Is it okay not to like some of the music played at Church?

Is it okay not to like some of the music played at Church?

I don’t really care for music by Ray Boltz and some of the music that is played is nice but not very appropriate for Mass like “I have a dream” by: ABBA but that’s just my opinion.

If I don’t like it than I just “tune it out”

However, I would like to discuss this matter with our parish Priest and the person who “runs” the music.

How can I do this without complaining or arguing?

What songs would you suggest?

“Do everything without grumbling or questioning.”~Phillippians 2:14

God bless you for your answers and for your help,

This very thing happened this past Sunday. One of the songs sounded like it was from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” Soundtrack. My 3 year old loved it, while I cringed. It got worse when people began clapping. I looked at the Parish Priest to get a read on his reaction, only to see that he was awkwardly clapping too! :eek:

To answer your question, I think you’ve gotta take into consideration the culture of the people. If I were in Africa, for example, clapping might be a little more acceptable. Each year, our Diocese has a huge festival where the Mass is very cultural. During this liturgy, there are songs in Spanish, Polish, Latin, African, and from other parts of the World. It really is neat to see the diversity of the Catholic Church. So I think it depends.

I found the Little Mermaid song to be distracting and it seamed to disrupt the flow of the Sacred Liturgy. Am I going to say something to the Priest, probably not. He knows. Will he say anything to the director of music, perhaps.

Some people think only the Gregorian chant is suitable for mass, others prefer the…let’s say the less traditional hymns. Some vehemetly object to the lyrics of this song or that (saying they’re “Anti-Catholic”), others don’t even listen to the lyrics.

So, sure, it’s OK not to like certain music. What you do about it and how you go about it is, methinks, more important here. When approching whoever is in charge of the music selection, it’s important to “question and maybe suggest” rather than “complain”. Some are more receptive than others to change, every parish is different.

Personally, the only appropriate response during mass is either to sing along or if you don’t like the tune (or if the notes are too high or low, as I sometimes find), “tune it out”. There’s a fine line that exists, methinks, between not liking a tune and not giving full, active participation in mass.

There are some CAFers who, because they find a word or two in the lyrics that they disagree with, refuse to sing along…sorta like “I don’t like the color of your ball so I’m not playing”. One can always just hum along with the song. I’m sure some will disagree with my POV here.

Music is one of the few “variables” in mass, where there is some room for different styles.

Its tough and tradition and reverence certainly play a role in regards to needs vs wants.

The church I attend here has had the same Organ player who also sings for some time now. While his playing is exceptional, his voice is OK. Anyway one of the females from the congregation sang one on the Hymns during Christmas. What a voice, and so well received the entire church gave her a standing ovation which I have never seen happen in church. Yet she is still the back-up singer and remains in that role.

I say that to say this, it is what it is. And while anyone of us can think and suggest this or that. Theres first the “spirit of reverence” and of course tradition and proper state of mind for the soul, in regards to needs. Then after all that, even that which could well be changed as I mentioned, may very well not be because of recent history as I mentioned.

Me, I have no problem handing over the microphone to a gifted voice. Personally I would rather hear that great voice than my OK voice. I suppose not all of us think this way. :shrug:

But yes, anyway, at the end of the day I suppose its needs as opposed to wants.

Ironic though, around Thankgiving I was up in Boston and a female sang at the parish I attended mass in there. A voice like an angel. I thought, how come we don’t have a voice like that at home? And not a month later, there it was at the home parish. Immediatly I wrongly thought, well thats a great change. :slight_smile:

Here is the document (Musicam Sacram 1967) governing the Church’ music

In essence the music should follow the liturgical texts as much as possible, and only the Episcopal Conferences has authority to approve any other music still with the requirement to keep uniformity in their territories.

The recent use that musical directors feel free to use whatever they want is abuse.

The song selection for Mass is not arbitrary or capricious. From a list, approved by the Bishop, different for each part, the director choses a song that compliments the cycle, readings, and part of the mass. At times the choir will make suggestions/alterations. The process is hard work. After mass individuals will say “I love that song” and “thats a terrible song” (same song). It is better for all of us if you voice your informed opinion. Please remember the effort you are about to confront and be charitable to your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you correct a wise man you win a friend. Please participate. Don’t pew and stew.


You can also try a more recent document.


Some people? More like the Church herself says that Gregorian chant is appropriate at any mass and is to be given of highest honor, but that other suitable and appropriate music is acceptable for mass.

I don’t understand why people think that the participation in mass that Vatican II spoke of consist of signing. Although wonderful if you do sing, no one is required to sing, and your opinion on the music is just that your opinion.

Signing? Did you mean singing?

this is probably the best attitude

I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I have really loved the music at Mass since about 1965. I long ago lost track of how often it has been sheer torture and just hope it counts toward my purgatory.

