Does the Music you Hear at Mass fit?

Music should fit the occasion or event we are at. We wouldn’t want to hear techno-pop at Grandma’s funeral or the Dies Irae or Taps while the Bride is walking down the aisle. Even in secular culture we know this. I recently wrote a short post on this reflecting on the truth behind a new Bud Light commercial - if you are interested you can read it here:

This isn’t Football Music

The question I have for the forum is, do you find the music at Mass to be appropriate to the Mass? This is distinct from whether you like the music you hear at Mass. You might dislike the music, but find it appropriate (like someone who doesn’t enjoy show tunes admitting they are fitting for the Oklahoma) or you might like the music, but realize it is unsuited to the Mass (like our Bride marching down the aisle to Taps or I don’t Know my Last Name by Carrie Underwood).

Thanks for the input. Have a Blessed Advent.

Amen brother!!!

Since Vatican 2 ended we have suffered through the absolute worst Liturgical music ever written or sung. I do not often attend the Latin Masses but when I do, I wonder why we cannot have this Latin music in the regular Masses. Our typical music is absolely horrible except for perhaps half a dozen pieces. Please wake up all you music directors!!~!! and Bishops !!! Get rid of all that absolely funky " Chuch " music junk we suffer through at every Mass !!! I know its a hold over from all the revolutionary young Clergy the came after V2. But they are retireing now, so lets go back to what was truely Holy.


Thanks for the input. Have a Blessed Advent.

I’ve never been to a Mass where the music wasn’t fine.

My issue with things like music is when and if fellow Catholics think it should be used for nostalgia alone.

I think we need to wisely manage music and other cultural aspects of Mass if nothing else to get more people interested in the Church.

We actually have some flexibility here and should it use.

Sometimes. I notice a disconnect more during the “special” liturgical seasons. We used to have Advent music where almost every song was a version of O Come, O Come, Emanuel. That was bad music but was liturgically appropriate. Lately, we have lots of songs that are not at all related to Advent and we will probably not have any actual Christmas music any later than Midnight Mass on the 24th. The same thing happens with Lent.

Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

Personally, I do not think a guitar fits in at all. And a Choir or “band” solo or special should be after the Mass ends, not after Communion.

As a side: Sacred Christmas songs should be sung during all 12 Days of Christmas. I also think that we should have more Chant. Latin and/or English, but Chant like music. Less folk songs.

The funny thing is, I honestly believe that most people in the pews would prefer Latin music.

However, I think many of the music directors either (1) do not know how to properly pronouce & sing the Latin or (2) are afraid that the people in the pews will butcher the Latin Chants.

That’s why I say choirs should only sing Latin. If the people sing in English, Spanish, etc; at least have the practiced choir chant in Latin.

Latin Chant is not only traditional, it’s very beautiful. I know that God hears us in any language, but Latin Chant connects us Catholics with our common history and unites us as a people. I wish music directors would see this (or that Pastors would force the music directors do it).

The music at our parish has undergone a change. It used to sound appropriate to the Mass, but our new pastor has added percussion (in the form of a drum-set, bongos, and marching-band type bells), strummy guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar. Now it sounds like an episode of the TV show “The Monkees”. I refer to it as “the episode of the Monkees where they attend a church service”. It’s truly hideous and not fitting at all.

Wait - - what is “bad music” about “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”?
Maybe there was no variety at all, and that might not the best, but how can you say that the music itself is bad? Please explain. : )
Also, your parish doesn’t have Christmas music during the octave of Christmas, even?

This is a great question. While transferring from the Protestant wing of Christianity to the Catholic wing, I learned about about the liturgy and the case for music during Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI said of certain instruments during the Mass; “only for adding some support to the singing, so that the meaning of the prayers is more clearly brought to the minds of the listeners and the souls of the faithful are moved to a contemplation of spiritual things, and are aroused to a love of God and of things divine.”

The Pastor did this? Or did the music director do this and the Pastor simply not stop them?

