Feminine liturgical music

Is it just me, or is today’s liturgical music geared toward females? I know that question sounds a little harsh, but it seems to be 90% fluffy emotionalism with no real substance.:harp:

Can you provide an example or two of what you mean ? How exactly is it geared towards females? And are you seriously implying that ‘fluffy emotionalism with no real substance’ is the kind of liturgical music that appeals to women ? :eek:

Over to you, whatevergirl :tiphat:


Do you mean hymns like On This Day O Beautiful Mother, Immaculate Mary, Sing of Mary, Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above, or some good ole classics like Mother Dear O Pray For Me, Ave Maris Stella, Mother Dearest Mother Fairest, Hail Queen of Heaven, Rose of the Cross? Then the answer is yes :slight_smile:

I’ve read some interesting stuff suggesting that this is in fact the case. much more about personal response to Jesus, feelings, etc. Less about manfully fighting, putting on the armour of God, spreading the vanguard, etc. Even less purely theological stuff, which apparently tends to appeal more to men overall. More “Gather Us In” and less “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.”

Apparently, there was a change in the type of popular piety in the 12th or 13th century (I think this is what I read.) The depictions of saints and addresses to Christ in prayer and music, influenced by the literary idea of courtly love, began also to address Christ in terms of the “beloved.” Now, some amazing and beautiful stuff has come out of that tradition, and I think there should likely be a balance. But lately, it seems the feminine approach has tipped the balance.

Some have suggested that this kind of thing is related to the lack of men in many churches - and in general, the more emotive the denomination, the less men there are. The Eastern Churches, which have much less of that stuff, tend to have a normal proportion of men.

Ummmm…maybe you ought to quit while you are ahead. I don’t think we ladies are going to take too kindly to the implication that all that appeals to us is fluffy emotionalism with no real substance.

Besides, most of today’s liturgical music has been composed by MEN. Which means that they are quite capable of “fluffy emotionalism with no real substance.”

CB Catholic,

You are so right. Most liturgical composers are men. Probably men who are devoted and loving toward Jesus. Read St. Francis’s life, read the writings of St. John of the Cross. Their rhetoric was loving.

The implication that women, as a gender, are fluffy, emotional and of no real substance indicates to me a lack of knowledge and understanding of women.

*I truly just stumbled into this thread…and I see this??? hahaha That’s funny! :smiley: Hey…whatcha tryin’ ta say? Huh? :hmmm::rotfl:

Frankly, I think that the music of today lacks the stoic feel it once had…perhaps what we miss from our childhoods? I think maybe that is what the OP meant? I am not sure if the music is feminine per se, I’m also not 100% sure what the OP means by that. But, there are some beautiful new melodies of modern day that are sometimes played during mass…I think that the teen masses are a bit on the…non traditional side.

But, that being said–FickleFreckled says it well, too. :D*

Good one! :thumbsup:

I admit to a lack of understanding of most women. But you all seemed to miss the sarcastism, e.g. the little gal playing her flute. That being said, some specific music that makes me want to grab my “seamless garment” and dance a jig on the pew are modern “classics” like Rain Down, Gather Us In, Lord of the Dance, or Peace is Flowing.

Yes, many, if not all of the above, were written by men. But I do not think that these songs lift many men’s hearts in prayer. Call me crazy, but most men are embarrassed to sing this fluff.

And you think most of us women **aren’t **embarrassed to sing 'this fluff"?

Hon, you’d better put the shovel down before the grave you’re digging for yourself gets any deeper. . .

I know I shouldn’t be laughing, but the whole dancing a jig comment…I am sorry, that’s funny.


I should have felt insulted by this comment for myself and for all people of the female gender, but I couldn’t help but giggle when I read this. Surely, the OP isn’t serious. :stuck_out_tongue:

As a female, I care little for a number of the songs written for liturgy within the last few decades. This is mainly because most of it is too superficial for me, lacks little depth and is poorly written. In regards to giving certain kinds of music a gender, I don’t really think that can be done. As someone else mentioned, many of those songs were written by men. There is a side I think in all people (unless you are really hardened) in which they have a thing for the saccharine and the corny - including myself. I don’t want it in my spiritual life, although I know I must have liked it when I was a child because I remember liking certain cutsie songs for mass, although was always in awe whenever I heard something deep and majestic. There are adults who still want the saccharine and the corny in their liturgical music for various reasons - men and women. I will grant that it’s less men than women. Although, if I remember correctly, I saw a lot of men and women in the 80s doing the “fluffy”, pseudo-folk like music hymns of their young adulthood from the 60s/70s at mass. My dad liked that stuff back then too. He thinks it’s horrible and really superficial today, but his spiritual life has grown a lot too.

I initially had the same reaction until I thought about it. My parochial vicar noted, in a homily, that somehow, society has been “Oprah-fied” in that everything is about warm and fuzzy feelings. Even the Holy Father made a similar observation when he noted, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, that we should not make a caricature of Jesus, merely considering him as some benevolent person. That is not the Jesus of the Gospels.

Unfortunately, that is what a lot of the modern OCP and Haugen-Hass drek has reduced Him to be. Without speaking for the OP, I think that this is what he means. Interestingly enough, in its powerpoint presentation on sacred music, the USCCB makes a similar point. It raises some valid questions:

Is there an obscured presentation of the centrality of Christ in salvation history and an insufficient emphasis on the divinity of Christ? Do our liturgical songs present Jesus as the culmination of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation? Is the indispensable place of the incarnation in the plan of salvation sufficiently presented? Is Jesus the Savior often overshadowed by Jesus the teacher, model, friend, and brother? Is there an appropriate balance? Is there an imbalance in our emphasis on the humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ? At times, can we detect a negative undertone in speaking of the divine nature of Christ, as if divinity is equated with being “distant and unreal.”