:smiley: Thanks for the correction.

Of course it is okay.

My views on this have evolved, although they still have the same core of belief from the beginning since I was kid. Here is how I see things. I’m a classically trained musician. As much as music is part of my entire soul and is very important to my prayer, at the end of the day, it is not the reason why I attend mass.

When I was younger, I would become physically ill whenever I had to sit through a mass with music that sounded more like a rock concert or a folk fest rather than a sacred, solemn mass. I’d also get panicky and anxious. At first I didn’t realize that it was only happening when I attended mass with this kind of music. Once I realized this, I worked very hard to tune it out. It took a few years and a lot of mental strength to fight it. In the beginning it also made me loathe the music and felt like it was a insult and pandering to me, so I had to fight my inclination of loathing and resenting. I honestly don’t see much of that kind of music anymore happening at the parishes in my area, except for maybe the teen masses or that Catholic underground group for younger adults which I don’t attend anyway. Now, it doesn’t even affect me when I do come across a mass like that. I don’t hear the music anymore. That is how they worship and no one is telling them to not do it. I’m not in charge, so what can I do about it? Nothing.

I personally don’t think that music is appropriate for mass and believe most of it is not that great anyway - or at least the musicians playing them aren’t that great. Until the Church says “no” completely to this kind of music, it will stay. BUT, as I’ve mentioned in many other threads before, this kind of problem is NOTHING NEW in the Church. It has a long, long history of new music being introduced which wasn’t appropriate. I’ve found that there is a pattern. The Church will allow the new music to go on for a while. It will get out of hand and then the Church will eventually put a stop to it or be more stringent with what’s appropriate and what’s not.

What I have found, as well, is that as the years go on, time will dictate what is lasting and what isn’t. The Church would often insist that any new music had to be refined to be used in liturgy. This was the case with polyphony. It was originally a secular form of music and originally viewed as “liscivious” and the like. It was banned by three different popes in the very beginning until the composer Guillame de Machaut refined the style so that it was more fitting for liturgy from the secular style. I believe this is what you will eventually see with the newer music coming out today. You’ll find that some will die out and others will eventually refine themselves by the musicians and composers to be more fitting for the mass. We’re just in the transitional stage now, which is why I think in more parishes you are seeing a return to more “sacred sounding” music. I think it was far worse when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s.

Anyway, my advice is:

  1. When you attend a mass at a church that you don’t normally go to and the music is pretty bad, don’t complain. Do your best to tune it out and focus on the primary reason why you are at mass.

  2. If you are a musician, see if you can help out with your parish by playing an instrument, singing, etc. You might be able to collaborate with the music director (if there is one) in regards to the music selections.

  3. If you are very upset with how the music program is going at the church either because of the musicians or the music choices, and can’t give of your time as a musician yourself, see if you can be a benefactor for these musicians or young, budding musicians to take their lessons, attend liturgical music programs and conferences in order to be up-to-date with what needs to go on at mass for the music.

  4. If you do want to say something, don’t go to the priest about it. Having worked in many different parishes as a freelancer and a regular weekly musician, most priests would rather you go to the music director about it. But if you do go to the music director or other musician, be complimentary first. Tell them how you appreciate the work they put into the planning the liturgy (even if you may not appreciate the music choices - you can still appreciate their hard work and dedication). Then kindly go into “concerns” about certain music choices. Using negative words won’t help your case. I’ve found doing that (in all aspects of life actually) gets you what you want more so than focusing on the negative. This is because they won’t see you as an enemy (which you aren’t, of course) and won’t get their guard up so that they won’t listen to you. They will more than likely be open-minded and receptive to your concerns and suggestions.

I find that there is often a lot of complaining, but no one wants to do anything to help make a new music program to their liking work. They just want it to change magically. Some parishes don’t have the talent, the ability or the necessary education to do what is required. This sometimes requires money to get the change going. But then, no one is willing to shell the money out. I think we are sometimes short-sighted when it comes to investing our time, energy and money into things like this. We immediately think of how much it is initially going to be, but once you get the ball rolling, you may not need as much money to keep it going.

Although music isn’t necessary for our faith, let’s face it, with so many threads regarding liturgical music, it is obviously something that many people seriously value. And when a parish is fortunate enough to have talented musicians and good music for their mass, many truly appreciate it. I know I do.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this to be a long post, so my apologies.

Thank you very much for all of your suggestions I really appreciate them.

Here is another one from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

“Those who sing, pray twice”~St. Augustine of Hippo

I’ve been to a couple masses where there were deaf parishioners and there was a person signing for them. For some reason, I thought that was very cool.

Once again I appreciate all of your responses.

Our Priest would like all of the Parishioners to fill out a survey perhaps I could write something of concern on there? :shrug:

Or would it be best to discuss this with the Music Director?

