Is modern music liturgical?

I have played contemporary music for the past 15 years and have been involved in the Life Teen program. I enjoy the modern music. I like to stay current with the Catholic song writers. However, lately I have been moved by documents I have read about music at Mass. I have been troubled by what I have been playing which is really the only style I currently know.

In our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, regarding liturgical music he states:

“Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).”

I have also been reading** Pope St. Pius X’s Motu Proprio “Tra Le Solicitudine” **
“Nothing should take place which would directly violate the decorum and holiness of the sacred functions and thus be unworthy of the House of Prayer and the Majesty of God.” (…)
“The closer a musical composition approaches Gregorian chant in its composition, the more sacred and liturgical it is; the further it departs from that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.”

Please offer your opinion regarding liturgical music. Sacred music vs. modern emotion stirring music. Emotions seem dangerous to gauge our spiritual life by.

Sacred Music > guitar

Yeah emotional music can be bad as it sometimes passes for counterfeit spirituality and the worse part is that usually happens to those who don’t realize that’s what it is.

Still being emotional in worship is not necessarily bad either.

Of course, I may not be the best person to speak on this. I have always prefered older music, chants and high church hymns has always seemed more beautiful and yes even emotional to me than modern praise songs.

I remember talking to a Protestant friend of mine and lamenting the music at my church (which has a great choir who’s talents are lost on rather poor music). He was shocked. He had assumed that a Catholic Church would have the best worship music considering our history and the legendary composers we’ve had and that was not to mention the Gregorian Chants.

I just nodded and said “you’d think so wouldn’t you?”

But again don’t take me to seriously I am admittedly a sacred music snob.

I think there are many problems with the contemporary music used in many parishes. Many are theologically questionable at best and focus more on the people rather than on God. Emotions are not necessarily bad, but some songs seem to be all about the emotions, rather than praising God. I tend to get emotional when I hear a beautifully sung Panis Angelicus or Ave Maria, but the emotions are focused on Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament or on Our Lady, respectively, instead of on myself.

Does anyone know of any good Gregorian Chant or Polyphonic English Sacred Music resources? Thanks. I was born after Vatican II.:shrug:

I personally see nothing wrong with much of the contemporary music. At least I don’t have a problem with the contemporary music played at my church. But my church has never used guitars and other modern instruments either. They use the piano or the organ but that is just about it.

Here are some free Gregorian Chant MP3 downloads. It’s heavenly, just the kind of music we *should *be hearing in all our Catholic Churches.

No matter how pretty some songs are, if they don’t mention God or address God, they really don’t belong in the Mass. Many such songs do a good job of celebrating ourselves, but a poor job of praying.

I also dislike most of the grammatical gymnastics that liturgists use to avoid calling God “He.” The inclusive version of “Where Charity and Love Prevail” (“Ubi Caritas”) demands gymnastics of the tongue, which I find distracts me from the sentiments in the song. Jesus called God “Father,” not “parent.” Deal with it, liturgists.

In 1996, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) presented the world with a translation of the psalms so inclusive (read "feminist) that Pope Benedict - then Cardinal Ratzinger - rescinded the Imprimatur. Yet it WAS printed, and widely distributed. In my own parish library there is not a New American Bible with an approved psalter, and Confirmation students are given a bible with the faulty translation.

Resources? Nope.

But if you want to hear the most beautiful chant this side of Heaven, it can be found in the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fontgombault. Founded in France in the 12th century, they are still an all traditional Abbey. In my opinion, this Abbey is the example of how monastic life should be.

Look out future brothers of America, they are building an exact replica in Oklahoma. I don’t know when they will be done, but if I wasn’t on the track I was on now, I would be begging to live at the new Abbey.

Pax tecum.

(To clarify, that website is for the new Abbey they are building. But they have the CDs from Fontgombault on there. I don’t know where else to get them, short of going to France).

This might be a good resource:

I think we can sing contemporary songs by using piano and organ.
A church musician or composer can write their own songs but its main focus must be on God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church song must be about God’s majesty, glory and praise.
Whatever the Bible and the Pope teaches we should adhere to those as faithful followers.
Laudater Jesus Christo
Instaurare omnia in Christo
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God."
Colossians 3:16

Try these. I have some of them and they are wonderful.

