What do you think about guitars during mass?

I am a big fan of the organ. I feel this is a very good way to celebrate the mass. I wish the organist at my Church would play it more instead of the piano.

What do you think about pianos, guitars, and etc. in place of the organ?

Could anyone see these instruments as dangerous?

Some opinions that I have heard is that the guitar symbolizes a sinful musical genre (rock-and-roll) and the instrument is simply not reverent enough. I personally cannot see any problem with using these for worship as long as the tabernacle is not in the same room!!!

God Bless

Cardinal Arinze said that guitars should be very rarely used. I don’t like the piano used either. St.Pius X vigorously fought against these instruments being used in the liturgy. In fact he outlawed them, along with the vast usage of “operatic” settings by people like Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc. So they are completely inappropriate in my opinion. Sacred music must be solemn and appropriate.

The organ is acceptable. However, the most traditional and apostolic way of doing it is a capella, which I think is most in line and most perfect for the Divine Liturgy and Mass. Other instruments are really inappropriate, for the Latin Rite at least.

I don’t think rock music is sinful. I like it a lot in fact. However, it is not appropriate at all for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. My cousin took me to this thing where they sang praise music for the teenagers, and everyone was up and dancing, and seriously praising the Lord I believe. It was really fun. But it was outside of Mass.

Outside of Mass I play piano all of the time. It is my main hobby in fact. I LOVE the piano. I love the Mass settings of classical composers. I like guitar and rock music too. However, again, it is outside of Mass.

Well, as a guitarist (not a virtuoso, but not as bad as most I hear in parishes either), I can tell you that it generally hurts my ears to hear out-of-tune 12-strings hammering away at one rhythm and one strum, no matter what the song is. It’s just painful. Argh!

Guitars can be beautiful. But so many people have them and so few can really play them, at least, what you so often hear. I think it leads to general sloppiness and more of the false sense of “active participation” in the Mass that is already rampant. Everybody and their brother has a guitar and, for some reason, they all think they have to play it in church. :shrug:

Argh argh argh!

Um…why would we want to celebrate the Mass with the tabernacle not in the same room? And surely the Prsence of the Lord Himself is more important than the tabernacle where He tabernacles? Just sayin’. :wink:

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest expression of prayer available to us.

To my ear, a polished choir - without instrumental accompaniment - creates an atmosphere most conducive to the worship and glorification of God.


I think guitar is very good when Holy Sacrifice of Mass is celebrated outside the curch or on foot pilgrimages when people obviosly can’t bring piano or oragns with them!!
In my city they usually play organs or piano at Mass. Guitars are used maybe once a week or even less at youth Mass. I think such balance is fine and appropriate.

I don’t believe there is an instrument which can inspire congregational singing to the extent that the organ can. I have played in many different churches and cathedrals over recent years and this always seems to be the case. In one case - a carol service on Christmas Eve 2008 - I played most of the music but there was a guitarist who accompanied the “softer” carols such as “Silent Night”. Unfortunately the guitar did not seem to inspire the people to sing in the same way as the organ did. In addition, the crowd was so big that, at the organ, I was struggling to get a big enough sound to accompany the hearty singing of the congregation. The guitar was simply inadequate - though I suppose it is rather apt to play silent night with a guitar as it was originally.

Of course as an organist I am biased, but the Church does say that the organ should be held in the highest esteem. Unfortunately there seems to be very few parish priests with such a great interest in liturgical music or the benefits of having an organ who are willing to invest in one. The organ has been around approximately 300 years longer than the Church, but there is evidence that there were organs in some Catholic churches by at least the ninth century. In fact, even in the early days of the organ in the Church, it may have been used to accompany chant - in this case (chant as opposed to congregational hymnody) I think the accompaniment should be as unobtrusive as possible. The organ can subtly add to chant melodies and aid singers, but it must not destroy the flow of the chant or its modal nature.

Finally, in his foreword to his eight Organ Symphonies, Charles Marie Widor wrote about the suitability of the organ compared to other instruments:

“…orchestral string and wind instruments, piano and voices dominate only at the first impulse of the accent, the moment of attack, the organ, confined in its original majesty, speaks philosophically: alone among them all, it can produce indefinitely the same volume of sound and thus, from the idea of infinity, give rise to religious ideas…”
I think this is a very interesting insight from Mr Widor :thumbsup:

Let me put it this way, our organist plays a mean classical guitar but plays the organ only because nobody else will, get the picture? The music at Mass would be much better if he played his guitar than it is with him playing the organ.

Unfortunately much of the music written in the last 30 years was written for piano, not guitar or organ. Yes, you can play it with those instruments but they don’t sound as good as when they are played on the piano. A resounding “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” on the organ is fabulous, “God Is Alive”, not so much.

It depends on the music, the church itself… and on the musician.

Being an Eastern Catholic, I feel most comfortable when everyone sings, accompanied or not.

Please read the following thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=366975

I bumped it up.

And then remember this: ORGANISTS, especially pipe organists, are rare and becoming extinct.

If you’ll read my first post in the thread that I posted a link to, notice that I mentioned the very small number of organists and even pianists in our city of 150,000. I am very involved with youth music in our city, and I know for a fact that there are NO organ students at the moment, there haven’t been any organ students in several years, and several of the universities, both Christian and secular, have closed or are in the process of closing their organ majors, since they have had no students for many years.

I asked the question in the thread, which I don’t believe was answered–what will the Catholic Church do when all the organists are gone?

Acapella singing is extremely difficult, even for a good choir (I was in one in college, and my daughter has done a lot of acapella singing in her college choir.) It is not realistic to think that a typical choir of laypeople will be able to sing acapella repertoire week after week. In the past, perhaps, because people sang in their homes, and school music programs were actually learning situations, not “multicultural sensitivity classes”. Nowadays, the majority of people in the U.S. do NOT know how to sing correctly, and singing correctly is essential for acapella music to not sound like dying cats.

