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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Road tested? Tires or Mass?

H/T to Grumpy Orthodox Cat, who is usually on target.

A few days ago, I wrote of the frustrations not a few of us are experiencing with the Spirit and Song Collection published by OCP.  The response that I received from the publishing house's Spirit and Song division really did not address very much and left me with more questions than answers. As of this writing, OCP has not responded to my follow up email.

This afternoon, while assisting at Mass at my parish, I found a little booklet that raised up not a few alarms.  Published by OCP's Spirit and Song division, the pistachio-colored collection, called "Essential Songs: A Road-Tested Resource for Youth Ministry", features music taken from Spirit and Song and other resources.  Lamentably, this kind of music, designed for youth ministry, tends to creep its way into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Titles such as "Pharaoh, Pharaoh", "Here I am to Worship", "Awesome God" and "I am Yours" lack the sacred character of what is proper for the Mass.  The lyrics alone in the song "Every Move I Make" sound more like something that could haven been lifted from the Police's mega secular hit, "Every Breath You Take".

As I observed in a previous post, this particular collection seems, in my opinion, to be the kind of music that concerned the Fathers of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist:

(S)ome lamented the poor quality of translations of liturgical texts and many musical texts in current languages, maintaining that they lacked beauty and were sometimes theologically unclear, thereby contributing to a weakening of Church teaching and to a misunderstanding of prayer. A few responses made particular mention of music and singing at Youth Masses. In this regard, it is important to avoid musical forms which, because of their profane use, are not conducive to prayer. Some responses note a certain eagerness in composing new songs, to the point of almost yielding to a consumer mentality, showing little concern for the quality of the music and text, and easily overlooking the artistic patrimony which has been theologically and musically effective in the Church’s liturgy.

This observation seemingly continues to be lost on OCP, especially its Spirit and Song and Flor y Canto divisions.  The lyrics to "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" sound like something that could have appeared in the South Park episode wherein the character Cartman tries to form a Christian rock band.  He reasons that all he has to do is add the "Jesus" to a secular song and that will make it a Praise and Worship anthem.

Somehow, "I say, Pharaoh, Pharaoh, O baby won't you let my people go.  Yeah, yeah, yeah" seriously lack the sacred nature of "Attende Domine" or even "Where Charity and Love Prevail."  Even the secular song, "All You Zombies" by the Hooters (which references the same subject matter as the piece in question) seems to have a little more of a somber, serious tone. 

OCP touts its little booklet as road-tested.  My question is this:  is this the kind of road we want our youth to travel?  Why are we dumbing down the mysteries of our faith, using music that really does not do much and something that the kids will grow out of in a short time?  "Road-tested" seems to me a more appropriate phrase for the Michelin man than for liturgy.  At some point, the wheels are going to fall off the bus and the very youth that this music is geared towards will either be thrown under that bus or try to get off it.

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