Music for Sunday Masses


#1

I have had no problems going to weekday masses. During these times I know and feel I have prayed the best prayer of all, I am recollected, and everything is sacred, reverently done. I even notice everyone who goes to the weekday masses I go to, are all prayerful, holy people. But on Sundays it's a completely different story. The church or service turns into a "show". I often ask myself "Did I just go to mass or did I just see a show?"In the church I used to go, the ushers are dressed like they were ushering for a concert at Orchestra Hall, they have pews reserved for them. The music, or the offensive "American Idol" like singers are the main stars or highlights, while the mass is the background. The opposite should be the case. But last Sunday, there were even drums accompanying the music. Words like "Jehovah" were used in the communion songs, most of the songs sung by the pop choir were not even in the hymnal. And this is the prime basilica, Catholic and all, of the city I am in! My goodness! Are we trying to compete with Willowcreek or some prostestant or masonic-based services? I truly felt I was in a half-time show of a superbowl game instead of mass, or holy mass.So now, every Sunday I go to different churches, stiil hunting for the holy service that a Sunday mass shoule be. I know I am not alone in my observations and I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit truly guide us. Frankly, I get more mileage or benefits going to a weekday mass than a Sunday mass where mass turns into a pageant, a show.


#2

One man's "show" and "pageant" is another man's sacred liturgy, just as one man's sacred liturgy is another man's "half-time". Be advised that to claim that Sunday Mass is not holy does not come from the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing wrong with heartfelt singing, or drums, or the use of the word "Jehovah", or joyousness in the Mass. Ascribing "American Idol main stars" seems judgmental if all they were doing was using the talents God gave them in public praise. Being non-witnesses, we have no way of determining if your problems with Sunday Mass are reasonable or not. Maybe talk with your priest and let him fathom the cause of your discontent.


#3

Propers, I weep for them.


#4

There is a difference in character between weekday and Sunday Masses. Weekday Mass draws a groups who may be dealing with particular concerns that they want to bring to the Lord, or simply people who feel drawn to join in the mass as often as possible.
Often weekday Masses are silent as to music, and even the homily is brief. No Gloria or Creed.

Sunday Mass includes the Gloria and Creed unless left out due to time of the liturgical year (Gloria) or substitution with another confession of faith, (Creed) .

The Sunday Mass is also communal, meaning we definitely all celebrate together. It is a turning outward from self to others and mutually celebrating this great sacrifice. Certainly there are moments of private adoration, such as after Communion, but in the main we do this together.

OP, you may be at a point in your life where you want more privacy, but don't discount joining with other Christians in this great event - even the crying babies, and restless toddlers are Christians in the making.


#5

There are many threads here that talk about music in the Mass. In one some time ago, a trained musician commented on the complaint that cantors or choirs are "putting on a show".

A trained musician sings differently than the rest of us. Obviously they are better, but they also stand different, are trained to ennunciate clearly, to breathe properly, to project their voice, even to use the microphone properly. So what some see as showing off or performing is often just good technique.

Music selection is a different issue. That may be done by a music director with taste very different from yours. It could be the priest's decision that we are ascribing to a lay person. It could be that when a request for musicians or singers was made, those that stepped up play "modern" instruments (althought there is nothing modern about a guitar or drum).

As Catholics we can attend any valid Sunday Mass at any Catholic parish/church we choose. I would caution against searching for the perfect Mass based on the music. The music is not the Mass and by running after a certain something we can easily miss the miracle that occurs at EVERY Mass.


#6

[quote="Elias_Miguel, post:1, topic:303337"]
I even notice everyone who goes to the weekday masses I go to, are all prayerful, holy people. But on Sundays it's a completely different story.

[/quote]

:confused: And you know the state of others' souls how?

Are we trying to compete with Willowcreek or some prostestant or masonic-based services?

Masonic? There is nothing masonic about the Mass. Calling it protestant is bad enough. Might as well throw Nazis in there somewhere.

As Sunday Mass is obligatory (and on the weekend), it will naturally involve people on a much larger scale. Thus the need for ushers, and the need for their reserved seats so they can maintain a smooth movement of people. We too have reserved seating for ushers in the back where they can best do their assigned duties.

