Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sound of the Catholic Church at Prayer

Music for World Youth Day in Rio.

Listen to the video!
Is this really the sound of the Catholic Church at prayer?
It certainly doesn't reflect any official Church document on music in worship.


Richard Collins said...

Ugh.....I'm speechless.

The Rev. M. Forbes said...



JARay said...

De his libera me Domine

Anonymous said...

Father Ray,

The song “No peito eu levo uma Cruz” translates to “In my chest I carry a Cross”. Further into the song is the stanza which would read:

“I do not understand the past but I know a young man was crucified for teaching us to live

I scream to the unbelieving world that I want to be us, I believe the cross

I believe in the strength of the young man who follows the path of Jesus Christ”

What exactly is official Church document on music in worship? What is the concern with the music for WYD Brazil? I hope it is not to imply that those of us who come from a different culture are segunda classe Catolicos simply because of the way we musically express our faith.

God bless

Pablo the Mexican said...

The Official Album will be named:

'The Great Apostasy: Anti-Christ Rising'

and will have the Gnostic -G- above an empty altar with the Phoenix Bird where the crucifix used to be.

On sale soon.


Pablo the Mexican said...

"segunda classe Catolicos"...

Compare the songs Padre is speaking of with the following:

Both direct from Tepeyac Hill, where Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de Guadalupe met Saint Juan Diego

There is just something wrong and not Catholic about the Springtime Roman Protestant music.

Do those Mexicanos (me included) singing sound like 'segunda classe Catolicos'?

This Padre has given a place of honor in his Church to our Lady, in her apparition of Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de Guadalupe.

We in turn, have placed his picture and that of a little English boy in his Parish, at the altar on Tepeyac Hill that they be remembered in all the Masses and prayers of the Holy Rosary there. (the little boy was born on our Lady's Feast day).

In his book we are not 'segunda classe Catolicos'

In our book he is a first class Padre.

Un Padre siempre fiel.

Santa María de Guadalupe Esperanza nuestra, salva nuestra patria y conserva nuestra Fe.


Physiocrat said...

I notice the Norwegian flag. We had a youth group from Oslo come and sing that kind of rubbish here at Mass a couple of Sundays ago. I hope the PP will make sure they do not sing anything like that again.

I am sure an SSPX youth group would do the right thing with the music.

It's Byrd next week.

Physiocrat said...

To anonymous
What exactly is official Church document on music in worship?
It asks for Gregorian chant and similar modal music plus 4-part harmony eg Palestrina.

What is the concern with the music for WYD Brazil?
Everything. It gets the singers and listeners into exactly the wrong frame of mind. It is the music of frenzy, not the music of bliss. It is what you would hear in one of those sports clubs full of exercise machines. Or a night club where people are drinking themselves silly.

It is also junk music, like junk food.

Aaron Saunderson-Cross said...

If we believe that music can communicate the inarticulate and ineffable mysteries of the Faith - can move us to know things seemingly unknowable like the "unspeakable groanings" (rom 8v26) of the Spirit then music should have by imperative a certain dignity to it.

Music should not, for example, appeal to the sentimental man by incorporating or borrowing from commercial popular music. Protestants tend to have this problem and it's destructive to the Faith.

Vernacular music is the worst.

This is good (George Frideric Handel’s Gloria (HWV 232))

Chrissy said...

I am lost for words .
It would ceertainly put me off .

georgem said...

Dear Sonia, Your final comment is, at the very least, a bit of a non sequitur. No-one, including and especially Father Blake, would brand a particular culture as second-class Catholics.
Indeed, the music examples he refers to are not specific to South America, but redolent of what is on offer for the young the world over, often performed and imposed by those who are teetering on middle-age and beyond.
The question is: Are young Catholics being given a range of musical expession, or only one kind? There is so much numinous and beautiful music which has come out of South America.
Here is the difference. The first kind encourages externalism and a restlessness by its very nature, with the performers highly visible in their own right. The second calls the mind to stillness and to contemplation which does not eclipse worship but rather serves it.
There is room for both; in their appropriate settings.
I've no argument with the kind of music featured on the CD outside Mass, though I find the first song line you quoted rather indicative of questionable catechesis. I'll put that down to poetic licence.
But used as part of a WYD Mass, or any Mass, turns the worship of God into a seething jamboree where God is in danger of being sidelined by performance.
If you are looking for Church documents on music in the liturgy, and there are many (including the current Pope's own guidelines), you will find, for instance, that the Vatican II recommendation was for the primacy of Gregorian chant.

