Which sort of music would you rather hear at Mass?

I would agree with this. I’ve worked in and attended Mass in some parishes where it seems like they are “afraid” of any kind of silence during the Mass. Everything needed some kind of musical interlude. Now believe me, music is one of the things that is part of my soul and where I can find God, but sometimes, you need that sacred silence.

Amen! And, by the way, congratulations! I pray that all will go well with you!

I am guessing that when you are in parishes where every moment is filled with some kind of music interlude, that the instrumentalist is probably from a Protestant background, or in some way has been influenced by Protestant worship services, which in turn have been influenced by musical theater.

First of all, musical interlude is not an evil thing, so I hope that the poor musician is not jumped all over for doing what they have been trained to do.

From what I have seen, an instrumentalist receives virtually no guidance from anyone in the Catholic Church. And yes, if I sound irked, I am.

A musician volunteers (or is hired) to use their God-given talent for Mass, and then no one in authority tells them exactly what is expected and what is appropriate for Holy Mass. Certainly no one hands them the “Documents” that benedictgal constantly refers to (there are no such documents in Protestant churches), although there are plenty of people who are ready to walk up to a musician and say, “Piano isn’t appropriate for Mass” or “that song is too secular for Mass.”

No wonder so few people volunteer to play or sing in Catholic churches. No wonder we see so FEW pianists or guitarists volunteer. Once some old biddy charges up and says, “The documents says that the piano or the guitar is too secular for Mass,” do you think that the poor pianist or guitarist will ever play again?

Who needs all that?! Professional music critics are kinder than some of the “reverent” Catholics on this board or in the Church.

Yesterday we listened to an organist who sounded like he/she belonged at the ballpark. It is not right for Praise Ye The Lord The Almight to “jump and dance” on the keyboard of an organ. It’s not appropriate for that piece of music. I hate it. But who do I go to? I won’t go to anyone because I’m sure that musician is doing their best and I don’t have any authority to tell them that this just won’t do.

And sadly, it has to do–there’s no one else. There are no other available organists. Unlike many of you who have excellent organists who have been well-trained, we don’t. And it doesn’t help that our church is blacklisted by that fancy-schmancy organist guild because we fired our openly-gay (and durn proud of it!) organist after he and his partner announced that they were planning to adopt a child.

ONCE, in the five years that I have been Catholic, one of the priests, a strict rubrics guy, took me aside BEFORE the Mass, and told me how he likes the music to be.

Also, the Franciscans that I play for will tell me what they prefer–they like music and lots of it!

And when I first started playing for the Italian parish, their liturgical director (a very experienced Italian woman) took me step by step through the Mass parts–they used Angel and Saints, BTW, and sang them with me so that I would know how the parish is used to hearing the parts played

But that’s exceptional. For the most part, I’m just set loose on the helpless congregation, the priest, and the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. No training at all.

So now that I have ranted, here is my suggestion. We have classes that people who work with children in the Catholic Church are required to take and get a certificate from. Excellent idea and very necessary.

**So why doesn’t the diocese offer classes for musicians, both instrumentalists and singers (cantors and choir members) that are REQUIRED in order for the person to play/sing for Mass? **

These classes should be thoroughly vetted by the BISHOP and done with his approval of all the material. He doesn’t actually have to be there.

The classes should describe the Mass and what’s appropriate and what isn’t. They could give the musicians a walk-through the “Documents” and describe some of the issues that make these documents vague and some of the controversies, and HOW the bishop chooses to deal with these issues and controversies. They could discuss the publishers and hymns used in the diocese, and if there are any hymns that the bishop feels are inappropriate, they could be “stricken” from the list during these classes. The hymns that ARE acceptable could be specified so that no musician will have to face people telling them, “That hymn is not appropriate.”

Also, various “updates” could be discusssed, e.g., the decree not to say “Yahweh” in Mass," and rumors separated from facts.

And of course, the differences between the OF and the EF could be described.

A class like this would take perhaps a few hours once a month, and I believe would result in much better music with less “violations” of rubrics in the diocese. Musicians would no longer be flying by the seat of their pants.

And the priests and lay-people would have the assurance that ALL of the musicians in their parish have been through the Diocescan Music Classes and are “certified” or “approved” to present music. I think this would result in a lot less backbiting, complaining, and moaning over the state of Mass music today.

I can’t say that I’m replying to any specific statement, but from my own experience as a Church musician, one works with what one has available. The prime concern is the Pastor’s desires. Some Pastors have definite attitudes toward music in church. That Pastor may need some education or he may have had bad experiences in the past.