Gloriae Dei

Over the 16 years I’ve been a Catholic, I’ve been mostly distressed at the lack of quality music. It’s as if the contemporary composers/lyricists don’t realize that words matter! And as we’ve taken in hymns of Protestant origen we’ve also not paid attention to their theology. Example: “Let Us Break Bread Together.” While the first verse might be able to be reconciled to Catholic Eucharistic belief, the second certainly cannot. As a Catholic I do not drink wine at Holy Communion–whether on my knees or not. :nope: I receive the Precious Blood of Jesus–His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! :extrahappy: People leave Mass remembering the music’s words far more than the priest’s. I would also remind all that hymnals, although published by Catholic publishers, do not carry imprimaturs. Caution on the theology being taught through song!!! Most “contemporary” music now is beginning to sound dated since it was written in the styles of the last 20th century. Let’s go back to the songs that have passed the test of the centuries. The Adoremus hymnal does a good job. Let’s have more like it!:yup:

I was a guitar player at my college parish. I thought the same as you, 4life4nfp - this is all there is, so let’s do it as well as we can.

Then I went to dental school, and I was blessed to discover Our Lady of the Atonement, a Catholic parish that had an incredible polyphonic choir. The music was literally heavenly. It made you feel like the angels really were right there with you.

When I started practicing in my hometown, a friend of mine and I started a men’s Gregorian chant group, the Brazos Valley Schola Cantorum. We have since quadrupled in size and are enjoying a very positive response from the congregations we serve. There is a real hunger out there for this type of thing.

For preliminary reading, I’d suggest you peruse this webpage. It uses actual audio files to make certain points. It’s very well done.

Essays on Sacred Music

Here is the specific article I like:

What is Sacred Music?

PM me if you have any questions.

I try to keep an open mind. I firmly believe that there is room in our church for all kinds of music. If you mean by “modern music” the stuff from the 70’s in the OCP books, then yes, I think it’s liturgical. To be sure, there are some clunkers in there, but then that’s only my opinion. Someone in the thread mentioned “verbal gymnastics” to avoid calling God “Father” or “He”. I have to agree that this “neutering” of God in modern versions of songs drives me nuts! Christ HIMself taught us to call God “Our Father”. There’s no arguing the point. Deal with it, OCP, or quit publishing music.

I actually prefer the kind of music heard at lifeteen and “youth” masses. Songs by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman - this is good stuff. I do pay CLOSE attention to the theology of the song. For instance, there’s a song by FFH (Far From Home) called “Fly Away” that speaks specifically about the protestant belief in the rapture - NOT a good choice for Catholic liturgy.

Somone else mentioned that modern songs were OK if played on an organ or piano…why? It is widely believed that David wrote the bulk of the psalms using a lyre - a precourser to the guitar…and at the time, I’m sure it was “modern music”. Adam and Eve didn’t exit paradise with a fig leaf and a church organ. The only reason these instruments are considered “sacred” now is that they have traditionally been used in Catholic liturgy - mostly because they were the most “popular” instrument at the time. The early church fathers (1st few centuries) celebrated Mass without an organ or piano, because it hadn’t been invented yet. But the lyre had, and the tambourine and the trumpet and the drum. All kinds of things that I’m sure the traditionalist would have a problem with.

Scriptures says, Praise with the trumpet, praise with the lyre.
I don’t think it matters what you use as long as you praise the Lord with your music.

Actually, the “why” is that Vatican II said specifically in the document on the liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” that the organ is “to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church.” It does allow for other instruments “if suitable.” For me, in our culture, lots of drums, etc., tend to be things of nightclubs and pop music–not helpful for reverence. (By the by, David also danced mostly naked in front of the Ark of the Covenant. I think I’ll pass on that one, too. :blush:

Right. Move over, I’m one too.

Oh yes, I know the document of which you speak, and now understand where you were coming from. Holding the organ in high esteem and using it exclusively are definitely not the same thing. This subject really deals with personal preference, and I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

As I said before, I think there’s room for many types of music and many different instruments - but I do think they belong each at their own Mass. That way, a traditionalist can attend the 10:00 AM mass for example, if he or she knows that the music is led with the organ and classical hymns or chant are used. Someone like me would attend the 6:00 PM Lifeteen Mass…I don’t think one style of worship fits all. I thank God that there is no exclusivity in this matter and accomodations for many styles are made in many parishes.


[FONT=Arial]I can’t say—modern music keeps changing. Here today gone tomorrow.

GSP (Greg) says it well–it helps if there are several Masses in a weekend, then the CD would be wise to consider using a more “traditional” style at one Mass and a more “modern/contemporary” at another. That would allow each person to participate more fully. Frankly, the music at my parish has grown so terrible–both in choice of pieces and in performance thereof–that I have switched to the early-morning Mass which blessedly has no music. And that, itself, saddens me because I grew up singing, have served as a cantor, and love music of all kinds–just can’t stand to have it sung unrehearsed and in five different keys all at once. :ehh:

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