Does Anyone Here Actually Like the Music at Mass?

There recently was a great article over at Aleteia on the deplorable music most Catholics are forced to listen to at Mass each week. I reflect a little on it here with Benedict XVI and Vatican Two:

**Why Do We Catholics Settle for Subpar Music at Mass? **

But my question for this forum is really whether anyone (especially anyone under say 60) actually likes the music they hear at Mass each week? We, in the course of half a century, went from having the greatest, most beautiful, most transcendent musical tradition in the history of man (no exaggeration) to having the most banal, painful, third rate music. Aside from older women, does anyone here actually find the music at Mass to lift the soul to God? What have we traded our great Gregorian chant / polyphony tradition for? certainly not for “congregational singing.” I’ve never been to a Mass where more than a handful of people are singing anything other than the propers anyhow.

Not to just complain, I have to admit there are some great modern resources out there. Our parish recently purchased the St. Isaac Jogues and St. Edmund Campion missals to replace the OCP missalettes we threw away each week. The music in there seems to be serious about bringing the sacred back into our worship (which is the point of music at Mass, after all, isn’t it?)

So what do we think? Does our music need brough back into line with the directives of Sacrosanctum Conciliium?

My guess is that the ordinary massgoers don’t have the strong aversion to it that we on this message board have. It’s just what is familiar.

I asked my mother once about the music she heard at mass in her parish as a child, before Vatican II and all the liturgical reforms. She said there was no music.

I admit, at first I hesitated to reply because I actually DO like most of the music at Mass. But then my parents raised me with a wide variety of different musical styles from Classical to Rock & Roll with just about everything in between, so I have a VERY eclectic taste in music. For instance, I enjoy Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but I also enjoy Pink Floyd, The Police, and the Charlie Daniels Band. So, in the Church, I love Gregorian Chant but I also love some of the music of Haas and Haugen, (that terrible twosome that everyone seems to revile these days.)

Anyway, that’s my :twocents:

(Please don’t hate on me for it!?!)

It’s not the modern music that I have a problem with. It’s the fact that I can open the Gather hymnal, and see songs that I have never sang in over 40 years of attending Mass. And then some songs it seems like I sang over 40 times just this year.

It depends.

The Sunday Mass that I attend – which happens to be at 9 a.m. – is absolutely wonderful from a musical perspective. Our organist and choirmaster has an incredibly tasteful and reverent musical impulse, and our parish is fortunate to be exposed to a healthy mixture of Latin, of chant, and of well done modern and traditional hymns because of him.

Like Duane’s parish, our parish uses the Gather hymnal, but we also use a supplemental hymnal that (I believe) was put together by our choirmaster. I would describe the music therein as being rather traditionalist.

On the other hand, some of the other Masses are what I would consider to be annoying musically, and I’m frankly grateful that I don’t have to attend them.

In fact, I once attended a 5 p.m. Sunday Mass because of some car trouble earlier that day. I’m ashamed to admit that I quite literally had to go to Confession largely because of the music I heard there. :wink:

When I hear “modern” I think of like, non denominational, contemporary music and that doesn’t happen at my parish. Our hymns/songs that we sing are in the back of the missalette. So I just assume they are approved, so to speak. Most of what is being sung at Mass is very new to me, since I am a convert, though.

I also have an eclectic taste in music (and like the bands you listed and even - I almost hate to admit it - Jay-Z) but I wouldn’t want to hear rap music at Mass. It just isn’t appropriate.

I bet we could name them for you too:

Gather Us In
Lord of the Dance
Christ Has No Body Now But Yours
Take and Eat this is My Body

Sometimes I hear great things, sometimes not. I think it depends on how it’s done. I’ve heard Gregorian Chant done poorly and sounds worse than contemporary music. If I’m not particularly “feeling” a song in mass, I’ll just listen and pray with it instead of singing.

My mass has a children’s choir so it’s kind of hard to sing to certain songs if they’re like a campfire kid’s song. Listening is nice too. My kids are toddlers so it’s my dream to one day take over the choir!