My son a couple of decades ago sang with the Boston Arch. Boys Choir. The director’s attitude toward folk music was, “if they want street music, let them go out on the street!” I’m more inclined to think that God rather enjoys all types of music. Personally I LOVE singing Bach, Faure, Mendelssohn, etc. That music CAN bring you into God presence – provided the musicians are equipped to do it (or I, as the listener or participant, can get my ego out of the way). Otherwise, there are wonderful old hymns that are being allowed back at Mass. Years ago Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art was “banned”. I sometimes wonder what kind of fear promotes these declarations. One time I do NOT appreciate music in Church is during Holy Eucharist. This is my time to concentrate on this gift of God’s grace. It is then that Silence is truly golden.


Hi Shin:)

I have never heard gregorian chant in a church so I can’t comment on that. However, I would like to say that I find it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to pray with music playing. Am I at Mass to pray or to listen to music?

Can anyone do both at once?

I thought a TLM would be different, no guitars etc…annoying song after song after song. But in the TLM it was a constant playing of the organ and a choral group that sang song after song after song.

It gets on my nerves big time. I really like silence.


Silence is beautiful isn’t it? :slight_smile:

One of the benefits of a daily mass is it rarely has music. :slight_smile:

There’s nothing like the quick, quiet masses during the week. I have heard many people complain about quick masses. I am not one of these people. I do not mind if the homily at a daily mass is short, or even non-existent, though I do like a few words to be said about what saint’s day it might be – a few, just a few words at least is always good.

Now if you can find a daily TLM that is also nice and quiet, you have about found Heaven haven’t you? :slight_smile:

At least there is also Adoration in front of the Monstrance of Tabernacle when there are no quiet masses.

Lisa44, this came up in your Hispanic topic on the Traditional forum, but you rightfully asked people to stick with the topic. I’m not allowed to post on Traditional Section anyway, so I’m glad you brought the same issue up in this section of the board because I would like to give my input.

I play piano at Mass often.

Are you talking about instrumental music or music with words or both?

If the music is words, then it seems to me that the song IS the prayer that you should be praying at that time during the Mass. Do you disagree with this?

Whether it is in Latin or English or some other language, THAT is the prayer of the Body of Christ at that moment in the Mass. The priest (or liturgical director who has been given the responsibility by the priest), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has selected that particular hymn at that particular time in the Mass, and so to me, it is right and good to pray that song, either while singing it, or if you aren’t inclined to sing, in your head.

If it is a solo or choral piece, same thing applies. You listen and internalize the words to the solo or choral piece into a prayer, the same prayer that all the other Christians in the Mass are praying along with the soloist or choir.

If it is a congregational hymn, this necessitates holding the hymnal open to the hymn (unless you know all the verses by heart). I see a lot of Catholics who don’t pick up their hymnals. I think they miss a lot of good prayers by just standing there, but then, they could very well be listening hard to the cantor and the people around them and saying the words in their hearts.

Does this make sense to you? Do you think this would help you to pray at Mass, if you pray (aloud while singing, or in your head) the words to whatever hymn is being done?

Many of the instrumentals that musicians play during Mass have words, too, and if I happen to know the song, I say the words in my mind. If I don’t know all of the words, I concentrate on the title of the hymn or song, or just pray the few phrases of the song that I do happen to know. And if I don’t know the song title or words to the song, I simply pray according to the style of the music. If it is a reflective instrumental, I’ll worship and adore Christ Truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle or on the altar. If it is a lively piece, I’ll praise the Lord for the many blessings He has given me. If it is a dark piece, I’ll reflect upon the Lord’s Passion and be grateful that Jesus died for me.

I hope this is helpful. It’s certainly possible that you simply don’t like to do two things at once. You used the phrase: “annoying song after song after song.” It’s certainly OK to not enjoy music and prayer, but I hope that you realize that many of us disagree with you about music and songs being annoying. I love music in the Mass and don’t find it annoying at all.

And I absolutely love having music in the background during our worship and prayers. I have several recordings of the Rosary or various chaplets, and they all have music in the background, and I really have an easier time concentrating on the prayer and on the Lord with that music than I do during silence. But that’s just me and many others. Perhaps you can seek out places where Mass is celebrated with no music, and places where adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is done with no music or noise.

I hope some of this is helpful to you.

BTW, you might be surprised to learn that outside of Mass, I dislike background music of any kind. I do not listen to music while driving or while I am at home (except for housecleaning–then I put on Taylor Hicks, who keeps me moving!). I am totally opposed to ever owning an MP3 player or Ipod-I can’t imagine why people would want to listen to music while living their life! So I am NOT one of the people who NEEDS constant music–I just like it during Mass. I love joining my voice (or even better, playing for others) with all the other Christians at Mass and lifting up our prayers in song to the Lord.