"Jehovah?" That one is weird. It is not even a real name, but rather a mistake. As it is a derivation of "Yahweh", it probably should not be used at Mass, as the use of Yahweh has been prohibited, but I do not know for certain if this extends to Jehovah.


#7

[quote="Elias_Miguel, post:1, topic:303337"]
I have had no problems going to weekday masses. During these times I know and feel I have prayed the best prayer of all, I am recollected, and everything is sacred, reverently done. I even notice everyone who goes to the weekday masses I go to, are all prayerful, holy people. But on Sundays it's a completely different story. The church or service turns into a "show". I often ask myself "Did I just go to mass or did I just see a show?"In the church I used to go, the ushers are dressed like they were ushering for a concert at Orchestra Hall, they have pews reserved for them. The music, or the offensive "American Idol" like singers are the main stars or highlights, while the mass is the background. The opposite should be the case. But last Sunday, there were even drums accompanying the music. Words like "Jehovah" were used in the communion songs, most of the songs sung by the pop choir were not even in the hymnal. And this is the prime basilica, Catholic and all, of the city I am in! My goodness! Are we trying to compete with Willowcreek or some prostestant or masonic-based services? I truly felt I was in a half-time show of a superbowl game instead of mass, or holy mass.So now, every Sunday I go to different churches, stiil hunting for the holy service that a Sunday mass shoule be. I know I am not alone in my observations and I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit truly guide us. Frankly, I get more mileage or benefits going to a weekday mass than a Sunday mass where mass turns into a pageant, a show.

[/quote]

Miguel Elias I feel your pain and understand your concerns. Many parishes today feel that they have to make the Mass a "relevant" or "meaningful" event via music and end up turning it into an "event". I am not a mathematician by any stretch of the imagination, but, if I'm correct, the term "elegant" describes a solution that is neither too simple nor too complex. That is the way it should be at Mass; the music should not detract from the Eucharist but should draw us towards it and enfold us into the mystery. The Holy Father has encouraged the use of chant which is the traditional music for Mass that has been used for centuries. What we get instead is fluff composed to make us feel good about ourselves. If I could accomplish one thing at our parish I would try to get rid of the Sunday missalette and replace it with the Adoremus Hymnal or the Vatican II Hymnal. Either of these would be a tremendous benefit to any Mass. We don't need drums, guitars and all the rest. All that stuff maximizes the entertainment value and draws our attention away from the mystery that is taking place IMHO.


#8

"Jehovah" is a term rarely heard in Catholic circles. It is the English corruption of the Latin corruption of the sacred Name of God in Hebrew. A better translation of the unpronouncible Name is "Yahweh," which the Vatican has specifically ordered removed from hymns because of the cavalier manner in which certain contemporary hymns used it.

The OP's point seems to be that parish musical groups can sometimes try hijack the Mass as a vehicle for performance. This is unfortunately all too common in parishes, especially when the musicians are given a prominent position in the church building and try to interact with the people more than they should. Pastors often pay little attention to the music at Mass, or worse, fail to keep the music program in check.

Musicians must realize that they serve the Church and the Mass, and that the Church has expectations about sacred music. Drums and most secular instruments do not fit into the vision of sacred music set forth by the liturgical documents of Vatican II and the fifty years following. Unfortunately the editors at Oregon Catholic Press and similar publishing houses seem determined to lead church music in the opposite direction.


#9

While your disappointment of the music in your diocese is very understandable, the obligation to attend Sunday's Mass still stands, doesn't it? Isn't breaking a higher rule (attend Mass for the Holy Days of Obligation) for a lower one (inappropriate music) the same sort of thing that people do when choosing inappropriate music for Mass? (Often the higher rule of following the Church's musical instructions is disregarded for the sake of pastoral preference or feeling on the part of the choir or priest.) There must be a simple Mass in the morning somewhere in your diocese where the music isn't "American Idoled up".

Still, there might be opportunity to do something positive about this in your diocese or parish. If they are not following the current General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), then that could be an authoritative and approachable starting place to begin a charitable discussion with a pastor or music director. Unfortunately, ditching the Propers is the norm for many places, and having appropriate music at Mass would ironically be new to them. Many just don't know what they are missing when they ditch the Propers, or the logistics of how to transition to objectively appropriate music in Mass. Some are also just not aware of how they are putting their own (and/or others') subjective musical preferences before the actual objective rules of liturgical music.

