Imitation or Independence?

I freely confess I don’t get the notion that Catholic liturgy has become protestantized and this is a bad thing. I don’t get it on two levels.

There is in biology a principle of convergent evolution. Two totally unrelated animals, say the red fox and Australia’s thylacine, developed very similar skull shapes. Why? Both are predators adapted to catching prey of a certain size. Jaws, teeth, eyes, olfactory sense, brain size are all similar.

So the Vatican II bishops urge more Scripture at the liturgy. A liturgy of the word looks like a non-sacramental protestant word service. Were Catholic bishops of the 60′s copycats? Or does it make theological and pastoral and spiritual sense to structure the Word thus: reading, psalm, reading, alleluia, gospel, homily, creed, and intercessions. Would it make traditionalists feel better to start out with the homily? Or omit one or more readings entirely? Maybe we know the answer to that one.

The complainers seem to me to be like the squid criticizing humans for stealing their concept of the eye. Or human beings deciding that they don’t like copying the squid, so they want something less optimal just to be different.

Human beings praying to God have developed many practices that resemble convergent evolution: monasticism, celibacy, meditation, sacrifice, initiation rituals, funerals, chant, priesthood, and rites of passage, to name several.

And so what if the Consilium looked at protestant word services and decided, “Hey! This format works. What don’t we adopt it for ourselves?” Christian liturgists have been doing this from the time of Egeria and long before and after. Rome stole Form I Reconciliation from the Irish.

The other aspect I don’t get is the notion that protestants developed guitar groups and Catholics copied them. Catholic guitar groups are not protestant ideas. They are populist ideas.

Organists have always been in the minority of musicians. For at least four hundred years, if not longer, there have been more violinists than organists. In the sixties, the guitar was hugely popular in western society. People wanted to be like Elvis, the Beatles, or PP&M, or somebody they knew at school who got all the girls. Or guys.

The guitar has many inherent advantages over the pipe organ. First, it is portable. You can bring it into a religious ed classroom like Ray Repp and many others did. Second, it is moderately easy to gain a basic competence playing it, though maybe that semi-competence can go to one’s head. Third, it plays well with others, like singers, flutes, harmonicas, saxophones, and even orchestras. 3a: it can play at other people’s houses, and the pipe organ is pretty much bound in its own home.

While it wouldn’t surprise me that some Catholics copied evangelicals in guitar-styled worship, I suspect it was organic development combined with copying other Catholic parishes.

Where does Marty Haugen fit in all of this? Marty is part of a progression from religious ed guitarists, to the mimeographed lead sheets of the St Louis Jesuits, to the wakening of the music publishing engines of the 70′s. Marty Haugen fits the progression in two main ways and a few minor ones:

His music was among the first to integrate the piano (and the organ to a lesser extent) back into contemporary music. For the first time, mainstream guitar groups were better equipped to lead congregational singing, and the bar was raised for singers (three- and four-part music) as well as the variety of instruments a music director could call upon in the parish.

Two, his was among the first published music for ensembles to attend to setting the psalms and the service music of the Mass. The eighties saw a great development of music for psalmody, picking up on the old traditions of the gradual and applying it in a liturgical way. Contemporary music in the eighties also forged ahead where the old Mass did not and could not go: music for the rites, especially RCIA, funerals, anointing, and the sacraments.

I might also add that he was one of the first to revive a sense of hymnody, and also employed plainsong long before “reform of the reform” became pc-speak for traditionalist musicians.

So when Tony suggests that, “The preference for Mr. Haugen’s music is symptomatic of something much more insidious and pervasive,” I don’t want to suggest that this opinion “unwelcomes” him in any way. But my sense of the truth would insist I call out the statement as ignorant.

If Tony might be suggesting it is possible for church musicians to reside happily in any sort of comfort zone, heaven forbidding they move to the next letter of the musical alphabet (“I” or “J” perhaps) then I would agree this is a bad state of affairs. Some guitar groups never moved beyond Joe Wise and Ray Repp. Some never moved beyond the Jesuits. Some are still stuck in the 80′s. Some are frozen in LifeTeen. By the same token, conservatory musicians have their own hangups and comfy fortresses.

The Church does not benefit from such as these. Such music may be competently or even artistically played. But a lack of growth is symptomatic of a carelessness that does not fit or suit the Christian life. I’m not speaking of novelty or creativity for its own sake, but of the openness to continuing conversion, and of the search for God wherever we may encounter the Divine. The message of the Scriptures pounds away that we should include the unexpected in our search. Even protestant liturgy, when the path leads to it.

