Thursday, June 27, 2013

A glimpse into Vatican II Roman Catholic "hymnody"...

This is an excerpt from The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song.

Theologians of divine providence such as Jean-Pierre de Caussade have speculated that the permissive will of God allows great evils to occur to plant the seeds of some greater good. To further that end, we’d like to propose some wholesome uses for some of these musical productions of the post-conciliar liturgical renewal and the Oregon Catholic Press:
  • “Be Not Afraid.” This nasal, repetitive drone is too simplistic to accompany the Teletubbies, much less the Eucharist. While its message is apparently intended to be reassuring, NIMH clinical trials have shown that it reduces serotonin levels in the brain’s frontal cortex, mimicking the short-term effects of cocaine withdrawal or clinical depression. For this reason, we suggest its use is indicated on patients suffering from the manic phase of bipolar disorder, to normalize mood swings and render them compliant with hospital staff.
  • “Glory and Praise.” Another sing-songy brain-punisher, this tune is chipper in precisely the manner of a chatty, middle-aged Chicagoan chirping loudly about her grandchildren’s potty training on her cell phone in the next booth at a diner as you try to read your newspaper. But its melody and cadence are perfectly calculated to repel invasive deer which gather outside suburban homes in search of food. (Those concerned about animal rights should use a hunting rifle instead.)
  • “Here I am, Lord.” This hymn depicts a human soul responding to the call of Christ—but the music is whiny and grim, evoking in most people’s minds a can of rancid potted meat, being slowly spread by windshield wipers across a plate of dirty auto glass. You hear Christ calling, all right—but you feel like He’s some hobo who’s tapping at your window at 4 a.m. to wake you from a sound sleep so He can ask you directions to Dunkin’ Donuts. You don’t so much want to answer Him as clock him with a slipper. Sung in a sleepwalking, zombie rhythm, its use at Communion time produces a strikingly cinematic effect, which film critics have dubbed “The Church of the Living Dead.” Here again, we have a chance to bring good out of evil: In preliminary tests, use of this song by military interrogators has proved a successful, slightly more humane replacement for water-boarding.
  • “Hosea.” A bland, saccharine adaptation of a stirring Old Testament story—a prophetic humdinger in which the relationship of God and His people is presented as a marriage, and human unfaithfulness compared to prostitution. Stern stuff—here reduced by banal lyrics and anile music to a warbling monologue from a straight to video chick-flick starring Patrick Swayze. What is more, one of the song’s lines is unintentionally obscene. When the cantor drones “Long… have I… waited for your… coming,” it’s impossible for any Catholic above age 11 to avoid conceiving of certain conjugal—difficulties. If you’re experiencing such problems, you surely hear about them often enough; they shouldn’t assault you in church. Being helpful souls, we have searched out a positive use for this terrible, evil song: Many Catholic husbands who love their wives have attended closely to the injunction of Pope John Paul II, who noted in Love and Responsibility that “the woman’s excitement grows more slowly than that of the man. The man must take this difference between male and female reactions into account.” If you’re one of those husbands trying to take that difference into account, this song is for you. Hum it slowly to yourself, at crucial moments. There’s no more potent buzz-kill known to man.

Wheeewwwwwwww...  Makes me giddy when I compare the above to Lutheran Service Book....  Hope you have also learned some new appreciation for our solid hymnal and service book!!


Anonymous said...

Are these "contemporary" songs for the Roman Catholic church, Pastor Peters?

Why can't Roman Catholics sing? During mass, the cantor and three or four others are perched in the balcony next to the organ, singing hymns sweetly while the rest of the congregation stands mute and stares at the altar.

It is funny how most Lutherans do not sing during a contemporary worship service, but most Lutherans do sing during a traditional, divine service. Why is it so hard for most Lutherans to sing along to praise songs?

Anonymous said...

"Why is it so hard for most Lutherans to sing along to praise songs?"

Because it is difficult to sing while throwing up.

James Kellerman said...

First Anonymous: There is actually a great book out there called "Why Catholics Can't Sing." The author lists several factors, but let me mention two: (1.) The Mr. Caruso effect, where an overtalented singer belts the song into a microphone, intimidating the assembled parish into silence, especially when he or she adds flourishes or does a quick changeup without warning. (2.) The fondness for treacly melodies that can be sung only by professionals. The contemporary music crowd, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, are fond of incorporating dotted sixteenth notes, grace notes, weird syncopation, tritones, difficult ranges, inconsistent notes from verse to verse, and the like. Meanwhile, traditional hymnody (including those written in contemporary times) tend to be musically interesting enough to avoid being monotonous while being musically simple enough to be easily learned with a little effort. I could add that I find it ironic that the music is usually printed for hymns (which are musically simpler), but contemporary songs are presented with words only (even though the music is much more demanding).