I hope and pray that you can find a parish that has minimal distractions to adoring Our Lord in the Eucharist during Sunday Mass.


#10

If they stopped the music at my church I would stop going because I don't handle the silence very well. My priest has given me the go ahead to read anything that will help me relax with God through communion when I'm Serving and I do so after singing too, because we tried a period of silence. That has gone but I've stuck to my reading. If there weren't any music at all, I think I would be calling it a day. For me worshipping God is a celebration and to celebrate in silence would cause me more harm than good. Thankfully I've an understanding priest. Weekday Masses and Sunday Masses have that different too in the Anglican Church. Its a totally different feel in the week to a Sunday. But no more right or wrong. Just a totally different feel. We need to help everyone feel welcome. Luckily the change I needed to make didn't mean that every one has to read at that time. Its a personal change. But for those who like silence then they need to learn the art of creating that silence within themselves whatever is happening around them. Others can be as noisy as they need to relax with God. Once you've mastered the silence then you won't notice the appauling music choice on Sunday Mornings perhaps because you have worked out how to be silent within you. That is the silence that matters. Not the materlistic silence. All we do with that is fill our minds with requests to God and we are not being Silent with God. This is nice especially nice and it dont matter how noisy the place is because you are just simply being with God.


#11

I agree with the OP. Many times the weekend Mass turns into who has the nicest new car in the parking lot.., especially in the suburbs.


#12

[quote="IronMIke, post:11, topic:303337"]
I agree with the OP. Many times the weekend Mass turns into who has the nicest new car in the parking lot.., especially in the suburbs.

[/quote]

and so of the days when ladies paraded their new outfits and hats at witsuntide. No different is it. We've always used the time to show something off to our fellow Christians. Whilst that don't make it any more right, it seems to be a perfectly normal trait that in time we will be showing off our space rockets to each other rather than our cars, rather than our hats... :thumbsup:


#13

[quote="Cavaille-Coll, post:8, topic:303337"]
"Jehovah" is a term rarely heard in Catholic circles. It is the English corruption of the Latin corruption of the sacred Name of God in Hebrew. A better translation of the unpronouncible Name is "Yahweh," which the Vatican has specifically ordered removed from hymns because of the cavalier manner in which certain contemporary hymns used it.

The OP's point seems to be that parish musical groups can sometimes try hijack the Mass as a vehicle for performance. This is unfortunately all too common in parishes, especially when the musicians are given a prominent position in the church building and try to interact with the people more than they should. Pastors often pay little attention to the music at Mass, or worse, fail to keep the music program in check.

Musicians must realize that they serve the Church and the Mass, and that the Church has expectations about sacred music. Drums and most secular instruments do not fit into the vision of sacred music set forth by the liturgical documents of Vatican II and the fifty years following. Unfortunately the editors at Oregon Catholic Press and similar publishing houses seem determined to lead church music in the opposite direction.

[/quote]

I don't think it is common at all, and I have never gotten the feeling that musicians are performing or self-serving at Mass or trying to hijack it, whether it's an organ, piano, guitars, or a cappella. I think people sometimes have this perception, because the musicians are often more visible and are leading the music or they just don't like certain styles of music and project their own unhappiness with it onto the musicians.

I think it is shameful to judge people in this manner without proof . God is probably more pleased with a musician's honest effort and time spent in leading others in praise and worship of Him than he is with the critical judgmental attitudes expressed on these forums by people who cannot read another's mind and heart and have no way of really knowing if they are trying to "hijack" the Mass or want public recognition, or whatever. I personally want to recognize and thank all you musicians who give up hours every week in service of the Lord, whether I like your music or not. I think you deserve far more credit than you get.

I hate these music threads. They almost always end up as being nothing more than gripe and complain threads. Think about it, and think about how you would feel if someone criticized your efforts to serve in the Church, whether it's music or another ministry. Think about how you would like to be accused of hijacking the Mass or wanting recognition, etc. And this does not just apply to musicians. People have often said the same things about Lectors, EMHC"s, ushers-- anyone serving in a visible manner. It really gets quite disgusting.


#14

[quote="CB_Catholic, post:13, topic:303337"]
IThink about it, and think about how you would feel if someone criticized your efforts to serve in the Church, whether it's music or another ministry. Think about how you would like to be accused of hijacking the Mass or wanting recognition, etc. And this does not just apply to musicians.