It’s not bad by itself. What was bad was using it for 2 out of the three hymns and singing an arrangement of the Agnus Dei and the Kyrie to the same tune. :confused:

And no, for the last two years, we have not had Christmas music during the octave of Christmas. We rarely have music at daily Mass but didn’t have it on the Sundays either or on the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God (Circumcision). :frowning:

I live in a large Parish near London and we have 6 Masses on Sunday and the Vigil. Three of these have music. One has traditional music which can include plainchant together with Mass settings and motets from the 14th to the 20th centuries. This is popular with the elderly and with our immigrant population (from Eastern Europe and Africa). I am MC at this Mass and love the music, but I find it a bit of a distraction. I’m also MC at the Vigil Mass where there’s no music and I find I can concentrate on the Mass better.

Our other sung Masses include one with mostly modern choruses and a recent setting of the Mass in its new translation. This tends to be popular with young families. I rather like the Mass setting and we tend to use it at Confirmation Masses.

The other one is a “folk” Mass using 1960s music. The kids tend to think that this is classical music.

Our parishioners have a choice of the style of music or none. I can understand the problems faced by people who don’t have a choice.

I’ve never been to a mass where I felt moved, uplifted, or enriched spiritually by the music.

In my perfect world, there would be no singing at masses.

For my wedding, I tried to request no music and was met with confused looks. “But the music is included in the fee”. I even offered to donate extra to keep it silent. Didn’t work.

Maybe a chant would do it for me. :shrug:

Does the Music fit at Mass? This is an excellent question and only can be answered if we look at its content, its musical form, its purpose , its effect within a culture , and how it is performed. Just judging the musical form my answer would be NO.
Sacred music is sung prayer. Often the song and text are a sacred rites in themselves and fulfill an element in realizing the sacred action at Mass. In contrast secular music is used to mark a claim on a territory, creating an environment it can foster tribalism and relates closely to the identity of a person or group. It can even invoke a physical response. (like an bird calling for a mate or marking off its nesting area) . We have fight songs at football games and favorite ethnic songs at our weddings, and we hear loud music at public picnic areas, not for enjoyment but to lay claim to an area. Hence when we use secular music at Mass we are in danger of participating in these more banal behaviors and not the prayerfulness of the Mass. So our attempts to be culturally inclusive and achieve full active participation through secular sounding music we have compromised the very substance of this participation… For though we are singing we are actually participating in something banal and merely human.
Sacred music is different and it will sound different. Its form is generated from speech, phonetics, and word rhythms. So tightly united to language, sacred music’s form took quite a hit when we changed the liturgical language from Latin to the vernacular. We are just learning to unravel the secrets of chant and weave them into our languages.


Especially not when they sing Amy Grant or Leonard Cohen at the Midnight Mass, or ABBA songs with the lyrics changed during the regular Masses.

I actually like my Church music dignified. It can be in any language, but it has to be slow, stately, and at least semi-classical.

That being said, I’m in a minority of one in my own family, who think that synth-pop hymns and CCM remixes are quite cool. I make up for it by listening to heavy metal when I get the time. :smiley:

I agree!

Thats interesting at our parish we don’t sing any “Christmas” songs until Christmas. We have an advent wreath and purple wreaths on the supports. We won’t get our Christmas tree (well there is a giving tree in the very back of the Church but I don’t think it counts) and green wreaths until Christmas eve and then they will remain for the Christmas time during which we will sing Christmas songs.

The peace of Christ,

Something tells me I’m going to regret posting, but as a Music Director myself, I’ll stick my two cents in…

  1. Most Music Directors are not really trained, but are well intentioned “people who can sing or play an instrument”. Why? Because many (of course, not all) parishes feel like that’s one place where they can save money. And as in most areas, you tend to get what you pay for.