Anyway, what are good Catholic souls doing with knowledge of what a protestant liturgy is like? Y’all shouldn’t know a darn about such things, and even if you do, you probably don’t know a darn about it.

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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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24 Responses to Imitation or Independence?

  1. Gavin says:

    So the Vatican II bishops urge more Scripture at the liturgy.

    And is that the net effect? No. Overall we have LESS scripture at Mass than before. Need I remind you the antiphons (3 per Mass, plus the Alleluia verse) are scripture? Last time any of us heard those, or is it “Gather Us In” in place of that scripture? In America, the scriptural language of the collects (and any other part of Mass) is hidden by ICEL’s work. And also we have the option of omitting half or more of some readings if they are too long (or offend PC sensibilities). The old Mass had more scripture by far.

    he was one of the first to revive a sense of hymnody, and also employed plainsong long before “reform of the reform” became pc-speak for traditionalist musicians.

    I’m not aware that’s at all correct. I’d be interested to hear what of Haugen’s works use chant.

    I was just about to post something on this, but it got long and didn’t seem worth posting. But in a nutshell the problem with Haugen is that he entered Catholic music with, by his own admission, no idea what Catholic music is about. It’s about replacing the propers. To what extent is “Gather Us In” more suitable than “Like newborn babes”, the proper Entrance for last Sunday? Or any other day of the Church year for that matter? In fact, most of my ire isn’t directed at Haugen as a composer but that a lot of his effort is misdirected. He has some excellent, excellent psalm settings. Clearly he could have done much better to focus on ritual music rather than emulating the musical culture around him at the time.

    And yet THAT is what all the fuss is about: approaching things from the Catholic standpoint. Catholics approach the liturgy as something received first and foremost. Protestant liturgics approach worship as something to be innovated up – even the high churchers only have a liturgy which was innovated in the 17th century, if even that. When I approach music planning, I approach it asking myself the question “what does the liturgy demand?” Most others approach the liturgy looking to improve on it, by using music unrelated to the propers or music far from the oft-stated ideal of chant and the Western tradition.

    I don’t like to think I have all the right answers. For example, to me the Catholic principle can mean anything from full-blown chant propers to substituting “Ye Sons and Daughters” for the Communion of past Sunday to even “Blest are They” for All Saints. Yet, although it’s not my taste, Bob Hurd made some VERY admirable usage of chant in some of his songs – there’s an effort to stay in the Catholic tradition that I recognize. What I would rather say is that I’m asking the right questions.

  2. Gavin says:

    And, to dip into your usual pro-ignorance stab at academia, I’ll point out that I was a closed-minded, praise-band-playing-in, hand-holding, female-minister-hugging progressive until I got to college and found out that there’s more to Christianity than the Mass of Creation. I learned how to read chant from a woman prone to rants about how the Church hates women. And in the fall I’ll be returning to finish my B.Mus at a mostly African American college with a music department saturated with jazz musicians. It seems to me those who bash academia are the real closed-minded ones. Just check out a few of the conservative Catholic blogs, you’ll hear the same things about college.

  3. Todd says:

    Thanks for commenting, Gavin.

    You wrote, “Need I remind you the antiphons (3 per Mass, plus the Alleluia verse) are scripture?”

    You needn’t. But the St Louis Jesuits have you covered on that one. Practically everything they wrote was based on Scripture. And what wasn’t was based on the liturgy or spiritual writings. The SLJ’s and Haugen were both an improvement on the four hymn sandwich of the preconciliar Low Mass. By and large, they didn’t replace sung propers. And if they did in a few places, it was probably for the sake of participation.

    “I’d be interested to hear what of Haugen’s works use chant.”

    Off the top of my head, I recall arrangements of Conditor Alme Siderum and O Filii et Filiae. Even Ray Repp was doing chant in 1978. These guys were and are far more open to a wide set of influences than most church musicians or adoring fans.

    I think you’re reading far too much into my criticism of some aspects of the music conservatory. I said some professionally trained musicians have biases just like some amateurs. That’s not bashing, unless there’s an uncomfortable association being lumped in with non-pros. If so, too bad. Conservatory musicians are human too.

