I am reading “What Happens at the Mass” by Jeremy Driscoll, OSB. He talks about the lifting up of our voices and joining the angels in a heavenly symphony at the start of Mass. And yet, seemingly every parish in St. Louis is on the Oregon Catholic Press bandwagon. I want to sing, but the music is bad or even disturbing. Is it better to pray, stand silently or sing between gritted teeth? Also, is there any hope for change? PS- I’m a millennial convert to the faith four years ago.
I found a quite remarkable diversity in the music that accompanied the liturgy when I visited Saint Louis some years ago.
I would advise against gritted teeth. If you can’t stand the song, just pray silently.
Perhaps you should try attending the MEF. That may be more to your liking. Sounds as if you’re headed that direction.
I know of one Catholic man from my college days who despised Schutte & Foley songs so badly he very nearly got us into an accident coming out of the church parking lot. Scared my affianced to tears, actually. I was contentedly basking in the Lord’s presence while reading the bulletin. I was used to our transporter’s outbursts after Mass because of the music being used. He also complained that his daughter was receiving the Body of Christ, but songs akin to Sesame Street were being used for her First Eucharist.
Try listening to the way the songs were originally intended to be sung. The St. Louis Jesuits (Schutte & Foley) produced beautiful music, but the beauty was almost totally lost with guitar-only renditions. I looked up “Turn to Me” on YouTube and was astounded at how the song was originally produced. Very peaceful and contemplative.
I also appreciate Haas’ music. I think he was the one who came to our parish to assist with the production of a CD to raise funds for the new church.
I’m a writer myself, and I simply will not put down another’s work unless it’s blatantly out of line with natural law or the Church. I always look at the genesis of the production. What was their inspiration?
Do your best to pray for Oregon itself, and have a blessed day.
Do you volunteer in the music ministry at your parish?
Have you considered helping out. Much of the time, music ministers are just a group of people who are passionate about music, but maybe not highly trained, doing the best they can with what they have. Maybe instead of “gritting your teeth”, you can offer your expertise.
“Eye has not seen, ear Haas not Hurd.”
Sorry, that’s a corruption of a Marty Haugen tune, and it has nothing to do with the core complaint of this thread, but it struck me as funny.
Even at the Cathedral Basilica?
I sympathize. The straw that broke the camel for us at our last church was a Mass on Christmas morning with the rolling drum kit and throbbing bass (and I play rock music, just not in church); our child was reduced to tears.
And especially if you can find the original lyrics. (Hint: If you are singing the insipid *Turn to me, o turn, and be saved… *they are not the original lyrics – Good luck, however, getting a parish to go back in time to *“sexist” *lyrics :rolleyes: )
Oh that insipid Isaiah is at it again!
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the Earth
I find it hard to believe that every church would be offering the same music. In my dioceses I can find a wide variety of everything from traditional organ music to choir to contemporary Haas etc. to rock combo, just by attending a different Church or sometimes by attending a different Mass at the same one. If you want to hear high quality music, the local Cathedral or some major Basilica is often the best bet.
I agree that the music and musicians at parish churches are of varying quality, but I accept that each church is doing its best with what it has been given, and that I’m there for a Mass, not entertainment. I also look forward to the day when we will all be one Church so that the excellent African-American choir that sings in the church 10 feet from one of my residences (I hear them through the walls) can come and sing for Catholic Mass.
This is a very good, and oft-overlooked point. Even the best songs can be sung poorly and even the worst songs can be sung quite nicely. I don’t think the guitars are even always the problem. I know where I went for undergrad, we would sing some of these OCP or GIA hymns and, even with guitar, they sounded good. There was a sizable choir doing four part harmonies, which probably helped. And there was generally piano in addition to guitar.
I can sympathize. I’ve been to plenty of Masses at plenty of Churches where the music was not my cup of tea, sometimes to the point where it became distracting to me. But I think the best approach is (as Tis Bearself said) to accept that they are doing the best they can and let it go. I know that I could not do it better myself, so voicing my criticism is not going to produce any fruit but likely only going to be a source of consternation. I think the devil likes to use any means he can to distract us at Mass, too. I’d rather not take the bait.
