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Wednesday, January 08, 2003

OK. So What Kind of Liturgical Music Do You Like, Anyway?

Commenter Stephanie reasonably asks. Well, the flip answer is anything that doesn't have an Oregon Catholic Press copyright, but that's not an absolute rule. There are some nuggets in that songbook. You have to pan for days to find them, but they are there. And, as an aside, much of the music I complain about would not be particularly objectionable outside of the liturgical setting, either. I also respectfully disagree with those who argue that congregational singing has no place at the Mass. I attended a music-free Mass last year in Arlington, Virginia. The lack of music was due to the sudden illness of both cantor and priest. Very jarring experience.

Ultimately, I use what I call the Air Supply/America/Christopher Cross Test. If I can imagine one of those artists doing a straight cover of the song, it doesn't belong at Mass. If I can't, then it's probably OK. Greg Krehbiel put it nicely when he said he was tired of the gooey "Good Morning, Yahweh" repertoire. It's music that suggests we aren't so much praising God as being willing to shake His hand.

But that still doesn't quite answer the question. Frankly, I'm beginning to realize that I was somewhat spoiled, coming over from a Methodist background. I love virtually anything by Charles Wesley, for example. Similar works by Catholics, like "Faith of Our Fathers," or much by Omer Westendorf ("Sent Forth By God's Blessing") are generally quite singable and orthodox. If it's "punchy" and sounds like a hymn ("Jesus Christ is Risen Today," "Immaculate Mary"), generally it works.

Hope that helps give you an idea of where I am coming from.

[More blogrolling and acknowledgments later.]

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