I have found many of the compositions in Spirit and Song, as well as United in Christ/Unidos en Cristo, to lack that much-needed emphasis that the USCCB noted. In fact, most, if not all, of the composition written by Bob Hurd, Bernadette Ferrell, Cary Landry, Christopher Walker, Marty Haugen, David Haas, Fr. Ricky Manolo, CSP, the SLJ, and, Mary Frances Reza, have that lackluster deficiency. Most of them are about feelings and syruppy things and very few do not have an authentic Sensus Fidei, sense of the Faith. In fact, they manage to water down the Faith, as evidenced in such ditties as “Come to the Feast/Ven al Banquete”, “O Love of God/O Amor de Dios”, “Christ, Be our Light”, “Song of the Body of Christ”, “Gather Us In”, “Hail Mary/Gentle Woman” (the second half of that song is pretty bad; the musicality is awful), “Only a Shadow” and others.

Lord of the Dance is actually very old. It just wasn’t Catholic. Some of the contemporary liturgical music is simplistic so people who ordinarily wouldn’t sing will be encouraged to do so. But there’s a lot of good contemporary liturgical music, too. A lot of the responsorials that came out of OCP in the late 80’s and early 90’s were absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking especially of “The Cry of the Poor”. I loved, still love but don’t hear it played much anymore, “You Are Mine.” There was plenty of emotionalism and “fluffiness” in the old music, too. There were some downright tear-jerking, sentimental hymns we sang in the 50’s that even then I thought must have appealed only to the elderly ladies who said the Rosary all through Mass. Sentimentality isn’t the exclusive domain of contemporary liturgical music.

I forgot to add that I loathe “On Eagles Wings.” One of the worst liturgical pieces I’ve ever heard. Everybody seems to love it and nobody can sing it. But everybody tries.

The last jig I saw danced in a pew was a 3 year old who had to go potty. I can’t remember if “Rain Down” was being sung.:smiley:

I am a woman, and I love many of the songs that several of you are lamblasting.

My husband loves them, too.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’re a figure skating family, and you all know how figure skaters are–sissies. We cry at the drop of a hat (or club) and jump up and down and squeal when we skate well and hug everyone in sight, We’re just a big ol’ bundle of fluff–maybe that’s how we take those devastating falls and bleed all over the ice and yet, we get up and keep going. Little softies, that’s us.

Seriously, what is wrong with fixing our minds on peaceful, loving places and gentle words and actions and joyous dances and soft lifegiving rain? I love these analogies, and they speak to my heart and soul and help me to better understand the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

I grew up in the 1960s, and as a child, I got in on the good aspects of the hippie generation–Make Love, Not War, and Flower Power. Nothing wrong with that. Of course real hippies weren’t really good (drugs, sex, rebellion, etc.), and I know that it takes TWO to have true peace. But isn’t it better that ONE is peaceful rather than both being tough and warlike?

Perhaps if more people were like that, we would have a more peaceful world. Right now in the U.S., many people make a lifestyle out of being rude and confrontational and crude. People drive like warlords. Abortion is a method of contraception. Extreme sports are becoming more popular. Wrestling and car wrecks, I mean races, are hugely popular, and reality shows where people are made fools of are top-rated. We live in a culture of death and hate.

A lot of us don’t understand the analogies of several hundred years ago. I respect the great hymns of the past, but frankly, the language is so flowery and archaic and just plain weird at times, I’m happy to sing these ancient poems a few times a year.

I don’t see the link between fluffy emotionalism with no real substance and feminism. Perhaps modern church music has been created to match most sermons.

It really wasn’t written to be sung by the assembly. It was a choir piece written for a funeral.

Actually, the melody of “Lord of the Dance”, when it’s not sung like a jig with really bad text as is it in our hymnals, can be very beautiful. In vocal art song recitals, it is sung with the original Shaker text (“Simple Gifts”) and with much more elegance and refinement. It’s one of my favorites to do in the English portion of my recitals.

I remember “Cry of the Poor” and that wasn’t too bad. I liked that better than most of the ones I had to deal with growing up in the 80s and 90s. When I was a child I liked “You are Mine”, but now for me it’s almost as sentimental as that old Marian song I believe was written in the 1920s/30s “Mother At Your Feet Is Kneeling”. (I sometimes get that request for funerals when old ladies/men pass away. I also sometimes get “You Are Mine” for weddings because often times the couple thinks it has more to do with their husband or wife being theirs.

Which leads to your next comment. I absolutely totally agree that fluffiness and sentimentality isn’t just limited to more contemporary liturgical music. There was a lot of it being produced, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s. Some of it had to do with the whole Victorian mind-set and the “quaintness” that went along with it at the superficial level and then kind of made its way into early 20th century. Not putting down the Victorian era - I actually was/am always quite taken by that period and learned and read a lot about it either in historical books or in Victorian literature. But despite the deep thinkers and writers of that time whom I really enjoyed, one of the by-products of that era as a whole was sentimentality and fluffiness. It flowed into some hymns as well as organ works - Catholic and Protestant.

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