Ma Tucker said...

I don't understand why we always get scenes of the vast expanse, arms outstretched and pained facial expressions more redolent of an acute case of hemorrhoids.

No, this is eurovision music. It is not even attached to any culture. It is not the sound of the Church at prayer in my view.


Vatican II states the following regarding music.

'In permitting and using of musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual people's must be taken in to account.....

The modernist brigade always utilise this statement to the nth degree.

However, they then forget/ignore the following sentence.

However, those instruments which by common opinion and use, are suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions'.

Therefore a guitar must never be used in any Catholic Mass because by common opinion and use guitars are used in secular music.

However, we can not stop any Catholic group doing what ever they want outside of Mass.

There does have to be some common sense put in place somewhere along the line. We look ridiculous when we make blanket statements without knowledge of the facts.

However, music liturgy is a different issue. Vatican II clearly states that there is no room for secular guitars during Mass.

Physiocrat said...


Can you give the link to this please. There is a guitar group locally under the guidance of the student chaplain. This would not matter so much except it is a service in the parish church and so open to all.

It would be helpful to draw the attention of the PP.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...ORA PRO NOBIS said...

Vatican II states the following regarding music..."


Your comments describe what is wrong with Vatican Council II.

It was hi-jacked, and many anti-Catholic, non-Catholic things came of it's misapplication.

Misapplication from people that are enemies of Christ; Wolves in Sheep's clothing.

I like your clear, precise comment.

God be with you.


Cosmos said...

You said, "I hope it is not to imply that those of us who come from a different culture are segunda classe Catolicos simply because of the way we musically express our faith." The implication seems to be that we should all be able to agree, as a matter oof civilized conversation, that one form of cultural expression could not possibly be superior to another.

One of the benefits of our Catholic (i.e., "universal") faith is that every believer does not have to reinvent the wheel. The wisdom of the millions upon millions of believers who went before us is handed down to us. We call this the "Tradition." Part of the Tradition is that certain forms of music are more capable than others of contributing to and expressing the faith, as it is authentically understood, than are others.

Your reflexive resort to a kind of multiculturalist standard makes perfect sense outside of the Catholic Tradition--even within Protestanism. But it really needs to be questioned as a Catholic. Why should anyone assume that their opinion on a novel form of expression has instant equality with the opinion of the Tradition on the same subject? The simplest answer is that it doesn't.

muriel from seaford said...

congratulations on reaching the tablet's online news section father! perhaps now you will be stocking it?

Physiocrat said...

Pablo the Mexican

That music in the youtube links is fine but not within the context of the Liturgy, and would also help if the singers were in tune. It is the sort of thing that I would expect in a street procession.

There is a fine tradition of Latin American Baroque polyphony, let's have some of that.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Are they threatening to sue?

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...That music in the youtube links is fine but not within the context of the Liturgy, and would also help if the singers were in tune..."

Upon closer inspection, you will note there was no Mass going on during the time we were singing.

That is our Church music.

Then there is the proper music of the Holy Sacrifice.

Further, were should remain silent while in Church in respect of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle on the altar.

However, our Mother, Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de Guadalupe grants us Mexicans a dispensation because she loves to have her little Juanito Diegitos sing their songs of love for her and her Son at the place where she gave Saint Juan Diego orders to have the Bishop build a Church there.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great set the perimeters for music at Mass, and we have no problemo with that.

And if you hear a bunch of "Mexicans" ever singing in tune, they are imposters. Probably Puerto Rican or Cubans.

Viva Cristo Rey!


muriel from seaford said...

you can have a look yourself father, it's the internet latest news bit for today. no they're not threatening to sue. they've qouted mgsr wadsworth from his lecture on the future of the liturgy at your centenary celebrations but i think they're also letting you know that they're watching!

