CDCN Positive Proposal #7: Publishers

Of the positive proposals offered by the concerned musicians of earlier this year, the seventh is the one I find most troubling.

7. In the past, Catholic publishers played a great role in spreading good examples of sacred music, old and new. Today, the same publishers, even if they belong to dioceses or religious institutions, often spread music that is not right for the liturgy, following only commercial considerations.

I think the charge of “only” is an extreme exaggeration. Indeed, larger liturgical publishers are more commercially successful than small businesses that target the traditionalist clientele. But the “not right for the liturgy” label is a matter of subjective personal opinion.

Many faithful Catholics think that what mainstream publishers offer is in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding liturgy and music, when it is frequently not so.

I don’t think that Catholics equate hymn and song texts with doctrine. The biggest problem with traditionalist criticism of contemporary music is that the argument often defeats itself. Most often, I’ve seen musical styles criticized. But contemporary music is a vast improvement over the preconciliar hymnody it replaced because so much of it is based on Scriptural texts.

Catholic publishers should have as their first aim that of educating the faithful in the sane Catholic doctrine and good liturgical practices, not that of making money.

I don’t agree that education is the primary aim of worship. Liturgy is defined as worship of the Father. Believers are sanctified by grace, and worship is a means of receiving and cooperating with that grace.

It’s hard not to read between the lines here to see a bit of envy. The more commerically successful publishers offer material of a wide appeal. One might say their approach is essentially catholic.

The full document may be found here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Cantate Domino Canticum Novum, Liturgical Music. Bookmark the permalink.

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