Again, I will repeat that organists are not easy to come by, and in our city, even if the parishes offered an extravagent salary with benefits and candy and cleaning service and a car, there are so few organists that I doubt there would be any takers.

One problem with secular or non-Catholic organists in Catholic Mass is that they are so limited in what repertoire they are allowed to play. If they play the usual lively, all-stops out prelude or postlude, there would be complaints from those traditionalists who believe that the times before and after Mass are reserved for silence, contemplation, and prayer.

The organist also doesn’t get many opportunities to accompany great sacred works, as so few musicians in the Catholic Church are capable of singing these works, and again, many of them are inappropriate (at least, according to the traditionalists) for Catholic Mass. Organists (and pianists, too) get sick of playing Schubert’s or Gonoud’s Ave Maria, and Panis Angelicus week after week after week!

As for use of guitars and other instruments, the Documents of Vatican II, Sancrosanctum Concilium, make it clear that it’s OK. "Other instruments may also be used in divine worship, at the discretion and with the consent of the competent territorial authority as laid down in the articles…provided they are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, that they accord with the dignity of the sacred building, and that they truly contribute to the edification of the faithful. (Italics mine.)

Do you disagree with the Catholic Church? I don’t. And I think we need to submit to our territorial authorities (bishop) and stop undermining their authority by muttering about how we don’t like it. It’s OK to have a personal opinion–yes, if I had my druthers, I would have the organist from the 1st Lutheran Church in our city at my parish, blasting us all with his Franck masterpieces and making the pews vibrate during the congregational hymns! Heaven!

In fact, for many years, I have made it a point to sit quietly, kneel if my knees are up to it, and listen in silence whenever an organ plays. I started doing this while I was still Protestant, because the organ is so rarely heard anymore in evangelical Protestant churches.

I absolutely love the pipe organ and wish I could play it.

But sadly, it’s going bye bye. And I, for one, do not plan to complain about pianos, guitars, violins (see the banner at the top of the forums), or any instrument approved by the bishop that accompanies the Holy Mass.

Personally, I think whatever helps the parish worship is fine. Obviously some musical choices are better than others, but I don’t really think the instrument is all that important. It seems to me that a lot of it comes down to personal opinion. Whatever is chosen shouldn’t be offensive to someone who comes to worship.

Whenever I hear a guitar during Mass it reminds me of being raised in the Assembly of God church (not a good reminder). One of the things that was/is so attractive to me about the Mass is the reverence - to me the organ screams reverence.

If played well, otherwise it screams “CATS BEING STRANGLED!!!”

This is true. Thankfully I’ve never heard it not being played well. :smiley:

I meant to say worship outside of Mass.:thumbsup:

God Bless

Interesting. Although I love organ music in church, to me, the organ screams (1) baseball (2) skating rink (3) horror movie (4) concert hall production. I have a hard time associating it with “church.” I like it, but to me, church music is all about the piano (I was raised Conference Baptist, AKA Swedish Baptist.)

My husband was raised in the Assemblies of God, and it was all gospel piano and occasionally, an orchestra (yes, orchestra, with strings, winds, and horns, not band music.) My husband grew up in AG churches that routinely held “record-smashing parties” so that the teens could smash their “worldly music.” Dancing was (and still is) forbidden in the AG.

Guitar - around the campfire
Piano - in my house
Organ - in God’s house

All well and good but I’ve been a member of about 12 different parishes in the last 34 years and in most there were no organists to be found.

I don’t think people bothered answering that question on the other thread because although there aren’t as many organists today than in the past, I think most believe that they will not become extinct. In some areas, yes, they will be a rarity and oddity, but in the larger areas they won’t. I know you have a city of 150,000, which is a decent size so I’m not putting that down, but that’s rather small compared to larger ones like where I’m from, which has a population of almost 1,500,000 or the New York City also near where I am (which has over 8 million - all the different sections of the city - Manhatten has over 1,600,000) there are many organists. As discussed in the other thread, it’s just that you’ll see them more in Catholic parishes or Protestant churches that will pay well or allow them to incorporate real organ repertoire.

But here’s the thing… hypothetically-speaking, if all the Catholic churches in the world suddenly found themselves without organists, I believe that there would be a larger movement from the head of the Church to start encouraging and promoting the instrument properly again, instead of just giving it lip service.

All depends on what is being sung and the kind of director you have. I’ve often heard entire congregations in my parish and other parishes where they will chant pretty well in the congregation. If you have a good music director at a parish, he/she can get a choir of lay people to sing a capella week after week fairly successfully as I’ve experienced it myself. Although, it does take a parish to want to pay someone who has the ability to do this. That’s where the main problem lies and that is something which can be remedied when push comes to shove.

That is true in that many sing everything in their chest voice or are so used to hearing bad singing from untrained singers in bands and whatnot, so they try to imitate what they hear.

In regard to the OP, although I believe that the organ is the best instrument to be used for mass (if played well), I am also realistic enough to know that in some parishes they just don’t have the people or talent to play the organ and sometimes the guitar is the only instrument to be used.

The problem with a guitar, as others have expressed on this thread, is that most of the “guitarrists” I’ve heard at mass have been of the worse kind. It’s either just strumming or trying to be like a rock star. When it is played well, it can be absolutely beautiful, although most of the time, you can’t support a huge congregation when played like that. So, I’d rather just hear it in prayerful meditation if it was necessary to have only the guitar.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

All Creatures of Our God and King (I’m not familiar with the second hymn - I don’t think it’s a Catholic hymn)

Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod (guitar and solo voice)

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