Anonymous said...

@ Georgem

Of course you’d treat my last statement as non sequitur! Further, I will not be surprised that those who criticise the music promoted by WYD Brazil would also be critical of the annual Migrant Mass. Let me re-submit part of my second comment which did not get published i.e. “the universality of the Catholic Church does not imply exclusively EF and Gregorian chant. We are one in faith…not one in language, music and culture.” And, I would like to stress that even when some of our young people choose less than “blissful” music with the way they express their faith, it does not mean that they are less fervent than those who do or, that their faith is in periculo mortis.

@ Ora Pro Nobis

There are Church documents which pre-date Vatican II stating the same e.g. Musicae Sacrae and Mediator Dei.


I really do not know how to react to your post. But, I’d tell you this, you certainly made a Catholic immigrant feel segunda clase. And, as I feel that your post will not be the last to follow along that line, I really have nothing more to say.

God bless you all.

Hermanos said...

We are "one" in those things passed onto us, including the style of our worship, which is at least in part formed or deformed by our music.

This is an invented form, not part of "givenness" of Catholicism, it perhaps relates to the childish language of the current Portugese translation of the Mass.

Physiocrat said...

Young people are not choosing this music. Someone has decided it would be a good thing.

The Mexican music is fine for street processions and the like, and being out-of-tune has a certain charm in that situation. It is called local colour, though it is not much fun to listen to on a video for more than a minute or so.

But within the context of the formal liturgy it would be out of place.

The music for the youth gathering is a different matter. It lacks the honest charm of the Mexican examples. The worst of it is that it is patronising to serve up this kind of musical junk food on the assumption that young people want it. In the end they will go away, starting with the sophisticated and discerning ones.

I am not a great fan of Taize either but the Taize chants were written for the same kind of situation and at least put people into an appropriate frame of mind.

However, there is a vast body of popular devotional music going back for centuries which could be drawn on.

Physiocrat said...


As I understand it the Catholic church is in retreat all over Latin America and the Evangelicals are taking over. So this is no great success story to celebrate.

Of course there are many factors but if Catholics have opted for second class, could this be one of them?

Anonymous said...

Soppy, sentimental, protestant. An instant turn-off from start to finish.


Physiocrat said...

Primera class Spanish Catholic music

First class South American Catholic music

You Latin American Catholics - reclaim your heritage. You should raise your sights above McMusic.

P Standforth said...

If, as Physiocrat suggests, the Evangelicals are 'taking over' then the music cannot be the issue, as the type of 'worship' music shown in the video is more or less standard fare in that movement. If reversing such a trend was simply down to choice of music then life would be a lot simpler.

I see no suggestion in the video that these musical choices are proposed as liturgical ones. The styles of music used extra-liturgically can be very varied. My own 18year old can (and does) sight read and sing a Palestrina Mass, but also has a very eclectic range of music on his musical telephone.

I'm afraid that given the choice of spending an evening in the pub with many of the commenters above, or with the bright and happy young Catholics in the video, the latter would win hands down.

If you made effort to spend really getting to know some of these young people, they really would impress you. They are bursting with questions, and enthusiasm; you just need to respond in an appropriate way.

Physiocrat said...

Getting rid of McMusic and replacing it by proper Catholic music, which comes in a myriad of forms, would help to define and promote the product by strengthening brand identity, as they put it in marketingspeak.

Pablo the Mexican said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


So the Mass in the vernacular is childish now? Deformed by our music? Sounds like colonial mentality to me as it comes across as implying that what other cultures possess only profane rather than focus the soul and enrich worship. Have you even taken on board the fact that EF, GC and polyphonics are products of inculturation as well? Cuidado con lo que dices because the attitude you display tends towards dictating to other cultures what the Mass should be (EF v OF) rather than what the Mass actually IS about i.e. the Holy Eucharist. May I remind you as well that countries where the Mass is celebrated in the vernacular continue to kindle vocations? Latin is not and never was the language of the Mission Church. Even when EF was the only form celebrated by the Church, non-liturgical music in the missions was always in the vernacular.