Music has been a major issue for me in Church. As someone who is looking for a new Church to call home, having left the Anglican church, I find it a bit of a trial. This is largely a personal issue, because music is a very important, almost my only, major emotional cue in religion - overall I have a very intellectual/rational approach to my faith. So while I manage pretty well with no music, I have real difficulties in a setting with bad music.

What do I mean by bad music - music that is meant to be sung by the congregation but is too complicated, music that is just lame, music that distracts from the liturgy and God by being a performance or focusing on the individual, music that cases a false kind of excitment of the emotions and senses rather than creating peace and space to hear God, and music with words that are meaningless or heretical.

I like a lot of the older hymns and a few newer ones, and I like some traditional gospel hymns too. I think hymns for a congregation need to be designed to be sung by those who can’t read music and don’t have vocal training.

I think the best is to sing the mass setting, well. There are simple settings that are even sigable by a congregation - I used to love the Anglican one by Merbeck, which I haven’t heard in years.

I honestly could care less about the KIND of music played. I crave CONSISTENCY in the service. It’s hard to listen to (at least to me) a hymn, followed by a modern toe-tapper. It seems disjointed and jerky.

I also (although this is purely a personal preference) could care less if all those “contemporary” songs from the 70’s fell into a bottomless pit! :wink:

Sacred music, for me, is a major form of prayer through the actual notes and the words (if there is text to the music). Music is just another language which some people, like myself, can read and which almost all people can understand at their own levels.

So, yes, I can do both at once because, really for me it’s not doing both, but actually one entire act. If I’m the one producing the music, I always say a prayer right before and my connection to God is heightened even more through the music. I am transported to a higher, ethereal and spiritual plain. It helps me let go of the earthly world and focus on the heavenly one. The same can happen when I am also just the “listener”.

I do realize that there are a select few who get nothing from music or any kind of art form, and that’s ok. But there is a reason why the Church holds sacred music very high. It is an important form of prayer. Since you are one of those select few, I would suggest trying to find a Mass that only does chant. Although it’s music, it’s quite unearthly at the same time. In fact, chant is one of the oldest forms of “musical prayer” which has its origins long before Christianity. It’s probably one of the only forms of music which originally started out as music for prayer and not for secular usage and when you think about it, it’s quite amazing the various forms of chant have lasted through the millenia. The flow of chant is to help you get away from the earthly, almost fall into a spiritual trance if you have your mind in the right order and not look at it in the same view as all other kinds of music. I think that is sometimes the reason why some people don’t get it or don’t like it. It’s hard for them to let go of the physical world to allow themselves to transport themselves into a deeper spiritual port.

Anyway, give it a shot. You still may decide that complete quiet is the best way for you, but I have a feeling with how you seem to be at least in this comment, chant might actually be good for you in terms of musical prayer.

This could be the case. I’ve never asked them if they were influenced by Protestant worship services. I know sometimes, if you grow up hearing musical interludes at Mass and end up becoming a music minister, you will most likely do the same. I also know that some priests actually ask for it. We had a priest who ran the musical theater group at a high school he taught at. Everything in the Mass was thus run like a show. Even the music he wanted was like musical theater. You should have seen him prior to a big Mass. He was quite like a stereotypical flamboyant director. As a performer in the secular world and knowing what it is like to work onstage and backstage, he treated preparing the Mass and running it just like a show. Funny, but sad at the same time.

Oh, gosh, no. I don’t believe anyone is doing that. I certainly wasn’t. The musical interludes don’t annoy me, per say. But it does sometimes seem like certain parishes are afraid of having any kind of sacred silence. And if we want to put in just purely musical and auditory terms, even when you listen to a piece of music outside of mass, it is a natural inclination for the listener to want to hear silence once the last note of the piece is played. I can’t remember what it is called scientifically. But in actuality, a composition isn’t actually complete until you hear that silence. When a person applauds almost as soon as the last note completes, at concert for instance, there is that feeling of incompleteness. I look at prayer and musical prayer in the same way. In order to feel the spiritual completeness (when there is music at Mass) you need BOTH the sacred silence and the sacred music. At Mass it is the lengthen period of silence after a communion hymn or motet that is needed to complete the musical prayer, unless of course it is huge Mass and you need more than one piece to complete the communion line. But even then, there is almost always a period of silence after the first piece is sung/played. At other parts of the Mass where no music is actually called for, these are areas in which silence is very important to create that spiritual completeness.

