Familiarity breeds, as they say. In a recent post on another blog, the topic squeezed in: are some liturgical songs sung too often?
I say yes.
The question that’s of more interest to me is why.
When non-musician lay Catholics are doing the choosing (mainly weddings and funerals when we give them the keys to the car) they go with what they know. Especially when they don’t get any hints.
On occasion, the mourners, the bride, or the faith formation class asks me, “What would you suggest?” And if they’ve already gone out on a limb with “Be Not Afraid” or “Canon in D,” I will suggest something off the beaten path that might appeal even more to what they’ve told me about their faith life.
When I’m guiding the Sunday repertoire, I’m fairly careful about the chestnuts loved and hated by so many Catholics. Once or twice a year seems about right. The students program them more often for Thursday night liturgy. In a campus parish with young people arriving from all over Iowa, and indeed, the world, it takes some care to actually build a repertoire.
I’m not inclined to criticize the use of songs like “Here I Am Lord,” or “On Eagles Wings.” They are based on Scripture. The music remains singable. But in careful, measured doses, please.
I really honestly believe that overuse (in spades) was largely responsible for simultaneously responsible for placing many of these on the Most Beloved and Most Hated lists…. way too much programming of General Purpose music at too many Sunday liturgies, with no common points at all with the Sunday’s Lectionary readings, the Propers texts, or even the appropriate liturgical season. “Here I Am, Lord” for the 3rd Sunday in Advent? “Sure, everybody knows and loves it”, went the thinking. I dare say I know of places that still pull those chestnuts out of the hat at random – because why should an assembly be asked to learn something new, however more fitting the piece may be?