What do you think about patriotic songs during Mass?

Fr. James Martin, S.J. wrote a thought-provoking article about patriotic music during mass, especially during the Fourth of July weekend. Usually, I disagree with him, but I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with him this time.


What are you opinions about patriotic music during the Mass or other church services?

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

There are plenty of things that get sung at Catholic Masses that fail to “put God first” while “keeping all other things secondary.” Too many times, I’ve asked Mary if she knew, and danced in the morning, and let all know they’re welcome… and in doing so, assented to bad theology and worse feel-good pablum.

No, there are worse sentiments to sing than “God Bless America” (which, if we’re paying attention, doesn’t do any of the things he questions, but rather, simply asks God to bless our country.)

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the unrepentant patriotism rather than the neglect of the first great commandment that’s got a bee in his bonnet… :shrug:

(p.s., however, I have to agree with him on one point – a patriotic song during communion doesn’t make sense, liturgically speaking.)

At the Lutheran church I was confirmed in, they used the Battle Hymn of the Republic on patriotic holiday services. Two birds with one stone.

The only “patriotic” songs I’ve ever heard at Mass are “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, “America the Beautiful”, and “God Bless America.” All of them have lyrics specifically mentioning God; I always heard “My Country 'Tis of Thee” with the verse about God included when it was sung at church. The references to God made the songs appropriate for a religious service, in my opinion, and I’ve seen a lot of veterans and family members of veterans be very moved by those songs sung on 4th of July or Thanksgiving.

I’d even be okay with “Proud to Be an American” because it includes “God Bless the USA”, but that one hasn’t made it to any Catholic Masses I’ve been at.

We usually sing them after Mass has ended. About once a year.

Is this a religious version of “microaggression”?

Yesterday at the end of Mass they played the National Anthem – I’m sure it was because the 4th of July is tomorrow – but I truly loved hearing our National Anthem in Church!!

That’s what my parish does, and I’m not bothered by it.

America the Beautiful was our recessional hymn yesterday.:pray::us:

Yes, wholly appropriate. God Bless America? Definitely! America the Beautiful ? Ok. . Star Spangled Banner? Not so much…

+1 and I am the Music Director, who sought permission from the Pastor first.
His reply was: Even though I am from Columbia, we are Americans, we live in America. The Mass is OVER during the recessional. I think it’s very appropriate for us to sing wither God bless America or America.
So we did.

I have never, ever, in 30 years seen a parish sing a patriotic hymn DURING MASS.

Oh, I missed the “during” part so I have to clarify my post. The patriotic songs are during the recessional, not during Liturgy!


“America, the Beautiful” as a closing hymn one Sunday a year isn’t going to bother me in the least. :shrug:

But going to a mass where the musicians are singing about snow falling, and being a wounded soul, and all the sappy or happy-clappy stuff – blech!

Of course, in the end, Jesus deigns to come to us no matter what hymns are used, or even level of holiness of all of us idiotic sinners who are just doing our best to stumble through this life and die in a state of grace.

Sing on, my brothers and sisters! And let’s just keep doing our best to put God first. :o :o :o

(Oh, and I love, love, love the song “America, the Beautiful” – if only we could live our lives in such a way that “all success be nobleness, and every gain Divine!”)

One time at my church they played the Battle Hymn of the Republic during the recessional. The first thing I thought, being in south Louisiana, was “*that’s a dab-burn-no-good yankee song.” * That was a very odd choice.

For the recessional hymn a few patriotic songs can be quite appropriate.

"Love your own country: it is a Christian virtue to be patriotic. But if patriotism becomes nationalism, which leads you to look at other people, at other countries, with indifference, with scorn, without Christian charity and justice, then it is a sin.”

St. Josemaria Escriva


I seriously doubt that any patriotic music is used during any liturgy.

The lovely old folks who sing at one mass have a patriotic medley that they love to sing at Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. To be honest, I can’t remember if they sang it as a prelude, or as a communion hymn. I know our new pastor would NEVER allow them to sing this during mass nowadays.

But these folks are the most faithful and loving servants I have ever met in a parish. If they do err, I know it is not through any malice on their part.

Good Article that I agree with. I generally do not like patriotic songs sung during Mass either. However, I also agree with the author, “Some patriotic songs don’t bother me when sung during the Mass, particularly those you might call quasi-patriotic. “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” is a song that is often sung in military functions, which I love. (Also called the “Navy Hymn” it was a favorite of one of my heroes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was sung at his funeral.) But it’s quite clearly directed to God.” Being married to a Retired Navy Master Chief and living in a Navy town, I never get tired of hearing the Navy Hymn sung at Mass (usually a recessional hymn) on patriotic holidays as well at some funerals of former Navy or retired Navy persons.

Yeah, but that’s still a Music Director call.
Whenever there is a change of command, a good Director meets with his or her boss and inquires as to preferences, and do’s and don’ts.

*On the short list from my previous Pastors:
The Church’s One Foundation nope
Radio music nope
Amazing Grace nope
Lord of the Dance nope (lol)
among other pieces that are sometimes advanced, too numerous to mention *

That’s a great quote! (Posted it on facebook)

It is one I was reminded of by our Pastor (excellent bulletin article).

Patriotism: The Catholic Understanding

People often use the terms “patriotism” and “nationalism” interchangeably. The Catholic Church, however, does not. Whereas the Church identifies patriotism as an obligation required by the Fourth Commandment (Honor thy father and mother), nationalism is deeply suspect.

What’s the difference? The word “patriotism” comes from the Latin word patria, which is related to pater, which means “father.” In the broad sense, patriotism is our intense love, gratitude, and esteem for our own “organic” ancestors, beginning with our parents. Patriotism originates and terminates in and with God, the only true Father. As such, patriotism precedes the existence of all specific nation-states and extends far beyond them. Whereas the patria endures, the nation-state is always temporary.

Pope St. John Paul II, who never concealed his love for Poland, his own patria, offered an excellent definition of patriotism in Memory and Identity, a quasi-memoir published in 2005. He wrote: “Patriotism is a love for everything to do with our native land: its history, its traditions, its language, its natural features. It is a love which extends also to the works of our compatriots and the fruits of their genius. Every danger that threatens the overall good of our native land becomes an occasion to demonstrate this love…I believe that the same could be said of every country and every nation in Europe and throughout the world.”

The Holy Father then offered a crucial distinction between patriotism and nationalism: “Whereas nationalism involves recognizing and pursuing the good of one’s own nation alone, without regard for the rights of others, patriotism, on the other hand, is a love for one’s native land that accords rights to all other nations equal to those claimed for one’s own. Patriotism, in other words, leads to a properly ordered social love.”

True Patriotism never seeks domination, division, exclusion, or self-isolation. Rather, patriotic love necessarily embraces all humankind. How could it be otherwise? After all, surely we all have ancestors who never shared our American citizenship and who existed long before the United States was founded. Moreover, our liturgical prayers almost always use patria for Heaven, our true “homeland.”

Nationalism is not “true patriotism” nor is it a Christian virtue. St. Josemaria Escriva, the Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei and was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002, made this blunt statement:

"Love your own country: it is a Christian virtue to be patriotic. But if patriotism becomes nationalism, which leads you to look at other people, at other countries, with indifference, with scorn, without Christian charity and justice, then it is a sin.”

Great saints always correct the common misunderstandings of every era. They deserve our attention.

Fr. Michael Kerper

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