The Problem With Being A Critic


… is that sometimes you can’t demonstrate that which is above criticism. Robert Skeris’ fifteen-year-old theme on contemporary hymns I found linked at Fr Jeff’s site is fatally flawed. Why? His premise is building up by subtraction. Take it to a natural course amongst church musicians (Let’s all delete the songs each of us doesn’t like and see what’s left) and every hymnal would be nearly a blank book–certainly not a recipe for fostering treasure.

Skeris does praise Lucien Deiss as a good example of a contemporary liturgical composer, but he seems to take too much delight in skewering his most-disliked list. (He’s not very familiar with contemporary liturgical music; he doesn’t even bother to footnote proper publishers.) Where Skeris and other critics miss the boat: they rarely seem to offer an analysis of a hymn they do like.

So I challenge my blogging musician/critic friends: post some wonderful music on your own site (or post it here … I’ll publish anything too long for the comment boxes) and run through line by line, note by note if you wish. It is in such work that liturgical music will be forwarded.

If anyone wants to feel tagged, I’d love to see what thoughtful praise Fr Jeff, Liam, Mary Jane, and/or the Recovering Choir Director can heap on their Advent favorite.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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