I always try to sing along, except if the song is really theologically problematic. That doesn’t happen too often, though (thankfully).
Honestly, though, I think what would help a lot of songs sound a lot better is if the congregation sang along with enthusiasm.
Well, yes, you can bear it. I understand your complaint, but let’s not over-dramatize your suffering, OK?
Fr. Driscoll lives in the Archdiocese of Portland, so I can assure you that he’s had to sing music put out by OCP. In defense of OCP, they usually do include standard hymns that my grandfather would recognize and sing quite happily. Those are in the minority of selections simply because contemporary music directors are not fond of choosing those songs. OCP does include offerings in keeping with what their customers want, although of course the contemporary offerings are limited to those pieces for which OCP has secured publishing rights.
Can we have the faithful choosing to sing or not sing at Mass, based on their personal preference or on their personal evaluation of those who were given the office of planning the music? Must the choir director please everyone with his or her choices before everyone will sing? That is not how Heaven is.
If the song is not theologically false or clear violation of the GIRM, but merely a poor choice for its place in the Mass, ungrit your teeth and sing it. Sing it even if the musicians perform poorly or no one within earshot can carry a tune. If it is violation of conscience to sing it, then just refrain from singing what is wrong. If you have a complaint to make to the music director, mentally mark it up as an unintentional mistake made out of ignorance and bring it to the music director’s attention humbly at a later time.
There is a small hope of change if you actually get onto the liturgy committee at your parish, which is highly unlikely. Your best bet is to find a parish or a regularly-offered Mass that is planned according to a set of boundaries you find more acceptable. Your attendance will be evidence that the faithful do want Masses to be planned with those boundaries in mind, so in that sense you’ll be “casting your vote” with the pastor and even your bishop. Keep in mind, though, that the composers you despise have many partisans, which is why OCP publishes so many of their compositions. Music directors like them because more people sing them. That’s just reality.
The music is neither bad, nor disturbing. You just don’t like it.
And that goes for most people’s taste in music - they will like one type of music and not another, and their neighbor can’t understand the dislike.
I am not surprised that a Benedictine might have a certain taste for some types of music and not others for the Mass - after all, he has taken vows in a community that chants daily, 7 days a week.
And no surprise, Gregorian chant will be right up there for him.
I attended college Seminary decades ago which was on a Benedictine campus and to no one’s particular surprise, one of the monks was bent on cutting a record of chant. He could pace up and down the main isle, stop, and point three to 5 people over and say “You’re flat!”. We cut the record and did a very respectable job.
To this day I love Gregorian chant, but nothing pains me as much as to hear it slaughtered by a congregation which doesn’t have the first clue as to how to sing it; and right behind that comes a choir which doesn’t have a clue.
You may well not like Hurd of Haas or the Jesuits, and so be it. But it is capable of being sung by the congregation, and until something else is written which is also easily sung, so it will be.
You may be able to find a parish which has the choir do all the singing (and for all that’s holy, don’t invite me if they are singing Palestrina) which may fit your likes better. That is fine.
But don’t denigrate OCP. You may not like it, but the greater majority of people appreciate it.
Father Jeremy may physically reside within the confines of the Archdiocese, but I can guarantee he does chant 7 days a week.
He was just recently elected abbot of Mt Angel Abbey, so he is not going to be in too many parishes.
Lol…very funny… No Traditional Latin Mass in your area?
I love that song.
“’ Turn to me, O man, and be saved,’ says the Lord, for I am God,” as I recall.
More than the vetus ordo, which does exist in Saint Louis, there are absolutely splendid communities of nuns in pontifical enclosure with exquisite liturgies – and, for that matter, monks of the English congregation of Benedictines, to whom the original poster could turn, if he were interested in liturgical diversity.
He has an incredibly rich diversity of choice when it comes to liturgy in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and his complaint is astonishing.
Just think of it, every mass you go to with the bad music is an opportunity to shorten your time in Purgatory.
Well, there is that point. As my grandmother would often say, “Offer it up (for the poor souls in purgatory)!”
I can’t even think of how many times I heard that!