The heritage of Latin American and Spanish music is not Eurocentric. It is African and North African respectively. You can state your personal preference, as Pontiffs have done, but, you must not assume that your preference is better lest you get painted with snobbery…at the very least. All who passed knee jerk judgment on the clip of the music promoted by WYD Brazil and query fervour must really take the cue from Standforth. Further, try to understand what WYD is about and the mission of the Church with regards the young.

God bless

Rosa said...

I think what Hermanos is saying is that the Portuguese translation of the Mass has a certain notoriety as being an incorrect translation of the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

Amongst all of the major language translations it is judged to impoverish the Latin texts the most. It strips Mgr Bugnini's prayers to childish parodies.

georgem said...

I don't know what being down the pub has to do with anything, but let me tell you, I'm the life of the party down the pub. However . . . .
We're talking about the honour due to Christ when we commemorate His Passion and His Sacrifice - Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not a community meal - and receive His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion.
There must be plenty of indigenous music which is prayerful and contemplative of this most serious event. And, don't forget, many of the psalms have been passed down through the ages, not from European culture but from Judeo culture, and can be adapted to suit. What's the objection to this continuity?
I don't know why it is that so many older people think the young cannot relate to other than (often) badly performed and (often) sentimental music with a beat. It's rather insulting.
There seems to be a confusing argument here; that faux rock equates to indigenous culture. Quite plainly it doesn't. In South America, indigenous music surely means going back centuries before conquest, settlement and the slave trade.
I'd like someone to name a state anywhere in the world which uses soft rock for ceremonial occasions because it is said to relate better to the young. No, the music, frequently indigenous, befits the solemn occasion. I'll repeat that. It befits the solemn occasion. How much more, then, is the due of the King of Kings.

JARay said...

Rosa's comment that the Portuguese translation of the Mass is childish interests me. My Portuguese is somewhat rusty now. Fifty years ago I spoke it quite well having spent three years living in Lisbon. I was a seminarian at The English College, Lisbon (now defunct) and I made a real concerted effort to be able to speak Portuguese because I have always had an interest in languages. Where can I get a Portuguese version of the Mass online? I would like to take a look at it and form my own opinion as to whether it is childish or not.

Physiocrat said...

The origin of Gregorian chant is not European. Its earliest developments were in North African, Asian and Ancient Greece.

However, Gregorian chant is essentially a mathematical construction based on the fundamental principles of acoustic science. It belongs to the whole of humanity just as mathematics and science do.

The church declared Latin to be its official language for sound practical reasons. The essential point about Latin is that the sound consists of an alternation of simple vowels and consonants. It lacks the complex consonants and vowels typical of the Germanic and Slavonic group of languages, nor does it have the guttural sounds of some of the Germanic and Semitic ones, nor the unique coughing sounds of the Scandinavian languages, nor does the meaning depend on the tones and emphasis as in Chinese, some other Oriental languages, and, uniquely amongst European languages, Swedish.

This makes Latin particularly easy to sing, since everyone can manage the sounds. It is also peculiarly useful for international use, since it has no associations with modern colonialism, but widely spoken languages such as Spanish and Portuguese can be considered as dialects of Latin; they bear the same relationship to it as do the Scandinavian languages to to Old Norse (= Icelandic).

South America has a wonderful tradition of home-grown polyphonic music for the Catholic church. Let's hear it. African music it itself highly diverse, with a well-developed tradition of polyphony which pre-dates the European invasions.

I wonder if the prejudice against Latin is not mainly due it being taught by pedantic and boring teachers? Kids nowadays seem to be happy learning languages like, Java, C and HTML, which cannot be any easier.

Physiocrat said...

Anonymous - it is nonsense to suggest that it is neo-colonialist to claim that mass in the vernacular is childish.

The English translation was one of the most childish of the lot - so bad that it has had to be replaced.

John Scott said...

The Catholic Church at Prayer? I sure hope not. As an E.Orthodox Christian, I'm no expert on recent Catholic musical trends. But every last song on that video could have come directly from Disney's "Little Mermaid" soundtrack: love-sick teenybopper chick pines for hot-looking, rich young prince. Only the lyrics are different. Who ARE these people that promote such trash?