Unfortunately, in many parishes, I would agree that the priests or music ministers do not direct them to the documents that are needed for musicians. I learned from older mentors in their 40s/50s who learned from their mentors. They were the ones who directed me to the documents. Then I went from there I did my own further research and reading mostly on the Vatican website so that I’d get the right documents. But the problem was, when I would bring it up to one of my former bosses (the pastor), he didn’t want to hear any of it and wanted to keep doing it his own way. Kind of took the “ignorance is bliss” approach. If he didn’t listen, he didn’t know better, so it’s ok to do it wrong. And I wasn’t alone with this kind of experience. Many of my colleagues got the same thing. So, many times these musicians who are trying their best to do what the Church states through the usage of the official documents get tired of not being listened to and leave. You and I weren’t around during the 70s and 80s - me because I was either not born yet or too young to be concerned about liturgy, you because you were still Protestant. When I speak to many of my colleagues who were around during those two decades and working in the Church, I discovered that there were many more music ministers who did understand and know what the documents were requiring, but they were pushed out or shut up because other people (religious and lay people) wanted to get rid of everything that represented Pre-Vat II and bring in the new. So, those who were brought in to take the place of the other musicians (who eventually found positions in high church Protestant congregations) actually didn’t know what was required because they were usually volunteers who might be able to play a little folk guitar and were just asked to play some of the newer hymns or Simon and Garfunkle, etc and the new mass settings.

If there is no music director, you can go to the pastor. But it’s my guess the pastor won’t do anything because he’ll feel he’s lucky that they even have someone to play an instrument at all, and I don’t blame him for that.

That’s a shame you are having that problem at your church. If it is any consolation, I know that in the few met cities in my area, many of the younger organists (meaning under 40) don’t think much of the AGO and don’t belong to it, mainly because there also a lot of bad organists who belong to it as well and they don’t want to be associated with that. I will pray something will happen soon for your city. It seems as if they are still entranced by the AGO there.

I’ve been a musician for the Church (volunteer and professional) since I was about 8, cantor since I was 16. You haven’t been working as a musician in a Catholic church long enough, but spending a lot of time in the sacristy before and after mass, working as a music minister in charge of music at one point in my life, and knowing many other music directors for churches, priests are pretty vocal with what they want and how they want it musically and especially they don’t like it. At one point the organist would drive himself nuts because one priest only wanted a certain number of verses, another wanted all the verses, this one was very strict with the rubrics, the other one wanted it to be like Broadway. :eek: Since you’re not a music director, you probably won’t get it as much. When I’m cantoring I don’t, either. But I’ve watched and experienced it myself.

I WISH it was as easy as this. You’d think it would be, right? Something like this was tried in our diocese. Problem was most music ministers didn’t want to take the time to do it. Probably because it wasn’t required, but only encouraged. Oh, and when there were required meetings with all music directors of the diocese and when it was pointed out what was wanted and required of them, there was a fit - not from everyone, but those who wanted to keep doing their secular-style music or just the kind of stuff that would go against the rubrics didn’t want to follow along. If that parish is a well-off parish, nothing is going to be said and done about it. It was even described by one hippy-ish nun who was very much into hoot-n-nanny masses that she despised high church music that the music program at the cathedral represented, which actually follows fairly strictly with the rubrics. So, you have that problem. And I think right now the bishops have to choose their battles.

I honestly agree with you and believe most music ministers would as well, that required diocesan classes would be essential so that the musicians will be better educated in liturgy. Right now, those kinds of things are happening at a parish level.

(I will say, though, some dioceses do require “certified” cantors. You have to take a class which goes through the proper ways of cantoring and will present you with a certificate afterwards.)

Chant and traditional hymns. I can enjoy other types of music, provided there is consistency.

I love it when the Mass itself is chanted. I find that that is my favorite thing about the TLM (High Mass), and I love it when a priest actually chants the mass propers and dialogues at the OF in English. It’s beautiful. I wish they would re-institute a distinction between high and low Masses so that we could reclaim our tradition of singing the Mass, as opposed to only singing hymns at every Mass along with a handful of ordinary parts.

Hi Cat:)
I love the piano.
I can’t do two things at once.:smiley:
When the Mass is happening and there is a song playing and people singing then its hard to focus on praying the Mass. (for me this is).
And, I feel music is essentially emotional, and I don’t like having my emotions tugged on. I only want to feel the emotion I feel, and not have someone else’s emotional layer put on me (on my ears). Weird I know. I’m a weird person.
Its kindof like reading a book, and someone reading another book outloud beside you.

Oh my! That is hillarious.
That reminds me of this song they sang at a ordinary form Mass I went to. Afterwards the kids and I were laughing about the song. Anyways, the lyrics went “oh Mary, did you know your Son is the saviour of the world. Oh Mary, did you know?”