    It’s my contention that contemporary music didn’t supplant plainsong everywhere. In most places, it succeeded weak organists, very poor hymnody, and sadly, clergy who saw they could get bad to decent music at Mass more cheaply. More often, it was shunted to the side. Ed Gutfreund got a lot of laughs in his song about the folk group getting assigned to sing the 2AM Mass. The laughs came because people experienced what he was singing about.

    I’d say that many, if not most individual parishes saw development of contemporary musicians and repertoire along the progression I quoted: Repp & Co to SLJ’s to Haugen. Some might have suffered detours along the way: no doubt. On the other hand, I directed people in the early 90′s that began as a 70′s folk group and developed into the finest choir I’ve ever had the honor of leading. My predecessors did a lot of work to get them to a place where we enjoyed a repertoire of sacred classical music from the middle ages to the 20th century.

    Traditionalist musicians seem to know it all, but rarely do they back up their attacks, much less their tame presuppositions with anything other than hearsay and overactive and offended imaginations.

    I don’t agree with your assessment of Protestant liturgy, but that’s a topic for another post.

  4. Tony says:

    Anyway, what are good Catholic souls doing with knowledge of what a protestant liturgy is like? Y’all shouldn’t know a darn about such things, and even if you do, you probably don’t know a darn about it.

    I know. Really there is no specific “Protestant” liturgy. Last count, I believe there were 33,000 different Protestant denominations. The only thing they really have in common is they’re not Catholic.

    But if you read my objection from a previous post, you’d have figured out that my problem is mostly with the subtraction of factets of art, environment and even doctrine as opposed to your example of additional readings or an additional type of instrument.

    And you have me confused with the “soli organ” crowd. I don’t have an objection to guitar or even piano if the music is liturgical.

    The Recovering Choir Director has an interesting take on this:

    Those in the Church who despised the “bad old days” often bring up the canard of old ladies praying the Rosary instead of praying the Mass. It strikes me that many of the selections do not seem to correspond to the prescribed texts of the Mass at the entrance, offertory and communion. So, the music committee is advocating the musical equivalent of ‘praying the Rosary’ at Mass by singing ‘at Mass’ instead of singing the Mass. In effect, they force their devotional music on the rest of us. How richly ironic. At least the rosary-clutching church ladies kept quiet and to themselves!

  5. Gavin says:

    It’s my contention that contemporary music didn’t supplant plainsong everywhere. In most places, it succeeded weak organists, very poor hymnody, and sadly, clergy who saw they could get bad to decent music at Mass more cheaply.

    Again I agree with you, and have gotten into massive flame wars with other CMAA’ers over this very issue. OTOH, I often make the contention that little has changed and that American Catholic “business as usual” is just the modern incarnation of the Low Mass practice, which still stands in dire need of reform. You would of course agree, much to your credit, WRT pragmatism. I’d say that’s another topic.

    You are correct that the SLJ did a fine job of preserving the correct role of Mass music as scripture. I myself try to keep the 3 antiphons to scriptural hymns when I have to, and relegate non-scriptural hymns to the close of Mass. As I’ve mentioned, I regularly use a responsorial psalm at communion. Still, the point remains that Haugen’s “All Are Welcome”, “Gather Us In”, etc. are not a part of that scriptural tradition at the processions (Haugen does have that nice “We Walk by Faith”, so I’m not asserting ALL of his music is unscriptural, but pointing some to of it as an example of the larger trend). I believe our mutual friend Cantor uses Haugen’s psalms at the various processions; this is to both his and Haugen’s credit. But I think the point still stands that the modern church musician, as an example of many such deviancies, applies a “protestant” approach to music utilization.

    Let me make a more direct point and say why should we seek to emulate the protestants and not the Eastern Orthodox? Much of the positive reform in the Mass is due to Eastern influence, ie the epiclesis and prayers of the faithful. And yet the Orthodox do not shove new music detached from their tradition onto the liturgy. To consider a couple things that have popped out at me from visits:
    -The congregation makes the PROPER gestures (bowing and such)
    -The entire liturgy is sung, always
    -The music (texts) is proper to the day
    -The priest faces the liturgical action (that is, mostly with his “back to the people”)
    -Liberal usage of incense
    And of course you realize that Orthodoxy retains sacred language. Even this English parish had a couple hymns sung in Arabic. My usual snark comment to those who complain of Latin is “Well if you don’t want Latin, you can get Church Slavonic at the Byzantine churches. Or..”
    All of these things are perfectly allowable in the Ordinary Form, and yet we look for inspiration to protestantism and not to our apostolic separated brethren?

    I’m all for learning from other Christian traditions, even protestantism (and why is a good topic perhaps not suited here), but I suppose my discomfort with making protestant praxis the focus of our attention is that no attention is given to the church whose tradition is most like our own.

  6. Marilyn says:

    “At least the rosary-clutching church ladies kept quiet and to themselves!”

    I think that’s a bigger problem…better to participate with humility or even ignore the imperfect selections than ignore the people around you.

  7. ” Some guitar groups never moved beyond Joe Wise and Ray Repp. Some never moved beyond the Jesuits. Some are still stuck in the 80’s. Some are frozen in LifeTeen. By the same token, conservatory musicians have their own hangups and comfy fortresses.

    The Church does not benefit from such as these. Such music may be competently or even artistically played. But a lack of growth is symptomatic of a carelessness that does not fit or suit the Christian life.”

    Well said, and I concur with your sentiments. Furthermore, it is a silly notion to think that NPM Guitar Workshops or sessions at conventions have actually remedied this “lack of growth” to any significant degree (no slight to Bobby Fischer et al.) Way back in the early 80′s the Oakland Diocese started an Liturgical Music Certification program at Holy Names College, with recognized and respected local practicioners teaching applied techniques in organ, piano, guitar, voice and choral direction. The fact that the Office of Worship, at that time, recognized that proficiency and improvement in these disciplines would never be addressed either in academia or if left alone at the parish levels, was laudible.
    However, as in all things “catholic,” it seems, the program was discontinued because of lack of sufficient enrollment. Funny thing (as one of the teachers in the program), I remember there being little or no cost to students and little or no remuneration for faculty.
    Again, laziness and unwillingness to commit to excellence reigned supreme then, as perhaps now.

  8. Todd says:

    “So, the music committee is advocating the musical equivalent of ‘praying the Rosary’ at Mass by singing ‘at Mass’ instead of singing the Mass.”

    Only among the tradis. Progressive liturgists, even David Haas, have been harping on this one for two decades. reform2: too late to that party.

    “Again, laziness and unwillingness to commit to excellence reigned supreme then, as perhaps now.”

    Amen. Laziness, yes, and perhaps also a sense of entitlement.

  9. Liam says:

    I have avoided this thread so far because I’ve been waiting for some of the visceral crap to rise to the surface and get skimmed off (anytime a discussion veers into the Organists vs Everything Else meme, it usually falls off the rails; not just here but elsewhere, so it’s not a topic I’d cultivate much…).

    Anyway, I think Gavin’s take about the Eastern churches offers some good reason for pause. I would add to it my speculation about another rudder here: the abundance in American and western European media of images and portrayals of Protestant worship services, and the relative poverty of such re the liturgies of the Eastern churches (I won’t even talk about the complete absence of the *Oriental* Churches in this mix, other than to carefully note it and the fact that those churches represent an important part of the overall liturgical traditions of Christianity). “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, showing Greek baptismal and matrimonial liturgies is about the only exception I can think of other than period scenes designed to add color to images of Russian history. Hey, we don’t really have a great abundance of good modern cinematic portrayals of *Catholic* liturgy before the modern era. Why does the media matter? Because westerners (and especially Americans) have become quite ruddered in our ritual expectations by what we see in films and on TV and now the Internet. I personally would love to see that ruddering confronted and countered head-on.

  10. Tony says:

    I think that’s a bigger problem…better to participate with humility or even ignore the imperfect selections than ignore the people around you.

    Marilyn,

    I don’t go to Mass to worship the people around me, I go to Mass to worship God. Unfortunately, much of the music that is chosen for modern liturgy focuses on worshipping us rather than worshipping God.

  11. Todd says:

    “Unfortunately, much of the music that is chosen for modern liturgy focuses on worshipping us rather than worshipping God.”

    That’s a blatant falsehood, Tony, masquerading as a matter of personal taste.

  12. Tony says:

    Oooohhh… Todd. Looks like I struck a nerve.

    One of the favorite poster children for this particular trend is “Sing a New Church”.

    Exactly what scripture is that particular ditty based on? And the only time God is mentioned is acknowledging that He made us. How is God being worshipped in this song?

    How about another favorite, “All Are Welcome”? How is God being worshipped in that particular song?

    Would you like me to go on and list some more entries from the St. Narcissus Church of Worshipping us?

  13. Gavin says:

    According to the Olde English usage, Tony is correct that may of those songs DO worship the congregation, that is “to ascribe worth”. Some might also say that we “worship” that which we expect good things from. I just took a glance at “All Are Welcome”, and in every single clause the actor is the first person plural, except the “love of God”. That’s right up there with “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” “Worshiping ourselves” is a tired buzzword, but Tony is correct that there’s a few songs popular in use today where that is the case.

  14. Todd says:

    ““Worshiping ourselves” is a tired buzzword, but Tony is correct that there’s a few songs popular in use today where that is the case.”

    Yes, it is tired. Also a caricature of an argument I’d prefer to see improved upon.

    But it is easy enough to find examples in psalms and canticles where people recount what God has done for them. It’s also quite common to hear such sentiments in the homily.

    The best argument against quasi-catechetical songs is that mature Christians should be able to respond, “But we know this already.”

    While we know that our parishes have numerous folks who don’t get it, it is still part of the Judeo-Christian tradition to recount God’s work with us and among us. We might very well say, “Why are we listening to stories about Jews and early Christians? Let’s get beyond this nonsense and focus on God.”

    Two principles apply, it seems to me: balance and perspective. There’s any number of songs on the black list, and Scripture passages we could toss in for good measure. I’d need to see a specific parish abusing the style and contributing to its own detriment.

  15. Tony says:

    Todd, the best way for the Church to neutralize the “caricature” would be to ban songs like “Sing a New Church” from Catholic worship. As if we had the power to “sing a new church into being”.

    But none of the songs I mentioned (and they are legion) recount what God has done for us. It is dwelling on what we are doing for God, and in many more cases, what we are doing for each other.

    Maybe this is a pendulum swing from the “I’m an unworthy sinner” days before Vatican II. The reality has not changed. We are still and will always be unworthy sinners, but the grace of God has the power to change that. Jesus’ gift made it possible and our cooperation with that gift can make it happen.

    Also, the stories about all the Jews and Christians are lessons. They are both lessons of what to do and what not to do. There are numerous lessons in there about what happens when we take our eyes off God and focus on each other. And in every case, what happens isn’t good.

  16. Todd says:

    “As if we had the power to “sing a new church into being”.”

    Well, the context is cooperation with God’s baptismal grace. And Jesus did suggest faith brings the power to move mountains. I’m more interested in what Delores Dufner meant by composing that text, not (necessarily) what someone thinks who has an ax to grind.

    “But none of the songs I mentioned (and they are legion) recount what God has done for us.”

    On that we agree to disagree. I think the context makes it obvious.

    “Also, the stories about all the Jews and Christians are lessons. They are both lessons of what to do and what not to do.”

    The same is true of musical texts.

  17. Tony says:

    I’m more interested in what Delores Dufner meant by composing that text, not (necessarily) what someone thinks who has an ax to grind.

    Ad-hominem is not a good debating tactic. I submit that if a song’s lyrics needs interpretation to render them non-heretical, then the song is deficient.

    Are we going to need a new Vatican department: “Congregation of Interpretation of Pop Tunes”?

  18. RP Burke says:

    There you go again, Todd, dismissing someone’s comment as a matter of “personal taste” when it really needs to be assessed sytematically.

    My view is that a certain amount of the new music used in our worship is, as Tony says, “focuses on worshipping us rather than worshipping God,” but there are ways to determine whether this is true or false that don’t require the use of the all-purpose put-down “that’s just personal taste”; which usually really means, “The only thing that matters here is my personal taste.”

    So, for instance, since we as Catholics are members of The (or, really, one of The Few) Very Oldest Church, to claim that we are to “sing a new church into being” is factually wrong. That’s the kind of analysis we need to do to determine the appropriateness of texts.

    It can be easy enough also to do musical analysis to decide whether chant or Bach or Vaughan Williams or Haugen or “the latest thing we just got in from OCP” or “this neat song I heard on this TV preacher’s show” is appropriate musically–but only if the person planning and deciding on the music has the ability to discern singable from unsingable, artistic from from artistic. On the ground in parishes, here is where the key problem shows up: the utter incompetence of parish liturgists and musicians (many of whom have just-above-rudimentary musicianship) to make the musical judgment that the bishops recently reiterated is necessary.

    Whether texts fit the music is a musical judgment; whether the text is appropriate at all is a liturgical judgment that the pastor should be making, or at least participating in.

