The democratic and pedestrian character of the new Mass itself seems to invite the ditties that pass for hymns these days.
Even Catholic parishes today are not wanting for talent. But no serious singer or organist will get anywhere near the typical music program, at least if he wants to retain his self-respect.
All you hear Catholics turning out these days are pop versions of the old Protestant anthems.
But nowadays hymns are the norm, because people don't have much else to sing.
Participation is easily obtained with Latin chant.
The tunes, rhythms, and messages are drawn mainly from secular culture.
There's nothing stupider than bursting into song for seven seconds and then falling silent again.
Inaudible prayers, particularly of the Canon, which at first don't seem to have anything to do with music, end up being a very important part of the aesthetic of the traditional structure of the Mass.
The pastor of a parish will typically have no education in the chant or in music, and he will hire the first music director who walks through the door.
Thus the slogan should be reversed: Catholics taught the world what music is supposed to sound like, and, more importantly, what it is supposed to mean.
When the truth is that there would be no great Western music, and certainly no decent choral repertoire, without the Catholic faith.
As for sacred polyphony, there is no reason to be afraid of it.
At St. Francis de Sales in Atlanta, we do not have an organ. We do not have rehearsals during the week. We do not have a professional choir.
Catholic liturgical music, it would seem, is everywhere but in the Catholic Church itself.
Ironically, we live in times that are awash in authentic sacred music.
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