Yeah, I’m sure Mary had a clue:D

Anyways, music is a really tricky thing. Its subjective and personal even at the most objective of times. Then you have lyrics.
There is a lot that can be going on just with the music and no matter what anyone says, I believe it is distracting. Try and ignore music. Its hard to do.

You must really take me for a simpleton.:smiley:
How did you arrive at the conclusion that I am one of those people who gets nothing from music or any kind of art form?

Astonishing. You must have looked into your crystal ball.
Ok, jokes aside…
Do you want a resume of all the art galleries and concerts I have attended? Perhaps a list of music I enjoy listening to at home?

Ok friend, I’m playing with you obviously.
When I’m at home and I’m doing the rosary as an example, I do not put on a CD because even if its Bach its still going to distract me from my prayers. I’ll listen to music after I pray though, or before, but not during.

Ok, and I’ve never found a Mass that has chanting. That would be interesting. I love gregorian chant but never heard it in a Mass so I can’t comment on that as I stated earlier.


:DYou’re funny.
Good luck with finding “consistency”.:smiley:

Thanks for explaining.

I’m afraid you’re probably just going to have to accept that many people prefer music and lots of it, and don’t mind if multiple layers are happening. You’re in the minority, so you’ll just have to yield to the majority. Sorry about that. It will be easier on you if you can just learn to accept that it’s the way things are, and they probably will not change.

Like I said, if you can, try to find parishes that offer Mass with no music. At my parish, the 6:30 AM. Sunday Mass has no music. The daily Masses vary–sometimes there’s music (usually pretty badly done), and sometimes there is no music. I think that the priest and many of the people prefer some music, so that’s why there’s music.

And please consider trying some of the things that I and also sarabande suggested. Use the songs as prayers throughout the Mass; don’t try to pray anything else but the songs. If you attend Latin Mass, check the translations and use them as prayers

**Above all else, cling to the verse in Romans 8 (vs. 26) that says that the Holy Spirit prays for us, since we don’t know how to pray as we should. ** I know you want to pray and be connected to your prayer, but don’t worry about it. The Holy Spirit has you covered!

I think the most important thing is to demonstrate love toward fellow Christians. If you know that many others prefer music, then the loving thing to do is rejoice for them, and be willing to sacrifice your own preference for theirs. I get the feeling that you already do that.

I hope this helps.

My daughter sings in the Contemporary Ensemble at 11:00am Mass on Sundays. Our parish has 9:00am mass with the more traditional hymns. I like both. The songs sung by the CE are very inspiring. The traditional hymns are comfortable. Of course I absolutely love it when the CE sings a hymn like How Great thou Art in 3 part harmony acapella(personal fav).

Oh, no, no, no!!! :o I did not mean it in that way at all, and I apologise if that is how it came across. Funny and interesting how communication can be misinterpreted on both sides. :smiley: I meant music and art within the context of Mass and prayer. I wasn’t even thinking about outside of that and was only focusing on what you were mentioning in your post. From how you worded your original post and how I perceived the post, it seemed that you did not get anything from music during Mass and prayer because you mentioned you found it “nearly impossible” to pray with music and also that it got on your nerves “big time”. So I was trying to be understanding of that and offer advice about at least trying chant during those times, since you seemed to be, from your post, one of those who can’t get much out of music while praying at Mass, which is totally fine. And even if you were one of those who didn’t like art and music at any time, any where, I also wouldn’t find you a simpleton. I understand people are different and have different passions. I’ve always been considered an oddball, myself, so if I thought of others who were different than me the same way “normal” people have treated and thought of me, I’d be pretty much a hypocrite. :stuck_out_tongue: (Basically, I look “normal”, but I have a pretty eclectic group of friends and acquaintances, as well as tastes, tending to surprise people who don’t know me too well- which is always interesting, to say the least. :wink: ) It would be cool to get your “resume” though. Since I’m very much into the arts myself, I love talking to people who are also into the arts. It’s interesting to exchange ideas and advice in regards to certain museums or what they like about specific orchestras, vocal timbres, quality in instrumental sound from solo musicians, etc.

I do understand about Bach. There is just sooo much going on in his compositions, sometimes all you want to do is listen to each texture, harmonization, etc. My husband sometimes has a dificult time just putting Bach on as background music because he’ll just stop what he’s doing to analyze the brilliance in the compositional genius. I have to turn on two different brains so that I don’t focus on the compositional aspects and concentrate on it in its entirety as a piece of beauty either spiritually or just as work of true beauty.

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