There are other Parishioners that feel the same way as well.

Would it be good or wise if more people discussed this with the music director? <–However, I don’t want to “gang up” on the person.

Yes, I do appreciate everything the music director does for the Church–I mean the sound system isn’t the greatest and some of the C.D.'s skip but this person still does a remarkable job.

Sometimes, at Church they’ll have a choir or a few people singing.

There is one woman who sings in a very high voice whenever she sings my mother says she gets a splitting headache and than there are some people who have such a voice that it makes me wonder, “Why are you not in choir?”

God blesses all of us in His own way.

I would say that there probably has been enough “complaints” to the priest about the music, hence the survey. That was what happened at an old parish of mine. The pastor was getting so many complaints that he eventually sent a survey to everyone in the parish, asking them their opinions on the music. My husband and I were honest. There was a lot of music with bongo drums, electric guitars, etc. at many of the masses. It seemed that the survey worked though. After the survey, they changed the bongo mass to only once a month at one mass, kept the rock masses for only the LifeTeen masses on Sunday evening and the rest of the masses (which were 4 masses Sunday morning and one on Saturday evening) had more traditional music with organ. The director did a good job of using repertoire which was newer and older. So, if you didn’t like one or two of the hymns, at least there were 2 or 3 others which you did like.

Since there is a survey being done, you may not want to have a bunch of people discuss it with the music director. He/she is probably already aware of what’s been going on and what has been said due to the fact that there is a survey being made and he/she is probably already stressing over it. If you want to take him/her aside one on one, that could be fine, but again make sure you don’t use too many negative words about it. There is probably some sensitive nerves out in the open already.

Make sure you stress this to the person. BTW - what are the cds used for? I believe we aren’t supposed to use recorded music for mass.

This is probably a case where the woman may not have had any vocal training or a little and has never learned to sing with her entire body. So, she uses just all the “tweeters” (all up in the head) and none of the “woofers” (breathing from your feet and using the entire body as the resonator so you don’t need to be close to the microphone and would sound much more grounded). Thus it sounds very high and piercing and can give a headache, especially when it’s heard through the microphone. I’ve heard people complain about voices like this thinking that the person was singing in a higher key, when in fact that person is actually singing in the same “low” key, but her voice makes it sound like it’s much higher than what it actually is.

I’m a mezzo-soprano (mezzo meaning “middle” in Italian, so I’m in between an alto and soprano voice) so I naturally have a richer, darker quality to my voice and have been trained to sing using my body rather than just the head. At one church I used to sing at, the other cantor (who had a lovely voice) was a soprano, although did not have a lot of formal training. We sang the same music, in the same key, etc., but once in a while parishioners would come up to me and ask me why the other cantor sang in a higher key and that it was too hard for them to sing along. That’s when I realized that people who don’t read music and depend more on their hearing, was reacting to the high frequency of the voice. I’ve told people to concentrate on hearing the organ or other instrument play the melody line and I believe that has helped people.

Perhaps this singer would love to take more voice lessons, but in my area, that’s about $100 to $300 an hour - mucho bucks. So you have to be serious about it. It’s worth the investment for me because this is what I do for a living, but for someone who only cantors usually for no money, it’s not worth it. (I’m at one of the few Catholic churches that pays their cantors.) It would be nice if a fund could be made up for cantors’ voice lessons, but with the way things are economically, it’s probably not feasible. First and foremost would be money saved for an organist or music director.

Our local Church doesnt often have music but when it does it is rather awful.Last Christmas,“Marys boy child” by Boney M and "When a child is born"by Johnny Mathis was part of our midday mass,made worse by the fact it was played by a soloist on an acoustic guitar.

Wow…just…wow. Some of these stories truly make me cringe.
I have been a church musician since age 12 and I was classically trained as a vocalist, pianist, and organist. When I converted to Catholicism in 2006 from Anglicanism, I took my many years of liturgical musicianship with me and hoped to find a way to make a living. The Episcopal Church, as well as other mainline Protestant churches, generally pays their musicians well.
I was in for a shock. At every Catholic parish I have played for professionally, there has been an overt reluctance at having to actually pay a professional musician for his/her time. Most parishes seem to feel like I am trying to cheat them or something because I charge for my time/talent. One parish that hired me tried to get away with paying me $35 per Mass - this after I had to drive 30 miles one way to get to their church. Needless to say, that gig didn’t last long.
I am now playing at a Catholic church 30 miles from my house for $150 per Mass. I absolutely refuse, on principle, to take less. I spend a lot of time preparing for Mass both musically and spiritually. It is only right for me to be compensated for that.
It is really sad the way church musicians are treated. At one time in our history, people like me were sustained by commissions and good pay to provide good music. Now we are treated like janitors, only without medical insurance.
I don’t know how much longer I really want to deal with this attitude.

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