I think a lot of people assume that, but a hymn being in the missalette doesn’t actually guarantee much. The Church doesn’t actually put out the missalettes. The Church does give us music, called the “propers,” to be used, but allows them to be replaced for hymns - some of such are questionable theologically and aesthetically.

Yes, I’m under 60, male, and usually like the music used in most of the parishes in my diocese and at the cathedral. There is a wide variety of styles, instrumentation, and language. It reflects the diversity and unity of the Body of Christ.

Do I love every hymn or arrangement - no, but I honestly have not found any that detract from the celebration. On the rare occasion there is a selection I find less pleasing to my ears, I remind myself there is at least one person in the congregation who will be moved by that selection, and I would not want to presume to do anything that would reduce their experience of joy and thanksgiving to God.

Having said that, I also must confess I have a rather wide range of musical taste. Eclectic does not begin to describe it.

I love the music at Mass! I don’t like how so many Catholics hate beautiful hymns like Table of Plenty, Gather Us In, Here I Am Lord, what’s not to like about such songs with lyrics that glorify God?

Have you heard, “On Eagle’s Wings?” I have. More times than I can count.

Are you saying that older women have no taste in music? As an older woman, I resent that. Tho I have given up complaining about the music; I got nowhere. Much is unsingable for someone who can’t read music.

There is one modern song that my (also older) husband & I love - Servant Song by Donna McGargill, OSM. Other than that one, I can pretty much just check the date on each song and know whether or not I’ll like it.

There’s supposed to be a difference between devotional hymns (like you might sing walking down the street or at a Christian praise concert) and sacred music (that you sing at Mass). There are a lot of pretty songs about God that I’d be perfectly happy to sing in the car, but they’re not helpful when Jesus is right there in His Real Presence and we’re all trying to give Him glory and be with Him.

Sacred music is music totally dedicated to serving God. It shouldn’t remind us of anything else but being with God in Heaven, singing along with the angels and saints. It’s not supposed to be like J. Random Top Forty Song or any other sort of song we hear in the normal world. Mass is supposed to remind us of our eternal home, because that foretaste of eternity is what is really happening there. Mass music is not supposed to be pulling us back into normal worldly stuff, but instead giving us a boost into seeing Mass as timeless.

The other big problem is that some songs contain bad theology. If the songwriter just slaps the song together without caring whether it is saying true things about God, we don’t need it. It’s teaching us wrong things, and sometimes even evil things. (A lot of popular hymns with bad theology aren’t actually written by Catholics, so I blame the hymnal editors for choosing those songs rather than the poor ignorant songwriters. Catholic hymnwriters don’t have that excuse.)

A third, lesser problem is that many hymns now are written in a way that makes them difficult to sing. It may be difficult to keep one’s voice on key, or to keep from hissing the many S sounds, or to sing the harmony parts. Older hymns were written for normal singers, with many hidden features to make singing easier.

For example, many modern hymns put an emphasized syllable and a higher note on a vowel that is difficult to sing in such a position. For example (sorry about this) in “Table of Plenty,” the refrain is “Come to the FEA st-of heaven and earth.” That E vowel is hard to sing without pushing it up and making it sound very tight. People tend to go off key. If the music minister plays the song in a key that’s more in the middle of people’s voices, it’s not too bad. If the music minister puts it up high where it was written… not so much. If the lyrics or the music had been written so that easier, looser vowels were in that position, it would be a lot easier to sing, no matter what key you used. Older hymns make your voice a lot happier, because the composers were careful to think about these things.

Finally, some songs we use just aren’t good poetry or good music, which is a shame when there are so many thousands of good ones we could sing instead. But if they get the theology right, I can live with it.

I enjoy this when it is used.

Because age and gender seem to matter to you, I am under 60 and not a woman.


I totally agree with you regarding the rap music being inappropriate for Mass…As would anything resembling the sounds say Floyd or The Police. That being said, I haven’t heard anything like that in any Mass I’ve ever attended, so I think we’re probably safe there. :harp:

That’s interesting because I don’t recall one church I had ever attended had no pipe organ and an organist playing it.

You who dwell in…:harp:…and I will raise…

I thought it was strange too.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit