There is a good discussion happening at my lead essay today at InsideCatholic. A few crisis Catholics are wondering if the whole thing was some kind of stunt. Surely they must be pulling conservative legs to be bringing in me to actually defend the three to five percent of G&P that has turned out well.
One commenter suggested
Church attendance has declined ~65% since the actual (vs. intended) liturgical shifts since the 1970s. We hear numerous explanations covering a wide front … I’d like to add a simple suggestion to that incomplete list: the music.
Has anyone ever left the Church because of poor music? I have no doubt it happens every day.
But let’s get some perspective. Post-conciliar parishes that had “folk” music, usually had one Folk Mass. Period. There were a lot of guitarists springing up in the 60’s, but not enough to staff a whole parish music program. I don’t doubt that some genius pastor somewhere found out that he could fire the sister doing the music and get volunteers to do it even more cheaply. Or more likely, as religious drained away from parish life, lots of music directors who also happened to have given religious vows drained away, too.
Steve Skojec and other apologists think as if chant binders were tossed into the Easter fires of the first Vigil under the new Mass. I just don’t think it happened that way. If a parishioner didn’t like the 11:00 liturgy turned into the Folk Mass, she’d just go an hour earlier or an hour later.
The notion that musically starved American Catholics yearning for chant and polyphony had nowhere to go is sheer mythology. First, it was the rare parish outside of religious life that had a good music program. Second, there were always options at the parish, or in the neighborhoods of large cities. Sociologists studying Catholic trends are pretty much convinced that Humanae Vitae was a last straw of sorts for people disgusted with the institutional church. I don’t see conservative tears shed for those awful dissenters abandoning the ship.
These kinds of musical discussions do get heated and passionate. So often people have their minds made up, usually in the mold of the latest reform2 guru. Facts will be bent to best fit the opinion. I saw it with some of my progressive colleagues in the 80’s, so I chalk it up to human nature.
By the way, Saint Cecilia really knows how to play that lute, doesn’t she?