[/quote]

A little application of the Golden Rule does a lot to increase charity.

This weekend, our parish went without music. I had a death in the family and the other guy caught ill with most of his family. It is the first time in years this has happened. I have already heard repercussions about how much we were missed. My own philosophy on criticism is to take legitimate criticism to heart, if it can be useful. If it is not, but rather just griping, I invite the person to go to the priest and tell him they want to help out and step in sometimes.


#15

I;m sure I am prayerful and reverent at weekday masses- I don't have my two young kids to wrangle with!


#16

I guess it is in the ear of the beholder.

For me, chant might be beautiful, but it would be a definite distraction. I would be focused on the performance, not on Christ.

Some of the OCP composers however, put in to words I can understand, my yearning, my love, my joy, my gratitude for His saving, etc, in my relationship with Christ. In singing, I open my self, my breath, my mind and heart to God. Yes, I do tend to feel good after this, but is that so bad? The feeling good has more to do with that moment touching and being touched by God, than with any achievement of mine. Indeed, sometimes the outcome is sadness, increased yearning and longing, and a desire to wash his feet with my tears.

And I agree with Sally, having well prepared cantors is a blessing. We have some at our church who have such beautiful voices that are well trained. That kind of beauty is as much part of our tradition as beautiful vestments.


#17

[quote="CB_Catholic, post:13, topic:303337"]
I don't think it is common at all, and I have never gotten the feeling that musicians are performing or self-serving at Mass or trying to hijack it, whether it's an organ, piano, guitars, or a cappella. I think people sometimes have this perception, because the musicians are often more visible and are leading the music or they just don't like certain styles of music and project their own unhappiness with it onto the musicians.

I think it is shameful to judge people in this manner without proof . God is probably more pleased with a musician's honest effort and time spent in leading others in praise and worship of Him than he is with the critical judgmental attitudes expressed on these forums by people who cannot read another's mind and heart and have no way of really knowing if they are trying to "hijack" the Mass or want public recognition, or whatever. I personally want to recognize and thank all you musicians who give up hours every week in service of the Lord, whether I like your music or not. I think you deserve far more credit than you get.

I hate these music threads. They almost always end up as being nothing more than gripe and complain threads. Think about it, and think about how you would feel if someone criticized your efforts to serve in the Church, whether it's music or another ministry. Think about how you would like to be accused of hijacking the Mass or wanting recognition, etc. And this does not just apply to musicians. People have often said the same things about Lectors, EMHC"s, ushers-- anyone serving in a visible manner. It really gets quite disgusting.

[/quote]

Thank you so much for your thoughtful post.

As a church musician (piano), I'll take appreciative comments wherever I can get them! I love playing for God and His people, but sometimes when I read certain threads or comments by certain posters here on CAF, I wonder why I bother to organize and practice my music during the week, get up early so that I can get to the church an hour early, and then spend the entire Mass with my brain and body in "alert" mode instead of just sitting there enjoying myself. Those negative threads make me aware that in every Mass, someone is sitting out there hating the piano, hating the music that I am playing, and judging me by assuming that I am sitting up there "showing off" or "being a lounge lizard." Yeah, sure.

Musicans have the frailest egos in the world. They lay their ego on the chopping block every time they make music in public.


#18

Well, I got a lesson in humility this morning...

I'll admit up front that I am a musical snob, and that I was disappointed to find that the 2000 years of glorious music I hoped for had dwindled into '70s folk-rock.

I went to the 8:30 Mass this morning. I usually go to a later one. I groaned inwardly when I saw a man with a guitar going up the steps. When I saw another one coming, I resigned myself to bad music.

What did I get? A choir that sang well, and in parts. A Gloria that was truly joyful. A "Lamb of God" that was reverent. Yes, the music was from the OCP - but well-chosen and appropriate.

:blush: So much for me! ... Once again, my guardian angel swings the Holy Clue-by-four! It's a hit! and it is out...of...here!

What? No, I'm not watching the Series... cuz I switched back to the Broncos game when the commercials came on. :rolleyes:


#19

[quote="Ruthie_again, post:18, topic:303337"]
What? No, I'm not watching the Series... cuz I switched back to the Broncos game when the commercials came on. :rolleyes:

[/quote]

Good choice!:thumbsup:


#20

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