Why are these songs in tension with Catholic doctrine?


In another Ask-An-Apologist thread, Michelle Arnold referenced hymns that are “in tension with Catholic doctrine” and gave “Amazing Grace” and “Mary, Did You Know?” as examples.

My question is this: Why on earth do you consider these hymns to be in tension with Catholic doctrine? In regards to “Amazing Grace,” are we not saved by God’s grace? Isn’t it God’s grace alone which empowers us to have any goodness, repentance, or faith? Or is it that you consider the line about “a wretch like me” to imply the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity or something? I don’t think it implies that. The language in, for example, Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ is much more harsh than that.

I had never heard of “Mary, Did You Know?” but looked up the lyrics out of curiosity; I also do not understand why that hymn is in tension with Catholic doctrine. Since when did the Catholic Church authoritatively teach that Mary knew all the details of her Son’s life before he was even born? Sinless and ever-virgin, yes, but prescient? Where is that officially taught?


The songs are not explicitly forbidden to be performed at Catholic liturgies, but the lyrics are in tension with Catholic doctrine and can cause confusion about what the Church teaches for Catholics listening to the songs.

You can read about “Amazing Grace” by clicking here. “Mary, Did You Know?” implies that Mary was a sinner during her lifetime (lyrics). Both songs can be understood in an orthodox manner but not at first glance. Because of such ambiguity, prudence suggests that they should not be used in public liturgies.

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