times with generally positive reviews. I know that I’m no Beverly Sills but I can generally carry a tune and nobody has run screaming from the church. I think God gave me a small talent and I’m doing the best I can with it. It has meant erasing decades of comments from my family from my mind.

I would rather chant at Mass than sing some of the songs of the last 40 decades. I think most people can chant and aquit themselves well.

One of our parishioners is a retarded young adult woman and she sometimes sings at Mass too loudly and way off-key. Yet she also sings joyfully and enthusiastically. I find it difficult to believe that God doesn't just love her to pieces when she sings to Him. ;)

[quote="joandarc2008, post:3, topic:181874"]
My father was once told as a child in choir by a priest that he would do greater service to God by lip sinking. LOL. :o :blush: That was Pre-Vatican II though.

[/quote]

Our dear priest, whom I love, can't carry a tune in a bucket. He tells us, that while in seminary, he was told NOT to attend complusory choir classes, because of his singing [in]:)ability! He does intone "Let us proclaim the mystery ..." and "Through him, with him, in him..." Should he attempt a sung mass, I'd remember this: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. He is quite happy and so are we, that he doesn't sing. Honestly though, I do miss the sung mass. Our former priest had a marvelous voice and sang Sat/Sun/feast/etc.masses.

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