There are ads for music directors that read like this:

  • Must be proficient in several instruments including pipe organ, must be knowledgeable in Liturgy, chant, Praise & Worship, ethnic music, must direct an adult choir, a children’s choir, a teen band, oversee the Spanish choir, the Vietnamese choir, the Filipino choir, keep up with all licensing, copyrights, cover all weddings and funerals. Rehearsals most evenings, must keep office hours. No benefits, pay commensurate with ability. * :eek: Right… I have 25 years experience, a Theology degree and Performance degree. I’ve never once received pay commensurate with my ability or the hours I worked. I was even told by a Finance Committee Chairperson " well, all you do is play the piano at Mass". really? I heard that after I left, he was the first one to bemoan that he didn’t realize how much work it was. :shrug:
  1. My biggest beef when I visit other parishes, is the idea that amplification is good and necessary. I can think of almost no situation where the cantor being over-amplified, or each member of the choir having a mic did anything but cause too much focus on the persons or was not totally disruptive to what was happening at that point in the Mass. Louder is not better. Again, just my opinion.

  2. tempo. Faster is not better. Choirs should consider that they lead the faithful in musical prayer. Not dominate or put on a show.

  3. Some of new Mass settings would make great jingle for products, but not for Mass parts. Sometimes directors assume that the people in the pew can’t or won’t sing. So they select trite and sing-songy stuff. It’s sad.

  4. Few pastors care. I’m going to get a lot of haters with this, but seriously…most pastors say “just do whatever you want, just so I don’t have to deal with it.” If people complain about it, the pastor says “oh well, we’re lucky to have him/her. it’s so hard to find someone”. But truly, there’s not a lot of direction, except maybe to mention their least favorite hymn. One pastor told me he hated call and response Mass parts. Me too, so we got along well, LOL.

  5. As I’ve said before, not all music is liturgically appropriate. There may be lots of pieces marketed as church/religious music, but that doesn’t mean it is or that it is good for the Catholic Mass. Things like “Mary Did You Know” may have a lovely melody, but those lyrics do not belong in any Catholic church.

  6. Our Diocese hosts a liturgical symposium every year. Director friends bemoan that fact that it’s not the kind of music they use in their parishes. BINGO! Take a hint. :wink:

  7. Choir directors sometimes fail to reel in those who insist that only their voice be heard. A choir can be beautiful…a gaggle of soloists distracts from the liturgy.

For those who feel distracted by the music at Mass, I feel for you. It IS a problem. But not one that the Churches are in a hurry to fix.

  1. I recently expressed my dismay at a country and western style choir that was in place…the response I got from the Administration was “well, they are children of so-and-so who we love, and they were here when no one else wanted to sing, and they are such nice people, we just let them do whatever they want, and the older folks seem to have become used to them, so we’re not about to upset them or anyone else by correcting them. We know it’s bad, but they are nice people.” What do you do with that? They ARE nice people. Is that the point though? Is there a line between being kind and overlooking atrocious music? Who’s going to cross it? I mentioned it to the Director, and she said "every time I try to teach them correct practices and musical excellence, they say 1) we don’t read music 2) we’re JUST volunteers, and 3) if you don’t like it, we’ll just pick up our toys and go home. She finished by saying “the parish doesn’t pay me to drive all the way out here for Saturdays, so they can do whatever they want I guess”.

You know, there doesn’t HAVE to be music at Mass.
Simply having instrumental music can be wonderful.

Believe it or not, there ARE some wonderful Catholic composers alive and publishing. Their music needs to be promoted.

If your choir or cantor is good, please say something kind to them.

Some combination of both, I suppose. I figure that the pastor is ultimately in charge, and he is known to have “the spirit of Vatican II”. Ordained in 1971 - - and we get to revisit the 70s every Sunday! : )

OP, if we say yes, absolutely always,
or, no it is completely inappropriate,

Then what? Does it prove anything except that a handful of posters who live in different areas of the county, may have differing opinions or experiences? :shrug:

From your link:
The next time you attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ask yourself, is this song appropriate to be singing at the foot of the Cross, at Calvary? For that is where we are when we attend Mass. ask yourself, is this song one that gives honor to God alone or does it honor “the people” in the congregation more than Christ?

Sounds like you have an axe to grind and are looking for support. :wink:

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