    I am not dogmatic about anything. I’ve been working for two years with a group of conservatory students who prepare, on their own, contemporary music for their campus Sunday Masses. I wouldn’t pick some of their music, but they know music beyond their ability to play instruments, and two of them have enough liturgical background to avoid major mistakes. (Before this group arrived, the previous students could play and sing but had no clue and no interest in learning; when our priest tried to explain to them an error in liturgical judgment they’d made, they stormed out never to return, leaving me in charge for a semester. I am so very pleased to have this new group of students, even though I may not like all the music they pick.)

  19. Todd says:

    “There you go again, Todd, dismissing someone’s comment as a matter of “personal taste” when it really needs to be assessed sytematically.”

    Hardly. I don’t think personal taste should be alien to choices we make as individuals, or even as a starting place for discernment. Accusing Catholics of worshipping themselves when they sing catechetical songs is far from a starting point for a systematic assessment.

    When I assess an unfounded opinion as “personal taste,” I’m saying the person hasn’t yet arrived on the serious level needed to engage a real analysis. Somebody’s listens to Stravinsky or Bartok and says, “That sounds bad.” I don’t dismiss the opinion out of hand. I’d tend to respect it as a guideline for recordings I might loan. It’s neither a bad nor a good thing.

    Context is key. Let’s say a conservatory student or aspiring musician said, “Bartok sounds bad.” Then I would level criticism, and appropriately, that the statement was insufficient for a student of music. On the other hand, if the person were to level a sound critique of 20th century music and were able to back up the argument with reasoning and an argument that showed time and energy put into it: I might disagree, but I would respect it.

    Getting to what’s happening when people are singing “Sing A New Church,” what I’d like to see from the worshipping-themselves advocates is hard evidence. My assertion is that the context of the liturgy raises the meaning behind the texts (or the candles, vestments, seating, and other things) and aligns them through the agency of God’s grace.

    If it is as easy to dismiss second-tier texts as self-worship, it’s no big step to insist Catholic clergy are just playing dress-up, that images of prayer are just an art gallery (or lack thereof), that candles, fonts, and other aspects are just decorative.

    I’ve conceded there may be some communities in which it really is self-congratulation, dress-up, and decor. But the songs themselves aren’t the front line of the problem.

    “On the ground in parishes, here is where the key problem shows up: the utter incompetence of parish liturgists and musicians (many of whom have just-above-rudimentary musicianship) to make the musical judgment that the bishops recently reiterated is necessary.”

    I wouldn’t disagree. Fewer than 20% of American parishes employ any kind of serious liturgist or musician. That means it’s the priest’s responsibility. But I think that in those cases in general, the incompetence label sticks.

  20. Todd says:

    “I submit that if a song’s lyrics needs interpretation to render them non-heretical, then the song is deficient.”

    How are these lyrics heretical?

    “Are we going to need a new Vatican department: “Congregation of Interpretation of Pop Tunes”?”

    This is a hymn text, Tony. The words are most often set to NETTLETON, an early American hymn-tune.

  21. RP Burke says:

    Tony,
    “Heresy” is the obstinate, public denial of a piece of the teachings of the church. A hymn text that makes mistakes, even one as erroneous as “Sing a New Church,” is hardly heretical unless it denies teachings of the church. I think the text is inappropriate but I’m not going to burn Dolores Duffner at the stake for it.

  22. Anne says:

    I always thought “Sing a New Church” reflected the “new” Catechism (as well as other VII documents)and the “new” understanding of what it means to be “church” (a church belonging to the people of God,Body of Christ, all of the baptized etc. not only to the hierarchy). I have never understood why that concept is so hard to understand. I find it discouraging that the debate over this song continues. I find it discouraging that some of the hierarchy resist still.

  23. Todd says:

    “I have never understood why that concept is so hard to understand.”

    Because many Catholics, whether they admit it or not, or are aware of it or not, are literalists with little to no appreciation for the artistry of metaphor or other literary devices.

    “Sing A New Church” also has a context: the agency of God declared from the very first line. It’s easy enough to forget for those cherry-picking things they don’t like. In other words, a dictatorship of personal taste.

  24. RP Burke says:

    “a dictatorship of personal taste.”

    Wrong again, Todd. IT’S NOT JUST “TASTE”!!!!! There are many of us who have judged the song insufficient. One of these days, I hope, you will understand the difference.

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